None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD.…
As the chosen and covenant tribes of Israel were soon to take up their journey to the land of Canaan, the inhabitants of which were to be exterminated for their multifarious iniquities in the sight of God, a recital is here made of some of those aggravated forms of wickedness which were rife among them, and which God had determined signally to punish. This is done not only to illustrate the justice of the Divine proceedings in their excision, but also with a view to put the peculiar people themselves on their guard against yielding to the contagion of their pernicious example, and thus becoming obnoxious to the same fearful retributions which were now about to be visited upon the Canaanites. The particular class of abominations more especially pointed out in this chapter, and to which the brand-mark of the Divine reprobation is so conspicuously affixed, is that of incestuous connections. Not only had that abandoned race been guilty of a total apostacy from the worship of the true God, substituting in His room the sun, and moon, and host of heaven, and bowing down to stocks and stones and creeping things, but they had mingled with their idolatry every vice that could degrade human nature and pollute society. In the black catalogue of these the abominations of lust Stand pre-eminent; and whether in the form of adultery, fornication, incest, sodomy, or bestiality, they had now risen to a pitch of enormity which the forbearance of heaven could tolerate no longer, and of which a shuddering dread was to be begotten in the minds of the people of the covenant. And in order that no possible plea of ignorance or uncertainty might be left in their minds as to those connections which were lawful and those which were forbidden, the Most High proceeds in the present and in the 20th chapter to lay down a number of specific prohibitions on this subject, so framed, as not only to include the extra-nuptial pollutions, which had prevailed among the heathen, but also all those incestuous unions which were inconsistent with the purit and sanctity of the marriage relation. Both classes of crimes we think are in fact included; so that it is doing no violence to the spirit of the text to regard it as containing a system of marriage-laws by which the peculiar people were ever after to be governed. As this is the only passage in the compass of the whole Bible where any formal enactments are given on this subject, this and the connected chapters treating of this theme have always been deemed of peculiar importance in their relations to the question of the lawful degrees within which the marriage connection may now be formed by those who make the law of God the great standard of moral duty.
Parallel VersesKJV: None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD.