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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 26

 

 

Introduction

Leviticus 26. Final Exhortation.—The bulk of this chapter (Leviticus 26:3-45) forms a noble and impressive conclusion to the foregoing code. Few passages in the Bible reach a higher level of impassioned rhetoric. In form and position it is most naturally compared with the similar conclusion to the Deuteronomic code (Deuteronomy 28), where, as here, the blessings of obedience precede the much more detailed curses pronounced on disobedience. Dt. has no reference to repentance and restoration (Leviticus 26:40-44). In language and thought the chapter shows the influence of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:4, Jeremiah 9:25, Jeremiah 14:19, Jeremiah 15:8 f.), but still more of Ezekiel (cf. Leviticus 26:40 ff. with Ezekiel 16:60-63; Ezekiel 36:31 ff.; Baentsch has paralleled almost every verse from Ezekiel; see also Chapman, Introd. to Pent., pp. 246ff.). Certain phrases, however ("fall towards the sword," 7, and "upright," 13) do not occur in Ezekiel; the end of the chapter, impressive as it is, is only sketchy as compared with the statement of the doctrine of restoration (here only hinted at) in Ezekiel 36, while Ezekiel 39 is directly opposed to Ezekie's characteristic doctrine. On the other hand, the interpretation of the Exile and the prediction of repentance and restoration remind the reader strikingly of Ezekiel. The picture of disasters, indeed, (Leviticus 26:27-32) might have been written by any man of deep religious feeling and literary imagination in the previous century; the same might even be said, as Eerdmans urges (suggesting Hezekiah's reign), of Leviticus 26:33-38; but the conjunction of the four motives of humiliation, confession, the covenant, and the land, could not well have been written before Jeremiah or even before Ezekiel. Everything points to the work of some member or members of the company of reformers in which both Ezekiel and the authors of H were prominent, and which fused the prophetic and priestly ideals in a passion of obedience to Yahweh's revealed will. The actual period may have been the reign of Zedekiah, when Ezekiel, already in exile, was foretelling, like Jeremiah, the final downfall of Jerusalem. It may be added that this chapter, Deuteronomy 28, and the other hortatory passages in Dt. show that the Law was thought of, not simply as a body of mechanical precepts with their appropriate "sanctions," but as a moral challenge given to Israel either to accept or refuse, even though refusal, like the rejection of Christ in the NT, involves certain and terrible penalties.


Verse 1-2

Leviticus 26:1 f. Idols forbidden (cf. Leviticus 19:4, Exodus 20:4*). Images of both stone and metal are forbidden, as well as pillars (masseboth pp. 98f.).


Verses 3-13

Leviticus 26:3-13. The blessings of obedience: fertility, freedom from wild beasts, victory over enemies, and the presence of Yahweh Himself in the midst. For the first reward, cf. Amos 9:13; for the thought in general, Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Ezekiel 34:25-28; and for Leviticus 26:11 f. the expansion in Ezekiel 40-48. No distinction is made here or in many other passages between "temporal" and "spiritual" blessings; each is appropriate, and the future happiness naturally suggests to a Jew, perhaps actually in exile, the memory of the Exodus.


Verses 14-26

Leviticus 26:14-26. The punishments of disobedience: plague and defeat, to be followed, after neglect of this warning, by infertility and wild animals and, if repentance is still withheld, by the threefold penalty of sword, pestilence, and famine. Sin is to be paid for seven times over (contrast Isaiah 40:2). This is the great prophetic "commonplace" from Am. (Leviticus 4:4-13) onwards. In the famine what would have been the portion of one family has to be eked out among ten.


Verses 27-39

Leviticus 26:27-39. The results of neglect of the third warning: the extremities of famine and captivity; siege; desolation of the country, destruction of the cities, uselessness of all religious observances; dispersion of the nation; desertion of Palestine and abject misery of the survivors. Such experiences of famine and siege as are described in 2 Kings 6:25 f. would be familiar in the last years of Jerusalem, and the reference to exile (more definite than in Deuteronomy 28; cf. "to Egypt," 68) suggests the years after, and immediately before, 586 B.C. The mention of the local sanctuaries (Leviticus 26:31) shows that they cannot all have been destroyed in the reformation of 621 B.C. The reference to the Sabbaths of the land breaks the sense and appears to be an insertion.


Verses 40-45

Leviticus 26:40-45. Confession and Restoration.—The order of thought is—confession by the exiles of the sin of their own and of previous generations, Yahweh's memory of His ancient covenant, and His (implied) deliverance of His people. The order is simplified if Leviticus 26:41-43 is regarded as an insertion; "if" (Leviticus 26:41), which should be translated "or," suggests this. The double mention of the covenant (note the order of the names in Leviticus 26:42), and the reference to the respite of the land (cf. Leviticus 26:34 f.), are arresting, but not related to the rest of the section. On confession, cf. Leviticus 5:5, Leviticus 16:21. Here the confession is of the whole nation's disobedience, past and present; until this is called forth by suffering, God's wrath remains. In Ezekiel's section on restoration, confession is replaced by self-loathing (after, not before, the return; Ezekiel 36:31). Ezekiel expressly denies the motive "for their sakes," and the ancient covenant (Leviticus 26:45, contrast Ezekiel 36:22) and the influence of the past on the present, both for evil and good, is unmentioned by him.


Verse 46

Leviticus 26:46. Conclusion of the whole H code.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Leviticus 26:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/leviticus-26.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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