Exodus 23
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
Exodus 23:2

At certain seasons the only way of being right in the future consists in knowing how to resign ourselves to being unfashionable in the present.


Universal suffrage assembled at hustings—I will consult it about the quality of New Orleans pork, or the coarser kinds of Irish butter; but as to the character of men, I will if possible ask it no question: or if the question be asked and the answer given, I will generally consider, in cases of any importance, that the said answer is likely to be wrong,—that I have to listen to the said answer and receive it as authentic, and for my own share to go, and with whatever strength may lie in me, do the reverse of the same. Even so, your Lordship; for how should I follow a multitude to do evil? There are such things as multitudes full of beer and nonsense, even of insincere factitious nonsense, who by hypothesis cannot but be wrong.

—Carlyle, Latter-day Pamphlets (ii.).

Human authority at the strongest is but weak, but the multitude is the weakest part of human authority.

—John Hales.

Reference.—XXIII. 2.—J. Cole Coghlan, Penny Pulpit, vol. xiv. No. 828, p. 293.

Exodus 23:6

It is a lamentable fact that pure and uncorrupt justice has never existed in Spain, as far at least as record will allow us to judge; not that the principles of justice have been less understood there than in other countries, but because the entire system of justiciary administration has ever been shamelessly profligate and vile. Spanish justice has invariably been a mockery, a thing to be bought and sold, terrible only to the feeble and innocent, and an instrument of cruelty and avarice.

—Borrow's The Gypsies of Spain (chap. xi. pt. i.).

Exodus 23:8

And that he would for no respect digress from justice well appeared by a plain example of another of his sons-in-law, Mr. Heran. For when he, having a matter before him in the Chancery, presuming too much of his favour, would by him in no wise be persuaded to agree to any indifferent order, then made he in conclusion a flat decree against him.... And one Mr. Gresham likewise having a cause depending in the Chancery against him, sent him for a new year's gift a fair cup, the fashion whereof he very well liking caused one of his own to be brought out of his chamber, which he willed the messenger to deliver in recompense, and under other conditions would he in no wise receive it. Many things more of like effect for the declaration of his innocence and clearness from corruption, or evil affection, could I here rehearse besides.

—Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More.

Compare the discussion on bribery in Macaulay's Essay on Bacon.

Exodus 23:9

It was God's argument to the Israelites, to be kind to strangers, because themselves had been strangers in the land of Egypt. So should you pity them that are strangers to Christ, and to the hopes and comforts of the saints, because you were once strangers to them yourselves.

—Baxter, Saints' Rest, chap. IX.

Exodus 23:11

God throws the poor upon our charge—in mercy to us. Couldn't He take care of them without us if He wished? are they not His? It's easy for the poor to feel, when they are helped by us, that the rich are a godsend to them; but they don't see, and many of their helpers don't see, that the poor are a godsend to the rich. They're set over against each other to keep pity and mercy and charity in the human heart. If every one were entirely able to take care of himself we'd turn to stone.... God Almighty will never let us find a way to quite abolish poverty. Riches don't always bless the man they come to, but they bless the world. And so with poverty; and it's no contemptible commission to be appointed by God to bear that blessing to mankind which keeps its brotherhood universal.

—G. W. Cable, Dr. Sevier, p. 447.

References.—XXIII. 12.—J. H. Shakespeare, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. 1900, p. 248. XXIII. 14,15.—A. M. Fairbairn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiii. 1903, p. 316. XXIII. 15-17.—G. Monks, Pastor in Ecclesia, p. 135. XXIII. 16.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureExodus, etc., p. 115. XXIII. 18-20.—Bishop Simpson's Sermons, p. 347.

Exodus 23:19

'In less than two minutes,' says Scott, describing at the close of Kenilworth the murder of Amy Robsart, 'Foster heard the tramp of a horse in the courtyard, and then a whistle similar to that which was the Earl's usual signal;—the instant after, the door of the Countess's chamber opened, and in the same moment the trap-door gave way. There was a rushing sound—a heavy fall—a faint groan—and all was over.... "So pass our troubles," said Varney, entering the room; "I dreamed not I could have mimicked the Earl's call so well." "Oh, if there be judgment in Heaven, thou hast deserved it," said Foster, "and wilt meet it! Thou hast destroyed her by means of her best affections. It is a seething of the kid in the mother's milk!"' Compare Newman's resentful application of this verse to the behaviour of the Anglican Bishops towards himself in 1843. 'I resigned my living on September the 18th. I had not the means of doing it legally at Oxford. The late Mr. Goldsmid was kind enough to aid me in resigning it in London. I found no fault with the Liberals; they had beaten me in a fair field. As to the act of the Bishops, I thought, to borrow a Scriptural image from Walter Scott, that they had "seethed the kid in his mother's milk".'

Reference.—XXIII. 20, 21.—J. B. Brown, The Divine Life in Man, p. 235.

Exodus 23:29

I had never an extraordinary enlargement, either of joy, strength, or sanctification, but the waters dried up. There are no sudden steps in grace; 'I will not drive them out all at once'.

—Fraser of Brea, Memoirs (chap. 1.).

References.—XXIII. 30.—C. Jerdan, Pastures of Tender Grass, p. 299. XXIV. 1-12.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureExodus, etc., p. 118.

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:
Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.
If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
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.
Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.
And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:
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.
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.
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.
Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.
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:)
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.
Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.
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.
Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
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.
For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
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.
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.
There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.
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.
And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
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.
By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
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.
Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
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.
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

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