Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, I am the LORD your God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I am the Lord your God.—The Lord is their recognised and sole sovereign, the children of Israel are therefore bound to obey His precepts, and not be led astray by the customs or statutes which prevailed among the people whose country they are to possess. Moreover, as He is holy, the Israelites, by faithfully obeying His sacred laws, will attain to that holiness which will bring them in communion with Him in whose image they were created. This phrase, which is so emphatically repeated twice more in this chapter (Leviticus 18:4; Leviticus 18:30), has only been used once before in this book. (See Leviticus 11:44.)Leviticus 18:2. Your God — Your sovereign and lawgiver. This is often repeated, because the things here forbidden were practised and allowed by the Gentiles, to whose custom he opposes divine authority and their obligation to obey his commands.
and say unto them, I am the Lord your God; with which they were to be introduced; showing the right he had to enact and enjoin such laws, since he was Jehovah, the Being of beings, and from whom they received their beings; their sovereign Lord and King, who had a right to rule over them, and command what he pleased; and also the obligation they lay under to him to regard them, and yield a cheerful obedience to them, since he was their God, not only that had made them, but had redeemed them out of Egypt; and who had made a covenant with them, and had taken special care of them, and had bestowed many wonderful favours on them; and for this purpose is this phrase often used in this chapter, and very frequently in the next. See Leviticus 18:2.Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. Purity in remoter relationships.
The first Pentad: Relationships through marriage, Leviticus 18:16-19.
The second Pentad: Purity outside of the family, Leviticus 18:20-23.
To the exhortation concluding with ‘I am the Lord your God’ (Leviticus 18:30) he would add Leviticus 19:2 b, ‘Ye shall be holy,’ etc.
The arrangement in this ch. is better than in ch. 20, and the cases dealt with are more numerous. Ch. 20 contains no parallels to Leviticus 18:7; Leviticus 18:10; Leviticus 18:17 b, Leviticus 18:18, and has therefore been taken as representing an earlier code. On the other hand ch. 20, unlike ch. 18, mentions penalties for the offences, while such indications as it affords by the juxtaposition of ‘you’ in Leviticus 20:14 b, Leviticus 20:15 b, and ‘thou’ in Leviticus 20:16; Leviticus 20:19, and the duplicate clauses in Leviticus 18:10 suggest that whatever age may be ascribed to the code in ch. 20, as compared with that which appears in ch. 18, the former has at any rate been subjected to later editing.
Leviticus 17:8, Leviticus 17:9 contain the command, that whoever offered a burnt-offering of slain-offering, and did not bring it to the tabernacle to prepare it for Jehovah there, was to be exterminated; a command which involved the prohibition of sacrifice in any other place whatever, and was given, as the further extension of this law in Deuteronomy 12 clearly proves, for the purpose of suppressing the disposition to offer sacrifice to other gods, as well as in other places. In Leviticus 17:10-14 the prohibition of the eating of blood is repeated, and ordered to be observed on pain of extermination; it is also extended to the strangers in Israel; and after a more precise explanation of the reason for the law, is supplemented by instructions for the disposal of the blood of edible game. God threatens that He will inflict the punishment Himself, because the eating of blood was a transgression of the law which might easily escape the notice of the authorities. "To set one's face against:" i.e., to judge. The reason for the command in Leviticus 17:11, "For the soul of the flesh (the soul which gives life to the flesh) is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls," is not a double one, viz., (1) because the blood contained the soul of the animal, and (2) because God had set apart the blood, as the medium of expiation for the human soul, for the altar, i.e., to be sprinkled upon the altar. The first reason simply forms the foundation for the second: God appointed the blood for the altar, as containing the soul of the animal, to be the medium of expiation for the souls of men, and therefore prohibited its being used as food. "For the blood it expiates by virtue of the soul," not "the soul" itself. בּ with כּפּר has only a local or instrumental signification (Leviticus 6:23; Leviticus 16:17, Leviticus 16:27; also Leviticus 7:7; Exodus 29:33; Numbers 5:8). Accordingly, it was not the blood as such, but the blood as the vehicle of the soul, which possessed expiatory virtue; because the animal soul was offered to God upon the altar as a substitute for the human soul. Hence every bleeding sacrifice had an expiatory force, though without being an expiatory sacrifice in the strict sense of the word.
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