Leviticus Chapter 19  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Leviticus 19
Lev 19:1(top)
Lev 19:2(top)
Lev 19:3(top)
Lev 19:4

“idols.” The Hebrew text has the word 'eliyl (#0457 אֱלִיל), more literally “Worthless Ones” or “worthless things,” a sarcastic name for “idols” (see commentary on Hab. 2:18, “Worthless Ones”).

Lev 19:5(top)
Lev 19:6(top)
Lev 19:7

“eaten, yes, eaten.” God uses the figure of speech polyptoton for emphasis (see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

[See figure of speech “polyptoton.”]

Lev 19:8(top)
Lev 19:9

“you are not to entirely harvest the corners of your field​.” God has great concern for the poor and disadvantaged. He commands to leave food for the poor in several places (cp. Lev. 19:9-19; 23:22; Deut. 24:19).

Lev 19:10(top)
Lev 19:11(top)
Lev 19:12(top)
Lev 19:13(top)
Lev 19:14

“but you are to fear your God.” God cares for the hurt and disadvantaged, so to offend them is to offend God. The person who fears God takes care of the needy.

Lev 19:15(top)
Lev 19:16

“endangers the life of your neighbor.” The Hebrew text reads that a person is not to “stand on the blood of your neighbor.” The exact meaning of the phrase is unclear, although the point is not. The verse before, Leviticus 19:15, is about a court of law, while the verse after, Leviticus 19:17, is about not hating your “brother,” i.e., a fellow Israelite. The idea is that people should not endanger others or stand idly by while another person is being taken advantage of or endangered (the context indicates that, for example, that would include being a witness on their behalf). These meanings are reflected in the different English translations. For example, the NIV reads, “Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life,” while the NET reads, “You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake,” and the NRSV reads, “you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor.” The Hebrew text can encompass all these meanings.

Life is messy and evil, and many people are hurt or taken advantage of in many different ways in life, and there is a tendency for others around them to take the position, “I don’t want to get involved.” While there are some situations where that may be the correct position to take, too many times people who could and should get involved and help the disadvantaged person do not get involved. Proverbs 19:17 says that the person who helps the poor (or disadvantaged) “lends to Yahweh,” and Yahweh will repay them. The point of the life of a Christian is not to see how many messes they can avoid or how clean and simple they can keep their life, but rather, when, where, and how is God calling them to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and a help and blessing to others. Helping others can get messy, but what we give we “lend to the Lord,” and he will repay that effort many times over in the future.

Lev 19:17

“rebuke, yes, rebuke.” There is a polyptoton in the Hebrew text and God uses the figure of speech polyptoton to emphasize that people are to “strongly rebuke” others who are sinning. Not helping a neighbor avoid or get out of a sinful situation is a sin to the one who could and should have helped. Some sins are sins of commission, what we do, and some sins are sins of omission, what we do not do that we should have done. Ignoring the sin and distress of others is a sin of omission.

[For more on polyptoton and the way it is translated in the REV, see commentary on Gen. 2:16.]

Lev 19:18

“bear a grudge.” Although almost all English translations have “bear a grudge,” the Hebrew text is very inclusive and could be read as Fox (The Schocken Bible) has translated it: “retain anger.” Normally we think of bearing a grudge as holding on to anger for a very long time, but the text does not force that meaning. The Word of God is just to not maintain your anger, and thus agrees with Ephesians 4:26: do not let the sun go down on your anger.

“but you must love your neighbor as yourself.” Although this is not one of the Ten Commandments, it was well known to be the second greatest commandment in the Torah, the Law, and it is quoted a number of times in the New Testament (cp. Matt. 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).

“neighbor.” The Hebrew word is rea’, sometimes spelled reya (#07453 רֵעַ or רֵיַע pronounced 'ray-ah). HALOT says of its meaning that it, “includes a wide range of related meanings which are more closely defined by their respective contexts. …the general sense may be summarized thus: רֵעַ, without expressing a particular legal relationship, means those persons with whom one is brought into contact and with whom one must live on account of the circumstances of life….”a Thus, depending on the context, it can mean “neighbor” (and it is used that way in the non-technical sense of someone you should be friendly with), friend, companion, fellow, another person.

The Law has a lot to say about how we should treat our “neighbors.” In fact, it is the basis of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). For more on how to treat neighbors, see Exodus 20:16-17, 21:14, 18, 35; 22:7-11, 14, 26. The Jews had differing opinions on who was a “neighbor.” Jesus answered this question. See commentary on Luke 10:27.

Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
Lev 19:19(top)
Lev 19:20(top)
Lev 19:21(top)
Lev 19:22(top)
Lev 19:23(top)
Lev 19:24(top)
Lev 19:25(top)
Lev 19:26(top)
Lev 19:27(top)
Lev 19:28(top)
Lev 19:29(top)
Lev 19:30(top)
Lev 19:31

“those who have familiar spirits.” See commentary on Deuteronomy 18:11.

Lev 19:32(top)
Lev 19:33(top)
Lev 19:34(top)
Lev 19:35

“dishonest standards.” Here the REV follows the translation in the NIV and NLT. The Hebrew is more literally, “unrighteousness in judgment.” But we would say that someone who cheats in business is “dishonest,” while the biblical concept is more naturally, “unrighteousness.” The “judgment” was based on “standards.” God is saying not to cheat in business by using dishonest measures.

Early in history weights and measures varied from town to town and region to region. It was the desire for trade that put pressure on the development of standardized systems of measurement across wider areas, but that was only partially successful. The weights and measures from the Middle East that have been discovered by archaeologists vary quite a bit. Early measurements were related to common things such as the width of a hand, the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, a bowshot, or how far a person could walk in a day. Eventually, it was the job of the Levites to keep accurate weights and measures that could be used to standardize the ones being used by merchants in Israel (1 Chron. 23:27-29).

[For more on using different weights and measures, and using the balance in trading, see commentary on Prov. 11:1.]

Lev 19:36(top)
Lev 19:37(top)

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