Leviticus 18


The people are commanded to avoid the doings of the Egyptians

and Canaanites, 1-3.

They are to do God's judgments, and to keep his ordinances,

that they may live, 4, 5.

Marriages with those who are near of kin are prohibited, 6.

None to marry with his mother or step-mother, 7, 8;

with his sister or step-sister, 9;

with his grand-daughter, 10;

nor with the daughter of his step-mother, 11;

nor with his aunt, by father or mother, 12, 13;

nor with his uncle's wife, 14;

nor with his daughter-in-law, 15;

nor sister-in-law, 16;

nor with a woman and her daughter, son's daughter, or

daughter's daughter, 17;

nor with two sisters at the same time, 18.

Several abominations prohibited, 19-23,

of which the Canaanites, &c., were guilty, and for which they

were cast out of the land, 24, 25.

The people are exhorted to avoid these abominations, lest they

be treated as the ancient inhabitants of the land were treated,

and so cast out, 26-28.

Threatenings against the disobedient, 29,

and promises to the obedient, 30.


Verse 3. The doings of the land of Egypt-the land of Canaan]

The worshipping of demons, beasts, &c., as mentioned in the

preceding chapters, Le 17:7, and the abominations mentioned

in this chapter from Le 18:21-23.

Verse 6. Any that is near of kin] col shear

besaro, any remnant of his flesh, i. e., to any particularly

allied to his own family, the prohibited degrees in which are

specified from Le 18:7-17 inclusive.

Notwithstanding the prohibitions here, it must be evident that

in the infancy of the world, persons very near of kin must have

been joined in matrimonial alliances; and that even brothers

must have matched with their own sisters. This must have been

the case in the family of Adam. In these first instances

necessity required this; when this necessity no longer existed,

the thing became inexpedient and improper for two reasons: 1.

That the duties owing by nature to relatives might not be

confounded with those of a social or political kind; for could a

man be a brother and a husband, a son and a husband, at the same

time, and fulfil the duties of both? Impossible. 2. That by

intermarrying with other families, the bonds of social compact

might be strengthened and extended, so that the love of our

neighbour, &c., might at once be felt to be not only a maxim of

sound policy, but also a very practicable and easy duty; and

thus feuds, divisions, and wars be prevented.

Verse 16. Thy brother's wife] This was an illegal marriage,

unless the brother died childless. In that case it was not only

lawful for her to marry her brother-in-law, but he was obliged

by the law, De 25:5, to take her to wife.

Verse 18. A wife to her sister] Thou shalt not marry two

sisters at the same time, as Jacob did Rachel and Leah; but

there is nothing in this law that rendered it illegal to marry a

sister-in-law when her sister was dead; therefore the text says,

Thou shalt not take her in her life time, to vex her, alluding

probably to the case of the jealousies and vexations which

subsisted between Leah and Rachel, and by which the family peace

was so often disturbed. Some think that the text may be so

understood as also to forbid polygamy.

Verse 19. As long as she is put apart]

See Clarke on Le 15:24.

Verse 20. Thy neighbour's wife]

See Clarke on Ex 20:14.

Verse 21. Pass through the fire to Molech] The name of this

idol is mentioned for the first time in this place. As the word

molech or melech signifies king or governor, it is

very likely that this idol represented the sun; and more

particularly as the fire appears to have been so much employed in

his worship. There are several opinions concerning the meaning of

passing through the fire to Molech. 1. Some think that the

semen humanum was offered on the fire to this idol. 2. Others

think that the children were actually made a burnt-offering to

him. 3. But others suppose the children were not burnt, but only

passed through the fire, or between two fires, by way of

consecration to him. That some were actually burnt alive to

this idol several scriptures, according to the opinion of

commentators, seem strongly to intimate; see among others,

Ps 106:38; Jer 7:31, and Eze 23:37-39. That others were only

consecrated to his service by passing between two fires the

rabbins strongly assert; and if Ahaz had but one son, Hezekiah,

(though it is probable he had others, see 2Ch 28:3,) he is said

to have passed through the fire to Molech, 2Ki 16:3, yet he

succeeded his father in the kingdom, 2Ki 18:1, therefore this

could only be a consecration, his idolatrous father intending

thereby to initiate him early into the service of this demon.

See Clarke on Le 20:2.

Verse 22. With mankind] This abominable crime, frequent

among the Greeks and Romans as well as the Canaanites, may be

punished with death in this country.

Verse 23. With any beast] This abomination is also

punishable with death by the laws of this country.

Any woman stand before a beast] That this was often done in

Egypt there can be no doubt; and we have already seen, from the

testimony of Herodotus, that a fact of this kind actually took

place while he was in Egypt.

See Clarke on Le 17:7, and "Le 20:16".

Verse 25. The land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.]

This is a very nervous prosopopoeia or personification; a

figure by which any part of inanimate nature may be represented

as possessing the passions and reason of man. Here the land is

represented as an intelligent being, with a deep and refined

sense of moral good and evil: information concerning the

abominations of the people is brought to this personified land,

with which it is so deeply affected that a nausea is produced,

and it vomits out its abominable and accursed inhabitants. It

was natural for the inspired penman to make use of such a

figure, as the description he was obliged to give of so many and

enormous abominations must have affected him nearly in the same

way in which he represents the land to be affected.

Verse 30. Shall ye keep mine ordinance] The only way to be

preserved from all false worship is seriously to consider and

devoutly to observe the ordinances of the true religion. He who

in the things of God goes no farther than he can say, Thus it is

written, and thus it behoves me to do, is never likely to

receive a false creed, nor perform a superstitious act of


1. How true is that word, The law of the Lord is PERFECT! In a

small compass, and in a most minute detail, it comprises every

thing that is calculated to instruct, direct, convince, correct,

and fortify the mind of man. Whatever has a tendency to corrupt

or injure man, that it forbids; whatever is calculated to

comfort him, promote and secure his best interests, that it

commands. It takes him in all possible states, views him in all

connections, and provides for his present and eternal happiness.

2. As the human soul is polluted and tends to pollution, the

great doctrine of the law is holiness to the Lord: this it keeps

invariably in view in all its commands, precepts, ordinances,

rites, and ceremonies. And how forcibly in all these does it

say, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and

with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy

strength; and thy neighbour as thyself! This is the prominent

doctrine of the preceding chapter; and this shall be fulfilled

in all them who believe, for Christ is the end of the law for

righteousness to them that believe. Reader, magnify God for his

law, for by it is the knowledge of sin; and magnify him for his

Gospel, for by this is the cure of sin. Let the law be thy

schoolmaster to bring thee to Christ, that thou mayest be

justified by faith; and that the righteousness of the law may be

fulfilled in thee, and that thou mayest walk, not after the

flesh, but after the Spirit.

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