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Exodus 23

God's laws for what is fair and kind

1 Do not make false reports. Do not say false words to give help to a bad man.

2 Do not follow other people, to do wrong things. When you speak in front of a judge, let your words be true. Do not speak false words, to be like everyone else. 3 But do not speak well for a poor man, only because you like him.

4 Perhaps you may find your enemy's cow or donkey as it runs away. You must certainly return it to him. 5 Perhaps you may see your enemy's donkey fall down. The basket on its back is too full of heavy things. Do not leave the donkey there. You must certainly give your enemy help with his animal.

6 Always be fair to your poor people when they stand in front of a judge. Do not refuse to be fair to them. 7 Refuse to listen to false words against anyone. I will not let anyone go free who has done a wrong thing. So do not kill a person who has not done a wrong thing.

8 Do not accept money as a gift, to do what is wrong. You will not be able to judge properly, because of this gift. Also, it will confuse the words of a good man.

9 Do not be cruel to a foreign person. You yourselves know what it feels like. So do not do it. Remember! You were foreign people in Egypt.

Laws about the Sabbath

10 You must plant seed in your fields for six years and bring in the harvest. 11 But during the seventh year, you must let your fields lie empty. Do not dig them and do not plant them. Then the poor people among you can get food from your fields. And the wild animals can eat any food that remains. Do the same thing with your gardens of fruit.

12 Do your work for six days, but do not work on the seventh day. Then your cow and your donkey can rest. Also, the foreign person and the slave who was born in your home can have some rest. Then they will become strong and happy.

13 Be careful to obey all my words to you. Do not ask any other gods for help. Do not let anyone hear the names of other gods from your lips.

The three parties that happen during each year

14 Three times during each year, I want you to enjoy a party with me.

15 Enjoy the party of bread that has no yeast in it. For 7 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 with nothing in his hands.

16 Enjoy the party of harvest with the first food that you bring from your fields.

Enjoy another party at the end of the year. This will be when you bring in all of your food from the fields.’

23:16The Israelites enjoyed the harvest party when they picked the first food from the fields.
23:16The third party happened later, when they brought in the whole harvest.

17 ‘Three times during each year, all your men must appear in front of the LORD who is King.

18 If you give to me an animal as a gift, you may offer its blood. But do not offer it together with anything that has yeast in it.

Do not keep the fat from my special gifts until the next morning.

19 When you pick the first food from your fields, put the best food into a basket. Then bring it to the house of the LORD your God.

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

God's angel will go in front of the Israelites

20 Look! I send an angel in front of you, to keep you safe on the journey. He will bring you to the place that I have prepared for you. 21 Be careful to watch him. Listen to what he says to you. Do not refuse to obey him because he will not forgive you. This is because he is called by my name. 22 Be careful to listen to his words. Do everything that I say to you. Then I will be an enemy to 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 country of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. I will kill all of them. 24 Do not bend your heads in front of their gods. Do not worship these gods. And do not copy the things that these people do. Destroy the gods and break their special stones into small pieces. 25 Worship me, the LORD your God, and then I will make your bread and water very good. I will remove illness from among you. 26 Your women will all have babies. None of the babies will be born before it is ready. I will give a long life to every person.

27 I will go in front of you and I will make everyone afraid of me. I will confuse the people in every country where you go. I will cause all your enemies to run away from you. 28 I will send in front of you cruel insects that fly. These will cause the Hivites, the Canaanites and the Hittites to run away from you. 29 But I will not remove these people in one year. If I did that, the country would become empty. And then there would be too many wild animals. 30 I will remove them slowly, one group after another group. Then you will become strong and you will fill the country yourselves.

31 I will decide where the edges of your country will be. The country will be from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines. And it will be from the desert to the River Euphrates. I will give to you the people who live in these countries. Then you will send them away from you. 32 Do not make any promises to them, or to their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your country. They will certainly cause you to do wrong things against me. If you worship their gods, you will become their slaves.’