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Exodus 22-24 Listen
1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.
6 If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it:
11 Then shall an oath of the LORD be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.
13 If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn.
14 And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.
15 But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire.
As we mentioned before, the Ten Commandments created categories of the law. The Jews through the centuries have numbered the individual commandments contained in the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) at 613. These laws put meat on the skeleton (to use metaphor). When you analyze the first four of the Ten Commandments, you see that they deal with Israel's relationship with God himself. The last six deal with man's relationship with others. Again, the ten commandments are categories, and all of these individual laws fill in the blanks (so to speak). You'll notice that some of these laws deal with criminal trespasses, while others deal with civil issues. Incidentally, this session of the giving of the Law to Moses by God began in Exodus 20:18 (see notes), following the preceding session where God issued the Ten Commandments.
Notice the role of judges in the execution of these laws. Recall that back in Exodus 18 (see notes) Moses' father-in-law gave him some pointers on organizational restructuring which Moses adopted. This provided for the judges which we see executing judgment in these matters of law.
In verses 1-4 we see the punishment for a thief. If the thief loses his life in the process of the break in, no one is held accountable for the loss of life. If he manages to live through the ordeal, he cannot be executed, but he must make double restitution. If he doesn't have it, he may be sold into slavery as a means of repayment.
Grazing your cattle in a neighbor's field is treated as stealing and the offended party is permitted to receive the best of the offender's field as repayment (verse 5). The arsonists (intentional or otherwise) is responsible for restitution in verse 6. Some civil issues are dealt with in verses 7-15 dealing with restitution after property loss.
Some life issues (Exodus 22:16-24)
16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
20 He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
Verses 16-17 present an interesting situation: "And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins." I suppose if she has a handsome sum of money to offer a prospective husband, she might be able to marry in the future because she is wealthy - not a virgin.
You can't help but recognize that an individual's motivation (i.e. was it on purpose or accidental) is taken into consideration throughout the law, but with some glaring exceptions - specifically, issues of worship and abominable sexual practices; such is the case in the following three verses:
Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Exodus 22:19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
Exodus 22:20 He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
There are some things for which God had no tolerance regardless of what your motivations may have been.
Those who lack plentiful resources are protected by the Law in verses 21-24, including the foreigner to Israel. As a matter of fact, the penalty for abuse of others in verse 24 is quite harsh. God frequently spoke through his prophets condemnations against Israel and Judah for such wide-spread infractions.
Laws regulating lending (Exodus 22:25-27)
25 If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.
26 If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down:
27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
Laws showing respect for the covenants between God and Israel (Exodus 22:28-31)
28 Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.
30 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me.
31 And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.
Exodus 22:28 says, "Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people." Worded as such, that verse in the KJV may create the impression that one is to give some reverence to the gods of other nations. Actually, the Hebrew word used for "gods" there is the exact same word used for "God" (Hebrew: Elohim) in other places of scripture. The word "Elohim" is plural in the Hebrew, but that's the form translated singularly for "God" in most occurrences within our English Bibles. Therefore, this verse is to be understood as, "You shall not revile God." It is not an admonition to show any respect to the fake gods of the heathen nations. The Apostle Paul actually makes reference to this verse in his defense before the Sanhedrin in Acts 23:5 (see notes).
The Hebrews were to offer the first fruits of everything to God. With regard to the offering of first-born sons to serve as priests, these were formally replaced by the men of the Tribe of Levi in Numbers 3 (see notes).
Laws governing interaction with others (Exodus 23:1-9)
1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:
3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.
4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
5 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.
6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.
8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Here are some legislated acts of consideration toward others, including non-Hebrew strangers. There's also a warning against being a false witness in legal matters. No punishment is specified here. Apparently restitution for such was determined by the judges. We also see in verses 3 and 6 that it was a big no no to side with a poor man simply because he was poor.
10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:
11 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.
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.
13 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.
14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.
15 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:)
16 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.
17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.
19 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.
The Old Testament Law was exhaustive in its regulation of daily Hebrew life. The laws contained in these verses were no less important that any other portion of the Old Testament Mosaic Law. There are Believers who teach observance of selective laws at the exclusion of others...like the ones listed in these verses.
For a complete list of Jewish festivals, click here. Only three of the festivals are mentioned in this passage: Unleavened Bread (begins the day following Passover), Harvest (aka Firstfruits aka Pentecost) and Ingathering (aka Booths aka Tabernacles).
Let's face it. Those who think Christians are bound to keeping the Old Testament law have never really spent much time studying the Old Testament law. How do you suppose they systematically decide which ones they'll keep and which ones they'll deem irrelevant? There is no question that the Law was given to regulate every aspect of living as a nation. The Law was the constitution of the Hebrew nation. These are the guidelines by which the leadership of Israel judged all the people living within. Moses insisted that they embrace the whole system of laws, excluding nothing.
It is simply fascinating that many Bible teachers today have parsed out of the list of 613 laws the ones they think we should obey as a standard of Christian righteousness while dismissing most of the list as irrelevant to Christians today. Then, with a partial list of the Law of Moses in hand, they will proclaim that they obey the Law. I'm reminded of the statement James makes in James 2:10 (see notes), "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." As for me, I'm very thankful that my righteousness is based upon my reception (by faith) of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. I'm righteous today before God because of His righteousness, not my own. II Corinthians 5:21 (see notes) says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Now that's a better plan. If you're still not convinced, consider this: The question of what should be expected of the new Gentile converts with respect to the Mosaic Law was the central focus at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 (see notes). At the conclusion of the Council, it was determined that Gentile Believers should not be required to keep the Mosaic Law.
Verse 19 has an interesting provision, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mothers milk." There is no expansion of this law found in scripture, although it is mentioned again in Exodus 34:26 (see notes) and Deuteronomy 14:21 (see notes). There it is found in the context of clean/unclean foods. Observant Jews through the centuries have expanded on this law themselves by declaring that it is not lawful to prepare meat with milk products at all. That practice does seem to extend beyond that which is specifically stated, both here and in Deuteronomy 14:21.
20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
22 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.
23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
24 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.
25 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.
26 There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.
27 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.
28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
29 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.
30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
31 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.
32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
33 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.
God promises the conquest of Canaan. He even outlines in these verses a systematic way of moving in:
It's obvious that this is the deal the Hebrews should have stuck with. It's too bad that they will listen to the evil report of the ten spies later on and not take advantage of this great offer of miraculous victorious pursuit. But notice Exodus 23:22, "But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak..." After the golden-calf incident of Exodus 32 (see notes), God withdraws the first provision of the angel preceding them into the land in Exodus 33:2-3 (see notes). Moses manages to convince God to precede them into the land once again in Exodus 33:14. However, they really complicate the proposition with their rebellion of Numbers 14 (see notes) when these Hebrews would again not obey His voice and literally miss the deal of a lifetime.
1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.
4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.
6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
Actually, things seem to be going quite well for Israel so far. Moses conducts a service with the Israelites, and all the people proclaim, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient." Exodus 24:8, "And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. There it is; the covenant between God and Israel is publicly ratified. Well, I must say, the prospects for Israel couldn't look better at this point. Here's the big question: Will they stay united in their resolve to follow God and Moses' leadership? Of course, we already know that they did not maintain that resolve and subsequently get enlisted for extended training - 38 years of extended training (Numbers 14:26-38, see notes).
Then we find Moses, Aaron, Aaron's two sons and seventy of the elders of Israel catching a glimpse of God. The only visible, tangible body that God ever had was that of the incarnation of Jesus. John 1:1 (see notes) says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:14 goes on to say, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Any physical manifestation of God is Jesus. Verse 10 describes this manifestation of God as more than just seeing a man. The "sapphire" component leads us to believe that it was quite an awesome manifestation to these folks.
12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
God calls upon Moses to ascend the mountain; Moses appoints Aaron and Hur to manage the people while he's up there. I hope they do a good job, don't you? We see in verse 18 that Moses will be gone for forty days. We learn from Deuteronomy 9:9 (see notes) that Moses fasted for those forty days. Well, just to give a little preview, by the time we get to Exodus 32 (see notes), the Hebrews are getting a little antsy about the long absence of Moses. It would appear that the Hebrews were not informed regarding his anticipated length of stay. We see in Exodus 24:13 that Joshua accompanied Moses up the mountain. We are not told what Joshua saw or even if he was separated from Moses during their stay there. We do see in Exodus 32:17 that Joshua was with Moses when they both heard the calf celebration going on in the camp as they descended the mountain together. By the way, it was seven days after their arrival on the mountain before God spoke to Moses (verse 16).