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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Leviticus 19



Israelites must be holy, Leviticus 19:1,Leviticus 19:2;

must honour their parents, and keep sabbaths, Leviticus 19:3;

shun idolatry, Leviticus 19:4;

duly to stay and eat their peace-offerings, Leviticus 19:5-8;

in harvest-time leave gleanings for the poor and stranger, Leviticus 19:9,Leviticus 19:10;

not steal, deceive, or lie, Leviticus 19:11;

nor swear falsely, Leviticus 19:12;

nor defraud, rob, or detain, Leviticus 19:13;

nor curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, Leviticus 19:14;

nor judge unjustly, Leviticus 19:15;

nor be tale-bearers; nor bear false witness against their neighbour, Leviticus 19:16;

but rebuke their brother for sin, Leviticus 19:17;

not revenge themselves, but love their neighbours, Leviticus 19:18;

not to mix different things, Leviticus 19:19.

The punishment of a man lying with a bondmaid, Leviticus 19:20-22.

They must not eat of the fruits of Canaan till alter four years, Leviticus 19:23-25.

To eat no blood, and use no soothsaying, Leviticus 19:26, nor any heathenish method of mourning, Leviticus 19:28, nor prostitute their daughters, Leviticus 19:29;

but must reverence God and his ordinances, Leviticus 19:30;

not regard conjurers and wizards, Leviticus 19:31;

honour the ancient, Leviticus 19:32;

love and right strangers, Leviticus 19:33,Leviticus 19:34;

do no unrighteousness, either in judgment or commerce, Leviticus 19:35,Leviticus 19:36.

Verse 2

Ye shall be holy, separated from all the forementioned defilements, and entirely consecrated to God, and obedient to all his laws and statutes.

I the Lord your God am holy, both in my essence, and in all my laws, which are holy and just and good, and in all my actions; whereas the gods of the heathens are unholy both in their laws and institutions, whereby they allow and require filthy and abominable actions; and in their practices, some of them having given wicked examples to their worshippers.

Verse 3

The mother is put first, partly because the practice of this duty begins there, mothers, by perpetual converse, being more and sooner known to their children than their fathers; and partly because this duty is most commonly neglected to the mother, upon whom children have not so much dependence as they have upon their father. And this

fear includes the two great duties of reverence and obedience.

And keep my sabbaths: this is here added, to show, that whereas it is enjoined to parents that they should take care that the sabbath be observed both by themselves and by their children, it is the duty of children to fear and obey their parents in this matter; and moreover, that if parents should neglect their duty herein, or by their command, counsel, or example draw them to pollute the sabbath, yet the children in that case must keep the sabbath, and in all such cases prefer the command of God before the commands of their parents or superiors.

Verse 4

Turn not your hearts and faces from me, whom alone you pretend to respect, unto them. He intimates, that their turning to idols is a turning from God, and that they could not serve both God and idols.

Unto idols: the word signifies such as are no gods, or nothings, as they are called, 1 Corinthians 8:4, many idols having no being, but only in the fancy of their worshippers, and all of them having no virtue or power to do good or evil, Isaiah 41:23. Molten gods, nor graven gods neither, as appears from Exodus 20:0, whereby we learn that such expressions are generally to be understood synecdochically.

Verse 5

Or, according to your own good pleasure, what you think fit; for though this in the general was required, yet it was left to their choice to determine the particulars. Leviticus 7:16. Or rather, to your acceptation, i.e. in such manner as it may be accepted by God on your behalf, which is explained in the next verse, and not in such manner as to lose the end you aim at, to wit, God’s acceptance; for if ye do otherwise than God hath prescribed, it shall not be accepted, as he adds Leviticus 19:7, but on the contrary severely punished, Deuteronomy 8:0.

Verse 6

And on the morrow; by which clause it appears that he speaks here only of that sort of peace-offerings which were offered either by vow, or freely for the obtaining of some mercy desired; for the other sort, which was by way of gratitude for mercies received, were to be eaten the same day, Leviticus 7:15.

Verse 8

His iniquity, i.e. the punishment of his iniquity; instead of acceptation he shall receive punishment.

Verse 10

Who gave you all these things with a reservation of my authority over you, and right in them, and with a charge of giving part of them to the poor.

Verse 11

Or, one against another, to the defrauding of him of any of his goods, to which kind of lying the words foregoing and following seem here to restrain it, though it be true that all sorts of lying are unlawful.

Verse 12

Ye shall not swear by my name falsely: this is here added, to show how one sin draws on another, and that when men will lie for their own advantage, they will easily be induced to perjury.

Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God, by any unholy use of it. So it is an additional precept, thou shalt not abuse my holy name by swearing either falsely or rashly. Or this may be a reason of the former prohibition, because in so doing thou wilt profane the name of thy God.

Verse 13

The wages, Heb. the work, put for the wages, as Deuteronomy 24:15; Job 7:2; Jeremiah 22:13. Shall not abide with thee all night, because his urgent necessities require it for present subsistence.

Verse 14

Nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, to make them fall. Under these two particulars are manifestly and especially forbidden all injuries done to such as are unable to right or defend themselves; of whom God here takes the more care, because they are not able to secure themselves; who both discerns the injuries you do them, and can avenge them, though the blind and deaf cannot.

Verse 15

Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, so as through pity to him to give an unrighteous sentence. Compare Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 10:17; Proverbs 24:23.

Verse 16

As a tale-bearer, who makes it his business to go up and down from one to another, and divulge evil and false reports concerning others, which, though many times it proceeds only from levity and talkativeness, yet apparently tends to the great injury of our neighbour. See Proverbs 11:13; Jeremiah 6:28; Jeremiah 9:4. Neither shalt thou stand, to wit, in judgment, as a false accuser or false witness; for accusers and witnesses use to stand, whilst the judges sat, in courts of judicature.

Verse 17

To prevent murder, last spoken of, he forbids hatred, which is the common cause, and a degree of murder, 1 John 3:15.

Thy brother; the same with neighbour, as it follows, i.e. every man, Matthew 5:44; for it is manifest that God’s law commanded them to love strangers no less than Israelites.

If thy brother hath done thee or others any injury, thou shalt neither divulge it to others as a tale-bearer, nor hate him, and smother that hatred by sullen silence, as 2 Samuel 13:22, nor justify and flatter and encourage him therein; but shalt freely, and in love, not with hatred, tell him of his fault.

And not suffer sin upon him, i.e. not suffer him to lie under the guilt of any sin, which thou by rebuking of him, and thereby bringing him to true repentance, couldest in some sort free him from. But the phrase of suffering sin upon him imperfect and unusual in Scripture, and I doubt whether the Hebrew verb nasa be ever used for permitting or suffering. The words may be rendered thus, And (or so) thou shalt not bear sin for him, or for his sake; thou shalt not make thyself guilty of his sin, as thou wilt assuredly do, if thou dost not perform thy duty of rebuking him for his sin, which is a likely way, and a course appointed by God, to remove the guilt of his sin from him; and consequently, as it was his fault that he sinned and contracted guilt, so it is thy fault that his guilt continues upon him. Many things favour this sense.

1. This is the proper and usual signification of the word nasa.

2. The same words are used in this sense Leviticus 22:9; Numbers 18:32.

3. The preposition al is oft used thus, as Genesis 37:8,Genesis 37:34; Judges 9:9; 1 Kings 16:7.

4. This phrase of bearing sin, or iniquity, is constantly used in this book for being guilty and liable to punishment. And so the sense is here full and complete, and a very weighty reason here given to enforce the foregoing precept.

Verse 18

Nor bear any grudge, Heb. nor keep, either,

1. The injury here supposed in thy memory: so it is opposed to those who say they will forgive, but not forget an injury. Or,

2. Anger or hatred in thy heart: so this verb is used Jeremiah 3:12; Nahum 1:2. Thy neighbour; by which he understands not the Israelites only, as some would persuade us, but every other man with whom we converse, as plainly appears,

1. By comparing this place with Leviticus 19:34, where this very law is applied to strangers.

2. Because the word

neighbour is explained by another man, Leviticus 20:10; Romans 13:8; see more on Exodus 20:16.

As thyself; with the same sincerity, though not equality, of affection, as to thyself.

Verse 19

Ye shall keep my statutes; either,

1. My laws. So this is fitly premised, because otherwise some of the following commands might seem trifling, and obedience to them unnecessary. Or,

2. My ordinances, to wit, of nature; or the order which I have appointed in creatures, as the word is used Job 26:10; Job 38:33; Psalms 148:6; Proverbs 8:29; and therefore they shall not confound those things that I have distinguished, which were in some sort to reproach and correct my works, and which may seem to be done in some of the following instances.

Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: this was prohibited, partly, to restrain the curiosity and boldness of men, who might attempt to amend or change the works of God; partly, that by the restraints here laid even upon brute creatures men might be taught to abhor all unnatural and unlawful lusts; partly, to teach the Israelites to avoid mixtures with other nations, either in marriage or in religion; which also may be signified by the following prohibitions. See of this and the next Deuteronomy 22:9-11.

Verse 20

Betrothed to an husband; or, reproached or despised, and therefore forsaken, of her husband. For as his continuance with her in his and her master’s family and service is mentioned as an evidence that he loved her, Exodus 21:5,Exodus 21:6 so on the contrary, his forsaking of her was a reproach to her, and a sign of contempt.

She shall be scourged, Heb. there shall be a scourging, which may belong, either,

1. To her alone, as the Jews understand it, for the man’s punishment follows, Leviticus 19:21,Leviticus 19:22. Or,

2. To both of them; for,

1. Both were guilty.

2. It follows, they shall not be punished with death, which may seem to imply that they were to be punished by some other common and considerable punishment, which scourging indeed was, but the paying of a ram was a small penalty, and very unsuitable to the greatness of the offence. And the offering of the ram as a trespass-offering for the sin against God, is not inconsistent with making satisfaction other ways for the injury done to men, as we may see Leviticus 6:4-6, but only added here as a further punishment to the man; either because he only could do this, and not the woman, who being a bond-woman had nothing of her own to offer; or because his sex and his freedom aggravated his sin.

They shall not be put to death, which they should have been, had she been free, Deuteronomy 22:23,Deuteronomy 22:24.

Because she was not free: the reason of this difference is not from any respect which God gives to persons, for bond and free are alike to him, but because bond-women were scarce wives, and their marriages were scarce true marriages, being neither made by their choice, but by their master’s authority, nor continued beyond the year of release, but at her master’s or husband’s pleasure; of which see Exodus 21:4, &c.

Verse 23

As uncircumcised, i.e. as unclean, not to be eaten, but cast away, and counted abominable, as the foreskins are.

Three years. This precept was serviceable,

1. To the trees themselves, which grew the better and faster, being early stript of those fruits, which otherwise would have derived to themselves and drawn away much more of the strength from the root and tree.

2. To men, both because the fruit then was waterish, undigested, and unwholesome, and because hereby men were taught to bridle their appetites; a lesson of great use and absolute necessity in a godly life.

3. To God, who required and deserved the first-fruits, which must be also of the best, and so they could not be in this time.

Verse 24

Consecrated to the Lord, as the first-fruits and tithes were, and therefore given to the priests and Levites, Numbers 18:12,Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 18:4; yet so that part of them were communicated to the poor widows, and fatherless, and strangers. See Deuteronomy 14:28,Deuteronomy 14:29.

To praise the Lord withal; to bless the Lord, by whose power and goodness the trees bring forth fruit to perfection.

Verse 25

That it may yield unto you the increase thereof; that God may be pleased to give his blessing, which alone can make them fruitful.

Verse 26

With the blood, i. e. any flesh out of which the blood is not first poured. See 1 Samuel 14:32. The Jews write, that the Egyptians and other nations, when they offered sacrifices to the devils, did eat part of the sacrifices, beside the blood which was kept in basons for that end, which also they believed to be as it were the special food of the devils.

Nor observe times, to wit, superstitiously, by the observation of the clouds, or stars, or otherwise, by esteeming some days lucky, others unlucky. See Deuteronomy 18:10,Deuteronomy 18:11; Esther 3:7.

Verse 27

The corners of your heads; i.e. your temples: Ye shall not cut off the hair of your heads round about your temples. This the Gentiles did, either for the worship of the devils or idols, to whom young men used to consecrate their hair, being cut off from their heads, as Homer, Plutarch, and many others write; or in funerals or immoderate mournings, as appears from Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:37. And the like is to be thought concerning the beard or the hair in the corner, i.e. corners of the beard. The reason then of this prohibition is, because God would not have his people agree with idolaters, neither in their idolatries, nor in their excessive sorrowing, no, nor so much as in the appearances and outward significations or expressions thereof.

Verse 28

Any cuttings in your flesh, which the Gentiles commonly did both in the worship of their idols, and in their solemn mournings, Jeremiah 16:6.

For the dead; Heb. for a soul, i.e. either,

1. Improperly, for a dead body; as that word is sometimes used, as Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 21:1; Numbers 6:6; or,

2. Properly, for the soul; Ye shall not cut your flesh or your bodies, for your souls, or upon pretence of doing your souls any good, either in way of mortification, or in the worship of God, as they did, 1 Kings 18:28, in like manner as others were willing to give to God the fruit of their body for the sin of their soul, Micah 6:7.

Verse 29

This the Gentiles frequently did for the honour of some of their idols, to whom divers women were consecrated, and publicly prostituted.

Verse 30

Not presuming to approach it without reverence, or with any kind of uncleanness upon you.

Verse 31

Them that have familiar spirits; that have entered into covenant with the devil, by whose help they foretell many things to come, and acquaint men with secret things. See Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:3,1 Samuel 28:7,1 Samuel 28:9; 2 Kings 21:6.

Wizards; another name expressing the same thing for substance, to wit, persons in league with the devil, with some difference only in the manner of their operation,

Verse 32

Thou shalt rise up, to do them reverence when they pass by, for which end they were obliged, as the Jews say, presently to sit down again when they were past, that it might be manifest they arose out of respect to them.

Fear thy God; a reason of the former precept, both because old men in some respects do most resemble God, who is styled the Ancient of days, Daniel 7:9,Daniel 7:13, and because this respect is due to such, if not for themselves, who may be unworthy or contemptible, yet for God’s sake, who requires this reverence, and whose singular blessing old age is.

Verse 33

Either with opprobrious expressions, or grievous exactions.

Verse 34

As one born among you; either,

1. As to the matters of common right, as it here follows: so it reacheth to all strangers. Or,

2. As to church privileges: so it concerns only those who were proselytes of righteousness.

For ye were strangers; and therefore are sensible of the fears, distresses, and miseries of such, which call for your pity, and you ought to do to them as you would that others should do to you when you were such.

Verse 35

In meteyard; in the measuring of lands, or any dry and continued things, as cloth, ribband, &c.

In measure; in the measuring of liquid or such dry things as are not continued, only contiguous, as of corn or wine, &c. Or, the former may note greater, the latter, less measures.

Verse 36

A just ephah, and a just hin; these two measures are named as most common, the former for dry, the latter for moist things; but under them he manifestly comprehends all other measures.

Verse 37

Therefore; because my blessings and deliverances are not indulgences to sin, but greater obligations to all duties to God and men. So that if religion and righteousness were utterly lost in the world, they ought in all reason to be found among you as my peculiar people and freed men.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Leviticus 19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.