|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verses 26-28. - After a repetition of the fundamental ceremonial law against eating things which have the blood in them (the LXX. rendering, ἐπὶ τῶν ὀρέων, "upon the mountains," arises from a mistaken reading), follow prohibitions
(1) to use enchantment, literally, to whisper or mutter after holding communication with serpents (if the word nichesh be derived from nachash, a serpent);
(2) to observe times, or rather, according to a more probable etymology, exercise the evil eye;
(3) to round the corners of your heads, that is, use a sort of tonsure, as was done by some Arabian tribes (Herod., 3:3) in honour of their god Orotal, and by the Israelites as a form of mourning (Deuteronomy 14:1; Isaiah 22:12);
(4) to mar the corners of thy beard, a fashion of mourning which accompanied the tonsure of the head (see Leviticus 21:5; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:37;
(5) to make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, another form of mourning, associated with the two previously mentioned practices (see chapter Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1; Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 41:3; Jeremiah 48:37);
(6) to print any marks upon you, that is, tattoo themselves in memory of the dead. All these customs were unbecoming the dignity of God's people, and had been connected with idolatrous practices.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye shall not eat anything with the blood,.... Or upon, over, or by the blood (s), for this law seems different from that in Genesis 9:4, and from those in Leviticus 3:17; and is variously interpreted by the Jewish writers; some of not eating flesh, the blood not being rightly let out of it, as not being thoroughly cleared of it (t), and so comes under the notion of things strangled; others of not eating of sacrifices until the blood stands in the basin (u); and others of not eating any flesh whose blood is not sprinkled on the altar, if near the holy place (w): some think it refers to the custom of murderers who eat over the person slain, that the avengers of the slain may not take vengeance on them, supposing something superstitious in it, because of what follows (x); though it rather has respect to an idolatrous practice of the Zabians, as Maimonides (y) informs us, who took blood to be the food of devils, and who used to take the blood of a slain beast and put it in a vessel, or in a hole dug in the earth, and eat the flesh sitting round about the blood; fancying by this means they had communion with devils, and contracted friendship and familiarity with them, whereby they might get knowledge of future things; See Gill on Ezekiel 33:25,
neither shall ye use enchantment; soothsaying or divination by various creatures, as by the weasel, birds, or fishes, as the Talmudists (z); or rather by serpents, as the word used is thought to have the signification of; or by any odd accidents, as a man's food falling out of his mouth, or his staff out of his hand, or his son calling after him behind, or a crow cawing to him, or a hart passing by him, or a serpent on his right hand and a fox on his left, or one says, do not begin (any work) tomorrow, it is the new moon, or the going out of the sabbath (a):
nor observe times; saying, such a day is a lucky day to begin any business, or such an hour an unlucky hour to go out in, as Jarchi, taking the word to have the signification of times, days, and hours, as our version and others; but Aben Ezra derives it from a word which signifies a cloud, and it is well known, he says, that soothsayers view and consult the clouds, their likeness and motion; but some of the ancient writers, as Gersom observes, derive it from a word which signifies an eye, and suppose that such persons are intended who hold the eyes of people, cast a mist before them, or use some juggling tricks whereby they deceive their sight.
(s) "super sanguine", Montanus, Munster; "super sanguinem", Fagius. (t) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 4. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 1.((u) Targum Jon. in loc. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, ib. (w) Aben Ezra in loc. (x) Baal Hatturim in loc. (y) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 46. (z) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 66. 1. Jarchi in loc. (a) Kimchi, Sepher Shorash. rad.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. shall not eat any thing with the blood—(See on Le 17:10).
neither … use enchantment, nor observe times—The former refers to divination by serpents—one of the earliest forms of enchantment, and the other means the observation, literally, of clouds, as a study of the appearance and motion of clouds was a common way of foretelling good or bad fortune. Such absurd but deep-rooted superstitions often put a stop to the prosecution of serious and important transactions, but they were forbidden especially as implying a want of faith in the being, or of reliance on the providence of God.
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