Leviticus 19:16
Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.
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(16) Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer.—Better, Thou shalt not go about slandering, as the Authorised Version has it in Jeremiah 6:28; Jeremiah 9:4; Ezekiel 22:9, Margin. Whilst giving just evidence in a court of justice is demanded by the law, it prohibits the circulation of slanderous reports about our neighbours. This dangerous habit, which has ruined the character and destroyed the life of many an innocent person (1Samuel 22:9; 1Samuel 22:18; Ezekiel 22:9, &c.), was denounced by the spiritual authorities in the time of Christ as the greatest sin. Three things they declared remove a man from this world, and deprive him of happiness in the world to come—idolatry, incest, and murder, but slander surpasses them all. It kills three persons with one act, the person who slanders, the person who is slandered, and the person who listens to the slander. Hence the ancient Chaldee Version of Jonathan translates this clause: “Thou shalt not follow the thrice accursed tongue, for it is more fatal than the double-edged devouring sword.” (Comp. also Ecclesiasticus 28:14)

Neither shalt thou stand against the blood.—This part of the verse is evidently designed to express another line of conduct whereby our neighbour’s life might be endangered. In the former clause, “the going about” with slanderous reports imperilled the life of the slandered person, here “the standing still” is prohibited when it involves fatal consequences. The administrators of the law during the second Temple translating this clause literally, thou shalt not stand still by the blood, &c, interpreted it to mean that if we see any one in danger of his life, i.e., drowning, attacked by robbers or wild beasts, &c., we are not to stand still by it whilst his blood is being shed, but are to render him assistance at the peril of our own life. Or if we know that a man has shed the blood of his fellow creature, we are not to stand silently by whilst the cause is before the tribunal. Hence the Chaldee Version of Jonathan renders it, “Thou shalt not keep silent the blood of thy neighbour when thou knowest the truth in judgment.” Others, however, take it to denote to come forward, and try to obtain a false sentence of blood against our neighbours, so that this phrase is similar in import to Exodus 23:1; Exodus 23:7.

Leviticus 19:16. Stand against the blood — In judgment, as a false accuser, or false witness, for accusers and witnesses use to stand, while the judges sit, in courts of judicature.

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.Stand against the blood of thy neighbor - Either, to put his life in danger by standing up as his accuser (compare Matthew 26:60); or, to stand by idly when thy neighbor's life is in danger. Whichever interpretation we adopt, the clause prohibits that which might interfere with the course of justice. 11-16. Ye shall not steal—A variety of social duties are inculcated in this passage, chiefly in reference to common and little-thought-of vices to which mankind are exceedingly prone; such as committing petty frauds, or not scrupling to violate truth in transactions of business, ridiculing bodily infirmities, or circulating stories to the prejudice of others. In opposition to these bad habits, a spirit of humanity and brotherly kindness is strongly enforced. As a tale-bearer, who makes it his business to go up and down from one to another, and divulge evil and false reports concerning others, which, though many times it proceeds only from levity and talkativeness, yet apparently tends to the great injury of our neighbour. See Proverbs 11:13 Jeremiah 6:28 9:4. Neither shalt thou stand, to wit, in judgment, as a false accuser or false witness; for accusers and witnesses use to stand, whilst the judges sat, in courts of judicature.

Thou shall not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people,.... The word used signifies a merchant, and particularly one that deals in drugs and spices, and especially a peddler in those things, that goes about from place to place to sell them; and such having an opportunity and making use of it to carry stories of others, and report them to their disadvantage, hence it came to be used for one that carries tales from house to house, in order to curry favour for himself, and to the injury of others; and such a man is a detestable person, and ought not to be encouraged, see 1 Timothy 5:13,

neither shall thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; either by bearing a false testimony, whereby his blood is in danger of being shed when innocent; or by being silent, and not hearing a testimony for him, whereby the shedding of his innocent blood might have been prevented; either way may be interpreted standing against it: the Jewish writers think, that a man by this law, is bound to do all he can to preserve the life of his neighbour, when it is by any means in danger, by drowning, or by thieves and wild beasts, so Jarchi:

I am the Lord; the just and righteous One, who will resent and punish for all unjust proceedings in courts of judicature, secret tale bearing, doing any injury to another, or not preventing it when in the power of his hands.

Thou shalt not {e} go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou {f} stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

(e) As a slanderer, backbiter, or quarrel picker.

(f) By consenting to his death, or conspiring with the wicked.

16. a talebearer] Cp. Proverbs 11:13; Proverbs 20:19. Jewish teachers frequently insist on the heinousness of slander. See Otho, Lex. Rabb. s.v. Calumnia, and note the rendering of Targ. Jon., ‘Thou shalt not go after the slanderous (lit. triple) tongue.’ The epithet ‘triple’ implies that slander affects three persons: the slanderer, the slandered one, and anyone who repeats the slander. See Tal. Bab. ‘Arachin fol. 15a, and cp. Sir 28:14 ff. (C.B.) with notes.

stand against the blood of thy neighbour] This expression has been differently interpreted: taken in connexion with the preceding warning against being a talebearer, it seems to forbid endangering the life of an innocent man by bearing false witness. Cp. Ezekiel 22:9, part of a passage which describes with verbal similarity many of the evil doings which are forbidden in this ch. and the preceding one. Witnessing truly against a murderer is not forbidden, and Targ. Ps-Jon. explains this clause so as to enforce that duty; ‘be not silent about thy neighbour’s blood, when thou knowest the truth.’ Another interpretation is, ‘thou shalt not stand (without rendering help) by the blood of thy neighbour,’ i.e. when he is in peril of his life.

Verse 16. - Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. For the evil done by mere idle talebearing, see Bishop Butler's sermon, 'Upon the Government of the Tongue,' and four sermons by Bishop Jeremy Taylor, on 'The Good and Evil Tongue; Slander and Flattery; the Duties of the Tongue.' Neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; that is, thou shalt not endanger his life, which is the result of the worst kind of talebearing, namely, bearing false witness against him. Thus the effect of the false witness of the two men of Belial against Naboth was that "they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died" (1 Kings 21:13; cf. Matthew 26:60; Matthew 27:4). Leviticus 19:16They were not to go about as calumniators among their countrymen, to bring their neighbour to destruction (Ezekiel 22:9); nor to set themselves against the blood of a neighbour, i.e., to seek his life. רכיל does not mean calumny, but, according to its formation, a calumniator (Ewald, 149e).
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