Exodus 23:12
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.
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(12) The law of the weekly Sabbath is here repeated in conjunction with that of the Sabbatical year, to mark the intimate connection between the two, which were parts of one and the same system—a system which culminated in the Jubilee year (Leviticus 25:8-13). Nothing is added to the requirements of the fourth commandment; but the merciful intention of the Sabbath day is more fully brought out—it is to be kept in order that the cattle may rest, and the slave and stranger may be refreshed.

Exodus 23:12. The seventh day thou shalt rest — This command is here repeated lest any should think the weekly rest might cease when the whole year was consecrated to rest. There were three sorts of sabbaths to the Jews, 1st, Of days: 2d, Of years, namely, the seventh year: 3d, Of weeks of years, namely, the jubilee. And all these are types of the eternal rest in heaven, where pain and sorrow shall never enter.

23:10-19 Every seventh year the land was to rest. They must not plough or sow it; what the earth produced of itself, should be eaten, and not laid up. This law seems to have been intended to teach dependence on Providence, and God's faithfulness in sending the larger increase while they kept his appointments. It was also typical of the heavenly rest, when all earthly labours, cares, and interests shall cease for ever. All respect to the gods of the heathen is strictly forbidden. Since idolatry was a sin to which the Israelites leaned, they must blot out the remembrance of the gods of the heathen. Solemn religious attendance on God, in the place which he should choose, is strictly required. They must come together before the Lord. What a good Master do we serve, who has made it our duty to rejoice before him! Let us devote with pleasure to the service of God that portion of our time which he requires, and count his sabbaths and ordinances to be a feast unto our souls. They were not to come empty-handed; so now, we must not come to worship God empty-hearted; our souls must be filled with holy desires toward him, and dedications of ourselves to him; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.May be refreshed - Literally, "may take breath." 12. Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest—This law is repeated [Ex 20:9] lest any might suppose there was a relaxation of its observance during the sabbatical year. This command is here repeated, lest any should think the weekly rest might cease when the whole year was consecrated to rest. There were three sorts of sabbaths to the Jews:

1. Of days.

2. Of years, to wit; the seventh year.

3. Of weeks of years, to wit, the jubilee; and all these are types of the eternal rest in heaven.

Six days thou shalt do thy work,.... That is, they might do what work they would on the six days of the week:

and on the seventh day thou shall rest; from all the work and labour done on other days, and give up themselves to religious exercises:

that thine ox and thine ass may rest; and so every other beast, as horses, camels, &c.

and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed; the former, the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi, interprets, of one uncircumcised, and the latter, of a proselyte of the gate: this law is here repeated, partly to show that it is of the same kind with the former, namely, ceremonial and temporary; and partly, as Jarchi observes, lest it should be said, since all, the year is called the sabbath, there was no need to observe the weekly sabbath.

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.
12. The sabbath, treated here as a day of cessation from (in particular) field-labour, designed with a humanitarian end.

thy work] The word (ma‘ǎseh),—which is not the same as the one (melâ’khâh) rendered ‘work’ in Exodus 20:10,—though in itself a general one, seems rather from the context to suggest work in the field: cf. v. 16, where it is twice rendered ‘labours’; also Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 16:15; Deuteronomy 24:19; Deu Exo 28:12 (note in each case the context).

rest] desist (from work), or keep sabbath (RVm.): see on Exodus 20:8.

and thine ass may rest] as Exodus 20:11. This is the word that expresses the positive idea of rest (Job 3:13; Job 3:17). (‘Have rest’ in RV. is intended for distinction from ‘rest’ just before; but it is better to be express the distinction by giving a more exact rendering of shâbath.)

the son of thy bondwoman] i.e. a slave ‘born in the house’ (cf. on Exodus 12:44), of parents who were themselves slaves—intended, it must be supposed, to represent slaves in general (cf. Deuteronomy 5:14 end): as Di. remarks, most slaves were probably of this kind. Bertholet (Die Stellung der Isr. u. der Juden zu den Fremden, p. 55) and Bä. think ‘the son of thy concubine’ to be meant (cf. the sense of ’âmâh in Exodus 21:7 [see note]); but there seems no sufficient reason for this limitation.

the sojourner] the sojourner in thy employment (Exodus 20:10).

be refreshed] properly, get breath: so Exodus 31:17, 2 Samuel 16:14†.

Verse 12. - Law of the Sabbath, repeated. Nothing is here added to the teaching of the Fourth Commandment; but its merciful character is especially brought out. Men are called on to observe it, in order that their cattle may obtain rest, and their servants, together with the stranger that is within their gates, may find refreshment. It is to be borne in mind that the foreign population of Palestine was mostly held to hard service. (See 2 Chronicles 2:17, 18.) Verse 13 contains two injunctions - one general, one special: -

1. "Be circumspect" (or cautious, careful) "in respect of all that I command you."

2. "Do not so much as utter the name of any false god." Not even to mention their names, was to show them the greatest contempt possible; and, if followed out universally, would soon have produced an absolute oblivion of them. Moses, it may be observed, scarcely ever does mention their names. Later historians and prophets had to do so, either to deliver the true history of the Israelites, or to denounce idolatries to which they were given. There are many words one would wish never to utter; but while wicked men do the things of which they are the names, preachers are obliged to use the words in their sermons and other warnings. Exodus 23:12Here follow directions respecting the year of rest and day of rest, the first of which lays the foundation for the keeping of the sabbatical and jubilee years, which are afterwards instituted in Leviticus 25, whilst the latter gives prominence to the element of rest and refreshment involved in the Sabbath, which had been already instituted (Exodus 20:9-11), and presses it in favour of beasts of burden, slaves, and foreigners. Neither of these instructions is to be regarded as laying down laws for the feasts; so that they are not to be included among the rights of Israel, which commence at Exodus 23:14. On the contrary, as they are separated from these by Exodus 23:13, they are to be reckoned as forming part of the laws relating to their mutual obligations one towards another. This is evident from the fact, that in both of them the care of the poor stands in the foreground. From this characteristic and design, which are common to both, we may explain the fact, that there is no allusion to the keeping of a Sabbath unto the Lord, as in Exodus 20:10 and Leviticus 25:2, in connection with either the seventh year or seventh day: all that is mentioned being their sowing and reaping for six years, and working for six days, and then letting the land lie fallow in the seventh year, and their ceasing or resting from labour on the seventh day. "The seventh year thou shalt let (thy land) loose (שׁמט to leave unemployed), and let it lie; and the poor of thy people shall eat (the produce which grows of itself), and their remainder (what they leave) shall the beast of the field eat." הנּפשׁ: lit., to breathe one's self, to draw breath, i.e., to refresh one's self (cf. Exodus 31:17; 2 Samuel 16:14). - With Exodus 23:13 the laws relating to the rights of the people, in their relations to one another, are concluded with the formula enforcing their observance, "And in all that I say to you, take heed," viz., that ye carefully maintain all the rights which I have given you. There is then attached to this, in Exodus 23:14, a warning, which forms the transition to the relation of Israel to Jehovah: "Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth." This forms a very fitting boundary line between the two series of mishpatim, inasmuch as the observance and maintenance of both of them depended upon the attitude in which Israel stood towards Jehovah.
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