Exodus 23:1-5 One of the key aspects of God’s Law is both truth and justice. This is an amplification of the ninth commandment (20:16), a warning against distorting the truth and subverting what is just and right (Lev. 19:15-16). God’s people in judging are not to be influenced by the wealth or poverty of those who are accused or by bribes people that they may be offered (16:18-20; Isa. 1:23; Micah 3:11). To condemn an innocent person for personal gain is denounced by God, who will judge the guilty. Justice also included being kind to enemies extending even to their animals (vv. 4-5). All of this is underlined by Yeshua in the New Covenant who called Israel and the nations to love our neighbors and our enemies.
Exodus 23:6-9 God watched over the land in matters of justice, especially in the case of abuse toward the poor and defenseless. Judges were to act fairly in dispensing justice, giving no preference to the rich over the poor. They were not to allow false charges to stand or allow mob rule where human life was jeopardized, as in a capital trial. Judges were tempted by bribes, but God watched over the land and would not overlook such behavior. God commanded Israel, to remember their time in Egypt, and respect the rights of aliens or foreigners in His land.
Exodus 23:10-17 is a call to observe God’s appointed times. It was God who created times and seasons as part of His creation, and He calls His chosen people to remember these sacred times. Shabbat was a weekly call to enter into God’s rest. Every seven years was a Sabbatical Year during which the land was to rest, and the poor could help themselves to the food that grew without cultivation (Lev. 25:1-7). Modern agricultural sciences have verified the benefit to the Land by observing God’s Laws. The Shmitah (release) was a God given test of faith as well as a call to obedience. When Israel entered the Land, they were called to gather to worship three times a year, at Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. (Lev. 23) The men were generally accompanied by their families (1 Sam. 1; Luke 2:40). Leaven foreshadowed sin and was not to be present in the offerings. Cooking a young goat in its mother’s milk” was supposed to improve the taste and was also linked to the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites, this restriction was given three times in Torah (34:26; Deut. 14:21). Since this law was connected with the Feast of Booths, the harvest festival, it may have been part of pagan rituals associated with promoting prosperity.
Exodus 23:20-22 – The angel of the Lord protected Israel through their wilderness journey. They remained at Sinai eleven months, and then traveled to Kadesh-Barnea where they entered the land (Num. 10:11-14:45). Their failure to trust God and His promise to bring them safely into the Land caused them to wander in the wilderness until the generation that was twenty years old and upward had died, except for Caleb and Joshua. For thirty-eight years, God would lead His people and then bring them back to Israel to enter and take possession of the land. The angel here is Yeshua who is the Angel or messenger of the Covenant (Mal. 3:3). Only He can pardon sin and only in Him is the name of the Lord. God had prepared a place for His earthly people Israel and when Jesus left earth after his resurrection, He went to prepare a place for His heavenly people (John 14:1-6). If they will follow the Lord, He will meet all their needs and defeat all their enemies.
Exodus 23:23-33 The Lord warned Israel about worshiping the false gods of the nations around them. If they devoted themselves to the Lord, He would go before them, overcome their enemies, and enable them to conquer the land. The fear of God would go before them to terrify and weaken the people in the land (Josh. 2:11; Ex. 15:16). The “hornet” may likely be the insect that we know. The Hebrew word is similar to the word for Egypt (zirah/mizraim), so some scholars believe that it’s a reference to the Egyptian armies that invaded Canaan before the Jews arrived. In Isaiah 7:18, Egypt is compared to a fly and Assyria to a bee. It took Joshua about seven years to conquer the land. God planned that they take the land gradually so they would not be overwhelmed by the Canaanites and Philistines could control things, but some of the tribes never did fully conquer the territory that was assigned to them (Judges 1-2).