And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
The land designed and consecrated for His people by Yahweh Leviticus 25:23
is here impersonated, and represented as vomiting forth its present inhabitants, in consequence of their indulgence in the abominations that have been mentioned. The iniquity of the Canaanites was now full. See Genesis 15:16
; compare Isaiah 24:1-6
. The Israelites in this place, and throughout the chapter, are exhorted to a pure and holy life, on the ground that Yahweh, the Holy One, is their God and that they are His people. Compare Leviticus 19:2
. It is upon this high sanction that they are peremptorily forbidden to defile themselves with the pollutions of the pagan. The only punishment here pronounced upon individual transgressors is, that they shall "bear their iniquity" and be "cut off from among their people." We must understand this latter phrase as expressing an "ipso facto" excommunication or outlawry, the divine Law pronouncing on the offender an immediate forfeiture of the privileges which belonged to him as one of the people in covenant with Yahweh. See Exodus 31:14
note. The course which the Law here takes seems to be first to appeal to the conscience of the individual man on the ground of his relation to Yahweh, and then Leviticus 20
to enact such penalties as the order of the state required, and as represented the collective conscience of the nation put into operation.
Shall ye keep mine ordinance - The only way to be preserved from all false worship is seriously to consider and devoutly to observe the ordinances of the true religion. He who in the things of God goes no farther than he can say, Thus it is written, and thus it behoves me to do, is never likely to receive a false creed, nor perform a superstitious act of worship.
1. How true is that word, The law of the Lord is Perfect! In a small compass, and in a most minute detail, it comprises every thing that is calculated to instruct, direct, convince, correct, and fortify the mind of man. Whatever has a tendency to corrupt or injure man, that it forbids; whatever is calculated to comfort him, promote and secure his best interests, that it commands. It takes him in all possible states, views him in all connections, and provides for his present and eternal happiness.
2. As the human soul is polluted and tends to pollution, the great doctrine of the law is holiness to the Lord: this it keeps invariably in view in all its commands, precepts, ordinances, rites, and ceremonies. And how forcibly in all these does it say, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself! This is the prominent doctrine of the preceding chapter; and this shall be fulfilled in all them who believe, for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to them that believe.
Reader, magnify God for his law, for by it is the knowledge of sin; and magnify him for his Gospel, for by this is the cure of sin. Let the law be thy schoolmaster to bring thee to Christ, that thou mayest be justified by faith; and that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in thee, and that thou mayest walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... About the same, or quickly after he had delivered the above laws to him; and there are many in this chapter, which were before given, and here repeated:
saying; as follows. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Le 19:1-37. A Repetition of Sundry Laws.
In the concluding exhortation God pointed expressly to the fact, that the nations which He was driving out before the Israelites (the participle משׁלּח is used of that which is certainly and speedily coming to pass) had defiled the land by such abominations as those, that He had visited their iniquity and the land had spat out its inhabitants, and warned the Israelites to beware of these abominations, that the land might not spit them out as it had the Canaanites before them. The pret. ותּקא (Leviticus 18:25
) and קאה (Leviticus 18:28
) are prophetic (cf. Leviticus 20:22-23
), and the expression is poetical. The land is personified as a living creature, which violently rejects food that it dislikes. "Hoc enim tropo vult significare Scriptura enormitatem criminum, quod scilicet ipsae creaturae irrationales suo creatori semper obedientes et pro illo pugnantes detestentur peccatores tales eosque terra quasi evomat, cum illi expelluntur ab ea" (C. a Lap.).
19:1-37 laws. - There are some ceremonial precepts in this chapter, but most of these precepts are binding on us, for they are explanations of the ten commandments. It is required that Israel be a holy people, because the God of Israel is a holy God, ver. 2. To teach real separation from the world and the flesh, and entire devotedness to God. This is now the law of Christ; may the Lord bring every thought within us into obedience to it! Children are to be obedient to their parents, ver. 3. The fear here required includes inward reverence and esteem, outward respect and obedience, care to please them and to make them easy. God only is to be worshipped, ver. 4. Turn not from the true God to false ones, from the God who will make you holy and happy, to those that will deceive you, and make you for ever miserable. Turn not your eyes to them, much less your heart. They should leave the gleanings of their harvest and vintage for the poor, ver. 9. Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things. We are to be honest and true in all our dealings, ver. 11. Whatever we have in the world, we must see that we get it honestly, for we cannot be truly rich, or long rich, with that which is not so. Reverence to the sacred name of God must be shown, ver. 12. We must not detain what belongs to another, particularly the wages of the hireling, ver. 13. We must be tender of the credit and safety of those that cannot help themselves, ver. 14. Do no hurt to any, because they are unwilling or unable to avenge themselves. We ought to take heed of doing any thing which may occasion our weak brother to fall. The fear of God should keep us from doing wrong things, though they will not expose us to men's anger. Judges, and all in authority, are commanded to give judgment without partiality, ver. 15. To be a tale-bearer, and to sow discord among neighbours, is as bad an office as a man can put himself into. We are to rebuke our neighbour in love, ver. 17. Rather rebuke him than hate him, for an injury done to thyself. We incur guilt by not reproving; it is hating our brother. We should say, I will do him the kindness to tell him of his faults. We are to put off all malice, and to put on brotherly love, ver. 18. We often wrong ourselves, but we soon forgive ourselves those wrongs, and they do not at all lessen our love to ourselves; in like manner we should love our neighbour. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour. Ver. 31: For Christians to have their fortunes told, to use spells and charms, or the like, is a sad affront to God. They must be grossly ignorant who ask, What harm is there in these things? Here is a charge to young people to show respect to the aged, ver. 32. Religion teaches good manners, and obliges us to honour those to whom honour is due. A charge was given to the Israelites to be very tender of strangers, ver. 33. Strangers, and the widows and fatherless, are God's particular care. It is at our peril, if we do them any wrong. Strangers shall be welcome to God's grace; we should do what we can to recommend religion to them. Justice in weights and measures is commanded, ver. 35. We must make conscience of obeying God's precepts. We are not to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God. And the nearer our lives and tempers are to the precepts of God's law, the happier shall we be, and the happier shall we make all around us, and the better shall we adorn the gospel.From the prohibition of moral uncleanness exhibiting itself in the form of incest and licentiousness, the legislator proceeds to a series of laws and commandments against other kinds of immorality, inculcating piety, righteousness, and kindness. Chapter 19 may be regarded as an extension of the previous chapter in this direction, after which the subject of chapter 18, is again taken up in chapter 20. The precepts now given are not arranged systematically, though, as Keil has remarked, "while grouped together rather according to a loose association of ideas than according to any logical arrangement, they are all linked together by the common purpose expressed in the words, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.' "
They begin by inculcating (in verses 3, 4) duties which fall under the heads of
the fifth commandment of the Decalogue,
These four laws are, in their positive aspects,
the religious law of social order, on which a commonwealth rests;
the law of positive obedience to God's command because it is his command;
the law of piety towards the invisible Lord;
the law of faith, which trusts him without requiring risible emblems or pictures of him. In verses 11, 14, 16, 35, 36, obedience is inculcated to the eighth and the ninth commandments, which are the laws of honesty and of truthfulness; in verse 12 to the third commandment, which is the law of reverence; in verses 17, 18, 33, 34, to the sixth commandment, which is the law of love; in verses 20, 29, to the seventh commandment, which is the law of purity; in verses 9, 10, 13, the spirit of covetousness is prohibited, as forbidden in the tenth commandment, which is the law of charity. Thus this chapter may in a way be regarded as the Old Testament counterpart of the Sermon on the Mount, inasmuch as it lays down the laws of conduct, as the latter lays down the principles of action, in as comprehensive though not in so systematic a manner as the ten commandments.
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