Leviticus 24:11
And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)
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(11) Blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed.—Better, cursed the Name and reviled. In accordance with the above interpretation, this happened after sentence was given against him, and when they had left the court. Being vexed with the Divine enactments which excluded him from encamping in the tribe of his mother, he both cursed God who gave such law, and reviled the judges who pronounced judgment against him. The expression, “the Name,” which in after times was commonly used instead of the Ineffable Jehovah, has been substituted here for the Tetragrammaton by a transcriber who out of reverence would not combine cursing with it. The same shyness on the part of copyists has been the cause of inserting the word Lord (Adonaī) and God (Elohīm) for Jehovah in sundry passages of the Old Testament. During the second Temple, however, this passage was rendered, “he pronounced the Name and cursed.” Hence it was enacted that the simple pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was criminal. In accordance with the ancient interpretation, the Chaldee version translates this part of the verse, “And when they came out of the house of judgment, having been condemned, the son of the Israelitish woman pronounced and reviled the great and glorious name of manifestation which had been heard on Sinai, and he was defiant and annoying.”

And they brought him unto Moses.—The contention about his right to pitch his tent among the tribe to which his mother belonged being a minor point, came within the jurisdiction of the rulers, according to the advice of Jethro (Exodus 18:22); whilst blaspheming God was considered too serious an offence, and hence the criminal was brought to Moses.

And his mother’s name was Shelomith.—Whether we accept the traditional explanation, that Shelomith was no consenting party to her union with the Egyptian, or whether we regard her as having voluntarily married him, the fact that both her personal and tribal names are here so distinctly specified, indicates that the record of this incident is designed to point out the ungodly issue of so unholy an alliance, and to guard the Hebrew women against intermarriage with heathen.

Leviticus 24:11. The name of the Lord — The words of the Lord, or of Jehovah, are supplied out of Leviticus 24:16, where they are expressed; here they are omitted, perhaps for the aggravation of his crime. He blasphemed the name — So called by way of eminence; that name which is above every name; that name which a man should in some sort tremble to mention; which is not to be named without cause, or without reverence. And cursed — Not the Israelite only, but his God also, as appears from Leviticus 24:15-16. And they brought him — Either the people who heard him, or the inferior magistrate, to whom he was first brought.

24:10-23 This offender was the son of an Egyptian father, and an Israelitish mother. The notice of his parents shows the common ill effect of mixed marriages. A standing law for the stoning of blasphemers was made upon this occasion. Great stress is laid upon this law. It extends to the strangers among them, as well as to those born in the land. Strangers, as well as native Israelites, should be entitled to the benefit of the law, so as not to suffer wrong; and should be liable to the penalty of this law, in case they did wrong. If those who profane the name of God escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgments. What enmity against God must be in the heart of man, when blasphemies against God proceed out of his mouth. If he that despised Moses' law, died without mercy, of what punishment will they be worthy, who despise and abuse the gospel of the Son of God! Let us watch against anger, do no evil, avoid all connexions with wicked people, and reverence that holy name which sinners blaspheme.See Leviticus 2:3 note. It could have been only by a stretch of the law that Ahimelech gave a portion of the showbread to David and his men, on the ground that they were free from ceremonial defilement. 1 Samuel 21:4-6; Matthew 12:4.

The showbread was a true meat-offering (see Exodus 25:29). The special form in which it was offered, especially in its being brought into the tabernacle and in its consisting of twelve loaves, distinguish it as an offering made on behalf of the nation.

11. And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord—A youth of this half-blood, having quarrelled with an Israelite [Le 24:10], vented his rage in some horrid form of impiety. It was a common practice among the Egyptians to curse their idols when disappointed in obtaining the object of their petitions. The Egyptian mind of this youth thought the greatest insult to his opponent was to blaspheme the object of his religious reverence. He spoke disrespectfully of One who sustained the double character of the King as well as the God of the Hebrew people; as the offense was a new one, he was put in ward till the mind of the Lord was ascertained as to his disposal. The name of the Lord: the words of the Lord, or of Jehovah, are here conveniently supplied out of Leviticus 24:16, where they are expressed, but here they are omitted for the aggravation of his crime. He

blasphemed the name, so called by way of eminency; that name which is above every name; that name which a man should in some sort tremble to mention; which is not to be named without cause and without reverence. For which reason the godly Jews did many times rather understand than express the name of God, as Mark 14:62, the right hand of power, for of the power of God, as it is Luke 22:69; and the Blessed for the blessed God, Matthew 26:63 Mark 14:61. And cursed, not the Israelite only, but his God also, as appears from Leviticus 24:15,16.

They brought him; either the people who heard him, or the inferior magistrate, to whom he was first brought.

Unto Moses, according to the order settled by Jethro’s advice, Exodus 18:26.

And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed,.... As they were striving together, or when the trial was over, he being cast, fell into outrageous blasphemies against God, who made such laws for the civil polity of Israel, and cursed the judges that had given sentence against him; so the Targum of Jonathan; and so the Jews generally understand by the "name" blasphemed, the name Jehovah, which he spake out plainly, and which, they say, is ineffable, and ought not to be pronounced but by the high priest in the sanctuary; but this man expressed it in its proper sound, and made use of it to curse the man that strove with him, or the judge that judged him; so it is said in the Misnah (d),"a blasphemer is not guilty until he expresses the name;''but it undoubtedly means blaspheming God himself, by whatsoever name:

and they brought him unto Moses; having heard his blasphemy, to charge him with it before him, or in order to have due punishment inflicted on him: as to the matter of contest between him and the Israelite, that had been decided in a lesser court of judicature, such an one as had been set up by the advice of Jethro; but though there was full proof of his blasphemy and cursing, which, perhaps, were expressed in open court; they might not know what punishment to inflict upon him for so horrid a crime, of which, perhaps, they had never had an instance before, and therefore sent him to Moses, to whom the hearing and decision of weighty matters belonged; see Exodus 18:22,

and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan; which is observed, as it should seem, to show in what tribe this affair happened, and what the quarrel was first about, even a place and rank in this tribe.

(d) Sanhedrin, c. 7. sect. 5.

And the Israelitish woman's son {f} blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)

(f) By swearing or despising God.

11. blasphemed the Name] The Heb. verb denotes ‘to indicate by name’ either honourably or with reproach. In the latter sense it is used in Numbers 23:8; Proverbs 11:26, etc., and obviously must be so interpreted here. But the Jews, taking the word in its more general sense, understood the passage as forbidding the mention of the Sacred Name, and wherever it occurs in the Scriptures they either pronounced it Adônai instead (rendered in English by ‘the Lord’), or, where the word Adônai was itself in immediate juxtaposition with the Sacred Name, they substituted for the latter Elôhîm.

Verse 11. - In the course of the straggle the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. The word nakav is here rightly translated blasphemeth (cf. verses 14, 16, 23), but the words of the Lord should be omitted, as they are not found in the original, and are not required. The LXX. have rendered nakav by a word meaning pronounced, and on this misunderstanding, adopted by the Jews, has been founded the Jewish precept forbidding the utterance of the Divine Name. Owing to that prohibition, the true pronunciation of the word written and called "Jehovah" has been lost. Wherever the Name occurred in Scripture, that of Adoring, meaning Lord, was substituted for it in public reading, the consonants only of the original name, Y H V H, being preserved in the written text, and the vowels of Adonai, namely a o a, being written underneath them in lieu of the original vowels. From the consonants Y H Y H and the vowels a o a would be formed Yahovah or Jahovah, but the laws of the Hebrew language required the first a to be changed into e, and hence the name Jehovah. It is almost certain that the original vowels were a and e, which would form the name Yahveh, the Samaritans having always so pronounced it, according to the testimony of Theodoret. It is said that the high priest continued to utter the very name Yahveh on the Day of Atonement long after it had ceased to be used in the reading of the Scriptures, and that when he did so, those who heard it prostrated themselves, saying, "Blessed be the Name!" After a time, however, he ceased to pronounce it aloud on that day also, lest it should be learnt and used for magical purposes. In consequence, perhaps, of the substitution of Adonai for Yahveh, the Septuagint version always reads for Yahveh, Κύριος: and the English version the LORD. In French and other versions the name is represented by the Eternal, and it has been proposed to substitute the latter rendering for the Loud in our own version. But it is more than doubtful whether we should then come nearer to the true sense of the original Yahveh, although at first sight it appears that this would be the case. For the word Yahveh is part of the causative form of the verb havah, or hayah, to be; but this verb is not used to express unchangeable or absolute existence, but rather an occurrence: its causative form, therefore, would signify that which brings about events; and the substantive derived from that causative form would signify, not one that eternally exists, but one that providentially governs. For an induction of instances for the further proof of the above meaning of the word Yahveh, we refer the reader to Sir William Martin's essay 'On the Divine Name' ('Semitic Languages,' part 2), from which we transcribe the concluding paragraph. "This view of the Divine Name, to which we are led by the evidence of the Hebrew language itself, is in full conformity with the general religious teaching of the Old Testament, which is practical and moral; setting forth in form readily intelligible, the character of God in his relations to man. It does not concern itself with those problems which philosophy has ever been seeking to solve. It addresses itself to human needs and human duties, and not to abstract inquiries. Not that the highest abstract truths were unknown or untaught. Lawgiver and prophet and psalmist set before the people the greatness and the eternity of God in language most clear and impressive. Yet the Name whereby he was put before them as the object of their daily worship, was not one which would exalt him to the utmost above the frail and changeful and transitory lives of his worshippers, and thereby remove him far away from them into the height of a Being beyond man's search or comprehension; but rather a Name which should bring him nigh to them, as One ever mindful of them, ever carrying forward his great purpose for their good, working for their deliverance in every time of need; as One 'whose providence ordereth all things in heaven and on earth.' If this Name did convey to the mind of a Hebrew hearer the thought above expressed, it follows that the old rendering Adonai, Κύριος, or Lord, is to be preferred to that which has of late been substituted for it." And they brought the blasphemer unto Moses. This was in accordance with the counsel of Jethro, accepted by Moses (Exodus 18:13-26): "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge:... and they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves." Leviticus 24:11The account of the Punishment of a Blasphemer is introduced in the midst of the laws, less because "it brings out to view by a clear example the administration of the divine law in Israel, and also introduces and furnishes the reason for several important laws" (Baumgarten), than because the historical occurrence itself took place at the time when the laws relating to sanctification of life before the Lord were given, whilst the punishment denounced against the blasphemer exhibited in a practical form, as a warning to the whole nation, the sanctification of the Lord in the despisers of His name. The circumstances were the following: - The son of an Israelitish woman named Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan, and of an Egyptian whom the Israelitish woman had married, went out into the midst of the children of Israel, i.e., went out of his tent or place of encampment among the Israelites. As the son of an Egyptian, he belonged to the foreigners who had gone out with Israel (Exodus 12:38), and who probably had their tents somewhere apart from those of the Israelites, who were encamped according to their tribes (Numbers 2:2). Having got into a quarrel with an Israelite, this man scoffed at the name (of Jehovah) and cursed. The cause of the quarrel is not given, and cannot be determined. נקב: to bore, hollow out, then to sting, metaphorically to separate, fix (Genesis 30:28), hence to designate (Numbers 1:17, etc.), and to prick in malam partem, to taunt, i.e., to blaspheme, curse, equals קבב Numbers 23:11, Numbers 23:25, etc. That the word is used here in a bad sense, is evident from the expression "and cursed," and from the whole context of Leviticus 24:15 and Leviticus 24:16. The Jews, on the other hand, have taken the word נקב in this passage from time immemorial in the sense of ἐπονομάζειν (lxx), and founded upon it the well-known law, against even uttering the name Jehovah (see particularly Leviticus 24:16). "The name" κατ ̓ ἐξ. is the name "Jehovah" (cf. Leviticus 24:16), in which God manifested His nature. It was this passage that gave rise to the custom, so prevalent among the Rabbins, of using the expression "name," or "the name," for Dominus, or Deus (see Buxtorf, lex. talmud. pp. 2432ff.). The blasphemer was brought before Moses and then put into confinement, "to determine for them (such blasphemers) according to the mouth (command) of Jehovah." פּרשׁ: to separate, distinguish, then to determine exactly, which is the sense both here and in Numbers 15:34, where it occurs in a similar connection.
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