Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
The following commentary covers Chapters 22, 23, 24, and 25.
Chapter 22 appears to contain ordinances to guard the people from want of benevolence and mercy, and of that which would offend the sensibilities of nature, either with regard to tenderness or purity. So also all mixture was forbidden in ploughing or sowing. We find the same with regard to women: they were protected against the dishonour done to them by a brutish, inconsiderate husband; whilst impurity was punished with death.
Thus (chap. 23) the people are taught what sentiments became them, according to God, with reference to the nations (taking the ways and doings of those nations into consideration) in case of war. They are also instructed in what was proper, as to the purity of the camp in case of war, seeing God was there. So with regard to all sorts of things, such as the slave that was escaped from his master; things morally impure; even the neighbour's vineyard; and (chap. 24) a more serious thing, divorce, and everything relative to it; delicacy towards the poor, the hire of labourers, the gleaning for the poor. The spirit of all these ordinances is very instructive, and the goodness and the tenderness of God, who deigns to take knowledge of all these things, and to teach His people delicacy, propriety, consideration for others, sensitiveness, and those feelings which, by removing brutality, and softening the hardness of the heart of man, fashion his ways according to that love with which the Spirit of God clothes Himself when He acts in the heart of man. Here, it is true, everything is imperfect. There are things taken for granted here, which form the basis of these ordinances, which the full operation of the Spirit of Christ would entirely take away; divorce, for instance, and other things endured; owing their existence to the hardness of man's heart. But the limitations and conditions, assigned by the law of God, keep in check the wickedness of that will which hardens itself, while it oppresses others.
Chapter 25 adds ordinances which are a continuation of what we have already read; taking care that none of their brethren should be dishonoured in their eyes, and that no family should perish from among the people (there being, at the same time, the maintenance of purity and uprightness).
As to the inveterate enemies of God and His people, Israel was never to seek peace with them. Human amiability is often enmity with God. This ordinance is so much the more remarkable, because it follows so many others which made provision for kindness, even to a bird.
Jehovah had taken care that an Egyptian should find the entrance into the assembly of God; but those affections were to be in exercise towards the Egyptians for the good of the souls of the Israelites themselves. They were not to harden their hearts against those in whose midst they had sojourned. But to spare the Amalekites (who came to meet Israel to shut up their way and destroy the feeble ones among them) was to forget what was due to God, who brought them back; and, as regarded the people, it would have proved indifference of heart to evil, and not the effusion of a natural affection; neither was it yielding to remembrances, with which charity might mingle for good, by a becoming forgetfulness of wrongs formerly received. [See Note #1] Where there is nobleness of sentiment, men who know (though they have injured) each other, still will own one another when the evil is over.
But there is a spirit which claims nothing but disgust: to tolerate it is only sparing oneself, and admitting that very spirit into one's heart so as to partake of it. What is in question is not judging, but the state of one's own heart. The distance of an Egyptian from God was recognised; but if he were in relationship with Him during three generations, why should he be kept at a distance? why should he remain a stranger? But Amalek did not fear God-did not recognise Him. What then could be recognised in such a nation? We must bring God into our affairs-our relationships; and charity, firmness, justness in our judgments, will each find its place, and be reproduced in all our ways.
The Egyptians were merely that in which Israel was held naturally. The Amalekites were positive active enemies against them when the redeemed people of God. One was really man, though fallen man without God-I honour all men; the other, the positive direct power of the enemy.