Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 20

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

Whosoever ... giveth ... unto Molech - (see the note at Leviticus 18:21.) Molech in Hebrew has the article always prefixed. [The Septuagint renders it archonti (G758).] This was a more horrid crime than the one denounced in the former passage, for the commission of it was to be visited with capital punishment. It is called 'giving one's seed to Molech' - i:e., devoting children in sacrifice, consuming them by fire in honour of Baal or Chemosh (cf. Deuteronomy 12:31; Psalms 106:38; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20-21; Ezekiel 23:37-39).

The people of the land shall stone ... Criminals who were condemned to be stoned were led, with their hands bound, without the gates to a small eminence, where was a large stone placed at the bottom. When they had approached within ten cubits of the spot, they were exhorted to confess, that, by faith and repentance, their souls might be saved. When led forward to within four cubits, they were stripped almost naked, and received some stupefying draught, during which the witnesses prepared, by laying aside their outer garments, to carry into execration the capital sentence which the law bound them to do. The criminal, being placed on the edge of the precipice, was then pushed backwards, so that he fell down the perpendicular height on the stone lying below. If not killed by the fall, the second witness dashed a large stone down upon his breast, and then the "people of the land," who were bystanders, rushed forward, and with stones completed the work of death (Mark 21:44; Acts 7:58).

Verse 3

And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 4

And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:

If the people of the land ... - i:e., connive at their countrymen practicing the horrid rites of Molech. Awful was it that any Hebrew parents could so violate their national covenant; and no wonder that God denounced the severest penalties against them and their families.

Verse 5

Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 6

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

The soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits ... I will cut him off from among his people - (cf. Leviticus 20:27.) Witchcraft, being connected with idolatry, was ranked among the crimes which involved treason against Israel's king, and hence, the severity of the punishment denounced against it (see the notes on Divination, etc., Selden, 'De Diis Syris Syntagna,' cap. 1:, 20)

Verses 7-20

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Sanctify yourselves ... and be ye holy. The minute specification of the incestuous and unnatural crimes here enumerated shows their sad prevalence among the idolatrous nations around, and the extreme proneness of the Israelites to follow the customs of their neighbours. It is to be understood that whenever mention is made that the offender was "to be put to death," without describing the mode, stoning is meant. The only instance of another form of capital punishment occurs in Leviticus 20:14, that of being burnt with fire; and yet it is probable that even here death was first inflicted by stoning, and the body, of the criminal afterward consumed by five (Joshua 7:15).

Verse 20. They shall die childless. Either by the judgment of God they shall have no children, or their spurious offspring shall be denied by human authority the ordinary privileges of children in Israel.

Verses 21-23

And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 24

But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.

I ... have separated you. Their selection from the rest of the nations was for the all-important end of preserving the knowledge and worship of the true God amidst the universal apostasy; and as the distinction of meats was one great means of completing that separation, the law about making a difference between clean and unclean beasts is here repeated with emphatic solemnity.

Verses 25-26

Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 27

A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

Their blood shall be upon them. This phrase, which is borrowed from Genesis 9:5, is introduced at the close in enumerating the heinous crimes which were to be punished with death. The criminals, having been forewarned, would be their own murderers; the ministers of justice who condemned them to death were free from the responsibility of their death. [The Septuagint, enochi eisi, they are guilty.] Michaelis places the legal right of extirpating this class of pestilent prophets and diviners on the same ground that many governments in modern Europe have expelled the Jesuits ('Comment.,' vol. 4:, p. 75).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Leviticus 20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/leviticus-20.html. 1871-8.
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