Leviticus 19 Commentary

Leviticus 19:1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

Bob Deffinbaugh offers this excellent introduction to our study of Leviticus 19…

Leviticus 19 provides us with an exposition on the practice of holiness. The holiness of God is thus revealed in relationship to the redemption of Israel out of Egypt. Consequently, it is not until after the exodus that God calls upon His people to live holy lives. The Mosaic Covenant is established so that Israel would be a holy nation (Ex. 19:6). While there are hints at how holiness is to be practiced by the people of God earlier in the Pentateuch, it is in the 19th chapter of the Book of Leviticus that holiness is defined in great detail.

Leviticus 19 is a crucial chapter for Christians (as well as the ancient Israelites) for a variety of reasons.

First, it is important because of the distorted perceptions of holiness. Holiness is a term which is used more than it is understood. It is one thing for holiness not to be understood; it is even worse that it is misunderstood. There are many misconceptions in Christian circles as to what holiness really is. In the King James Version of the Bible, the terms “holy” and “holiness” do not occur until the Book of Exodus.

Second, Leviticus 19 is vitally important because of the desperate need for the practice of holiness. As badly as holiness is misunderstood by Christians, it is practiced even more pathetically. Holy living is something which is not characteristic of the last days (cf. 2Ti 3:1-5), and it surely is not characteristic of Christianity in our own days as well.

Third, many sincere Christians have gone astray seeking an unholy holiness. Many Christians who have been sidetracked into one of the cults have pursued a false conception of holiness. People generally do not join a cult in order to forsake holiness, but to attain it.

Fourth, Leviticus 19 is important to us because of the prominence of its teaching in the New Testament. Both our Lord (Mt 5:43; Mt 19:19; Mt 22:39; Mk 12:31, 33; Lk 10:27) and the apostles (Ro 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8; 1Pet. 1:16) make a great deal of the two great commandments which are given here: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2b). “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18b).

We must approach this chapter with these things in mind, because there are several factors which might incline us to hastily conclude that this chapter is irrelevant to 20th century Christians. In the first place there are some commands given here which are difficult to understand, even as they relate to the Israelite. Secondly, there are some commands which are clearly inapplicable to New Testament saints. Thirdly, this chapter appears not to have any real structure, and thus to deal with a wide variety of areas of the Israelites’ lives in a kind of miscellaneous category…

Observing that the commands of Lev 19 have different levels of applicability to the contemporary Christian is of great benefit to the student of the Old Testament scriptures, for it suggests a vitally important principle of interpretations when dealing with the Old Testament: WHEN INTERPRETING THE OLD TESTAMENT, DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT ACCEPT, REJECT, OR REVISE THE TEACHING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT TEXT? Years ago, one of my Old Testament teachers in seminary suggested this guideline, and it has been of great value. In Leviticus Lev 19 we find commands which fit into each of these categories. Some are carried directly over into the New Testament; others are modified in practice, but based upon the same principle; and others seem to be totally unnecessary. It is by a careful comparison of the Old Testament texts to the teaching of the New Testament that these decisions can be reached. (Leviticus 19:1-37 How to Spell ‘Holy’-recommended)

Leviticus 19:2 "Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. (Lev 11:44,45 Lev 20:7,26 Lev 21:8 Ex 19:6 Isa 6:3,4 Amos 3:3 Mt 5:48 2Co 6:14-16 2Cor 7:1 1Pe 1:15,16)

Henry Morris - This is probably the key verse of Leviticus. The verse lists many rules that were specifically for the purpose of maintaining true holiness (separation as a peculiar people unto God) in the earthly nation of Israel. The same principle is applied to the people of Christ's church in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15,16; 2:9).

Merrill - Lev. 19:2 is often referred to as the theme verse or motto of Leviticus The concept of having God as the standard of holiness first occurs in Leviticus in 11:44-note. It occurs again in Lev. 20:7, 26-note. But holiness was not only required of the Israelites, but is the manner of lifestyle for all believers (Exod. 19:6; 1Pe 1:15-16-note). The "holiness code," which is a term often applied to the material of Lev 16-27, is heavily ethical rather than ceremonial. Man was made in the image of God and is expected to reflect the divine likeness in a number of ways, including ethical standards. These standards are based on the never-changing nature of the LORD God. Lev. 22:32-note again reiterates this principle, that ethical connotations of holiness find their basis in the statements against confusing the realms of the sacred with the common or profane. In Lev. 27:30-note the tithe of animals and vegetation was "holy" to the LORD. Earlier in this verse it is stated that the tithe "belongs to the LORD." As a result, the tithe by association and dedication became "holy," that is, set apart for divine use. (The Bible Knowledge Word Study - Gen-Deut)

YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I THE LORD YOUR GOD AM HOLY: This call by our Holy God echoes throughout both the old and new testaments (Ex 6:7; Ex 19:6 Lev 11:44,45,20:7,26 ,19:2, Dt 7:6,14:2, 1Pe 1:15,16). This passage is clearly one of the key verses of Leviticus. This section of Leviticus lists many rules that were specifically for the purpose of maintaining true holiness (separation as a peculiar people unto God - see KJV Dt 14:2 Dt 26:18 Titus 2:14 1Pe 2:9) in the earthly nation of Israel. The same principle is applied to the bride of Christ, the NT church (1Peter 1:15,16; 2:9). God's standards of holiness have not dissipated or been discarded, although sadly they are far too often disregarded by the modern church to its great peril and impotence.

Leviticus 19:3 'Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the LORD your God. (reverence: Ex 20:12 Ex 21:15,17 Dt 21:18-21 Dt 27:16 Pr 1:8 Pr 6:20,21 Pr 23:22 Pr 30:11,17 Eze 22:7 Mal 1:6 Mt 15:4-6 Eph 6:1-3 Heb 12:9) (keep: Lev 26:2 Ex 16:29 20:8 31:13-17 Isa 56:4-6 58:13 Eze 20:12 22:8)

Reverence (KJV - fear)

I am the LORD your God - This phrase occurs 40x in the entire OT and over 50% (21) of the uses are found in Leviticus! Ex 6:7; 16:12; 20:2; Lev 11:44; 18:2, 4, 30; 19:3, 4, 10, 25, 31, 34, 36; Lev 20:7, 24; 23:22, 43; Lev 24:22; Lev 25:17, 38, 55; 26:1, 13; Nu 10:10; 15:41; Dt 5:6; 29:6; Jdg 6:10; Isa 41:13; 43:3; 48:17; 51:15; Ezek 20:5, 7, 19f; Joel 2:27; 3:17

Your God - 39x in 37 passages in Leviticus. He is the possessor, Israel is the "possessee!" We see this also in the NT…

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, (periousios ; KJV = "a peculiar people") that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. (1Pe 2:9-11)

Comment: Believers have been acquired by purchase with idea of preservation. Christians are a special people because God has preserved them for Himself. we are His possession now: Titus 2:14, Ro 14:7-9, 1Co 6:19,20, 2Co 5:15, 2Pe 2:1, 1Pe 2:9; Rev 1:6;5:10, Ex 19:5, Dt 7:6; 14:2 (all 3 preceding verses use periousios (see word study) = being beyond usual,) Isa 43:21; Mal 3:17

Ryrie on Lev 19:3-4 Three of the Ten Commandments are reiterated here as being particularly important (concerning parents, Sabbaths, and idolatry).

Rooker - The first major section of Leviticus 19 (Lev 19:3–18) contains various laws mostly of a moral character. Most of the Ten Commandments are in fact repeated in this section… As honoring parents is the first response of holiness among human duties, so the keeping of the Sabbath is the first spiritual priority. The Sabbath law is the longest of the commands in the Ten Commandments, and the observance of the Sabbath was a special sign of the nation of Israel (Ex 31:13).

Leviticus 19:4 'Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the LORD your God. (Ex 20:3-5)

Idols (0457) (elil) describes something worthless (particularly as an object of worship). Vain or vanity, no value, thing of naught. Elil is used primarily to describe vain objects of worship, i.e. the gods of this world, whether literal idols made with hands, riches, or deceitful men.

It is no coincidence that this name used for idol also describes that which is worthless (Job 13:4, Zech 11:17)! False gods make promises, but provide no deliverance (temporal or eternal)! How vain (and foolish) to attempt to represent the Creator with an object of His creation and in so doing limit His infinite character.

In the Septuagint (Lxx) the Greek word used for elil is eidolon (from eídos = that which is seen, what is visible, figure, appearance) is primarily a phantom, form, image, shadow or likeness.

Merrill - This word is used only twice in the Pentateuch, both times in Leviticus (here and Lev. 26:1). The etymology is not conclusive. It likely comes either from the diminutive of god or from a root meaning "to be weak." Either way the term is used to disparage heathen gods and show their powerlessness. The exact phrase "molten gods" appears in Ex 34:17. It is found nowhere else. The archetypal molten god was "Aaron's golden calf" of Exod. 32. Based on the prohibition of the second commandment (Exod. 20:4; Deut. 5:8), the specific detail regarding a molten or cast idol is also found in Exod. 34:17 and Deut. 27:15. (The Bible Knowledge Word Study - Gen-Deut)

Rooker - The English word for idolatry comes via Greek eidololatreia, which is based on a root that relates to that which strikes the eye, that is, the external appearance. The word thus focuses on the external image of an idol.

Vine - This disdainful word signifies an “idol” or “false god. In Lev. 26:1 the ˒elilim are what Israel is forbidden to make: “Ye shall make you no idols…” The irony of this is biting not only with respect to the usual meaning of this word but also in view of its similarity to the usual word for God (˒elohim; cf. Ps. 96:5): “For all the gods [˒elohim] of the people are idols [˒elohim] …” (1 Chron. 16:26). Second, this word can mean “nought” or “vain.” 1 Chron. 16:26 might well be rendered: “For all the gods of the people are naught.”

NET Note says that elil "appears to be a diminutive play on words with 'el, ("god; God") and, perhaps at the same time, recalls a common Semitic word for "worthless; weak; powerless; nothingness." Snaith suggests a rendering of "worthless godlings."

Webster's definition of an idol is interesting to ponder

[Middle English, from Old French idole, from Late Latin idolum, from Greek eidōlon image, idol; akin to Greek eidos form] 1: a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god; a material object, esp a carved image, that is worshipped as a god. An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold. 2a : a likeness of something 2b obsolete : PRETENDER, IMPOSTOR 3: a form or appearance visible but without substance <an enchanted phantom, a lifeless idol —P. B. Shelley〉4 : an object of extreme devotion; Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment. 5 : a false conception : FALLACY


Elil - 18v in NAS is translated - futility(1), idols(16), images(1), worthless(2).

Leviticus 19:4 'Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 26:1 'You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.

1 Chronicles 16:26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.

Job 13:4 "But you smear with lies; You are all worthless physicians.

Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.

Psalm 97:7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods.

Isaiah 2:8 Their land has also been filled with idols; They worship the work of their hands, That which their fingers have made.

18 But the idols will completely vanish.

20 In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship,

Isaiah 10:10 "As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, Whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,

11 Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images Just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?"

Isaiah 19:1 The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

3 "Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them; And I will confound their strategy, So that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead And to mediums and spiritists.

Isaiah 31:7 For in that day every man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your sinful hands have made for you as a sin.

Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

Ezekiel 30:13 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also destroy the idols And make the images cease from Memphis. And there will no longer be a prince in the land of Egypt; And I will put fear in the land of Egypt.

Habakkuk 2:18 "What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, Or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork When he fashions speechless idols.

Zechariah 11:17 "Woe to the worthless shepherd Who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm And on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered And his right eye will be blind."

Do not turn to idols - This prohibition is repeated in the NT and is relevant to our modern culture - we may not worship figurines of "gods," but modern Christians are still enticed to "gods" in manifold forms (money, success, power, etc). And so Paul issues a command we all do well to heed…

Therefore, my beloved, flee (pheugo in the present imperative = a command to make this our lifestyle. The implication is they are "ever present" and always enticing!) from idolatry. (1Cor 10:14)

Comment: Recall that God's commandments always include His enablements. We cannot obey these supernatural commands by relying on our old nature (fallen flesh), but must surrender to and depend upon the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit to "sanctify" us and give us the desire and the power to flee! (cp Php 2:13NLT).

Little children, guard (phulasso in the aorist imperative = a command to make do this now! Do not delay!) yourselves from idols. (1John 5:21)

Comment: See preceding comment for our "ability" to guard ourselves! Every morning when you get up, you need to guard your (esp your) eyes, your ears, your heart, your mouth. Guard your heart so that it remains safe, unspoiled, undefiled, protected from being snatched away (by the lusts of the flesh… do not be deceived beloved brethren.) Mt 6:13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Pr 4:13, 23, 2Co 6:17)


Leviticus 19:5 'Now when you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. (sacrifice: Lev 3:1-17 7:16 22:21 Ex 24:5 2Ch 31:2 Eze 45:15-17 46:2,12 Eph 2:13,14)(shall: Lev 1:3 22:19,23,29

KJV - And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will.

Ryrie on peace offerings - The peace offering could be brought (1) as an act of thanksgiving (Lev 7:12-15) for deliverance, answers to prayer, healing, and so on, (2) in connection with a vow (votive offering) relative to a past or future favor (Lev 7:16-17), or (3) purely as a freewill, voluntary act (Lev 7:16-17). The thanksgiving peace offering had to be eaten the same day it was offered; the vow or voluntary offerings might be eaten that day and the day following, but not left till the third day.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge - The Hebrews had several kinds of offerings, which they called {corban}. Some were free-will offerings, and others were of obligation. The first fruits, the tenths, the sin-offerings, were of obligation; the peace-offerings, vows, offerings of oil, wine, bread, and other things which were made to the temple, or to the ministers of the Lord, were offerings of devotion; these constituted the greater part. They indeed were a shadow of good things to come, which we enjoy in full fruition through THE ONE great SACRIFICE, even Jesus Christ.

"Aaron must lay his robes away,
His mitre and his vest,
When God himself comes down to be
The offering and the priest."

Leviticus 19:6 'It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and the next day; but what remains until the third day shall be burned with fire. (Lev 7:11-17 )

Leviticus 19:7 'So if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an offense; it will not be accepted.

Leviticus 19:8 'Everyone who eats it will bear his iniquity, for he has profaned the holy thing of the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from his people.

Leviticus 19:9 'Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.

Criswell - God, in His marvelous grace, makes provision for the poor. A beautiful illustration of the practicality of this law is found in the Book of Ruth. (Ed: See Dt. 24:19-22 and Ru 2:2 where Ruth benefited from this provision).

The gleanings - This was to be part of "God's welfare program." The gleanings were the portions of grain which fell to the ground during the time of reaping. In ancient Israel the stalks of grain would be cut with one hand and the grain to be reaped would be caught in the other hand. No reaper would make a perfect catch and so some good grain would fall to the ground. Whatever the reaper failed to catch in his other hand fell to the ground and was known as “gleanings." We see this practice play a pivotal role in the drama of Boaz and Ruth the Moabitess…

Ruth 2:3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

Comment: Ruth just "happened to come" to Boaz's field, one of the most beautiful an poignant examples of Divine providence in all of Scripture, as this "chance meeting" would be used by God to bring about the birth of the Messiah. Who would have envisioned that Boaz's obedience to this Levitical law would have been used in the most dramatic event in time and eternity! It makes me wonder about those times when I have been disobedient to His will. But even more, it motivates me to strive (enabled by the Spirit) to be more diligent in the future to seek to lovingly obey His will for my life.

Ruth 2:7 “And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”

Leviticus 19:10 'Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.

Glean (05953)('alal) can have a variety of meanings determined by the context. It can mean "glean" with the idea of killing or capturing the enemy down to last man (Jdg 20:45, Jer 6:9) and in this sense means to exercise power over another person, generally in bad sense, hence = "to maltreat." It can mean to glean, to go over a second time, to harvest what is left in a field after the normal harvest process (Lev 19:10; Dt 24:21). 'Alal can mean to inflict, to deal with or to make an action which causes pain or suffering to another, justified or not, with a focus that this is done with considerable zeal or energy (La 1:22; 2:20; 3:51). It can mean to deal harshly, abuse, mistreat (Ex 10:2; Nu 22:29; Jdg 19:25; 1Sa 6:6; 31:4; 1Chr 10:4; Jer 38:19). In the hitpoel to take part in evil (Ps 141:4) To thrust, bury, place, make a motion of striking two objects together, with considerable force, but not hard enough to kill or lose consciousness of the object (Job 16:15)

Baker summarizes the diverse meanings of 'alal

I. A verb meaning to do, to deal with, to treat severely, to abuse; to glean. It basically means to treat harshly or deal severely with; to practice evil: to do evil deeds in general (Ps. 141:4); to do evil toward a person (Lam. 1:12, 22; 2:20; 3:51). It describes the Lord’s dealings with Egypt to free the Israelites (Ex. 10:2; 1 Sam. 6:6). It is used of Balaam accusing his donkey of dealing treacherously with him (Num. 22:29). It describes the sexual abuse of a woman (Jdg. 19:25).

II. A verb meaning to act childishly, to play the child. It means to behave foolishly as a child without maturity or strength. It is used of the enemies of Israel to depict the hopeless state of Israel who is oppressed by children (Isa. 3:12).

III. A verb meaning to defile. It means to make something unclean or unholy, to desecrate it. It is used figuratively of Job defiling and shaming his horn, a figurative expression of destroying his hope, character, strength (Job 16:15).

IV. A verb meaning to thrust in, to bury, to insert. It indicates striking an object into something. In context it refers to sticking a “horn,” one’s hope, character, strength, into the ground, that is, giving up (Job 16:15). (Complete Word Study Dictionary- Old Testament- Warren Baker, Gene Carpenter)

'Alal - 18v in KJV - Exod 10:2; Lev 19:10; Num 22:29; Deut 24:21; Judg 19:25; 20:45; 1 Sam 6:6; 31:4; 1 Chr 10:4; Job 16:15; Ps 141:4; Isa 3:12; Jer 6:9; 38:19; Lam 1:12, 22; 2:20; 3:51

Leviticus 19:11 'You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. (shall not: Lev 6:2 Ex 20:15,17 22:1,7,10-12 De 5:19 Jer 6:13 7:9-11 Zec 5:3,4 8:16,17 1Co 6:8-10 Eph 4:28) (lie one: 1Ki 13:18 Ps 101:7 116:11 Jer 9:3-5 Ac 5:3,4 Ro 3:4 Eph 4:25 Col 3:9 1Ti 1:10 Rev 21:8)

Leviticus 19:12 'You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. (shall: Lev 6:3 Ex 20:7 Dt 5:11 Ps 15:4 Jer 4:2 7:9 Zec 5:4 Mal 3:5 Mt 5:33,34 Jas 5:12) (profane: Lev 18:21 24:11,15,16 Eze 36:20-23)


See more detailed discussion and exhortation regarding God's Name in Notes on Leviticus 18:21

Profane (02490)(chalal - see word study). The Septuagint (Lxx) uses bebeloo which is discussed in the word study on chalal.

Leviticus 19:13 'You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.

Neighbor (Lev 19:13, 19:15, 19:16, 19:17, 19:18) (07453) (rea/reya') simply means "another person" and depending on the context can refer to a friend, spouse, neighbor, companion, associate, etc.

The Lxx uses the Greek word plesion which is an adverb (from pélas = near, near to) and it literally means near, quite near, nearby = position quite close to another position. Figuratively, plesion means to be near someone and thus be a neighbor. Stated another way, neighbor is not just the person who lives in the house next to yours but depicts another other individuals as those who are near by. According to the Jewish understanding at the time of Jesus, a neighbor was any member of the Hebrew race and commonwealth but according to Christ, any other man irrespective of race or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet and especially anyone in need! Read the story of the good Samaritan, where Jesus "amplifies" the Jewish understanding of neighbor (Lk 10:25-37, 29, 36, cp Mt 5:43)

Rea/reya' - 173x in the NAS - Ge 11:3, 7; 15:10; 31:49; 38:12, 20; 43:33; Exod 2:13; 11:2; 18:7, 16; 20:16f; 21:14, 18, 35; 22:7ff, 14, 26; 32:27; 33:11; Lev 19:13, 16, 18; 20:10; Deut 4:42; 5:20f; 13:6; 15:2; 19:4f, 11, 14; 22:24, 26; 23:24f; 24:10; 27:17, 24; Josh 20:5; Judg 6:29; 7:13f, 22; 10:18; Ruth 3:14; 4:7; 1 Sam 10:11; 14:20; 15:28; 20:41; 28:17; 30:26; 2 Sam 2:16; 12:11; 13:3; 16:17; 1 Kgs 8:31; 16:11; 20:35; 2 Kgs 3:23; 7:3, 9; 1 Chr 27:33; 2 Chr 6:22; 20:23; Esth 9:19, 22; Job 2:11; 6:14, 27; 12:4; 16:20f; 17:5; 19:21; 30:29; 31:9; 32:3; 35:4; 42:7, 10; Ps 12:2; 15:3; 28:3; 35:14; 38:11; 88:18; 101:5; 122:8; Prov 3:28f; 6:1, 3, 29; 11:9, 12; 12:26; 14:20f; 16:29; 17:17f; 18:17, 24; 19:4, 6; 21:10; 22:11; 24:28; 25:8f, 17f; 26:19; 27:9f, 14, 17; 29:5; Eccl 4:4; Song 5:1, 16; Isa 3:5; 13:8; 19:2; 34:14; 41:6; Jer 3:1, 20; 5:8; 6:21; 7:5; 9:4f, 8; 19:9; 22:8, 13; 23:27, 30, 35; 29:23; 31:34; 34:15, 17; 36:16; 46:16; Lam 1:2; Ezek 18:6, 11, 15; 22:11f; 33:26; Hos 3:1; Jonah 1:7; Mic 7:5; Hab 2:15; Zech 3:8, 10; 8:10, 16f; 11:6; 14:13; Mal 3:16

NAS translates rea/reya' - another(27), another's(5), another*(1), companion(3), fellow(1), friend(30), friend's(1), friends(18), husband(1), kind(1), lover(1), lovers(1), mate(1), neighbor(64), neighbor's(23), neighbors(3), neighbors'(1), opponent(1), opponent's(1), other(6), together*(1).

Vine says -

A rea is a “personal friend” with whom one shares confidences and to whom one feels very close (read Ex 33:11). The closeness of relationship is best expressed by those texts where the rea is like a brother or son, a part of the family (Ps 122:8, cf. Dt. 13:6). For this reason, when Zimri became king over Israel he killed not only all relatives of Baasha, but also his “friends” (1Ki 16:11). In this sense, the word is a synonym of ah (“brother”) and of qarob (“kin”): (Ex 32:27). Similar to the above is the sense of “marriage partner” (Song 5:16). However, rea may also signify “illegitimate partners” (Jer. 3:1). The prophet Hosea was commanded to take back his wife from her “friend” (lover), as she had played the adulteress long enough.

The wider usage of rea resembles the English word neighbor, the person with whom one associates regularly or casually without establishing close relations. One may borrow from his “neighbor” (Ex 22:14), but not bear false witness (Ex 20:16) nor covet his neighbor’s possessions (Ex 20:17-18). The laws regulate how one must not take advantage of one’s “neighbors.” The second greatest commandment, which Jesus reiterated—“Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev 19:18)—receives reinforcement in the laws of the Pentateuch. The prophets charged Israel with breaking the commandment: They oppressed each other (Isa 3:5) and desired their neighbors’ wives (Jer. 5:8); they committed adultery with these women (Ezek. 18:6); they did not pay wages to the worker (Jer. 22:13); and they improperly took advantage of their “neighbors” (Ezek 22:12). According to Proverbs, not loving one’s neighbor is a sign of foolishness (Pr. 11:12). The wider meaning comes to expression in the proverb of the rich man and his “friends” (read Pr. 19:4). Here the “friend” is a person whose association is not long-lasting, whose friendship is superficial.

Leviticus 19:14 'You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. (not curse: De 27:18 Ro 12:14 14:13 1Co 8:8-13 10:32 Rev 2:14) (revere: Lev 19:32 25:17 Ge 42:18 Ne 5:15 1Pe 1:17, 1Pe 2:17)

Disciple's Study Bible - Motivated by unselfish love, the people of God will not do anything to harm a handicapped person. For example, we will not ridicule deaf persons who cannot hear and, therefore, cannot defend themselves. Nor will we put any kind of hindrance in the way of a blind person. We will not take advantage of any handicapped person. We remember that God sees and hears. He punishes those who mistreat the handicapped.

Leviticus 19:15 'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. (Lev 19:35 Ex 18:21 23:2 23:2,3,7,8 De 1:17 16:19 25:13-16 27:19 2Ch 19:6,7 Ps 82:2 Pr 18:5 24:23 Jas 2:6-9)

Leviticus 19:16 'You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. (Slanderer - Ex 23:1 Ps 15:3 Pr 11:13 20:19 Jer 6:28 9:4 Eze 22:9 1Ti 3:11 2Ti 3:3 Tit 2:3 1Pe 2:1) (act against: Ex 20:16 23:1,7 1Ki 21:10-13 Mt 26:60,61 27:4 Ac 6:11-13 Ac 24:4-9)

Leviticus 19:16, 17 (Morning and Evening) "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people … Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. " - Leviticus 19:16, 17 - Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of the Lord's people should be very precious in our sight, and we should count it shame to help the devil to dishonor the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah's wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond-SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN.

The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God's blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in his warning given to Peter, the prayer with which he preceded it, and the gentle way in which he bore with Peter's boastful denial that he needed such a caution.


Leviticus 18; 19:9–18 Sexual Ethics and Economic Justice - Entire denominations are fracturing over the issue of homosexuality in the church, some defending traditional biblical interpretations that forbid homosexual practice, others going so far as to ordain practicing homosexuals.

Today’s reading confronts us with sexual ethics. What is and is not forbidden? Clearly, this passage protects marriage and prohibits the practices of incest, homosexuality, adultery, and any sexual contact between humans and animals. These are associated with the cultural mores of the heathen nations, most specifically Egypt and Canaan (vv. 23–30).

God insists that He is their God, and they must obey His authority. He intends they be a holy people, distinctive not only because of the way they worship but also for how they conduct their relationships. His prohibitions aren’t exclusive to regulating private, intimate relationships; He also insists on fair business practice and just economic policy. It’s important to notice that both are equally important to God. Obedience, both in the private and public sector, is an expression of fearing the Lord and acknowledging that He is witness to everything we do—in the bedroom as well as in the field.

Provision is made to care for the poor and the immigrant. God’s people were to be lax when harvesting and gleaning; what they left behind after a first gleaning was to be left for the poor. All relationships were to depend on the principles of fairness and honesty. Employers were required to pay fair wages. Everyone was commanded to care for the less fortunate and the handicapped. The essence of the Law is summarized in verse 18: "Love your neighbor as yourself." To keep sexual expression within the confines of marriage, to take care of the marginalized—these were ways to honor the Lord and honor one another.

Apply the Word - As Christians, we are right to defend the sacredness of marriage. But just as vehemently, we must also speak up against injustice such as global poverty, racial discrimination, and economic injustice. As reflected in our passage today, we see God’s great concern for both sets of issues, neither of which should be ignored.


Leviticus 19:18
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. - Leviticus 19:18
In 1988, Robert Fulghum made the literary claim, “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” The main idea behind his essay was that since the governing principles of life—sharing, being nice, cleaning up after yourself, and maintaining a sense of wonder—are taught at the earliest stages of social development, the lessons should be obvious to us throughout our lives. Fulghum's observations made his book of essays an instant success and put it atop the best seller list for almost two years.

So how could a book of such elementary rules come as new information to adults? Because selfish pursuits tend to distract us from the truth that we expect our young children to grasp. And selfish pursuits are the favorite pastime of humankind.

When God delivered the law to Israel through Moses, it was one of the first acts of spelling out such a comprehensive list of laws for men. But even without the law, the human conscience has always informed men about what is right and wrong in God's eyes (Rom. 2:14-15). So commandments such as “Do not deceive one another” (v. 11) and “Do not defraud your neighbor” (v. 13) hardly came as a surprise to Israel. Still, having the commandments in writing gave a permanence and finality that any man, woman, or child could understand.

Among the precepts found in this chapter is an interesting command against overly thorough harvesting. Not only were the people to give a tenth of their harvest as a tithe to the Lord (Lev. 27:30), but they were also to leave whatever part of their crop remained after the first pass. It was a gesture of generosity shown to the poor and vagrants passing through the land. You might remember that Ruth would later become the beneficiary of that particular bit of legislation (Ruth 2). In this way, a provision intended for the poor gave food to a woman from whom the kings of Israel, and the King of Kings, would descend.
Another command found in this passage is also one of the hardest to obey: the warning against carrying anger and the exhortation to rebuke a neighbor's sin. It sounds so simple, but it requires a mature control over our emotions. If a neighbor is in sin, even if he or she sins against you, you must avoid both the temptation to dwell on your anger and the desire to look the other way completely. Ask the Lord for the courage and the control to confront the person lovingly.


Leviticus 19:1-37
Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. - Leviticus 18:5
One morning at breakfast, four-year-old Hannah complained about the food in front of her. Her dad admonished her not to gripe, especially when so many people in the world are starving or struggling to get enough to eat.

Her mom later said, “She quietly soaked in the comments. Later that day she came to me with the entire contents of her piggy bank: $3.47. She said, 'I’d like to give this to the Salvation Army to help the poor people.’ We were humbled and thankful.”

Several of the miscellaneous rules in today’s reading show God’s heart for justice and the poor (cf. Ps. 146:7, 8, 9). For example, harvesters were commanded not to reap their fields completely, but to leave enough for poor people to glean food. Employers were instructed to pay out daily wages to their hired men, since they relied on the money to provide immediate needs for their families. Before God, every person stands equal, and the same should hold true in human law: “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Leviticus 19:15).

Other rules listed here include provisions to protect those who may be weaker or less able to protect themselves. For example, people were not to discriminate against impaired individuals, including the deaf and blind. They were to show proper respect and care for the elderly. They were also to give fair treatment to non-Israelites who lived with them, which would have been quite unusual in that day and age (Leviticus 19:33, 34).

Some of these commands are repetitions of rules stated previously, including the Ten Commandments and instructions for the sacrifices. Others reinforced moral or spiritual points, such as the dictate against witchcraft and the instructions that prevented the Israelites from following pagan cultic practices (Leviticus 19:27, 28).
In this reading we have seen provisions in the Law for the well-being of the poor. Can you come up with a modern application?

Leviticus 19:1–8, 19–37
The Language of Sin and Holiness in Leviticus

Author and journalist A. J. Jacobs, who describes himself as a nominal Jew, devoted an entire year to obeying every one of the 613 Old Testament laws. His book, The Year of Living Biblically, describes his quest to "follow the Bible as literally as possible … without picking and choosing."

Leviticus 19 gives us a glimpse at the challenge that A. J. Jacobs faced and the questions he must have asked along the way. Some of the Levitical commands seem logical, such as the ones governing sexual practice and condemning idol worship. Other commands, like those that forbid a field be sown with two kinds of seed or those that insist on certain hairstyles, seem utterly strange. What could God have meant in all this seemingly haphazard, "Thou shall," and "Thou shall not"?

We turn to Leviticus 19 to introduce us, not only to the complexities of studying this book but also to its evident themes. Some things are clear. First, the book of Leviticus is a book where God, as the holy authority over His people, is at the center. The phrase, "And the Lord said to Moses," becomes its familiar refrain. These words spoken are God’s words. These commands are God’s. The authority is His and His alone, and His authority is grounded in His work of redemptive love and rescue.

Clear categories that emerge in the book of Leviticus: the clean and the unclean, the holy and the profane. In essence, as much as the holiness of God takes center stage in Leviticus, alongside it is the chronic reminder of humanity’s sin. What Leviticus does is to provide prescriptions, given by God, for bridging the divide and bringing sinful men and women near to Him. Leviticus is not only law but grace—an expression of the gracious inclination of God to provide a means for atonement.

Apply the Word - Jacobs makes no claims to be a "believer" after his year’s experiment. But he must have discovered the sheer impossibility of keeping even one of God’s commands. In the book of James, we’re reminded, "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (2:10). What desperate need we have for a Savior!

Leviticus 19:10, 33-35; 26:27-45
Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt. - Exodus 23:9
Anyone who has ever traveled knows how vulnerable the experience of being an “alien,” or foreigner, can be. This is particularly true if you don't speak the native language. It's easy to feel misunderstood, or even wonder if you're being taken advantage of somehow. For most of us, such experiences are temporary. There were, however, a number of alien residents within Israel, and we see the Lord's concern for these foreigners throughout the Mosaic Law.

Leviticus 19 is sometimes called the Community Code, because of its focus on farming and commercial practices, but it's also part of a larger section called the Holiness Code (Lev. 17-26). The placement of Leviticus 19 within the Holiness Code shows that every part of life in Israel somehow concerned holiness, even treatment of foreigners.

In Leviticus 19:10, we find instructions to leave some grapes for the poor and the alien, revealing God's heart for those most vulnerable to deprivation and exploitation. It was often difficult for foreigners to make a living, because they didn't have inheritance rights or access to land. We will see a similar provision for foreigners in the story of Ruth (see Dt. 24:19, 20, 21, 22). The basis for Israel's treatment of foreigners was the remembrance of what it was like to be a foreigner in Egypt (Leviticus 19:33, 34).

The passage from Leviticus 26 outlines the disaster that would befall the nation if it failed to keep God's ordinances. First, notice the horror of exile; instead of blessing the nations, Israel would be scattered among them to die (vv. 33, 38). This was the complete reversal of the covenant blessings and the consequence of failing to be the kind of witness the nation was intended to be.

Second, notice the link between Israel's actions and God's reputation among the nations. We have already seen how the nations “watched” as God delivered Israel from Egypt. In a similar way, God's faithfulness to His covenant promises could be observed by all the nations. Thus even when Israel sinned, God would remember His covenant “in the sight of the nations” (v. 45).
It's surprising how much of the Pentateuch addresses the concerns of foreigners. Using a concordance, look up “alien,” “foreigner,” and “stranger.” What are some of the specific concerns that are addressed? Ask yourself who the foreigners are in your midst. At one level, this could include anyone outside the body of Christ, but it could also include those from another country. Perhaps there are international students at a nearby college that you could befriend. Or maybe your church could help foreigners learn English.

Leviticus 19:35-36; Proverbs 16:11-13
The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight. - Proverbs 11:1
During the 1860 presidential campaign, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune sent Abraham Lincoln a biographical sketch to review before it was published. Among other information, the article said that Lincoln had read the Greek writer Plutarch. Lincoln returned the sketch to the reporter, telling him that although he had not read any of Plutarch’s writings before, he had read some since, so that the statement could be printed as accurate. “A scrupulous teller of the truth,” the reporter said of the future president.

There’s only one way to be honest, and that’s to be scrupulously honest. It’s hard to imagine what our culture would be like if this principle were applied across the board in the workplace. In the law, God gave Israel the best reason of all for practicing honesty in business: “I am the LORD your God.”

The Proverbs even say that the scales and weights used in business in that day were of God’s making, elevating honesty to a spiritual issue. The reference to kings and their love of honesty (Leviticus 19:12, 13) applies to leaders who really care about the way their kingdoms are run. A leadership based on righteousness and honesty will honor God and will likely be rewarded with honor in return.

John the Baptist was another “scrupulous teller of the truth” to the people who came out to hear him, and they were convicted by his message (Luke 3:7-14). Tax collectors were infamous for padding their accounts, and Roman soldiers were known to strong arm people for money. John called both groups to be honest in their work as a sign of true spiritual repentance (Luke 3:13, 14).

Some people’s honesty, or lack thereof, may make the world’s headlines. But God cares deeply how we respond in everyday situations, whether it’s telling the truth or refusing to “borrow” supplies from the office. He takes note of our actions and rewards accordingly.

Another word for honesty is integrity, a quality in short supply today.

Leviticus 19:17 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.

Merrill on in your heart - The Hebrew noun means "inner man, mind, will, heart" [BDB, 523]. It is a rich term that can speak not only of the internal organ known as the heart but in its abstract represents the totality of man's inner or immaterial part, the rational part of man. The majority of its uses are of the latter nature and it is always used this way in its three occurrences in Leviticus (here, Lev 26:36, 41). The false concept that the OT dealt merely with outward actions cannot be sustained when one considers such verses as this one. This command is satisfied not merely by not doing something hurtful to one's neighbor (Lev. 19:16 and preceding verses), but as the following sentence points out, it involves doing that which is helpful to him. The use of the term "brother" in the sentence under consideration occurs between two sentences that use two different terms for neighbor. It appears that there is no attempt to differentiate between a neighbor and a blood relative (i.e., brother) but rather all appear to refer to those of the community. This is substantiated by the following verse (see below). This same concept is specifically dealt with in the NT in 1John 2:9, 11; 3:15; 4:20. (Ibid)

Leviticus 19:18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.



Love your neighbor - Jesus combined this command with that of Dt 6:4-5, referring to these as the greatest commandments (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:28-31; Lk 10:27; cp Ro 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8).

Loving one's neighbor is tantamount to showing reverence to God.

Merrill - The construction here is the Hebrew verb with the preposition. This construction is used only here, Lev. 19:34, and 2Chr 19:2 and may emphasize the need for direct action toward one's neighbor. It stands in direct contrast to bearing a grudge, taking vengeance, or even showing apathy toward someone in need. Christ's reference in Mt. 22:39 to this "golden rule" of the OT may show his regard for the importance of Levitical law in his mind (see also its use in Matt. 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Ro 13:9; and Gal. 5:14). (Ibid)

Leviticus 19:19 'You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together. (Ge 36:24 2Sa 13:29 18:9 1Ki 1:33 Ezr 2:66) (mixed - Dt 22:9-11 Mt 9:16,17 Ro 11:6 2Co 6:14-17 Gal 3:9-11)

ICB - Obey my laws. You must not mate two different kinds of cattle. You must not sow your field with two different kinds of seed. You must not wear clothing made from two different kinds of material mixed together.

From loving one's neighbor, God shifts to breeding of cattle, sowing fields and fashion restrictions!

Open Bible - Fulfillment of these commands would represent a willingness to submit to God’s boundaries in the moral and ethical fields.

Wenham agrees observing that "In creation God separated between light and darkness, waters and waters. This ban on all mixtures, especially mixed breeding, shows man following in God’s steps. He must keep separate what God created separate. As God separated Israel from among the nations to be his own possession, so they must maintain their holy identity by not intermarrying with the nations (Dt. 7:3–6). Thus in the major and minor decisions of life, Israel was constantly reminded that she was different; that she was holy, set apart for God’s service. (NICOT)

Question.org has a discussion addressing the question "Does obeying the Law bring salvation" - It is difficult for a person who hasn’t been reared in legalism to understand Paul’s meaning when he speaks of the law “arousing sinful passions” and causing sin to “spring to life” (Romans 7:5-9). However, when someone has no other basis for forgiveness than keeping the law, they begin to view the law itself as the source of salvation. This, in turn, introduces such an emphasis on rules that rebellion is the natural result. A Jewish survivor of German concentration camps, Israel Shahak, described the extent to which Orthodox Judaism strives to avoid violations of the law: “The following example illustrates even better the level of absurdity reached by this system. One of the prototypes of work forbidden on the Sabbath is harvesting. This is stretched, by analogy, to a ban on breaking a branch off a tree. Hence, riding a horse (or any other animal) is forbidden, as a hedge against the temptation to break a branch off a tree for flogging the beast. It is useless to argue that you have a ready-made whip, or that you intend to ride where there are no trees. What is forbidden remains forbidden for ever. It can, however, be stretched and made stricter: in modern times, riding a bicycle on the Sabbath has been forbidden, because it is analogous to riding a horse.” (See continuation of Shahak's comments below) Dependency upon the law for righteousness and security before God results in rules so complicated and impossible to fulfill that they make life impossible. This results not only in hostility towards the law, but a desire to find ways to circumvent it.2 Fully aware of the law’s function and effect, Paul realized it was not the law, but faith that brings salvation. (Romans 4:9-16). But what is the basis of this saving faith? Assurance of salvation can’t be based on the law, as the law only magnifies consciousness of sin. Any attempt to achieve assurance on the basis of the law will produce greater guilt. (This is why children of legalistic Christians, Muslims, or Jews often become self-righteous bigots who project their own sinfulness on everyone else or rebels who reject all morality and tradition.) Faith in the law as a means of forgiveness for sin leads only to a cycle of desperate legalism leading either to self-righteous arrogance or despairing rebellion. The Jewish Bible offers a basis for faith outside of the law. It points to a Messiah who will bear the sins of His people (Genesis 22:1-8; Exodus 12:3-7; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-12). The church was founded on the confidence that Jesus was the Lamb of God ( John 1:29 ) 3, bearer of a gospel that offers forgiveness of sin (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 15:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:12). Unlike faith in the Law alone, faith in Jesus as the Messiah confirms the authority of the Law while offering deliverance from its condemnation, offering both Jews and Gentiles forgiveness and peace with God.

Shahak continues: “My final example illustrates how the same methods are used also in purely theoretical cases, having no conceivable application in reality. During the existence of the Temple, the High Priest was only allowed to marry a virgin. Although during virtually the whole of the Talmudic period there was no longer a Temple or a High Priest, the Talmud devotes one of its more involved (and bizarre) discussions to the precise definition of the term ‘virgin’ fit to marry a High Priest. What about a woman whose hymen had been broken by accident? Does it make any difference whether the accident occurred before or after the age of three? By the impact of metal or of wood? Was she climbing a tree? And if so, was she climbing up or down? Did it happen naturally or unnaturally? All this and much else besides is discussed in lengthy detail. And every scholar in classical Judaism had to master hundreds of such problems. Great scholars were measured by their ability to develop these problems still further, for as shown by the examples there is always scope for further developmentif only in one directionand such development did actually continue after the final redaction of the Talmud.” (Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion (pp. 40-41)) Israel Shahak offers examples of the kinds of subterfuges that orthodox Jews have used to “keep the law” in a way that allowed them a degree of normalcy in daily life: “Milking on the Sabbath. This has been forbidden in post-talmudic times, through the process of increasing religious severity mentioned above. The ban could easily be kept in the diaspora, since Jews who had cows of their own were usually rich enough to have non-Jewish servants, who could be ordered (using one of the subterfuges described below) to do the milking. The early Jewish colonists in Palestine employed Arabs for this and other purposes, but with the forcible imposition of the Zionist policy of exclusive Jewish labour there was need for a dispensation. (This was particularly important before the introduction of mechanised milking in the late 1950s.) Here too there was a difference between Zionist and non-Zionist rabbis. According to the former, the forbidden milking becomes permitted provided the milk is not white but dyed blue. This blue Saturday milk is then used exclusively for making cheese, and the dye is washed off into the whey. Non-Zionist rabbis have devised a much subtler scheme (which I personally witnessed operating in a religious kibbutz in 1952). They discovered an old provision which allows the udders of a cow to be emptied on the Sabbath, purely for relieving the suffering caused to the animal by bloated udders, and on the strict condition that the milk runs to waste on the ground. Now, this is what is actually done: on Saturday morning, a pious kibbutznik goes to the cowshed and places pails under the cows. (There is no ban on such work in the whole of the talmudic literature.) He then goes to the synagogue to pray. Then comes his colleague, whose ‘honest intention’ is to relieve the animals’ pain and let their milk run to the floor. But if, by chance, a pail happens to be standing there, is he under any obligation to remove it? Of course not. He simply ‘ignores’ the pails, fulfills his mission of mercy and goes to the synagogue. Finally a third pious colleague goes into the cowshed and discovers, to his great surprise, the pails full of milk. So he puts them in cold storage and follows his comrades to the synagogue. Now all is well, and there is no need to waste money on blue dye. “Similar dispensations were issued by zionist rabbis in respect of the ban (based on Leviticus 19:19) against sowing two different species of crop in the same field. Modern agronomy has however shown that in some cases (especially in growing fodder) mixed sowing is the most profitable. The rabbis invented a dispensation according to which one man sows the field lengthwise with one kind of seed, and later that day his comrade, who ‘does not know’ about the former, sows another kind of seed crosswise. However, this method was felt to be too wasteful of labour, and a better one was devised: one man makes a heap of one kind of seed in a public place and carefully covers it with a sack or piece of board. The second kind of seed is then put on top of the cover. Later, another man comes and exclaims, in front of witnesses, ‘I need this sack (or board)’ and removes it, so that the seeds mix ‘naturally.’ Finally, a third man comes along and is told, ‘Take this and sow the field,’ which he proceeds to do.” (Can Assurance of Salvation Be Found in Obeying the Old Testament Law- - Questions.org)

Leviticus 19: 20 'Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but who has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free. (Ex 21:20,21 Dt 22:23,24)


Leviticus 19:20-22

KJV - And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.

NLT - "'If a man sleeps with a woman who is a slave girl promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed.

ESV - "If a man lies sexually with a woman who is a slave, assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, a distinction shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free;

GWN - "If a man has sexual intercourse with a female slave who is engaged to another man and if her freedom was never bought or given to her, they should not be put to death. He will only pay a fine because she is a slave.

NET Note - That is, the woman had previously been assigned for marriage to another man but the marriage deal had not yet been consummated. In the meantime, the woman has lost her virginity and has, therefore, lost part of her value to the master in the sale to the man for whom she had been designated. Compensation was, therefore, required.

Punishment (01244)(biqqoreth) is a "due punishment, a reprimand along with other obligations for an offense or sin acted out." (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew) Note that in addition to recompense, the guilty man must also bring a guilt offering (Lev 19:21).

Wenham - In OT times sexual intercourse with a betrothed girl by someone who was not her fiancé was regarded as tantamount to adultery. Consequently both parties were liable to the death penalty. This law states an exception to the general principle of capital punishment; in such cases they must not be put to death (v. 20). The reason given for this exemption is because she was not free. Because she is a slave the death penalty applies neither to the girl nor to her seducer. (NICOT)

Leviticus 19:21 'He shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD to the doorway of the tent of meeting, a ram for a guilt offering. (Lev 5:1-6:7 )

ICB - The man must bring a male sheep as his penalty offering. He must bring it to the Lord at the entrance to the Meeting Tent.

Leviticus 19:22 'The priest shall also make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed, and the sin which he has committed will be forgiven him.

ICB - The priest will offer the male sheep as a penalty offering before the Lord. It will be for the man's sin. The priest will perform the acts to remove the sins of the man so he will belong to the Lord. Then the man will be forgiven for his sin.


Forgiven (05545)(salach) means to free from or release from something and so to pardon, to forgive, to spare. God's offer of pardon and forgiveness to sinners. Salach is never used of people forgiving each other but used of God forgiving. Jehovah Himself announces, in response to Moses' prayers for Israel, that He has forgiven Israel at two of their darkest moments, the golden calf incident and the murmuring at Kadesh Barnea (Ex 34:9; Nu 14:19-20).

Vine adds that

The basic meaning (of salach) undergoes no change throughout the Old Testament. God is always the subject of “forgiveness.” No other Old Testament verb means “to forgive,” although several verbs include “forgiveness” in the range of meanings given a particular context (e.g., naca and awon in Ex. 32:32; kapar in Ezek. 16:63)… Most occurrences of calach are in the sacrificial laws of Leviticus and Numbers. In the typology of the Old Testament, sacrifices foreshadowed the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, and the Old Testament believer was assured of “forgiveness” based on sacrifice (see Nu 15:25, 28)… he mediators of the atonement were the priests who offered the sacrifice. The sacrifice was ordained by God to promise ultimate “forgiveness” in God’s sacrifice of His own Son. Moreover, sacrifice was appropriately connected to atonement, as there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Lev. 4:20; cf. Heb. 9:22). Out of His grace, God alone “forgives” sin. The Israelites experienced God’s “forgiveness” in the wilderness and in the Promised Land. As long as the temple stood, sacrificial atonement continued and the Israelites were assured of God’s “forgiveness.” When the temple was destroyed and sacrifices ceased, God sent the prophetic word that He graciously would restore Israel out of exile and “forgive” its sins (Jer. 31:34).

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates salach with the Greek verb aphiemi (see word study) in all 9 uses of salach in the book of Leviticus. The verb aphiemi (from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi = put in motion, send; See also study on noun aphesis) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one's self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It depicts an action which causes separation that results in total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. In secular Greek aphiemi initially conveyed the sense of to throw and in one secular writing we read "let the pot drop" (aphiemi). From this early literal use the word came to mean leave or let go. Aphiemi basically means to send away and was used to indicate the legal repayment or cancellation of a debt or the granting of a pardon. It is used in Scripture to refer to God’s forgiveness of sin. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ actually took the sins of the world upon His own head, as it were, and carried them an infinite distance away from where they could never return. That is the extent of the forgiveness of our trespasses.

Salach - 46x in NAS - Ex 34:9; Lev 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7; 19:22; Num 14:19f; 15:25f, 28; 30:5, 8, 12; Dt 29:20; 1Sa 15:25; 1 Kgs 8:30, 34, 36, 39, 50; 2 Kgs 5:18; 24:4; 2 Chr 6:21, 25, 27, 30, 39; 7:14; Ps 25:11; 103:3; Isa 55:7; Jer 5:1, 7; 31:34; 33:8; 36:3; 50:20; Lam 3:42; Dan 9:19; Amos 7:2

Salach is translated as - forgive(19), forgiven(13), pardon(12), pardoned(2), pardons(1).

The first use is notable, where Moses intercedes for the rebellious nation of Israel…

Ex 34:9 And he said, “If now I have found favor in Thy sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate; and do Thou pardon (Lxx = aphaireo = take away, remove) our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Thine own possession.”


Other representative uses (if you have time, consider studying all 46 uses above for a fuller understand of pardon and forgiveness in the OT)…

Ps 25:11 For Thy name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Ps 103:3 Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases;

Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.


Walter Kaiser has an excellent summary on salach

One of the greatest evangelical notes in the OT is struck by this word: forgiveness and pardon from the very God of forgiveness. It also raises the greatest problem as well: What was the nature of this forgiveness? Hebrews seems to state just as categorically that OT forgiveness was ineffective and impossible (Heb 9:9; Heb 10:4). The resolution is clear. In the first place, Jehovah himself announces, in response to Moses’ prayers for Israel, that he has forgiven Israel at two of their darkest moments, the golden calf incident and the murmuring at Kadesh Barnea (Ex 34:9; Num 14:19–20). In the second place, on the basis of Mosaic legislation, real atonement and forgiveness were available for all sins except those of the defiant and unrepentant sinner (Num 15:30–31) who “despised the word of the Lord.” The claim is made repeatedly (Lev 4:20, 26, 31, 35, 5:10, 13, 16, 18, 26; 19:22) that when atonement was made, the sinner’s sins were forgiven. For all such sins as lying, theft, perjury, fraud (Lev 6:1–7), or those “against any of the Commandments of the Lord” (Lev 4:2), it was possible to obtain divine pardon. Rather than being excluded, these sins were specifically included in God’s provision for the ot believer along with “sins of ignorance” (Nu 15:25, 26, 28). As if to emphasize the point, it is stated repeatedly that on the Day of Atonement, “all the iniquities” and sins of Israel were atoned (Lev 16:21, 30, 32, 34). But the individual Israelites had to properly “humble themselves” in true confession (Lev 16:29, 31). This is the kind of forgiveness which Solomon prayed would be available to all as he led a prayer of dedication for the temple (1Kgs 8:30, 34, 39, 50, and its parallel in 2Chr 6). Amos requested it for Judah (Amos 7:2) as did Daniel (Da 9:19). However, at times Israel was not pardoned (Dt 29:19; La 3:42). So exciting was the openness of this offer of forgiveness that Isaiah (Isa 55:7) featured it as the heart of his invitation to salvation. So ready was their Lord to forgive, that Isaiah’s listeners must forget all notions based on the reluctance of men to forgive each other. The experience of forgiveness in the OT was personally efficacious, although objectively the basis and grounds of that forgiveness awaited the death of Christ. Other terms used for forgiveness stressed the ideas of wiping out or blotting out the memory of the sin (māâ), covering or concealing the record of the sin (kāsâ), lifting up and removal of sin (nāśā), passing by of sin (ābar), and pardoning on the basis of a substitute (kāpar in the Piel q.v.). Three texts in Jeremiah, 31:34; 33:8; 50:20, celebrate a future forgiveness of our Lord in connection with the New Covenant and ultimately his second coming. (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament- R Laird Harris, Gleason L Archer Jr., Bruce K. Waltke).

Leviticus 19:23 'When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten. (when: Lev 14:34) (forbidden or uncircumcised (KJV): Lev 12:3 Lev 22:27 Ex 6:12,30 Ex 22:29,30 Jer 6:10 Jer 9:25,26 Acts 7:51)

KJV - And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.


Lev 19:23-26

When you enter the land - Earlier God adds the description that the land is that "which I give you for possession." (Lev 14:34)

Forbidden (06190) (orlah) literally means foreskin.

Merrill - The Hebrew adjective orlah means "uncircumcised" and a figurative use of this term is used to denote that which is forbidden. The literal term mwl ("circumcised") has been dealt with in Lev 12:3. Here the term is one of contempt in light of the divine requirement for all the LORD'S male followers to be circumcised. As a term of contempt it is especially used of the Philistines (e.g., Jdg. 14:3; 15:18; 1Sa 14:6; 17:26, 36; 31:4; 2Sa 1:20; 1Chr 10:4). In the Prophets it is associated with those lacking spiritual life (Isa. 52:1; Jer. 6:10). In context in Lev. 19:23, the reason that the fruit of the land would be forbidden for three years after a tree was planted is not given, but proper adherence to this com-mand would provide an increased harvest in the end. (Ibid)

Orlah - 15x in NAS - Gen 17:11, 14, 23ff; 34:14; Ex 4:25; Lev 12:3; 19:23; Josh 5:3; 1 Sam 18:25, 27; 2 Sam 3:14; Jer 4:4; 9:25. Translated - forbidden(1), foreskin(7), foreskins(4), Gibeath-haaraloth*(1), uncircumcised(2).

NET Bible Note says the literal Hebrew is similar to the KJV translation…

"you shall circumcise its fruit [as] its foreskin," taking the fruit to be that which is to be removed and, therefore, forbidden. Since the fruit is uncircumcised it is forbidden (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 306, and esp. B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 131–32).

Ryrie explains - When they came to Canaan, they were not to eat fruit from the fruit trees for the first four years. (The first three years, it was considered unclean; the fourth, it was dedicated to the Lord.)

The Septuagint translation would tend to substantiate Ryrie's explanation…

Leviticus 19:23 And whenever ye shall enter into the land which the Lord your God gives you, and shall plant any fruit-tree, then shall ye purge away its uncleanness (Gk - akatharsia = literally worthless material, waste, figuratively impurity, the opposite of that which is holy); its fruit shall be three years uncleansed (Gk = aperikathartos = unpurified, impure, used only here in the Bible) to you, it shall not be eaten.

MacArthur adds - Some gardeners say preventing a tree from bearing fruit in the first years, by cutting off the blossoms, makes it more productive.

Barnes comments on fruit … uncircumcised as

unfit for presentation to Jehovah. In regard to its spiritual lesson, this law may be compared with the dedication of the first-born of beasts to Jehovah (Ex. 13:12, 34:19). Its meaning in a moral point of view was plain, and tended to illustrate the spirit of the whole Law.

It is interesting to note that the secular Laws of Hammurabi (old Babylonian law = Code of Hammurabi) had a specific law dealing with orchards…

If, when a seignior gave a field to a gardener to set out an orchard, the gardener set out the orchard, he shall develop the orchard for four years; in the fifth year the owner of the orchard and the gardener shall divide equally, with the owner of the orchard receiving his preferential share. (The Ancient Near East- An Anthology of Texts and Pictures)

Freeman explains…

FRUIT OF YOUNG TREES FORBIDDEN - The fruit of young trees was not to be eaten until the fourth year after being planted, because of certain heathen superstitions. Maimonides says that the idolaters believed that unless the first-fruits of every tree were used in connection with certain idolatrous ceremonies the tree would suffer some great harm, and perhaps die. They further made use of magical rites for the purpose of hastening the bearing of fruit. The law in the text was aimed at this folly, for as no fruit could be touched until the fourth year, the Hebrews could not offer the first of the fruit as the idolaters did ; nor would it be of any use to seek, by incantations and sprinklings, to hasten the coming of the fruit, since they could not eat it before the time designated, and long before that it would come naturally. (Handbook of Bible manners and customs - published in 1875)

The New Manners & customs of the Bible offers a slightly different explanation…

Like many of God’s laws given to the Israelites, this one had a practical purpose rather than a spiritual one. The basic purpose of a tree’s fruit is to fertilize and reproduce itself. The fertilization takes place as the fruit falls to the ground under the tree and decays; the reproduction occurs as the seeds are consumed by birds—or the fruit-seed combination consumed by ground animals—and spread to other places in their droppings. If the fruit of a newly planted tree is picked and eaten the first few years, as people even today are wont to do, then the tree’s natural fertilization doesn’t occur, and though the tree may grow it is considerably weakened. This is the same as human beings who don’t have proper nourishment during their initial stages of growth and development. Today, most horticultural advice is to not pick the fruit of a newly planted tree for the first 3–4 years, and allow the fallen fruit to remain on the ground and decay into natural fertilizer, but few people do. It was the same in the days of the Israelites. So to help them grow their newly planted fruit trees properly, God could either give them instantaneous horticultural knowledge, or give them a spiritual law based on his natural laws of fruit tree growth and development. Obviously, doing the first would have caused some problems, so in His wisdom He chose to do the second.


Wenham commenting on the laws of the orchard writes that…

Holiness involves the total consecration of a man’s life and labor to God’s service. This was symbolized in the giving of one day in seven, and a tithe of all produce, and also in the dedication of the firstfruits of agriculture. This principle covers not only crops (Ex 23:19; Lev. 23:10; Dt. 26:1ff.) but also animals (Ex. 34:19–20; Dt 15:19) and even children (Ex 13:2; Nu 8:16ff.). By dedicating the first of everything to God, the man of the Old Covenant publicly acknowledged that all he had was from God, and he thanked him for his blessings (1Chr 29:14). In the case of fruit trees, however, little fruit is borne in the early years, and this law specifies that it is the fourth year’s crop that counts as the firstfruits and must be dedicated to God. (NICOT)


Leviticus 19:24 'But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. (all the: Nu 18:12,13 Dt 12:17,18 Dt 14:28,29 Dt 18:4 Pr 3:9)

Related Resource:

Deut 18:4 “You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine, and your oil, and the first shearing of your sheep.

All its fruit shall be holy - All shall be dedicated to the Lord as an "offering of praise." This was an act of worship.

W H Mare writes that

that which is first and best belongs to God and is to be given to Him. Because of God's creative power and ownership of all, the Bible instructs believers to give God the best of the animal sacrifices (see Leviticus 1-5 ). The land is also viewed as a gift from God and the best of it, its "firstfruits, " is to be given to him—crops (Exodus 23:16,19 ), the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22 ; Leviticus 2:14 ; 23:20 ), olive oil (Numbers 18:12 ; Deuteronomy 18:4 ), the finest new wine (Numbers 18:12 ; Deuteronomy 18:4 ), honey (2 Chronicles 31:5 ), sheep wool (Deuteronomy 18:4 ), and fruit (Nehemiah 10:35 ). The Old Testament makes it clear that everything that God's people have is to be viewed as from God and gained through his providence (Psalm 50:10 ). (Firstfruits - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

Proverbs reiterates this principle…

Honor the LORD from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; (Pr 3:9)

Leviticus 19:25 'In the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit, that its yield may increase for you; I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:26 'You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying.

Merrill on practice divination—The verb /IV ("practice divination, divine, observe signs") [BDB, 638] is found only in this verse in all of Leviticus. It obviously refers to a practice that is dealt with also in Lev 19:31 and again in Lev. 20:6 though in those places different terms are used. In the OT this verb is found only in the intensive stem (Piel) and is first used in Gen. 30:27 when Laban claims that he "learned by divination" that the LORD had blessed him because of Jacob. Divination is forbidden here in Lev. 19:26 and in Deut. 18:10. It is listed as one of the reasons the northern kingdom of Israel went into exile (2 Kings 17:17). Later evil King Manasseh of Judah engaged in this sinful practice too (2Ki 21:6; 2Chr 33:6). (Ibid)

Merrill on soothsaying—The verb used here ("practice soothsaying") [BDB, 778], like the verb tilts above, is found only in this verse in all of Leviticus. It, too, obviously refers to a practice that is dealt with in v. 31 and again in Lev. 20:6, though this same term is not used. This verb is found a total of llx in the OT and its exact meaning is uncertain (R. Allen, TWOT, 2:685). Since the root is similar to one for clouds it could be suggested that the practice was in some way connected to "reading and interpreting" the clouds. Another suggestion is that this is an onomatopoetic word whose sound would be used by the one practicing this method (R. Allen, TWOT, 2:685). Just how this would function is unclear. Whatever the method, the experience is forbidden here and in Deut. 18:10. Evil king Manasseh practiced this art (2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr 33:6). The Prophets disparage this sinful custom (Isa. 2:6; 57:3; Jer. 27:9; Mic. 5:12). (Ibid)

Leviticus 19:27 'You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. (Lev 21:5 Isa 15:2 Jer 16:6 Jer 48:37 Eze 7:18 Ezek 44:20 )

Lev 21:5 ‘They (priests) shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.

Isa 15:2 They (context Isa 15:1) have gone up to the temple and to Dibon, even to the high places to weep. Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba; Everyone’s head is bald and every beard is cut off.

Note: Association of idol worship with cutting hair! Interesting.

Jer 9:26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the sons of Ammon, and Moab, and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”

Jer 48:37 (context = Jer 48:36) “For every head is bald and every beard cut short; there are gashes on all the hands and sackcloth on the loins.

Ryrie - This prohibits shaving around the temples and ears, leaving only a crown of hair on the top of the head, as well as mutilating the beard--practices of the heathen (cf. Jer. 9:26; 25:23; Ezek. 5:1)


IDOLATROUS USE OF HAIR - Among the ancients the hair was often used in divination. The worshipers of the stars and planets cut their hair evenly around, trimming the extremities. According to Herodotus the Arabs were accustomed to shave the hair around the head, and let a tuft stand up on the crown in honor of Bacchus. He says the same thing concerning the Macians, a people of Northern Africa. This custom is at present common in India and China. The Chinese let the tuft grow until it is long enough to be plaited into a tail. By the idolaters the beard was also carefully trimmed round and even. This was forbidden to the Jews. Dr. Robinson says, that to this day the Jews in the East are distinguished in this respect from the Mohammedans the latter trimming their beard, the former allowing the extremities to grow naturally. It was also an ancient superstitious custom to cut off the hair at the death of friends and throw it into the sepulcher on the corpse. It was sometimes laid on the face and breast of the deceased as an offering to the infernal gods. From the verse following it would seem that this custom, as well as the other, may be referred to in the text. The expression "utmost corners" in Jer 9:26; Jer 25:23; Jer 44:32 refers not to any dwelling-place, but to the custom forbidden in Leviticus; and accordingly the margin reads, "cut off into corners, or having the corners [of their hair] polled." (Handbook of Bible manners and customs - published in 1875)

This forbids shaving around the temples and ears, leaving only a crown of hair on the top of the head, as well as mutilating the beard, which were practices of the heathen. In Jeremiah 9:26 the KJV reads: “Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” It is believed that here the expression “all that in the utmost corners,” is better translated “who clip the hair on their temples” or “who cut the corners of their hair.” This was a practice honoring the gods of the heathen, and is that which is condemned in Leviticus 19:27. See also Leviticus 21:5; Jeremiah 25:23, 49:32; and Ezekiel 5:1. (Ibid)

Leviticus 19:28 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (cuttings: Lev 21:5 Dt 14:1 1Ki 18:28 Jer 16:6 48:37 Mk 5:5) (Tattoo: Rev 13:16,17 14:9,11 15:2 16:2 19:20 20:4

Lev 21:5 ‘They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.

Deut 14:1 “You are the sons of the LORD your God (Ed: Therefore because you belong to Him, you are to obey His wishes in order to be pleasing to Him and so… ); you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead.

1Kgs 18:28 So they (pagan priests in a spiritual battle with Elijah - guess who won?) cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. (The ICB paraphrase - So the prophets prayed louder. They cut themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed. This was the way they worshiped.)

What's so wrong with a tattoo? Cutting and tattooing were done by godless pagans of the land to which Israel would soon enter. And so God forbade His people from this practice, which they otherwise might be tempted to do in order to imitate the. Tattooing was sometimes accompanied by shaving the hair from the forehead.


MEMORIAL CUTTINGS-TATTOOING - The custom of scratching the arms, hands, and face as tokens of mourning for the dead is said to have existed among the Babylonians, Armenians, Scythians, and Romans, and is practiced by the Arabs, Persians, and Abyssinians of the present day, and also by the New Zealanders. It was sometimes accompanied by shaving the hair from the forehead. See Lev. 21:5 ; Dt 14:1; Jer 16:6, 48:37. Some suppose that reference is made in Zech. 13:6. to this custom of cutting the hands as a token of mourning.

The Orientals are very fond of tattooing. Figures of birds, tree, flowers, temples, and gods are carefully and painfully marked in their flesh with colors by the puncturing of sharp needles. This is still done in India for idolatrous purposes, and, in the time of Moses, probably had some connection with idolatry. Others do it for eccentric desire of adornment, as we sometimes find our own sailors printing their names and making representations of ships, anchors, and other objects on their arms by means of needles and india-ink, the latter mingling with the blood drawn by the needles, and leaving an indelible mark of a light blue. See note on Isa. 44:16, and also on Gal. 6:17. (Handbook of Manners and Customs - 1875)

Wenham adds…

This is usually taken to be simply a prohibition of pagan mourning rites, but there is more to it than this. Mourning was not discouraged, only those customs which involved physical disfigurement. This law conforms to other holiness rules which seek to uphold the natural order of creation and preserve it from corruption (cf. Lev 19:19; 18:22–23; 21:17ff.). God created man in his image and pronounced all creation very good (Gen. 1). Man is not to disfigure the divine likeness implanted in him by scarring his body. The external appearance of the people should reflect their internal status as the chosen and holy people of God (Dt. 14:1–2). Paul uses a similar line of argument in 1 Cor. 6. The body of the believer belongs to Christ, therefore “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). (NICOT)


Leviticus 19:29 'Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.

KJV - Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

ICB - "'You must not make your daughter become a prostitute. That only shows you do not respect her. If you do this, the country will be filled with all kinds of sin.

NIV - "'Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

NLT - "Do not defile your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will be filled with promiscuity and detestable wickedness.

Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot - This surely alludes to the common practice of girls functioning as Temple prostitutes or cult prostitutes (often referred to as "holy girls"). In addition Prostitution was often associated with idolatrous practices (Ex 34:16; Lev 17:7; Hos 4:10, 18; Hos 5:3). How applicable is this prohibition is to our modern world where sex trafficking is an increasing problem and a tragedy beyond words!

NET Note - "to make her practice harlotry." Some recent English versions regard this as religious or temple prostitution (cf. TEV, CEV).

Profane (In this verse the NAS uses the noun chol; the KJV uses the verb form chalal - discussed below) (02455) (chol) is a noun which describes that which is profane, common or ordinary. Chol is derived from the verb chalal (see below). Chol is that which is not holy or set apart and thus not to used for sacred worship or service. It is therefore not surprising that chol is always used in opposition to qodes (06944) the noun meaning a holy thing, that which has been set apart for sacred use and which is not to be subjected to any use deemed profane or common.

Chol - 11x in NAS - Lev 10:10; 18:21; 19:12, 29; 20:3; 1Sa 21:4-5; Ezek 22:26; 42:20; 44:23; 48:15 NAS translates - common use (1), ordinary (2), profane (8).

Prostitute (Profane, degrade) (As noted above the NAS uses the noun chol in this verse and the KJV uses the verb chalal) (02490)(chalal) has a somewhat confusing etymology (at least to me as I am not a Hebrew scholar). Thus the core meaning of this root and its history in cognate languages is rather uncertain. However from the contextual uses in the OT, the verb chalal conveys several different meanings…

(1) To play on the flute (the least common meaning) 1Ki 1:40; Ps 87:7

(2) To pierce or bore Ex 32:26; Ezek 28:9 Messianic passage Isa 53:5

(3) To profane, defile, pollute; prostitute; make common; loose; to break. (the most common meaning) In fact the first OT use of chalal describes sexual defilement or incest (Ge 49:4)

To profane means to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt.

Vine - This may be a ritual defilement, such as that resulting from contact with a dead body (Lev. 21:4), or the ceremonial profaning of the sacred altar by the use of tools in order to shape the stones (Ex. 20:25). Holy places may be profaned (Ezek. 7:24); the name of God (Ezek 20:9) and even God Himself (Ezek. 22:26) may be profaned. The word is often used to describe the defilement which results from illicit sexual acts, such as harlotry (Lev 21:9)

Baker - (To profane speaks) primarily of the ceremonial objects of worship (Ex. 20:25; Ezek 44:7; Dan. 11:31-note); of the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14; Neh. 13:17; Ezek. 23:38); of God’s name (Lev. 18:21; Jer. 34:16); of God’s priests (Lev. 21:4, 6). However, it also refers to sexual defilement (Gen. 49:4; Lev. 21:9); the breaking of a covenant (Ps. 89:31, 34; Mal. 2:10-note); and making a vineyard common (Deut. 20:6; 28:30).

(4) To begin, to proceed, to launch, to initiate a process (This meaning is seen in the causative form of chalal) (2Chr. 3:2) - "In more than 50 instances, this root is used in the sense of “to begin.” Perhaps the most important of such uses is found in Gen. 4:26." (Vine)

The Septuagint (Lxx) uses bebeloo (BDAG = "to cause something highly revered to become identified with the commonplace, violate sanctity, desecrate, profane." Bebeloo evolves from “accessible,” then “what may be said publicly,” then in the LXX “what may be used freely,” then “of a profane disposition”). The verb Bebeloo is derived from bebelos (see word study) for chalal. Bebelos refers to a disregarding what is to be kept sacred or holy desecrate, violate, ritually defile. The meaning of this adjective is nicely conveyed by our English word profane which describes that which disregards what is to be kept sacred or holy. Bebelos thus describes that which is accessible to everyone and therefore devoid of real significance. Bebelos can thus describe that which is worldly as opposed to having an interest in transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe) matters.

Webster on to profane - to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt; to violate or debase anything holy by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use. To treat something (some One) holy as irreverent. To treat that which is holy as common. The English word "profane" is derived from the Latin profanus which means "outside the temple, not sacred" and in turn is derived from pro- ‘before’ + fanum = ‘temple’.

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary - Profane = to treat anything holy with disrespect. In the Bible, many things could be profaned by disregarding God’s laws about their correct use: the Sabbath (Is. 56:6), the Temple (Acts 24:6), the covenant (Mal. 2:10), and God’s Name (Ex. 19:22). The term “profane” is often applied to foolish or irresponsible people. Esau, who sold his birthright, was a “profane” person (Heb. 12:16).

Hasting's Dictionary - ‘To profane’ is ‘to make ceremonially unclean,’ ‘to make unholy.’ And so a ‘profane person’ ( Hebrews 12:16 ) is an ‘ungodly person,’ a person of common, coarse life, not merely of speech.

Webster on to defile - to make unclean or impure; to corrupt the purity or perfection of and implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred and commonly suggests violation or desecration.

Webster on to prostitute - to devote to corrupt or unworthy purposes, to debase (to lower in status, esteem, quality, or character); To offer freely to a lewd use (Given to the unlawful indulgence of lust), or to indiscriminate lewdness; To give up to any vile or infamous purpose; to devote to any thing base; to sell to wickedness; to put to an unworthy or corrupt use for the sake of gain.

Chalal - 131x in KJV - Gen 4:26; 6:1; 9:20; 10:8; 11:6; 41:54; 44:12; 49:4; Ex 20:25; 31:14; Lev 18:21; 19:8, 12, 29; 20:3; 21:4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 23; 22:2, 9, 15, 32; Num 16:46f; 18:32; 25:1; 30:2; Deut 2:24f, 31; 3:24; 16:9; 20:6; 28:30; Josh 3:7; Jdg 10:18; 13:5, 25; 16:19, 22; 20:31, 39f; 1 Sam 3:2, 12; 14:35; 22:15; 1Kgs 1:40; 2Kgs 10:32; 15:37; 1Chr 1:10; 5:1; 27:24; 2Chr 3:1f; 20:22; 29:17, 27; 31:7, 10, 21; 34:3; Ezra 3:6, 8; Neh 4:7; 13:17f; Esther 6:13; 9:23; Ps 55:20; 74:7; 87:7; 89:31, 34, 39; 109:22; Isa 23:9; 43:28; 47:6; 48:11; 51:9; 53:5; 56:2, 6; Jer 16:18; 25:29; 31:5; 34:16; Lam 2:2; Ezek 7:21f, 24; 9:6; 13:19; 20:9, 13f, 16, 21f, 24, 39; 22:8, 16, 26; 23:38f; 24:21; 25:3; 28:7, 9, 16, 18; 32:26; 36:20ff; 39:7; 44:7; Da 11:31; Hos 8:10; Amos 2:7; Jonah 3:4; Zeph 3:4; Mal 1:12; 2:10f

KJV translates chalal as - begin 52, profane 36, pollute 23, defile 9, break 4, wounded 3, eat 2, slay 2, first 1, gather grapes 1, inheritance 1, began men 1, piped 1, players 1, prostitute 1, sorrow 1, stain 1, eat as common things 1; 141

Lewdness (02154) (zimmah) See word study Leviticus 18:17.

Leviticus 19:30 'You shall keep My Sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD.

Leviticus 19:31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

KJV - Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

Merrill on Mediums ("necromancer") [BDB, 15] was probably one who practiced consulting the dead (cf. 1Sa 28:7) but modern versions have translated this term in a variety of ways including "medium, ghost, spirit, spirit of the dead, necromancer, and wizard." Since 1 Samuel is the only historical narrative that describes this type of person, it appears that the method employed must have included consulting the dead in some manner (1 Sam. 28:8). This same prohibition against this practice is repeated in Lev. 20:6, 27 and Deut. 18:11. It is condemned by the Prophet Isaiah (Isa. 8:19). God's people were not to obtain knowledge by anyone who claimed to receive knowledge other than a true prophet of the LORD God. (Ibid)

Merrill on Spiritists—This term, which modern translations render as "spiritist, wizard, fortune-teller, familiar spirit, spirit, magician, and sorcerer" probably describes one who practiced obtaining esoteric knowledge not available to the ordinary person (J. Lewis, TWOT, 1:367). The word is a masculine noun that comes from the verb yd' ("to know"). It may be that the only difference between this term and the term 'a (see above), which almost always occur in parallel to each other (here, Lev. 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:11; 1 Sam. 28:3, 9; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; 2 Chron. 33:6; Isa. 8:19; 19:3), is that the obtaining of knowledge was by different methods although the specifics on this are no longer available. These methods may have included consulting the dead (1 Sam. 28:8), examining livers (Ezek. 21:21), or even reading something like cloud formations. This same prohibition is repeated in Lev. 20:6, 27 and Deut. 18:11. God's people were not to obtain knowledge by anyone who claimed to receive knowledge other than a true prophet of the LORD God. How the later kings of Judah dealt with such people becomes a significant factor in their evaluation as being either good or bad (e.g., 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6). (Ibid)

Leviticus 19:32 'You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.

Revering old people equates with revering God.

Merrill on aged —The term for "elderly" occurs in the plural earlier in Leviticus (Lev. 4:15 and Lev 9:1), both times in the context referring to those older Israelites who were regarded as leaders; ones with authority for the congregation. Here the noun in the singular does not appear restricted to those in leadership roles but, rather, used in combination with the Hebrew word for aged, seems to refer broadly to those advanced in years. These two terms are also used in parallel in Isa. 46:4 and Ps. 71:18. God himself is pictured in the Scriptures as one with white hair (Dan. 7:9) as a symbol of experience and wisdom and one worthy of honor (Prov. 16:31). (Ibid)

Leviticus 19:33 'When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.

Leviticus 19:34 'The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

Apologetics Study Bible - Concern for the poor, the widow, and the orphan is widespread throughout the ancient Near East and in the OT (Ex 22:21–22; 23:9; Lev 19:33–34; Dt 15:7–11; 24:14, 17; 27:19; Jer 7:6; 22:3; Zech 7:10). Israelite law is unique however, in mandating kind treatment for the alien or stranger. But the motivation for such benevolence is not derived from its social value; it is based on the need to reflect the Lord’s holiness.

Leviticus 19:35 'You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity.

Leviticus 19: 36 'You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt. (

Leviticus 19:36 (Morning and Evening) - “Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have.” — Leviticus 19:36

Weights, and scales, and measures were to be all according to the standard of justice. Surely no Christian man will need to be reminded of this in his business, for if righteousness were banished from all the world beside, it should find a shelter in believing hearts. There are, however, other balances which weigh moral and spiritual things, and these often need examining. We will call in the officer to-night.

The balances in which we weigh our own and other men’s characters, are they quite accurate? Do we not turn our own ounces of goodness into pounds, and other persons’ bushels of excellence into pecks? See to weights and measures here, Christian. The scales in which we measure our trials and troubles, are they according to standard? Paul, who had more to suffer than we have, called his afflictions light, and yet we often consider ours to be heavy—surely something must be amiss with the weights! We must see to this matter, lest we get reported to the court above for unjust dealing. Those weights with which we measure our doctrinal belief, are they quite fair? The doctrines of grace should have the same weight with us as the precepts of the word, no more and no less; but it is to be feared that with many one scale or the other is unfairly weighted. It is a grand matter to give just measure in truth. Christian, be careful here. Those measures in which we estimate our obligations and responsibilities look rather small. When a rich man gives no more to the cause of God than the poor contribute, is that a just ephah and a just hin? When ministers are half starved, is that honest dealing? When the poor are despised, while ungodly rich men are held in admiration, is that a just balance? Reader, we might lengthen the list, but we prefer to leave it as your evening’s work to find out and destroy all unrighteous balances, weights, and measures.

Leviticus 19: 37'You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD.'"