CHAPTER 23 Further Judgments and Directions
1. Concerning unrighteous dealings of various kinds (Exodus 23:1-9)
2. Concerning the seventh year (Exodus 23:10-13)
3. Concerning the three feasts (Exodus 23:14-19)
4. Promises concerning the possession of the land (Exodus 23:20-33)
We call attention to the words concerning the seventh year. The seventh day was the day of rest. The seventh year was to give the land rest; it was to rest and lie still. Besides this there was the jubilee year, which occurred every seven times seven years, that is, the fiftieth year was the year of jubilee, in which liberty was proclaimed. We hope to examine this more closely and learn its typical and prophetic significance when we read the book of Leviticus (chapter 25). The seventh year was especially meant for the poor. Whatever grew by itself belonged to them, and what they left the beasts of the field were to eat. What gracious provision this was! How merciful and gracious our God is!
The three feasts are next mentioned. The connection with Exodus 23:13 is obvious. It is a warning concerning other gods. The feasts were designed to keep Jehovah, His power and His grace, as a living reality before the nation. The three feasts are: The feast of unleavened bread in memory of the exodus; the feast of the first fruits, also called the feast of weeks, because it came seven weeks after the feast of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:15-16; Deuteronomy 16:9), and still another name is “the feast of the first fruits of the wheat harvest.” It was now known by the name of Shavuoth. The third feast came on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34), and is the feast of ingathering, known as Succoth, the feast of tabernacles. Of all this we shall learn more in Leviticus. The last clause of Exodus 23:19 has led to ridiculous speculations among the rabbis. It is looked upon by the Jews as a prohibition against eating flesh prepared with milk (see Deuteronomy 14:21).
We must not overlook in our study Exodus 23:20-23. Who is this angel? He is called in Exodus 33:15, “the face of Jehovah” (literal translation). The name of God is in Him; God revealed Himself in Him. His voice must be obeyed. He has power to pardon transgressions or not to pardon them. This angel is not a created being, but the same who appeared in the burning bush; the same of whom Jacob said, “The angel, the Redeemer.” It is Jehovah Himself, the Son of God. The ancient synagogue paraphrased this person by using the expression “Memra,” which means “the Word.” They have believed and taught that “the Word” brought Israel out of Egypt ; “the Word” led them in the pillar of a cloud; “the Word” confounded the Egyptian host. And they paraphrased “the angel” by “the Word.”
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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 23". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany