(Exo 23:1 NASB) “You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.
Exo 23:1: We are not to circulate a false rumor or report. We can do more damage with the tongue than with the sword.
We are not to join with a wicked man in unrighteous testimony either.
(Exo 23:2 NASB) “You shall not follow a multitude in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice;
Exo 23:2: Do not follow a crowd in doing evil. Just because everyone else is doing it, that does not make it correct or righteous. There are many glaring examples of this. But Israel is about to do this themselves when Moses goes up on the mountain for forty days while they stay behind and make for themselves a golden calf to be their god.
We are not to follow a multitude in order to pervert justice either.
(Exo 23:3 NASB) nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.
Exo 23:3: We tend to want to be sympathetic to the poor in their disputes. But social status cannot be a factor in determining truth and justice.
(Exo 23:4 NASB) “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him.
(Exo 23:5 NASB) “If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.
Exo 23:5: If the ox or donkey of our enemy is seen wandering away, we are to return it to them. If the donkey of our enemy is greatly burdened, we are to help him.
Yeshua tells us that we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). How do we do this? Torah gives us an excellent example of how to show love to our enemies. Love is not just a feeling. You might dislike your enemy a great deal. But you are not to act like it. It is your actions that communicate love. If you deliver the lost donkey or ox of your enemy back to him, what can he say? If you help your enemies donkey when it is overloaded, what will the reaction of your enemy be?
The actions mentioned in Torah can go a long way to changing poor relationships (Deut. 22:1-4, Prov. 24:17-18. Prov. 25:21-22)
(Exo 23:6 NASB) “You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute.
Exo 23:6: Justice must always reign. Preference cannot be shown to someone just because they are poor or needy.
(Exo 23:7 NASB) “Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.
(Exo 23:8 NASB) “And you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.
Exo 23:8: Perversion of justice is one thing that Elohim will not tolerate. Since most people in the USA ignore Torah as a foundation for their lives, it is no wonder that our justice system is so thoroughly corrupt.
We probably do not know a fraction of the number of bribes that take place in business, government, and our justice system.
(Exo 23:9 NASB) “And you shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Exo 23:9: The “stranger” is the “ger.” The ger is synonymous with proselyte. Israel was once a stranger in a land also. Israel is to welcome in the ger as one of their own (Lev. 19:33-34).
(Exo 23:10 NASB) “And you shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield,
(Exo 23:11 NASB) but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
Exo 23:11: We see here that the land is supposed to rest on the seventh year. Continuous cultivation of farmable land leads to a serious depletion of it’s nutrients. The Sabbath year rest preserves the fertility of the land and enhances future productivity of the land.
However, this passage reveals the motive behind this law. It is given for social and humanitarian reasons. The following passage states that is the reason for the weekly Sabbath also.
(Exo 23:12 NASB) “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.
Exo 23:12: The purpose for the Sabbath Day is for humanitarian reasons. It is so your animals and servants can all cease from their labor and rest. The Sabbath is not intended to be a burden to man at all. It is was made for his benefit. Yeshua was merely giving us a rephrasing of this passage when He said that the Sabbath Day was made for man, not man for the Sabbath Day (Mark 2:27-28).
(Exo 23:13 NASB) “Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.
Exo 23:13: Here we have a command to not invoke the names of false gods. This was particularly applicable here because the passage has been speaking of the harvest, animals, and other things that pagan nations associate with their false gods.
Also this command is mentioned as an introduction to the section on the Feasts of Yahweh. We are not to bring the invocation of false gods into the celebration of Elohim or His Feasts.
(Exo 23:14 NASB) “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me.
(Exo 23:15 NASB) “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.
Exo 23:15: This is the only month that has a Scriptural name attached to it. It is the first month of the year and it is called “Abib.”
(Exo 23:16 NASB) “Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field.
(Exo 23:17 NASB) “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
Exo 23:17: There are three Feasts that we are commanded to meet in Jerusalem to appear before Yahweh. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths.
Paul told us to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened bread decades after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Messiah (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
The Feast of Weeks is also known as Pentecost. Paul insisted on being back in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost even in the waning years of his ministry (Acts 20:16).
We are told specifically that the Feast of booths will be celebrated when Yeshua is reigning on the earth (Zech. 14:16-18).
(Exo 23:18 NASB) “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning.
Exo 23:18: These are reminders of some of the laws of sacrifices detailed in Leviticus.
(Exo 23:19 NASB) “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You are not to boil a kid in the milk of its mother.
Exo 23:19: We are to bring from the firstfruits of our harvests to Elohim. The next phrase seems to be a strange one, but must pertain to acts of cruelty or insensitivity to animals.
While it certainly seems to be a stretch, the Jewish community largely uses this command to abstain from eating meat and dairy products at the same meal.
(Exo 23:20 NASB) “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
(Exo 23:21 NASB) “Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.
Exo 23:21: Elohim sent an angel to lead the people. They were to obey his voice. It is likely that this messenger is a manifestation of the Father since His Name (character) is in Him.
(Exo 23:22 NASB) “But if you will truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
(Exo 23:23 NASB) “For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.
(Exo 23:24 NASB) “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them, and break their sacred pillars in pieces.
Exo 23:24: We are not to do according to the deeds of those who worship pagan gods (Sunday crap, Xmas, Ishtar, etc.). Any resemblance of worshiping pagan gods is to be removed from our presence.
(Exo 23:25 NASB) “But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst.
Exo 23:25: The blessings for obedience are plentiful.
(Exo 23:26 NASB) “There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.
(Exo 23:27 NASB) “I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
(Exo 23:28 NASB) “And I will send hornets ahead of you, that they may drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.
Exo 23:28: Elohim did indeed send the hornets out to drive the pagan people out of Canaan (Josh 24:11-12).
(Exo 23:29 NASB) “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate, and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.
(Exo 23:30 NASB) “I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.
Exo 23:30: Elohim has things timed to where they work out best for His people. They may not realize it at the time, but His ways and timing are much better than ours.
(Exo 23:31 NASB) “And I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.
(Exo 23:32 NASB) “You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.
(Exo 23:33 NASB) “They shall not live in your land, lest they make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
Exo 23:33: Elohim finishes this chapter with a strong warning against making a covenant with pagan people and serving false gods. It will be a snare to us. Making a covenant with those who worship false gods is forbidden and will be a snare for us (Ex. 34:12). Also, mixing His worship with pagan worship is forbidden and will be a snare for us also (Deut. 7:16) .
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas