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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Leviticus 18

Verses 1-4

Introduction

In this chapter we read a lot of what we also read in Leviticus 20. The distinction is that in this chapter God as the ‘LORD’ is in the foreground, while in Leviticus 20 the emphasis is on God’s holiness. There we find the punishments proposed for the sins that are necessarily given ample attention to here.

Do Not Do as Egypt or Canaan

God always places Himself before the attention of the people as the LORD, the God of the covenant with His people. By doing so, He wants them to take on His features and not those of the peoples around them. There is a special warning for the influence of Egypt and Canaan. After the laws with a view to their sacrificial service, the so-called ceremonial laws, God now gives some moral laws with a view to their sexual intercourse.

Egypt represents the world without God. In Egypt is great human wisdom (Acts 7:22). For the Christian, the danger of Egypt is discussed in the letter to the Colossians. It also warns against wisdom that takes people captive (Colossians 2:8). The Colossians are in danger of mixing their faith with the wisdom of the world. Paul reminds them that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Canaan is the land of blessings that God has given His people. The great danger there is not so much wisdom, culture and science, but the great corruption that reigns there. The Christian is put in the heavenly places, of which Canaan is a picture. But that does not mean that there are no dangers. It is precisely in the letter to the Ephesians, where the blessings of the Christian are described, that strong warning is given for any form of corruption (Ephesians 4:17-Psalms :). Yielding to this corruption means that we will lose the blessings.

The Christian is a new creation, he is “created according to God” (Ephesians 4:24). He received Christ (Colossians 2:6) and learned Christ (Ephesians 4:20). The danger is that we adapt to the world around us in its character of Egypt or in its character of Canaan. Then we no longer show the new, but the old man.

The great contrast we see here is the contrast between the statutes and judgments of the world in its various forms and the statutes and judgments of God. The following of the former means death, the observance of the latter means life.

Verse 5

Do This and You Shall Live

Here we read the motivation for keeping the commandments: to receive and enjoy life. This verse is quoted four times in the Old Testament: three times in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 20:11; Ezekiel 20:13Ezekiel 20:21) and once in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:29). It is quoted three times in the New Testament (Luke 10:28, Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12).

The last two texts (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12) show that no man has received the promised life. For there was no man who complied perfectly with the statutes and judgments of God. Only when one repents and receives new life from God on the basis of faith he can live to the glory of God and do from his heart. The law says: Do this and you will live. The gospel says: Live and you will do.

Verses 6-16

Incest

The things that follow up to Leviticus 18:23 are acts of incest. They run counter to God’s original intention with marriage and sexuality. This must be self-evident to God’s people. You assume them in the world and not in the people of God. That God addresses all these warnings to His people shows how necessary it is, because His people are also capable of these sins. God shows evil in its most horrible forms. He knows better than man himself to what he can degrade.

God forbids the sexual relations between blood relatives here. The Hebrew words for ‘nakedness’ and ‘uncover’ are euphemism for sexual intercourse. Here it concerns illicit sexual intercourse or fornication (Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 23:18). Such relations are unnatural.

The prohibition starts with the general ban on sexual intercourse with a blood relative. Sexual intercourse is forbidden here with:
1. mother;
2. stepmother;
3. half-sister (same father or mother);
4. grandchild;
5. half-sister (from the father’s second marriage);
6. aunt, the sister of father or mother;
7. aunt, the wife of the father’s brother;
8. daughter-in-law;
9. sister-in-law.

Verses 17-20

Other Illicit Sexuality

Forbidden is also the sexual intercourse with:
1. a woman and her daughter and a woman and her granddaughter;
2. a woman and her sister
3. a woman who has her period;
4. a woman married to another person.

Verse 21

Prohibition to Offer Children

The Molech is the national god of the Ammonites. In the context of the text, this does not seem to be primarily a fire offering, but an ordination of children to temple prostitution. It is a spiritual fornication that underlies carnal fornication.

Verse 22

Prohibition of Homosexual Intercourse

Homosexual intercourse is the sin of Sodom (Genesis 19:5), from which also the Israelites do not keep themselves free (Judges 19:22). God gives people over to these degrading passions, when they honor the creature above the Creator (Romans 1:24-Daniel :).

Verse 23

Prohibition of Intercourse With an Animal

The prohibition of intercourse with an animal is more often given (Leviticus 20:15-Nehemiah :; Exodus 22:19; Deuteronomy 27:21). The fact that this prohibition is also presented to the people of God shows that this horrible sin is also possible among God’s people.

From a spiritual point of view, an animal is a symbol for people who ignore the existence of God in an absolute way or reject Him absolutely. We see this attitude in the two beasts described in the book of Revelation (Revelation 13:1-Job :). Where there is no longer any connection whatsoever with the living God, man sinks into the deepest corruption. To that the greatest conceivable shame is connected, of which he is not conscious through his total closing off for any of God’s revelation.

Verses 24-30

God Does Not Tolerate Abominations

If Israel takes over the actions of the peoples around them, they will be spewed out like those peoples. Persons who surrender to such horrible acts as described above must be exterminated from the people. God has given them His statutes and His judgments to keep them from doing these abominations.

When God gives a certain revelation, He wants this revelation to work fully through into man’s life, that man takes it into account in his practice. The purity of marriage is of the utmost importance. God begins His warnings therewith. Paul writes about this in the letter to the Colossians and the letter to the Ephesians.

The antidote to all the evils mentioned in this chapter is given in Leviticus 18:30. By ‘taking in’ that, we are preserved for the abominations found in the world, which connect with our flesh. This antidote is: remain in the Word of God.

The chapter concludes with the same statement about God as that with which it begins.

Copyright Statement
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Leviticus 18". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/leviticus-18.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.