Exodus 23

Rules for justice

1 Do not make false reports. Do not tell lies in court to help wicked people.

2 Do not join a group of bad people to do evil things. When you speak in court, tell the truth so that the judges will decide what is right. Do not tell lies to agree with what everyone else says. 3 Do not speak on behalf of a poor man only because you like him.

4 Perhaps you may find your enemy's cow or his donkey when he has lost it. If so, you must give it back to him. 5 Perhaps you may see your enemy's donkey when it is carrying a heavy load. If the donkey has fallen down, do not refuse to give help. Do not leave the donkey there.

6 Always do what is right for your poor people when they stand in front of a judge. 7 Do not help anyone to use lies to accuse another person. Never punish anyone with death if they are not guilty. I will never say that a wicked person is not guilty.

8 Do not accept a bribe. A bribe will hide the truth even from honest people. It can make good people tell lies.

9 Do not be cruel to a foreign person who lives among you. You yourselves know what that feels like. Remember that you lived in Egypt as foreigners.

Rules about the Sabbath day and Feasts

10 You must plant seed in your fields for six years. Then you can bring your crops home at harvest time. 11 But in the seventh year, you must let your fields lie empty. Do not dig them and do not plant anything in them. Then poor people among you can eat the food that they find in your fields. After that, the wild animals can eat any food that still remains. Do the same thing with your vineyards and your fields of olive trees.

12 Do your work for six days each week, but do not work on the seventh day. Then your oxen and your donkeys will have time to rest. Any slave who was born in your home and any foreigner who works for you may also have time to rest. That will help them to be strong.

13 Be careful to obey everything that I have told you. Do not pray to other gods for help. Do not even speak about them.

14 Three times each year, you must eat a feast to give me honour.

15 Eat the Feast of Flat Bread every year. For seven days, you must eat bread that you have made without any yeast. I have commanded you to do this. Do it at the right time during the month Abib. It was in that month that you came out of Egypt. Nobody must come to me without an offering.

16 Eat the Feast of Harvest every year. Offer to me the first crops that you bring from your fields.

23:16The Israelites ate the Harvest Feast when they picked the first food from their fields.

At the end of each year, eat Feast of Final Harvest. Do that when you have finished bringing in all of your crops from the fields.

17 Three times each year, all your men must come to worship the Almighty Lord.

18 When you kill an animal to offer it to me as a sacrifice, do not offer it with bread that has yeast in it. Be sure to burn all the fat of the animal on the same day. Do not keep any of it until the next morning.

19 When you cut the first crops from your fields, bring the best food to the house of the Lord your God.

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

God's special angel

20 Look! I will send an angel to lead you on your journey. He will keep you safe. He will take you to the place that I have prepared for you. 21 Be careful to obey him. Listen to what he says to you. Do not turn against him. If you do that, he will not forgive you. I have given him my authority. 22 So be careful to obey him. Do everything that I tell you. Then I will be the enemy of your enemies. I will fight against anyone who fights against you. 23 My angel will go in front of you. He will bring you into the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. I will destroy them completely. 24 Do not worship their gods. Do not serve them. Do not copy the evil things that these people do. Destroy their idols and break their special stones into pieces.

25 You must serve only me, the Lord your God. Then I will bless your food and your water. I will remove illness from among you. 26 Your women will safely give birth to babies. They will all be able to have children. Everyone will live a long life.

27 I will cause all the nations that you meet to be afraid. All the people who attack you will become confused. I will cause all your enemies to turn round and run away from you. 28 I will send great fear on the people as you move into the land. That will chase out the Hivites, the Canaanites and the Hittites. 29 But I will not chase out those people in one year. If I did that, the country would become empty of people. Then there would be many wild animals that would cause trouble to you. 30 I will remove the people slowly, one group at a time. As you become strong, you will take the land as your own home.

23:28‘fear’ or ‘insects that bite’

31 I will decide where the borders of your land will be. You will have the land from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will put the people who live there under your power. As you move into the land, you will chase those people out.

32 Do not make any agreement with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land. They would cause you to do bad things against me. If you serve their gods, you will become like their prisoners.’