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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Exodus 23

Verse 1

Lie, by countenancing calumny. Judges must never do any thing which they know to be unjust, whatever the witnesses may assert. The person who speaks against his neighbour, would injure him, if he had an opportunity. (Quintel.) --- Hebrew, "Thou shalt not raise a false report." (Haydock)

Verse 3

Favour. Mercy would then be contrary to justice. (Psalm lxxi. 2; St. Augustine q. 88.)

Verse 8

Bribes, which naturally induce the receiver to shew favour, and therefore cannot be too carefully avoided. The Athenians put to death those who bribed the judges, and required the latter to restore ten-fold. (Calmet)

Verse 9

The hearts. You have experienced what sorrow and misery they feel. (Menochius)

Verse 11

Year. Thus God was pleased to teach them to place entire confidence in him, and to compassionate the distress of the poor. Most people suppose, that the sabbatic year commenced in autumn; as otherwise the land would have remained without any harvest two years. This law began to be observed the 7th year after Josue crossed the Jordan. Jerusalem was thrice besieged during the sabbatic years. (Jeremias xxxiv. 8; 1 Machabees vi. 51.) See Josephus, Antiquities xii. 14. and xiv. 28. God blessed the 6th year, so that it produced as much as three, Leviticus xxv. 21. (Calmet) --- On the feast of tabernacles, (in September) at the beginning of the 7th year, Deuteronomy was to be read aloud to all the people, the Hebrew slaves might obtain their liberty, and if a person could not restore what he had borrowed, it was to be remitted for ever, Deuteronomy xv. and xxxi. 10. (Tirinus)

Verse 13

Name. Hence it is supposed, the Jews had given abusive titles to the idols; as they call Beelzebub the god-fly, &c. No respect was to be shewn to them. (Calmet)

Verse 14

Three. Women are not here mentioned; but they are, Deuteronomy xxxi. 12. Children under 13 were exempted from the obligation, according to the Caraites. Men from 20 to 60, not lawfully hindered, were bound to appear, Leviticus xxvii. 3.

Verse 15

Empty. But shalt offer something in sacrifice, and for the support of the Levites, freely, Deuteronomy xvi. 10. At the Passover, the first-fruits of barley were to be offered, as those of wheat would be ready at Pentecost. The third feast was that of tabernacles, at the conclusion of the civil year. Presents were to be made to God, in testimony of their submission to him; as they were to the kings of the east, by their subjects. (Tavernier, Perse. iv. 16.) See 1 Kings x. 27. and 1 Paralipomenon xviii. 2. --- A sixtieth part of the fruits, at least, was carried to the temple. They consisted of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, apricots, olives, and dates. The king himself carried his basket, and when the solemn procession arrived at the temple, the Levites began to sing Psalm xxix., I will extol thee, O Lord, &c. After which, the people repeated the words of Deuteronomy xxvi. 3; and having given their baskets to the priests, (ver. 4,) recited parts of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses. (Calmet) --- God. Here the Septuagint add, "For when I shall have cast the Gentiles from before thy face, and extended thy limits."

Verse 18

Thou, &c. This has a reference to the feast of the Passover, ver. 15, (Onkelos) as well as the following verse. (Calmet)

Verse 19

Dam. The paschal victim must not be so young as to be still suckled. The Samaritan subjoins, "Because that would be like immolating an animal found dead, and the God of Jacob hates it." (Calmet) --- Some imagine that this law alludes to a superstitious custom of the pagans, (Spencer, Rit. ii. 8,) or it forbids eating animals while they are, as it were, all milk, not eight days old. (Rivet)

Verse 20

Angel; my only son. (Philo) --- St. Paul says, they tempted Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians x. 9,) who is styled, the angel of the covenant, Malachias iii. 1. Some apply this to Josue, others to St. Michael, who, from the cloud, conducted the army of Israel. (Calmet)

Verse 21

Forgive. Dimittet, as well as the Hebrew and Septuagint, may signify, "he will not abandon." (Haydock) --- My name. Moses, Josue, and still more our Saviour, acted in the name and by the authority of God the Father.

Verse 25

Waters, or all things necessary for your sustenance.

Verse 26

Fruitless. Hebrew may also be, "miscarrying." --- Days. An untimely death was a judgment of God on the wicked, though sometimes he chooses to draw his elect quickly out of this dangerous world, Wisdom iv. 11.

Verse 27

Destroy. Hebrew, "fill with consternation."

Verse 28

Hornets, or wasps, Wisdom xii. 8. Josue (xxiv. 12) assures us this was verified. Thus scorpions forced the Ethiopians to abandon their country, and flies and wasps drove away the Mysians and Phaselides. See Bochart, iv. 13. The latter people were of Phœnician extraction, and probably fled before Josue. Most of the Chanaanites withdrew into Africa; some perhaps into America. (Calmet)

Verse 29

Beasts. Herod the great killed many in hunting. (Josephus, Jewish Wars i. 16.) Two bears rushed upon the children, 4 Kings ii. 24. How much would they have increased in all the countries from the Euphrates to the Nile, had they been destitute of any other inhabitants but the Hebrews, (Calmet) many of whom perished in the desert!

Verse 31

CHAPTER XXIII.

Verse 33

Scandal. If you have any society with these nations, it will turn to your ruin, which was but too literally manifested afterwards.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 23". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/exodus-23.html. 1859.