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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 20

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-9

For Sins Against the Sixth, Second, and Fourth Commandments

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

v. 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, in the double sin of masturbation or onanism and idolatry, or, more likely, in immolating children, Leviticus 18:21, he shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. The offender, after the forms of the law had been observed, Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, was to suffer summary execution by being stoned and literally buried under the thrown stones.

v. 3. And I will set My face against that man, in case the people should neglect the punishment in due time, and will cut him off from among his people, pursue the offender and his followers with His judgment, until He has exterminated all that are associated in his guilt, because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, the abomination of the Canaanites, to defile My Sanctuary, and to profane My holy name.

v. 4. And if the people of the land do anyways hide their eyes from the man when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, consecrating it as an act of worship, and kill him not,

v. 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, in the double sense of committing an immoral act and of becoming guilty of idolatry, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. As no sacrifice to false gods was permitted in the land, so this special worship of Molech was an abomination which could under no circumstances be tolerated.

v. 6. And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, after men and women that consult with the spirits of the dead and use other forms of soothsaying, Leviticus 19:31, to go a-whoring after them, becoming unfaithful to the true God by such idolatrous practices. I will even set My face against that soul, and I will cut him off from among his people. Excommunication and death was to be his punishment for engaging in apostasy and for corrupting the people of the Lord.

v. 7. Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy; for I am the Lord, your God, and Jehovah God, Himself the absolutely sinless and pure personality, wanted His people not only to abstain from sin, but also to abhor sin with an undying enmity.

v. 8. And ye shall keep My statutes and do them. I am the Lord which sanctify you. By training them to observe the ordinances of His holy will God was consecrating them to be a holy people in His service.

v. 9. Fore very one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death; he hath cursed his father or his mother, the representatives of God in the home, in the family; his blood shall be up on him. This shows the emphasis which the Lord at all times placed upon the honor of parents and the keeping of the Fourth Commandment.

Verses 10-21

For Unlawful Marriages

v. 10. And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, who, according to Leviticus 18:20, is restricted to her husband, so far as sexual relations are concerned, 1 Corinthians 7:4-5, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

v. 11. And the man that lieth with his father's wife, with his stepmother, hath uncovered his father's nakedness. Both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be up on them.

v. 12. And if a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have wrought confusion, become guilty of a revolting defilement; their blood shall be up on them.

v. 13. If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, in the sin of pederasty, both of them have committed an abomination, a bestial crime, contrary to nature, a horror ; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

v. 14. And if a man take a wife and her mother, in revolting incest, it is wickedness, a most horrible act, an unheard-of deed of shame; they shall be burned with fire, both he and they, after they have been stoned, for thus the abnormality of their crime was emphasized; that there be no wickedness among you. In all these cases, both persons are alike guilty, because even the passive part consented to the act, permitted the seduction to take place. In the case of rape the Lord's judgment is different. Deuteronomy 22:26-27.

v. 15. And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death; and ye shall slay the beast.

v. 16. And if a woman approach unto any beast and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman and the beast; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. "With the beastly human being the beast itself was also to be destroyed. " (Lange. )

v. 17. And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter, his (older) half-sister, and see her nakedness and she see his nakedness, it is a wicked thing, a disgraceful act; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people; he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity, his misdeed.

v. 18. And if a man lie with a woman having her sickness, her menstrual period, and shall uncover her nakedness, knowingly and intentionally, he hath discovered her fountain, exposed her life-spring, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood; and both of them shall be cut off from among their people. For the penalty of the unintentional offense, see Leviticus 15:24.

v. 19. And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister nor of thy father's sister; for he uncovereth his near kin; they shall bear their iniquity. This transgression was not punished with death by the government, but the Lord Himself would take their case in hand.

v. 20. And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, his aunt by marriage, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness; they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. While the marriage was not annulled, the Lord's punishment was very severe, for childlessness was classed with bereavement in the estimation of the Jews.

v. 21. And if a man shall take his brother's wife, in any case but that of the levirate marriage, it is an unclean thing, calling forth God's curse of the first degree; he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless. The aim of all these provisions was to purify sexual life among the Hebrews, since the entire nation was consecrated to the Lord as a royal priesthood, Exodus 19:6. Christians will keep in mind at all times that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, Hebrews 13:4.

Verses 22-27

Admonition to Holiness

v. 22. Ye shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, both general and special, and do them, that the land whither I bring you to dwell therein spue you not out, Leviticus 18:25-28.

v. 23. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation which I cast out before you, the nation of the Canaanites with all its branches; for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. This implies that the sins enumerated in the list above were offenses against the natural law, against the summary of God's will as it was implanted in the hearts of men at the beginning. They were unnatural sins and vices.

v. 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, of unusual fruitfulness. I am the Lord, your God, which have separated you from other people, to be a peculiar people, and one distinguished in His service.

v. 25. Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean, observe the distinctions set forth in Chapter 11; 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.

v. 26. And ye shall be holy unto Me; for I, the Lord, am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be Mine. "The sacred observance of the laws of food was thus a constant reminder for Israel of its theocratic sanctity and dignity. " (Lange. )

v. 27. A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, that consults with the spirits of the dead or practices necromancy, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them. In this way every defilement through idolatrous abominations was prevented, and Israel was kept consecrated for the service of the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 20". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/leviticus-20.html. 1921-23.
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