King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 23

Laws against falsehood and injustice. (1-9) The year of rest, The sabbath, The three festivals. (10-19) God promises to conduct the Israelites to Canaan. (20-33)

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Laws against falsehood and injustice

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

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

3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.

4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.

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

8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.

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.

The year of rest, The sabbath, The three festivals

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

11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.

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.

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

15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)

16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the LORD God.

18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.

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.

God promises to conduct the Israelites to Canaan

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.

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

22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.

24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

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.

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

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.

28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.

29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.

30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.

31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.

33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Lie, by countenancing calumny. Judges must never do any thing which they know to be unjust, whatever the witnesses may assert. The person who speaks against his neighbour, would injure him, if he had an opportunity. Quintel. — Heb. “Thou shalt not raise a false report.” H.

Ver. 3. Favour. Mercy would then be contrary to justice. Ps. lxxi. 2. S. Aug. 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. C.

Ver. 9. The hearts. You have experienced what sorrow and misery they feel. M.

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. Jer. xxxiv. 8. 1 Mac. vi. 51. See Josep. Ant. xii. 14. xiv. 28. God blessed the 6th year, so that it produced as much as three. Lev. xxv. 21. C. — 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. Deut. xv. and xxxi. 10. T.

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

Ver. 14. Three. Women are not here mentioned; but they are, Deut. 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. Levit. xxvii. 3.

Ver. 15. Empty. But shalt offer something in sacrifice, and for the support of the Levites, freely. Deut. 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 K. x. 27. 1 Par. 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 Ps. xxix. I will extol thee, O Lord, &c. After which, the people repeated the words of Deut. xxvi. 3.; and having given their baskets to the priests, (v. 4,) recited parts of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses. C. — God. Here the Sept. 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, v. 15, (Onkelos) as well as the following verse. C.

Ver. 19. Dam. The paschal victim must not be so young as to be still suckled. The Sam. subjoins, “Because that would be like immolating an animal found dead, and the God of Jacob hates it.” C. — 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. — S. Paul says, they tempted Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. x. 9,) who is styled, the angel of the covenant. Mal. iii. 1. Some apply this to Josue, others to S. Michael, who, from the cloud, conducted the army of Israel. C.

Ver. 21. Forgive. Dimittet, as well as the Heb. and Sept., may signify, “he will not abandon.” H. — 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. Heb. 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. Wisd. iv. 11.

Ver. 27. Destroy. Heb. “fill with consternation.”

Ver. 28. Hornets, or wasps. Wisd. 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 Phœnician extraction, and probably fled before Josue. Most of the Chanaanites withdrew into Africa; some perhaps into America. C.

Ver. 29. Beasts. Herod the great killed many in hunting. Josep. Bel. i. 16. Two bears rushed upon the children, 4 K. 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, (C.) 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.