Bible Commentary

Leviticus 19

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

<< Leviticus 18 | Leviticus 19 | Leviticus 20 >>
(Read all of Leviticus 19)

Verse 2

[2] Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

Be ye holy — Separated from all the forementioned defilements, and entirely consecrated to God and obedient to all his laws.

I am holy — Both in my essence, and in all my laws, which are holy and just and good.

Verse 3

[3] Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

His mother — The mother is put first, partly because the practice of this duty begins there, mothers, by perpetual converse, being sooner known to their children than their fathers; and partly because this duty is commonly neglected to the mother, upon whom children have not so much dependence as they have upon their father. And this fear includes the two great duties of reverence and obedience.

And keep my sabbaths — This is added, to shew, that, whereas it is enjoined to parents that they should take care the sabbath be observed both by themselves and their children, it is the duty of children to fear and obey their parents in this matter. But that, if parents should neglect their duty herein, or by their command, counsel, or example, draw them to pollute the sabbath, the children in that case must keep the sabbath, and prefer the command of God before the commands of their parents.

Verse 4

[4] Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.

Idols — The word signifies such as are no Gods, or nothings, as they are called, 1 Corinthians 8:4, many idols having no being, but in the fancy of their worshippers, and all of them having no virtue or power to do good or evil, Isaiah 41:23.

Verse 5

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

At your own will — Or, according to your own pleasure, what you think fit: For though this in general was required, yet it was left to their choice to determine the particulars.

Verse 6

[6] It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.

On the morrow — He speaks here of that sort of peace-offerings, which were offered either by vow or freely for the obtaining of some mercy, for the other sort, which was by way of gratitude for mercies received, were to be eaten the same day.

Verse 10

[10] And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

I am the Lord your God — Who gave you all these things with a reservation of my right in them, and with a charge of giving part of them to the poor.

Verse 12

[12] And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Ye shall not swear falsely — This is added, to shew how one sin draws on another, and that when men will lye for their own advantage, they will easily be induced to perjury.

Profane the name — By any unholy use of it. So it is an additional precept, thou shalt not abuse my holy name by swearing either falsely or rashly.

Verse 14

[14] Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.

Before the blind — To make them fall. Under these two particulars are manifestly forbidden all injuries done to such as are unable to right or defend themselves; of whom God here takes the more care, because they are not able to secure themselves.

Fear thy God — Who both can and will avenge them.

Verse 15

[15] Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

The poor — So as through pity to him to give an unrighteous sentence.

Verse 16

[16] Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

Stand against the blood — In judgment as a false accuser or false witness, for accusers and witnesses use to stand, whilst the judges sit in courts of judicature.

Verse 17

[17] Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

Thou shalt not hate — As thou dost, in effect, if thou dost not rebuke him.

Thy brother — The same as thy neighbour, that is, every man. If thy brother hath done wrong, thou shalt neither divulge it to others, nor hate him, and smother that hatred by sullen silence; nor flatter him therein, but shalt freely and in love, tell him of his fault.

And not suffer sin upon him — Not suffer him to lie under the guilt of any sin, which thou by rebuking him, and thereby bringing him to repentance, couldst free him from.

Verse 18

[18] Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

Thy neighbour — Every man, as plainly appears, 1. By comparing this place with Leviticus 19:34, where this law is applied to strangers. 2. Because the word neighbour is explained by another man, Leviticus 20:10; Romans 13:8.

As thyself — With the same sincerity, though not equality of affection.

Verse 19

[19] Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender — This was prohibited, partly to restrain the curiosity and boldness of men, who might attempt to amend or change the works of God, partly that by the restraint here laid even upon brute-creatures men might be taught to abhor all unnatural lusts, partly to teach the Israelites to avoid mixtures with other nations, either in marriage or in religion, which also may be signified by the following prohibitions.

Verse 20

[20] 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.

She shall be scourged — Heb. There shall be a scourging, which probably may belong to both of them, for 1. Both were guilty. 2. It follows, they shall not be punished with death, which may seem to imply that they were to be punished by some other common and considerable punishment, which scourging indeed was, but the paying of a ram was a small penalty and very unsuitable to the greatness of the offence. And the offering of the ram as a trespass offering for the sin against God, is not inconsistent with making satisfaction other ways for the injury done to men, but only added here as farther punishment to the man, either because he only could do this, and not the woman, who being a bondwoman had nothing of her own to offer. Or because his sex and his freedom aggravated his sin.

Not put to death — Which they should have been, had she been free, Deuteronomy 22:23,24. The reason of this difference is not from any respect which God gives to persons, for bond and free are alike to him, but because bond-women were scarce wives, and their marriages were scarce true-marriages, being neither made by their choice, but their masters authority, nor continued beyond the year of release, but at her master's or husband's pleasure.

Verse 23

[23] 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.

As uncircumcised — That is, As unclean, not to be eaten but cast away. This precept was serviceable, 1. To the trees themselves, which grew the better and faster, being early stript of those fruits, which otherwise would have drawn away much more of the strength from the tree. 2. To men, both because the fruit then was less wholesome, and because hereby men were taught to bridle their appetites; a lesson of great use and absolute necessity in a holy life.

Verse 24

[24] But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal.

Holy — Consecrated to the Lord, as the first-fruits and tithes were, and therefore given to the priests and Levites, Numbers 18:12,13 Deuteronomy 18:4 yet so that part of them were communicated to the poor widows and fatherless and strangers. See Deuteronomy 14:28. To bless the Lord, by whose power and goodness the trees bring forth fruit to perfection.

Verse 25

[25] And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God.

That it may yield the increase — That God may be pleased to give his blessing, which alone can make them fruitful.

Verse 26

[26] Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.

Any thing with the blood — Any flesh out of which the blood is poured.

Neither shall ye use enchantments — It was unpardonable in them, to whom were committed the oracles of God, to ask counsel of the devil. And yet worse in Christians, to whom the son of God is manifested, to destroy the works of the devil. For Christians to have their nativities cast, or their fortunes told, or to use charms for the cure of diseases, is an intolerable affront to the Lord Jesus, a support of idolatry, and a reproach both to themselves, and to that worthy name by which they are called.

Nor observe times — Superstitiously, esteeming some days lucky, others unlucky.

Verse 27

[27] Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.

The corners of your heads — That is your temples, ye shall not cut off the hair of your heads round about your temples. This the Gentiles did, either for the worship of their idols, to whom young men used to consecrate their hair, being cut off from their heads, as Homer, Plutarch and many others write; or in funerals or immoderate mournings, as appears from Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:37. And the like is to be thought concerning the beard or the hair in the corner, that is, corners of the beard. The reason then of this prohibition is because God would not have his people agree with idolaters, neither in their idolatries, nor in their excessive sorrowing, no nor so much as in the appearances of it.

Verse 28

[28] Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

Cuttings in your flesh — Which the Gentiles commonly did both in the worship of their idols, and in their solemn mournings, Jeremiah 16:6.

Verse 29

[29] 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.

Do not prostitute — As the Gentiles frequently did for the honour of some of their idols, to whom women were consecrated, and publickly prostituted.

Verse 31

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

Wizards — Them that have entered into covenant with the devil, by whose help they foretel many things to come, and acquaint men with secret things. See Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:3,7,9; 2 Kings 21:6.

Verse 32

[32] Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

Rise up — To do them reverence when they pass by, for which end they were obliged, as the Jews say, presently to sit down again when they were past, that it might be manifest they arose out of respect to them.

Fear thy God — This respect is due to such, if not for themselves, yet for God's sake, who requires this reverence, and whose singular blessing old age is.

Verse 33

[33] And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.

Vex him — Either with opprobrious expressions, or grievous exactions.

Verse 34

[34] But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

As one born among you — Either 1, as to the matters of common right, so it reacheth to all strangers. Or 2, as to church-privileges, so it concerns only those who were proselytes.

Ye were strangers — And therefore are sensible of the fears, distresses, and miseries of such, which call for your pity, and you ought to do to them, as you desired others should do to you, when you were such.

Verse 35

[35] Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.

In mete-yard — In the measuring of lands, or dry things, as cloth, ribband.

In measure — In the measuring liquid or such dry things as are only contigious, as corn or wine.

Verse 36

[36] Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.

A just ephah and a just hin — These two two measures are named as most common, the former for dry, the latter for moist things, but under them he manifestly comprehends all other measures.

Verse 37

[37] Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD.

Therefore — Because my blessings and deliverances are not indulgences to sin, but greater obligations to all duties to God and men.

<< Leviticus 18 | Leviticus 19 | Leviticus 20 >>