The Book of the Covenant, Part 4 (Exodus 22:16-23:19)

Chuck Cain

On Sunday May 24, 2015 the Adult Sunday School Class reviewed Exodus 22:16 through 23:19.

Exodus 22:16-17 seem to be transitional verses from property laws earlier in Chapter 22 to social justice issues in Chapter 23. Both the Seventh and Eighth Commandments are in view. An elevated view of marriage is upheld as is the valuing and protecting of women.

Exodus 22:18-20 set forth three additional capital charges to those already listed in Chapter 21. These, however, are religious in nature rather than social. They relate to the First Commandment.

In Exodus 21:1-11 Israel was reminded that they were once slaves and therefore should treat their own slaves with mercy. Similarly in 22:21 through 23:9 they are reminded that they were once sojourners and likewise should treat sojourners, the weak, and the poor with mercy. Verses 22:21 and 23:9 are almost identical and bracket this section. Note that 23:1-8 is presented as a chiasm (A-B-C-C’-B’-A’) and relates to the Ninth Commandment. For example, 23:3 (B) requires that the poor not be favored in court; whereas, 23:6 (B’) requires that the poor not be disfavored either.

Exodus 23:10-12 are transitional verses setting forth sabbath laws with an emphasis on showing mercy to the poor and sojourners.

Exodus 23:13 serves as a closing verse to the Book of the Covenant begun at 21:1. It is a final reference to the First Commandment: “make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.”

Exodus 23:14-19 primarily addresses required attendance at festivals. Therefore, the subject is worship, echoing 20:22-26. — Chuck Cain

Listen to Book of the Covenant, Part 4 (Exodus 22:16-23:19) at

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