Leviticus 26


Idolatry forbidden, 1.

The Saobath to be sanctified, 2, 3.

Promises to obedience, of fruitful fields, plentiful harvests,

and vintage, 4, 5.

Of peace and security, 6.

Discomfiture of their enemies, 7-9.

Of abundance, 10.

Of the Divine presence, 11-13.

Threatenings against the disobedient, 14, 15.

Of terror and dismay, 16.

Their enemies shall prevail against them, 17, 18.

Of barrenness, 19, 20.

Of desolation by wild beasts, 21, 22.

And if not humbled and reformed, worse evils shall be inflicted

upon them, 23, 24.

Their enemies shall prevail, and they shall be wasted by the

pestilence, 25, 26.

If they should still continue refractory they shall be yet more

sorely punished, 27, 28.

The famine shall so increase that they shall be obliged to eat

their own children, 29.

Their carcasses shall be cast upon the carcasses of their idols,


Their cities shall be wasted, and the sanctuary desolated, 31;

the land destroyed, 32,

themselves scattered among their enemies, and pursued with utter

confusion and distress, 33-39.

If under these judgments they confess their sin and return to

God, he will remember them in mercy, 40-43;

Visit them even in the land of their enemies, 44;

and remember his covenant with their fathers, 45.

The conclusion, stating these to be the judgments and laws which

the Lord made between himself and the children of Israel in

Mount Sinai, 46.


Verse 1. Ye shall make you no idols]

See Clarke on Ex 20:4, and

See Clarke on Ge 28:18; "Ge 28:19",

concerning consecrated stones.

Not only idolatry in general is forbidden here,

but also the superstitious use of innocent and

lawful things. Probably the stones or pillars

which were first set up, and anointed by holy

men in commemoration of signal interpositions

of God in their behalf, were afterward abused

to idolatrous and superstitious purposes, and

therefore prohibited. This we know was

the case with the brazen serpent, 2Ki 18:4.

Verse 3. If ye walk in my statutes] For the meaning of this

and similar words used in the law, See Clarke on Le 26:15.

Verse 4. Rain in due season] What in Scripture is called the

early and the latter rain. The first fell in Palestine at the

commencement of spring, and the latter in autumn.-Calmet.

Verse 5. Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage]

According to Pliny, Hist. Nat., l. xviii., c. 18, the Egyptians

reaped their barley six months, and their oats seven months,

after seed time; for they sowed all their grain about the end of

summer, when the overflowings of the Nile had ceased. It was

nearly the same in Judaea: they sowed their corn and barley

towards the end of autumn, and about the month of October; and

they began their barley-harvest after the passover, about the

middle of March; and in one month or six weeks after, about

pentecost, they began that of their wheat. After their

wheat-harvest their vintage commenced. Moses here leads the

Hebrews to hope, if they continued faithful to God, that between

their harvest and vintage, and between their vintage and

seed-time, there should be no interval, so great should the

abundance be; and these promises would appear to them the more

impressive, as they had just now come out of a country where the

inhabitants were obliged to remain for nearly three months shut

up within their cities, because the Nile had then inundated the

whole country. See Calmet.

"This is a nervous and beautiful promise of such entire plenty

of corn and wine, that before they could have reaped and threshed

out their corn the vintage should be ready, and before they could

have pressed out their wine it would be time to sow again. The

Prophet Amos, Am 9:13 expresses the same blessing in the same

manner: The ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader

of grapes him who soweth seed."-Dodd.

Verse 11. I will set my tabernacle among you] This and the

following verse contain the grand promise of the Gospel

dispensation, viz. the presence, manifestation, and indwelling of

God in human nature, and his constant in dwelling in the souls of

his followers. So Joh 1:14

the WORD was made flesh, καιεσκηνωσενενημιν, and MADE HIS

TABERNACLE among us. And to this promise of the law St. Paul

evidently refers, 2Co 6:16-18 and 2Co 7:1

Verse 15. If ye shall despise my statutes-abhor my judgments]

As these words, and others of a similar import, which point out

different properties of the revelation of God, are frequently

occurring, I Judge it best to take a general view of them, once

for all, in this place, and show how they differ among themselves,

and what property of the Divine law each points out.

1. STATUTES. chukkoth, from chak, to mark out,

define, &c. This term seems to signify the things which God has

defined, marked, and traced out, that men might have a perfect

copy of pure conduct always before their eyes, to teach them how

they might walk so as to please him in all things, which they

could not do without such instruction as God gives in his word,

and the help which he affords by his Spirit.

2. JUDGMENTS. shephatim, from shaphat, to

distinguish, regulate, and determine; meaning those things which

God has determined that men shall pursue, by which their whole

conduct shall be regulated, making the proper distinction between

virtue and vice, good and evil, right and wrong, justice and

injustice; in a word, between what is proper to be done, and what

is proper to be left undone.

3. COMMANDMENTS. mitsvoth, from tsavah, to

command, ordain, and appoint, as a legislator. This term is

properly applied to those parts of the law which contain the

obligation the people are under to act according to the statutes,

judgments, &c., already established, and which prohibit them by

penal sanctions from acting contrary to the laws.

4. COVENANT. berith, from bar, to clear, cleanse,

or purify; because the covenant, the whole system of revelation

given to the Jews, was intended to separate them from all the

people of the earth, and to make them holy. Berith also signifies

the covenant-sacrifice, which prefigured the atonement made by

Christ for the sin of the world, by which he purifies believers

unto himself, and makes them a peculiar people, zealous of good

works. Besides those four, we may add the following, from other

places of Scripture.

5. TESTIMONIES. edoth, from ad, beyond, farther,

besides; because the whole ritual law referred to something

farther on or beyond the Jewish dispensation, even to that

sacrifice which in the fulness of time was to be offered for the

sins of men. Thus all the sacrifices, &c., of the Mosaic law

referred to Christ, and bore testimony to him who was to come.

6. ORDINANCES. mishmaroth, from shamar, to

guard, keep safe, watch over; those parts of Divine revelation

which exhorted men to watch their ways, keep their hearts, and

promised them, in consequence, the continual protection and

blessing of God their Maker.

7. PRECEPTS. pikkudim, from pakad, to

overlook, take care or notice of, to visit; a very expressive

character of the Divine testimonies, the overseers of a man's

conduct, those who stand by and look on to see whether he acts

according to the commands of his Master; also the visiters, because

God's precepts are suited to all the circumstances of human life;

some are applicable in adversity, others in prosperity; some in

times of temptation and sadness, others in seasons of spiritual joy

and exultation, &c., &c. Thus they may be said to overlook and

visit man in all times, places, and circumstances.

8. TRUTH. emeth, from am, to support, sustain,

confirm; because God is immutable who has promised, threatened,

commanded, and therefore all his promises, threatenings,

commandments, &c., are unalterable and eternal. Error and

falsity promise to direct and sustain, but they fail. God's word

is supported by his own faithfulness, and it supports and

confirms them who conscientiously believe it.

9. RIGHTEOUSNESS. tsedakah, from which, though not

used as a verb in the Hebrew Bible, seems to convey, from its use

as a noun, the idea of giving just weight or good measure, see

Le 19:36. This is one of the characters which is attributed

to the revelation God makes of himself; (see Ps 119:137-144;) and

by this the impartiality of the Divine testimonies is pointed out.

God gives to all their due, and his word distributes to every man

according to his state, circumstances, talents, graces, &c.; to

none too much, to none too little, to all enough.

10. WORD of JEHOVAH. debar Yehovah, from , dabar,

to drive, lead, bring forward, hence to bring forward, or utter

one's sentiments; so the word of God is what God has brought

forth to man from his own mind and counsel; it is a perfect

similitude of his own righteousness, holiness, goodness, and

truth. This Divine law is sometimes expressed by:-

11. imrah, speech or word, variously modified from

amar, to branch out, because of the interesting details into

which the word of God enters in order to instruct man and make

him wise unto salvation, or, as the apostle expresses it, "God,

who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the

fathers by the prophets," πολυμερωςκαιπολυτροπως, in many

distinct parcels, and by various tropes or figures; a curious and

elegant description of Divine revelation; Heb 1:1.

12. All these collectively are termed the LAW torah, or

torath Yehovah, the law of the Lord, from

yarah, to direct, set straight and true, as stones in a building,

to teach and instruct, because this whole system of Divine

revelation is calculated to direct men to the attainment of present

and eternal felicity, to set them right in their notions concerning

the supreme God, to order and adjust them in the several

departments of civil and religious society, and thus to teach and

instruct them in the knowledge of themselves, and in the true

knowledge of God. Thus those who receive the truth become the city

of the living God-the temple of the Most High, built together for

a habitation of God through the Spirit. To complete this

description of the word law, See Clarke on Ex 12:49, where

other properties of the law of God are specified.

Verse 16. I will even appoint over you terror, &c.] How

dreadful is this curse! A whole train of evils are here

personified and appointed to be the governors of a disobedient

people. Terror is to be one of their keepers. How awful a

state! to be continually under the influence of dismay, feeling

indescribable evils, and fearing worse! Consumption,

shachepheth, generally allowed to be some kind of atrophy or

marasmus, by which the flesh was consumed, and the whole body

dried up by raging fever through lack of sustenance.

See Clarke on Le 11:16. How circumstantially were all these

threatenings fulfilled in this disobedient and rebellious people!

Let a deist read over this chapter and compare it with the state

of the Jews since the days of Vespasian, and then let him doubt

the authenticity of this word if he can.

Verse 22. I will also send wild beasts among you] God

fulfilled these threatenings at different times. He sent fiery

SERPENTS among them, Nu 21:6; LIONS, 2Ki 17:25; BEARS,

2Ki 2:24, and threatened them with total desolation, so that

their land should be overrun with wild beasts, &c., see Eze 5:17.

"Spiritually," says Mr. Ainsworth, "these are wicked rulers and

tyrants that kill and spoil, Pr 28:15; Da 7:3-6; Ps 80:13;

and false prophets that devour souls, Mt 7:15; Re 13:1, &c. So

the prophet, speaking of their punishment by tyrants, says: A

LION out of the forest shall slay them; a WOLF of the evening

shall spoil them; a LEOPARD shall watch over their cities; every

one that goeth out thence shall be torn to pieces, because their

transgressions be many. And of their prophets it is said: O

Israel, thy prophets are like FOXES in the deserts, Eze 13:4;

Jer 8:17; 15:3."

Verse 26. Ten women shall bake your bread in one oven] Though

in general every family in the East bakes its own bread, yet

there are some public bakehouses where the bread of several

families is baked at a certain price. Moses here foretells that

the desolation should be so great and the want so pressing that

there should be many idle hands to be employed, many mouths to be

fed, and very little for each: Ten women shall bake your bread in

one oven, &c.

Verse 29. Ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, &c.] This was

literally fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem. Josephus, WARS of

the Jews, book vii., chap. ii., gives us a particular instance in

dreadful detail of a woman named Mary, who, in the extremity of

the famine during the siege, killed her sucking child, roasted,

and had eaten part of it when discovered by the soldiers! See

this threatened, Jer 19:9.

Verse 34. Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths] This

Houbigant observes to be a historical truth.-"From Saul to the

Babylonish captivity are numbered about four hundred and ninety

years, during which period there were seventy Sabbaths of years;

for 7, multiplied by 70, make 490. Now the Babylonish captivity

lasted seventy years, and during that time the land of Israel

rested. Therefore the land rested just as many years in the

Babylonish captivity, as it should have rested Sabbaths if the

Jews had observed the laws relative to the Sabbaths of the land."

This is a most remarkable fact, and deserves to be particularly

noticed, as a most literal fulfilment of the prophetic

declaration in this verse: Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths

as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land.

May it not be argued from this that the law concerning the

Sabbatical year was observed till Saul's time, as it is only

after this period the land enjoyed its rest in the seventy years'

captivity? And if that breach of the law was thus punished, may

it not be presumed it had been fulfilled till then, or else the

captivity would have lasted longer, i. e., till the land had

enjoyed all its rests, of which it had ever been thus deprived?

Verse 38. The land of your enemies shall eat you up.] Does

this refer to the total loss of the ten tribes? These are so

completely swallowed up in some enemies' land, that nothing

concerning their existence or place of residence remains but mere


Verse 44. Neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly]

Though God has literally fulfilled all his threatenings upon this

people in dispossessing them of their land, destroying their

polity, overturning their city, demolishing their temple, and

scattering themselves over the face of the whole earth; yet he

has, in his providence, strangely preserved them as a distinct

people, and in very considerable numbers also. He still

remembers the covenant of their ancestors, and in his providence

and grace he has some very important design in their favour. All

Israel shall yet be saved, and, with the Gentiles, they shall all

be restored to his favour; and under Christ Jesus, the great

Shepherd; become, with them, one grand everlasting fold.

Verse 46. These are the statutes, and judgments, &c.]

See Clarke on Le 26:15.

This verse appears to be the proper concluding verse

of the whole book; and I rather think that the 27th chapter

originally followed the 25th. As the law was anciently written

upon skins of parchment, sheep or goat skins, pasted or stitched

together, and all rolled up in one roll, the matter being written

in columns, one of those columns might have been very easily

displaced, and thus whole chapters might have been readily

interchanged. -It is likely that this might have been the case

in the present instance. Others endeavour to solve this

difficulty, by supposing that the 27th chapter was added after

the book had been finished; and therefore there is apparently a

double conclusion, one at the end of the 26th and the other at

the end of the 27th chapter. However the above may have been,

all the ancient versions agree in concluding both the chapters in

nearly the same way; yet the 26th chapter must be allowed to be

by far the most natural conclusion of the book.

THE most important points in this chapter have already been

particularly noticed in the notes; and to those on the 15th,

34th, and 44th verses, the reader is especially referred. How

unwilling is God to cast off his people! and yet how sure is

their rejection if they refuse to obey and live to him! No

nation has ever been so signally elected as the Jews; and yet no

nation has ever been so signally and so awfully reprobated.

O Britain, be not high-minded, but fear! Behold here the goodness

and severity of God!

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