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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 19

 

 

Verses 1-37


Various Laws, mainly of a Moral and Humane Character

This chapter was very naturally regarded by Jewish authorities as an embodiment of the Decalogue. It will be observed that in general the precepts in Leviticus 19:3-8 correspond to those of the first table of the Decalogue ('Thou shalt love the Lord thy God'), and those in Leviticus 19:9-18 to the second table ('Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'). In this chapter alone the characteristic phrase 'I am the Lord' (i.e. Jehovah) occurs no fewer than sixteen times. It is the divine seal set to the enactments of the law.

5-8. See Leviticus 7:15-18.

9. Kindly consideration of the poor is part of that holiness which God requires and which is the reflection of His own. He is the champion of the weak and oppressed: see on Exodus 22:21, and Leviticus 19:33, Leviticus 19:34. This injunction is not applicable to the time of the sojourn in the desert; it presupposes a settled agricultural life in the land of Canaan: see on Deuteronomy 24:20.

13. Cp. Deuteronomy 24:14-15; Malachi 3:5; James 5:4.

14. The sin is that of intention, and is seen by Him who 'trieth the hearts.'

15. Justice must be administered impartially, no favour, being shown to a poor man because he is poor (cp. Exodus 23:3), or to a rich man because he is rich.

16. Stand against the blood of thy neighbour] This may mean generally any conduct imperilling a neighbour's life. But its connexion here with the sin of slander suggests that what is specially meant is the procuring of a sentence of condemnation by means of false witness: cp. Exodus 23:1, Exodus 23:7.

17. Upon him] RV 'because of him,' on his account, i.e. by cherishing ill-will against him in secret.

18. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself] This is the 'royal law' (James 2:8) and the principle underlying the second table of the Decalogue: see Matthew 22:35-40. The word neighbour was interpreted in a narrow sense as equivalent to a fellow Israelite or at most to a stranger living in the midst of Israel. Our Lord removed all such limitations and applied the law universally: see Luke 10:29-37.

19. Such mixtures are forbidden, as not only in themselves contrary to the divinely appointed order of nature, but as opening the door to the unnatural sins mentioned in Leviticus 18:22-23; Romans 1:26-27 : see on Deuteronomy 22:5. There may be an allusion here to the practice of magic, in which unnatural mixtures played an important part.

20. In the case of a betrothed free woman, both persons were put to death as adulterers, betrothal being regarded as sacredly as marriage itself: see on Exodus 22:16.

23. Uncircumcised] i.e. unconsecrated, unclean, and therefore not to be used for the first three years. In the fourth year the fruit is to be dedicated to God, after which the owner is free to enjoy the use of it. Besides impressing the duty of gratitude to God for the fruits of the earth this law is one of practical value. For the metaphorical use of the term 'circumcise' see Leviticus 26:41; Exodus 6:12; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 9:26; Acts 7:51; Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:3.

26. Use enchantment] charms or incantations. Observe times] RV 'practise augury,' perhaps by watching the clouds or the flight of birds: see on Deuteronomy 18:10.

27. The practices in this and the following verses were commonly employed among idolatrous nations. The rounding of the corners of the head and beard may refer to the Arabian custom of presenting the first locks as an offering to the deity: see Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:28; Jeremiah 49:32, with the marginal readings in each case: cp. the practice of the Nazirite (Numbers 6:5, Numbers 6:18). Oaths by the hair of the head were common (cp. Matthew 5:36), and a usual Mohammedan oath is still 'by the beard of the prophet.'

28. Cutting the flesh and tattooing the skin are closely connected with cutting the hair as an idolatrous rite: cp. Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:37; 1 Kings 18:28; Zechariah 13:6.

29. This, too, was a degrading accompaniment of idol worship among the Canaanites, and even among the Greeks. Idolatry and immorality always went hand in hand: see on Exodus 34:13, Exodus 34:15, and cp. Isaiah 57:5-9; Hosea 4:13; Romans 1:23-29.

31. That have familiar spirits] necromancers who profess to hold communication with the dead: cp. Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:7.

33, 34 See on Leviticus 19:9.

35. Meteyard] i.e. measuring rod.

36. The ephah (about a bushel) and the hin (about a gallon and a half) are used here as representative measures: cp. Ezekiel 45:10.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 19:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/leviticus-19.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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