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Deeper Commentary

 

Lev 19:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
This section develops the theme of holiness and what it means in practice. Holiness means both separation from and also separation unto. We are separated from the things of the flesh and this world, but that is not a negative, onerous burden. For thereby are we separated unto the positive things of God's service.

Lev 19:2 Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘You shall be holy; for I Yahweh your God am holy-
The inclusiveness of Yahweh of His people, the nature of who His Name reveals Him to be, should of itself have led Israel to not discriminate against other races: “For I am Yahweh your God” (Lev. 24:22). Because Yahweh is who He is, therefore we must be like Him; His very existence and being demands it of us (Lev. 20:7 cp. 19:2,10). If we really know the characteristics implicit in His Name, we will put our trust in Him (Ps. 9:10; 124:8). If we see / know God in the experiential sense, we will do no evil (3 Jn. 11).

Holiness in the sense of separation from the unclean had been a major theme in the Mosaic Law, and it figured largely in the theology of the Pharisees. But the Lord quoted “Be holy because I, Yahweh your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2) as “Be you therefore merciful, even as your father in heaven is merciful” (Lk. 6:36). To be merciful to those who sin is now the true holiness- not merely separation from them and condemnation of their ways. Note, too, how He invites us to interpret the Yahweh as “father”, rather than transliterating the Name.

Lev 19:3 Each one of you shall respect his mother and his father-
We have to read this in the context of the preceding chapter which has forbidden idolatrous rites involving sexual activity with parents and siblings. The contemporary Near Eastern legal codes prescribed the most severe penalties for crimes against the wealthy and their property. Rich people were given lesser punishments than poor people for the same crime. The value of persons reflected in Yahweh's law meant that all people were judged equally before the law, and truly there was no respect of persons with the true God. Both father and mother are placed together as worthy of equal honour (Lev. 19:3; Ex. 20:12)- whereas the contemporary laws were oriented towards respect of the male rather than females.

The Lord Jesus saw as parallel the commands to honour parents and also not to curse them. These two separate commands (from Ex. 20:12 and 21:17) He spoke of as only one: "the commandment" (Mk. 7:9). He therefore saw that not to honour parents was effectively to curse them (Mk. 7:10). Omitting to honour parents, even if it involved appearing to give one's labour to God's temple, was therefore the same as committing the sin of cursing them. Sins of omission are perhaps our greatest weakness.

You shall keep My Sabbaths. I am Yahweh your God-
The two laws repeated here, about honouring parents and keeping the Sabbath, are the only two positive commandments in the ten commandments. The others are all "You shall not...". So this confirms the impression that now having read so much negative, about separation from sin, we are being encouraged to focus upon what we are separated unto, positively. 


Lev 19:4 Don’t turn to idols, nor make molten gods for yourselves. I am Yahweh your God-
This clearly alludes to the golden calf which they had made. They were not to ever do this again. And yet we know from Ez. 20:7,8 that they took the idols of Egypt with them through the Red Sea, and carried the tabernacle and star of their idols throughout the wilderness journey. Even by Joshua's time, he had to urge them to cast away the idols of Egypt. Perhaps they justified them by arguing that they had not cast them themselves. Our flesh is so able to justify sin. And we must beware of that.


Lev 19:5 When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh, you shall offer it voluntarily-
The Mosaic law was in fact geared against mere legalism and symbolic offerings for the sake of discharging religious conscience. Voluntary offerings must indeed be just that- from the heart. Freewill offerings such as the peace offering must really be of our free will. We mustn’t feel any sense of obligation to others, doing voluntary things to be seen of them, but any act of freewill devotion must be genuine, motivated by our personal desire to devote our time or resources to God.


Lev 19:6 It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day: and if anything remains until the third day-
The law of the peace offerings was designed so as to encourage the person who decided to make such a freewill offering to execute it immediately- they were to eat it the same day they offered it, and the sacrifice would be totally unacceptable if it was killed but left for some days (Lev. 19:5-7). If we have an impulse to respond to the Lord, we should respond to it immediately. This isn’t mere impetuosity. It’s a spirit of always having an immediacy of response, which empowers us to overcome the procrastination which holds us back so much.

It shall be burned with fire-
"With fire" is literally "with the fire". The fire of the altar was ideally intended to be that kindled at the time of Lev. 9:24 when the tabernacle was consecrated. It was to be kept perpetually burning by the sacrifices being continually placed upon it, a lamb every morning and every evening. The fire which never went out or was 'quenched' (Lev. 6:13). is a double symbol. The phrase is used multiple times with reference to the wrath of God in condemning sinners; it is the basis of the idea of eternal fire which will not be quenched. Rather like the cup of wine from the Lord being a symbol of either condemnation or blessing. So we have a choice- be consumed by the eternal fire now as living sacrifices, or be consumed by it anyway at the last day.


Lev 19:7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination. It will not be accepted-
We cannot be passive on receiving the opportunity to serve God. We will urgently seek to do something with what we have been enabled to do for the Lord: “The servant who got five bags went quickly to invest the money and earned five more bags” (Mt. 25:16 NCV). The law of the peace offerings was designed so as to encourage the person who decided to make such a freewill offering to execute immediately- they were to eat it the same day they offered it, and the sacrifice would be totally unacceptable if it was killed but left for some days (Lev. 19:5-7). If we have an impulse to respond to the Lord, we should respond to it immediately. This isn’t mere impetuosity. It’s a spirit of always having an immediacy of response, which empowers us to overcome the procrastination which holds us back so much.

If we think our freewill devotions to be God can be done as we wish without regard for His principles, then what we do is obnoxious to Him. The Hebrew word translated “abomination” is often used about idol worship; we will not be worshipping Him, but the idols of our own image and standing in the eyes of people.


Lev 19:8 but everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned the holy thing of Yahweh, and that soul shall be cut off from his people-
This was a very stern warning. It was designed to guard against the temptation to spin out eating the peace offerings over several days, so that you personally benefitted from the meat. We are not to offer that which costs us nothing (2 Sam. 24:24).

Lev 19:9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest-
This doesn't make allowing gleaning a binding law upon landowners. The text simply states that "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It shall be for the foreigner, for the fatherless and for the widow" (Dt. 24:19). By allowing gleaners to come and pick up dropped grain, Boaz's grace was going far beyond the letter of the law. This was taking that law way beyond what it said, in a spirit of grace. This would account for the hint in Ruth 2:22 that not every landowner allowed such gleaning in their fields. Likewise he extrapolates from the law of Levirate marriage to marry Ruth. So we see that the law of Moses was not a chain, a leash binding and tethering man to reluctant obedience; for Israel is God's partner, not His dog. But rather was it designed as a springboard towards a culture of grace, kindness and taking initiatives of grace in practice.


Lev 19:10 You shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the foreigner. I am Yahweh your God-
If all Israel were obedient to the Law of Moses, there wouldn’t have been any poor in Israelite society (Dt. 15:4). But the same Law of Moses repeatedly instructed Israel to be generous and sensitive to the poor; it tacitly recognized, as did Jesus, that there would always be poor within Israel, for the Law would never be fully kept (Mt. 26:11). We see in the structure of the Law the recognition of human failure in a way which no other law has ever equaled. There’s a tendency to assume that the poor are poor because of their own poor decision making and therefore we have no responsibility to help them- although we are all poor decision makers in various ways, especially in spiritual matters. The Law taught a principle we need to learn also- that even if folk have dug a whole and fallen into it, we are still to assist them and be sensitive to their situation.


Lev 19:11 You shall not steal, nor lie, nor shall you deceive one another-
The command not to steal is associated with not deceiving others nor lying to them. Dishonesty, even if it’s unrelated to material gain at another’s expense, is a form of theft; we are taking from another wrongfully. The Hebrew indeed means to steal, but also carries the idea of deceit. For to deceive another is to effectively steal from them, to take away and misuse their belief and trust in you and your integrity. And all deceit is ultimately in order to gain something wrongly, even the thing gained isn't anything material.  


Lev 19:12 You shall not swear by My name falsely, and profane the name of your God. I am Yahweh-
Ex. 20:7 phrases this in terms of not taking God's Name in vain. But the idea of not taking Yahweh's Name "in vain", 'vanity', is often associated with idolatry. Israel never formerly rejected Yahweh, and never became atheists. They mixed Yahweh worship with idolatry on the basis that they claimed that they worshipped Yahweh through worshipping the idols. This is what emboldened them to later place idols in Yahweh's temple. They were taking Yahweh's Name as a form of vanity, "in vain", a kind of idol. Thus their relationship with Yahweh was not to be a "vain thing" (Dt. 32:47). 

The vulnerability and sensitivity of God is reflected in the way that He is concerned that His covenant people, His wife, who bears His Name, might profane His Name (Lev. 19:12; Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). His repeated concern that His Name be taken in vain doesn't simply refer to the casual use of the word "God" as an expression of exasperation. God is concerned about His people taking His Name upon themselves (Num. 6:27) in vain- i.e., marrying Him, entering covenant relationship with Him, taking on His Name (which we do through baptism)- but not being serious about that relationship, taking it on as a vain thing, like a woman who casually marries a man who loves her at the very core of his being, when for her, it's just a casual thing and she lives a profligate and adulterous life as his wife. When God revealed His Name to His people, opening up the very essence of His character to them, He was making Himself vulnerable. We reveal ourselves intimately to another because we wish for them to make a response to us, to love us for what we revealed to them. God revealed Himself to Israel, He sought for intimacy in the covenant relationship, and therefore was and is all the more hurt when His people turn away from Him, after having revealed to them all the wonders of His word (Hos. 8:12). See on Lev. 5:16.


Lev 19:13 You shall not oppress your neighbour, nor rob him-
The oppression in view is things like not paying him his hire every day (Dt. 24:14,15; Lev. 19:13). The ethnic background of the man was irrelevant; he was to be treated as a person and not in any way abused because of his weak economic position. "Oppress" is the same word translated "deceive"; to not oppress others through deceiving them would elicit the heaviest judgment from God, when the person realized the deception and cried to God because of it (Dt. 24:15). Deceiving / oppressing a neighbour was a sin against Yahweh (Lev. 6:2 s.w.), because He has a special interest in the poor. And His law reflects that.  

The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning-
Dt. 24:15 adds: "Each day you must give him his hire. The sun must not go down on it for he is poor and sets his heart on it, lest he cry against you to Yahweh and it be sin to you". This is one of many examples of the utter inversion of values to be found in the sphere of God's dealings with men: The rich are to almost fear the landless poor labourer, in case he feels hard done by and prays to God against the rich. The power, in ultimate and spiritual terms, is with the poor- and the balance of power is against the wealthy. James 5:4 specifically alludes to this command, and says that the cry of those we have been insensitive to will enter the ears of Yahweh of Hosts, a title typically associated with His active judgment. The cries of those we hurt are effectively a calling out to Yahweh of Hosts to enter into judgment with us. Whilst we may not have hired labourers, there are many ways in which we can make our less privileged brethren cry out in pain to God; particularly through refusing them fellowship at the Lord's table.


Lev 19:14 You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind; but you shall fear your God. I am Yahweh’-
As if God is especially sensitive to our abusing others’ disadvantages in whatever form, and His wrath about this is to be feared. Dt. 27:18 has "Cursed is he who makes the blind wander out of the way’". It was Aaron, their revered leader, who had made Israel wander "out of the way" through the golden calf apostacy (Ex. 32:8). The people surely could not have repeated these words without thinking of Aaron. It was intended, therefore, as a reminder to them of how their very standing with God was by grace alone; and they were not from any wonderful spiritual pedigree, but instead were God's people by grace through faith. Paul repeats the essence of this teaching in warning against making our brother stumble, even if he is spiritually blind. And he applies this therefore to what we eat and the things our own conscience may allow us to do.


Lev 19:15 ’You shall do no injustice in judgment: you shall not be partial to the poor, nor show favouritism to the great; but you shall judge your neighbour in righteousness-
We are not to judge in the sense of condemn others, but it’s inevitable in daily life that we have to form opinions. But we must always remember that the person we are judging is in fact our neighbour, our brother, our equal; our judgment shouldn’t be rooted in any sense of feeling inherently superior over him or her, spiritually or otherwise. We are warned in Ex. 23:3,6  against bias in any way- feeling pity for a poor man who has done wrong is as bad as bias toward the wealthy. Economic status is of no matter, compared to human behaviour and the human person.


Lev 19:16 You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people. You shall not endanger the life of your neighbour. I am Yahweh-
Unless we talk frankly to our brother about issues (:17) between us alone, then we will end up hating him in our heart (even though it may not feel like that) and we will gossip about him. The frank raising of the issue with our brother is associated with loving our neighbour as ourselves. This is actually the opposite to what we would think; we would imagine that it would be more 'loving' to say nothing to our brother. But in this case, we will inevitably gossip about him and be bitter against him. The practice of true love will result in an open community in which we can frankly discuss with each other the issues which concern us, with love and not hatred in our hearts. This is the teaching of Lev. 19:16-18. No wonder the Proverbs expand upon it so much. And no wonder the Lord appropriated it as a ground rule for His ecclesia- there must be no gossip in the church (Mt. 18:15).


Lev 19:17 You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour, and not bear sin because of him-
The implication is that if we don’t have transparency with our neighbour, if we don’t rebuke them openly and specifically, then we will end up hating them. Just saying nothing about those situations calling for rebuke will only drive you to hate the person in the end. "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour" (Lev. 19:17,18). Unless there is direct, one on one dialogue, the hatred born of misunderstanding will develop. But reasoning together is something only possible if we perceive the value of persons. By not rebuking our brother, by saying nothing and not engaging with the issues when we need to, we are likely to breed anger in our hearts against him or her. Again we note that the law of God is unlike secular legal codes in that it speaks so much about attitudes of the heart, which are unseen by others and can never be formally judged by any human legal apparatus.


Lev 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am Yahweh-
One reason we fail to love others as ourselves is because we may in fact not love ourselves in the sense of perceiving our own value before God. Unless there is direct, one on one dialogue, the hatred born of misunderstanding will develop. But reasoning together is something only possible if we perceive the value of persons.

The structure of the law of Moses seemed to almost encourage the idea of serving God on different levels. After much study of it, the Rabbis concluded that there was within it “a distinction between holy and holy just as much as there is between holy and profane”. They were not to avenge (Lev. 19:18). But they could avenge, and provisions were made for their human desire to do so (Num. 35:12; Dt. 19:6). These provisions must also be seen as a modification of the command not to murder. The highest level was not to avenge; but for the harshness of men's hearts, a concession was made in some cases, and on God's prerogative. We have no right to assume that prerogative.

Proverbs is often a commentary upon the Law. The many passages there about gossiping are based upon this passage, in Lev. 19:16-18. The fact this passage is expanded upon so many times in Proverbs would indicate that gossip was as major a problem among the old Israel as it is among the new. But notice the fine psychology of the Spirit here: gossip in the church is related to having a grudge, to hating your neighbour in your heart, to not loving your neighbour as you love yourself (and we are very conservative about our own failings). When the Lord spoke about hating your brother being the same as murdering him (Mt. 5:22; 1 Jn. 3:15), he may well have been thinking of this passage in Leviticus. To hate your brother in your heart, to gossip about him, was and is as bad as murdering him. And this same connection between gossip and murder is made in the prophets (Ez. 22:9 cp. Prov. 26:22). But the Law provided a way out. If you had something against your brother, frankly tell him about his failure, so that you would not hate him in your heart. If we don't do this, or try to get someone else to do it, we will end up hating our brother in our heart and we will gossip about him. 

Lev 19:19 You shall keep my statutes-
It could be argued that the following commandments in this verse were hedges around the law to assist obedience- rather than addressing issues which were immoral in themselves.

You shall not crossbreed different kinds of animals-
The first mention of mules in the Bible is when Absalom murders his brother Amnon (2 Sam. 13:29). They were cross bred in disobedience to this command. We get the impression that a generally slack attitude to what might have been considered minor matters of the law was associated with the major sin of murder. This is the problem when we start to think that some parts of God's laws can just be ignored.

You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed-
The commandments about not inappropriately mixing things in Dt. 22 are sandwiched between commandments about avoiding sexual perversion and inappropriate bonding, such as adultery, sex with a father's wife (Dt. 22:30), and the perversion of Dt. 22:5, which is also about inappropriate mixture of sexual behaviours. There is a similar sexual context here in :20. The idea of these commands about not mixing seed and animals may be as it were a fence around these laws. The fear was that this was going to be a subliminal temptation towards sin. Rather like the command not to plant trees near an altar of Yahweh, lest this lead to the subliminal temptation to worship the trees like an asherah grove. 

Neither shall there come upon you a garment made of two kinds of material-
Again, as discussed above, there is nothing intrinsically sinful about this. Rather the idea was that in daily life, there was to be the lesson of separation and avoidance of inappropriate bonding. Dt. 22:11 speaks specifically of not mixing linen and wool. It could be argued that "linen" came from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28; Prov. 7:16; Ez. 27:7), whilst wool was the classic produce of Israel.

Mal. 2:11-15 shows that the sin of marriage out of the faith is because it is a denial of God's principles regarding children; He instituted marriage to create “a Godly seed". It stands to reason that marrying an unbeliever (or an uncommitted believer, for that matter) cannot very easily produce a Godly seed. Israel were not to sow "mingled seed" in their fields, or make clothes of "mingled" materials (Lev. 19:19). The materials would, as the Lord Himself mentioned, tear apart. The garment wouldn't last. And sowing different seeds together likewise would bring no fruit to perfection. But the LXX in these passages is quoted in one place only in the NT: "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). If we are, the relationship can't work. So don't think that if we marry out of the Faith, it will all work out OK. Unless there is serious repentance (and even then, not always), it won't work. It will be a garment patched up with two different materials.

 
Lev 19:20 If a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave girl, pledged to be married to another man, and not ransomed, or given her freedom; they shall be punished. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free-
See on :19. The Mosaic law appears to take into account that slavery is indeed slavery, and this does make a difference (also Ex. 21:20,21). The toleration of slavery was a concession to their weakness, but having made the concession, God shows integrity in to some extent accepting the status of the slave and the diminished rights which go with that. 


Lev 19:21 He shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh, to the door of the Tent of Meeting, even a ram for a trespass offering-
Nothing is said about payment of recompense to the intended bridegroom of the woman, perhaps because the idea is that he was also a slave and didn't have full rights; see on :20.


Lev 19:22 The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before Yahweh for his sin which he has committed; and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him-
It is commonly stated in the Mosaic law that the priest made atonement. Any thoughtful person would have soon concluded that indeed the blood of bulls and goats could not of itself atone for sin (Heb. 10:4). The role of the priest in bringing about the atonement was therefore critical. And yet they too were flawed. So this invited the spiritually minded to look forward to the coming of an ideal priest, the Lord Jesus.


Lev 19:23 When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years shall they be forbidden to you. It shall not be eaten-
Forbidden fruit naturally recalls the forbidden fruit on the tree in Eden. To grab as much as we can immediately without working for it nor recognizing that the firstfruits of all human endeavour must be given to the Lord- is all very human and common. But to do so is painted as being as bad as taking the forbidden fruit of Eden, with all the long term suffering which came as a result of short-termism.


Lev 19:24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, for giving a praise offering to Yahweh-
This was all designed to teach self control. For three years the fruit couldn't be eaten, on the fourth year the fruit must be offered to God, and only on the fifth year could the fruit be eaten (:25). Self control, delayed gratification, looking to the long term rather than the short term, is what spiritual life is all about. And such things are increasingly in deficit in secular society.


Lev 19:25 In the fifth year you shall eat its fruit, that it may yield its increase to you. I am Yahweh your God-
The implication could be that if the required self control discussed on :24 was not followed, then the tree would not "yield its increase"- a phrase often used about how God would make the plants of the land yield their increase abundantly to an obedient Israel.


Lev 19:26 You shall not eat any meat with the blood still in it; neither shall you use enchantments, nor practise sorcery-
These two commandments are put together because drinking blood was part of many idol worshipping rituals. Hence LXX speaks of eating blood "upon the mountains". One practical consequence of this was that obedience would have meant social separation from the Canaanites; for none of them observed these positions on blood, indeed eating blood or meat with much blood in it was a delicacy. Blood represents life; to take life to ourselves rather than recognize it is God’s results in us losing our lives (Lev. 17:14). Just as simply as the blood was to be given to God, so we are to give our lives to God. To take the blood to themselves is in fact spoken of as being as bad as murder (Lev. 17:4). This seems extreme language, but it underlines how important to God is this principle- that life is His and we are to give it to Him rather than live or take it to ourselves. In baptism, we give our lives to God and figuratively die and are buried with Christ (Rom. 6:1-10). We are to live life in this spirit that life is not ours but to be given to God. This frees us from all the manic human concern to live life to the full for ourselves. We no longer have this concern if we continually accept the principle that life is not ours, but God's.

AV "observe times" is literally "exercise the evil eye". They were to reject pagan notions of a cosmic Satan and demons, and believe instead that good and evil come from God, not the evil eye (Is. 45:5-7).

Lev 19:27 You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads, neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard-
This was the style of mourning in the surrounding world. And it had some hints of idolatry. We could take this as meaning 'Don't follow the fashions of the world when they are allusive to idolatry and sinful ways'. And that has abiding relevance. The spiritual way of life seeks to cut off all opportunities for the flesh; all subliminal encouragements to sin are to be rooted out of our lives, rather than seeing how close we can sail to the wind.


Lev 19:28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you. I am Yahweh-
The context refers to such marks as showed loyalty to an idol or to the dead who were thought to be still alive. Whereas the Bible teaches that death is unconsciousness. Whilst there is nothing morally wrong with cutting the skin, the idea was that Israel weren’t to even appear associated with pagan rituals for the dead. We likewise should naturally not want to even appear like worshippers of any other god (of whatever kind) when Yahweh is our only God.


Lev 19:29 Don’t profane your daughter, to make her a prostitute; lest the land fall to prostitution, and the land become full of wickedness-
Sexual misbehaviour sets an example which spreads so easily. Thus if a very poor man discreetly prostituted his daughter out of financial desperation, the whole land would fall to whoredom and sexual abandon. But the idea behind  making a daughter a prostitute likely refers to making her serve as a cult prostitute in the idol rituals. The serious nature of sexual sin is that it leads others into sin, by its very nature. The Lord Jesus reasoned likewise (Mt. 5:32).


Lev 19:30 You shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am Yahweh-
The stress may be upon the word "My". The systems of idol worships also required days to be kept as holy to them, and their sanctuaries to be reverenced. For the context here is all about avoiding idolatry. Yahweh's claims upon His people are supreme. There is no way we can worship both Yahweh and idols; the Sabbath was to kept exclusively for Him rather than also to the other gods who also demanded that a Sabbath be kept to them. Perhaps this was one reason for the Sabbath legislation at this time- to preclude keeping Sabbath to any other god. But Israel as so many today sought to worship Yahweh through idol worship. The church at Corinth made the same mistake. 


Lev 19:31 Don’t turn to those who are mediums, nor to the wizards-
The Bible is written in terms which the surrounding people would have understood; therefore it sometimes speaks of how things appear to be as if this really is the case. God warns against dabbling with “them that have familiar spirits” (Lev. 19:31 AV); not ‘those who think they’ve got access to the supposed spirit world which, of course, doesn’t exist’. This is the same approach the New Testament adopts to the demons issue.

Don’t seek them out, to be defiled by them. I am Yahweh your God-
This is exactly what Saul did in seeking out the witch of Endor. He thereby showed that Yahweh was not his God, and yet he went to the witch because he wanted to find connection with Yahweh.


Lev 19:32 You shall rise up before the gray head, and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God. I am Yahweh-
 "Fear the Lord your God" of Ex. 9:30; Lev. 19:14,32; 25:17 becomes "love the Lord your God" in the greater maturity of Deuteronomy, the second law (Dt. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1; 19:9; 30:6,16,20). Some time, read through the book of Deuteronomy in one or two sessions. You'll see many themes of Moses in Deuteronomy. It really shows how Moses felt towards Israel, and how the Lord Jesus feels towards us, and especially how he felt towards us just before his death. For this is what the whole book prefigures. "Love" and the idea of love occurs far more in Deuteronomy than in the other books of the Law. There are 23 references to not hating in Deuteronomy, compared to only 5 in Ex. - Num.; Moses saw the danger of bitterness and lack of love. He saw these things as the spiritual cancer they are, in his time of maturity he warned his beloved people against them. His mind was full of them. The LXX uses the word ekklesia eight times in Deuteronomy, but not once in Moses' other words (Dt. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8; 32:1). Responsibility for the whole family God had redeemed was a mark of Moses; maturity at the end of his life, at the time of Deuteronomy. It is observable that both as a community and as individuals, this will be a sign of our maturity too.


Lev 19:33 If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong-
Israel were to be motivated in kindness to others by the recollection that they had been redeemed from Egypt; the memory of our redemption through the waters of baptism [cp. the Red Sea] should have the same effect upon us. Deceiving / oppressing a neighbour was a sin against Yahweh (Dt. 24:14; Lev. 6:2 s.w.), because He has a special interest in the poor. And His law reflects that.  


Lev 19:34 The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God-
Try to see the historical events which occurred to Israel as relevant to you personally. They were "types of us". Note how 1 Cor. 10:1 speaks of "our fathers"- even when Paul is writing to Gentiles. He intended them to see in the Jewish fathers a type of themselves. Israel's keeping of the Passover implied that each subsequent Israelite had personally been redeemed that night. All down the years, they were to treat the stranger fairly: "for you know the heart of an alien" (Ex. 23:9). The body of believers, the body of Christ, is not only world-wide geographically at this point in time; it stretches back over time as well as distance, to include all those who have truly believed. This is why David found such inspiration from the history of Israel in his own crises (e.g. Ps. 77).


Lev 19:35 You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or of quantity-
The Hebrew mishpat, "judgment", s.w. "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.  


Lev 19:36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin. I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt-
Israel's deliverance from Egypt was by grace, not justice. They worshipped idols there and took them with them through the Red Sea (Ez. 20:7,8). Their salvation was by grace and not by justice, for their just desert was to be abandoned there. Our salvation is likewise only "just" because we are in Christ, on a personal level we are saved despite our unworthiness. One response to this is to seek to be just in all our dealings.

Deuteronomy, the second law, stresses these things. Dt. 25:13 says that "You must not have in your bag different weights, a great and a small". Deceitful traders still use balancing weights (Heb. "stones") of different weights, the lighter to sell with, the heavier to buy with. But the reference to the bag suggests that this command strikes at the forethought before the action. Don't go to market having prepared such weights in your bag. Any human legal code would focus just upon the act of using deceitful weights, whereas God foresees the planning and thought process behind the act of sin. Dt. 25:14 goes further: "You must not have in your house different measures, a great and a small". To avoid temptation it’s best to not even possess things which we may be tempted to misuse. See on :13. The act of deceiving at the market was analyzed by God as beginning in the home, and it was there and to that thought that the Divine law struck. Even possessing such "different measures" was a temptation to misuse them, and we take the lesson that we are to remove sources of temptation.

Dt. 25:16 adds: "For all who do such things, all who do unrighteously, are an abomination to Yahweh your God". The 'doing' in view is not deceiving customers in the marketplace but the forethought which preceded it- having unjust weights and measures in your bag when you set out to market, or even having them in your home (Dt. 25:13,14). The Lord Jesus rightly interpreted this teaching as meaning that the thought is counted as the action, the doing. These forethoughts, planning deceit in order to gain a petty amount of material advantage, were seen by Yahweh as "abomination", the word for idol worship. And such things are our temptation constantly. 

Lev 19:37 You shall observe all my statutes, and all my ordinances, and do them. I am Yahweh’-
The word so often used for "diligently observing" Yahweh's commandments is from the word meaning a thorn hedge; the idea originally was to hedge in. Taking this too literally led Judaism to all their endless fences around the law, i.e. forbidding this or that because it might lead to doing that or this, which in turn would then lead to breaking an actual commandment. And those various fences become elevated to the level of commandments. But this is not the idea. We are indeed to hedge ourselves in ("take heed to yourself", Dt. 11:16; 12:13,19,30,32 s.w.), so that we may keep / hedge ourselves in to keep the commandments of God (Lev. 18:4,5,26,30; 19:19,37; 20:8,22; 22:9,31; 25:18; 26:3; Num. 28:2;   Dt. 7:11,12; 8:1,11 [s.w. "beware"]; 10:13; 11:1,8,22,32; 12:1; 13:4,18; ; 15:5,9 ["beware"];  17:19; 19:9; 23:9 ["keep yourself"]; 24:8; 26:16-18; 27:1; 28:1,9,13; 29:9; 30:10,16; 31:12; 32:46). And without falling into the legalism of Judaism, self discipline does require a degree of fencing ourselves in to the one way. Thus the man struggling with alcoholism avoids the supermarket where alcohol is pushed in front of the eyes of the shoppers; the married woman struggling with attraction to another man makes little laws for herself about avoiding his company. And if we do this, then the Lord will "keep" us, will hedge us in to keeping His way (s.w. Num. 6:24).