Matthew Poole's Commentary
Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.God commands them to shun idolatry, Leviticus 26:1, keep his sabbaths, and reverence his sanctuary, Leviticus 26:2, and walk in his statutes, Leviticus 26:3; promising plenty, peace, victory, fruitfulness, his tabernacle and presence, Leviticus 26:4-13. Dreadful threatenings against the despisers, haters, and breakers of his commands; he will give them over to diseases, their enemies, drought, pestilence, sword, ramble; they who remain shall fall one upon another, and pine away in their sins, Leviticus 26:14-39. But if they confess their sins, and are humbled under God’s judgments, God will remember his covenant, and show them favour in their enemies’ land, Leviticus 26:40-45. These statutes the Lord gave to Israel in Mount Sinai by Moses, Leviticus 26:46.
A standing image, or, pillar, to wit, to worship it, or bow down to it, as it follows. Otherwise this was not simply prohibited, being practised by holy men both before and after this law. Compare Exodus 23:24 Deu 16:22. So Exodus 20:4. They are forbidden to make images, not simply or for any use, but for worship.
Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.Reverence my sanctuary, by purging and preserving it from all uncleanness, by approaching to it, and managing all the services of it, with reverence, and in such manner only as God hath appointed.
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;No text from Poole on this verse.
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.I will give you rain; therefore God placed them not in a land where there were such rivers as Nilus to water it and make it fruitful, but in a land which depended wholly upon the rain of heaven, the key whereof God kept in his own hand, that so he might the more effectually oblige them to obedience, in which their happiness consisted.
And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, i.e. you shall have so plentiful a harvest, that you shall not be able to thresh out your corn in a little time, but that work will last till the vintage.
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.Neither shall the sword go through your land, i.e. war, as the sword is oft taken, as Numbers 14:3 2 Samuel 12:10. Otherwise there is the sword of justice. It shall not enter into it, nor have passage through it, much less shall your land be made the seat of war.
And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.No text from Poole on this verse.
And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.Five of you, i.e. a small number; a certain number for an uncertain.
For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.i.e. Actually perform all that I have promised you in my covenant made with you,
And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.Bring forth the old, or, cast out, throw them away, as having no occasion to spend them, or give them to the poor, or even to your cattle, that you may make way for the new corn, which also is so plentiful, that of itself will fill up your barns.
And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.As I have placed it, so I will continue it among you, and not remove it from you, as once I did upon your miscarriage, Exodus 33:7.
And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.I will walk among you, as I have hitherto done, both by my pillar of cloud and fire, and by my tabernacle, which have walked or gone along with you in all your journeys, and stayed among you in all your stations, to protect, conduct, instruct, and comfort you.
Ye shall be my people; I will own you for that peculiar people which I have singled out of the mass of mankind, to bless you here, and to save you hereafter.
I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.With heads lifted up, not pressed down with a yoke. It notes their liberty, security, confidence, and glory. See Exodus 14:8 Numbers 33:3.
But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;No text from Poole on this verse.
And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:i.e. Break your part or conditions of that covenant made between me and you, and thereby discharge me from the blessings promised on my part.
I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.I will even appoint over you; I will give them power over you, that you shall not be able to avoid or resist them. Shall consume the eyes, by the decay of spirits, and affluence of ill humours.
And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.No text from Poole on this verse.
And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.No text from Poole on this verse.
And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:The pride of your power, i.e. your strength, of which you are proud, your numerous and united forces, your kingdom, yea, your ark and sanctuary.
Your earth as brass; the heavens shall yield you no rain, nor the earth fruits.
And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.Your strength shall be spent in vain; ploughing, and sowing, and tilling the ground.
And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.Contrary unto me, or, carelessly or heedlessly with me, or
before me, i.e. so as to be careless and unconcerned whether you please me or offend me. This is opposed to exact and circumspect walking with God, as Abraham did, Genesis 17:1, and all are to do, Ephesians 5:15.
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.By reason of the fewness of travellers and people, and the terror of wild beasts growing more numerous thereby.
And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;No text from Poole on this verse.
Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.Contrary unto you, or, carelessly with you or towards you, i.e. I will put you out of my care and protection.
And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.The quarrel of my covenant, i.e. my quarrel with you for your breach of your faith and covenant made with me.
Into the hand of the enemy; because those few that shall be left of the pestilence will be unable to defend you in your cities or strong holds.
And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.Broken the staff of your bread; either,
1. By taking away that power and virtue of nourishing which I have put into bread or food, which when I withdraw it will be unable to nourish. Or rather,
2. By sending a famine, or scarcity of bread, which is the staff and support of man’s present life, Psalm 104:15; for so this phrase is commonly used, and elsewhere explained, as Psalm 105:16 Ezekiel 4:16, and so the following words expound it here. Ten women, i.e. ten or many families, for the women took care for the bread and food of all the family. Bread by weight: this is a sign and consequence both of a famine, and of the baking of the bread of several families together in one oven, wherein each family took care to weigh their bread, and to receive the same proportion which they put in. Compare Ezekiel 4:16.
And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;No text from Poole on this verse.
Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.Contrary unto you in fury; or,
in fury of rashness or
carelessness with you or among you, like a raging lion breaking into a multitude of people, and destroying all he meets with promiscuously, or without any distinction, both righteous and wicked together, as is threatened Ezekiel 21:3. Or, in fury of contrariety, or meeting with you, or against you, like a man that meets his enemy in the fury of battle.
And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.Through extreme hunger. See Lamentations 4:10.
And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.Your high places, in which you will sacrifice after the manner of the heathens. See Leviticus 19:26 Numbers 33:52.
Your images; or, your images of the sun, made for the honour and worshipping of the sun, and having some resemblance to it. See 2 Chronicles 34:7. Under this one kind of idolatry, famous and frequent in those times and places, he contains all the rest. The carcasses of your idols; so he calls them, either to signify that their idols, how specious soever or glorious in their eyes, were in truth but lifeless and contemptible carcasses, having eyes, but see not, &c., Psalm 115:5, or to show that their idols should be so far from helping them, that they should be thrown down and broken with them, and both should lie together in a forlorn and loathsome state.
And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.Your sanctuaries; either,
1. God’s sanctuary, called sanctuaries here, as also Psalm 73:17 74:7 Jeremiah 51:51 Ezekiel 28:18, because there were divers apartments in it, each of which was a sanctuary, or, which is all one, a holy place, as they are severally called. And your emphatically, not mine, for I disown and abhor it, and all the services you do in it, because you have defiled it. Or,
2. The temples built by you to idols, therefore called
their sanctuaries, in opposition to God’s. Or,
3. Your synagogues. But the first is most probable, because he speaks of the place where they used to offer their sweet odours here following.
I will not smell, i.e. not own or accept them. See Genesis 8:21 Isaiah 1:11, &c.
Of your sweet odours; either of the incense, or of your sacrifices, which when offered with faith and obedience, are very sweet and acceptable to me.
And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.Having driven you out and possessed your places. See Lamentations 5:2.
And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.The sword shall follow you into strange lands, and you shall have no rest there.
Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.Either,
1. Because it shall be rid of you, who were the unprofitable and heavy burdens thereof, under whom it in a manner groaned. Or rather,
2. Because it shall now enjoy those sabbatical years of rest from tillage, which you through covetousness ofttimes would not give it, as the next verse informs us, though God commanded it, Leviticus 25:4.
As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.No text from Poole on this verse.
And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.Faintness: the word notes a tenderness and softness of mind, whereby they are disenabled from bearing the present miseries, and are in continual dread of further and sorer miseries.
And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.They shall fall one upon another, as soldiers use to do when their ranks are broken, and they forced to flee away hastily from their pursuers.
When non pursueth; your guilt and fear causing you to imagine that they do pursue you when indeed they do not.
And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.Shall pine away, be consumed and melt away by degrees, through diseases, oppressions, griefs, and manifold miseries.
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;If they shall confess, Heb. And they shall confess, where our translation and many others understand the particle if, which is also wanting and understood, Exodus 4:23 Malachi 1:2 3:8. So here, And if they shall confess, &c.
But there seems no necessity of any such supplement, but these and the following words may be taken as they lie in their plain and proper signification, to this purpose, Leviticus 26:40, And through the heaviness and extraordinariness of their affliction, their consciences will force them to confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against me, i.e. with their prevarication with me and defection from me to idolatry, which by way of eminency he calls their trespass;
and that also they have walked contrary to me, Leviticus 26:41, and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; i.e. that they are not come into these calamities by chance, nor by the misfortune of war, but by my just judgment upon them. All which confession is no more than Pharaoh made in his distresses, and than hypocrites in their affliction use to make. And therefore he adds, if then their uncircumcised, i.e. impure, carnal, profane, and impenitent hearts be humbled, i.e. subdued, purged, reformed; if to this confession they add sincere humiliation and reformation, I will do what follows.
And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:The Hebrew word avou commonly signifies iniquity, but it is oft used for
the punishment of iniquity, as here and 1 Samuel 28:10 Psalm 31:10 Isaiah 53:6,11. The meaning is, if they sincerely acknowledge the righteousness of God, and their own wickedness, and patiently submit to his correcting hand, and would rather be in their present suffering condition than in their former sinful, though prosperous estate; if with David they are ready to say, it is good for them that they are afflicted, that they may learn God’s statutes, and obedience to them for the future, which is a good evidence of true repentance.
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.I will remember my covenant, to wit, so as to perform it, and make good all that I have promised in it. For words of knowledge or remembrance in Scripture do most commonly connote affection and kindness; of which there are many instances, some given before, and more hereafter.
I will remember the land, which now seems to be forgotten, and neglected, and despised, as if I had never chosen it to be the peculiar place of my presence and blessing.
The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.No text from Poole on this verse.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.Neither the desperateness of their condition, nor the greatness of their sins, shall make me wholly make void my covenant with them and their ancestors, but I will in due time remember them for good, and for my covenant’s sake return to them in mercy. From this place the Jews take great comfort, and assure themselves of deliverance out of their present servitude and misery. And from this, and such other places, St. Paul concludes that the Israelitish nation, though then rejected and ruined, should be gathered again and restored.
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.For their sakes, or rather, to or for them, i.e. for their good or benefit; for surely, if one considers what is said before concerning the wickedness of this people, he cannot say this deliverance was given them for their sakes, but must rather say with the prophet, Ezekiel 36:22,32, not for your sake, O house of Israel, &c.
These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.No text from Poole on this verse.