You shall not raise a false report: put not your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1-19) The “miscellaneous laws” are here continued. From Exodus 23:1 to Exodus 23:9 no kind of sequence in the laws can be traced; from Exodus 23:10 to the first clause of Exodus 23:19 there is, on the contrary, a certain connection, since the laws enunciated are concerned with ceremonial observance. The closing law, however, is not ceremonial, but the prohibition of a practice considered to be cruel. On the whole, it may be said that The Book of the Covenant maintains its unsystematic character to the close. (See Note on Exodus 20:22-26.)
(1) Thou shalt not raise a false report.—The LXX. and Vulg. Translate, “Thou shalt not receive a false report”—i.e., give it credit, accept it as true, and act upon it. This meaning accords well with the succeeding clause, which forbids our giving support to the false testimony of others. In both clauses the principle of the ninth commandment is extended from principals to accessories.Exodus 23:1. Thou shalt not raise — Or, receive, as the margin reads it, and as the Hebrew תשׂא, tissa, also signifies, or, give credit to a false report. Sometimes the receiver, in this case, is as bad as the thief: and a backbiting tongue would not do so much mischief if it were not countenanced. Sometimes we cannot avoid hearing a false report, but we must not receive it, we must not hear it with pleasure, nor easily give credit to it.1 Kings 21:10; Acts 6:11.
Ex 23:1-33. Laws concerning Slander, &c.
1. put not thine hand—join not hands.False witness and report forbidden, Exodus 23:1. Right must not be wrested, Exodus 23:2. He commands man to do good to his enemies, Exodus 23:3-5. Bribes are forbidden, Exodus 23:8. The years of sowing appointed, and gathering, Exodus 23:10. Of the seventh year, which is the year of rest; God’s command concerning it, Exodus 23:11. Of the sabbath day, Exodus 23:12. Other gods shall not be mentioned, Exodus 23:13. Of the three.feasts in a year, Exodus 23:14. The manner of keeping the feasts, Exodus 23:15,16. The times appointed for the males appearing before the Lord, Exodus 23:17. No sacrifice to be offered with leavened bread, Exodus 23:18. Command concerning the first-fruits, Exodus 23:19. God promiseth an Angel to prepare a way, Exodus 23:20; who is commanded to be obeyed, Exodus 23:21,22. God promising them the land of the Amorites, .& c., Exodus 23:23; forbiddeth the honouring of strange gods, Exodus 23:24. God promises to bless them that serve him, Exodus 23:25-27. Hornets shall expel the enemies of the Israelites, Exodus 23:28-30. The borders of the land of Israel, Exodus 23:31. A covenant with the heathen is forbidden, Exodus 23:32; or to let them inhabit among them, Exodus 23:33.
put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness; which is not a gesture used in swearing, such as with us, of putting the hand upon a book, which did not obtain so early; nor is there any instance of this kind in Scripture; the gesture used in swearing was either putting the hand under the thigh, which yet is questionable, or lifting of it up to heaven; but here it is expressive of confederacy, of joining hand in hand to carry on a prosecution in an unrighteous way, by bearing false testimony against another; and such were to be guarded against, and not admitted to give evidence in a cause, even a man that is known to be a wicked man, or to have been an unrighteous witness before; on the one hand, a man should be careful of joining with him in a testimony that is unrighteous; and, on the other hand, judges should take care not to suffer such to be witnesses. The Jews say (q), that everyone that is condemned to be scourged, or has been scourged for some crime committed, is reckoned a wicked man, and he is not to be admitted a witness, nor his testimony taken.Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1–3. Veracity and impartiality to be observed, especially in giving evidence in a court of law. Cf. (in H) Leviticus 19:15-18.
1a. A groundless report not to be given currency—as might readily happen, for instance, from thoughtlessness or malice. Cf. Leviticus 19:16.
take up] on the lips, i.e. utter. Cf. on Exodus 20:7.
a groundless report] On shâw’, ‘groundless,’ see on Exodus 20:7.
1b. Not to assist the evildoer by giving dishonest witness.
put not thy hand with] make not common cause with: cf. for the idiom 2 Kings 15:19, Jeremiah 26:24.
the wicked] or, as in Exodus 2:13, him that is in the wrong.
an unrighteous witness] better, a malicious witness: lit. a witness of violence (so Deuteronomy 19:16, Psalm 35:11†), i.e. a witness who seeks to subvert the innocent, either (ll.cc.) directly, or, as here, by assisting to clear the guilty.Verse 1. - The ninth commandment is here expanded and developed. Thou shalt not raise a false report, forbids the origination of a calumny; the other clause prohibits the joining with others in spreading one. Both clauses have a special reference to bearing witness in a court, but neither would seem to be confined to it. Deuteronomy 24:6, Deuteronomy 24:10-13). - With Exodus 22:28. God directs Himself at once to the hearts of the Israelites, and attacks the sins of selfishness and covetousness, against which the precepts in Exodus 22:21-27 were directed in their deepest root, for the purpose of opposing all inward resistance to the promotion of His commands.
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