|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:1-30 Unlawful marriages and fleshly lusts. - Here is a law against all conformity to the corrupt usages of the heathen. Also laws against incest, against brutal lusts, and barbarous idolatries; and the enforcement of these laws from the ruin of the Canaanites. God here gives moral precepts. Close and constant adherence to God's ordinances is the most effectual preservative from gross sin. The grace of God only will secure us; that grace is to be expected only in the use of the means of grace. Nor does He ever leave any to their hearts' lusts, till they have left him and his services.
Verses 24-30. - These verses contain a warning against the sins of incest and impurity already specified. The reason why the Canaanites were east out before the Israelites was that they were defiled in all these things,... and the land was defiled by them. God visited the iniquity of these debased races, and the land itself vomited out her inhabitants on account of their abominations. The fate of the Canaanites was therefore a witness to them of what would be their fate if they did like them. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things.... Ye shall not commit any of these abominations,... that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it. Special penalties are appointed for particular sins further on. Here there are but two punishments denounced, one for individual sinners, the other national. The individual sinner is to be cut off from the nation by excommunication, For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. The nation, if it does not thus purify itself by cutting off from itself the authors of these corruptions, is to perish like the Canaanites. The words vomiteth (verse 25) and spued out (verse 28) are in that tense of the Hebrew verb which is generally called by grammarians a preterite, but this tense does not necessarily imply a past time; the time referred to depends on the context. The previous verbs, "I cast out," "I do visit," being present in sense, the two verbs, "vomiteth out (her inhabitants)," and "spued out (the nations that were before you)," are present also (see Introduction).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things,.... In incestuous copulations and marriages, in adultery, corporeal and spiritual, and bestiality:
for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you; that is, the seven nations of the land of Canaan, which God was about to eject out of their land to make room for the Israelites, and that on account of the above shocking vices which abounded among them; so that in some sense the land they dwelt upon was defiled by them, and called for vengeance on them, as even loathing its inhabitants, as afterwards suggested.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. Defile not yourselves in any of these things—In the preceding verses seventeen express cases of incest are enumerated; comprehending eleven of affinity [Le 18:7-16], and six of consanguinity [Le 18:17-20], together with some criminal enormities of an aggravated and unnatural character. In such prohibitions it was necessary for the instruction of a people low in the scale of moral perception, that the enumeration should be very specific as well as minute; and then, on completing it, the divine lawgiver announces his own views of these crimes, without any exception or modification, in the remarkable terms employed in this verse.
in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you, &c.—Ancient history gives many appalling proofs that the enormous vices described in this chapter were very prevalent, nay, were regularly practised from religious motives in the temples of Egypt and the groves of Canaan; and it was these gigantic social disorders that occasioned the expulsion, of which the Israelites were, in the hands of a righteous and retributive Providence, the appointed instruments (Ge 15:16). The strongly figurative language of "the land itself vomiting out her inhabitants" [Le 18:25], shows the hopeless depth of their moral corruption.
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