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Deeper Commentary


Lev 24:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The whole congregation of Israel were to bring a small amount of oil and flour for the bread each week. The constantly burning oil and presence of the small loaves was a symbol of how Israel were continually before Him. Yet the amount of oil and flour required each week was miniscule in comparison to the size of all Israel- there were probably three million of them at the time this law was given (Ex. 12:37). But God is the God of small things. In the very small things we offer Him, we are remembered before Him. Israel were taught that this tiny offering of oil and flour each week was so highly significant; offering even very small things shouldn’t be seen by us as unnecessary or insignificant before God. The way Jesus noticed the widow offering two tiny coins and commented upon it is proof of this (Lk. 21:2).

Lev 24:2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually-
"Pure olive oil" apparently refers to olive juice which bursts naturally from the first ripe olives. But we enquire where Israel obtained olive oil from in the wilderness, especially such "pure" olive oil to such great amounts as required here? Perhaps they had been given lots of it as they left Egypt and gave it to the priests. But for 40 years? I suggest as on Ex. 27:8 that this was God's ideal intention, and many of these laws were applicable only in contexts when obedience to them was possible. God's law is not therefore at all a reflection of a God who is a literalist or legalist. For by its nature, the law of Moses shows that He was not like that.

Lev 24:3 Outside of the veil of the Testimony, in the Tent of Meeting, shall Aaron keep it in order from evening to morning before Yahweh continually: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations-
Ex. 27:21 adds "Aaron and his sons". "The tent of meeting" is the tent where God met with His people over the blood of atonement upon the ark of the covenant. But that "meeting" was effectively not with the people, as only the priests entered into the holy place, and the high priest alone, only once / year, into the ultimate place where God met with His people- the Most Holy place. But the candlestick was to be kept burning in order to point the way into the Most Holy. All this suggested that there was something lacking in the entire system. God was prepared and even willing to meet with His people over the blood of atonement on the day of atonement. That meeting was therefore predicated upon their repentance and forgiveness. But it would have left the people aware that a fuller meeting with God was somehow promised. And this would come to full term when the Lord's death tore down the veil, and the way into the holiest was opened for all, not just the priests nor the High Priest.

Lev 24:4 He shall keep in order the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before Yahweh continually-
The lampstand is used as a symbol of the ecclesia in the visions of Revelation 2 and 3. The purpose of the ecclesia is to enable the oil of the Spirit to be burnt, to turn it into light. We are to keep our own personal light burning continually, day and night. Jesus had this in mind when He likened us to women waiting for the bridegroom to come at night, whose oil lamps should not be allowed to go out (Mt. 25:8).

The lampstand is a symbol of the ecclesia; the lamps are us.  The oil is the spirit of Jesus. Aaron was as Jesus. He daily ‘orders’ us, enabling us to shine. Jesus understood this to be so in saying that He came to fan men's’ lamps into brighter light, to mend smoking flax, not give up on it. And He is actively about this work on a daily basis as were the priests.

Lev 24:5 You shall take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes of it: two tenth parts of an ephah shall be in one cake-
These "cakes" were quite large seeing that about six pints of flour were used for each of them.

Lev 24:6 You shall set them in two rows, six on a row, on the pure gold table before Yahweh-
The bread on the table connects with the breaking of bread at the table of the Lord under the New Covenant. The bread was replaced- as it were eaten by God- each week (:8). Whilst there is no specific command as to how frequently we should break bread, it would seem from Acts 20:7 that some of the early Christians did it weekly, and this is no bad example for us to follow. Ex. 25:30 expresses this as "You shall set bread of the presence on the table before me always". "The bread of the presence" doesn't simply mean that it was bread which was in God's presence; for that is the meaning covered by "before Me always". Rather the idea is that God's especial presence was there in the eating of the bread. The God who dwelt the other side of the veil, over the mercy seat, as it were came out from there and was present when the bread was eaten. We may have here some hint that there is a special presence of the Father and Son at the breaking of bread, which is the Christian equivalent of this table (Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 11:10).


Lev 24:7 You shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may make the bread be for a memorial, even an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
Many times we read of God being provoked to remember someone, often for good (Lev. 24:7 LXX "that God may mercifully remember"; Ps. 69:1 LXX; 37:1 LXX; Zech. 6:14; 1 Kings 17:18). This language of limitation surely suggests that the God who could be omniscient over time, not needing to have anything brought back to His memory, allows Himself to 'forget' so that sin or righteousness again brings things to His remembrance. Thus generosity and prayer is a memorial before God in the sense that it brings a person to His memory or attention (Acts 10:4), and He appropriately responds in their lives.

The "memorial portion" of the offerings was to serve as a reminder to God, as it were, of the covenants which He "remembered". He of course doesn't forget His covenant but ever remembers it (Ps. 105:8 etc.), yet He is presented in human terms as having His memory rekindled, as it were, by human prayer, faith, situations and sacrifices so that He "remembers the covenant" (Gen. 8:1; 9:15; Ex. 2:24; 6:5; Lev. 26:42,45; Num. 10:9 and often). The regular sacrifices were such a "memorial" or 'reminder'- both to God and to His people. The place of prayer, regular sacrifice of giving, breaking of bread at the "memorial meeting" etc., are all equivalents for us under the new covenant.   

Paul writes often that he "makes mention" or 'remembers' his brethren in regular prayer (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:2; Philemon 4). The Greek mneia is the word used in the LXX for the "memorial" of the incense or the meal offering (Lev. 2:2,16; 6:15; 24:7), or the constant fire on the altar (Lev. 6:12,13). That fire, that flour, that incense, had to be carefully and consciously prepared; it had to be the result of man's labour. And likewise, Paul seems to be saying, he first of all thought through the cases which he then presented to the Father.

Lev 24:8 Every Sabbath day he shall set it in order before Yahweh continually. It is on the behalf of the children of Israel an everlasting covenant-
The whole Law of Moses is described as an everlasting covenant (Is. 24:5; Dt. 29:29), but it has now been done away (Heb. 8:13). The feasts of Passover and Atonement were to be “an everlasting statute unto you” (Lev. 16:34; Ex. 12:14); but now the Mosaic feasts have been done away in Christ (Col. 2:14-17; 1 Cor. 5:7). The Levitical priesthood was “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood” (Ex. 40:15; Num. 25:13), but “the priesthood being changed (by Christ’s work), there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Heb. 7:12). There was an “everlasting covenant” between God and Israel to display the shewbread in the Holy Place (Lev. 24:8). This “everlasting covenant” evidently ended when the Mosaic Law was dismantled. But the same phrase “everlasting covenant” is used in 2 Samuel 23:5 concerning how Christ will reign on David’s throne for literal eternity in the Kingdom. In what sense, then, is God using the word olahm, which is translated “eternal”, “perpetual”, “everlasting” in the Old Testament? James Strong defines olahm as literally meaning “the finishing point, time out of mind, i.e. practically eternity”. It was God’s purpose that the Law of Moses and the associated Sabbath law were to continue for many centuries. To the early Israelite, this meant a finishing point so far ahead that he couldn’t grapple with it; therefore he was told that the Law would last for ever in the sense of “practically eternity”. For all of us, the specter of ultimate infinity is impossible to intellectually grapple with. We may glibly talk about God’s eternity and timelessness, about the wonder of eternal life. But when we pause to really come to terms with these things, we lack the intellectual tools and linguistic paradigms to cope with it. Therefore there is no Hebrew or Greek word used in the Bible text to speak of absolute infinity. We know that death has been conquered for those in Christ, therefore we have the hope of immortal life in his Kingdom. But God speaks about eternity very much from a human viewpoint.

Lev 24:9 It shall be for Aaron and his sons; and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire by a perpetual statute-
The priests had no inheritance amongst Israel, they survived by eating parts of the offerings. Their eating of them represented God’s ‘eating’ of the sacrifices, the altar being described as His table (Mal. 1:7,12), and His acceptance of the offerer and fellowship with them- for eating what had been brought to you was a sign of acceptance and religious fellowship with the donor.

Lev 24:10 The son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian-
This suggests there was some intermarriage between the Egyptians and Israelites, which explains why a mixed multitude left Egypt with the Israelites. That mixed multitude were apparently not spiritually committed to the things of Israel's God once the going got tough in the desert (Ex. 11:4). The similarity of phrasing with Ex. 2:11 leads the rabbis to claim that this was the son of the Egyptian whom Moses slew. See on :17.

Went out among the children of Israel; and the son of the Israelite woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp-
"Went out" is to be connected with how the rebels of Num. 16:27 "came out" in argument as in Prov. 25:8. This striving together could have been in a legal sense, before the judges. The idea is not necessarily of a literal fight between the two men. Perhaps when he was judged against, he blasphemed (:10). The idea is certainly that his blasphemy was done openly and publically in the spirit of rebellion. As the Israelites encamped according to "the names of the tribes of their fathers" (Num. 26:55), it could be that this man whose father was an Egyptian was somehow encamped outside the camp, and he had come into the camp to foment rebellion and express his anger at his position. However the command in :17 could suggest that the half Egyptian had slain an Israelite in this striving.

Lev 24:11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name, and cursed; and they brought him to Moses-
Perhaps he repeated the language of Pharaoh who did the same (Ex. 5:2). The context is of the shewbread, so perhaps the striving together in :10 was connected with the use of the shewbread. Bringing the case to Moses suggests that it had first been brought before the system of judges beneath him (Ex. 18:13-26). This confirms the suggestion made on :10 that the striving together may have been before the judges, as it were in court.

His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan-
If we marry out of the family of faith (:10), our children may well not have the reverence towards the true God which they should have. Her name may have been preserved as a permanent reproach for her influence upon her apostate son; or perhaps we are to understand her name, "Peaceable", and her father's name "Man of the words", and her tribe "Judgment", as implying that she was faithful and not associated with her son's apostacy.

Lev 24:12 They put him in custody, until the will of Yahweh about this should be declared to them-
A similar incident was dealt with the same way in Num. 15:34. It was clear that the person should be executed, but perhaps the question was what method of execution should be used, as it was unclear whether he was to be treated as a Jew or Gentile. 

Lev 24:13 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The penalty of death by stoning was appropriate to an Israelite, whereas Gentiles would have been slain by the sword. So although the man was the son of an Egyptian, and foreigners only entered the congregation after three generations (Dt. 23:8), this man was treated as an Israelite. So as ever in God's judgments, we discern even there some element of grace.

Lev 24:14 Bring out of the camp him who cursed; and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him-
The Lord Jesus suffered and died, shedding the blood of atonement, "outside the camp" (Heb. 13:13). We are bidden go forth to the Lord Jesus "outside the camp", just as those who "sought Yahweh" did when there was no tabernacle (Ex. 33:7). The people watching Moses as he walked out to it, without the camp, therefore looks ahead to a faithless Israel lining the via Dolorossa and watching the Lord walk out to His place of crucifixion. And we are to get behind Him and follow Him there, stepping out from the mass of Israel. As the Lord Jesus suffered "outside the camp", so various parts of the Mosaic sacrifices were to be burnt there (Lev. 4:12,21; 8:17; 9:11; 16:27); and yet it was the blood of those sacrifices which achieved atonement (Heb. 13:11; Num. 19:3,9). "Outside the camp" was the place of excluded, condemned sinners (Lev. 13:46; 24:14; Num. 5:3,4; 15:35,36; 31:13,19), and it was here that the Lord Jesus died, in identification with us. 

Lev 24:15 You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin-
This contrasts with how the one who blasphemed the name of Yahweh was to be killed (:16). The command is specifically in the context of the Egyptian man who had blasphemed Yahweh. It is as if God is saying that blasphemers of their own gods were still in sin, but Yahweh pronounced no judgment upon them. This is one of a number of Biblical examples of where God requires some level of integrity from those who don't know Him and have their own wrong religious ideas. He even apparently commends the Gentiles for not changing their gods and being faithful to them, whilst lamenting Israel's penchant for many gods and their unfaithfulness to all of them.

Lev 24:16 He who blasphemes the name of Yahweh, he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him: the foreigner as well as the native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death-
This seems to answer the unclarity which was the reason for Moses asking God's advice; they were unsure whether to treat this man as a foreigner or an Israelite. See on :12,13. 

Lev 24:17 He who strikes any man mortally shall surely be put to death-
This additional clarification could be in the immediate context of the striving between the half Egyptian and the Israelite in :10. Perhaps the Israelite had been killed. If indeed this man was the son of the Egyptian whom Moses slew (see on :10), then we can better understand why his abiding anger led him to want to slay an Israelite in revenge.

Lev 24:18 He who strikes an animal mortally shall make it good, life for life-
The context seems to suggest that this was a slaying of an animal intentionally in order to damage the owner.

Lev 24:19 If anyone injures his neighbour; as he has done, so shall it be done to him-
This command may be in connection with the fight between the two men of :10. The equivalent command in Ex. 21:22-25 is also in the context of two men fighting.

Lev 24:20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has injured someone, so shall it be done to him-
When the Lord Jesus gave His commandments as an elaboration of Moses' Law, that Law was still in force. He didn't say 'When I'm dead, this is how you should behave...'. He was showing us a higher level; but in the interim period until the Law was taken out of the way, He was opening up the choice of taking that higher level, even though making use of the concessions which Moses offered would not have been a sin during that period. Thus He spoke of not insisting on "an eye for an eye"; even though in certain cases the Law did allow for this. He was saying: 'You can keep Moses' Law, and take an eye for an eye. But there is a higher level: to simply forgive'.

Lev 24:21 He who kills an animal shall make it good; and he who kills a man shall be put to death-
The slain animal was to replaced by another animal; the slain man was to be replaced, as it were, by the death of the murderer. The idea of 'making it good' could possibly hint that through his willing submission to death, the murderer could be forgiven. The Hebrew shalam carries with it the idea of making peace, but the death of the murderer could only make peace with God rather than with the man whom he had slain.

Lev 24:22 You shall have one kind of law, for the foreigner as well as the native-born; for I am Yahweh your God’-
If we have unbelievers into our homes or any situation where we are in charge of the social situation, we are to ensure that God’s principles are upheld. Again translating this into modern terms- if parents have unbelieving children in their home to play with their own children, God’s principles are still to be upheld by the visitors.

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”. 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).

Lev 24:23 Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they brought out him who had cursed out of the camp, and stoned him with stones. The children of Israel did as Yahweh commanded Moses-
The essential idea of the Hebrew word used for cursing here is to treat as a light thing (s.w. 1 kings 16:31 "as if it had been a light thing"). To treat the things of God as a mere hobby, as light rather than "heavy", which is the idea of the Hebrew kabod translated "glory"... is to curse God. It is the same idea as taking God's Name in vain, as a vain, light thing. And this is the problem with hobby level religion. What may begin as a mere religious hobby may lead us to the eternal weight of God's glory. And no longer must we treat these things as a light thing. True spirituality must eclipse mere religion. And if it doesn't, then we risk effectively cursing God, treating Him as a light thing, just a passing part of our lives...