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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 18

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-20

Unlawful Marriages

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

v. 2. Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, I am the Lord, your God. Because the Lawgiver was Jehovah God, the covenant God, therefore the observance of these laws was a matter of covenant obligation.

v. 3. After the doings of the land of Egypt wherein ye blood shall ye not do, and after the doings of the land of Canaan whither I bring you shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. The children of Israel were absolutely to avoid all practices, whether they were of Egyptian or Canaanitish origin, which desecrated the marriage relation or showed immorality in any form. The propagation of the human race is to take place in lawful wedlock only, and unlawful marriages, illegal sexual intercourse, and degenerate lusts are an abomination to the Lord.

v. 4. Ye shall do My judgments and keep Mine ordinances to walk there in; I am the Lord, your God. His authority, as the only true God, was absolute.

v. 5. Ye shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, both those precepts which concerned them only, as the people of the Lord in a peculiar sense, and the ordinances which were natural laws, and which all men should recognize as binding upon them, also the Egyptians and Canaanites; which if a man do, he shall live in them, for a perfect keeping of the Law will have the enjoyment of eternal life as its reward, Luke 10:28; I am the Lord.

v. 6. None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness; I am the Lord. The literal translation is: "Any man at all, to any flesh of his flesh shall he not come near to uncover shame. " That is the fundamental rule: Sexual intercourse, the peculiar relation which is characteristic of the married state and is absolutely prohibited outside of holy wedlock, should not take place within the second degree of relationship, whether by blood (consanguinity) or by marriage (affinity).

v. 7. The nakedness of thy father or the nakedness of thy mother shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. This refers to a man's own, natural mother.

v. 8. The nakedness of thy father's wife, the stepmother, thou shalt not uncover; it is thy father's nakedness.

v. 9. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father or daughter of thy mother, that is, the half-sister, whether she be born at home or born abroad, that is, in a former marriage, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

v. 10. The nakedness of thy son's daughter or of thy daughter's daughter, of the granddaughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; for theirs is thine own nakedness, intercourse with them would be equivalent to violation of the offender's own flesh.

v. 11. The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, the daughter of a man's stepmother and his natural father, his half-sister by a second marriage: she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

v. 12. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister, that is, his full sister, the man's aunt; she is thy father's near kinswoman, by blood-relationship.

v. 13. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister; for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.

v. 14. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, of an uncle by blood-relationship; thou shalt not approach to his wife; she is thine aunt. This has been looked upon as an extension of the general rule, but since husband and wife are looked upon as one flesh, the principle will apply also in this case, where the honor of the uncle would be violated by intercourse.

v. 15. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law; she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

v. 16. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife, of the sister-in-law; it is thy brother's nakedness. This prohibition was intended only for such cases in which the brother had left children; for if the brother died childless, the so-called levirate marriage was ordered, Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

v. 17. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, who in this event would become the stepdaughter, either at the same time or in successive marriages; neither shalt thou take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter, the step-granddaughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen; it is wickedness.

v. 18. Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, one wife to another, in the relationship known as bigamy, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time. Any violation of the original rule of God, which provided for only one man and one woman in holy wedlock, is bound to result in disagreeable features, even if the Lord did consent to such marriages in the Old Testament.

v. 19. Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, for carnal intercourse, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness, whether during the menstrual period, or during a prolonged flow, or during the weeks of uncleanness after childbirth.

v. 20. Moreover, thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbor's wife, as spoken of Leviticus 15-18, in the sin of adultery, to defile thyself with her, for this was a transgression which was to be punished by stoning both the man and the woman. Leviticus 20:12; Deuteronomy 22:22; John 8:5. Thus the Lord regulated the sexual life of the children of Israel.

Verses 21-30

Unnatural Lusts

v. 21. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, an ancient Canaanitish idol in the form of a hollow statue with the head of an ox, in whose worship such bestial practices of sacrificing children, in an excess of cruelty, were common; neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God, as would certainly happen through participation in such abominations. I am the Lord.

v. 22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, in the sin known as sodomy or as pederasty; it is abomination.

v. 23. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself there with; neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto, to permit carnal intercourse; it is confusion, a most abominable and revolting defilement.

v. 24. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things, in these bestial perversions of sexual desire: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you;

v. 25. and the land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. The story of Sodom shows to what extent unnatural vices were practiced by the inhabitants of Canaan, to a degree that nature itself could no longer endure them.

v. 26. Ye shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you ("The land which the ancestors of Israel were not allowed to possess because the iniquity of the Amorites not yet full, Genesis 15:16, had now become filled with a mass of festering moral corruption. Its inhabitants were to be cast out and the holy people planted in their stead. It could not be allowed that 'the stranger' should again introduce the pollutions which were now being so severely punished. " Lange),

v. 27. (for all these abominations have the men of the land done which were before you, and the land is defiled,)

v. 28. that the land spue not you out also when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. The land is personified as a creature which is obliged to vomit forth some form of indigestible food with every indication of revulsion.

v. 29. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.

v. 30. Therefore shall ye keep Mine ordinance, the precept covering this matter based upon natural law, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein. I am the Lord, your God, and the just and holy God cannot endure such customs of abomination, as in those days, so in our times. There is a hint in this Chapter which has been sustained abundantly by history, namely, that any relaxation of sexual purity will usually be accompanied by the perversion or denial of some fundamental doctrine.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/leviticus-18.html. 1921-23.
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