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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 19

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2514. B.C. 1490.

Various precepts to be holy, Leviticus 19:1 , Leviticus 19:2 . To honour parents and sabbaths, Leviticus 19:3 . To shun idolatry, Leviticus 19:4 . Duty to eat their peace-offering, Leviticus 19:5-8 . To leave gleanings for the poor, Leviticus 19:9 , Leviticus 19:10 . Not to steal, lie, swear falsely, or defraud, Leviticus 19:11-13 . Not to curse the deaf, or put a stumbling-block before the blind, Leviticus 19:14 . Not to judge unjustly, carry tales, or bear false witness, Leviticus 19:15 , Leviticus 19:16 . To reprove sinners, not to revenge themselves; to love their neighbours, Leviticus 19:17 , Leviticus 19:18 . Not to mix different things, Leviticus 19:19 .

Not to defile their bond-maids, Leviticus 19:20-22 . Not to eat of the fruit of the land for four years, Leviticus 19:23-25 . Not to eat blood, use enchantments, or heathen customs, Leviticus 19:26-28 , or prostitute their daughters, Leviticus 19:29 . To reverence God and his sanctuary, Leviticus 19:30 . Not to regard wizards, Leviticus 19:31 . To honour the aged, Leviticus 19:32 . Love and right the stranger, Leviticus 19:33 , Leviticus 19:34 . Do no injustice, Leviticus 19:34-36 .

Verse 2

Leviticus 19:2. Ye shall be holy Separated from all the forementioned defilements, and entirely consecrated to God, and obedient to all his laws. I am holy Both in my essence, and in all my laws, which are holy, and just, and good.

Verse 3

Leviticus 19:3. His mother The mother is put first, partly because the practice of this duty begins there, mothers, by perpetual converse, being sooner known to their children than their fathers; and partly because this duty is commonly neglected to the mother, upon whom children have not so much dependance as they have upon their father. And this fear includes the two great duties of reverence and obedience. And keep my sabbaths This is added, to show that, whereas it is enjoined to parents that they should take care the sabbath be observed both by themselves and their children, it is the duty of children to fear and obey their parents in this matter. But that, if parents should neglect their duty therein, or by their command, counsel, or example, draw them to pollute the sabbath, the children in that case must keep the sabbath, and prefer the command of God, before the command of their parents.

Verse 4

Leviticus 19:4. Turn ye not unto idols Hebrew, אלילם , Elilim, No gods, or nothings, as the word signifies, and as idols are called, (1 Corinthians 8:4,) many of them having no being but in the fancy of their worshippers, and all of them having no virtue or power to do good or evil, Isaiah 41:23.

Verse 5

Leviticus 19:5. At your own will Or, According to your own pleasure, what you think fit; for though this sacrifice, in general, was required, it was left to their choice to determine the particulars. But the original word may be rendered, For favour to you; that is, in order to procure you the divine favour; or in such a manner as God has prescribed and will accept. And thus it is understood by Le Clerc, after the LXX., the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic versions.

Verses 9-10

Leviticus 19:9-10. Thou shalt not gather the gleanings of thy harvest They were not to be exact in carrying all off, but were to leave some part to be gleaned and reaped by their poor neighbours, whether Israelites or Gentiles. And thou shall not glean thy vineyard When they had cut off the great bunches, they were not to examine the vine over again for the scattered grapes or small clusters, but leave them for the poor and stranger. Strangers are joined with the poor, because they could have no possessions of land among the Hebrews, and therefore were often poor. I am the Lord your God Who gave you all these things, with a reservation of my right in them, and with a charge of giving part of them to the poor. This, and many other laws which provide for the indigent, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, show the genius of the Jewish religion to have been much more humane than we are apt to conceive, from examining the lives of its narrow-minded professors.

Verse 12

Leviticus 19:12. Ye shall not swear falsely This is 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. Profane the name By any unholy use of it. So it is an additional precept, thou shall not abuse my holy name by swearing either falsely or rashly.

Verse 14

Leviticus 19:14. Before the blind To make them fall. Under these two particulars are manifestly 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. Fear thy God Who both can and will avenge them.

Verse 15

Leviticus 19:15. The poor So as, through pity to him, to give an unrighteous sentence.

Verse 16

Leviticus 19:16. Stand against the blood In judgment, as a false accuser, or false witness, for accusers and witnesses use to stand, while the judges sit, in courts of judicature.

Verse 17

Leviticus 19:17. Thou shalt not hate As thou dost, in effect, if thou dost not rebuke him. Thy brother The same as thy neighbour; that is, every man. If thy brother hath done wrong, thou shalt neither divulge it to others, nor hate him, and smother that hatred by sullen silence; nor flatter him therein, but shalt freely, and in love, tell him of his fault. And not suffer sin upon him Not suffer him to lie under the guilt of any sin, which thou, by rebuking him, and thereby bringing him to repentance, couldst free him from.

Verse 18

Leviticus 19:18. Thy neighbour Every man, as plainly appears, 1st, By comparing this place with Leviticus 19:34, where this law is applied to strangers. 2d, Because the word neighbour is explained by another man, Leviticus 20:10; Romans 13:8. As thyself With the same sincerity, though not equality of affection.

Verse 19

Leviticus 19:19. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender 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 restraint here laid, even upon brute creatures, men might be taught to abhor all unnatural 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.

Verse 20

Leviticus 19:20. She shall be scourged Hebrew, There shall be a scourging, which probably may belong to both of them; for, 1st, Both were guilty; 2d, 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, 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. Not put to death Which they should have been, had she been free, Deuteronomy 22:23-24. 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 scarcely wives, and their marriages were scarcely true marriages, being neither made by their choice, but their masters’ authority, nor continued beyond the year of release, but at their masters’ or husbands’ pleasure.

Verse 23

Leviticus 19:23. As uncircumcised That is, as unclean, not to be eaten, but cast away, because the fruit then was less wholesome, and because hereby men were taught to bridle their appetites; a lesson of great use and absolute necessity in a holy life.

Verse 24

Leviticus 19:24. Holy Consecrated to the Lord, as the first-fruits and tithes were, and therefore given to the priests and Levites, Numbers 18:12,

13; Deuteronomy 18:4; yet so that part of them were communicated to the poor widows, and fatherless, and strangers, see Deuteronomy 14:28; to bless the Lord, by whose power and goodness the trees bring forth fruit to perfection.

Verse 25

Leviticus 19:25. That it may yield the increase That God may be pleased to give his blessing, which alone could make them fruitful.

Verse 26

Leviticus 19:26. Any thing with the blood Any flesh out of which the blood is not first poured. Neither shall ye use enchantments It was unpardonable in them, to whom were committed the oracles of God, to ask counsel of the devil. And yet worse in Christians, to whom the Son of God is manifested, to destroy the works of the devil. For Christians to have their nativities cast, or their fortunes told, or to use charms for the cure of diseases, is an intolerable affront to the Lord Jesus, a support of idolatry, and a reproach both to themselves and to that worthy name by which they are called. Nor observe times Superstitiously, esteeming some days lucky, others unlucky.

Verse 27

Leviticus 19:27. The corners of your heads That is, 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 their 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, that is, 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, nor so much as in the appearances of it.

Verse 28

Leviticus 19:28. Cuttings in your flesh Which the Gentiles commonly did, both in the worship of their idols and in their solemn mournings, Jeremiah 16:6.

Verse 29

Leviticus 19:29. Do not prostitute As the Gentiles frequently did for the honour of some of their idols, to whom women were consecrated, and publicly prostituted.

Verse 31

Leviticus 19:31. Wizards Them that have entered into covenant with the devil, by whose help they foretel many things to come, and acquaint men with secret things; see Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1Sa 28:3 ; 1 Samuel 28:7; 1 Samuel 28:9; 2 Kings 21:6.

Verse 32

Leviticus 19:32. 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 This respect is due to such, if not for themselves, yet for God’s sake, who requires this reverence, and whose singular blessing old age is.

Verse 33

Leviticus 19:33. Vex him Either with opprobrious expressions, or grievous exactions.

Verse 34

Leviticus 19:34. As one born among you Either, 1st, As to the matters of common right, so it reached to all strangers. Or, 2d, As to church privileges, so concerned only those who were proselytes. 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 desired others should do to you, when you were such.

Verse 35

Leviticus 19:35. In mete-yard In the measuring of lands, or dry things, as cloth, riband. In measure In the measuring liquid or such dry things as are only contiguous, as corn or wine.

Verse 36

Leviticus 19:36. 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

Leviticus 19:37. Therefore Because my blessings and deliverances are not indulgences to sin, but greater obligations to all duties to God and men.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 19". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/leviticus-19.html. 1857.
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