The Message

Exodus 23

11-3 “Don’t pass on malicious gossip.

“Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. And just because someone is poor, don’t show favoritism in a dispute.

4-5 “If you find your enemy’s ox or donkey loose, take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don’t walk off and leave it. Help it up.

“When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don’t tamper with the justice due them.

“Stay clear of false accusations. Don’t contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don’t let the wicked off the hook.

“Don’t take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people.

“Don’t take advantage of a stranger. You know what it’s like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt.

10-11 “Sow your land for six years and gather in its crops, but in the seventh year leave it alone and give it a rest so that your poor may eat from it. What they leave, let the wildlife have. Do the same with your vineyards and olive groves.

12 “Work for six days and rest the seventh so your ox and donkey may rest and your servant and migrant workers may have time to get their needed rest.

13 “Listen carefully to everything I tell you. Don’t pay attention to other gods—don’t so much as mention their names.

14 “Three times a year you are to hold a festival for me.

15 “Hold the spring Festival of Unraised Bread when you eat unraised bread for seven days at the time set for the month of Abib, as I commanded you. That was the month you came out of Egypt. No one should show up before me empty-handed.

16 “Hold the summer Festival of Harvest when you bring in the firstfruits of all your work in the fields.

“Hold the autumn Festival of Ingathering at the end of the season when you bring in the year’s crops.

17 “Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Master, God.

18 “Don’t offer the blood of a sacrifice to me with anything that has yeast in it.

“Don’t leave the fat from my festival offering out overnight.

19 “Bring the choice first produce of the year to the house of your God.

“Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

20-24 “Now get yourselves ready. I’m sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I’ve prepared. Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don’t go against him. He won’t put up with your rebellions because he’s acting on my authority. But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I’ll be an enemy to your enemies, I’ll fight those who fight you. When my Angel goes ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I’ll clear the country of them. So don’t worship or serve their gods; don’t do anything they do because I’m going to wipe them right off the face of the Earth and smash their sacred phallic pillars to bits.

25-26 “But you—you serve your God and he’ll bless your food and your water. I’ll get rid of the sickness among you; there won’t be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I’ll make sure you live full and complete lives.

27 “I’ll send my Terror on ahead of you and throw those peoples you’re approaching into a panic. All you’ll see of your enemies is the backs of their necks.

28-31 “And I’ll send Despair on ahead of you. It will push the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites out of your way. I won’t get rid of them all at once lest the land grow up in weeds and the wild animals take over. Little by little I’ll get them out of there while you have a chance to get your crops going and make the land your own. I will make your borders stretch from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Wilderness to the Euphrates River. I’m turning everyone living in that land over to you; go ahead and drive them out.

32-33 “Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”

New International Reader's Version

Exodus 23

Laws About Mercy and Fairness

1“Do not spread reports that are false. Do not help a guilty person by telling lies in court.

“Do not follow the crowd when they do what is wrong. When you are a witness in court, do not turn what is right into what is wrong. Do not go along with the crowd. Do not show favor to a poor person in court.

“Suppose you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering away. Then be sure to return it. Suppose you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has fallen down under its load. Then do not leave it there. Be sure you help them with it.

“Be fair to your poor people in their court cases. Do not have anything to do with a false charge. Do not put to death people not guilty of doing anything wrong. I will not let guilty people go free.

“Do not take money from people who want special favors. It makes you blind to the truth. It twists the words of good people.

“Do not treat outsiders badly. You yourselves know how it feels to be outsiders. Remember, you were outsiders in Egypt.

Sabbath Laws

10 “For six years plant your fields and gather your crops. 11 But during the seventh year do not plow your land or use it. Then the poor people among you can get food from it. The wild animals can eat what is left over. Do the same thing with your vineyards and your groves of olive trees.

12 “Do all your work in six days. But do not do any work on the seventh day. Then your oxen and donkeys can rest. The slaves born in your house can be renewed. And so can the outsiders who live among you.

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not speak the names of other gods. Do not even let them be heard on your lips.

Laws About Celebrating the Three Main Feasts

14 “Three times a year you must celebrate a feast in my honor.

15 “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days, eat bread made without yeast, just as I commanded you. Do it at the appointed time in the month of Aviv. You came out of Egypt in that month.

“You must not come to worship me with your hands empty.

16 “Celebrate the Feast of Weeks. Bring the first share of your crops from your fields.

“Celebrate the Feast of Booths. Hold it in the fall when you gather in your crops from your fields.

17 “Three times a year all your men must come to worship me. I am your Lord and King.

18 “Do not include anything made with yeast when you offer me the blood of a sacrifice.

“Suppose the fat from sacrifices is left over from my feasts. Then do not keep it until morning.

19 “Bring the best of the first share of your crops to my house. I am the Lord your God.

“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

God’s Angel Will Prepare the Way

20 “I am sending an angel ahead of you. He will guard you along the way. He will bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him. Listen to what he says. Do not refuse to obey him. He will not forgive you if you turn against him. He has my full authority. 22 Listen carefully to what he says. Do everything I say. Then I will be an enemy to your enemies. I will fight against those who fight against you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you. He will bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites. I will wipe them out. 24 Do not do what they do. Do not bow down to their gods or worship them. You must destroy the statues of their gods. You must break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the Lord your God. Then he will bless your food and water. I, the Lord, will take away any sickness you may have. 26 In your land no woman will give birth to a dead baby. Every woman will be able to have children. I will give you a long life.

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you. I will throw every nation you meet into a panic. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run away. 28 I will send hornets ahead of you. They will drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in just one year. If I did, the land would be deserted. There would be too many wild animals for you. 30 I will drive them out ahead of you little by little. I will do that until there are enough of you to take control of the land.

31 “I will make your borders secure from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. They will go from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land. You will drive them out to make room for yourselves. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land. If you do, they will cause you to sin against me. If you worship their gods, that will certainly be a trap for you.”