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CHAPTER 23 Feb.13 
Principles of Judgment
You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness. 2You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice; 3neither shall you show partiality to a poor man in his legal case. 4If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. 5If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don’t leave him, you shall surely help him with it. 6You shall not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7Keep far from a false charge, and don’t kill the innocent and righteous: for I will not justify the wicked. 8You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds those who have sight and perverts the words of the righteous. 9You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Principles of Agricultural Ethics
10For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase, 11but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animals of the field shall eat. In the same way, you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove. 12Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the alien may be refreshed. 13Be careful to do all things that I have said to you; and don’t invoke the name of other gods, neither let them be heard out of your mouth. 14You shall observe a feast to Me three times a year. 15You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out from Egypt), and no one shall appear before me empty. 16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labours, which you sow in the field: and the feast of harvest, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labours out of the field. 17Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh. 18You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, neither shall the fat of My feast remain all night until the morning. 19The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of Yahweh your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
The Exclusive Nature of the Covenant
20Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep you by the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21Pay attention to him, and listen to his voice. Don’t provoke him, for he will not pardon your disobedience, for My name is in him. 22But if you indeed listen to his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries. 23For My angel shall go before you, and bring you in to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; and I will cut them off. 24You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and demolish their pillars. 25You shall serve Yahweh your God, and He will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from your midst. 26No one will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will fulfil the number of your days. 27I will send My terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28I will send the hornet before you, which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before you. 29I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the animals of the field multiply against you. 30Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and inherit the land. 31I will set your border from the Red Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.


23:2 We go astray “like sheep” (Is. 53:6)- we tend to sin because of others’ influence, because we’re not as strongly individualistic and independent as we like to think we are.
23:4,5 These are further examples of how God’s law differs from human laws in that it criminalizes internal attitudes. It was impossible to prove the sin of omitting to help your enemy’s animal, nor enforce the law against it- because it would’ve been invisible to others. Yet the God who sees all stands in judgment upon our innermost thoughts and desires. Note too that sins of omission are just as bad as sins of commission; the man who refused to help the animal could’ve returned to his home that day feeling he hadn’t actually committed anything wrong. But his sin of omission would’ve been noticed by God.
23:12 God’s sensitivity to animals shines through the Law- the fact even animals are living beings and not mere machines should be felt by us too. God’s intention was to inculcate an all round spirit of sensitivity to others in human life, and that included animals.
23:13 They were not to even mention the names of idols- a principle alluded to in Eph. 5:3, where we are told that we shouldn’t even name or talk about immorality and evil. For these are the idols of our age. We aren’t to sin vicariously, by watching, reading and speaking about sinful things whilst not physically doing them ourselves.
23:21 God’s Name being carried by the Angel explains how Moses later is recorded as talking with Yahweh face to face, even though we are also told that He cannot ever be seen by humans. Moses spoke with the Angel who carried the Yahweh Name, and who was therefore functionally as God to men. The same principle explains how men, and especially Christ, can be spoken of as God because they carried His Name, without this making them God Himself in person.
23:23 This happened invisibly, with the Angel working through circumstances to weaken those tribes. But the Israelites failed to believe this verse, feeling that those tribes were far too strong for them (Num. 13:30-33).
23:28 The sending of hornets ahead of Israel parallels the sending of the Angel ahead of them (:23). The reference may be to literal hornets devastating and weakening the Canaanites; or it could refer instead to Egyptian tribes or the Philistines, some of whom had hornets on their armour, attacking and weakening the Canaanite tribes just before the Israelites arrived. This situation was providentially arranged by the Angel who went before Israel. The obstacles to our possessing the Kingdom seem huge and strong, but in fact they have been significantly weakened by God’s providence. Invisible to us, the Angels likewise are potentially preparing our way to enter the Kingdom.
23:29 The God who is so far away from this earth foresees the situations we will face in life, and like a true Father, arranges things so that they will not be too great for us to overcome. His sensitivity to us is amazing.