Exodus 23

1“Don’t tell lies against other people. If you are a witness in court, then don’t agree to help a bad person tell lies. 2“Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it. If a group of people are doing wrong, don’t join them. You must not let those people persuade you to do wrong things—you must do what is right and fair. 3“If a poor man is being judged, sometimes people will support him because they feel sorry for him. You must not do that. ˻Support him only if he is right.˼ 4“If you see a lost bull or donkey, then you must return it to its owner. You must do this even if the owner is your enemy. 5“If you see an animal that can’t walk because it has too much to carry, you must stop and help that animal. You must help that animal even if it belongs to one of your enemies. 6“You must not let people be unfair to a poor man. He must be judged the same as any other person. 7“Be very careful if you say that a person is guilty of something. Don’t make false charges against a person. Never allow an innocent person to be killed as punishment for something he did not do. Any person who kills an innocent man is evil, and I will not pardon ˻(forgive)˼ that person. 8“If a person tries to pay you to agree with him when he is wrong, don’t accept that payment. A payment like that can blind judges so that they can’t see the truth. And a payment like that can make good people tell lies. 9“You must never do wrong things to a foreigner. Remember, at one time you were also foreigners when you lived in the land of Egypt. 10“Plant seeds, harvest your crops, and work the ground for six years. 11But the seventh year, don’t use your land. ˻The seventh year must be a special time of rest for the land.˼ Don’t plant anything in your fields. If any crops grow there, then allow the poor people to have it. And allow the wild animals to eat the food that is left. You should do the same with your vineyards and with your fields of olive trees. 12“Work for six days. Then on the seventh day, rest! This will allow your slaves and other workers a time for rest and relaxation. And your bulls and donkeys will also have a time of rest. 13“Be sure that you obey all these laws. Don’t worship false gods. You should not even speak their names! 14“You will have three special holidays each year. On these holidays, you will come to my special place to worship me. 15The first holiday will be the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This is like I commanded you. At this time you will eat bread that is made without yeast. This will continue for seven days. You will do this during the month of Abib, because this is the time when you came out of Egypt. Every person must bring a sacrifice to me at that time. 16“The second holiday will be the Festival of Pentecost. This holiday will be ˻during the early summer time˼ when you begin harvesting the crops you planted in your fields. “The third holiday will be the Festival of Shelters. This will be in the fall when you gather all the crops from your fields. 17“So three times each year all the men will come ˻to the special place˼ to be with the Lord your Master. 18“When you kill an animal and offer its blood as a sacrifice, you must not offer bread that has yeast in it. ˻And when you eat the meat from this sacrifice, you must eat all of the meat in one day.˼ Don’t save any of the meat for the next day. 19“When you gather your crops at harvest time, you should bring the first of everything you harvest to the house of the Lord your God. “You must not eat the meat from a young goat that is boiled in its mother’s milk.” 20˻God said,˼ “I am sending an angel before you. This angel will lead you to the place that I have prepared for you. The angel will protect you. 21Obey the angel and follow him. Don’t rebel against him. The angel will not forgive the wrong things you do to him. He has my power in him. 22You must obey everything he says. You must do everything that I tell you. If you do this, then I will be with you. I will be against all of your enemies. And I will be an enemy to every person who is against you.” 23˻God said,˼ “My angel will lead you through the land. He will lead you against many different people—the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I will defeat all of those people. 24“Don’t worship the gods of those people. Don’t ever bow down to those gods. You must never live the way those people live. You must destroy their idols. And you must break the stones that help them remember their gods. 25You must serve the Lord your God. If you do this, I will bless you with plenty of bread and water. I will take away all sickness from you. 26Your women will all be able to have babies. None of their babies will die at birth. And I will allow you to live long lives. 27“When you fight against your enemies, I will send my great power before you. I will help you defeat all your enemies. The people that are against you will become confused in battle and run away. 28I will send the hornet in front of you. He will force your enemies to leave. The Hivite people, the Canaanite people, and the Hittite people will leave your country. 29But I will not force all those people out of your land quickly. I will not do this in only one year. The land will be empty if I force the people out too fast. Then all the wild animals would increase and control the land. And they would be much trouble for you. 30So I will force those people out of your land very slowly. You will continue to move across the land. And wherever you go I will force the other people to leave. 31“I will give you all the land from the Red Sea to the Euphrates River. The western border will be the Philistine Sea ˻(Mediterranean Sea)˼, and the eastern border will be the Arabian Desert. I will let you defeat the people living there. And you will force all those people to leave. 32“You must not make any agreements with any of those people or their gods. 33Don’t let them stay in your country. If you let them stay, they will be like a trap to you—they will cause you to sin against me. And you will begin worshiping their gods.”

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