Leviticus 19


In this chapter and the next, as we move from law to law, we find some general laws which follow a varied pattern of subjects. More importantly, we come across the theme of holiness once again.

As can be seen from the above chart, the main theme of this section, if not of the entire book, is to ‘be holy’, Leviticus 19:2 / Leviticus 20:7 / Leviticus 20:26. There is an important principle here, the foundation for all true morality rests upon the existence of a holy God.

These laws included the treatment of one’s neighbour, Leviticus 19:13. One of the commands given to this section is to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, Leviticus 19:18. We normally think of this command as having come from Jesus, but it had its origins in the Old Testament. This command is also extended to strangers and aliens who reside among the Israelites, Exodus 19:34.

‘The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. ‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God. ‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.’ Leviticus 19:1-4

God doesn’t mix His words in these verses; He wants Israel to be holy because He is holy. They need to live totally different lives from the other nations around them and these laws will help them do that. If anything was going to make their lives stand out from the other nations around them, it was God’s laws.

‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the LORD; they must be cut off from their people. ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.’ Leviticus 19:5-10

Notice again, the fellowship offering which was offered in order to stay at peace with God and His people. Because God is concerned about the venerable in society, so should Israel as a whole. This is seen when God wants them at harvest time to allow the poor people and any strangers among them to have a portion of the harvest.

‘Do not steal. ‘Do not lie. ‘Do not deceive one another. ‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. ‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbour. ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight. ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind but fear your God. I am the LORD. ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great but judge your neighbour fairly. ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbour’s life. I am the LORD. ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in their guilt. ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD. ‘Keep my decrees. ‘Do not mate different kinds of animals. ‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. ‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. ‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD. With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the LORD for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven. ‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God. ‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. ‘Do not practice divination or seek omens. ‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. ‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness. ‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. ‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. ‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. ‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.’ Leviticus 19:11-37

Again, God has relationships in mind in these verses, therefore gossiping and stealing were forbidden, bearing false witness and lying were forbidden. They weren’t permitted to make false oaths to their neighbour or speak the Lord’s Name in vain.

Taking advantage of someone who was physically deaf and blind was forbidden, they weren’t allowed to make any unfair judgments or speak about omens, 2 Samuel 20:9 / Isaiah 7:20 / 2 Samuel 10:4, they weren’t allowed to hate their neighbour, take vengeance on anyone or mix any breeds of animals, Deuteronomy 22:9-11, seeds or fabrics.

They weren’t allowed to eat any fruit from trees that were just beginning to yield their fruit. They weren’t allowed to eat blood or eat the flesh of a dead person, that is cannibalism. They weren’t to give their daughters into prostitution or get involved in any dodgy business deals. They were to respect their elders and love their neighbours and strangers as themselves.

Through all these laws God was protecting everyone in society, the rich and the poor as well as the stranger, there was to be no racial prejudice, after all, they were foreigners and strangers themselves. If anyone broke any of these laws then relationships within the society would begin to fall apart, but if they obeyed them then peace would continue throughout their whole land.

If a peace offering is made then it should be eaten the same day and the day after, but it was to be burned on the third day. When the fields are reaped then the field corners are to be left for mothers in the morning, nurses at noon and the elderly at evening. Wages were to be paid every day.

The reason for Israel being obedient to these laws is simply because God is the One who brought them out of Egypt. They needed to understand that their newfound freedom came with responsibilities, if they wanted to remain free, then they had to obey God’s will.

Go To Leviticus 20


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."