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Exodus 23:23-28

Context
23:23 For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely. 1 

23:24 “You must not bow down to their gods; you must not serve them or do according to their practices. Instead you must completely overthrow them and smash their standing stones 2  to pieces. 3  23:25 You must serve 4  the Lord your God, and he 5  will bless your bread and your water, 6  and I will remove sickness from your midst. 23:26 No woman will miscarry her young 7  or be barren in your land. I will fulfill 8  the number of your days.

23:27 “I will send my terror 9  before you, and I will destroy 10  all the people whom you encounter; I will make all your enemies turn their backs 11  to you. 23:28 I will send 12  hornets before you that will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you.

1 tn Heb “will cut them off” (so KJV, ASV).

2 tn The Hebrew is מַצֵּבֹתֵיהֶם (matsevotehem, “their standing stones”); these long stones were erected to represent the abode of the numen or deity. They were usually set up near the altar or the high place. To destroy these would be to destroy the centers of Canaanite worship in the land.

3 tn Both verbs are joined with their infinitive absolutes to provide the strongest sense to these instructions. The images of the false gods in Canaan were to be completely and utterly destroyed. This could not be said any more strongly.

4 tn The perfect tense, masculine plural, with vav (ו) consecutive is in sequence with the preceding: do not bow down to them, but serve Yahweh. It is then the equivalent of an imperfect of instruction or injunction.

5 tn The LXX reads “and I will bless” to make the verb conform with the speaker, Yahweh.

6 sn On this unusual clause B. Jacob says that it is the reversal of the curse in Genesis, because the “bread and water” represent the field work and ground suitability for abundant blessing of provisions (Exodus, 734).

7 tn Or “abort”; Heb “cast.”

8 sn No one will die prematurely; this applies to the individual or the nation. The plan of God to bless was extensive, if only the people would obey.

9 tn The word for “terror” is אֵימָתִי (’emati); the word has the thought of “panic” or “dread.” God would make the nations panic as they heard of the exploits and knew the Israelites were drawing near. U. Cassuto thinks the reference to “hornets” in v. 28 may be a reference to this fear, an unreasoning dread, rather than to another insect invasion (Exodus, 308). Others suggest it is symbolic of an invading army or a country like Egypt or literal insects (see E. Neufeld, “Insects as Warfare Agents in the Ancient Near East,” Or 49 [1980]: 30-57).

10 tn Heb “kill.”

11 tn The text has “and I will give all your enemies to you [as] a back.” The verb of making takes two accusatives, the second being the adverbial accusative of product (see GKC 371-72 §117.ii, n. 1).

12 tn Heb “and I will send.”



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