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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Leviticus 20


Israelites must not offer their children to Molech on pain of death, Leviticus 20:1-3; which if not inflicted by the magistrate, shall be by God himself, Leviticus 20:4,Leviticus 20:5.

The same against running after soothsayers, Leviticus 20:6; against cursers of parents, Leviticus 20:9; against adulterer, Leviticus 20:10, or incestuous and unlawful copulation with women, men, or beasts, Leviticus 20:11-21.

They must put a differencebetween clean and unclean, Leviticus 20:22-26.

Soothsayers to be stoned, Leviticus 20:27.

Verse 2

Here follow the punishments of the crimes forbidden in the former chapters.

The strangers; not only such as were proselytes, but all others, these being gross immoralities, and such as the precepts of Noah reached to, and such as the laws of nature and nations obliged them to. And therefore the toleration of such actions was not only against reason of state, and the interest of the commonwealth of Israel, and dangerous to the infection and destruction of the Israelites by the imitation of such examples, but also against the light of nature and laws of humanity.

Unto Molech, or to any other idol; for the reason of the law equally concerns all. See Leviticus 18:21.

Verse 3

I will set my face against that man, i.e. deal with him as an enemy, and make him a monument of my justice, either by punishing him immediately and eminently, when the magistrate cannot or will not do it, or by adding to his corporal punishments my curse upon his soul and name. See Leviticus 17:10.

From among his people; from the number of his people, of what nation or kindred soever he was; or, from the land of the living.

To defile my sanctuary, which was done by this wickedness, either because such persons did, for the cover of their idolatry, come into God’s sanctuary, as the rest did; see Leviticus 15:31; or because the sanctuary was, and was said to be, defiled by gross abominations committed in that city or land where God’s sanctuary was; or because by these actions they did pronounce and declare to all men that they esteemed the sanctuary and service of God abominable and vile, by preferring such odious and pernicious idolatry before it.

And to profane my holy name; partly by despising it themselves, and partly by disgracing it to others, and giving them occasion to blaspheme it, and to abhor the true religion, because they saw it deserted and condemned by those that best knew it and once embraced it.

Verse 4

i.e. Wink at his fault, and forbear to accuse and punish him. Compare Acts 17:30.

Verse 5

Against his family, i.e. either,

1. His posterity, whom God threatened to punish for their father’s idolatry, Exodus 20:0. Or,

2. His people, as that word is used, Jeremiah 8:3; Micah 2:3, to wit, the people of that land, who by their connivance make themselves guilty of his sin, Leviticus 20:4. Or,

3. His disciples and followers, who are oft called the sons or children of their masters. And so it may seem to be explained in the following words,

all that go a whoring after him, as the first clause, which concerns the head or chief person himself, I will set my face against that man, is explained by these words, I will cut him off.

Verse 6

To go a whoring after them; to seek knowledge, or counsel, or help from them.

Verse 8

i.e. Who separated you from all nations, and from their impurities and idolatries, to be a peculiar people to myself, and therefore I will not suffer you to follow their examples. Or, who really sanctify you, and give you my grace to do what I require, i.e. to keep my statutes. Or the argument is this, Those idols and idolatries will defile you and make you worse, but I only and my service will sanctify you and make you better.

Verse 9

For, or, surely, as that particle, chi, is oft used, as Job 8:6; Job 20:20. So there needs no dispute about the connexion, or what this is a reason of. Curseth; which is not meant of every perverse expression, but of bitter reproaches or imprecations. Or his mother; Heb. and put for or, as hath been noted before.

His blood shall be upon him; he is guilty of his own death; he deserves to die for so unnatural a crime.

Verse 12

By perverting the order which God hath appointed, and mixing the blood which God would have separated, and making the same offspring both his own immediate child and his grandchild,

they have wrought confusion.

Verse 13

Except the one party was forced by the other. See Deuteronomy 22:25.

Verse 14

It is wickedness, i.e. abominable and extraordinary wickedness, as the singularity of the punishment showeth.

Both he and they; either, or both or all of them, if they consented to it.

Verse 15

Partly, for the prevention of monstrous births; partly, to blot out the memory of so loathsome a crime; and partly, that by so severe a punishment of that creature which was only a passive instrument to man’s sin, men might be assured that a more dreadful punishment than corporal death was reserved for them, if they repented not.

Verse 17

Seeing is here understood, either,

1. Properly, and so God would cut off the occasions of further filthiness. Or rather,

2. Improperly, for touching her or lying with her; for,

1. The sense of seeing is oft put for other senses, as for hearing, Genesis 42:1, compared with Acts 7:12; Exodus 20:18 Revelation 1:12; and for touching, as John 20:25,John 20:29.

2. That act is expressed by words parallel to this of seeing, as by uncovering, or discovering, and by knowing, Genesis 4:1.

3. So it is directly explained in the following words,

he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness, which manifestly signifies lying with her.

4. It is not probable that an equal punishment would have been appointed to an immodest sight, and to the highest act of filthiness.

5. Nor seems there to be any reason why this crime should be restrained to this rather than to any other relations, when it was as great, yea, a greater crime in some other relations. In the sight of their people, i.e. publicly, for the terror and caution of others.

Verse 18

If a man shall lie with a woman, wittingly and willingly. See on Leviticus 15:24; Leviticus 18:19.

Her sisters, i.e. her monthly infirmity. Her fountain, or her issue. Thus the fountain of blood in Mark 5:29, is the issue of blood, Luke 8:44, the fountain put for the stream, the cause for the effect, which is common.

Verse 20

i.e. Either shall be speedily cut off ere they can have a child by that incestuous conjunction, that the remembrance of the fact may be blotted out: or, if this seem a less crime than most of the former incestuous mixtures, because the relation is more remote, and therefore the magistrate shall forbear to punish it with death, yet they shall either have no children from such an unlawful bed, or their children shall die before them, Hosea 9:11,Hosea 9:12; or shall not be reputed their genuine children, but bastards, and therefore excluded from the congregation of the Lord, Deuteronomy 23:2.

Verse 21

Except in the case allowed by God, Deuteronomy 25:5.

An unclean thing; an abominable thing, like the uncleanness of a menstruous woman, which is oft expressed by this word: Heb. a separation or removing, i.e. a thing deserving separation or exclusion from society with others; or a thing to be removed out of sight or out of the world.

Verse 24

By my special grace and favour vouchsafed to you above all people, in glorious and miraculous works wrought for you and among you, and in ordinances and other singular privileges and blessings imparted to you, all which calls for your special love and service.

Verse 25

i.e. As things which by my sentence I have made unclean, and which you must avoid as such.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Leviticus 20". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.