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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 20

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

Verses 1-27

Leviticus 20:2. Molech. See on Leviticus 18:21.

Leviticus 20:3. I will cut him off. Ahaz gave his son to Molech, and the Lord afflicted his reign with miseries.

Leviticus 20:7. Sanctify yourselves be ye holy; in the disposition of your minds, says Maimonides, and from heretical notions in doctrine. Secondly, from all corporeal pollutions, as it is said “their filthiness is in their skirts.” Thirdly, from exterior defilement by contact, for the words of the law suffer no pollution. See that excellent work, the late Dr. James Townley’s More Nevochim.


We are here struck with the equity of God’s laws. Having before prohibited the sacrificing of children to Molech, he here in the most peremptory language sentences the offender to death; for when it is said his blood shall be upon him, lapidation is mostly understood. The equity of the punishment is founded on the profaneness and cruelty it attached to the name of God, by giving all persons of humanity a horror of the Lord’s worship.

In like manner, he who should arrive at such a degree of depravity as to curse his parents, incurred the same penalty. The blessings of the covenant were entailed from the parents to the children; and the base man who recoiled on his parents a most ungrateful curse, forfeited all those blessings, and justly subjected himself to die, that no malediction might rest upon the country.

The adulterer next hears his sentence from the Judge of all the earth. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. All nations have agreed to punish robbers with death: and where is the robbery to be compared with adultery? Other robbers boldly act in a professional way; but the wretch guilty of this crime is mostly introduced into the family as the husband’s friend; and then basely robs him of his honour, and for ever deprives him of domestic happiness. It is true the rulers of Israel, after a time, relaxed in the execution of those laws: but God, who is longsuffering, to give men time for repentance, did not, by permitting the accumulation of crimes, at all remit the rigours of his law. It appears from the small number of the Jews who returned from Babylon, that nine tenths had perished for their sins. Hence it would have been infinitely better to have eradicated the weeds in their earliest growth, than suffered them to overrun the heritage of God. Against the infliction of capital punishment for atrocious crimes, some are very ready to plead for mercy, and to urge the divine example in the case of David; and it must be admitted, where repentance is genuine, that the Lord is very merciful and gracious: but where men are strangers to repentance, and where the morals of a whole nation are in danger, it is safer to preserve the innocent than to protect the guilty. Hence the divine law respecting adultery, incest, and all the crimes which cover human nature with horror and shame, are wise and salutary in their operation. They secure the honour of God, they bridle the lawless passions of men, they extend the arm of protection to the weaker branches of society, and in every view are worthy of christian nations to adopt.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 20". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-20.html. 1835.
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