EXODUS 23
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So regulations followed  which were concerned not so much with due penalties for offences done, as with the positive moral duty of all - to be absolutely just, magnanimous and faithful to God.

As disobedience by the criminal would bring down judicial wrath upon his head as the Book of the Covenant prescribed, so also would disobedience by the nation, as a whole, as certainly cause a visitation of divine judgment upon them. And, conversely, if obedient they would be richly blessed and the Covenant would come to fulfilment in the safe and happy tenancy of the Promised Land which was meant for them alone.

"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".

Thus it was that the Covenant came to be ratified on the morrow, when Israel undertook to be God's People with full knowledge of the manner of life which was demanded of them. as a result of their participation in it.

Law and Grace Ch 6



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.

God had redeemed them, everyone, from bondage so they were to confer the same benefit on those of their brethren who were in bondage to them. And in doing so had not God seen to it that they should come out "with great substance", the Egyptians being only too eager to accede to their request to borrow their possessions in the desperate endeavour to hasten their departure on the fateful night of Passover?

So they too were to ensure that their Hebrew bondservants went out liberally supplied with every necessity of life. Symbolically, as it were, they were constantly to be reliving the Exodus.

In keeping with that fact the weak and defenceless were ever to be the objects of the Israelite's solicitude, for he himself had known the perils of their position when a slave in Egypt.


"Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge: but thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing" (Deut. 24 : 17- I 8).


He had suffered in Egypt not only as a slave but as an alien. Never was he therefore to perpetrate the same wrongs as he had suffered himself against any alien in his own midst.


"If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God"

(Lev. 19 : 33-34; cf. Exod. 23 : 9).



The Passover - My Sacrifice


18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.

Passover, as first observed in Egypt, spoke to Israel, as we have seen, of redemption through sacrifice and of rest from bondage to sin. So vital was its ritual meaning to Israel as God's People that God designated it "My sacrifice" (Exod. 23: 18; 34: 25).

The slaying of the firstborn began after sundown midway through Abib. Before sundown the Israelites had had to slay the Lamb to procure its blood to serve as a token and a sign. So the rule became, "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover" (Lev. 23 : 5 ; cf. Num. 28 : 16). But that terrible first night in Egypt, though spelling disaster to Egypt, meant release from bondage to Israel.

"Even the self same day it came to pass that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations" (Exod. 12 : 41-42).

Law and Grace Ch 10




19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of Yahweh thy Elohim. 

We have seen how the permanent legislation for the observance of Passover commemorated the redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage and reiterated the moral demands implicit in that momentous event. Thus far, however, we have met no allusion in the ritual to the deliverance of the first born as such. This is because that deliverance was to be commemorated in a special way - a way which was more effective than sacrifice (on its own) as a means of teaching Israel that it was actually only the first of a multitude of nations to receive the salvation of God.

Immediately after mentioning Passover the festal calendar of Lev. 23 continues,


"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest" (Lev. 23 : 9-IO).


The juxtaposition of the two ordinances - that of Passover and that of the presentation of the sheaf - is significant enough to begin with, but it is doubly so when we observe the sheaf to have been a

"sheaf of the firstfruits of harvest".

The Law clearly intended to indicate a parallel between the presentation of the firstborn and that of the firstfruits. The presentation of both was made to the priest, he being a type of God, for to Aaron God said,

"Whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the Lord, shall be thine ... Everything that openeth the matrix in all flesh which they bring unto the Lord, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine" (Num. 18 : 13,15).

This same close connection between the first born and the firstfruits is implicit in the Book of the Covenant (Exod. 23 : I7-19), and also elsewhere (e.g., Exod. 34: 25-26). The sacred calendar thus enlisted the facts of harvest as teaching aids, and adapted them as means of reminding Israel of the grand sweep of God's purpose. The firstfruits were but precursors of more to come, the initial instalment of a greater harvest to follow.

In presenting the first sheaf of grain harvest Israel thus gave ritual assent to the fact that a multitude of others would be reaped besides: once more the literal and material served as the sign and symbol of the spiritual. And not of the spiritual only, but also of the moral, for the sheaf had to be waved before the Lord - that is, consecrated to Him.

At one and the same time Israel acknowledged that it depended for life itself upon God, the Provider of the bounty of harvest, and also pledged its life and service to Him in return. The sheaf therefore represented the nation, and also its works (since it was the first result of their toil in the field), and symbolized Israel's readiness to honour its holy calling as the firstborn nation.  (Lev. 23 : I I).

Law and Grace Ch 10




Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

It was customary among the surrounding nations to boil goats in its mother's milk. Boiling a kid in its mother's milk was a common Canaanite ritual involving magical spells.

This command was given because of pagan worship practices, which Israel was prohibited from adopting (Deut 12:28-32). It went deeper than just cruelty. Seething, or boiling a kid in its mother's milk was a symbol of corruption and evil (cf Matt 16:6), and was clearly given in the context of God's annual Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Scripture itself does not prohibit the consumption of meat and milk together per se, though Orthodox Jews to this day still observe the practice citing this passage of Scripture. We read in Gen 18:8 that Abraham served his three guests (angels), "butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them..." The angels did not reveal to him any such prohibition because it simply did not exist.

Sis Valerie Mello