Bible study 73 – Exodus 23

God no longer states specific punishments, but he still has much on his heart when it comes to things you shouldn’t do: giving false witness in a lawsuit; not helping other people’s livestock; abusing foreigners; working on the Sabbath; saying the names of other gods; going to an altar without a sacrifice; and boiling a kid in its mother’s milk.

As for the last one, “kid” here luckily means “young goat”. Even so, I am certain I am missing some cultural context, because I have no idea why you would need a specific rule for this (it is even repeated verbatim twice later in the Bible).

Things you should do: give every seventh year’s harvest to poor people; eat flat bread during Passover; come to an altar three times a year (only males); sacrifice the best of your harvest to God.

This is the end of the rules, and God starts talking about how he will exterminate all the original inhabitants of Canaan once the Israelites get there. He specifies that “You shall make no covenant with (…) their gods”, making it fairly clear that other gods exist. He also specifies the extent of the Israelites’ land, from the Red Sea in the south to the Mediterranean in the north; the Sinai desert in the west to the Euphrates river in the east.


The “Red Sea” mentioned in the Bible probably doesn’t refer to the “Red Sea” between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula; this is an ancient mistranslation. On the other hand, nobody really knows where it’s supposed to be, so I’m taking the NRSV text literally.


2 Comments on “Bible study 73 – Exodus 23”

  1. […] or incapacitated animals must be returned to their […]

  2. […] reaches of the promised land (which stretches farther to the north, and in some descriptions all the way to the Euphrates river), but Joshua is too old to continue the conquest. He therefore starts parceling out the conquered […]

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