Leviticus 24

CHAPTER XXIV

Pure olive oil must be provided for the lamps, 1, 2.

Aaron is to take care that the lamps be lighted from evening

to morning continually, 3, 4.

How the shew-bread is to be made and ordered, 5-8.

Aaron and his sons shall eat this bread in the holy place, 9.

Of the son of Shelomith, an Israelitish woman, who blasphemed

the name, 10, 11.

He is imprisoned till the mind of the Lord should be known, 12.

He is commanded to be stoned to death, 13,14.

The ordinance concerning cursing and blaspheming the Lord,

15,16.

The law against murder, 17.

The lex talionis, or law of like for like, repeated, 18-21.

This law to be equally binding both on themselves and on

strangers, 22.

The blasphemer is stoned, 23.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXIV

Verse 2. Pure oil olive] See every thing relative to this

ordinance explained on Ex 27:20, 21.

Verse 5. Bake twelve cakes] See the whole account of the

shew-bread in Clarke's notes on "Ex 25:30"; and relative to

the table on which they stood, the golden candlestick and

silver trumpets carried in triumph to Rome,

See Clarke on Ex 25:31.

Verse 10. The son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was

an Egyptian, &c.] This is a very obscure account, and is

encumbered with many difficulties.

1. It seems strange that a person proceeding from such an illegal

mixture should have been incorporated with the Israelites.

2. What the cause of the strife between this mongrel person and

the Israelitish man was is not even hinted at. The rabbins, it

is true, supply in their way this deficiency; they say he was

the son of the Egyptian whom Moses slew, and that attempting to

pitch his tent among those of the tribe of Dan, to which he

belonged by his mother's side, Le 24:11, he was prevented by a

person of that tribe as having no right to a station among them

who were true Israelites both by father and mother. In

consequence of this they say he blasphemed the name of the Lord. But,

3. The sacred text does not tell us what name he

blasphemed; it is simply said vaiyihkob eth

hashshem, he pierced through, distinguished, explained, or

expressed the name. (See below, article 10.) As the Jews hold

it impious to pronounce the name Yehovah, they always put

either Adonai, Lord, or hashshem, THE NAME, in the

place of it; but in this sense hashshem was never used prior to

the days of rabbinical superstition, and therefore it cannot be

put here for the word Jehovah. 4. Blaspheming the name of the

Lord is mentioned in Le 24:16, and there the proper Hebrew term

is used shem Yehovah, and not the rabbinical

hashshem, as in Le 24:11. 5. Of all the manuscripts collated

both by Kennicott and De Rossi, not one, either of the Hebrew or

Samaritan, has the word Jehovah in this place. 6. Not one of

the ancient VERSIONS, Targum of Onkelos, Hebraeo-Samaritan,

Samaritan version, Syriac, Arabic, Septuagint, or Vulgate Latin,

has even attempted to supply the sacred name. 7. Houbigant

supposes that the Egypto-Israelitish man did not use the name of

the true God at all, but had been swearing by one of his country

gods; and if this was the case the mention of the name of a

strange god in the camp of Israel would constitute a very high

crime, and certainly expose to the punishment mentioned in Le 24:14.

8. Probably the word hashshem was the proper name of

some Egyptian deity. 9. The fifteenth verse seems to

countenance the supposition that the god whose name was produced

on this occasion was not the true God, for it is there said,

whosoever curseth his god, elohaiv, shall bear his

sin-shall have the punishment due to him as an idolater; but he

that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shem Yehovah,

shall surely be put to death-when he blasphemeth the name (

shem) he shall die, Le 24:16. 10. The verb

nakab, which we translate blaspheme, signifies to pierce, bore,

make hollow; also to EXPRESS or DISTINGUISH by NAME; see Isa 62:2;

Nu 1:17; 1Ch 12:31; 16:41; 28:15; or, as the Persian translator

has it, [Persian] sherah kerd, mir an nam, he expounded or

interpreted the name. Hence all that we term blasphemy here may

only signify the particularizing some false god, i. e., naming

him by his name, or imploring his aid as a helper, and when spoken

of the true God it may signify using that sacred name as the

idolaters did the names of their idols. On blaspheming God, and

the nature of blasphemy, See Clarke on Mt 9:3.

In whatever point of view we consider the relation which has

been the subject of this long note, one thing is sufficiently

plain, that he who speaks irreverently of God, of his works, his

perfections, his providence, &c., is destitute of every moral

feeling and of every religious principle, and consequently so

dangerous to society that it would be criminal to suffer him to

be at large, though the longsuffering of God may lead him to

repentance, and therefore it may be consistent with mercy to

preserve his life.

Verse 14. Lay their hands upon his head] It was by this

ceremony that the people who heard him curse bore their public

testimony in order to his being fully convicted, for without

this his punishment would not have been lawful. By this

ceremony also they in effect said to the man, Thy blood be upon

thy own head.

Verse 15. Whosoever curseth his God] yekallel

Elohaiv, he who makes light of him, who does not treat him and

sacred things with due reverence, shall bear his sin-shall have

the guilt of this transgression imputed to him, and may expect

the punishment.

Verse 16. Blasphemeth the name of the Lord]

venokeb shem Yehovah, he who pierces, transfixes, or, as some

translate it, expounds, the name of Jehovah;

See Clarke on Le 24:10.

This being the name by which especially the Divine Essence was

pointed out, it should be held peculiarly sacred. We have already

seen that the Jews never pronounce this name, and so long has it

been disused among them that the true pronunciation is now totally

lost; See Clarke on Ex 6:3.

Verse 17. He that killeth any man] Blasphemy against God,

i. e., speaking injuriously of his name, his attributes, his

government, and his revelation, together with murder, is to be

punished with death: he that blasphemes God is a curse in

society, and he who takes away, wilfully and by malicious

intent, the life of any man, should certainly be put to death.

In this respect God has absolutely required that life shall go

for life.

Verse 20. Breach for breach] This is a repetition of the lex

talionis, which see explained, Clarke's note "Ex 21:24".

Verse 22. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the

stranger as for one of your own country] Equal laws, where each

individual receives the same protection and the same privileges,

are the boast only of a sound political constitution. He who

respects and obeys the laws has a right to protection and

support, and his person and property are as sacred in the sight

of justice as the person and property of the prince. He who

does not obey the laws of his country forfeits all right and

title to protection and privilege; his own actions condemn him,

and justice takes him up on the evidence of his own

transgressions. He who does what is right need not fear the

power of the civil magistrate, for he holds the sword only to

punish transgressors. Universal obedience to the laws is the

duty of every citizen; none can do more, none should do less:

therefore each individual in a well regulated state must have

equal rights and privileges in every thing that relates to the

safety of his person, and the security of his property. Reader,

such was the Mosaic code; such IS the BRITISH CONSTITUTION.

Verse 23. And stone him with stones.] We are not to suppose

that the culprit was exposed to the unbridled fury of the

thousands of Israel; this would be brutality, not justice, for

the very worst of tempers and passions might be produced and

fostered by such a procedure. The Jews themselves tell us that

their manner of stoning was this: they brought the condemned

person without the camp, because his crime had rendered him

unclean, and whatever was unclean must be put without the camp.

When they came within four cubits of the place of execution,

they stripped the criminal, if a man, leaving him nothing but a

cloth about the waist. The place on which he was to be executed

was elevated, and the witnesses went up with him to it, and laid

their hands upon him, for the purposes mentioned Le 24:14. Then

one of the witnesses struck him with a stone upon the loins; if

he was not killed with that blow, then the witnesses took up a

great stone, as much as two men could lift, and threw it upon

his breast. This was the coup de grace, and finished the

tragedy. When a man was stoned by the mob, then brutal rage

armed every man, justice was set aside, and the will and fury of

the people were law, judge, jury, and executioner. Such

disgraceful stonings as these were, no doubt, frequent among the

Jews. See Calmet's Dict., article STONING, and Ainsworth on

this place.

WHAT the crime of Shelomith's son was, we cannot distinctly

say; doubtless it was some species of blasphemy: however, we

find it was a new and unprecedented case; and as there was no

law by which the quantum of guilt could be ascertained, nor

consequently the degree of punishment, it was necessary to

consult the great Lawgiver on the occasion; the man was

therefore secured till the mind of the Lord should be known.

Moses, no doubt, had recourse to the tabernacle, and received

the directions afterward mentioned from Him who dwelt between

the cherubim. In what way the answer of the Lord was

communicated we know not, (probably by Urim and Thummim,) but it

came in such a manner as to preclude all doubt upon the subject:

the man was declared to be guilty, and was sentenced to be

stoned to death; and on this occasion a law is made relative to

blasphemy in general. However sinful the Jews might have been

at this time, we have reason to believe they did not take the

name of the Lord in vain, and blasphemy was not known among

them. But what shall we say of Christians, so called, whose

mouths are full of cursing and bitterness? Were every

blasphemer among us to be stoned to death, how many of the

people would fall in every corner of the land! God is

longsuffering; may this lead them to repentance! We have

excellent laws against all profaneness, but, alas, for our

country! they are not enforced; and he who attempts to put the

laws in force against profane swearers, Sabbath breakers, &c.,

is considered a litigious man, and a disturber of the peace of

society. Will not God visit for these things? This is not only

contempt of God's holy word and commandments, but rebellion

against the laws.

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