INTRODUCTION TO LEVITICUS 19
This chapter contains various laws, ceremonial and moral, tending to the sanctification of men, in imitation of the holy God, Leviticus 19:1; as concerning the reverence of parents, and observing the sabbaths, Leviticus 19:3; against idolatry, Leviticus 19:4; about offering and eating of peace offerings, Leviticus 19:5; concerning harvest and gleaning of fields and vineyards, Leviticus 19:9; respecting the breach of several of the commandments of the law, as the eighth, ninth, and third, particularly, Leviticus 19:11; and others relating to the ill usage of the deaf and blind, and having respect to persons rich or poor in judgment, and acting the part of a tale bearer among people, Leviticus 19:14; and bearing hatred and ill will to any of their neighbours, Leviticus 19:17; and others forbidding mixtures in the generation of cattle, sowing fields, and wearing apparel, Leviticus 19:19; and concerning the punishment of a man that lay with a bondmaid, and the offering he should bring for his atonement, Leviticus 19:20; then follow certain laws concerning fruit trees, when the fruit of them should be eaten, Leviticus 19:23; and concerning eating with blood, using enchantments, and observing times, and managing the hair of the head and beard, and avoiding to make any marks, prints, and cuttings in the flesh for the dead, Leviticus 19:26; a caution not to prostitute a daughter to whoredom, and to observe the sabbath, and reverence the sanctuary of God, and pay no regard to wizards and familiar spirits, Leviticus 19:29; to show reverence to ancient persons, and not to vex and distress strangers, Leviticus 19:32; and to do no injustice in weight and measure, Leviticus 19:35; all which instructions are to be carefully observed, and put in execution, Leviticus 19:37.
And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... About the same, or quickly after he had delivered the above laws to him; and there are many in this chapter, which were before given, and here repeated:
saying; as follows.
Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel,.... They could not be all spoke to together, but tribe after tribe, or family after family; or rather the heads of the tribes, and at most the heads of families were convened, and the following instructions were given, to be communicated to their respective tribes and families. Jarchi says this section was spoken in the congregation, because the greater part of the body of the law, or the more substantial parts of it, depend upon it; and indeed all the ten commandments are included in it, with various other laws, both judicial and ceremonial. Aben Ezra remarks, that all the congregation are spoken to, to include the proselytes, because they had been warned of incests, as the Israelites, in the preceding chapter; see Gill on Leviticus 18:26,
and say unto them, ye shall be holy: a separate people from all others, abstaining from all the impurity and idolatry they are cautioned against in the foregoing chapter, and observing the holy precepts expressed in this:
for I the Lord your God am holy; in his nature, essence, originally, independently, immutably, and perfectly; and the more holy they were, the more like they would be to him; See Gill on Leviticus 11:44 and See Gill on Leviticus 11:45; where the same words are used, after the laws given about creatures clean and unclean to be eaten, as here, after those about impure copulations and incests.
Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father,.... This has respect to the fifth command, which is the first with promise, and is here referred to first, because a man has his beginning in the world from his parents, and by them he is trained up in the observance of all the other laws of God, equally to be respected; and the fear of them is not servile, but filial, joined with love and affection to them, and includes an inward esteem and reverence of them, an outward respect unto them, a readiness to obey their commands, and giving due and equal honour unto them; See Gill on Exodus 20:12; Pythagoras, Phocylides, and other Heathens, next to honouring God, exhort to the honour and reverence of parents:
and keep my sabbaths; this is expressed in the plural number, because there were various sabbaths. The seventh day sabbath, and the seventh year sabbath, and the jubilee, which was once in seven times seven years; the seventh day sabbath is chiefly meant: this follows upon the other, because it lay upon parents to teach their children the observance of the sabbath, and to train them up in it; and indeed the fear of them greatly depends on it, for children that are sabbath breakers have seldom much respect to their parents; and besides this suggests, that though children are to honour, reverence, and obey their parents, yet not in anything that is contrary to the laws of God; and, particularly should they suggest to them that sabbaths were not to be observed, they should not hearken to them:
I am the Lord your God; that gave them their being, parents being but instruments, and who had a right to enjoin them what laws he pleased; and among the rest had ordered them to observe the sabbath, and which in gratitude they were obliged unto, as well as in point of duty.
Turn ye not unto idols,.... From the one only true and living God to them that are not gods, as the word used signifies, who are nothing; for, as the apostle says, an idol is nothing in the world, 1 Corinthians 8:4, is of no worth and value, of no consequence and importance, of no avail and usefulness to its devotees; wherefore to turn from the true God to such as these is the greatest stupidity, as well as wickedness: or "look not" at them
nor make to yourselves molten gods; of gold, silver, or brass, melted and cast into a mould, as the golden calf was, to which respect may be had. These laws have a respect unto the first and second commandments, Exodus 20:3,
I am the Lord, your God; who only is to be worshipped, and who has forbid the making and worshipping any image, molten or graven, and who will therefore resent idolatry of every sort, and punish for it.
And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord,.... Which were of three sorts, a thanksgiving, a vow, and a voluntary offering, Leviticus 7:11; the latter seems to be here meant, as appears by what follows:
ye shall offer it at your own will; a voluntary freewill offering, of their own accord, and not by force, as Aben Ezra; and in such offerings they were left to their liberty to offer what they pleased, it might be of the flock, or of the herd, a male or a female, Leviticus 3:1. The Targum of Jonathan is"for your acceptation;'that is, that should be offered, and in such a manner as to be accepted of you with God; which sense is countenanced by Leviticus 19:7; and becomes acceptable, when what follows about eating them is attended to.
It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow,.... The meaning is, that if it could be, it was best to eat it all up the same day it was offered, but if not, the remainder was to be eaten on the morrow, but by no means to be kept any longer; this shows that that sort of peace offering is intended, which was either a vow or a voluntary offering, Leviticus 7:16; and the Jews gather from hence, that sacrifices were to be slain in the day, and not in the night
and if ought remain unto the third, it shall be burnt with fire; as it is ordered, Leviticus 7:16; that so the owner might have no profit by it, and therefore be under no temptation to keep it longer than the fixed time.
And if it be eaten at all on the third day,.... Or "in eating be eaten"
it is abominable; it is as any common thing, as if it was no sacrifice; yea, as if it was corrupt and putrefied flesh; nay, as what is abominable to God: and therefore it follows:
it shall not be accepted; of the Lord, but rejected, his will not being attended to.
Therefore everyone that eateth it shall bear his iniquity,.... Be chargeable with sin, be pronounced guilty, and endure the punishment, which is cutting off, Leviticus 7:20,
because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord; the flesh of the peace offerings, by keeping it longer than the fixed time for it, when it was liable to corruption and putrefaction; for after the inwards and the fat of them were offered, as Aben Ezra says, the flesh was holy, and to be eaten as an holy thing, and within the time the law required, or otherwise it was profaned and polluted:
and that soul shall be cut off from among his people; be deprived of his civil and religious privileges, or be punished by the hand of the civil magistrate, or else by the immediate hand of God.
And when ye reap the harvest of your land,.... Of the land of Canaan, when come into it, which having sown, and it was harvest, either barley harvest or wheat harvest, or both, and especially the latter, to which reaping seems best to agree:
thou shall not wholly reap the corner of the field; but a part was to be left for the poor. This follows upon the peace offerings: and, as Aben Ezra observes, as the fat of them was to be given to God, so somewhat of the harvest was to be given for the glory of God to the poor and stranger. In the Misnah is a whole treatise, called "Peah", which signifies "the corner", in which there are many decisions concerning this affair; and among the rest, whereas it is not fixed in the law how large the corner should be, what quantity should be left, how many ears of corn, or what a proportion of the field, this is there determined by the wise men, who say, they do not leave less than a sixtieth part; for though they say there is no measure (certain) for the corner, yet the whole is according to the largeness of the field, or according to the multitude of the poor, or according to the plenty of the increase
neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest; ears of corn which fall from the hand or sickle of the reaper, or in gathering the reaps to bind up in sheaves. In the above treatise it is asked, what is a gleaning? that which falls in reaping; if the reaper reaps his handful, or plucks up an handful, and a thorn strikes him, and it falls out of his hand to the ground, lo, it is the owner's; but if out of the middle of his hand, or out of the middle of the sickle, it is the poor's; if from the further part of his hand, or of the sickle, it is the owner's; but if from the top of his hand (or tip of his fingers) or the point of the sickle, it is the poor's
And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard,.... Or cut off the little clusters which are, as Aben Ezra observes, like an infant, as the word signifies, infant clusters, which were small in comparison of the large ones, as infants are to men; those which had but a grape or two, or very few upon them, were not to be cut off, but left for the poor: and Gersom says, if the whole vine consisted of such clusters, it all belonged to the poor:
neither shall thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; every particular single grape; these were such as were left on the vine after the large clusters were gathered, and a man upon viewing it again might not gather such as had only a single grape or two upon them; for the Misnic doctors say
thou shall leave them for the poor and stranger: for the poor Israelite, and the stranger that sojourns with you, as Aben Ezra interprets it; the stranger intends a proselyte, not a proselyte of the gate, but a proselyte of righteousness, as Gersom and it is a rule laid down by Maimonides
I am the Lord your God; that gave them fields and vineyards, and times of harvest, and vintage, and blessed them with fruitful seasons, and therefore had a right to require such things of them; and they were in duty and gratitude bound to observe his commands; and this shows his regard unto, and concern for the poor, and that he is the father and patron of them.
Ye shall not steal,.... Which is the eighth command; See Gill on Exodus 20:15; though Jarchi thinks something different from that law is here intended; that this is a caution against stealing of money, that in the decalogue against stealing of souls, or men. And it may be observed, that one is expressed in the singular number, the other in the plural, as here, and takes in more; not the actual thief only, but he that sees and is silent, who, as Aben Ezra observes, is even as the thief; and perhaps this follows upon the preceding laws, to suggest, that he that deprives the poor of the corner of the field, and of the gleaning Of the harvest and vintage, is as if he robbed; and the last mentioned writer seems to make the force of this depend on that: and Maimonides
neither deal falsely; in any respect defrauding and over reaching in trade and commerce, particularly not being faithful to a trust committed to them; so Aben Ezra restrains it to what is deposited with a man to keep, which he denies he ever had; and he observes, that he that knows it, and does not bear witness of it, is as he that deals falsely; and such an one, according to a former law, having sworn falsely, and, when convicted, was obliged to restore the principal, and add a fifth part, and bring a trespass offering to make atonement for his sin likewise, Leviticus 6:2,
neither lie one to another; in common speech and conversation, in trade and business, and particularly by demanding money of a man who never had anything of him, as Aben Ezra; and who owes him nothing, and yet affirms, with a lie, that he is indebted to him, and insists on payment.
And ye shall not swear by my name falsely,.... Or "to a falsehood"
neither shall thou profane the name of thy God: through swearing falsely by it, or through any rash or vain oath in common conversation; not only perjury in a court of judicature, but all profane oaths, curses, and imprecations are forbidden, as breaches of the third command, which this refers to; See Gill on Exodus 20:7,
I am the Lord; whose name is holy, and who can and will revenge every abuse of it in a profane way, and to the injury of men.
Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him,.... Not defraud him secretly, nor rob him openly and by force, as Aben Ezra; not defraud him in buying and selling, in retaining wages due to him, and refusing to return to him what has been committed to trust, or to repay him what has been borrowed of him: the Vulgate Latin is, "thou shall not calumniate him", or get anything from him, by raising a calumny upon him; nor rob him by coming into his house, or entering into his fields, and taking away his goods, or his cattle without his will, and in a forcible manner; or by meeting him on the highway and demanding his money, and taking it from him:
the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning; unless he that is hired agrees to it; for then it may be kept two or three days, or a week, or for whatsoever time may be agreed upon between them: this must be understood of one that is hired by the day, whose wages are due at night, and who may want his money to buy food for his family, and therefore should not without his consent be detained from him; and not of one that is hired by the week, or by the year, whose wages are not due until the end of the week or year for which he is hired; and the Jewish writers
Thou shalt not curse the deaf,.... Who are naturally so, born deaf, or become so through some accident, and cannot hear what is objected to them, and they are cursed for; and so cannot reply in their own defence, and remove the calumny cast upon them, if it be such which is the cause of their being cursed; and therefore there is something mean and base as well as wicked in cursing such: the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan render it, "him that heareth not", and respects any absent person who is not within the hearing of the curse, and so equally incapable of answering for himself as a deaf man: Gersom observes, that this is a caution not to curse any Israelite; for if we are cautioned, says he, not to curse a deaf man who hears not, and therefore cannot be moved at it, much less should we curse him that is not deaf, from whence quarrels and fightings arise:
nor put a stumblingblock before the blind: to cause him to fall; and in this negative is implied, that a man should be serviceable and helpful to the blind as much as may be; as to lead, and guide, and direct them in the way, and not put them out of it, as well as not do anything to cause them to stumble in it; Jarchi and Ben Gersom interpret this figuratively, of ignorant persons imposed upon by the bad advice of others: on the other hand, agreeably to this sense, Job says, he was "eyes to the blind", Job 29:15; gave good advice to the ignorant, instructed them what ways and methods to take to do themselves justice, or obtain it, which otherwise they knew not:
but shalt fear thy God: who, as Aben Ezra observes, can punish thee by making thee deaf and blind also; by striking them with deafness and blindness at once; wherefore the awe and fear of God should be on persons, and make them cautious and fearful how they abused those in such circumstances:
I am the Lord; the Lord God, omnipresent and omniscient, that hears when the deaf are cursed, though they do not; and sees the stumblingblocks laid before the blind, and knows who laid them, though they do not, and will revenge such abuses and injuries: the apostle seems to have respect to this law in Romans 14:13.
Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment,.... This is said with respect to judges and witnesses, as Aben Ezra notes; that the one should not bear false witness in a court of judicature to the perversion of justice, and the other should not pronounce an unrighteous sentence, justifying the wicked and condemning the righteous:
thou shalt not respect the person of the poor; that is, in judgment, or in a court of judicature, when a cause of his is brought before it; though privately his person may be respected, and he relieved in his distress as a poor man; but in a court of justice his person and character as a poor man are not to be regarded; the cause is not to be given either for him or against him on that account, without regard to the justice and equity of it; he may be pitied in other respects but in a cause between him and another, even a rich man, not pity, but justice, must take place; see Gill on Exodus 23:3,
nor honour the person of the mighty; not fear to put him to shame and blushing, by giving the cause against him, if he is in the wrong; his riches, his grandeur, his honour, must not came into any account, or have any weight or influence on the court to pervert justice: the Jewish writers, particularly Maimonides
but in righteousness shall thou judge thy neighbour; be he rich or poor, doing justice to both, and showing no partiality to either; see Proverbs 18:5.
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 hate thy brother in thine heart,.... Although no hatred may be expressed either by words or deeds, yet being in the heart is a breach of the sixth command, see Matthew 5:21; and of this a man may be guilty, when he does not attempt to save the life of his neighbour, either by bearing a testimony for him, or by delivering from danger, as preserving him from drowning, from wild beasts and thieves, as in Leviticus 19:16; or when he does not reprove him for sin, as in the next clause, but suffers him to go on in it to his ruin, either of which by interpretation is an hatred of him:
thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, for any sin committed by him, though secretly, yet known; which rebuke should be private, and repeated as may be found necessary, and given gently in meekness and tenderness:
and not suffer sin upon him; unconvinced of, unrepented of and persisted in, which may prove of fatal consequence to him; and therefore to let him alone, and go on in it without telling him of it, and reproving him for it, would be so far from acting the kind and friendly part, and showing him love and respect, that it would be an evidence of hating him at heart, at least it might be strongly suspected: or, "and not bear sin for him"
Thou shalt not avenge,.... That is, not avenge ourselves on him that has done us an ill thing, but leave it to him to whom vengeance belongs, see Romans 12:19; which is done when a man does an ill thing for another, or denies to grant a favour which he has been denied by another; Jarchi thus illustrates it, one says to him (his neighbour) lend me thy sickle; he answers, no (I will not); on the morrow (the neighbour comes, who had refused, and) says to him, lend me thy hatchet; he replies, I will not lend thee, even as thou wouldest not lend me; this is vengeance: this was reckoned mean and little, a piece of weakness with the very Heathens
nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; those of the same place, city, or kingdom; or "not observe"
but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; sincerely and heartily, as a man loves himself, doing all the good to him as a man does to himself, or would have done to himself, and hindering all the mischief done to him he would have himself preserved from: Jarchi observes, that it was a saying of R. Akiba, that this is"the great universal in the law,'and it does indeed comprehend the whole of the second table of the law, and is the summary of it, and is pretty much the same our Lord says of it, that it is the second and great commandment, and like unto the first, on which two all the law and the prophets hang, Matthew 22:37; and so the Apostle Paul makes all the laws of the second table to be comprehended in this, Romans 13:9,
I am the Lord; the Creator of all men, and who has commanded them to love one another, and to whom alone vengeance belongs, and who expects obedience to the above laws of his.
Ye shall keep my statutes,.... Those which follow, and which are of a different sort from what are last mentioned, of a moral nature, and are planted in the heart, as Aben Ezra says; are agreeably to the law and light of nature, and part of the work of the law written on the heart, as the apostle calls it, Romans 2:15; but the following are of positive institution, and depend upon the will of the lawgiver, the reasons of which are not so apparent and manifest; and therefore Jarchi calls them the decree of the king, who gives no reason for it; ordinances and appointments of a ceremonial kind, which, though there is a meaning in them, and a reason for them, yet not clear and plain:
thou shall not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind; or "cause them to gender"
thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: or seed of divers sorts, as wheat and barley, and which, according to the Jews
neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee; for, as Josephus
And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman,.... Has carnal knowledge of her: a man and woman are expressed, signifying those that are of age, Aben Ezra observes, that according to the mystical exposition of these words, this same carnally lying is as of divers kinds, of a free man with a bondwoman, and so follows upon the above law and in connection with it: the woman is described as one
that is a bondmaid; either meaning a Canaanitish maid, as Jarchi, or an Israelitish one, as Aben Ezra, whom her father had sold, Exodus 21:7,
betrothed to her husband: to an Hebrew servant, as Jarchi, or who was promised marriage, either by her master or his son, as Aben Ezra, Exodus 21:8,
and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her: or redeemed and not redeemed, as Jarchi; or, as the Targum of Jonathan, not yet redeemed with an entire redemption (or wholly redeemed) with silver, nor a writing of her freedom given her, part of the redemption price being paid, but not the whole; so that she was, as Jarchi and Ben Gersom express it, half a bondmaid and half free:
she shall be scourged; and not he, as the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi remark, though the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "both shall be beaten"; and the original text does not clearly determine it whether one or both should be scourged, since it may be rendered, "there shall be a scourging"
they shall not be put to death, because she was not free; otherwise adultery was punished with death of both parties, when committed with a woman married to an husband, Deuteronomy 22:22; and she a free woman, but this not being so, were not guilty of death, because, as Jarchi says, her espousals were no espousals, whereas they would had she been free, and so have been guilty of death: this difference the law made between a bond and free woman, but in Christ Jesus and under the Gospel dispensation there is no difference, Galatians 3:28.
He shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord,.... To the priest of the Lord, to offer it for him; he, and not she, as the Targum of Jonathan has it; See Gill on Leviticus 19:20,
unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; where all offerings were to be brought, Leviticus 17:4,
even a ram for a trespass offering; which was the usual creature for such a sacrifice, Leviticus 5:15; the woman was not obliged to bring any, she being a bondmaid; and so having nothing of her own, but what was her master's, her circumstances are considered, and scourging was sufficient.
And the priest shall make an atonement for him,.... By offering his sacrifice for him, typical of the atoning sacrifice of Christ:
with the ram of his trespass offering before the Lord; presented before him at the door of the tabernacle, and offered up on his altar:
for his sin which he hath done; or "sinned", which is so expressed, according to Jarchi, to take in his sin, whether done ignorantly or presumptuously:
and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him; upon the atonement made, as all the sins of God's people are forgiven through Christ, upon the foot of his atoning sacrifice, see Hebrews 9:22.
And when ye shall come into the land,.... The land of Canaan, whither they were now going:
and shall have planted all manner of trees for food; such that brought forth fruit that was eatable, as figs, grapes, olives, &c. so that all such trees as did not bear fruit fit for man's food came not under the following law; nor such as grew up of themselves and were not planted; nor such as were planted for any other use than for fruit; nor such as were planted by the Canaanites before the Israelites came into their land; for so say the Jews, what were planted for an hedge or for timber are free from the law; and add, at the time our fathers came into the land, what they found planted was free, what they planted, though they had not subdued it (the land), was bound:
then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised; not fit to be eaten, but to be taken off and cast away as the foreskin of the flesh:
three years it shall be as uncircumcised unto you, it shall not be eaten of; which was a provision partly for the benefit of fruit trees newly planted, whose fruit, when they first bear, gardeners frequently take off immediately, and do not suffer them to grow to any perfection, by which means a tree will grow stronger, and will bear more and better fruit another year; and partly for the health of man, which physical reason is given by Aben Ezra, who observes that the fruit that comes unto the third year there is no profit by it, but is hurtful; and chiefly because, as it is proper that the first fruits should be given to the Lord before any is eaten, so it is right that it should be given seasonably, and when it is brought to its perfection: three years were to be reckoned, as Jarchi and Ben Gersom say, from the time the tree was planted.
But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy,.... Separated and devoted to the service of God, to be given to the priest, or to be bought again of him; wherefore the Targum of Jonathan adds, at the end of the verse, "redeemed from the priest", a redemption price being given to the priest; and, as Jarchi observes, as the tithe was not eaten without the walls of Jerusalem, but by redemption, even so likewise this:
to praise the Lord withal; for his abundant goodness in blessing and making the trees fruitful, and bringing their fruit unto perfection; and by devoting the first fruits to God, his name was praised and glorified, as well as by eating them with joy and gladness before the Lord in Jerusalem.
And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof,.... And so in all succeeding years as long as the tree lasted and bore:
that it may yield unto you the increase thereof; may be so abundantly blessed, and produce so large an increase as to answer the three years' want of any fruit from it, and the dedication of the fruit of the fourth year to the Lord:
I am the Lord your God; who has promised this increase, is both able and faithful to make it good.
Ye shall not eat anything with the blood,.... Or upon, over, or by the blood
neither shall ye use enchantment; soothsaying or divination by various creatures, as by the weasel, birds, or fishes, as the Talmudists
nor observe times; saying, such a day is a lucky day to begin any business, or such an hour an unlucky hour to go out in, as Jarchi, taking the word to have the signification of times, days, and hours, as our version and others; but Aben Ezra derives it from a word which signifies a cloud, and it is well known, he says, that soothsayers view and consult the clouds, their likeness and motion; but some of the ancient writers, as Gersom observes, derive it from a word which signifies an eye, and suppose that such persons are intended who hold the eyes of people, cast a mist before them, or use some juggling tricks whereby they deceive their sight.
Ye shall not round the corners of your heads,.... The extremities of the hairs of the head, round about, on the forehead, temples, and behind the ears; this is done, as Jarchi says, when any one makes his temples, behind his ears, and his forehead alike, so that the circumference of his head is found to be round all about, as if they had been cut as with a bowl; and so the Arabians cut their hair, as Herodotus
neither shall thou mar the corners of thy beard; by shaving them entirely; Jarchi and other Jewish writers say, there are five of them, two on the right, as Gersom reckons them, one on the upper jaw, the other on the nether, and two over against them on the left, and one in the place where the nether jaw joins the right to the left, the chin; the same observes, that it was the manner of idolaters to do the above things; and Maimonides
Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead,.... Either with their nails, tearing their cheeks and other parts, or with any instrument, knife, razor, &c. Jarchi says, it was the custom of the Amorites, when anyone died, to cut their flesh, as it was of the Scythians, as Herodotus
nor print any marks upon you; Aben Ezra observes, there are some that say this is in connection with the preceding clause, for there were who marked their bodies with a known figure, by burning, for the dead; and he adds, and there are to this day such, who are marked in their youth in their faces, that they may be known; these prints or marks were made with ink or black lead, or, however, the incisions in the flesh were filled up therewith; but this was usually done as an idolatrous practice; so says Ben Gersom, this was the custom of the Gentiles in ancient times, to imprint upon themselves the mark of an idol, to show that they were his servants; and the law cautions from doing this, as he adds, to the exalted name (the name of God): in the Misnah it is said
I am the Lord; who only is to be acknowledged as such, obeyed and served, and not any strange god, whose mark should be imprinted on them.
Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore,.... Not by delaying to marry her, which is the sense the Jews give
lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness: of the wickedness of whoredom, both corporeal and spiritual, fornication and idolatry; both of which would be promoted by such abominable practices, and in process of time the land be filled with them.
Ye shall keep my sabbaths,.... By attending to the worship and service of God on sabbath days, they and their children would be preserved from the idolatry of the Gentiles, and all the filthy practices attending it:
and reverence my sanctuary; and not defile it by such impurities as were committed in the temples of idols: the sanctuary being an holy place, sacred to him whose name is holy and reverend, and where was the seat of his glorious Majesty, and therefore not to be defiled by fornication or idolatry, or by doing anything in it unseemly and unbecoming; see Gill on Mark 11:16,
I am the Lord; who had appointed the observance of the sabbath day, and dwelt in the sanctuary, and therefore expected that the one would be kept and the other reverenced, and neither of them polluted.
Regard not them that have familiar spirits,.... The word used signifies "bottles", and that sort of diviners here intended go by this name, either because what they sat on when they divined was in the form of a bottle, or they divined by one, or they were swelled and inflated as bottles when they delivered out their answers, or spoke as out of a bottle or hollow place; hence they are called masters or mistresses of the bottle: they seem to be the same with the ventriloquists, and so the Septuagint version here calls them; such whose voice seemed to come out of their bellies, and even the lower parts of them; and such was the Pythian prophetess at Delphos, and very probably the maid in the times of the apostles, who had a spirit of divination, or of Python, Acts 16:16; and so the words may be rendered here, "look not to the Python"
neither seek after wizards; such as pretend to a great deal of knowledge, as the word signifies; such as are called cunning men, who pretend to know where lost or stolen goods are, and to tell people their fortunes, and what will befall them hereafter:
to be defiled by them; for by seeking to them, and believing what is said by them, and trusting thereunto, and expecting events answerable to their predictions, they would be guilty of a gross sin, and so bring pollution and guilt on them; according to the Jewish canons
I am the Lord your God; who only is to be regarded and sought unto for advice and assistance; see Isaiah 8:19.
Thou shall rise up before the hoary head,.... Or "before old age"
and honour the face of the old man; who for the wrinkles of it, and his withered countenance, might be liable to be despised. The Targum of Jonathan interprets it, the face of a wise man, which agrees with what is observed before; and so Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and other Jewish writers explain it; and the former asks, what is this honour? he may not sit in his place, nor contradict his words. All this may be applied to elders by office, as well as in age, to magistrates, masters, and teachers; and particularly, as Ben Gersom observes, this may admonish us to give honour to God, who is the Ancient of days, who always was, and ever will be:
and fear thy God, I am the Lord; who has commanded such reverence of ancient persons, and will punish for any marks of irreverence shown them; and who is himself to be feared and reverenced above all, being, from everlasting to everlasting, God, and whose name is holy and reverend.
And if a stranger sojourn with you in your land,.... Ben Gersom, and others, understand this of a proselyte of righteousness, who was circumcised, and in all things conformed to the Jewish religion; but it may be interpreted of a proselyte of the gate, who was not an idolater, since he is described as one sojourning with them, and indeed of any stranger, who for a time was providentially cast among them:
ye shall not vex him: with hard and grievous words, upbraiding him with his former ignorance and idolatry, and saying unto him, as Jarchi observes, yesterday thou wast a worshipper of idols, and now thou comest to learn the law; nor distress him by any means in business, or with law suits; See Gill on Exodus 22:21.
But a stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you,.... Especially if a proselyte of righteousness; for then he enjoyed the same privileges, civil and religious, the Israelites did, for there was one law for them both, Exodus 12:49,
and thou shalt love him as thyself; and show it by doing all the good things for him they would have done for themselves in like circumstances:
for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: and therefore knew what hardships such were exposed unto; and it became them to put on bowels of compassion, and show pity to those in a like condition, and particularly consider, as Jarchi suggests, that they were idolaters there also, and therefore ought not to upbraid strangers with their former idolatry:
I am the Lord your God; who showed kindness to them when strangers in Egypt, and had brought them out of that land, and therefore ought to obey his commands, and particularly in this instance.
Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment,.... This is repeated from Leviticus 19:15; and in order to lead on to some other laws and instructions; though Aben Ezra thinks this is said in connection with the preceding words, and in reference to the stranger, agreeably to Deuteronomy 1:16; but Jarchi refers it to what follows concerning weights and measures, and observes, that a measurer is a judge; and if he acts deceitfully, he perverts judgment, and does that which is detestable and abominable, and is the cause of the five following things said of a judge; he defiles the land, and profanes the name of God, and causes the Shechinah or divine Majesty to remove, or causes Israel to fall by the sword, or carries them captive out of their land:
in meteyard, in weight, or in measure; the first of these, according to Jarchi, signifies the measure of land, of fields, &c. and so likewise of anything that is measured, not only by the rod or line, but by the yard or ell, as cloth and other things, whether broad or narrow, that are measured in their length; and the second may respect the weight of all sorts of things that are weighed in scales, as money in former times, as well as various sorts of goods; and the last has respect to the measure of both dry and liquid things, by the bushel, peck, quart, pint, &c.
Just balances, just weights,.... Which were for such sort of things as were bought and sold by weight, and these were to be according to the custom and usage which universally obtained among them, or were fixed and settled by them; they were to be neither lighter nor heavier; they were not to have one sort to buy with, and another to sell with, which was not just, and was an abomination to the Lord, Proverbs 11:1; for "weights", it is in the original text "stones", for those were formerly used in weighing, and were with us: hence it is still in use to say, so much by the stone. And according to Maimonides
a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have; the first of these was the measure of things dry, as corn, and the like, the latter of things liquid, as oil and wine; the one held three seahs or pecks, or ten omers, Exodus 16:36; or, according to a nicer calculation, the ephah held seven gallons, two quarts, and half a pint; and the other, according to some, held three quarts; but, as more exactly calculated, it held a wine gallon, and a little more than a quart; see Gill on Exodus 30:24. Some Jewish writers
I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt; and therefore were under great obligations to observe his commands, as follows.
Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments,.... Delivered in this and the preceding chapters, and elsewhere, whether ceremonial or judicial, or moral, as there were of each, which had been delivered to them; and which are all comprehended in these two words, "statutes", or ordinances, which were the determinations of his sovereign will, and of mere positive institution; and "judgments", which were such laws as respected their civil or religious conduct, formed according to the rules of justice and equity: "all" and everyone of which were to be "observed", taken notice of, and regarded, in order to be put in practice, as follows:
and do them; act according to them, in civil, moral, and religious life:
I am the Lord; who enjoined all these things, and had a right to do so, and expected obedience to them, which it was right fit that they should give.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34