- This chapter concludes the acts that passed in the first session (if I may so call it) upon Mount Sinai. Here are, I. Some laws of universal obligation, relating especially to the ninth commandment, against bearing false witness, verse 1.
- and giving false judgement, verse 2, 3, 6, 7, 8.
- Also a law of doing good to our enemies, verse 4, 5.
- and not oppressing strangers, verse 9.
- II. Some laws peculiar to the Jews: the sabbatical years, verse 10, 11.
- the three annual feasts, verse 14-17.
- with laws pertaining thereto. III. Gracious promises of completing the mercy God had begun for them, upon condition of their obedience, that God would conduct them through the wilderness, ver 20-24. that he would prosper all they had, verse 25, 26, that he would put them in possession of Canaan, verse
- 27-31. But they must not mingle themselves with the nations, verse 32, 33.
Thou shalt not raise, the margin reads, Thou shalt not receive a false report, for sometimes the receiver in this case is as bad as the thief; and a backbiting tongue would not do so much mischief, if it were not countenanced. Sometimes we cannot avoid hearing a false report, but we must not receive it, we must not hear it with pleasure, nor easily give credit to it.
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil - General usage will never excuse us in any ill practice; nor is the broad way ever the safer for its being crowded. We must inquire what we ought to do, not what the most do; because we must be judged by our master, not our fellow servants; and it is too great a compliment, to be willing to go to hell for company.
Keep thee far from a false matter - From assisting or abetting an ill thing. Yea, keep thee far from it, dread it as a dangerous snare. I will not justify the wicked - That is, I will condemn him that unjustly condemns others.
Thou shalt not oppress the stranger - Though aliens might not inherit lands among them; yet they must have justice done them. It was an instance of the equity of our law, that if an alien be tried for any crime except treason, the one half of his jury, if he desire it, shall be foreigners; a kind provision that strangers may not be oppressed. For ye know the heart of a stranger - You know something of the griefs and fears of a stranger by sad experience.
The institution of the sabbatical year was designed, 1. To shew what a plentiful land that was, into which God was bringing them, that so numerous a people could have rich maintenance out of the products of so small a country, without foreign trade, and yet could spare the increase of every seventh year. 2. To teach them a confidence in the Divine Providence, while they did their duty, That as the sixth day's manna served for two days meat, so the sixth year's increase should serve for two years subsistence.
In all things that I have said unto you be circumspect - We are in danger of missing our way on the right hand and on the left, and it is at our peril if we do, therefore we have need to look about us. A man may ruin himself through mere carelessness, but he cannot save himself without great care and circumspection; particularly since idolatry was a sin they were much addicted to, and would be greatly tempted to, they must endeavour to blot out the remembrance of the gods of the heathen, and must disuse all their superstitious forms of speech, and never mention them but with detestation. In Christian schools and academies (for it is in vain to think of re-forming the play-houses) it were to be wished that the names and stories of the heathen deities or demons rather were not so commonly and familiarly used.
The Passover, Pentecost, and feast of Tabernacles, in spring, summer, and autumn, were the three times appointed for their attendance; not in winter, because travelling was then uncomfortable; nor in the midst of their harvest.
All thy males - All that were of competent years, and health and strength, and at their own disposal. 'Tis probable, servants were exempt: for none was to appear without an offering: but most of these had nothing to offer.
Some of the Gentiles, at the end of their harvest, seethed a kid in it's dam's milk, and sprinkled that milk-pottage in a magical way upon their gardens and fields, to make them fruitful. But Israel must abhor such foolish customs. Is not this rather forbidden, as having some appearance of cruelty?
Behold, I send an angel before thee - The angel of the covenant: Accordingly the Israelites in the wilderness are said to tempt Christ. It is promised that this blessed anger should keep them in the way, though it lay through a wilderness first, and afterwards through their enemies country; and thus Christ has prepared a place for his followers.
Beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not - It is at your peril if you do; for my name - My nature, my authority is in him.
He shall bless thy bread and thy water - And God's blessing will make bread and water more refreshing and nourishing, than a feast of fat things, and wines on the lees, without that blessing. And I will take sickness away - Either prevent it or remove it. Thy land shall not be visited with epidemical diseases, which are very dreadful, and sometimes have laid countries waste.
The number of thy days I will fulfill - And they shall not be cut off in the midst by untimely deaths. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is.
I will send my fear before thee - And they that fear will soon flee. Hosts of hornets also made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God make use of for the chastising of his people's enemies.