Exodus xxiii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Lie, by countenancing calumny. Judges must never do any thing which they know to be unjust, whatever the witnesses may assert. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. Favour. Mercy would then be contrary to justice. (Psalm lxxi. 2; St. Augustine q. 88.)

Ver. 8. Bribes, which naturally induce the receiver to shew favour, and therefore cannot be too carefully avoided. The Athenians put to death those who bribed the judges, and required the latter to restore ten-fold. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. The hearts. You have experienced what sorrow and misery they feel. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Year. Thus God was pleased to teach them to place entire confidence in him, and to compassionate the distress of the poor. Most people suppose, that the sabbatic year commenced in autumn; as otherwise the land would have remained without any harvest two years. This law began to be observed the 7th year after Josue crossed the Jordan. Jerusalem was thrice besieged during the sabbatic years. (Jeremias xxxiv. 8; 1 Machabees vi. 51.) See Josephus, Antiquities xii. 14. and xiv. 28. God blessed the 6th year, so that it produced as much as three, Leviticus xxv. 21. (Calmet) — On the feast of tabernacles, (in September) at the beginning of the 7th year, Deuteronomy was to be read aloud to all the people, the Hebrew slaves might obtain their liberty, and if a person could not restore what he had borrowed, it was to be remitted for ever, Deuteronomy xv. and xxxi. 10. (Tirinus)

Ver. 13. Name. Hence it is supposed, the Jews have given abusive titles to the idols; as they call Beelzebub the god-fly, &c. No respect was to be shewn to them. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Three. Women are not here mentioned; but they are, Deuteronomy xxxi. 12. Children under 13, were exempted from the obligation, according to the Caraites. Men from 20 to 60, not lawfully hindered, were bound to appear, Leviticus xxvii. 3.

Ver. 15. Empty. But shalt offer something in sacrifice, and for the support of the Levites, freely, Deuteronomy xvi. 10. At the Passover, the first-fruits of barley were to be offered, as those of wheat would be ready at Pentecost. The third feast, was that of tabernacles, at the conclusion of the civil year. Presents were to be made to God, in testimony of their submission to him; as they were to the kings of the east, by their subjects. (Tavernier, Perse. iv. 16.) See 1 Kings x. 27. and 1 Paralipomenon xviii. 2. — A sixtieth part of the fruits, at least, was carried to the temple. They consisted of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, apricots, olives, and dates. The king himself carried his basket, and when the solemn procession arrived at the temple, the Levites began to sing the Psalm xxix., I will extol thee, O Lord, &c. After which, the people repeated the words of Deuteronomy xxvi. 3; and having given their baskets to the priests, (ver. 4,) recited parts of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses. (Calmet) — God. Here the Septuagint add, “For when I shall have cast the Gentiles from before thy face, and extended thy limits.”

Ver. 18. Thou, &c. This has a reference to the feast of the Passover, ver. 15, (Onkelos) as well as the following verse. (Calmet)

Ver. 19. Dam. The paschal victim must not be so young as to be still suckled. The Samaritan subjoins, “Because that would be like immolating an animal found dead, and the God of Jacob hates it.” (Calmet) — Some imagine that this law alludes to a superstitious custom of the pagans, (Spencer, Rit. ii. 8,) or it forbids eating animals while they are, as it were, all milk, not eight days old. (Rivet)

Ver. 20. Angel; my only son. (Philo) — St. Paul says, they tempted Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians x. 9,) who is styled, the angel of the covenant, Malachias iii. 1. Some apply this to Josue, others to St. Michael, who, from the cloud, conducted the army of Israel. (Calmet)

Ver. 21. Forgive. Dimittet, as well as the Hebrew and Septuagint, may signify, “he will not abandon.” (Haydock) — My name. Moses, Josue, and still more our Saviour, acted in the name and by the authority of God the Father.

Ver. 25. Waters, or all things necessary for your sustenance.

Ver. 26. Fruitless. Hebrew may also be, “miscarrying.” — Days. An untimely death was a judgment of God on the wicked, though sometimes he chooses to draw his elect quickly out of this dangerous world, Wisdom iv. 11.

Ver. 27. Destroy. Hebrew, “fill with consternation.”

Ver. 28. Hornets, or wasps, Wisdom xii. 8. Josue (xxiv. 12) assures us this was verified. Thus scorpions forced the Ethiopians to abandon their country; and flies and wasps drove away the Mysians and Phaselides. See Bochart, iv. 13. The latter people were of PhÅ“nician extraction, and probably fled before Josue. Most of the Chanaanites withdrew into Africa; some perhaps into America. (Calmet)

Ver. 29. Beasts. Herod the great killed many in hunting. (Josephus, Jewish Wars i. 16.) Two bears rushed upon the children, 4 Kings ii. 24. How much would they have increased in all the countries from the Euphrates to the Nile, had they been destitute of any other inhabitants but the Hebrews, (Calmet) many of whom perished in the desert!

Ver. 33. Scandal. If you have any society with these nations, it will turn to your ruin, which was but too literally manifested afterwards.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Laws for judges: the rest of the seventh year, and day: three principal feasts to be solemnized every year: the promise of an angel, to conduct and protect them: idols are to be destroyed.

1 Thou shalt not receive the voice of a lie: neither shalt thou join thy hand to bear false witness for a wicked person.

2 Thou shalt not follow the multitude to do evil: neither shalt thou yield in judgment, to the opinion of the most part, to stray from the truth.

3 Neither shalt thou favour a poor man in judgment.

4 *If thou meet thy enemy’s ox or ass going astray, bring it back to him.

5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lie underneath his burden, thou shalt not pass by, but shalt lift him up with him.

6 Thou shalt not go aside in the poor man’s judgment.

7 Thou shalt fly lying.* The innocent and just person thou shalt not put to death: because I abhor the wicked.

8 *Neither shalt thou take bribes, which even blind the wise, and pervert the words of the just.

9 Thou shalt not molest a stranger, for you know the hearts of strangers: *for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.

10 Six years thou shalt sow thy ground, and shalt gather the corn thereof.

11 *But the seventh year thou shalt let it alone, and suffer it to rest, that the poor of thy people may eat, and whatsoever shall be left, let the beasts of the field eat it: so shalt thou do with thy vineyard and thy oliveyard.

12 Six days thou shalt work: the seventh day thou shalt cease, that thy ox and thy ass may rest: and the son of thy hand-maid and the stranger may be refreshed.

13 Keep all things that I have said to you. And by the name of strange gods you shall not swear, neither shall it be heard out of your mouth.

14 Three times every year you shall celebrate feasts to me.

15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread. *Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month of new corn, when thou didst come forth out of Egypt: **thou shalt not appear empty before me.

16 And the feast of the harvest of the first-fruits of thy work, whatsoever thou hast sown in the field. The feast also in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in all thy corn out of the field.

17 *Thrice a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God.

18 Thou shalt not sacrifice the blood of my victim upon leaven, neither shall the fat of my solemnity remain until the morning.

19 *Thou shalt carry the first-fruits of the corn of thy ground to the house of the Lord thy God. **Thou shalt not boil a kid in the milk of his dam.

20 Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared.

21 Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him.

22 *But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee.

23 *And my angel shall go before thee, and shall bring thee in unto the Amorrhite, and the Hethite, and the Pherezite, and the Chanaanite, and the Hevite, and the Jebuzite[Jebusite?], whom I will destroy.

24 Thou shalt not adore their gods, nor serve them. Thou shalt not do their works, but shalt destroy them, and break their statues.

25 And you shall serve the Lord your God, that I may bless your bread and your waters, and may take away sickness from the midst of thee.

26 There shall not be one fruitless nor barren in thy land: I will fill the number of thy days.

27 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come: and will turn the backs of all thy enemies before thee:

28 *Sending out hornets before, that shall drive away the Hevite, and the Chanaanite, and the Hethite, before thou come in.

29 I will not cast them out from thy face in one year; lest the land be brought into a wilderness, and the beasts multiply against thee.

30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, till thou be increased, and dost possess the land.

31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea to the sea of the Palestines, and from the desert to the river: I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hands, and will drive them out from before you.

32 *Thou shalt not enter into league with them, nor with their gods.

33 Let them not dwell in thy land, lest perhaps they make thee sin against me, if thou serve their gods; which, undoubtedly, will be a scandal to thee.



4: Deuteronomy xxii. 1.

7: Daniel xiii. 53.

8: Deuteronomy xvi. 19.; Ecclesiasticus xx. 31.

9: Genesis xlvi. 6.

11: Leviticus xxv. 4.

15: Exodus xiii. 3. and 4. and xxxiv. 22. — ** Deuteronomy xvi. 16.; Ecclesiasticus xxxv. 6.

17: Exodus xxxiv. 23.; Deuteronomy xvi. 16.

19: Exodus xxxiv. 26. — ** Deuteronomy xiv. 21.

22: Deuteronomy vii. 11.

23: Exodus xxxiii. 2.; Josue xxiv. 11.; Deuteronomy vii. 22.

28: Deuteronomy vii. 20.

32: Exodus xxxiv. 15.; Deuteronomy vii. 2.