God promises to clear the road
Don’t lie; be helpful1 Don’t go around spreading lies about people. And don’t make a deal with a crook, and then back the deal up with your lies. 2 Don’t follow the crowd if they are doing something you know is wrong. Don’t twist justice just because others are doing it. 3 Don’t favor a poor person in court just because that person is poor. 4 If you come across a bull or a donkey that wandered away from an enemy, take the livestock back to the owners, regardless of what you think of them. 5 If you see a heavily loaded donkey on the ground, unable to get up, help its owner get it up. Do it even if the owner is someone who hates you. 6 Don’t rob poor folks of the justice they deserve. 7 Don’t accuse people of doing something you know they didn’t do. And do not send a good and innocent person to death. I will not acquit someone guilty of that crime. 8 Don’t take a bribe. And don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll be able to see your way to justice once you’re blinded by a bribe. Bribes decimate justice. 9 Don’t mistreat immigrants and newcomers. You should know better than that because you were once immigrants and foreigners in Egypt.
Rest on day seven, year seven10 Plant crops in your fields for six years and collect the harvest. 11 But every seventh year, let the fields rest. Don’t plant anything on them. Let the poor people who live in the area eat anything that grows wild during that year. And let animals eat any of the leftovers. Do the same thing with your vineyards and your olive groves. 12 Work for six days. But on day seven, take a break from work. Let your bull and your donkey rest. Let the son of your female slave rest. And let the guest staying with you rest. Let everyone relax with a day off. 13 Make sure you do everything I just told you to do. One more thing. Do not even speak the name of other gods.
Celebrate three festivals14 I want you to hold a festival for me three times a year. 15 The first is the Feast of the Yeast-free Bread. For seven days, don’t eat any bread with yeast in it. Eat only bread made without yeast. Just as I commanded you earlier, do this in the first month of the year because that’s the month you came out of Egypt. When you come to worship me, don’t come empty-handed. Bring offerings. 16 The second festival I want you to hold is the Harvest Festival every spring, when you start to harvest your wheat. Later, hold the Last Harvest Festival at the end of the harvest season, once you collect all the crops you worked so hard to grow during the year. 17 I want the men of each family to come to all three of these festivals, to present themselves to their Lord and God. 18 When you sacrifice an animal to me, don’t add a side dish of bread made with yeast. And don’t leave the animal fat out overnight. Burn it with the rest of the offering. 19 When you come to the worship center, bringing an offering of the first crops you harvested, bring the best of your crops.
Also, when you cook a young goat, do not boil it in the milk of its own mother.
You get an angel to guard you20 Look, I’m going to send an angel to go with you and guard you. The angel will take you to the place I have ready and waiting for you. 21 Pay attention to this angel. Don’t cross him. He’s not going to tolerate any rebellious behavior. He has my full authority. 22 If you do what he says and what I say, I will become your enemy’s enemy. To get to you, they’ll have to go through me. 23 My angel is going to clear the road ahead of you. He’s going to take you right through the lands of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites. I will wipe them out. 24 Do bow down and worship their gods; do nothing to honor them. Do not adopt the worship practices of these people. You are going to decimate them and you are going to crush their sacred shrines. 25 Save your worship for the LORD your God. When you do, I’ll make sure you have food to eat and water to drink. And when you get sick, I’ll make you well. 26 When you get to the land I have waiting for you, all the women will be able to have children and no one will miscarry. Each of you will live a long life. 27 I will make the nations terrified of you. They won’t have any idea what to do with you except to turn and run for their lives. 28 I’ll attack them before you even get there. I’ll drive out those Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. 29 I won’t do this right away, in a single year. If I did, the farmland would go to weeds. And there would be population explosion among the wild animals, which would put you in danger. So, I’ll drive them out little by little so that when you arrive, you’ll produce thriving crops and make the land your own. 30 I will push the people out of the land little by little until you grow big enough and strong enough to take full possession of the land. 31 Here are the boundary markers I’m setting for you. Your land will stretch from the Red Sea in the south to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, by the land of the Philistines, and to the desert in the east and to the Euphrates River in the north. I will give you the people who live in all those lands. You will then force them out and take the land they leave behind. 32 Don’t make any peace treaties with those people. And have nothing to do with their gods. 33 Don’t let those people live in your land. If you do, they’ll lure you into sin. Count on it. And if you let yourself get conned into worshipping their gods, you’re in for trouble. You can count on that, too.
Often called “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Observant Jews eat a large cracker-like bread called matzo.
The writer calls the month Abib, an older name of the month that became known as Nisan (March-April). In fact, the month is called Nisan in Exodus 12:2, where the feast of Passover is first discussed. The day the week-long observance begins is the 15th of the month, according to Leviticus 23:6. The Israelites followed a lunar calendar, with every month starting at the first tiny crescent after the new moon. A new moon is when the moon is hidden behind earth’s shadow for one day. The sun, moon, and earth are aligned, with earth in the middle. Nisan is the name of the first Jewish month of the year. It’s when Jews celebrate Passover, one of their most revered holidays. The month falls around Eastertime, in March or April. Jesus went to Jerusalem to observe Passover when he was arrested and crucified.
Presumably, animal sacrifices, since it’s too early in the season for farmers to bring crops. Barley was one of the earliest plants harvested in the region. Farmers generally harvested it around April.
The animal fat here is probably the fat on the intestines of the animal. People of Israel were required to burn it with the sacrifice and were not allowed to eat it (Leviticus 3:17; 7:23).
This boundary covers most of what is now Israel and Palestinian Territories, along with parts of the countries of Jordan and Syria, almost the Syria’s northern border with Turkey. This is roughly the area of Solomon’s expansive control—which was Israel at its largest. When Solomon died, his kingdom shrunk as it spilt into two nations: Israel in the north and Judah in the south, where Jerusalem is.
The Israelite ancestors of the Jewish people went on to do all of this—and they paid they price. Invaders conquered them, leveled Jerusalem and the Temple, and drove the Israelites out of their country. For about half a century, in the AD 500s BC, there was no Jewish country at all. Not until Persians, from what is now Iran, freed the Jewish political prisoners of Babylon, from what is now Iraq. Some Jews returned home and started rebuilding Jerusalem.
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