Leviticus 19



From the prohibition of moral uncleanness exhibiting itself in the form of incest and

licentiousness, the legislator proceeds to a series of laws and commandments against

other kinds of immorality, inculcating piety, righteousness, and kindness. Ch. 19 may

be regarded as an extension of the previous chapter in this direction, after which the

subject of ch. 18, is again taken up in ch. 20. The precepts now given are not

arranged systematically, though, as Keil has remarked, “while grouped together rather

according to a loose association of ideas than according to any logical arrangement,

they are all linked together by the common purpose expressed in the words, ‘Ye shall

 be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.”  They begin by inculcating (vs. 3-4)

duties which fall under the heads of


  • the fifth commandment of the Decalogue,
  • the fourth,
  • the first,
  • the second.


These four laws are, in their positive aspects,


  • the religious law of social order, on which a commonwealth rests;
  • the law of positive obedience to God’s command because it is His command;
  • the law of piety towards the invisible Lord;
  • the law of faith, which trusts Him without requiring risible emblems or

            pictures of Him.


In vs. 11,14,16,35-36, obedience is inculcated to the eighth and the ninth commandments,

which are the laws of honesty and of truthfulness;


 In v. 12 to the third commandment, which is the law of reverence;


 In vs. 17,18,33-34, to the sixth commandment, which is the law of love;


In vs. 20,29, to the seventh commandment, which is the law of purity;


In vs. 9,10,13, the spirit of covetousness is prohibited, as forbidden in the tenth

commandment, which is the law of charity.


Thus this chapter may in a way be regarded as the Old Testament counterpart of

the Sermon on the Mount, inasmuch as it lays down the laws of conduct, as the latter

lays down the principles of action, in as comprehensive though not in so systematic a

manner as the Ten Commandments.


This chapter, as well the Sermon on the Mount, has heavily influenced life in the United States

of America and is a backdrop of why this country once was so great! – CY – 2010)


1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  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.”(At least sixteen [16] times the authority is given “I am the Lord”

- CY – 2010)  - Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. The religious

motive is put forward here, as in the previous chapter, as the foundation of all morality.

It is God’s will that we should be holy, and by being holy we are like God, who is to

be our model so far as is possible to the creature. So in the new dispensation, “Be ye

 therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

“As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation”

(I Peter 1:15).  Morality can be proved to be reasonable, apart from religion. But it

cannot be enforced. If a man denies that his conscience commands him to perform a moral

action, the verdict of the general conscience of mankind may be quoted against him as

contrary to that of his own, but he can repudiate the authority of that verdict so

far as he is himself concerned.  He can reasonably maintain that the general conscience may

be misled by prejudice or superstition, and that his own conscience is more enlightened

than that of the mass. In this manner the philosopher, or any one who

regards himself as a philosopher, finds a way of evasion ready at hand.  With the

masses, moral teaching, unaccompanied by religions sanction, is still less effectual.

(As the United States is finding out by the pseudo-term and unconstitutional phrase

separation of church and state” – the government cannot keep a man from raping,

or from murdering, stealing, or whatever his evil heart desires BUT HIS RELIGION

CAN – this is the fallacy of the present policy in Washington, DC and is beyond

the majority of our leaders, but not the general populace.  Just give it a generation

or two and all will be lost – see comment at end of this section - CY – 2010)  The

general good of mankind, or the duty of obeying the highest principle of our nature,

has never restrained, and never will restrain, the mass of mankind from yielding

to the force of strong passion or desire.  In the present chapter we find the moral

duties — those of the second table as much as the first — rested upon a religious basis.

They are God’s commands, whether that command be given by written precept or by

an instinct engraven on man’s heart. And because they are God’s commands in both

these ways, they are to be obeyed. Thus there is an appeal from man’s mind to

something higher than himself, to which man will submit.  The effort to preserve

morality in a nation without religious sanction and religious motive is like the attempt

to keep alive the flame of a fire, when the fuel from which the flame is derived has

been withdrawn. One generation may continue moral; the next will certainly be licentious.

(One Christian writer – I do not remember who – likened what is morally happening in

America, to a cut flower, it will be pretty for a few days but will soon die, cut off from its

roots – CY – 2010) - “I am the Lord” is the BASIS OF MORALITY which never fails.



3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I

am the LORD your God.”The words fear and reverence are in this connection

interchangeable. So Ephesians 5:33, “Let the wife see that she reverence her husband,”

where the word “reverence” would be more exactly translated by “fear.”  Paul points

out that the importance of the fifth commandment is indicated in the Decalogue by its

being “the first commandment with promise,” that is, with a promise attached to

it (Ephesians 6:2). The family life is built upon reverence to parents, and on the family

is built society. Obedience to parents is a duty flowing out of one of the first two

laws instituted by God — the law of marriage (Genesis 2:24). The second law

instituted at the same time was that of the sabbath (Genesis 2:3), and in the verse

before us observance of the sabbatical law is likewise inculcated, in the words that

immediately follow — ye shall keep my sabbaths.  The laws of submission

to human authority and to sacred ordinances, for the Lord’s sake, are enjoined in

this verse.


  • The family is an institution of God’s appointment (Genesis 1:28; 2:24). The command

      to children to honor their father and mother is distinguished in the Decalogue by a

      blessing attached to it as stated above and a special blessing is bestowed on the

      house of the Rechabites for obeying it (Jeremiah 35:18).  Paul enjoins the observance

      of the duty, both as an act right in itself and as positively

            commanded in God’s Law (Ephesians 6:1-2). The father’s duty is “nurture and          

            admonition of the Lord” (ibid. v. 4), including guidance, remonstrance, reproof

            (I Samuel 2:23). By means of this institution the character of every member of

            the commonwealth is formed, at the moment when alone it is plastic, by the       

            influence best adapted for turning it to good. Contrast the system adopted by    

            Rousseau for dealing with his children, and the probable results on parents,       

            children, and the State. Cf. the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony:

            “Marriage was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the

            fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of His holy Name.” An

            analogous position to that of the parent is afterwards held by the civil magistrate            

            in respect to the subject, and by the pastor in respect to a member of his flock.

            Therefore, in order to carry out the commandment, a man has not only “to love,            

            honour, and succour his father and mother,” but also “to honor and obey the     

            government and all that are put in authority under it: to submit himself to all his   

            governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters: to order himself lowly and    

            reverently to all his betters” (Church Catechism). On the other hand, the           

            authorities in the State and in the Church have their duties also, not now the

            same as those of the parent towards the child, on account of the changed position         

            of him who was once a child, but nevertheless analogous to them. So in other    

            cases, wherever men stand in a relation to each other similar to that of parent and

            child, obligations similar to those which bind parents and children arise. (Basically

            we are dealing with the Five Agents of Socialization in society:


ü      Family

ü      Church

ü      School

ü      Peer Group

ü      Government – CY – 2010)


Sabbatical observance appears, at first sight, a small thing to place on a level, as here, with

the fifth commandment, or, as in the Decalogue, with the first, second, and third

commandments; but when we examine into it closely, we find that this disproportion

does not exist.


  • ITS INSTITUTION. It shares with the ordinance of marriage alone the

            characteristic of having been instituted at the creation of the world. “And

            God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had

            rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

            Being coeval with creation, the sabbatical law, like the marriage law, is of

            universal obligation on all mankind.


  • ITS JEWISH FORM. The sabbatical law was observed during the

            period preceding the Mosaic Law (Exodus 16:22-30). For the Jews it

            took the form given it in the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11;

                        Deuteronomy 5:12-15) and other Mosaic injunctions (Exodus 31:13-14;

            35:2-3; Numbers 15:32-36). To them it commemorated the rest after the

            Creation and the rest after the toils of Egypt, while it looked forward to the

            rest of Canaan while they wandered in the wilderness (Psalm 95:11), and,

            after they had entered Canaan, to the still further rest of the Messianic kingdom

            (Hebrews 4:8); and it was to be kept with such severity that no work at all was

            to be done upon it, even to the extent of gathering sticks or lighting a fire.




ü      It formed a very noticeable distinction between the Jews and the

                        neighboring nations, and so it was a preservative from idolatry.


ü      It served, like circumcision, as a symbol constantly reminding them

      that they were God’s people, and should live in accordance with their

                        profession. “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign

                         between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that                                 

                        sanctify them” - (Ezekiel 20:12).


  • THE CHRISTIAN FORM. Christ declared His lordship over the

            sabbath day (Matthew 12:8), but He did not exercise that lordship for

            the purpose of destroying it as an institution, but merely of adapting the

            primary law of the sabbath to altered circumstances. The Jewish sabbath,

            as such (that is, in its peculiarities), ceased to be binding, but the obligation

            of sabbatical law continued, and the ordinance took a changed form. By

            apostolic authority, as proved by apostolic practice, the Christian sabbath

            was kept on the first day of the week — the anniversary of Christ’s

            resurrection — and the severity of its character was abrogated. As God

            had rested on the seventh day after his labor of creation, so Christ had

            rested in the grave on the seventh day after his labor of redemption. Why

            should the seventh day be any longer kept? “The Jewish sabbath died out in

            the course of the first generation of Christians, as circumcision died out, as

            the temple, as the Law itself died out. The Lord’s day was a Divine and

            more immortal shoot from the same stock. It was rooted in the primitive

            law of the Creation. It recognized and adopted the old weekly division of

            time, that perpetual and ever-recurring acknowledgment, wherever it was

            celebrated in all the world, of the Divine blessing and promises. It had the

            Divine sanction of the tables of stone — those tables, written by God’s

            own finger, and therefore greatly superior in sanctity and enduring weight

            to the temporary enactments of the ceremonial law. It took up the old

            series of commemorations and sacred anticipations. It bade the true Israel

            of God record with gratitude and keep in mind, by the weekly institution

            and its recurring festival of rest and praise, the creation of mankind, the

            deliverance from Egypt, the entrance of the people into the promised land,

            the return from captivity, the coming of the Messiah; and to look forward

            under the dispensation of the Holy Ghost to the crowning and final mercy

            of the long scheme of Providence, the eternal rest in heaven which yet

            remaineth for the people of God” (Bishop Moberly, ‘The Law of the Love

            of God’).




ü      To reserve a certain sufficient part of time free for spiritual interests.


ü      To teach the lesson of obedience to positive precept in religious things.

                        The appointment of one-seventh of our time for this purpose is wholly

                        arbitrary. There is no account to be given of it except that it is God’s will

                        There is no other account to be given of weeks. Months and years have

                        their reasons in physical nature; not so weeks. God has commanded, and

                        because He has commanded, the weekly rest is observed by those who                                    

                        love God; and not only is the weekly rest observed, but a loving

                        obedience is paid to all religious institutions and ordinances established

                        by lawful authority.



            Christian man, desirous of loving God with all the affection of his heart,

            with all the rational intelligence of his mind, with all the devotion of his life,

            with all the energy of his strength, in the love taught him under the fourth

            law, will yield himself up gratefully and religiously to obey all duly ordered

            positive laws of the Church of God. The Sunday and its sacred observance

            will be to him the center, and furnish, so to speak, the form of his own way

            of life, and that of all his family and dependents. He will regard it every

            time it returns as God’s holy day of rest, the weekly commemoration of the

            primeval rest of God and of all the signal mercies of the elder covenant.

            Knowing himself to be of the true Israel of God, he will not forget the

            blessings connected by God himself with the sabbatical institution,

            vouchsafed to his fathers in the faith. He will celebrate it weekly as the

            feast of the Lord’s resurrection, and all the blessings of that resurrection;

            as the feast of the Holy Ghost the Giver of peace and rest in the Church, as

            the weekly antepast of that glorious and unending rest in the presence of

            God which still remaineth for the people of God. It will be to him a day of

            rest, peace, prayer, praise, and holy joy; no mournful and austere time, but

            on the contrary, a thankful happy time. He will remember his Lord’s

            injunction not to forbid or refuse works of necessity or mercy on that day.

            He will gratefully shut up the records of the cares, the interests, and the

            occupations of the week, and give that holy day to God; not discharging

            himself of his duties of worship by an attendance in God’s house or holding

            himself at liberty to make his own convenience or inclination the rule of

            obedience; but faithfully, dutifully, and completely sanctifying that day to

            rest, worship, and the thought of God and heaven. And the other days, the

            train of Sunday, will borrow of its light; each having its own sacred, special

            commemoration belonging to it, and each reflecting some of the brightness

            of the Sunday just preceding and catching more — and more from that

            which follows (Moberly, ‘The Law of the Love of God’).




ü      To the individual:


Ø      an unloving spirit arising from a consciousness of disobedience

      to a command;

Ø      a habit of refusing to submit to positive injunctions, and, growing

      out of that, a habit of choosing which of God’s commandments he

      will obey;

Ø      a loss of religious opportunities, and consequently a gradual

       falling away from the habit of public worship, and therefore from        

      the spiritual life;

Ø      a sense of being overwhelmed by the business and worries of life

      which continue without cessation, and thence a want of calm

      peacefulness and cheerfulness.


ü      To a nation:


Ø      growth of ungodliness and irreligion;

Ø      increase of self-indulgence and mere amusement-seeking;

Ø      growing oppression of the poor, who are made to serve the

                                    amusements or requirements of the rich instead of enjoying their                                                

                                    weekly rest and refreshment of body and mind and soul;

Ø      the displeasure of God, whose primeval law is disobeyed.


4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD

your God. - The word used for idols, elilim, meaning nothings, is contrasted with Elohim,

God. Psalm 115 exhibits this contrast in several of its particulars. Paul’s statement, “We

know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one”

(I Corinthians 8:4). “If the heart of man becomes benumbed to the use

of images of false gods of any kind, he sinks down to the idols which are his ideals,

and becomes as dumb and unspiritual as they are” (Lange). The remainder of the verse

forbids the transgression of the second commandment, as the earlier part of the verse

forbids the transgression of the first commandment: nor make to yourselves molten

gods, as was done by Jeroboam when he set up the calves (I Kings 12:28).


This verse contains the laws of piety and of faith. “Turn ye not unto idols” forbids

the worship of false gods; “nor make to yourselves molten gods” forbids in addition

the sin of worshipping the true God under the form of a molten shape.


  • The great temptation to the Jews down to the time of their captivity

            appears to have been that of taking the gods of the nations round about

            them as their gods; Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech, Chemosh, drew off their

            affections from Jehovah. They did not desire apparently to give up the

            worship of God altogether, but to combine the worship of false gods with

            it, that is, to transfer a part of the religious affections which were due to

            God to some other object. This is done in the present day,


ü      by the Roman Catholic Church, which sanctions the transference of

                        worship which ought to be confined to God, from him to St. Mary and

                        other saints; and the moral and religious regard, which is due to God                             

                        alone, not only to saints, but to a living man, who has been called the

                        idol of the Vatican;


ü      by worldly men, who occupy their thoughts and feeling to such an

                        excessive degree with the things of sense as to shut out Divine and                                            

                        spiritual things;


ü      by sophists, who, by the exercise of a subtle intellect in a

      presumptuous spirit, shut out God from their ken, and worship the        

      universe, or humanity, or nothing.  (Their influence – i.e. Darwin,

      Freud, Sarte, Marx, Rousseau, Voltaire, Sagan, etc. has been

      great because of a populace that knows not the difference –

      therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall” –

      [Hosea 4:14] – CY  - 2010)


  • The Jews were also guilty of the kindred sin of worshipping Jehovah

            under the form of an idol. This was the sin of Aaron’s calf, which

            represented, not any strange god, but Jehovah Himself (Exodus 32:5),

            and this was the case with Jeroboam’s two calves of gold (I Kings 12:26-33).

            This offense is committed by any Christians who adore a representation of

            the Deity, sculptured or painted, [modern screens – CY - 2010] or any sign or

            symbol of  Him, of whatever material or appearance it may be. It is the sin of

            men or Churches which have faith to believe that there is a God, but so feeble

            a faith that they require visible symbols of his presence instead of bravely

            trusting in the Unseen. (II Corinthians 5:7)  The Israelites said to Aaron, “Up,   

            make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that       

            brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wet not what is become of him.”         

            (Exodus 32:1) - When they could not see Moses, the servant of God, they

            required a visible image of God. They could not trust Him unseen; they

            required proof of His nearness; and this craving of a feeble faith led them to      

            prefer the symbol of “a calf that eateth hay” (Deuteronomy 4:15) to no        

            similitude at all. “Other nations, surrounding the Jews on every side, had their    

            visible objects of worship, making their task of Divine duty and faith more

            easy. But to acquiesce in their unseen God, I AM;  to obey without immediate  

            continual consciousness of His nearness; to trust in His protection at times when            

            they had no sensible aid to help them to realize to their imagination His power;

            to let loose, as it were, their prayers into the air, without having some

            representative figure, or emblem, at the least, at which to point them; — all

            this was too difficult a task for a feeble faith in things invisible and

            spiritual (Moberly, ‘The Law of the Love of God’).


The same feebleness of faith has produced the worship of images in the Christian

Church. It was not till the seventh century that they crept into use for aids in worship,

and when they were approved in the eighth century by the second Council of Nicea,

that Council was at once rejected, and its doctrine of images was repudiated by the

Council of Frankfort and the bishops of Charlemagne’s empire. 


In like manner, a feeble faith craves for full light, for demonstration, for infallibility,

where God has only given twilight moral certainty, and an authority which is not absolute.

It craves for immediate resolution of spiritual difficulties where God demands

a patient dealing with them; it asks after a sign where no sign is to be given; it seeks

out for itself mediators instead of going straight to God.


Not only does the use of images in worship arise from a feeble faith, but it makes

that faith feebler and feebler, and thus leads to MATERIALISM.   After a while the

symbol becomes substituted for the thing symbolized by it, and the affections which

the emblem was intended to excite toward an unseen object, do not pass beyond the

external sign. Materialism and weakness of faith are the spiritual effects of

worshipping images and craving after visible symbols.


“A brave contentment with an invisible God, showing itself in faithful and strong-

hearted maintenance of piety in the absence (if it should so please God) or the

apparent scantiness of signs, tokens, miracles, and other visible indications of the

presence and protection of the Omnipresent and Omnipotent, and a like courageous

and faithful abstinence from making to themselves unauthorized images, symbols,

and emblems of HIM who communicated with the people without similitude, must

be the particular quality or part of Divine love enjoined under the second law. The

peculiar affection enjoined is the brave, trusting, spiritual faith in God invisible,

spiritual, absent to our sense, dim in His tokens, obscure sometimes in His

providences, not demonstrable in His evidences, not invariable in His benefits.

Possessed of this spiritual faith in the Unseen, a man walks along his narrow path

of life with a confidence, security, and cheerfulness which establish at once his

comfort and his safety (Moberly, ‘The Law of the Love of God’).


5 And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall

offer it at your own will.  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. 

7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be

accepted.  8 Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because

he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the LORD: and that soul shall be cut

off from among his people.  The unsystematic character of this chapter is indicated

by prohibitions under the fifth, fourth, first, and second commandments (vs. 3, 4)

being succeeded by a ceremonial instruction (vs. 5-8) respecting the peace offerings,

repeated from ch. 7:16-18.  Whoever transgresses this ceremonial command is to

bear his iniquity and to be cut off from among his people, that is, to be

excommunicated without any appointed form of reconciliation by means of sacrifice.


9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the

corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.

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. - The injunction contained in these verses, is twice afterwards

repeated (ch. 23:22;  Deuteronomy 24:19-22). In Deuteronomy, the oliveyard is

specified together with the harvest field and the vineyard, and it is added that, if a

sheaf be by chance left behind, it is to remain for the benefit of the poor. The object

of this law is to inculcate a general spirit of mercy, which is willing to give up its own

exact rights in kindness to others suffering from want. The word here used for

vineyard covers also the oliveyard. The expression, neither shalt thou gather every

grape of thy vineyard, would be more literally rendered, neither shalt thou gather

 the scattering of thy vineyard, meaning the berries (grapes or olives)which had fallen

or which were left singly on the boughs.


The law of kindness is a necessary complement to the other laws, to make up the

perfect character. A stern, just man is not the Christian ideal. The mercy and loving-kindness

of God must be our model, as well as His other qualities.


                        “The quality of mercyis twice blessed:

                        It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.”


The man who leaves something for others that he might have taken for himself, such

as the gleanings of his field, rises from the level of justice to that of generosity, and is

educated to understand the noble impulses of a liberal heart and the blessedness

described in the one saying of our Lord that is not recounted in the Gospels, “It is

more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)


11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.  Stealing,

cheating, and lying are classed together as kindred sins (see ch. 6:2, where an example

is given of theft performed by means of lying; cf. Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9).

Couple this verse with vs. 13, 35-36.


Stealing is forbidden by the law of man, and by the Law of God.  It is forbidden by

the law of man in order to prevent injury being done to a citizen, and its sanction is fear

of punishment. Remove the fear of punishment, and the goods of another will no longer

be respected. It is forbidden by the Law of God because it is displeasing to God; 

because honesty and uprightness are in themselves right; because to defraud another is

in itself wrong. Take away the fear of punishment, and there will remain as scrupulous

a care not to trespass on the rights of another as before. The law of honesty, as

inculcated by God, has a dominating power and influence in all conditions of life. 

Cheating is to stealing as equivocation is to lying. Both are equally immoral. Cheating and

equivocating only differ morally from stealing and lying by being more mean and cowardly.

The law of man cannot prevent cheating. It can indeed send inspectors to see that there are

‘just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just him;” but that is not enough to

prevent cheating. The only thing that will do this is the fear of the Lord and

the consciousness that the unjust appropriation of anything, however small,

is contrary to the will of God. (Once again the futility of government without the

influence of religion – to put it in the common vernacular – the government is

impotent to do anything about it as is evidence in our day and time – for starters

and the tip of the iceberg, drugs and illegal immigration – CY – 2010)  Hence we

may see the infinite importance for the well-being of a country that the moral teaching

of children in public schools be rested upon a religious basis. The precept is reproduced

in the New Testament: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor,

working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him

that needeth (Ephesians 4:28).  Lying is joined with stealing and cheating, not only

because it may be used as a means of cheating (ch. 6:2), but because it is a fraud in

itself and a sin against uprightness and honesty. The essence of the sin consists in

deceiving our neighbors. “Thou shalt not deceive thy neighbor” is the rule of

conduct.   Contrast with this the injunctions of the apostle, “Wherefore putting

away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members

one of another” (Ephesians 4:25); “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have

put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9); and the command of the

prophet, “Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment

of truth and peace in your gates: and let none of you imagine evil in your hearts

against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,

saith the Lord” (Zechariah 8:16-17).  In the Book of the Revelation we read, “But the

fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers,

and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which

burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8). 

We are taught in the Bible to “speak the truth in love” – (Ephesians 4:15)




12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the

name of thy God: I am the LORD.  These words contain a positive permission to

swear, or take a solemn oath, by the Name of God, and a prohibition to swear falsely

by it (see Matthew 5:33-37).


This verse contains three injunctions: First, a command that on due occasions we are

to make appeal to God by solemn oath; secondly, a prohibition of perjury; thirdly, a

command to reverence God’s Name.



            RECOGNITION OF HIM AS SUPREME LORD. Thus in Deuteronomy 6:13

            we read, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve Him, and shalt

            swear by His Name”;  in the Psalms 63:11, “Every one that sweareth by

            Him shall glory (or be commended)”; in Isaiah 65:16, “He that sweareth in

            the earth shall swear by the God of truth”; in Jeremiah 4:2, “Thou shalt    

            swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness”;

            “Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods”

            (ibid. 5:7); “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways

            of my people, to swear by my Name, The Lord liveth; as they taught my            

            people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people”

            (ibid. 12:16).


  • GOD SWEARS BY HIMSELF. “By myself have I sworn, saith the

            Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son,

            thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee” (Genesis 22:16-17). “I

            have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness,

            and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue

            shall swear” (Isaiah 45:23). “For when God made promise to Abraham,

            because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying,

            Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee…    

            Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise

            the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two       

            immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have

            a strong consolation” (Hebrews 6:13-18).



      These are summed up in the following passage of Philo Judaeus: — “Let the

      word of the good man be a firm oath, immovable trust, free from falsehood,

      based on truth. But if this be not sufficient, and necessity compel him to swear,

      he should swear by the health or sacred age of his father or mother if they are   

      alive, or by their memory if they are dead. For they are images and       

      representations of Divine power, inasmuch as they brought into being those

      that did not exist before. They too deserve praise who, when they are

      compelled to swear, suggest the thought of reverence both to the bystanders

      and to those who impose the oath by the limitation and unwillingness which

      they show. For, saying aloud, ‘Yes, by…,’ and, ‘No, by,’ and adding nothing,  

      under the appearance of sudden interruption, they show that they do not swear a          

      complete oath. But let a man add thereto what he pleases, such as the earth, the            

      sun, the stars, the heaven, the whole world, provided he does not add the highest          

      and most awful Cause” (‘De Special. Legibus’).


  • CHRIST FORBIDS SWEARING. “Ye have heard that it hath been

            said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt

            perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all;  

            neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is His   

            footstool:  neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

            Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one

            hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay:

            for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:33-37).

            Nearly the same words are repeated in James 5:12.



            refers to ordinary swearing, not to solemn oaths taken in courts of justice

            or under similar circumstances. This is plain by the fact that at his own trial

            He replied to the adjuration of the high priest, which adjuration was the

            Jewish manner of taking an oath in a court of justice, “Jesus held his peace.

            And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the

            living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.  

            Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said” (Matthew 26:63-64). Because the high

            priest’s words were “the voice of swearing” (ch. 5:1), Jesus broke His

            silence and spoke in obedience to the adjuration; and oaths are spoken of

            with approval in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 6:13-18).


  • WHAT AN OATH IS. It is an appeal to the tribunal of God, the

            person swearing (or adjured) calling God to witness to the truth of his

            words. Its purpose is “an end of all strife” (Hebrews 6:16). When no

            circumstantial evidence is forthcoming, the only means of arriving at truth

            is the awe of God solemnly invoked by an oath, and the dread of offending

            Him by perjury. Where either sophistical casuistry or a secret — still more

            an open — skepticism undermines or destroys the sense of the obligation

            of oaths in a nation, that nation is hurrying on its way to destruction.


  • PERJURY. The more solemn an oath is, the greater is the sin of

            perjury. If to swear by God’s Name is a method of arriving at truth

            appointed by God Himself, to swear by His Name falsely subverts the

            purpose of the command and insults the majesty of God.


  • IRREVERENCE. Not only deliberate perjury but any kind of

            irreverence is forbidden by this injunction. “The Christian man… will

            endeavour to recognize with faithful respect that holy Name wherever it

            meets him in his walk of life. As it is an appellation of the most high God,

            he will never utter it hastily or thoughtlessly. He will surely not use it at all

            except he have occasion to speak of it seriously and carefully. It is needless

            to say how totally he will refrain from such wanton profanation as that of

            garnishing his common speech by using the Name (what about those who

            garnish, or I should say, defile their speech by taking the name of the Lord in

            vain – “the Lord  will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain:            

            [Exodus 20:7] – CY – 2010)  or referring to the doings of the Most High; still

            less how impossible it would be for him to allege the sacred Name, literally or

            by implication, in support of falsehood; nay, how impossible it would be that he

            should assert what is false at all, seeing that the Name of God is all around him,

            and that the most secularly sounding asseverations are nothing else than

            allegations of that Name. He will be much on his guard in prayers, lest, while

            he utters the sacred Name and the words which belong to it, his mind should     

            wander away from the thoughts which ought to accompany it, and he should     

            break the commandment. He will not shrink from the seemly reverence which

            the Church orders to be paid to the Name of Christ’ (Moberly, ‘The Law of

            the Love of God’).


13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that

is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.  Cheating and stealing

are again forbidden, and, together with these, other forms of oppression although legal.

The command to pay laborers their hire promptly — which covers also the case of

paying tradesmen promptly — is repeated inDeuteronomy 24:14 (cf. James 5:4).


14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind,

but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.  The sin of cursing another is in itself the

outcome of sin in the speaker’s heart. The suffering caused to one who hears the

curse creates a further sin by adding an injury to the person addressed. “Whoso

 curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness,”

says the Word of God (Proverbs 20:20).  Whether cursing the deaf (which cannot hear)

or taking advantage of a blind man (who cannot see) - the eye is directed to the fear of

God, who can see and punish, however little the deaf or the blind man is able to help

themselves. (Cf. Job 29:15, “I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.”


15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person

of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou

judge thy neighbor.  Justice is to be done to all. The less danger of respecting the

person of the poor has to be guarded against, as well as the greater and more obvious

peril of honoring the person of the mighty. The scales of Justice must be held even

and her eyes bandaged, that she may not prefer one appellant to another on any ground

except that of merit and demerit. “If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and

are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:9)


16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither

shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am the LORD.  That is,

thou shalt not endanger his life, which is the result of the worst kind of tale-bearing,

namely, bearing false witness against him. Thus the effect of the false witness of the

two men of Belial against Naboth was that “they carried him forth out of the city,

and stoned him with stones, that he died” (I Kings 21:13; cf. Matthew 26:60; 27:4).


17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke

thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.  On the one side we are not to hate our

 brother in our heart, whatever wrongs he may commit; but on the other side, we are

in any wise to rebuke our neighbor for his wrong doing. So our Lord teaches, “if thy

brother trespass against thee, rebuke him” (Luke 17:3); and He appoints a solemn

mode of procedure, by which this fraternal rebuke is to be conveyed in His Church:

“If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee

and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will

not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or

 three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear

them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto

thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matthew 18:15-17). Therefore Paul

warns his delegates, Timothy and Titus, “Them that sin rebuke before all”

(I Timothy 5:20). “Reprove, rebuke” (II Timothy 4:2). “Rebuke them sharply”

(Titus 1:13). “Rebuke with all authority” (ibid. 2:15).  By withholding reproof in a

bitter spirit, or from a feeling of cowardice, we may become partakers of other men’s

sins. Whoever fails to rebuke his neighbor when he ought to do so, bears sin on his

 account (the more correct and less ambiguous rendering of the words translated in

the Authorized Version, suffer sin upon him. God’s people are their brothers’ keepers

(Genesis 4:9).


18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people,

but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.  Revenge and malice

are forbidden as well as hatred, and the negative precepts culminate in the positive law.

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, which sums up in itself one half of the

Decalogue (Matthew 22:37-40). “For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law.

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal,

Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other

 commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love

 thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the

fulfilling of the Law” (Romans 13:8-10).  Couple this verse with v. 34.


We have the testimony of our Lord (Matthew 19:19) and of the Apostle Paul

(Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14) that to obey the injunction, “Thou shalt love thy

 neighbor as thyself,” is to fulfill all the commandments of the second table of the

Law; and for that reason James calls it a royal law (James 2:8). Here, therefore, the

Levitical Law culminates in its highest point, so far as our duties towards men are

concerned. Lest the Jew should confine the idea of thy neighbor to his own kindred

and race, an equal love is specifically commanded for the stranger that dwelleth with

you. Not only, Thou shalt love thy Jewish neighbor as thyself, but also Thou shalt love

the stranger that dwelleth among you AS THYSELF. (Quite a high bar is set –

CY – 2010)  But though the Law culminates in the two kindred commands, “Thou

shalt love the Lord thy God;” “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;”

Christianity does not. Christianity goes beyond the highest point to which the Law

soars. Not only does it name the neighbor and the stranger as those whom we are to

love, but also the enemy. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love

thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies,

bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them

which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of

your Father which is in heaven” - (Matthew 5:43-45). The motive in the gospel is

also higher than the Law. In the Law the motive in the case of the stranger is human

sympathy arising from common suffering, “for ye were strangers in the land of

Egypt.”  In the gospel it is the desire to be like God in His dealings with men, “for He

maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just

and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), “for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the

evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).


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.  Here is a collection of further laws,

arranged as before in no special order. The first is a mystical injunction against the

confusion of things which are best kept apart, illustrated in three subjects — diverse

kinds of cattle in breeding, mingled seeds in sowing a field, and mixed materials in garments.

In Deuteronomy 22:10, a fresher illustration is added, “Thou shalt not plow with an ox

 and an ass together.” The existence of mules, which we find frequently

mentioned in the’ later history (II Samuel 13:29; 18:9; I Kings 1:33), may be

accounted for by supposing that the positive precept with regard to breeding cattle

here laid down was transgressed, or that the mules were imported from abroad (see

I Kings 10:25).  The moral meaning of the whole of this injunction is exhibited in the

following passages from the New Testament, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord,

 and the cup of devils” (I Corinthians 10:21). “Be ye not unequally yoked together

with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and

what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?

or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the

 temple of God with idols?” (II Corinthians 6:14-16). “He cannot love the Lord

Jesus with his heart,” says Hooker, “who lendeth one ear to his apostles and another

to false teachers, and who can brook to see a mingle-mangle of religion and superstition’

(‘Serm.’ 5:7, quoted by Wordsworth).


The moral meaning of the command, “Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed,

 receives an illustration from the parable of the “man which sowed good seed in his

field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and

went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then

appeared the tares also” - (Matthew 13:24-26). God’s servant must sow of the best;

f the tares are mixed with the good seed, it must be the enemy’s doing, not his. One of the

preparations made by the Jews for an approaching Passover was to go over the fields

near Jerusalem, and root up plants that had grown from mingled seeds. But in the

spiritual sphere this is not to be done. If the enemy has succeeded in introducing the

tares, they are for the sake of the wheat to be let to grow together until the harvest

with the result  “Let both grow together until the h arvest:  and in the time of the

harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them

in bundles to burn them:  but gather the wheat into my barn”  - (Matthew 13:30).

Compare Revelation 14:14-20 – “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon

the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and

in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with

a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the

time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.  And He that sat

on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.   And

another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp

sickle.   And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over

fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in

thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes

are fully ripe.   And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the

vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.   And

the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress,

even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”


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.  21 And he

shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle

of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering.  22 And the priest shall

make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the

LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be

forgiven him.  A distinction is drawn between adultery with a free woman, or a

betrothed free virgin, which was punishable with death (ch. 20:10; Deuteronomy

22:23-24), and with a slave betrothed to another man (probably a slave also). In the

latter case a lesser punishment, no doubt that of scourging (according to the Mishna

to the extent of forty stripes), was to be inflicted on one or both, according to the

circumstances of the case.


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.  24 But in

the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal. 

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.  The eating of the fruit of young

trees by their owners for five years is forbidden, on the principle that such fruit is unclean

until it has been sanctified by the offering of a crop as first-fruits to the Lord for the

use of the servants of the tabernacle, and a full crop is not to be expected until the

fourth year from the time that the trees were planted. The fruit is at first to be counted

 as uncircumcised, being regarded in a position similar to that of the heathen, that is,

unclean, from not having been yet sanctified by the offering of the first-fruits. This

sanctification takes place in the fourth year.


26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment,

nor observe times.  27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither

shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.  28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in

your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.  All

these customs were unbecoming the dignity of God’s people, and had been connected

with idolatrous practices.


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.  This is a peremptory

prohibition, applying to every Jewish maiden, introduced in this place with a primary

relation to the sanctification of lust by the dedication of young girls at some heathen

temples; but by no means confined in its application to such practices. All legal

sanction of the sin of prostitution is forbidden, for whatever purpose it may be given;

and the certain result of such

sanction is indicated in the final words of the verse, “lest the land fall to

whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness” - (cf. Deuteronomy 23:17)

i.e“no whore of the daughters…..no sodomite of the sons of Israel.


30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

The command in this verse differs from that in v. 3 by adding the injunction to

reverence my sanctuary to that requiring the observance of the sabbath. It is a matter

of experience that where the sabbath is not kept, God’s sanctuary is not reverenced,

and that that reverence increases or fails away according as the obligation of the

sabbatical law, whether in its Jewish form or its Christian form, be more or less recognized.

The sabbatical ordinance is necessary as a previous condition of religious worship.

Without it, the business and pleasure of the world are too strong to give way

to the demands upon time made by the stated service of God. The verse is repeated in

ch. 26:2. When the Lord’s day is kept holy, and a holy reverence for the Lord’s

sanctuary lives in the heart, not only are many sins avoided, but social and domestic

life is pervaded by the fear of God, and characterized by devoutness and propriety.


31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be

defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.  This verse contains a prohibition of all

dealings with those that have familiar spirits or are wizards. The punishment of such

persons is appointed in the next chapter. Both in the Old and the New Testament, the

real existence of evil spirits and their power of communicating with the human spirit

is assumed.   (Especially in the last days of which the drug culture seems to be a part -

[I Timothy 4:1, Galatians 5:19-21] – CY – 2010)


32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man,

and fear thy God: I am the LORD.  (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29).  Reverence for the old

is inculcated as being a part, not merely of natural respect, but of the “fear of God.”   

In the East this virtue, implying deference on the part of the strong to the weak, and

of the inexperienced to the wise, exists in larger influence for good than in the West,

where, however, its place has been, but only partially, supplied by the greater

deference paid by man to woman.  (More bad signs of either the demise of culture

or the END OF TIME -  [II Timothy 3:1-2, Isaiah 3:12] – i.e. children in our

schools running the halls and ruining the classes by unrequited defiant behavior –

apparently mankind does not have the resolve to discipline in effeminate societies

but God will Judgenotice the two verses that follow the above referenced

Isaiah 3:12 – CY – 2010)


Respect for old age is not only inculcated as a preservative against the rule of brute

force, but as a part of the fear of God, the parent’s relation to the child representing

that of God to His creature.


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

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.  The command already given “neither to vex a stranger,

nor oppress him” (Exodus 22:21), on the pathetic ground that “ye know the heart of a

 stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt(ibid. 23:9), is broadened in

these verses to the positive law, thou shalt love him as thyself. “The royal law of v. 18

is expressly extended to the stranger, and notwithstanding the national narrowness

necessary to preserve the true religion in the world, the general brotherhood of

mankind is hereby taught as far as was possible under the circumstances” (Gardiner).


35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in

measure.  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.

These verses, beginning with the same words as v. 15, Ye shall do no unrighteousness

in judgment, contain another and wider application of that principle. V. 15 prohibited

unrighteousness in the judge, or in one who was in the position of a judge; these

verses forbid it in merchants and tradesmen. It is the more necessary to condemn

dishonesty, in unmistakable terms, as men who make a profession of religion, and

therefore would be shocked at stealing, have often less scruple in cheating. Here and

in Deuteronomy, where the Law is repeated, a religious sanction is given to the command;

“For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination

 unto the Lord thy God”  (Deuteronomy 25:16).  Proverbs 11:1, “A false balance

 is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is His delight;” and 20:10,

“Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the

Lord;” see also Micah 6:10-11 and Ezekiel 45:10.


37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments,

and do them: I am the LORD.  Moral precepts are thus rested on their right

foundationthe command of God and the religious motive.


Moral commandments have a double sanction.

They are to be obeyed;


  • because they carry their own sanction with them,
  • because they are commanded.

In the latter respect all Divine injunctions stand on a level. All transgressions of what

is commanded are equally sin, but they are not equal sins. A man who steals is not

guilty of an equally heinous sin with the man who commits murder, but he is equally

guilty of sin, because both murder and theft are forbidden. All God’s statutes, and all

His judgments are to be OBSERVED WITHOUT EXCEPTION, in order to be

righteous according to the righteousness of the Law. “For Moses describeth the

righteousness which is of the Law, That the man which doeth those things shall

live by them” (Romans 10:5). “This do, and ye shall live” (Luke 10:28) – Ye shall

therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments:  which if a man do, he shall

live in them:  I am the Lord” – ch. 18:5.  [But  this we haven’t done and this is why

Jesus “stood as a lamb slain before the foundation of the world” {Revelation 13:8}



John 1:29 - CY – 2010]



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