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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 18

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

LEVITICUS- CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Verses 1-5:

This text introduces the theme of moral uncleanness and its punishment, the subject of chapters 18-20. The theme progresses from ceremonial uncleanness and its remedy, to moral uncleanness and its penalty.

These verses are the introduction to the laws defining the prohibited digression of marriage, and of forbidden immorality.

The clause, "I am Jehovah your Elohim," occurs three times in these five verses. This emphasizes the solemnity of the declarations of morality and holy living.

Because Jehovah is Israel’s God (Elohim), they are to abstain from the depraved and immoral customs of the Egyptians in whose land they had dwelt, and the Canaanites to whose land they were going. History reflects the depravity of both these peoples.

On a positive note, because Jehovah is Israel’s God (Elohim), they are to obey His commands and walk in His statutes.

"Judgments," mishpat, a synonym of "law," with emphasis upon the judicial pronouncements of the Judge, either written or oral.

"Ordinances," chuqqah, "decree," a fiat of an official nature, another synonym for "law," with emphasis upon the royal edicts of a king.

"Statutes," choq "decreed limit," a synonym of "law" with emphasis upon its written nature.

All God’s laws, decrees, judgments, whether written or oral, are designed to reflect .His holiness, and to encourage holiness in the lives of His servants.

Verses 6-16

Verses 6-16:

Incest is strictly forbidden. Incest is "sexual relations between persons related within the degrees wherein marriage is forbidden by law." The text defines these degrees:

1. Parent and child, including the "in-laws," and step-parents.

2. Brother and sister, including the "in-laws," and step-children. An exception to this was practiced in patriarchal times (Ge 38:8), and prescribed in the Law (De 25:5), in which a man was commanded to marry his brother’s childless widow to "raise up a seed" to his deceased brother. This was not an accommodation to the fleshly desires of the surviving brother, but a family duty imposed by law, and was often not in accord with the brother’s personal desires.

3. Aunt/uncle and niece/nephew, whether paternal or maternal.

4. Grandparents and grandchildren, whether paternal or maternal.

All sexual relationships are prohibited between all who are related by blood or by affinity to the degree defined in the text.

Verses 17-18

Verses 17, 18:

This text describes a prohibited form of incest with a stepdaughter or step-granddaughter, or a mother-in-law. The reason: they are near kinswomen.

The margin note on verse 18 reads, "Neither shalt thou take one wife to another. The text concerns polygamy. God does not authorize this practice; He does give instructions regulating it. The text teaches that a man was not to take a second wife who would be likely for some reason to vex his first wife. Examples of this are: the conflict between Rachel and Leah, Ge 30:11-24; and the conflict between Peninnah and Hannah, 1Sa 1:4-6.

Verse 19

Verse 19:

This text forbids sexual intercourse between husband and wife for the period of her ceremonial uncleanness, due to:

1. Her monthly menstrual cycle, Le 15:19-28, including the seven days following the end of her period;

2. Forty days following the birth of a boy, Le 12:2-4;

3. Eighty days following the birth of a girl, Le 12:5.

Modern medical science has discovered that observance of this schedule will greatly lessen the danger of cervical infection in the wife. Among orthodox Jewish women who observe this cycle, the rate of hysterectomies and other related genital surgery is considerably lower than among women who ignore it.

Verse 20

Verse 20:

This text forbids the sin of adultery, sexual relations between men and women not married to each other. This prohibition is included in the Seventh of the Ten Commandments. The penalty for violation: death by stoning, Le 20:10; De 22:22; Joh 9:5. Also, Solomon describes other consequences; the jealous rage of the husband whose wife is involved, Pr 6:34, 35; the dishonor and lasting reproach incurred by the adulterous pair, Pr 6:33; the danger of venereal disease, Pr 5:7-12; the remorse and shame of the guilty, even though his sin may not become generally known, Pr 5:12-14.

Verse 21

Verse 21:

Molech (also Moloch), "king" in the same sense that "Baal" means "lord." This was a Canaanite and Phoenician deity, worshiped primarily by the Ammonites. The rites involved offering children as sacrifices, and were particularly gruesome. The idol was hollow, made of brass (copper), with the face of an ox and the body of a man, standing with arms outstretched. In some instances, the fire was kindled in the base of the idol, and fed until the entire body was glowing from the heat. The sacrificial infant was then placed in the outstretched arms of the idol, to be burned to death. The rite was accompanied by loud beating of drums to drown out the shrieks of the victim.

The text indicates that Israel was familiar with the hideous rites of this vile deity before they entered the Land of Promise. Moses’ warning was prophetic, for in later years Solomon set up high places for Moloch on Mount Olivet, 1 Kings 11:7, to placate his heathen wives. See also, Eze 23:37-39; Jer 7:9-11; 19:4-13; Ps 106:35-42. The Valley of Hinnom also was a site for Moloch-worship, Jer 7:31; 32:35; 2 Kings 23:10.

"Profane," chalal, "to pollute, make common." Idolatry is spiritual adultery, being unfaithful to one’s commitment to Jehovah God. This sin profanes, pollutes the Name and reputation of Jehovah. It is a sin strictly forbidden in Scripture, Jer. ch. 3.

Verses 22-30

Verses 22-30:

The text strictly forbids the sin of sodomy. God describes it as abomination (text, and De 23:17, 18) vile affections (Ro 1:26, 27), wickedness (Jg 19:23), effeminate (1Co 6:9), self-abuse (1Co 6:9), self defilement (1Tim. 1:9, 10), reprobate (Ro 1:28), violation of nature (Ro 1:24), filthy dreamer (Judges 7, 8), inordinate affection (Col 3:5, 6).

Eze 16:49, 50 describes the full sin of sodomy as involving: pride, fullness of bread, abundance of idleness, neglect of the poor and needy, naughtiness, and committing abomination before God. Ge 19 and Jg 19 describe the horror of sodomy, and its dreadful consequences.

Modern terminology uses other terms to denote the sin of sodomy. `Homosexual" is the general term, and usually applies to sexual relations between males. "Lesbian" applies to sexual relations between females. There is a strong trend in modern society to give respectability to these practices which were quite common among the pagans. But God decreed the death penalty for all forms of sexual relations between those of the same sex, Le 20:13.

Bestiality is the final sin in the listing of forbidden sexual relationships Neither male nor female is to have sexual intercourse with an animal The penalty: death. Le 20:15.

The penalties for violation of God’s regulations of sexual conduct are severe for those personally involved. In some instances, the penalty was excommunication from society; in others it was death. However, there were consequences to the entire nation whose people followed these practices. These sins brought national judgment:

1. Sexual immorality, including incest, prostitution, and adultery.

2. Shedding of innocent blood, in the slaughter of children.

3. Sexual perversion, including sodomy and bestiality.

4. Oppression of the poor and needy.

History reveals the rise and fall of powerful empires. The jungles of Africa, Central and South America, and Asia contain the ruins of sophisticated civilizations. The glory of ancient Greece remains only in magnificent ruins. These empires were not destroyed by their enemies: they fell because of moral corruption, involving the sins listed above.

Moral corruption, murder of innocent children, sexual perversion will destroy a nation today as surely as these factors destroyed civilizations in the past. This is a lesson from history which men today need to learn. One wise man said, "They who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 18". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-18.html. 1985.
 
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