Leviticus 18:12
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's sister: she is your father's near kinswoman.
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(12) Thy father’s sister.—According to the law which obtained in the time of Christ this prohibition not only extended to the father’s half-sisters, but even when they were begotten by the grandfather illegitimately. It is remarkable that Moses himself was the offspring of such an alliance, since his father Amram married his own aunt Jochebed, who was the sister of his father. (See Exodus 6:20.)

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.Thy father's sister - The instance of Amram and Jochebed Exodus 6:20 seems to show that marriage with an aunt was not considered wrong by the Israelites when they were in Egypt. 6. None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him—Very great laxity prevailed amongst the Egyptians in their sentiments and practice about the conjugal relation, as they not only openly sanctioned marriages between brothers and sisters, but even between parents and children. Such incestuous alliances Moses wisely prohibited, and his laws form the basis upon which the marriage regulations of this and other Christian nations are chiefly founded. This verse contains a general summary of all the particular prohibitions; and the forbidden intercourse is pointed out by the phrase, "to approach to." In the specified prohibitions that follow, all of which are included in this general summary, the prohibited familiarity is indicated by the phrases, to "uncover the nakedness" [Le 18:12-17], to "take" [Le 18:17, 18], and to "lie with" [Le 18:22, 23]. The phrase in this sixth verse, therefore, has the same identical meaning with each of the other three, and the marriages in reference to which it is used are those of consanguinity or too close affinity, amounting to incestuous connections. Thy aunt by the father’s side, as the next verse speaks of the aunt by the mother’s side. If Amram’s example be alleged to the contrary, See Poole "Exodus 6:20".

Thy father’s near kinswoman, Heb. thy father’s flesh, a member and product of the same flesh from which thy father came. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister,.... His aunt by his father's side, an instance of which we have in Amram, Exodus 6:20; and Maimonides says (i), an aunt was forbidden whether she was a father's sister in lawful wedlock or in fornication:

she is thy father's near kinswoman; or, the rest of thy father (k); the residue of his flesh, one of the same flesh and blood with him; wherefore, as he could not marry her himself, so his son likewise was too near akin to enter into such a relation with her.

(i) Hilchot Issure Biah, c. 2. sect. 5. (k) "reliquiarum patris tui", Tigurine version.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.
Verses 12-15. - Fifthly, incest with a paternal or maternal aunt is forbidden; sixthly, with an aunt by marriage; seventhly, with a daughter-in-law. The last of these finds its place in Ezekiel's catalogue of abominations (Ezekiel 22:11; cf. Genesis 28:18, 26). The laws against incest are introduced in Leviticus 18:6 with the general prohibition, descriptive of the nature of this sin, "None of you shall approach בּשׂרו אל־כּל־שׁאר to any flesh of his flesh, to uncover nakedness." The difference between שׁאר flesh, and בּשׂר flesh, is involved in obscurity, as both words are used in connection with edible flesh (see the Lexicons). "Flesh of his flesh" is a flesh that is of his own flesh, belongs to the same flesh as himself (Genesis 2:24), and is applied to a blood-relation, blood-relationship being called שׁארה (or flesh-kindred) in Hebrew (Leviticus 18:17). Sexual intercourse is called uncovering the nakedness of another (Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 23:18). The prohibition relates to both married and unmarried intercourse, though the reference is chiefly to the former (see Leviticus 18:18; Leviticus 20:14, Leviticus 20:17, Leviticus 20:21). Intercourse is forbidden (1) with a mother, (2) with a step-mother, (3) with a sister or half-sister, (4) with a granddaughter, the daughter of either son or daughter, (5) with the daughter of a step-mother, (6) with an aunt, the sister of either father or mother, (7) with the wife of an uncle on the father's side, (8) with a daughter-in-law, (9) with a sister-in-law, or brother's wife, (10) with a woman and her daughter, or a woman and her granddaughter, and (11) with two sisters at the same time. No special reference is made to sexual intercourse with (a) a daughter, (b) a full sister, (c) a mother-in-law; the last, however, which is mentioned in Deuteronomy 27:23 as an accursed crime, is included here in No. 10, and the second in No. 3, whilst the first, like parricide in Exodus 21:15, is not expressly noticed, simply because the crime was regarded as one that never could occur. Those mentioned under Nos. 1, 2, 3, 8, and 10 were to be followed by the death or extermination of the criminals (Leviticus 20:11-12, Leviticus 20:14, Leviticus 20:17), on account of their being accursed crimes (Deuteronomy 23:1; Deuteronomy 27:20, Deuteronomy 27:22-23). On the other hand, the only threat held out in the case of the connection mentioned under Nos. 6, 7, and 9, was that those who committed such crimes should bear their iniquity, or die childless (Leviticus 20:19-21). The cases noticed under Nos. 4 and 5 are passed over in ch. 20, though they no doubt belonged to the crimes which were to be punished with death, and No. 11, for which no punishment was fixed, because the wrong had been already pointed out in Leviticus 18:18.

(Note: The marriage laws and customs were much more lax among the Gentiles. With the Egyptians it was lawful to marry sisters and half-sisters (Diod. Sic. i. 27), and the licentiousness of the women was very great among them (see at Genesis 39:6.). With the Persians marriage was allowed with mother, daughter, and sister (Clem. Al. strom. iii. p. 431; Eusebii praep. ev. vi. 10); and this is also said to have been the case with the Medians, Indians, and Ethiopians, as well as with the Assyrians (Jerome adv. Jovin. ii. 7; Lucian, Sacriff. 5); whereas the Greeks and Romans abhorred such marriages, and the Athenians and Spartans only permitted marriages with half-sisters (cf. Selden de jure nat. et gent. v. 11, pp. 619ff.). The ancient Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, were very strict in this respect, and would not allow of marriage with a mother, daughter, or aunt on either the father's or mother's side, or with two sisters at the same time. The only cases on record of marriage between brothers and sisters are among the Arabs of Marbat (Seetzen, Zach's Mon. Corresp. Oct. 1809). This custom Mohammed raised into a law, and extended it to nieces, nurses, foster-sisters, etc. (Koran, Sure iv. 20ff.).)

Elaborate commentaries upon this chapter are to be found in Michaelis Abhandl. ber die Ehegesetze Mosis, and his Mos. Recht; also in Saalschtz Mos. Recth. See also my Archologie ii. p. 108. For the rabbinical laws and those of the Talmud, see Selden oxur ebr. lib. 1, c. 1ff., and Saalschtz ut sup.

The enumeration of the different cases commences in Leviticus 18:7 very appropriately with the prohibition of incest with a mother. Sexual connection with a mother is called "uncovering the nakedness of father and mother." As husband and wife are one flesh (Genesis 2:24), the nakedness of the husband is uncovered in that of his wife, or, as it is described in Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20, the wing, i.e., the edge, of the bedclothes of the father's bed, as the husband spreads his bedclothes over his wife as well as himself (Ruth 3:9). For, strictly speaking, ערוה גּלּה is only used with reference to the wife; but in the dishonouring of his wife the honour of the husband is violated also, and his bed defiled, Genesis 49:4. It is wrong, therefore, to interpret the verse, as Jonathan and Clericus do, as relating to carnal intercourse between a daughter and father. Not only is this at variance with the circumstance that all these laws are intended for the man alone, and addressed expressly to him, but also with Leviticus 18:8, where the nakedness of the father's wife is distinctly called the father's shame.

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