Bible Study Notes on Exodus 23:1-19 – 20190217

WritingIIIExodus 23:1  “You shall not circulate a false report…”
Honesty in business affairs.  And it goes beyond that to joining others for the purpose of being deceitful.

2  “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil…”
Joining or following the multitude to do evil.  This appears to be a specific decision, but I also think you can look at it as a warning about mob mentality.  Always need to keep your wits about you and your head in the game.

3  “You shall not show partiality to a poor man…”
Simply because he’s poor.  People should be treated equally without regard to their social or financial status.  The poor can be guilty as well as the wealthy.

4  “If you meet your enemy’s ox…”
How to treat enemies.  Show respect for his property.  Elsewhere it says to give him water and food if he’s thirsty and hungry.  As God treats him.

6  “You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor…”
Just as you don’t show partiality to the poor, you must also not take advantage of him because he is poor.

7  “…do not kill the innocent and righteous…”
Be sure of the guilt of the accused.  If God was concerned about those who might be guilty, He certainly doesn’t want us killing those we can be positive aren’t guilty, like the unborn.  They don’t get any more innocent than that.

9  “…you shall not oppress a stranger…”
Another admonition against oppressing strangers just because they’re strangers.  The whole point of having a chosen people in the land was to show God to the world.  He would bring the strangers to them, and they would show them the one true God.  They would certainly protect against invaders, those who wanted to do them harm, but they were to give others the benefit of the doubt.

11  “…the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow…”
Sabbatical year.  Allow the land to rest from regular use.  The poor would be allowed to harvest what grew on its own, as well as wild animals.  And the commentaries said it also carried the idea of more spiritual reflection.  Like fasting.  Instead of plowing, let the time point to closer walks with God.

12  “…the son of your female servant…”
Thought the phrasing was a bit specific.  But the commentaries said it was probably representative of slaves or servants in general.  Those born within the house.

13  “…be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods…”
Thought it odd to just throw this in, but commentary made a good statement about it.  The people had been living with pagans and their false gods for so long, having idols was second nature.  God reminds them they must be aware of this danger at all times.  They must not fall into worship of false gods.  Unfortunately, we know they didn’t heed the warning.

14-17  “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year…all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD”
The three annual feasts to be observed by all males.  Feast of Unleavened Bread which had the Passover, Feast of Harvest which had the firstfruits, and the Feast of Ingathering after the harvest.  I’m pretty sure there are more specific details of these three listed elsewhere.

18  “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning.”
I thought this was an admonition to not mix a representation of sin with the sacrifices.  But commentaries suggest that since some sacrifices allowed leavened bread and given the mention of the fat not remaining, they think this is a reference strictly to the Passover observance and the lamb in particular.  Only unleavened bread was to be used, and the lamb was to be completely eaten with any remains burned.  Nothing left until morning.

19  “…You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk”
Odd prohibition.  Commentaries say it’s mentioned a couple of other places.  They also have a couple of ideas.  One is a possible reference to a pagan practice of using the milk to anoint the land for good crops.  The other is the standard warning against cruelty to animals.  Most thought it would be unusually cruel to destroy a lamb in that which was supposed to be nourishing it.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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