"God's Love in the Old Testament" - Appendix 2



Appendix 2 to chapter 22

"The Miscellaneous Laws of Leviticus 19"




Appendix 2: The Miscellaneous Laws of Leviticus 19


We have chosen this particular chapter because they are ‘extension laws' to the covenant, given after Sinai but nevertheless are a miscellanea of laws that help bring order and stability to this embryonic nation. 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.





Laws about Relationship with God


Lev 19:1,2 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.

•  The initial call is to be like God, a call to closeness of relationship.

Lev 19:3 Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God,”

•  Echoes of the fifth and fourth commandments (Ex 20:8-12) •  Relationship is at the heart of community – of life with others. •  The family is the basic building block of society and a respect for God built into community life is the umbrella over it all.

Lev 19:4 “Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.”

•  This echoes the second commandment (Ex 20:4,5). Hold fast to the One True God!

Lev 19:5-8 “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 he has desecrated what is holy to the LORD; that person must be cut off from his people.”

•  If you want fellowship with the Lord then make sure that when you bring your fellowship offerings you do it in the prescribed way. Fellowship with God is not to be equated with casualness. •  Thus, as with the Ten Commandments, the initial commands are about relationship with the Lord. •  If we get that right, then there is hope for everything else to follow and fall into place.

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Laws about concern for the poor, weak & vulnerable


Lev 19:9,10 “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 alien. I am the LORD your God.” (v.9,10)

•  Instructions that were meant to bless the poor •  Thus the ‘leftovers' of harvest are to be accessible and available to the poor, as an additional form of God's provision for them. •  God's concern for the poor and needy also comes a few verses later:

Lev 19:14 “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD,”

•  This is an obvious protection for the disabled. •  The verses that follow are a mixture of laws about property and ownership, and truthfulness in life.

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Laws of property and ownership


Lev 19:11a “Do not steal” is a repeat of the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15 ),

Lev 19:13a “Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him,” (v.13a)

•  A general instruction to let there be right dealings in society,

Lev 19:13b “Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight,”

•  Takes the right dealing into the work place so that employers do not hold back what they owe employees.

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Laws of truthfulness & justice


Lev 19:11b “Do not lie,”

•  A simple and straight forward call for truthfulness to always be yours, followed by,

Lev 19:11c “Do not deceive one another,”

•  Takes truthfulness into behaviour as well as speech.

Lev 19:12 “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”

•  Indeed part of that deception may include making false oaths, and so they are forbidden: •  i.e. don't try to use God's name to bolster up your wrong doings. He is holy and so if you invoke His name in such dealings you will be in serious trouble!

Lev 19:15 “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” (v.15)

•  Again, let honesty prevail in society.

Lev 19:16 “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.”

•  Again, more on truthfulness.

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Laws expressing concern for well-being in society


Lev 19:16 “Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD,”

•  but it is not only actions but attitudes:

Lev 19:17 “Do not hate your brother in your heart.”

•  It is not only negative or passive, it is also positive and active:

Lev 19:17b “Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”

•  i.e. if you see your neighbour moving into wrong, do something about it, go to him and talk to him. Wow, that is community care! •  Positive heart attitudes will have strong effects in society:

Lev 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

•  Again and again where we have that final reminder, “I am the Lord” we are being reminded that this is to be a holy people, a people who are distinguished from the self-centred, ungodly, sinful nations of the world – or at least, that is how it was supposed to be if Israel had heeded these laws. •  What a wonderful society it could have been but, tragically, so often it wasn't as they ignored or forgot about these guidelines from the Designer on how to create a good, secure and caring society.

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A mid-way call to remember these are God's Laws


Lev 19:19 ,37 Keep my decrees….. Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.

•  Note again that they are God's decrees, the things He has established, orders that He has put in place because they conform to how He has designed the human race, and therefore He speaks against those things that would harm this human race. •  Bear in mind throughout, that God's intention is the well-being of His people. •  The first instructions, in the next verses we consider, confuse some people but, I suggest, simply say, “Respect God's order and God's design and recognise the distinctive nature of things that He has established.

Lev 19:19 “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.19)

•  These may or may not have scientific reasons behind them, or they may be simply what I've suggested already, a call to be distinctive and by conforming to these rules will constantly act as a reminder that God is Creator and He has made things differently.

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Laws calling for protection of a slave girl


Lev 19:20a If a man sleeps with a woman who is a slave girl promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment.

•  This is to be clearly identified as a wrong!

Lev 19:20b Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed.

•  Note is to be taken of her position. As a slave she is vulnerable

Lev 19:21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD.

•  The man is to take responsibility and face up to his wrong in taking advantage of her.

Lev 19:22 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.

•  This is a form of confession and repentance and acknowledgement of sin

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Laws of horticulture


Lev 19:23 -25 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.

•  Give a tree sufficient time to grow before you take its fruit and, when it matures in the fourth year, give its fruit to the Lord as a means of honouring the Creator and Provider of all good things.

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Laws of Distinction & Relationship with God


Lev 19:26a “Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it .”

•  There was to be a constant reminder that life was important and blood was seen as the sign of life in a body, therefore it was not to be drunk.

Lev 19:26b “Do not practice divination or sorcery”

Lev 19:31 “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”

•  In Deuteronomy Moses stated, “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so.” (Deut 18:14) •  Occult activity is about seeking out hidden powers, powers that can be controlled without God and as such are forbidden.

Lev 19:27 ,28 “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.”

•  The reference to hair referred to the pagan practice of shaping the hair as part of mourning practices, and the disfiguring of the body and tattooing were similarly performed in such pagan rights. •  Anything that was associated with the pagan practices of the former inhabitants of the land were to be shunned. •  It may well be that the following injunction was similarly linked to the practices of the land but generally it provides for the care and protection of girls:

Lev 19:29 “Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.”

•  Turning to prostitution suggests a failure in respect of God's design for marriage and is therefore spoken against.

Lev 19:30 “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD,”

•  A call for reverence for the Lord •  A reminder that constantly needs to be brought. •  In the midst of the laws, don't lose sight of the fact that they are all to do with a special people, God's people, and His relationship with them is to be constantly remembered, for it is the foundation of all else.

Lev 19:32 “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”

•  Note yet again the use of the authority for this law: “I am the Lord” which emphasizes the importance of it. •  Honouring people is a key thing that comes up often in Scripture, recognizing their worth. •  If for nothing else, honour the aged for having gone before and survived. •  They should have wisdom and experience that outweighs that of a younger generation and, as such, should be honoured.

Lev 19:33 ,34 “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt . I am the LORD your God.” (v.33,34)

•  There should also be care for the foreigner now living in the land •  This injunction is a call not to look down on aliens, for Israel had once been an alien people in Egypt .

Lev 19:35 ,36 “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 .”

•  Finally there is a call for honest in everyday dealings •  Again it is a call for honesty to be the currency of the community, together with a reminder that they are the Lord's people and (implied) they should stand distinct from nations round about who were not honest. In the same way as some nations have a bad reputation for requiring bribes at every turn, Israel was to have a reputation for honesty in dealing.


Let's remind ourselves just once more, the purpose of these laws was to help Israel be a distinctive nation, a nation that was to be looked up to for they could be trusted for the standards they held. These standards are to make them distinct from other nations by the way they cared for one another and created a secure community.



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