The opening statement by God for chapter 19 is, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’”
Few Basic Rules
We have seen many of these laws already:
- Respect your mother and father.
- Observe the Sabbaths.
- Do not turn to those idols.
Fellowship offerings were to be sacrificed in such a way that they would be accepted by the LORD:
- Do not harvest all of your land. Leave few bits and pieces at the edges for people passing through.
- Do not pick up all those grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.
Next, we see a set of rules essential for a decent social behavior, spelled out clearly:
- Don't steal.
- Don't lie.
- Don't deceive one another.
- Do not swear falsely by God's name.
- Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
- Pay your workers on time.
- Do not curse the deaf or make the blind fall down.
- Do not pervert justice; no partiality to rich or poor; judge your neighbor fairly.
- Do not slander.
- Do not endanger your neighbor.
- Do not hate a fellow Israelite. Instead rebuke your neighbor frankly.
- Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone; love your neighbor as yourself.
- Keep God's decrees.
Keep it Separate
The next set of rules seem to emphasis separation of unlike things, to an almost autistic extent.
- Don't mate different kinds of animals.
- Don't plant two kinds of crops in the same field
- Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.
- If a man has sex with somebody's female slave, do certain sacrifices (no death penalty in this case).
- In a new land, the fruits are forbidden for first three years; the fruits are for sacrifice the fourth year; You may harvest and eat them the fifth year.
- Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.
- Do not practice black magic.
- Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard (see additional info)
- Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.
- Do not encourage your daughter to be a prostitute.
- Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for God's sanctuary.
- Do not consult sorcerers
- Show respect to elders; stand up in the presence of elders.
- Treat foreigners or immigrants the same way as residents.
- Do not scam with dishonest measurement standards. Use honest scales and practices.
- Follow God's decrees and all His laws.
Punishments for Sin
This is the summary of chapter 20.
Sacrificing a child to Molech (Molek) = death by stoning..
Consulting black magicians = exile.
Cursing your mother and your father = death penalty.
Adultery = death penalty for both involved.
Sex with your mother or step-mother = death penalty for both involved.
Sex with your daughter-in-law = death penalty for both of you.
Male homosexual intercourse = death penalty for both.
Marrying both of a mother-daughter combo = death by fire for all three.
Sex with an animal = death for both the human and the animal.
Sex with your sister or half-sister = exile for both of you.
Sex while a woman is menstruating = exile for both parties.
Sex with an aunt or sister in law = will die childless.
Marrying brother's wife = act of impurity; will die childless.
Don’t live according to Canaanites; they did all these things.
Make distinction between clean and unclean birds & animals.
Any man or woman practicing black magic = death by stoning.
Rules for Priests
Priests were to be holy. Being 'holy' is different from being 'sinless'. Being sinless is the foundation for being holy, but for the priests, being holy meant other rules, in addition to those rules about sin. They had to stay sinless, and had to do other things as well, to set themselves apart for God.
- A priest was not to make himself ceremonially unclean when one of his relatives died.
- He was to be very careful about touching the dead body, which would make him unclean.
- The priest was allowed to make exceptions, however, for close relatives such as parents, children, brother, sister (if unmarried)
- The priest was not allowed to make exceptions for people he was only related to by marriage.
- He was not to let his hair become 'unkempt and was not allowed to 'uncover his head', or tear his clothes (to show grief).
- Priests could not shave their heads or trim their beards; not to cut their bodies.
- Priests were not allowed to marry prostitutes of divorced women.
- If a priest’s daughter became a prostitute, she was to be executed by burning.
- A Levite with a “defect” was not allowed to offer sacrifices for the LORD or approach the altar.
- Defects were blindness, lameness, disfigurement or deformity, crippled feet or hands, hunchbacks or dwarfs, eye defects, festering or running sores, damaged testicles.
- All rules applicable for priest plus:
- The High Priest was not allowed to make any exceptions, even for close relatives like his mother or father died.
- The High Priest, in addition, was also not allowed to marry a widow. He had to marry a virgin.
Respect sacred offerings
The priests were to:
- Treat sacred offerings to the LORD with respect.
- Come near the offerings while he was ceremonially clean
- Eat sacred food only when they had no infectious skin diseases or bodily discharges
- Remain unclean (if unclean) and was not allowed to eat sacred food until he had bathed with water.
- Not eat anything found dead, or torn by wild animals.
- Not offer sacred food to people outside his family. 20% fine was imposed on such offense.
When it came to offering to the LORD, you offered the best.
- Any animal presented to the LORD was to be male, and without defect.
- Examples of defects were being: blind, injured or maimed, had warts, or festering or running sores, or had injured testicles.
- If an Israelite was offering a “freewill offering,” he could offer an ox or sheep that was stunted or deformed—he just couldn't offer those animals for the fulfillment of vows.
- A newborn calf, lamb, or goat was to remain with its mother for at least seven days. It wouldn't be acceptable as an offering until the eighth day.
- A cow or sheep was not to be offered on the same day as its own young.
The Appointed Festivals
There are few assemblies and festivals God wants Israelites to proclaim sacred.
Yet again God reaffirms the importance of the Sabbath - simple; work six days and rest on the seventh. (See Notes below)
Apart from Sabbath, below are the days:
- The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread,
- Feast of First-fruits,
- The Feast of Weeks,
- The Festival of Trumpets,
- The Day of Atonement,
- The Festival of Tabernacles.
There are also some instructions about what to do at each feast.
Olive Oil and Bread Set Before the Lord
The lamp of the Tabernacle always needs to be tended, full of olive oil, and burning, and that bread should always be laid out on the Tabernacle table, for God - but to be eaten by the priests.
Twelve loaves of bread are to be baked and set on the gold table in the Holy Place. They are to be placed in two rows - six loaves per row.
A Blasphemer Put to Death
A man with an Israelite mother and Egyptian father gets into a fight, and during the fight, he blasphemes the LORD’s name - with a curse.
The Israelites don’t know what to do about it, and hence seek Moses' advice - to inquire about the LORD’s will. The LORD commands that the man must be taken outside of the camp, and stoned. And then He outlines some general rules:
- Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death.
- Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name of Lord, they are to be put to death.
- Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death.
- Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life.
- Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner:
-fracture for fracture,
-eye for eye,
-tooth for tooth.
- The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.
- Whoever kills an animal must make restitution,
- Whoever kills a human being is to be put to death.
The man is taken outside the camp and stoned to death.
The Sabbath Year
Every seventh year was to be a “year of rest” for the land.
For six years they would cultivate and tend the land, growing and reaping their crops
But on the seventh year, they were not to sow their fields, or prune their vineyards.
The Year of Jubilee
Jubilee year came after every seventh Sabbath year; i.e. every fiftieth year (50th year). It is another Sabbath year, but God asks Moses not to worry about going two years without planting; God will make the year before the seventh Sabbath year so fruitful, that they will be able to put aside three years worth of food.
Next we see some additional rules, about the redemption of property, and Israelites who fell into hard times, and couldn't support themselves:
- If an Israelite became poor, and had to sell some of his property, his nearest relative was to buy it back (redeem), for him.
- Houses within walled cities were treated differently than other land; they were not to be returned, at the Year of Jubilee.
- Levites’ land was also treated differently.
- If an Israelite became poor, and was unable to support himself, the other Israelites were to help him.
- If such a person sold himself to a fellow Israelite, he was not to be treated as a slave, but as a hired worker.
- If a non-Israelite a “temporary resident” or an “alien” bought a poor Israelite as a slave, that Israelite was to retain the right of redemption. He could be redeemed by a relative, or if he prospered, redeem himself.
God outlines what will happen to the Israelites if they obey those rules, and what will happen if they don’t. This is true for every Christian as well.
During introduction, he says two things:
1. No idols or idol worship.
2. Observe Sabbath and have reverence for the Sanctuary.
For those Israelites who carefully follow His decrees:
- He will send rain in its season,
- The ground will yield its crops, and trees will bear fruit,
- Their threshing will continue until the grape harvest,
- The grape harvest will continue until planting,
- The Israelites will have all the food they want,
- They will live in their land in safety,
- There will be peace in the land,
- God will remove “savage beasts” from the land,
- The sword will not pass through their country,
- When the Israelites pursue their enemies, the enemies will fall by the sword before them,
- They will have enormous power over their enemies,
- The LORD will be favorable toward the Israelites,
- They will be fruitful, and increase their numbers,
- He will keep His covenant with them.
Punishment for Disobedience
This section, I am going to quote verbatim and not watering down. It is better if you read it yourself, since it was the covenant agreed upon between God and Israelites at Mount Sinai.
14 “‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands,
15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant,
16 then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.
17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
18 “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.
19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze.
20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.
21 “‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve.
22 I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
23 “‘If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me,
24 I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over.
25 And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.
26 When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.
27 “‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me,
28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.
29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.
30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.
31 I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings.
32 I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.
33 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.
34 Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths.
35 All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the Sabbaths you lived in it.
36 “‘As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them.
37 They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies.
38 You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you.
39 Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their ancestors’ sins they will waste away.
40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me,
41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin,
42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.
44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God.
45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’”
46 These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the Lord established at Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.
Redeeming What Is the Lord’s
Some Israelites made vows to God about dedicating a person to the LORD by giving equivalent value. The firstborn could not be dedicated as it already belonged to God.
Males between 20 - 60, valued at 0.6 kilograms of silver
Females between 20 - 60, valued at 0.3 kilograms of silver
Males from 5 - 20, valued at 0.2 kilograms of silver
Females from 5 - 20, valued at 110 grams of silver
Males from one month to 5 years, valued at 55 grams of silver
Females from one month to 5 years, valued at 35 grams of silver
Males over 60 years, valued at 170 grams of silver
Females over 60 years, valued at 100 grams of silver
Couldn't afford the specified value? Meet the priest, who would determine a value, based on what the person could afford.
There were rules of dedication regarding animals, house, family land, field, etc., after the priest made an examination and was in good shape and quality.
Anything that was devoted to Lord may not be sold or redeemed, as devoted items were considered most holy to the LORD.
A tithe (tenth) of everthing from the land belonged to the LORD. Whoever redeemed the tithe added 20% to it.
With today's reading we have completed the Book of Leviticus.
Here is how we can look at it:
- We're a whopping 60% through the Pentateuch!
- 1/13 of our way through the Old Testament.
- Around 10% our way through the Bible by page count.
- 23 Days since we started our guided tour.
- And I was able to post before 6:00 AM today :-)
----------------------Note: Change in Schedule
We actually wrapped up Leviticus. It is easy to read those laws, but quite hard to follow them. Some may tell you, "Oh, this is just Old Testament. You don't need to pay attention to those or follow them. We now follow the New Testament since Jesus Christ came." Anytime you hear this argument, ask yourself, "Who is out there, trying very hard to make me break the laws of God?"
We've been told by God, over and over about Sabbath, and I am thinking let's shut down the tour during Sabbath days. I will work six days and take rest from tour on the seventh day - let's say, on Sunday, and there won't be any postings on Sunday.
This will mean that we will have to re-schedule all future readings to skip Sundays and create a brand new schedule - let's do it.
By the way, you readers are free to read postings (on Sunday), but I am preventing myself from working on that day.
-----------------------Additional Info 1
Hair and Beard
This is in connection with idol worship. Leviticus 19: 26 to 31 should be read together as one, to understand about idol worship.
26 “‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.
“‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.
27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
28 “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
29 “‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.
30 “‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.
31 “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.
Without going into much detail, those idol worshipers use to cut their hair very short on the sides, maintaining a tuft on top of their head. Then they used to clip their beard in a particular fashion, thus distinguishing themselves as idol worshipers. Further, they used to cut their bodies during idol worship rituals and make tattoos of idols on their skin. It is in this regard God is saying not to offer your daughter as prostitutes for these ceremonies, do not hold those ceremonies on Sabbath, certainly such ceremonies not to be held in His sanctuary. Not to seek black magicians for these purposes as well.