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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 19

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-37

The leading precepts of the law are here repeated to give them new force, and with many additions and illustrations, that they might be better understood. Most of these having already been explained, the reader may refer to the places by the marginal references of the bible.

Leviticus 19:9. Not wholly reap. No nation is well governed that is unmindful of the poor. Allowing them some indulgencies, and the means of providing a little store for winter is a great industry; and is at the same time a pledge to the public of their honesty. For who would steal, when detection would deprive him of privileges which make life happy? It is the grossest of civil policy to keep the poor in a state of ignorance and hopeless depression.

Leviticus 19:10. Thou shalt not glean thy vineyard. In great farms we have some remains of this custom; but in general we take the commons and the gardens from the cottages; and with these the fuel is prohibited. In cities we build for them splendid prisons, which shorten their lives by a broken heart. We pity the slaves abroad more than the wretched at home. This precept so often repeated by Moses marks its importance, and the need there is to enforce it on the attention of the rich.

Leviticus 19:16. A tale-bearer. One who travels as a pedlar, carrying news, telling lies, and thereby promoting family quarrels and bloodshed.

Leviticus 19:17. We are next cautioned against hating our brother, when he has sinned against us. Instead of forming any plot or plan of revenge against him, we must go and admonish him privately. By so doing we have gained his approbation, he will generously reform his fault, and love us the better afterwards. Jesus Christ has improved this precept, and given it new lustre and force. Matthew 18:15.

Leviticus 19:19. Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed, for they will not ripen at the same time, and the taller will shade the lower. But the moral is, thou shalt not mix with gentile nations, who sowed dry grapes with their wheat, from a Sabian superstition, that otherwise they should have bad crops. Garments of linen and woollen are prohibited for the same reasons.

Leviticus 19:26. Charms and enchantments, astrological calculations of fate, and superstitious observances of times, so much indulged among the heathen, are not to be named among the Lord’s people. A belief in God’s holy providence is defence sufficient for a good man.

Leviticus 19:28. Ye shall not make any cuttings. See on 1 Kings 18:28.

Leviticus 19:29. Do not prostitute thy daughter. The heathens are said, by several authors, to have prostituted their daughters in honour of their gods, and from vows made before a battle. In Israel, not a single crime of this nature could be allowed. All intercourse between the sexes, out of marriage covenant, must be punished. The father is here made responsible for the morals of his daughter; consequently the magistrate is accountable for his city, or district; and the government for the morals of the whole nation. The minister of religion especially, who holds his peace at vice, becomes a partaker of the public guilt; and as the watchman of his flock, he is liable to share in the punishment. The divine Being has here condescended to assign a reason for the prohibition; it was lest the land should become full of wickedness. Violations of the marriage compact, the first and best of bonds, once receiving the connivance of the public eye, are as the neglect of a bank when the water first begins to overflow; presently it opens a wide channel, which the efforts of man are unable to obstruct.

Leviticus 19:31. Familiar spirits. The root אוב ob, and obah, the belly. This word is of frequent occurrence, as in Leviticus 20:27. Deuteronomy 18:11. 1 Samuel 28:7-8. It is so called because those haruspices affected to swell their bellies, and somewhat like our modern ventriloquists, to give answers from the gods, proceeding as from the bottom of their bellies. Thus in Isaiah 29:4. “Thou shalt be brought down thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” So in Job 32:19. Elihu said, “Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles.” Plutarch calls it εγγαστριμυθοι , because the words used to proceed from the belly. To this day the negroes, as well in the West Indies as in Africa, preserve the detestable practice of oby. See Exodus 22:18.

The remaining precepts are to honour the hoary head, where wisdom and virtue have distinguished a long life; to avoid pagan oracles, wizards, and all fortunetelling, as open acts by which men, leaving the throne of grace, apply immediately to the devil. To strangers the Israelites were enjoined to be courteous, for the heathen were often cruel; and especially as strangers sought an asylum in their country for the sake of religion, that they might repose their trust under the wings of JEHOVAH, and claim the blessings of his covenant unto all generations.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 19". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-19.html. 1835.
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