Leviticus 19:28
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
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Cuttings in your flesh for the dead - Compare the margin reference. Among the excitable races of the East this custom appears to have been very common.

Print any marks - Tattooing was probably practiced in ancient Egypt, as it is now by the lower classes of the modern Egyptians, and was connected with superstitious notions. Any voluntary disfigurement of the person was in itself an outrage upon God's workmanship, and might well form the subject of a law.

Any cuttings in your flesh for the dead - That the ancients were very violent in their grief, tearing the hair and face, beating the breast, etc., is well known. Virgil represents the sister of Dido "tearing her face with her nails, and beating her breast with her fists."

"Unguibus ora soror foedans, et pectora pugnis."

Aen., l. iv., ver. 672.

Nor print any marks upon you - It was a very ancient and a very general custom to carry marks on the body in honor of the object of their worship. All the castes of the Hindoos bear on their foreheads or elsewhere what are called the sectarian marks, which distinguish them, not only in a civil but also in a religious point of view, from each other. Most of the barbarous nations lately discovered have their faces, arms, breasts, etc., curiously carved or tattooed, probably for superstitious purposes. Ancient writers abound with accounts of marks made on the face, arms, etc., in honor of different idols; and to this the inspired penman alludes, Revelation 13:16, Revelation 13:17; Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4, where false worshippers are represented as receiving in their hands and in their forehead the marks of the beast. These were called στιγματα stigmata among the Greeks, and to these St. Paul refers when he says, I bear about in my body the Marks (stigmata) of the Lord Jesus; Galatians 6:17. I have seen several cases where persons have got the figure of the cross, the Virgin Mary, etc., made on their arms, breasts, etc., the skin being first punctured, and then a blue colouring matter rubbed in, which is never afterward effaced. All these were done for superstitious purposes, and to such things probably the prohibition in this verse refers. Calmet, on this verse, gives several examples. See also Mariner's Tonga Islands, vol. i. p. 311-313.

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead,.... Either with their nails, tearing their cheeks and other parts, or with any instrument, knife, razor, &c. Jarchi says, it was the custom of the Amorites, when anyone died, to cut their flesh, as it was of the Scythians, as Herodotus (d) relates, even those of the royal family; for a king they cut off a part of the ear, shaved the hair round about, cut the arms about, wounded the forehead and nose, and transfixed the left hand with arrows; and so the Carthaginians, who might receive it from the Phoenicians, being a colony of theirs, used to tear their hair and mouths in mourning, and beat their breasts (e); and with the Romans the women used to tear their cheeks in such a manner that it was forbid by the law of the twelve tables, which some have thought was taken from hence: and all this was done to appease the infernal deities, and to give them satisfaction for the deceased, and to make them propitious to them, as Varro (f) affirms; and here it is said to be made "for the soul", for the soul of the departed, to the honour of it, and for its good, though the word is often used for a dead body: now, according to the Jewish canons (g), whosoever made but one cutting for a dead person was guilty, and to be scourged; and he that made one for five dead men, or five cuttings for one dead man, was obliged to scourging for everyone of them:

nor print any marks upon you; Aben Ezra observes, there are some that say this is in connection with the preceding clause, for there were who marked their bodies with a known figure, by burning, for the dead; and he adds, and there are to this day such, who are marked in their youth in their faces, that they may be known; these prints or marks were made with ink or black lead, or, however, the incisions in the flesh were filled up therewith; but this was usually done as an idolatrous practice; so says Ben Gersom, this was the custom of the Gentiles in ancient times, to imprint upon themselves the mark of an idol, to show that they were his servants; and the law cautions from doing this, as he adds, to the exalted name (the name of God): in the Misnah it is said (h), a man is not guilty unless he writes the name, as it is said, Leviticus 19:28; which the Talmudists (i) and the commentators (k) interpret of the name of an idol, and not of God:

I am the Lord; who only is to be acknowledged as such, obeyed and served, and not any strange god, whose mark should be imprinted on them.

(d) Melpomene, sive, l. 4. c. 71. (e) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 7. (f) Apud Servium in Virgil. Aeneid. 3.((g) Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 5. (h) Ibid. sect. 6. (i) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 21. 1.((k) Jarchi, Maimon. Bartenora, & Ez Chayim in Misn. ut supra. (g))

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any {l} marks upon you: I am the LORD.

(l) By whipping your bodies or burning marks in them.

28. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead—The practice of making deep gashes on the face and arms and legs, in time of bereavement, was universal among the heathen, and it was deemed a becoming mark of respect for the dead, as well as a sort of propitiatory offering to the deities who presided over death and the grave. The Jews learned this custom in Egypt, and though weaned from it, relapsed in a later and degenerate age into this old superstition (Isa 15:2; Jer 16:6; 41:5).

nor print any marks upon you—by tattooing, imprinting figures of flowers, leaves, stars, and other fanciful devices on various parts of their person. The impression was made sometimes by means of a hot iron, sometimes by ink or paint, as is done by the Arab females of the present day and the different castes of the Hindus. It is probable that a strong propensity to adopt such marks in honor of some idol gave occasion to the prohibition in this verse; and they were wisely forbidden, for they were signs of apostasy; and, when once made, they were insuperable obstacles to a return. (See allusions to the practice, Isa 44:5; Re 13:17; 14:1).

Even the personal rights of slaves were to be upheld; and a maid, though a slave, was not to be degraded to the condition of personal property. If any one lay with a woman who was a slave and betrothed to a man, but neither redeemed nor emancipated, the punishment of death was not to be inflicted, as in the case of adultery (Leviticus 20:10), or the seduction of a free virgin who was betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23.), because she was not set free; but scourging was to be inflicted, and the guilty person was also to bring a trespass-offering for the expiation of his sin against God (see at Leviticus 5:15.). נחרפת, from חרף carpere, lit., plucked, i.e., set apart, betrothed to a man, not abandoned or despised. הפדּה redeemed, חפשׁה emancipation without purchase, - the two ways in which a slave could obtain her freedom. בּקּרת, ἁπ. λεγ., from בּקּר to examine (Leviticus 13:36), lit., investigation, then punishment, chastisement. This referred to both parties, as is evident from the expression, "they shall not be put to death;" though it is not more precisely defined. According to the Mishnah, Kerith. ii. 4, the punishment of the woman consisted of forty stripes.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.

Cuttings

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1 Kings 18:28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with …

Jeremiah 16:6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not …

Jeremiah 48:37 For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: on all the …

Mark 5:5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, …

print

Revelation 13:16,17 And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and …

Revelation 14:9,11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any …

Revelation 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that …

Revelation 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial on the earth…

Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked …

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them…

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