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Bible Commentaries

Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Exodus 23

 

 

Verse 1

Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

Thou shalt not raise, the margin reads, Thou shalt not receive a false report, for sometimes the receiver in this case is as bad as the thief; and a backbiting tongue would not do so much mischief, if it were not countenanced. Sometimes we cannot avoid hearing a false report, but we must not receive it, we must not hear it with pleasure, nor easily give credit to it.


Verse 2

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil — General usage will never excuse us in any ill practice; nor is the broad way ever the safer for its being crowded. We must inquire what we ought to do, not what the most do; because we must be judged by our master, not our fellow servants; and it is too great a compliment, to be willing to go to hell for company.


Verse 7

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.

Keep thee far from a false matter — From assisting or abetting an ill thing. Yea, keep thee far from it, dread it as a dangerous snare. I will not justify the wicked - That is, I will condemn him that unjustly condemns others.


Verse 9

Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Thou shalt not oppress the stranger — Though aliens might not inherit lands among them; yet they must have justice done them. It was an instance of the equity of our law, that if an alien be tried for any crime except treason, the one half of his jury, if he desire it, shall be foreigners; a kind provision that strangers may not be oppressed.

For ye know the heart of a stranger — You know something of the griefs and fears of a stranger by sad experience.


Verse 10

And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:

The institution of the sabbatical year was designed, 1. To shew what a plentiful land that was, into which God was bringing them, that so numerous a people could have rich maintenance out of the products of so small a country, without foreign trade, and yet could spare the increase of every seventh year2. To teach them a confidence in the Divine Providence, while they did their duty, That as the sixth day's manna served for two days meat, so the sixth year's increase should serve for two years subsistence.


Verse 13

And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

In all things that I have said unto you be circumspect — We are in danger of missing our way on the right hand and on the left, and it is at our peril if we do, therefore we have need to look about us. A man may ruin himself through mere carelessness, but he cannot save himself without great care and circumspection; particularly since idolatry was a sin they were much addicted to, and would be greatly tempted to, they must endeavour to blot out the remembrance of the gods of the heathen, and must disuse all their superstitious forms of speech, and never mention them but with detestation. In Christian schools and academies (for it is in vain to think of re-forming the play-houses) it were to be wished that the names and stories of the heathen deities or demons rather were not so commonly and familiarly used.


Verse 14

Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.

The Passover, Pentecost, and feast of Tabernacles, in spring, summer, and autumn, were the three times appointed for their attendance; not in winter, because travelling was then uncomfortable; nor in the midst of their harvest.


Verse 17

Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

All thy males — All that were of competent years, and health and strength, and at their own disposal. 'Tis probable, servants were exempt: for none was to appear without an offering: but most of these had nothing to offer.


Verse 19

The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

Some of the Gentiles, at the end of their harvest, seethed a kid in it's dam's milk, and sprinkled that milk-pottage in a magical way upon their gardens and fields, to make them fruitful. But Israel must abhor such foolish customs. Is not this rather forbidden, as having some appearance of cruelty?


Verse 20

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.

Behold, I send an angel before thee — The angel of the covenant: Accordingly the Israelites in the wilderness are said to tempt Christ. It is promised that this blessed anger should keep them in the way, though it lay through a wilderness first, and afterwards through their enemies country; and thus Christ has prepared a place for his followers.


Verse 21

Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

Beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not — It is at your peril if you do; for my name - My nature, my authority is in him.


Verse 25

And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.

He shall bless thy bread and thy water — And God's blessing will make bread and water more refreshing and nourishing, than a feast of fat things, and wines on the lees, without that blessing.

And I will take sickness away — Either prevent it or remove it. Thy land shall not be visited with epidemical diseases, which are very dreadful, and sometimes have laid countries waste.


Verse 26

There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.

The number of thy days I will fulfill — And they shall not be cut off in the midst by untimely deaths. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is.


Verse 27

I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.

I will send my fear before thee — And they that fear will soon flee. Hosts of hornets also made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God make use of for the chastising of his people's enemies.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Exodus 23:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/exodus-23.html. 1765.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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