You shall not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of your people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thou shalt not revile the gods.—The LXX. And Vulgate give the passage this sense; and so it was understood, or at any rate expounded, by Philo (De Vit. Mos. ii. 26) and Josephus (Ant. Jud. iv. 8, § 10), who boasted that the Jews abstained from reviling the gods of the nations. But the practice of the most pious Israelites in the best times was different (1Kings 18:27; Psalm 115:4-8; Psalm 135:15-18; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 44:9-20; Jeremiah 10:11-15, &c.). The gods of the heathen were uniformly, and with the utmost scorn. “reviled.” It has been suggested that the true meaning of elohim in this place is “judges” (Rosenmüller, Zunz, Herxheimer); but to have that sense, the word requires the article. It is best, therefore, to translate by “God,” as is done by De Wette, Knobel, Keil, Kalisch, Canon Cook, &c., and to understand the entire passage as intended to connect the sin of cursing a ruler with that of reviling God, the ruler being regarded as God’s representative.Exodus 22:28. Thou shalt not revile the gods — That is, the judges and magistrates. Princes and magistrates are our fathers, whom the fifth commandment obligeth us to honour, and forbids us to revile. St. Paul applies this law to himself, and owns that he ought not to speak evil of the ruler of his people, no, not though he was then his most unrighteous persecutor, Acts 23:5.Exodus 21:6 note. Many take it as the name of God (as in Genesis 1:1), and this certainly seems best to represent the Hebrew, and to suit the context.
Curse the ruler ... - See Acts 23:5.
the ruler of thy people—and the chief magistrate who was also the high priest, at least in the time of Paul (Ac 23:1-5).Gods; not gods falsely so called, as some would have it, as appears by 1 Kings 18:27 Jeremiah 10:11; but magistrates and governors, whether civil or ecclesiastical, as it is evident both from Acts 23:3-5 and from the following words, which explain the former, according to the common use of Scripture, and from the title of gods commonly given to such, as Exodus 7:1 Psalm 82:6 John 10:34,35.
The ruler of thy people. Compare /APC Sir 10:20, Judges 1:8. Deuteronomy 12:2 nor can it be thought that care should be taken, lest the honour of the Heathen deities should be detracted from; but civil magistrates, the judges of the land, and the like, are meant, who are powers ordained of God, are in his stead, and represent him, and therefore respect should be shown them; nor should they be treated with any degree of slight and contempt, which may discourage and intimidate them, and deter them from the execution of their office: the Targum of Jonathan interprets them of judges very rightly, agreeably to Psalm 82:1 and so Aben Ezra says,"they are the judges and the priests, the sons of Levi, with whom the law is:"
nor curse the ruler of thy people whether civil or ecclesiastic; the last mentioned Jewish writer intend of the king, who is the supreme ruler in things civil, and ought to be honoured and loved, served and obeyed, and not hated and cursed, no, not secretly, not in the bedchamber, nor in the thought of the heart, since not only the thing is criminal but dangerous; it is much if it is not discovered, and then ruin follows upon it, Ecclesiastes 10:20. The Apostle Paul applies it to the high priest among the Jews, who was the ruler in sacred things, Acts 23:5 and may be applicable to the prince of the sanhedrim, or chief in the grand court of judicature; and even to all dignified persons, who ought not to be spoken ill of, and to be abused in the execution of their office, and especially when they perform well.Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)28. Reverence to be shewn to God, and to those in authority.
revile] the word (ḳâlal) usually rendered curse (e.g. Exodus 21:17): here represented by revile, because of the syn. (’ârar) in v. 28b.
God] The paraphrase judges (RVm.) is not here admissible; for though ‘to go to God’ might mean to go to the judges, as the representatives or spokesmen of God, this would not justify ‘God’ in any connexion being taken to signify judges. LXX. θεούς, Vulg. diis, AV. the gods; and so Jos. Ant. iv. 8, 10, c. Ap. ii. 33, and Philo, Vit. Mos. iii. p. 166, de Mon. i. p. 219 (cited by Kn.), understanding the passage, in a sense agreeable the circumstances of their own time, of heathen gods: but this, rough quite legitimate grammatically, would make the precept one very alien to the spirit of the OT.
a ruler] lit. one lifted up, i.e. placed above others in a position of authority. A word very common (see on Exodus 16:12) in P and Ezek., but rare elsewhere. The command is quoted by St Paul in Acts 23:5, almost exactly as it stands in the LXX. Cf. Proverbs 24:21, Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Peter 2:13.Verse 28.- Law against reviling God, or rulers. It has been proposed to render Elohim here either
1. "God;" or
2. "The gods;" or
3Exodus 23:9, and Leviticus 19:33-34). - Whilst the foreigner, as having no rights, is thus commended to the kindness of the people through their remembrance of what they themselves had experienced in Egypt, those members of the nation itself who were most in need of protection (viz., widows and orphans) are secured from humiliation by an assurance of the special care and watchfulness of Jehovah, under which such forsaken ones stand, inasmuch as Jehovah Himself would take their troubles upon Himself, and punish their oppressors with just retribution. ענּה to humiliate, includes not only unjust oppression, but every kind of cold and contemptuous treatment. The suffix in אתו (Exodus 22:23) refers to both אלמנה and יתום, according to the rule that when there are two or more subjects of different genders, the masculine is employed (Ges. 148, 2). The כּי before אם expresses a strong assurance: "yea, if he cries to Me, I will hearken to him" (see Ewald, 330b). "Killing with the sword" points to wars, in which men and fathers of families perish, and their wives and children are made widows and orphans.
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