|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-9 In the law of Moses are very plain marks of sound moral feeling, and of true political wisdom. Every thing in it is suited to the desired and avowed object, the worship of one only God, and the separation of Israel from the pagan world. Neither parties, friends, witnesses, nor common opinions, must move us to lessen great faults, to aggravate small ones, excuse offenders, accuse the innocent, or misrepresent any thing.
Verse 8. - And thou shalt take no gift. The worst sin of a judge, and the commonest in the East, is to accept abribe from one of the parties to a suit, and give sentence accordingly. As such a practice defeats the whole end for which the administration of justice exists, it is, when detected, for the most part, punished capitally. Josephus tells us that it was so among the Jews (Contr. Apion. 2:27); but the Mosaic code, as it has come down to us, omits to fix the penalty. Whatever it was, it was practically set at nought. Eli's sons "turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment" (1 Samuel 8:3). In David's time, men's hands were "full of bribes" (Psalm 26:10). Solomon complains of wicked men" taking gifts out of their bosoms to pervert the ways of judgment" (Proverbs 17:23). Isaiah is never weary of bearing witness against the princes of his day, who" love gifts and follow after rewards" (Isaiah 1:23);who "justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him" (Isaiah 5:23). Micah adds his testimony - "Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward" (Exodus 3:9-11). The gift blindeth the wise. See Deuteronomy 16:19.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And thou shalt take no gift,.... Of the persons whose cause is to be tried in a court of judicature before judges; neither of those on the one side nor on the other, neither before the trial nor after, neither by words, by a promise, nor by facts, by actually receiving money; and not even to judge truly, as Jarchi observes, neither to clear the innocent nor to condemn the guilty: a gift was not to be taken on any consideration whatever:
for the gift blindeth the wise; or the "seeing" (a); the open ones, who used to have both their eyes and their ears open, and attentive to the cause before them; and yet a gift so blinds them, by casting such a mist before them, that they are inattentive to the true merits of the cause, and their affections and judgments are to be carried away in favour of those that have bribed them, as to pass a wrong sentence:
and perverteth the words of the righteous; either the sentences of righteous judges, as they ought to be, but a gift perverts their judgment, and they give a wrong decree; or the causes of the righteous that are brought before those are perverted by giving the cause to their adversaries, who are wicked men.
(a) "videntes", Pagninus, Vatablus, Cartwright; "apertos", Montanus, Drusius.
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