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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Leviticus 19

 

 

Verses 1-37

THIRD SECTION

Holiness of Conduct towards God and Man

Leviticus 19:1-16

1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto all the congregation[FN1] or the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

3Ye shall fear every man his mother,[FN2] and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

4Turn ye not unto idols,[FN3] nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.

5And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will [offerings, unto the Lord ye shall offer it for your acceptance[FN4]]. 6It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire 7 And if it be eaten at all on the 8 third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted. Therefore every one that eateth[FN5] it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

9And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest 10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard [fruit garden[FN6]], neither shalt thou gather every grape [the scattered fruit[FN7]] of thy vineyard [fruit garden6]; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

11Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another 12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord 13 Thou shalt not defraud [oppress[FN8]] thy neighbour, neither[FN9] rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

14Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

15Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment:[FN10] thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

16Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people:[FN11] neither[FN12]shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him [and not bear sin on his account[FN13]]. 18Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

19Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind:[FN14] thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled [diverse[FN15]] seed: neither shall a garment mingled [a diverse garment15] of linen and woollen[FN16] come upon thee.

20And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman that is a bondmaid, betrothed[FN17] to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged [there shall be punishment[FN18]], they shall not be put to death, because she was not free 21 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering 22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.

23And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised:[FN19] three years shall it be as uncircumcised to you: it shall not be eaten of 24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise[FN20] the Lord withal. 25And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield[FN21] unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.

26Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood:[FN22] neither[FN23] shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times 2327 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou [FN24]mar the corners of thy 24 beard28Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

29Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

30Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

31Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

32Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old Prayer of Manasseh, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

33And if a stranger sojourn with thee[FN25] in your land, ye shall not vex [oppress[FN26]] him34 But [omit but[FN27]] the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

35Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure 36 Just balances, just weights,[FN28] a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt 37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Leviticus 19:2. עֲדַת = congregation is omitted by 3 MSS. and the LXX.

Leviticus 19:3. In the LXX, Vulg, and Syr, the order is reversed to his father and his mother. The Sam and Onk. follow the Hebrew.

Leviticus 19:4. אֱלִילִים = inania numina, Rosen. It is formed from אֵל with a termination expressive of contempt.

Leviticus 19:5. לִרְצֹנְכֶם = for your acceptance. See Textual Note6 on Leviticus 1:3.

Leviticus 19:8. The Heb. has the plural form אֹכְלָיו, but the Sam. and other versions have the sing as in the following verb and noun.

Leviticus 19:10. כֶּרֶם is generally a vineyard, but also ( Judges 15:7) an olive yard. It is “a field or yard of the nobler plants and trees, cultivated in the manner of a garden or orchard,” Gesen. It is doubtless here used in its broadest sense, and the vineyard of the A. V. is therefore too restricted.

Leviticus 19:10. פֶרֶט = that which is scattered, and hence meaning here both the fallen fruit (Chald, Vulg, Syr.), and also the single berries of the olive and the vine not gathered with the harvest.

Leviticus 19:13. תַעֲשֹׁק. Leviticus 19:11 forbids sins of craft and falsehood against one’s neighbor; this, sins of violence and open oppression. The translation given is that of the A. V. in Deuteronomy 24:14.

Leviticus 19:13. The Heb. לֹא is without the conjunction which is supplied in40 MSS. in the Sam. and the LXX.

Leviticus 19:15. The conjunction ו is prefixed in7 MSS, the Sam, LXX, and Syr.

Leviticus 19:16. בְּעַמֶּיךָ. The Sam. and66 MSS. omit the י.

Leviticus 19:16. Here again the Heb. omits the conjunction which is supplied in40 MSS, and in the Syr.

Leviticus 19:17. וְלֹא־תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא is a clause the meaning of which has been much questioned. It seems certain, however, that נָשָׂא cannot mean suffer, (permit) as in the A. V, but must mean bear as in the margin. The marginal for him is ambiguous, and it is better therefore to use the more explicit on his account. For instances of precisely the same Sense of these words, see Leviticus 22:9; Numbers 18:32, and comp. also the very similar expression in Psalm 69:8.

Leviticus 19:19. 3MSS, the Sam, LXX, and Syr, prefix the conjunction.

Leviticus 19:19. כִּלְאַיִם (dual from כֶּלֶא = separation) occurs only in this verse (three times) and in the parallel Deuteronomy 22:9, but is frequent in the Talmud. It signifies of two kinds, heterogeneous. The translation of the A. V. at its first occurrence in the ver. diverse is good, and should by all means be retained in the other clauses, both for consistency’s sake, and for the force of the command. All the Semitic versions preserve the uniformity.

Leviticus 19:19. שַׁעַטְנֵז occurs only here and in Deuteronomy 22:11, where it is explained “of woolen and linen together.” Its etymology is obscure. See the Lexicons and Bochart, Hieroz. I, lib. II, c35. p545, ed. Rosen. It is probably an Egyptian word, although not yet satisfactorily explained. The Chald. retains the word, and the LXX. translates κίβδηλον = spurious, adulterated, probably by a mere conjecture. Rosenmüller quotes Forster as explaining it of a costly Egyptian dress woven in various figures of plants and animals in colors, having a symbolical idolatrous signification. See Com.

Leviticus 19:20. נֶחֶרֶפֶת Niph. from חָרַף = to tear off, to set apart. There seems no doubt of the correctness of the text of the A. V, and the margin is therefore unnecessary.

Leviticus 19:20. בִּקֹּרֶת תִהְיֶה. This word is ἅπ. λεγ., but there seems little doubt of its meaning, investigation, and then punishment. Authorities are much divided on the question whether both parties, or only the woman, was to be scourged. The LXX, Vulg, and Syr, are clear for the former, while the Sam. applies it only to the man. In the uncertainty it is better to retain the indefiniteness of the Heb. as in the marg. of the A. V. The Sam. reading is remarkable בקרת תהיה לו = he shall be punished, and then, in the sing. לא יומת = he shall not die. This gives a sense agreeing excellently with the reason assigned because she was not free, and hence the act did not legally constitute adultery which was punishable with death.

Leviticus 19:23. “The singular suffix in עָרְלָתוֹ” [and also in פִּרְיוֹ] “refers to בֹּל, and the verb ערל is a denom. from עָרְלָה, to make into a foreskin, to treat as uncircumcised, i.e., to throw away as unclean or uneatable.” Keil. The LXX. rendering περικαθαριεῖτε τὴν ἀκαθαρσίαν αὐτοῦ = ye shall purge away its uncleanness expresses very well the general sense.

Leviticus 19:24. הִלּוּלִים occurs only here and in Judges 9:27. In the latter place it seems to mean merry-making feasts to idols, and Josephus (Ant. iv8, 19) understands the law to be that the fruit of the fourth year should be carried to the place of the Sanctuary, and there used in a holy feast with friends and the poor. But the following verse seems so clearly to forbid the owner’s partaking of it before the fifth year that it would be unsafe to change the translation. The marg. of the A. V. holiness of praises to the Lord does not convey any distinct idea. The idea of Murphy a praise offering is hardly sustained by the text. The true sense is probably that incorporated into the Targ. Onk. it shall be consecrated to those offering praises before the Lord, i.e, it was to be given to the Lord through His priests, and used by them in feasts.

Leviticus 19:25. For לְהוֹמִיף that it may yield, the Sam, followed by the Vulg, reads לְהֹאסִיף for collecting (in storehouses) the produce.

Leviticus 19:26. עַל־הַדָּם. The LXX. must have read ר instead of ד to sustain the version ἐπὶ τῶν ὀρέων, and some critics would adopt this to avoid the peculiarity of the construction of עַל, considering it justified by the frequency of the practice in connection with idolatrous feasts (comp. Hosea 4:13). But a mis-reading of the LXX. is not a sufficient ground for a change of the text; for the construction of עַל see Exodus 12:8, and comp. Textual Note 4 on Leviticus 2:2.

Leviticus 19:26-27. In both places the Sam, one or two MSS, and the LXX, supply the conjunction.

Leviticus 19:27. The Sam. and most of the Ancient Versions put the verb and the pronoun in the plural in accordance with the previous clause.

Leviticus 19:33. The Sam. and versions have the plural.

Leviticus 19:33. The marg. of the A. V. expresses the sense of תוֹנוּ better than the text.

Leviticus 19:34. There is no occasion for the insertion of the but of the A. V.

Leviticus 19:36. The marg. of the A. V. stones is unnecessary, that being merely the primary sense of אֶבֶן while weight is the fully established derivative sense.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

With this chapter begins a new Parashah of the law extending to Leviticus 20:27. The parallel Haphtarah from the prophets is Ezekiel 20:2-20, recounting the disobedience of Israel in the wilderness to the commands of this chapter and their consequent punishment; and the close of Amos 9:7-15, denouncing the punishment and foretelling the final restoration of God’s people—a prophecy applied by S. James ( Acts 15:16-17) to the gathering in of the Gentiles to the Church of Christ.

“This remarkable chapter is perhaps the most comprehensive, the most varied, and in some respects the most important section of Leviticus, if not of the Pentateuch; it was by the ancient Jews regarded as an epitome of the whole Law; it was adopted and paraphrased by the best gnomic writers, such as Pseudo-Phocylides; and it has at all times been looked upon as a counterpart of the Decalogue itself.” Kalisch.

It treats of the holiness in the daily life and conversation which must characterize the covenant people of a holy God. This basis of the commands given is prominently brought forward at the opening and continually kept in mind by the phrase I am the Lord throughout. This expresses at once the basis of the command, and the goal towards which the Israelite must strive. It is as difficult to arrange these laws systematically as to do so with the duties of the daily life, and an arrangement which would be systematic from one point of view would not be so from another. The following analysis of the chapter, from Murphy, presents a somewhat different view from that given by Lange below: “They are in communion with God (1–8), in the communion of saints (9–22), and are about to be in a land of holiness (23–32), and visited by strangers (33–37). And each of these relations brings out a series of duties peculiar to itself.”

Lange says: “We hold that this section, as being the summing up of the laws of the theocratic humanity, is quite in place, as a contrast to the characteristics of the heathen inhumanity which the foregoing chapter has displayed; and in so far forth comprises in no part anything repeated, varying, or in the more restricted sense religious. It gives the characteristics of the consecrated human personality in the theocracy, and of its conduct as it should correspond with the holy personality of Jehovah, and hence it is said again and again: I am Jehovah. From this constant refrain a liturgy of religious humanity could be unfolded. First, in threefold distinctness: Ye shall be holy,i.e. hallowed personalities, for I Jehovah your God am holy, and ever again I am Jehovah your God ( Leviticus 19:3-4; Leviticus 19:10; Leviticus 19:25; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 19:34; Leviticus 19:36), or I am Jehovah ( Leviticus 19:12; Leviticus 19:14; Leviticus 19:16; Leviticus 19:18; Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 19:30; Leviticus 19:32; Leviticus 19:37). Evidently these statements together, as the characteristics of the private human conduct, stand in connection with the legislation for the social humanity in the section, Exodus 21-23.

“Disposition: Leviticus 19:1-2. The principle of humanity: Jehovah the Holy One. Leviticus 19:3-8. True and false piety. Leviticus 19:9-18. Inwardly grounded humanity. Leviticus 19:19-32. Observance of the moral laws of nature. Leviticus 19:33-37. Observance of hospitality and the duties of trade.

“The first theocratic law of humanity is the root of all that follow, the law of piety. And here it is not said: ‘Father and mother,’ but mother and father; for the mother precedes the father in the duty of mankind.” Wordsworth says in reference to this order: “In the former chapter God had displayed the evils consequent on the abuse of woman, and here He inculcates reverence towards her, as the foundation of social happiness.” This is the fifth commandment of the Decalogue ( Exodus 20:12), and is clearly necessary to be called to mind here; for as the family is the basis of all social organization, so is reverence to parents the first necessity of family order. Next follows the reiteration of the fourth commandment ( Ezekiel 20:12) as the first duty of man beyond the immediate respect due from him to those from whom he derives his being. The great prominence everywhere given in Scripture to the observance of the Sabbath (comp. e. g. Ezekiel 20:12-13; Ezekiel 20:16; Ezekiel 20:20-21; Ezekiel 20:24, being the portion from the prophets read in the synagogue in connection with this chapter), and the universality of its obligation as grounded upon the Divine rest, show how deeply this must enter into all excellent social organization. These two precepts are here coupled together as they are in the Decalogue, and they are the only commands given there in positive form. They “express two great central points, the first belonging to natural law, and the second to positive law, in the maintenance of the well-being of the social body of which Jehovah was the acknowledged king.” Clark. It is noticeable that the same generality which is given to the command in Ex. by the use of the sing. is here attained also by the use of the plural; for the plural is not to be understood as used (Kalisch) for the purpose of including other festivals than the weekly day of rest.

Leviticus 19:4. This precept includes the two first commands of the Decalogue. The order of commands in this chapter, in so far as the commands themselves are the same, is different, from that in the Decalogue, because there the starting point is from God Himself; here from man in his family and social relations. In regard to this precept, Lange says: “If the heart of man becomes benumbed to the use of images of false gods of any kind, he sinks down to the idols which are his ideals, and becomes as dumb and unspiritual as they are, Leviticus 19:4. All gods of the heathen are Elilim, nothingnesses, Psalm 96:5; Psalm 115:8; Psalm 135:18; Isaiah 40:18; Isaiah 44:10, etc.” Comp. also Deuteronomy 27:15. It was a notion of the Rabbins that this word was compounded of אַל, = not, and אֵל = God. Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:19.

Leviticus 19:5-8. The Legislator now turns to the especial outward act of communion with God in the peace offering. His object is not to speak of sacrifices in general, nor even of any special kind of peace offering; therefore the distinctions of Leviticus 7:11-21 are not referred to. The reference is rather to Leviticus 17:3-7, according to which, during the wilderness life, all food of sacrificial animals was to be sanctified by the peace offering. So here all holy feasting of communion with God must be based upon a sacrifice for their acceptance, and must be treated according to the commands already given. The order of the precepts is therefore perfectly natural: first, filial duty; then the observance of the fundamental divine institution for society; next, negatively, the entire turning away from everything that could come into rivalry with God; and now the keeping holy of the appointed means of communion with Him. After this come (9–18) various precepts to guard the holiness of conduct toward one’s neighbor, especially the poor and distressed, illustrated by one command of detail after another until the all including principle is announced, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Leviticus 19:9-10. The gatherer of his harvest, out of the abundance which God had given him, must have a generous care for the poor and the stranger; the poor, as those unable to cultivate their own land, or who had been obliged to sell it until the next year of Jubilee; and the stranger, as those who by the organization of the Hebrew common wealth could have no possession of land in their country. The LXX. and the Syr. interpret stranger of proselytes, and are followed by some Jewish commentators; but such restriction is plainly at variance with the whole spirit of the command. The same precept is repeated, in regard to the grain harvest, in connection with the feast of weeks ( Leviticus 23:22), and more generally in Deuteronomy 24:19-22 with a reminder of the privations and bondage they had themselves endured in Egypt. The story of Ruth is a beautiful exemplification of the operation of this statute.

Leviticus 19:11. This and the following precepts take the usual negative form of statutory law. The eighth commandment is here joined with the offences recounted in Leviticus 6:2-5 of falsehood and fraud towards others. St. Augustine here (Qu68) enters at length into the casuistical question of the justifiableness of lying under certain peculiar circumstances, citing the example of Rahab among others. He concludes that it was not her lying, as such, which received the divine approbation, but her desire to serve God, which indeed prompted her lie. However this may be, it is plain that the law here has in view not extraordinary and exceptional cases, but the ordinary dealings of man with man. Such law is of universal obligation. Comp. Colossians 3:9.

Leviticus 19:12 is of course covered by the third commandment, but is not coextens ve with it, since the point of view here is that of conduct towards one’s neighbor. Comp. Leviticus 6:5.

Leviticus 19:13-17 relate to social offences of different kinds, common enough in all ages and lands, but all inconsistent with the character of a holy people. Leviticus 19:13 deals with faults of power, “the conversion of might into right.” The particulars mentioned are oppression (comp. Leviticus 25:17-43), robbing, and undue retention of wages. The last is spoken of more at length Deuteronomy 24:14-15. Comp. James 5:4. Leviticus 19:14 mentions crimes of mean advantage. Comp. Deuteronomy 27:18. The sense Isaiah, thou shalt not curse the deaf, for though he hears not, God will hear and avenge; and so of the blind, God sees and cares for him. Job remembered with satisfaction that in his prosperity he had been “eyes to the blind” and “feet to the lame” ( Job 29:15). The precept in its literal sense belongs to all times, and so also does its obvious spiritual application, Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13. Lange characterizes this verse as the “sanctification of the human dignity of the infirm.’ In Leviticus 19:15 the Legislator turns to official wrong, guarding against personal influence in judgment from whatever source.—Respect the person of the poor has reference not only to pity for him, but to that instinctive tendency to sympathy with the weaker side which still has such powerful influence with the modern jury in the perversion of justice. On the other hand, honoring the person of the mighty represents the opposite perversion, perhaps almost equally common, but less creditable to humanity. Leviticus 19:16-17 forbid offences of a meaner kind. On Leviticus 19:16 Lange says: “Sanctity of a neighbor’s good name, and especially of his life and blood. Casting aside of all inhumane conduct, all ill-will, as manifested in malicious belittling, blackening, and slandering, and especially in attempts against the life of a neighbor, whether in court or in private life.” The Rabbins, equally with the Hindoo laws, are particularly severe upon the crime of tale-bearing. The Targ. Jonathan paraphrases the clause, “Do not go after the tale-bearing tongue, which is harsh as a sword, slaying with both its edges.” The latter clause of Leviticus 19:16 is sometimes otherwise interpreted; “most of the recent Jewish versions follow the Talmud in giving another sense to the words, which it appears the Hebrew will bear: Thou shalt not stand by idly when thy neighbor’s life is in danger. So Zunz, Luzzato, Herxheimer, Leeser, Wogue.” Clark. Leviticus 19:17. Lange: “Observance of good-will towards one’s neighbor. Blameworthiness of hate, and also of the bitter keeping back of the reproof which one owes to his neighbor. It is a fine reminder that one may become a sharer in a neighbor’s fault by a lack of openness, and by a holding back of required reproof.” On the last clause, see Textual, and on the whole verse comp. Proverbs 27:5; Matthew 18:15-17.

In the close of Leviticus 19:18 all is summed up in the royal law—thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. This is twice quoted by our Lord Himself ( Matthew 19:19; Matthew 22:39), and, next to love to God, is made the great commandment of the law. It is repeatedly referred to by the Apostles as the fulfilling of the whole law towards one’s neighbor ( Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). It may be that at the time it was given it was too far above the spiritual condition of the people, who must, first be trained by the detailed precepts going before. Nevertheless, it is imbedded in the law as the expression of the divine will, and that it might be reached by such as were able to receive it. Such passages as Proverbs 24:17-18; Proverbs 25:21-22, show that it did not fail of exerting an influence upon the nation, and in later times the Rabbins abundantly recognized it as the very summary of all duty toward’s one’s neighbor. That the precept has no narrow limitations to their own people is shown by Leviticus 19:34, in which it is expressly extended to “the stranger.”

The second series of commands, Leviticus 19:19-32, is introduced with the formula, Ye shall keep my statutes, in which, says Kalisch, the word “statutes must be taken in its original and most pregnant sense as that which is ‘engraven’ and unalterably ordained: you shall not deviate from the appointed order of things, nor abandon the eternal laws of nature as fixed by Divine wisdom.” Leviticus 19:19. Lange: “Observance of the natural system, or of the simple laws of nature, symbolically expressed in reference to the tendency to allow the interbreeding of different species of animals, to mix various seeds in the field, and to wear garments made of mixed stuffs. When it is said in regard to these things, Ye shall keep my statutes, the laws of nature are plainly meant as the laws of Jehovah, and we must distinguish between the symbolical exemplification of the law and such mixings as nature herself or the necessities of life compel,—to say nothing of the purpose of investigation.” This law is repeated in Deuteronomy 22:9-11. It is clearly to be looked upon as one of those many educational laws given to train the Israelites to the observance of the natural order and separation of things, to a sense of fitness and congruity; and hence, when the underlying principle has come to be comprehended, the particular details by which it was enforced cease to be obligatory. As to the allegation that this command was violated in the high-priest’s dress, which is said to have been woven of linen and wool, it is unnecessary to say more than that the difficulty arises entirely from a misapprehension in taking the word scarlet to mean scarlet wool, instead of as a simple designation of color.

Leviticus 19:20-22. The punishment for adultery was death for both parties ( Leviticus 20:10), and the same in case, of the seduction of a free virgin who was betrothed ( Deuteronomy 22:23-24); and it was still death to the man in case the act might be presumed to have been by violence (ib. 25–27). These laws were inapplicable in their full force in the case of a slave, since she could not legally contract marriage. Still, the moral offence existed, and therefore there must be punishment. Versions and authorities vary as to whether the punishment was to be inflicted on both parties (LXX, Vulg, Syr.), on the man alone (Sam.), or on the woman alone (A. V.). The last is supported on the ground that the man’s punishment consisted in his trespass offering; but this is so entirely inadequate that this view may be dismissed. Probably both parties were punished when the acquiescence of the woman might be presumed, and the man alone in the opposite case. This would be in accordance with the analogy of Deuteronomy 22:23-27, and would account for the indefiniteness of the Hebrew expression. See Textual note18. The supposition that both were ordinarily to be punished also agrees best with the following plural—they shall not be put to death. In the form of sacrifice to be presented by the Prayer of Manasseh, the trespass offering (comp. Leviticus 5:14 to Leviticus 6:7), the violation of the rights of property of which he had also been guilty is recognized.

Leviticus 19:23-25. “Treatment of nature, in the case of the culture of plants, after their analogy with the life of man. Symbolic practice: the fruits of trees for the first three years were to be considered as the foreskin of the tree, and were not to be harvested nor eaten. The trees were to be allowed to grow strong by having their fruit hang on them. The fruit of the fourth year was to be hallowed to Jehovah, and thus by a theocratic consecration, the fruit of the following years should be a consecrated food, analogous to the food of the flesh that was slain before the door of the Tabernacle. First, the fruits of the trees were, so to speak, heathen; then they were hallowed in a priestly way; and then finally became fruits to be enjoyed by the theocracy.” Lange. It is noticeable that this command, like so many others, is wholly prospective,—when ye shall come into the land,—one of the constantly recurring evidences that this legislation was actually given during the life in the wilderness.

Leviticus 19:26-28 forbid several heathen customs, some of them associated with idolatrous or superstitious rites, and all of them unbecoming the holy people of God. “To the consecration of the use of fruit is added for completeness once more the consecration of the use of flesh, and indeed with a more strict prohibition of the use of the blood: ye shall not eat any thing with the blood.” Lange. “These words were not a mere repetition of the law against eating blood ( Leviticus 17:10), but a strengthening of the law. Not only were they to eat no blood, but no flesh to which any blood adhered.” Keil. Patrick, quoting from Maimonides and others, makes it very probable that this has reference to a heathen custom of eating flesh over the blood of the animal from which it had been taken as a means of communion with demons who were supposed to feast upon the blood itself. See Spencer, lib. II, c. 15. Neither shall ye use enchantment.—This is a different sin from that forbidden in Leviticus 19:31; for in the parallel prohibitions, Deuteronomy 18:9-12, the two are distinguished, נָחַשׁ, primarily to whisper, to mutter, covers all kinds of magical formulas, all attempts to secure a desired result otherwise than by natural means or the invocation of divine aid. The LXX. οὐκ οἰωνιεῖσθε and Syr. interpret it of augury by means of birds; but while the form of the Hebrew seems to connect the act primarily with the serpent, its sense in use is certainly more general. Comp. Genesis 44:5; Genesis 44:15. Nor observe times.—עוֹנֵן, according to some authorities, a denom. verb from עָנָן = a cloud, and this sense has been followed by the A. V.; according to Rabbinical authorities, however, it is from עַיִן = the eye, and means to bewitch with an evil eye. In either case the general sense is in accordance with the preceding clause: to rely upon occult arts for the accomplishment of one’s purposes. Lange: “To the prohibition of the unhallowed sensual use of nature is added the prohibition of the demoniacal misinterpretation of nature, of an impious desire to enter the spirit-world by breaking through the opposing limits of nature; the prohibition of soothsaying and sorcery, whereby, in all their forms, natural things were misused, Leviticus 19:26. In the same connection belongs the disfiguring of the natural appearance of one’s own personal form, especially of the head and the beard, Leviticus 19:27. And in this law the Christian world might have cause to see itself reflected, with their unnatural forms of every kind: crinolines, trains, high-heeled shoes, chignons, and hats that are only lids to the forehead. Only the law of customs must be remembered: the taste of the women is the taste of the men.” Theodoret (Qu28), followed by many moderns, understands the things here forbidden of heathen customs connected either with idolatrous usages or with mourning for the dead. Leviticus 19:28. For the dead.—“נֶפֶשׁ מֵת = נֶפֶשׁ, Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6; or מֵת, Deuteronomy 14:1; so again [the same form as here is used] in Leviticus 22:4; Numbers 5:2; Numbers 9:6-7; Numbers 9:10.” Keil. Lange: “This opposition to nature was increased by cutting marks in their flesh in remembrance of the dead, as the Jews must have seen done in the cultus of the dead among the Egyptians. With this belongs the cutting in of written characters, every kind of tattooing, of profaning the human dignity in the human form. Leviticus 19:28. On similar heathen customs see Keil, p130 [Trans. p424]; Knobel, p513.” Comp. Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14. But notwithstanding the law, the custom appears to have continued a familiar one, see Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:37. “Any voluntary disfigurement of the person was in itself an outrage upon God’s workmanship, and might well form the subject of a law.” Clark.

Leviticus 19:29. “The common natural disposition becomes especially unnatural when the father of a family gives away his daughter, or allows her to go away, to become a whore. One result of this is that the land or people itself begins to fall to whoredom also in the religious sense. “The religious immorality is here meant, as it was joined with many worships, Numbers 25:1,” etc. Knobel. The heathen religious service of lust existed among the most different nations, the Babylonians, for example, and the Indians of the present day.” Lange. Keil argues that the reference here can be only “to fleshly whoredom, the word זִמָּה being used only in this connection.” But see Ezekiel 16:27; Ezekiel 16:43; Ezekiel 16:58, etc. Nevertheless, the context here requires that the carnal sin should be understood, and certainly that is the primary sin in Numbers 25:1.

Leviticus 19:30. Lange: “The spirit of reverence for the institutions of the church is also a characteristic of true humanity, and the corresponding irreverence, a characteristic of barbarism, even if the barbarism be occasionally in the garments of the higher culture.” History has abundantly shown that the keeping holy of the Lord’s day and reverence for His sanctuary runs hand in hand with the highest national development. Throughout this “social and domestic life is pervaded by the fear of God and characterized by chasteness and propriety.” Keil. In His repeated cleansing of the temple ( John 2:14-16; Matthew 21:12-13) our Lord has shown that the latter duty at least is one of permanent obligation.

Leviticus 19:31. Lange: “Also the passive superstition which, instead of asking of Jehovah, especially on His days of rest and in His holy place, asks of the conjurors of the dead and of wizards, or of any ungodly oracle of any kind, and thus breaks through the limits of the consecrated humanity, which leaves it to God to rule and trusts in God.” Them that have familiar spirits.—The Heb. אוֹב is used both for the divining spirit, the foreboding demon itself, as here and in Leviticus 20:27; 1 Samuel 28:7-8, etc.; and also for the person in whom such a spirit was supposed to dwell, Isaiah 29:4. The LXX. usually render it by ἐγγαστρίμυθοι = ventriloquists, since among the ancients ventriloquism and magical arts were wont to be associated together. Wizard.—יִדְּענִי—lit. the knowing one; Symm. γνώστης; Aq. γνωριστής, is always associated with אוֹב, and means plainly one who pretends to more than mortal knowledge. The chief means used by both these classes of persons was the consulting with the spirits of the departed. While this furnishes an incidental testimony all along to the belief of the Israelites in the life beyond the grave, it is self-evident that all such attempts to secure knowledge which God has not put it in the power of living man to acquire are a resistance to His will, and a chafing against the barriers He has imposed. It is remarkable that such attempts should have been persisted in through all ages and in all lands. In Leviticus 19:32 the outward marks of respect to old age are connected with the fear of God. The commendation of this virtue is frequent in Scripture, and its practice appears to have been universal among all ancient nations, as it is still among the Orientals.

Leviticus 19:33-34. Lange: “Humanity towards the stranger, who is not a Jew, who thus certainly might dwell as a private man in the future inheritance of Israel. He was to be treated exactly as an inhabitant in human intercourse. Thou shalt love him as thyself.—With this the remembrance is still preserved that the Israelites had been strangers in the land of Egypt.” The royal law of Leviticus 19:18 is here expressly extended to the stranger, and notwithstanding the national narrowness necessary to preserve the true religion in the world, the general brotherhood of mankind is hereby taught as far as was possible under the circumstances.

Leviticus 19:35-36. Lange: “Integrity, corresponding to the humanity, is now made especially prominent and sharp, as if in prophetic foresight in regard to the occupation of the Israelites in trade, and with reference to all forms of business.

“In this mirror of humanity not only Judaism may see itself reflected, not only mediæval fanaticism, but also modern culture.”

The Ephah is mentioned as the standard of dry, and the Hin of liquid measure. Precisely how much each contained is in dispute. The Hin was the sixth part of the Ephah; and the latter, according to Josephus (Ant. III:9, § 4; VIII:2, § 9), contained rather more than eight and a half gallons. But the Rabbins make the capacity only about half this, which is more probable. However this may be, it is clear that equity in the affairs of the daily life is here made to rest upon the foundation of duty towards God.

In Leviticus 19:37 all duties enumerated in this chapter are placed upon the same ground—the only ground, as experience has abundantly shown, sufficiently strong to withstand the temptations and vicissitudes of the world.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

I. The foundation of the law here, as everywhere, is the holiness of God. Because He is holy, therefore the people who would live in communion with Him must be holy too. This principle is of universal application to all times, and to all occupations of human life.

II. In the human development of holiness filial reverence must always occupy the first place, and next to that comes reverence for the outward institutions of divine appointment.

III. The fulfilling of our whole duty towards our neighbor, under the old dispensation as under the new, culminates and is comprehended in the law—Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. With a clearness that seems to belong to the teaching of the Gospel, “neighbor” is made to comprehend the stranger as well as one’s own compatriots.

IV. In the general exhortation to holiness are included all details of the daily life. There is nothing so insignificant that one may allow himself in unholy conduct in relation to it; because he would thereby violate the fundamental principle of communion with God. This is particularly applied in the law to matters of business and trade.

V. All attempts to arrive at more than mortal knowledge by consultation with the spirits of the dead are especially and emphatically forbidden.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Lange: “The foundation of these laws is announced in the most emphatic declaration of the name of Jehovah and His holiness, again and again, as the sanction of the commands. Ye shall be holy, for I am holyi.e., ye shall keep your personality pure, for your Jehovah, your covenant God, the absolute Personality, repels all uncleanness, all confusion with the world, either in the heads of Pantheists or in the hearts and morals of the servants of sin, or in the rites of the priests. The personality is dishonored with every act of idolatry and every idolatrous worship (see Isaiah 44:9 sqq.; Acts 17). There follow the outlines of holy thanksgiving festivals, holy harvest festivals and vintages, holy ways of thought and action, holy oaths, etc. Continually new features of the consecration of life by a humane conduct are made prominent; and truly they are fine and thoughtful features.”

Each precept of this chapter has a homiletical value so clear that no amplification of the text itself is necessary. Holiness is made to consist not merely in the avoiding of sin and in the fulfilment of certain prescribed duties, but in a general course of life prompted by genuine love. The wants of the poor are to be regarded, the weak and defenceless are to be respected, justice is to be unwarped by either personal sympathies or influence, tale-bearing avoided, all magical arts and efforts to attain forbidden knowledge are to be shunned, and, in a word, man is to conduct himself in all things as one who is in communion with God, and therefore seeks to have His will carried out in all the length and breadth of his own daily life.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Leviticus 19:2. עֲדַת = congregation is omitted by 3 MSS. and the LXX.

FN#2 - Leviticus 19:3. In the LXX, Vulg, and Syr, the order is reversed to his father and his mother. The Sam and Onk. follow the Hebrew.

FN#3 - Leviticus 19:4. אֱלִילִים = inania numina, Rosen. It is formed from אֵל with a termination expressive of contempt.

FN#4 - Leviticus 19:5. לִרְצֹנְכֶם = for your acceptance. See Textual Note6 on Leviticus 1:3.

FN#5 - Leviticus 19:8. The Heb. has the plural form אֹכְלָיו, but the Sam. and other versions have the sing as in the following verb and noun.

FN#6 - Leviticus 19:10. כֶּרֶם is generally a vineyard, but also ( Judges 15:7) an olive yard. It is “a field or yard of the nobler plants and trees, cultivated in the manner of a garden or orchard,” Gesen. It is doubtless here used in its broadest sense, and the vineyard of the A. V. is therefore too restricted.

FN#7 - Leviticus 19:10. פֶרֶט = that which is scattered, and hence meaning here both the fallen fruit (Chald, Vulg, Syr.), and also the single berries of the olive and the vine not gathered with the harvest.

FN#8 - Leviticus 19:13. תַעֲשֹׁק. Leviticus 19:11 forbids sins of craft and falsehood against one’s neighbor; this, sins of violence and open oppression. The translation given is that of the A. V. in Deuteronomy 24:14.

FN#9 - Leviticus 19:13. The Heb. לֹא is without the conjunction which is supplied in40 MSS. in the Sam. and the LXX.

FN#10 - Leviticus 19:15. The conjunction ו is prefixed in7 MSS, the Sam, LXX, and Syr.

FN#11 - Leviticus 19:16. בְּעַמֶּיךָ. The Sam. and66 MSS. omit the י.

FN#12 - Leviticus 19:16. Here again the Heb. omits the conjunction which is supplied in40 MSS, and in the Syr.

FN#13 - Leviticus 19:17. וְלֹא־תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא is a clause the meaning of which has been much questioned. It seems certain, however, that נָשָׂא cannot mean suffer, (permit) as in the A. V, but must mean bear as in the margin. The marginal for him is ambiguous, and it is better therefore to use the more explicit on his account. For instances of precisely the same Sense of these words, see Leviticus 22:9; Numbers 18:32, and comp. also the very similar expression in Psalm 69:8.

FN#14 - Leviticus 19:19. 3MSS, the Sam, LXX, and Syr, prefix the conjunction.

FN#15 - Leviticus 19:19. כִּלְאַיִם (dual from כֶּלֶא = separation) occurs only in this verse (three times) and in the parallel Deuteronomy 22:9, but is frequent in the Talmud. It signifies of two kinds, heterogeneous. The translation of the A. V. at its first occurrence in the ver. diverse is good, and should by all means be retained in the other clauses, both for consistency’s sake, and for the force of the command. All the Semitic versions preserve the uniformity.

FN#16 - Leviticus 19:19. שַׁעַטְנֵז occurs only here and in Deuteronomy 22:11, where it is explained “of woolen and linen together.” Its etymology is obscure. See the Lexicons and Bochart, Hieroz. I, lib. II, c35. p545, ed. Rosen. It is probably an Egyptian word, although not yet satisfactorily explained. The Chald. retains the word, and the LXX. translates κίβδηλον = spurious, adulterated, probably by a mere conjecture. Rosenmüller quotes Forster as explaining it of a costly Egyptian dress woven in various figures of plants and animals in colors, having a symbolical idolatrous signification. See Com.

FN#17 - Leviticus 19:20. נֶחֶרֶפֶת Niph. from חָרַף = to tear off, to set apart. There seems no doubt of the correctness of the text of the A. V, and the margin is therefore unnecessary.

FN#18 - Leviticus 19:20. בִּקֹּרֶת תִהְיֶה. This word is ἅπ. λεγ., but there seems little doubt of its meaning, investigation, and then punishment. Authorities are much divided on the question whether both parties, or only the woman, was to be scourged. The LXX, Vulg, and Syr, are clear for the former, while the Sam. applies it only to the man. In the uncertainty it is better to retain the indefiniteness of the Heb. as in the marg. of the A. V. The Sam. reading is remarkable בקרת תהיה לו = he shall be punished, and then, in the sing. לא יומת = he shall not die. This gives a sense agreeing excellently with the reason assigned because she was not free, and hence the act did not legally constitute adultery which was punishable with death.

FN#19 - Leviticus 19:23. “The singular suffix in עָרְלָתוֹ” [and also in פִּרְיוֹ] “refers to בֹּל, and the verb ערל is a denom. from עָרְלָה, to make into a foreskin, to treat as uncircumcised, i.e., to throw away as unclean or uneatable.” Keil. The LXX. rendering περικαθαριεῖτε τὴν ἀκαθαρσίαν αὐτοῦ = ye shall purge away its uncleanness expresses very well the general sense.

FN#20 - Leviticus 19:24. הִלּוּלִים occurs only here and in Judges 9:27. In the latter place it seems to mean merry-making feasts to idols, and Josephus (Ant. iv8, 19) understands the law to be that the fruit of the fourth year should be carried to the place of the Sanctuary, and there used in a holy feast with friends and the poor. But the following verse seems so clearly to forbid the owner’s partaking of it before the fifth year that it would be unsafe to change the translation. The marg. of the A. V. holiness of praises to the Lord does not convey any distinct idea. The idea of Murphy a praise offering is hardly sustained by the text. The true sense is probably that incorporated into the Targ. Onk. it shall be consecrated to those offering praises before the Lord, i.e, it was to be given to the Lord through His priests, and used by them in feasts.

FN#21 - Leviticus 19:25. For לְהוֹמִיף that it may yield, the Sam, followed by the Vulg, reads לְהֹאסִיף for collecting (in storehouses) the produce.

FN#22 - Leviticus 19:26. עַל־הַדָּם. The LXX. must have read ר instead of ד to sustain the version ἐπὶ τῶν ὀρέων, and some critics would adopt this to avoid the peculiarity of the construction of עַל, considering it justified by the frequency of the practice in connection with idolatrous feasts (comp. Hosea 4:13). But a mis-reading of the LXX. is not a sufficient ground for a change of the text; for the construction of עַל see Exodus 12:8, and comp. Textual Note 4 on Leviticus 2:2.

FN#23 - Leviticus 19:26-27. In both places the Sam, one or two MSS, and the LXX, supply the conjunction.

FN#24 - Leviticus 19:27. The Sam. and most of the Ancient Versions put the verb and the pronoun in the plural in accordance with the previous clause.

FN#25 - Leviticus 19:33. The Sam. and versions have the plural.

FN#26 - Leviticus 19:33. The marg. of the A. V. expresses the sense of תוֹנוּ better than the text.

FN#27 - Leviticus 19:34. There is no occasion for the insertion of the but of the A. V.

FN#28 - Leviticus 19:36. The marg. of the A. V. stones is unnecessary, that being merely the primary sense of אֶבֶן while weight is the fully established derivative sense.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 19:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/leviticus-19.html. 1857-84.

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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