“He said, ‘I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation. All the people among whom you live shall see the work of Yahweh. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’”
Yahweh says that he will make a covenant. He will perform great unforeseen miracles. Everyone will see how awesome he is. This comes after the beautiful poetic proclamation of the preceding verses. Here the restrictions are more precise.
“Observe what I command you today. See, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare among you. You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles. You shall worship no other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land. When they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone among them will invite you, and you will eat of the sacrifice. You will take wives from among their daughters for your sons. Their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make yours sons also prostitute themselves to their gods. You shall not make cast idols.”
Yahweh asks them to observe what he commands today. This is an elaboration and a repetition of many of the cultic demands of chapter 23. Once again there is a mention of the six groups that will be driven out of Canaan. They are not to make a covenant with these people. On the contrary they are to tear down the various religious objects among these people, their altars, their pillars, and their sacred totem poles. Yahweh is a jealous God. They are not to get involved with any of these people, eat their sacrificial food, or marry their sons or daughters. Finally the reminder that they should not make any idols.
“You shall keep the festival of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib. In the month Abib you came out from Egypt.”
The festival of the seven days of unleavened bread is in the month of Abib as an important reminder that you came out of Egypt in that month.
“All that opens the womb is mine, all your male livestock, the first-born of cow and sheep. The first-born of a donkey, you shall redeem with a lamb. If you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the first-born of your sons you shall redeem. No one shall appear before me empty-handed.”
All of the first-born of humans and animals shall be consecrated to Yahweh. As in chapter 13, you can substitute with a sheep for a donkey. If you do not substitute or redeem the first-born donkey you must break its neck. Every first born of your sons shall be redeemed. No one should appear before Yahweh empty-handed.
“Six days you shall work. But on the seventh day you shall rest. Even in plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest. You shall observe the festival of weeks the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before Yahweh God, the God of Israel. I will cast out nations before you, and enlarge your borders. No one shall covet your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh your God three times in the year.”
You work for six days and rest on the seventh even in plowing and harvest time. You shall observe the festival of weeks and the festival of ingathering. 3 times a year all the males shall appear before Yahweh. The 3 feasts are the Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Booths.
“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, and the sacrifice of the festival of the Passover shall not be left until the morning. The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of Yahweh your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”
Like in chapter 23, almost word for word, you cannot mix your blood sacrifice with leavened bread. You had to eat the sacrifice or burn it the next day. You only bring the best to Yahweh. Of course you do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. This last admonition refers to a Canaanite sacrifice practice as mentioned in chapter 23.
“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Write these words. In accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ He was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”
Then Yahweh told Moses to write the words of the covenant with him and the Israelites on the tablets. Moses was there with Yahweh, fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. So he wrote the 10 commandments of the covenant on the tablets. This is different from the first broken tablets that were written with the finger of Yahweh.