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Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 20

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-27


Chapter 19 has given many laws forbidding sin; now chapter 20 shows that law, when it is broken, demands certain penalties. These penalties were to be executed as soon as the offender's guilt was established. There were no long drawn out court cases and no appeals after one was proven guilty. Even in the days of Solomon Israel had failed to carry out these penalties promptly, so that Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” In western culture today, such long delays have caused people to make a mock of the judicial system. We are told that in Singapore crime is kept to a minimum, because penalties are promptly imposed and promptly executed.

Verses 1-8 speak of sin against God. Offering of children to Molech was punishable by death. In fact, the people were responsible to stone the offender to death (v. 1). If the people were lax in this, then God would carry out His judgment on the person and his family and on all who identified themselves with the person in the evil he had done (v. 5).

Similarly in the case of any person who contacted spirit mediums or those who possessed a familiar spirit. This was satanic opposition to God, who would punish the offender with death (v. 6). Later in Israel's history King Saul banished mediums and spiritists from the land of Israel (1 Samuel 27:3), yet he himself went to inquire of a medium (1 Samuel 27:7-12), with no pleasant results. He died the next day.

Therefore, for Israel the only safe course was the positive action of consecrating themselves to the Lord in holy separation from evil, keeping and performing His statutes (vv. 7-8).


Verse 9 deals with sin against parents, who should be recognized with at least serious respect, apart from the question of their reliability. Even if they were unfair, this gave no right to the children to curse them. The ten commandments had said to honor father and mother. Therefore, cursing (speaking evil of) parents was to be punished with death.

Adultery too (a guilty infraction of the marriage bond) called for the death penalty for both the man and the woman involved in this. God does not require Gentile governments to enforce Israel's laws, but these evils are no less wicked wherever they are found. Meanwhile, God is delaying punishment, and today is commanding all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). If so, they will be saved from the punishment they deserve: if not, their punishment will be not only death, but eternal torment in the lake of fire.

The penalty for incest was death for both parties (vv. 11-12). Those guilty of homosexual relations incurred the same penalty (v. 13). If a man married both a woman and her mother, all three of them were to be burned to death.

A human and an animal having sexual relations were both to be killed (vv. 15-16). Incest with a half sister was just the same as with a full sister: it demanded death. The same was true as regards aunts, whether on the father's or the mothers's side (vv. 19-20). It is evident that such evil between an uncle and niece would be the same.

Verse 21 evidently refers to one taking his brother's wife while his brother was still living, for if one had died, then his brother was told to take his widow and raise up seed that would be counted as that of his deceased brother (Deuteronomy 25:5).


This last section of the chapter presses home upon the consciences of the people the vital importance of keeping all God's statutes and judgments. These were laws that Israel had three times promised to keep (Exodus 19:8; Exodus 24:3; Exodus 24:7). If they did not keep these, then the land would “vomit you out.” For God had separated the land as His own “holy land.” That land would expel the nations that were occupying it, because of the worship of idols and evil spirits. It could also do the same to Israel if thy descended to a similar level. In fact, history has proven this true in the scattering of Israel from their land for centuries following their rejection of Christ, their promised Messiah.

They could not say they were not warned. Many scriptures beside this admonished and warned them. They had been separated by God from all other peoples (v. 24). Therefore they were to clearly discern between clean and unclean (v. 25). These verses plainly infer that unclean animals and birds were symbols of unclean people, from whom God had separated Israel.

Thus they were to be holy, separate from evil, because God is holy, and He had set them apart from the Gentiles, to be His (v. 26). The chapter ends with the death sentence by stoning pronounced on any medium or spiritist (v. 27). For the object of such people was to get rid of God's authority by means of satanic activity.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Leviticus 20". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/leviticus-20.html. 1897-1910.
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