Exodus 23The Voice (VOICE)
23 Eternal One: Do not pass along a false report. Do not plot with evil people to give a false witness.
2 Even if the majority of people are doing evil, do not follow them. Also when you are called to give testimony in a dispute, do not let the crowd pressure you into perverting justice. 3 In the same way, do not side with the poor in a complaint just because he is poor.
4 If you are walking along and come across your enemy’s ox or donkey that has wandered away, then you must return it to its owner. 5 If you see the donkey of someone you know who hates you and it has fallen beneath its load, you must not leave it there. You must stop and help the donkey recover the load.
6 Do not deny justice to the poor among you in their disputes. 7 Stay far away from false accusations, and do not condemn the innocent or righteous to death. Understand this: I will not acquit those who commit such miscarriages of justice.
8 Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe can blind those who see and twist the words of those who are in the right. 9 Do not oppress an outsider. You know well what it is like to be an outsider living in a foreign land, for you were strangers once in the land of Egypt.
10 You have six years to plant your fields and harvest your crops. 11 When the seventh year arrives, let your land rest and lie fallow. Let the poor and hungry among you come and harvest the volunteer crops that spring up in your fields. Whatever is left over, the beasts may eat. Do the same thing with your vineyards and your olive groves. 12 You have six days to work. When the seventh day arrives, stop all work so that your ox and donkey can rest. When you observe the Sabbath Day, your female slave’s son and any outsider serving you have a chance to catch their breath and relax.
13 Be careful to do all that I have instructed you. Do not even acknowledge the names of other gods or let their names spill from your lips.
14 I want you to celebrate a feast in My honor three times a year. 15 First, celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I instructed you before, you are to eat only bread made without yeast for the seven feast days beginning at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for that is when you fled out of Egypt. During this time, no one is to come before Me without some offering. 16 Second, celebrate the Feast of Harvest in the spring when you bring to Me the first and best of the wheat crop you planted in the field. Third, celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the harvest season when you gather your crops from the fields, orchards, and groves. 17 All of your men must come before the Eternal your Lord, these three times a year.
18 When you make offerings before Me, do not present any bread made with yeast along with an animal sacrifice. Do not let the fat of the sacrifice remain until the next morning. 19 Bring only the best crops from your first harvest into the house of the Eternal your God. You must not boil a baby goat in its mother’s milk.
20 Look! I am going to send a heavenly messenger before you to protect you during your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay attention to all he shows you and obey whatever he tells you. Do not cause him any trouble. He will not forgive you if you rebel against him for he carries My name in him.
The Hebrews follow a lunar calendar that has 11 fewer days than the solar calendar. Since it has only 354 days in the year, an extra month (a “leap” month) is added periodically to bring the dates into alignment with the seasons. Within this annual cycle, God sets aside several great feasts for the people to celebrate. The people are to honor their God by having days of pure rejoicing as they recall their rescue from Egypt and God’s ongoing provision. In keeping with the needs of an agricultural people, these feasts are situated around the harvests: first, the collection of the winter grains; second, the harvest of the other grains 50 days later; third, the gathering of the main crops of the field.
* (added 7 of every 19 years)
22 If you are obedient to his voice and follow all of My instructions, then I will be an enemy to all of those who are against you, and I will oppose all those who oppose you. 23 When My messenger moves ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites—I will annihilate them. 24 Do not bow down to their gods, worship, or serve them in any way. Do not engage in any of their wicked practices. Instead, you must destroy every idol you find and shatter their sacred pillars into tiny pieces.
25 Worship and serve only the Eternal your God, and I will bless you with an ample supply of wholesome food and clean water. I will take away all sickness from you, 26 prevent miscarriages and barrenness, and give you long, productive lives. 27 My fear and My dread will move ahead of you, and wherever you go people will greet you with panic and confusion. I will see to it that all of your enemies turn and run from you. 28 I will unleash hornets ahead of you; and they will drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites from the land before you. 29 Now I will not do all this in a single year, because the land would become a wasteland, overpopulated with wild animals that would roam unchecked. 30 Rather, I will drive them out a little at a time—a few here, a few there—until your numbers grow and you are strong enough to take over the land and its care. 31 I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea west of where the Philistines live and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give to you all those who inhabit the land, and you will drive them all out. 32 But do not make a covenant-treaty with them or agree to serve their gods. 33 They must not be allowed to live in your land; otherwise they will cause you to sin against Me, the only True God. If you serve their gods, you will be trapped and be drawn into sin.
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