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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Leviticus Chapter 19

Leviticus 19:2

lev 19:2

Ye shall be holy ... - These words express the keynote to the whole book of Leviticus, being addressed to the whole nation. There does not appear to be any systematic arrangement in the laws which follow. They were intended as guards to the sanctity of the elect people, enforcing common duties by immediate appeal to the highest authority. Compare Lev 18:24-30 note.

Leviticus 19:3

lev 19:3

Compare Exo 20:8, Exo 20:12; Exo 31:13-14. The two laws repeated here are the only laws in the Decalogue which assume a positive shape, all the others being introduced by the formula, "Thou shalt not." These express two great central points, the first belonging to natural law and the second to positive law, in the maintenance of the well-being of the social body of which Yahweh was the acknowledged king.

Leviticus 19:5

lev 19:5

Rather, ye shall offer it that you may be accepted.

Leviticus 19:9

lev 19:9

See Deu 24:19-21. "Grape" signifies fallen fruit of any kind; and "vineyard" a fruit garden of any kind. Compare Deu 23:24.

The poor - is the poor Israelite - "the stranger" is properly the foreigner, who could possess no land of his own in the land of Israel.

Leviticus 19:11

lev 19:11

Lev 19:11 forbids injuries perpetrated by craft; Lev 19:13, those perpetrated by violence or power, the conversion of might into right. In Lev 19:13 "defraud" should rather be, oppress.

Leviticus 19:14

lev 19:14

The meaning appears to be, "Thou shalt not utter curses to the deaf because he cannot hear thee, neither shalt thou put a stumbling-block in the way of the blind because he cannot see thee (compare Deu 27:18), but thou shalt remember that though the weak and poor cannot resist, nor the deaf hear, nor the blind see, God is strong, and sees and hears all that thou doest." Compare Job 29:15.

Leviticus 19:16

lev 19:16

Stand against the blood of thy neighbor - Either, to put his life in danger by standing up as his accuser (compare Mat 26:60); or, to stand by idly when thy neighbor's life is in danger. Whichever interpretation we adopt, the clause prohibits that which might interfere with the course of justice.

Leviticus 19:17

lev 19:17

Not suffer sin upon him - Rather, not hear sin on his account; that is, either by bearing secret ill-will Eph 4:26, or by encouraging him to sin in withholding due rebuke Rom 1:32.

Leviticus 19:19

lev 19:19

Linen and woolen - The original word is found only here and in Deu 22:11, where it is rendered "of divers sorts." It may denote such tissues as linsey woolsey.

Leviticus 19:20

lev 19:20

Betrothed to an husband - Rather, who has been betrothed to a man. The reference appears to be to a bondwoman who has been betrothed to a fellow-servant by her master. Death was the punishment for unfaithfulness in a betrothed woman in other cases. Compare Deu 22:23-24.

She shall be scourged - Or, They shall be chastized (see the margin). The trespass-offering was especially due from the man as having not only sinned with the woman, but inflicted an injury on the rights of the master.

Leviticus 19:23

lev 19:23

Fruit ... uncircumcised - i. e. unfit for presentation to Yahweh. In regard to its spiritual lesson, this law may be compared with the dedication of the first-born of beasts to Yahweh Exo 13:12; Exo 34:19. Its meaning in a moral point of view was plain, and tended to illustrate the spirit of the whole Law.

Leviticus 19:26

lev 19:26

Certain pagan customs, several of them connected with magic, are here grouped together. The prohibition to eat anything with the blood may indeed refer to the eating of meat which had not been properly bled in slaughtering (Lev 7:26; Lev 17:10, etc.): but it is not improbable that there may be a special reference to some sort of magical or idolatrous rites. Compare Eze 33:25.

Lev 19:26

Observe times - It is not clear whether the original word refers to the fancied distinction between lucky and unlucky days, to some mode of drawing omens from the clouds, or to the exercise of "the evil eye."

Lev 19:27

Round the corners of your heads - This may allude to such a custom as that of the Arabs described by Herodotus. They used to show honor to their deity Orotal by cutting the hair away from the temples in a circular form. Compare the margin reference.

Mar the corners of thy beard - It has been conjectured that this also relates to a custom which existed among the Arabs, but we are not informed that it had any idolatrous or magical association. As the same, or very similar customs, are mentioned in Lev 21:5, and in Deu 14:1, as well as here, it would appear that they may have been signs of mourning.

Lev 19:28

Cuttings in your flesh for the dead - Compare the margin reference. Among the excitable races of the East this custom appears to have been very common.

Print any marks - Tattooing was probably practiced in ancient Egypt, as it is now by the lower classes of the modern Egyptians, and was connected with superstitious notions. Any voluntary disfigurement of the person was in itself an outrage upon God's workmanship, and might well form the subject of a law.

Leviticus 19:31

lev 19:31

The devotion of faith, which would manifest itself in obedience to the commandment to keep God's Sabbaths and to reverence His sanctuary Lev 19:30, is the true preservative against the superstition which is forbidden in this verse. The people whose God was Yahweh were not to indulge those wayward feelings of their human nature which are gratified in magical arts and pretensions. Compare Isa 8:19.

Familiar spirits - literally, "bottles". This application of the word is supposed to have been suggested by the tricks of ventriloquists, within whose bodies (as vessels or bottles) it was fancied that spirits used to speak. In other cases, the word is used for the familiar spirit which a man pretended to employ in order to consult, or to raise, the spirits of the dead. See Sa1 28:7-8.

Wizard - A word equivalent to "a knowing man", or, "a cunning man".

Leviticus 19:32

lev 19:32

The outward respect due to old age is here immediately connected with the fear of God. Compare the margin reference.

Leviticus 19:33

lev 19:33

The stranger - The foreigner. See Lev 16:29 note; Exo 23:9.

Leviticus 19:35

lev 19:35

The ephah is here taken as the standard of dry measure, and the bin (see Exo 29:40 note) as the standard of liquid measure. Of the two very different estimates of the capacities of these measures, the more probable is that the ephah did not hold quite four gallons and a half, and the hin not quite six pints. The log was a twelfth part of the hin Lev 14:10.

Lev 19:36

I am the Lord your God ... - A full stop should precede these words. They intraduce the formal conclusion to the whole string of precepts in this chapter, which are all enforced upon the ground of the election of the nation by Yahweh who had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt.

Next: Leviticus Chapter 20