Exodus 23:13
And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
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(13) Be circumspect.—Rather, take heed. The verb used is a very common one.

Make no mention of the name of other gods.—The Jewish commentators understand swearing by the name of other gods to be the thing here forbidden, and so the Vulg., “per nomen exterorum deorum non jurabitis.” But the words used reach far beyond this. Contempt for the “gods of the nations” was to be shown by ignoring their very names. They were not to be spoken of, unless by preachers in the way of warning, or by historians when the facts of history could not be otherwise set forth. Moses himself mentions Baal (Numbers 22:41), Baal-peor (Numbers 25:3; Numbers 25:5), Chemosh (Numbers 21:29), and Moloch (Leviticus 20:2-5; Leviticus 23:21).

Exodus 23:13. In all things 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 reforming 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.

23:10-19 Every seventh year the land was to rest. They must not plough or sow it; what the earth produced of itself, should be eaten, and not laid up. This law seems to have been intended to teach dependence on Providence, and God's faithfulness in sending the larger increase while they kept his appointments. It was also typical of the heavenly rest, when all earthly labours, cares, and interests shall cease for ever. All respect to the gods of the heathen is strictly forbidden. Since idolatry was a sin to which the Israelites leaned, they must blot out the remembrance of the gods of the heathen. Solemn religious attendance on God, in the place which he should choose, is strictly required. They must come together before the Lord. What a good Master do we serve, who has made it our duty to rejoice before him! Let us devote with pleasure to the service of God that portion of our time which he requires, and count his sabbaths and ordinances to be a feast unto our souls. They were not to come empty-handed; so now, we must not come to worship God empty-hearted; our souls must be filled with holy desires toward him, and dedications of ourselves to him; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.Compare Deuteronomy 4:9; Joshua 22:5; Ephesians 5:15. 13. make no mention of the name of other gods, &c.—that is, in common conversation, for a familiar use of them would tend to lessen horror of idolatry. Make no mention, to wit, with honour or delight, or without detestation; as fornication is not to be named among saints, Ephesians 5:3. Or, not mention them in your worship, or in oaths, or in common discourse, and without special occasion, lest the frequent mention of them might keep up their memory, or introduce their worship. Hence the names of idols and idolatrous places were ofttimes changed by the Israelites. See Numbers 32:38 Joshua 23:7 Compare Psalm 16:4 Hosea 2:17 Zechariah 13:2.

And in all things that I have said unto you, be circumspect,.... Or observe them, be careful to keep them punctually and constantly, even all that are delivered in this and the preceding chapters:

and make no mention of the name of other gods; neither call upon them, nor swear by them, nor make vows to them; and, as little as possible, ever utter their names, and never with pleasure and delight, and showing any honour of them, and reverence to them, but with the utmost detestation and abhorrence:

neither let it be heard out of thy mouth; not any of their names; the same thing in different words, the more to inculcate and impress the thing upon the mind, and to show with what vehemence and earnestness this is pressed.

And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make {f} no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

(f) Neither by swearing by them, nor speaking of them, Ps 16:4, Eph 5:3.

13. God’s commands to be honoured; and ‘other gods’ not even to be mentioned, still less invoked in worship. The verse can hardly be in place in the midst of laws relating to sacred seasons. It reads like the conclusion, perhaps added by a compiler, either to the Book of the Covenant itself, or to one of the smaller collections of laws, out of which (cf. p. 203) the Book of the Covenant seems to have been formed. Probably it has found its present place as a result of successive expansions or transpositions of the text. It is impossible to determine its original position: but it would follow suitably v. 19.

make] Heb. make ye; Sam. make thou.

other gods] See on Exodus 20:3. With the clause itself comp. Joshua 23:7 (D2[193]).

[193] Deuteronomic passages in Josh., Jud., Kings.

upon (Psalm 50:16 Heb.) thy mouth] Cf. Hosea 2:17 [Heb. 19], Zechariah 13:2, Psalm 16:4.

Exodus 23:13Here follow directions respecting the year of rest and day of rest, the first of which lays the foundation for the keeping of the sabbatical and jubilee years, which are afterwards instituted in Leviticus 25, whilst the latter gives prominence to the element of rest and refreshment involved in the Sabbath, which had been already instituted (Exodus 20:9-11), and presses it in favour of beasts of burden, slaves, and foreigners. Neither of these instructions is to be regarded as laying down laws for the feasts; so that they are not to be included among the rights of Israel, which commence at Exodus 23:14. On the contrary, as they are separated from these by Exodus 23:13, they are to be reckoned as forming part of the laws relating to their mutual obligations one towards another. This is evident from the fact, that in both of them the care of the poor stands in the foreground. From this characteristic and design, which are common to both, we may explain the fact, that there is no allusion to the keeping of a Sabbath unto the Lord, as in Exodus 20:10 and Leviticus 25:2, in connection with either the seventh year or seventh day: all that is mentioned being their sowing and reaping for six years, and working for six days, and then letting the land lie fallow in the seventh year, and their ceasing or resting from labour on the seventh day. "The seventh year thou shalt let (thy land) loose (שׁמט to leave unemployed), and let it lie; and the poor of thy people shall eat (the produce which grows of itself), and their remainder (what they leave) shall the beast of the field eat." הנּפשׁ: lit., to breathe one's self, to draw breath, i.e., to refresh one's self (cf. Exodus 31:17; 2 Samuel 16:14). - With Exodus 23:13 the laws relating to the rights of the people, in their relations to one another, are concluded with the formula enforcing their observance, "And in all that I say to you, take heed," viz., that ye carefully maintain all the rights which I have given you. There is then attached to this, in Exodus 23:14, a warning, which forms the transition to the relation of Israel to Jehovah: "Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth." This forms a very fitting boundary line between the two series of mishpatim, inasmuch as the observance and maintenance of both of them depended upon the attitude in which Israel stood towards Jehovah.
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