Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 24

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4


Verses 1-4:

This text repeats the instructions given in Ex 27:20, 21. The "lamps" were those on the seven-branched "golden candlestick" or lampstand, Ex 25:31-40; 39:17-24. This instrument furnished the light for the holy place, in which the priests ministered daily.

The oil for the lamps was to be of pure olive oil, made from berries that had been picked from the tree. Berries which were picked up from the ground were likely to have dirt or twigs among them, thus contaminating the oil.

The oil was to be extracted from "beaten" olives, not "pressed." The reason: oil extracted by pressing often contained bits of the olives, and was discolored. The oil for the holy lamps was to have no impurities.

Aaron or his sons were to dress the lamps each morning, and to light them each evening, Ex 27:1; 30:7.

Verses 5-9

Verses 5-9;

The "Shewbread," literally "bread of presence," was to be placed upon the table designed for it, Ex 25:23-30; 37:10-16. This was to be twelve loaves of unleavened bread, each containing about six pounds of finest flour. These loaves were placed in two rows upon the altar. Two cups or vials of frankincense were either sprinkled upon the loaves, or were placed between them.

The loaves were to be changed each Sabbath Day. The loaves which were replaced were the priest’s portion to be eaten within the Tabernacle. The entire quantity consisted of over seventy pounds of bread per week. At the time the bread was changed, the frankincense was to be burned on the golden Altar of Incense, Ex 37:25-28.

The Shewbread might be a symbol of the Word of God, upon which the people of God are to feed.

Verses 10-16

Verses 10-16:

This text records the enforcement of the law making blasphemy a capital offense, Ex 20:7.

When Israel left Egypt, a "mixed multitude" went with them, Ex 12:38. In this number were Egyptians who were married to Israelites. One such marriage was of an Egyptian man and a Danite woman. One day their son quarreled with an Israelite man. In the course of the quarrel, this son committed the sin of blasphemy.

"Blaspheme," naqub, "to pierce," rendered in the LXX as eponomasas, meaning "named or pronounced." The implication here is that the man spoke the sacred Name of Jehovah (YHVH) in a light or facetious manner, perhaps in anger and at the same time calling down an imprecation upon the head of his adversary.

The Name of God implies His character, nature, and reputation. It is a sin of the highest rank to treat this Name lightly.

Those who overheard the man’s curse arrested him and brought him to Moses. This was the first instance of such sin, and no precedent had been set for its disposition. The man was placed in custody while Moses sought the will of Jehovah. God instructed that the death penalty was to be enforced. This established a precedent for all future cases, to be applied alike to Israelites as well a foreigners who sojourned in their land.

Irreverent use of God’s Name is just as offensive today as in Moses’ time. God does not demand the death penalty, but it is fatal to one’s character and reputation and honor to use God’s Name (Jesus, Christ, Jehovah, God) in an irreverent manner.

Verses 17-22

Verses 17-22:

Just as the Law demanded the death penalty for blaspheming the Name of the Lord, so it demanded death for the sin of murder. There is a distinction drawn between the judicial sentence of death which was to be carried out by the congregation of Israel, and the unsanctioned smiting of one man by another. Not only does this law prohibit murder, it also forbids the taking of the law into one’s own hands.

This text provides that strict repayment in kind was to be made for any loss of life or limb, or for an injury, see Ex 21:24, 25; De 19:16-21.

Jesus contrasted this law with His own provision of non-retaliation, Mt 5:38-48; 7:2.

There was to be one law to govern the Land, embracing both Israelites, and foreigners.

Verse 23

Verse 23:

Israel’s judicial system demanded that capital punishment be inflicted by the solemn act of the people, not as an outburst of mob violence. The manner of execution was: the accused was brought to trial. Upon the testimony of two or more witnesses (Nu 35:30-34; De 19:15), guilt was established. The offender was then led outside the camp (or city), and the people formed a circle about him. The chief witnesses then cast the first stones, followed by all present stoning him.

God Himself instituted capital punishment, Ge 9:6, originally for the crime of murder. In the Law of Moses, this was expanded to include the violation of other sins. The purpose of capital punishment is not primarily an act of revenge. It is two-fold:

1. As a deterrent, to strike fear into other would-be offenders;

2. As a judicial cleansing of the guilt of the crime, Nu 35:30-34.

The principle of capital punishment applies today, and its purpose remains the same. Those who advocate the abolition of the death penalty are in effect denying the wisdom of God, and are in violation of His righteous principles. Any government invites anarchy when it does away with this provision of justice.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 24". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-24.html. 1985.
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