Exodus 23:24
You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but you shall utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.
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(24) Nor do after their works.—The Canaanitish nations were not merely idolaters, they were corrupt, profligate, and depraved. All the abominations mentioned in Leviticus 18:6-23 were practised widely among them before they were dispossessed of their territory (Leviticus 18:24-30). No doubt the idolatry and the profligacy were closely connected, as among idolatrous nations generally; but it was for their profligacy rather than their idolatry that they were driven out. Thus it was necessary to warn Israel against both.

Thou shalt . . . quite break down their images.—Conquerors generally preserved the idols of the conquered nations as trophies of victory; to do so was forbidden to the Israelites. Idolatry had such a powerful and subtle attraction for them, that there was danger of their being seduced into it unless the entire apparatus of the idol-worship were destroyed and made away with. Hence the present injunctions, and others similar to them. (Comp. Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; &c.)

23:20-33 It is here promised that they should be guided and kept in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise, Behold, I send an angel before thee, mine angel. The precept joined with this promise is, that they be obedient to this angel whom God would send before them. Christ is the Angel of Jehovah; this is plainly taught by St. Paul, 1Co 10:9. They should have a comfortable settlement in the land of Canaan. How reasonable are the conditions of this promise; that they should serve the only true God; not the gods of the nations, which are no gods at all. How rich are the particulars of this promise! The comfort of their food, the continuance of their health, the increase of their wealth, the prolonging their lives to old age. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is. It is promised that they should subdue their enemies. Hosts of hornets made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God use for chastising his people's enemies. In real kindness to the church, its enemies are subdued by little and little; thus we are kept on our guard, and in continual dependence on God. Corruptions are driven out of the hearts of God's people, not all at once, but by little and little. The precept with this promise is, that they should not make friendship with idolaters. Those that would keep from bad courses, must keep from bad company. It is dangerous to live in a bad neighbourhood; others' sins will be our snares. Our greatest danger is from those who would make us sin against God.I will cut them off - The national existence of the Canaanites was indeed to be "utterly" destroyed, every trace of their idolatries was to be blotted out, no social contact was to be held with them while they served other gods, nor were alliances of any kind to be formed with them. (See Deuteronomy 7; Deuteronomy 12:1-4, Deuteronomy 12:29-31.) But it is alike contrary to the spirit of the divine law, and to the facts bearing on the subject scattered in the history, to suppose that any obstacle was put in the way of well disposed individuals of the denounced nations who left their sins and were willing to join the service of Yahweh. The spiritual blessings of the covenant were always open to those who sincerely and earnestly desired to possess them. See Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 19:34; Leviticus 24:22. 21. my name is in him—This angel is frequently called Jehovah and Elohim, that is, God. Thou shalt not bow down nor serve them, i.e. give them neither outward worship with thy body, nor inward with thy mind, nor follow their example in the worship of idols. Them shalt overthrow them, i.e. the people, lest thou be insnared by their counsel or example, and quite break down their images, or statues, or pillars, or any thing else erected in honour to their false gods. See Genesis 28:18 35:20. Thou shalt not bow down to their gods,.... In a way of honour to them, doing them reverence, expressing thereby an high esteem of them, trust in them, and expectation of good things from them:

nor serve them: in any kind of service in which they usually are served by their votaries; as by offering sacrifice, incense, libations, &c. or by praying to them or praising of them, or in whatsoever way they are served by idolaters:

nor do after their works; the works of the worshippers of idols; all those wicked works in general done by them, which should not be imitated; and those particularly relating to the service and worship of their deities:

but thou shalt overthrow them; the heathen gods; utterly destroy them, and break them to pieces, or demolish their temples, the idolatrous houses built for them, and their altars; for the word has the signification, of demolishing buildings, and razing up the very foundations of them:

and quite break down their images; or, "in breaking break down" (o); utterly and entirely break them down, break them to shivers, all their statues of gold or silver, brass, wood, or stone, or of whatsoever materials they were made; none were to be spared, nor any remains of them to be seen, that they might not prove a snare to any to worship them; and hereby they were to express their detestation of idolatry, and their strict and close adherence to the true God, and the worship of him as follows.

(o) "confringendo confringes", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, "perfringendo perfringito", Piscator.

Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt {n} utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

(n) God commands his own to not only not worship idols, but to destroy them.

24. Thou shalt not bow down to …, nor serve them] as Exodus 20:5.

nor do after their works] Cf. Leviticus 18:3.

overthrow] properly, tear down (viz. their images).

pillars] so RV. always, AV. sometimes wrongly images; RVm. obelisks; best, perhaps, standing-stones: Heb. maẓẓçbôth. The maẓẓçbâh (lit. something set up) was a large oblong block of stone—originally, no doubt (cf. on Exodus 20:24, and the writer’s note on Genesis 28:18, p. 267), conceived as the abode of a numen or deity—set up in or near a temple or high place, or beside an altar. Several such maẓẓçbâhs, or ‘standing stones,’ have been excavated recently at Gezer, Taanach, and Megiddo: at Gezer, for instance, there is a striking row of ten, and at Taanach a double row, each consisting of five (see the writer’s Modern Research as illustrating the Bible, 1908, pp. 62–5, 84). maẓẓçbâhs were the regular accompaniment of a Canaanite temple or other sacred place (cf. 2 Kings 10:26 f., in the temple of Baal in Samaria); and during the earlier period of Israel’s history they seem to have been used freely in the worship of Jehovah as well: Moses erects twelve (ch. Exodus 24:4); Hosea 3:4; Hosea 10:1 f. alludes to them as religious symbols of which Israel will be deprived on account of its sins; in Isaiah 19:19 a maẓẓçbâh is a symbol of Egypt’s conversion to Jehovah. Later, however, they were proscribed on account of their heathen associations: Moses is represented as having commanded the demolition of the Canaanite ‘standing-stones’ (here, Exodus 34:13, Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3 : cf. Micah 5:13); and their erection beside Jehovah’s altar is prohibited (Deuteronomy 16:22; Leviticus 26:1 H): the same view of them is also reflected in the notices by the Deuteronomic compiler in 1 Kings 14:23, 2 Kings 17:10. See further DB. iii. s.v. Pillar, and EB. iii. s.v. Massebah.Verse 24. - Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works. It is always to be borne in mind that with the idolatries of the heathen were connected "works of darkness," which it is shameful even to speak cf. The rites of Baal and Ashtoreth, of Chemosh, Molech, Rimmon, and the other Canaanite and Syrian deities were at once defiled by the abomination of human sacrifices, and polluted with the still more debasing evil of religious impurity. "The sacrifice offered to Ash-toreth," says Dr. Dollinger, "consisted in the prostitution of women: the women submitted themselves to the visitors of the feast, in the temple of the goddess or the adjoining precinct. A legend told of Astarte (Ashtoreth) having prostituted herself in Tyre for ten years: and in many places matrons, as well as maidens, consecrated themselves for a length of time, or on the festivals of the goddess, with a view of propitiating her, or earning her favour as hieroduli of unchastity... In this way they went so far at last as to contemplate the abominations of unnatural lust as a homage rendered to the deity, and to exalt it into a regular cultus. The worship of the goddess at Aphaca in Lebanon was specially notorious in this respect. The temple in a solitary situation was, as Eusebius tells us, a place of evil-doing for such as chose to ruin their bodies in scandalous ways... Criminal intercourse with women, impurity, shameful and degrading deeds, were practised in the temple, where there was no custom and no law, and no honourable or decent human being could be found." (Jew and Gentile, vol. 1. pp. 428, 429; Darnell's translation.) Thou shalt utterly overthrow them. The heathen gods are identified with their images. These were to be torn from their bases, overthrown, and rolled in the dust for greater contempt and ignominy. They were then to be broken up and burnt, till the gold and the silver with which they were overlaid was calcined and could be stamped to powder. Nothing was to be spared that had been degraded by idolatry, either for its beauty or its elaborate workmanship, or its value. All was hateful to God, and was to be destroyed. The blessing attending their appearing before the Lord was dependent upon the feasts being kept in the proper way, by the observance of the three rules laid down in Exodus 23:18 and Exodus 23:19. "Thou shalt not offer the blood of My sacrifice upon leavened bread." על upon, as in Exodus 12:8, denoting the basis upon which the sacrifice was offered. The meaning has been correctly given by the early commentators, viz., "as long as there is any leavened bread in your houses," or "until the leaven has been entirely removed from your houses." The reference made here to the removal of leaven, and the expression "blood of My sacrifice," both point to the paschal lamb, which was regarded as the sacrifice of Jehovah κατ̓ ἐξοχήν, on account of its great importance. Onkelos gives this explanation: "My Passover" for "My sacrifice." - "Neither shall the fat of My feast remain (ילין to pass the night) until the morning." "The fat of My feast" does not mean the fat of My festal sacrifice, for חג, a feast, is not used for the sacrifice offered at the feast; it signifies rather the best of My feast, i.e., the paschal sacrifice, as we may see from Exodus 34:25, where "the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover" is given as the explanation of "the fat of My feast." As the paschal sacrifice was the sacrifice of Jehovah par excellence, so the feast of the Passover was the feast of Jehovah par excellence. The expression "fat of My feast" is not to be understood as referring at all to the fat of the lamb, which was burned upon the altar in the case of the expiatory and whole offerings; for there could have been no necessity for the injunction not to keep this till the morning, inasmuch as those parts of every sacrifice which were set apart for the altar were burned immediately after the sprinkling of the blood. The allusion is to the flesh of the paschal lamb, which was eaten in the night before daybreak, after which anything that remained was to be burned. עד־בּקר (without the article) till morning, has the same meaning as לבּקר "for the (following) morning" in Exodus 34:25.
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