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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Leviticus

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FRAMEWORKS: Leviticus 19: Various Laws for Israel


[Introductory Notes: There are some important points to be noted as we come to read these more general rules:

1.Holiness: these are laws given by God to make Israel distinctive (holy) like He is distinctive. This distinctiveness is because God is pure and perfect and this people is thus to be the same. These laws will make Israel stand out in the world, as a people who live according to God's design for humanity, and as such they are to be a light to the rest of the world.

2.Value: They appear at times like a random collection but like, say, the Proverbs of Solomon, they are each worth reflecting upon so we have given each one a preliminary comment. They were rules very largely given specifically to be applied to Israel as they approached the Promised Land but it is worth reflecting on the reasons behind such rules, even though many will not apply to us today.

3.Chapter-links: This chapter is about the rules to fit God's design for His world; the next chapter will be about maintaining those rules.

We will make further comment at the end of the Chapter.]



v.1 Did you note each sections starts with this - God said these things to Moses

v.1 The Lord said to Moses,

v.2 The call through these verses is to be like God - holy, utterly different

v.2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

v.3 There are two basic relationships that are building blocks to life – family and parents and God who we must never forget.

v.3 “‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.

v.4 Superstitiously worshipping idols is deception; there is only One God

v.4“‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.

v.5 For Israel any thoughts of worship should be in accord with the Law

v.5 “‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord , sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.

v.6-8 Eating your sacrifice may be fine – IF you do it according to the Law

v.6 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.

v.7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted.

v.8 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.

v.9,10 As farmers, make opportunity to bless the poor

v.9 “‘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.

v.10 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.

v.11-13 As a community let truth, honesty & integrity prevail

v.11 “‘Do not steal. “‘Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another.

v.12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

v.13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbour. “‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

v.14,15 Don't harm the weak and needy in any way

v.14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

v.15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly.

v.16-18 Work to be good neighbours with truth, honest, forgiveness, empathy

v.16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbour's life. I am the Lord.

v.17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

v.18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.

v.19 Respect God's order and God's design and recognise the distinctive nature of things that He has established.

v.19 “‘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.

v.20-22 Let justice and care be seen in the way you treat servants

v.20 “‘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.

v.21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the Lord.

v.22 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.

v.23-25 Increase your fruit harvest by holding back

v.23 “‘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.

v.24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord.

v.25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God.

v.26-28 Do not imitate pagan practices found in the Land

v.26 “‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.

“‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.

v.27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

v.28 “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

v.29 Protect your children from abuse else civilization be lost

v.29 “‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

v.30,31 Honour God's spiritual guidance and reject counterfeit deception

v.30 “‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

v.31 “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

v.32 Show Honour for the elderly and thus honour the Lord's order of life

v.32 “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

v.33,34 Accept and respect the foreigner who lives with you

v.33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.

v.34 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.

v.35,36 Let truth & honesty prevail in your business practices

v.35 “‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.

v.36 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.

v.37 These rules confirm God's design

v.37 “‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the Lord .'”


[Follow-up Notes: LESSONS: In the Introductory Notes we suggested that these were laws specifically for Israel that may convey lessons through thinking about the reasoning behind them. Here we will highlight some of those reasons noting why they may not be applicable today, and therefore why comments by sceptics cynically commenting (without understanding) why some of these rules seem so bizarre, are stepping onto holy ground. So here are some reasons why these are primarily for Israel but may nevertheless have things to say to us:


A. About God

1. Holiness: The key reminder is that God is holy (v.2) – perfect, utterly different – and He seeks to lead this people to learn to be the same.

2. Unique God: Every time He says, “I am the LORD” He is emphasising His difference – the Eternal One, The I AM WHO I AM. (v.2,3,4,10,12,14,16,25,28,30,32,33,34,36,37)

3. Idolatry: Going into a land where the pagans were living in superstitious idolatry, there was a need to speak strongly against such things (v.4 & next chapter) and against copying any of their occult practices (v.26-28,31).

4. Honouring God: The other side of the coin is honouring the Law in respect of the way the community should worship (v.3b,5-8, 20-22,26,30).


B. About Community & using the world

5. Design – Relationships: The rules remind us again and again that HE has designed this world in a specific way and to disregard His design is to invite the downfall of our community. We see this in respect of relationships: family (v.3a,), caring for the poor (v.9,10), and the way we treat one another (v.11,13-18,20,32-36).

6. Design – the world: We also see the design element in respect of respecting distinctions in Creation (v.19) and to pursue horticulture (v.23-25).


In this list, although 3 & 4 are unique to Israel of that time , all the rest should speak to us about our attitude towards God and towards His world, although the elements in item 6 have question marks over them which science may or may not eventually corroborate. So, particularly note for application today, elements from 1,2 & 5 are noteworthy.]