Exodus 22:20
He that sacrifices to any god, save to the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) He that sacrificeth.—Sacrifice in this place represents worship generally, being its most essential act. Elsewhere the death-penalty is affixed to any acknowledgment of false gods (Deuteronomy 13:1-16).

Shall be utterly destroyed.—Heb., Shall be devoted, i.e., devoted to destruction.

22; 1 - 31 Judicial laws. - The people of God should ever be ready to show mildness and mercy, according to the spirit of these laws. We must answer to God, not only for what we do maliciously, but for what we do heedlessly. Therefore, when we have done harm to our neighbour, we should make restitution, though not compelled by law. Let these scriptures lead our souls to remember, that if the grace of God has indeed appeared to us, then it has taught us, and enabled us so to conduct ourselves by its holy power, that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:12. And the grace of God teaches us, that as the Lord is our portion, there is enough in him to satisfy all the desires of our souls.This was probably an old formula, the sense of which, on its ethical side, is comprised in the first and second commandments.

Shall be utterly destroyed - The Hebrew word here used is חרם châram (i. e. devoted). See Leviticus 27:28.

6. If fire break out, and catch in thorns—This refers to the common practice in the East of setting fire to the dry grass before the fall of the autumnal rains, which prevents the ravages of vermin, and is considered a good preparation of the ground for the next crop. The very parched state of the herbage and the long droughts of summer, make the kindling of a fire an operation often dangerous, and always requiring caution from its liability to spread rapidly.

stacks—or as it is rendered "shocks" (Jud 15:5; Job 5:26), means simply a bundle of loose sheaves.

Sacrificeth, or otherwise worshippeth, as appears from Deu 17:2-5, and many other places. One act of worship put for all by a very familiar synecdoche.

Destroyed, Heb. anathematized, i.e. esteemed execrable, and as such destroyed without mercy. See Deu 13:15 18:20. He that sacrificeth unto any god,.... To Elohim, to strange gods, to the idols of the people, as the Targum of Jonathan; to the Egyptian deities, to the gods of the Moabites, Amorites, Edomites, Canaanites, Philistines, or any other: Aben Ezra says the word Elohim comprehends angels; and by the exceptive clause it is plain it takes in all that had been, were, or ever would be the objects of idolatrous worship, especially the sun, moon, and stars, the principal objects of worship in those days:

save unto the Lord only; the true and living God; Jehovah, the self-existent, immutable, and eternal Being; the Creator of all things, the possessor of heaven and earth, the most high God, and the only one: sacrificing takes in all the acts of service performed to an idol as to the true God, as offering incense, pouring out a libation, as well as slaying and burning an animal as Jarchi observes: he shall be utterly destroyed; be accursed, anathematized, devoted to destruction, as the word used signifies: the Targum of Jonathan is,"he shall be killed with the sword, and his goods consumed,''not only lose his life but his substance, and so be destroyed in body and estate.

He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Sacrifice by an Israelite to any god save Jehovah to be punished with the ban. Jehovah is a ‘jealous God’ (Exodus 20:5), who does not tolerated the worship of any other god beside Himself.

utterly destroyed] banned or devoted. The ‘ban’ (ḥérem) was an archaic institution, often alluded to in the OT. A city or nation that was hostile to Jehovah was ‘banned,’ or ‘devoted’ (etymologically, as Arabic shews, separated or set apart1[189]), i.e. given over to Him as a form of offering, human beings being destroyed, with or without the cattle and spoil as well, according to the gravity of the occasion. For examples, see Deuteronomy 2:34 f., Exodus 3:6 f., Exodus 7:2, Exodus 13:12-18 (an idolatrous Isr. city to be ‘devoted’), Joshua 6:17-19; Joshua 6:21, Jdg 1:17; Jdg 21:11, 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 15:9. Here the ‘ban’ is to be put in force against the Israelite who is disloyal to Jehovah. The ban was also a Moabite institution. Mesha in his inscription (see DB. s.v. Moab, or EB. s.v. Mesha), ll. 16–18 tells us how, after he had carried off the ‘vessels of Yahweh’ from the town of Nebo (Numbers 32:38), and dragged them before Chemosh, he slew 7000 Israelite prisoners, for he had ‘devoted’ the city to Ashtor-Chemosh (cf. Numbers 21:2 f.). See further DB. v. 619b, EB. Ban.

[189] The root is the Arabic ḥarama, to shut off, set apart, whence ḥarâm, the sacred enclosure round the Mosque of Omar at Jerusalem, and ḥarîm, the secluded part of a Mohammedan establishment, in which the women live, applied also to its occupants, i.e. the ‘harem.’

In AV. heḥěrîm was usually rendered ‘utterly destroy,’ and the corresponding subst. ḥérem ‘cursed thing’ (Deuteronomy 7:26), or (in Joshua 6, Joshua 7.) ‘accursed thing’: but these renderings both express secondary ideas, besides being to all appearance entirely unrelated to each other: in RV. the verb, when applied to things, is rendered ‘devote’ (as Leviticus 27:29 AV.); when applied to human beings it is still rendered ‘utterly destroy,’ but ‘Heb. devote’ has been added on the margin; and ‘devoted thing’ has been substituted for ‘cursed’ and ‘accursed thing’ (e.g. Joshua 6:18; Joshua 7:1 ff.): the connexion between the two cognate terms has thus been preserved throughout.Verse 20. - Law against sacrificing to false gods. Sacrifice was the chief act of worship; and to sacrifice to a false god was to renounce the true God. Under a theocracy this was rebellion, and rightly punished with temporal death. In ordinary states it would be no civil offence, and would be left to the final judgment of the Almighty. Utterly destroyed. Literally, "devoted;" but with the meaning of "devoted to destruction." If any one borrowed an animal of his neighbour (to use it for some kind of work), and it got injured and died, he was to make compensation to the owner, unless the latter were present at the time; but not if he were. "For either he would see that it could not have been averted by any human care; or if it could, seeing that he, the owner himself, was present, and did not avert it, it would only be right that he should suffer the consequence of his own neglect to afford assistance" (Calovius). The words which follow, וגו שׂכיר אם, cannot have any other meaning than this, "if it was hired, it has come upon his hire," i.e., he has to bear the injury or loss for the money which he got for letting out the animal. The suggestion which Knobel makes with a "perhaps," that שׂכיר refers to a hired labourer, to whom the word is applied in other places, and that the meaning is this, "if it is a labourer for hire, he goes into his hire, - i.e., if the hirer is a daily labourer who has nothing with which to make compensation, he is to enter into the service of the person who let him the animal, for a sufficiently long time to make up for the loss," - is not only opposed to the grammar (the perfect בּא for which יבא should be used), but is also at variance with the context, "not make it good."
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