Leviticus 18:24
Defile not you yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Defile not ye yourselves.—The Lawgiver who solemnly introduced these precepts by five verses of preamble at the beginning of the chapter (Leviticus 18:1-5), now concludes by an equally solemn appeal to God’s people sacredly to observe them in all their integrity, since the violation of them (Leviticus 18:6-23) has branded those nations with infamy, and brought about their national destruction, and expulsion from the very land which is now to be given to the Israelites.

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.The land designed and consecrated for His people by Yahweh Leviticus 25:23 is here impersonated, and represented as vomiting forth its present inhabitants, in consequence of their indulgence in the abominations that have been mentioned. The iniquity of the Canaanites was now full. See Genesis 15:16; compare Isaiah 24:1-6. The Israelites in this place, and throughout the chapter, are exhorted to a pure and holy life, on the ground that Yahweh, the Holy One, is their God and that they are His people. Compare Leviticus 19:2. It is upon this high sanction that they are peremptorily forbidden to defile themselves with the pollutions of the pagan. The only punishment here pronounced upon individual transgressors is, that they shall "bear their iniquity" and be "cut off from among their people." We must understand this latter phrase as expressing an "ipso facto" excommunication or outlawry, the divine Law pronouncing on the offender an immediate forfeiture of the privileges which belonged to him as one of the people in covenant with Yahweh. See Exodus 31:14 note. The course which the Law here takes seems to be first to appeal to the conscience of the individual man on the ground of his relation to Yahweh, and then Leviticus 20 to enact such penalties as the order of the state required, and as represented the collective conscience of the nation put into operation. 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.

In all these, to wit, above-mentioned sins. Whence it is apparent that the several incests here prohibited are not only against the positive and particular law given by God to the Jews, but also against the general law and light of nature. And therefore the law about these things was one of the seven precepts of Noah. And the sober heathens condemned such incestuous marriages. The Roman historians observe, that when Claudius the emperor had married his niece, (which is one of the lowest kinds of incest here mentioned,) and the senate in complaisance with him had made it lawful for any to do so, yet there was but one, and he too an obscure person, that followed his example. 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.

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24–30. See general note at the beginning of the ch. These vv. are probably expanded from earlier materials. After the warning in Leviticus 18:24 the standpoint changes, and the remainder of the passage is a reflection on the past, the verbs being really in the past tense, were defiled, was defiled, I visited, (the land) vomited.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).



Lastly, it was forbidden to take a wife to her sister (עליה upon her, as in Genesis 28:9; Genesis 31:50) in her life-time, that is to say, to marry two sisters at the same time, לצרר "to pack together, to uncover this nakedness," i.e., to pack both together into one marriage bond, and so place the sisters in carnal union through their common husband, and disturb the sisterly relation, as the marriage with two sisters that was forced upon Jacob had evidently done. No punishment is fixed for the marriage with two sisters; and, of course, after the death of the first wife a man was at liberty to marry her sister.
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