And the LORD
spake unto Moses, saying,
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.
NOTES ON CHAP. XVIII
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD
After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
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
Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am
¶ None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their
nakedness: I am
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
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
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.
The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is
thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is
thy father's nakedness.
The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be
born at home, or born abroad, even
their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even
their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is
thine own nakedness.
The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is
thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is
thy father's near kinswoman.
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is
thy mother's near kinswoman.
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is
thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is
thy brother's nakedness.
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
by the law, De 25:5
, to take her to wife.
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for
her near kinswomen: it is
Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her
, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time
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
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
Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her.
And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire
to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am
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
, 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
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
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
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
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is
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.
Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is
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"
Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
Verse 25. The land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
This is a very nervous prosopopoeia
figure by which any part of inanimate nature may be represented
as possessing the passions and reason of man. Here the land
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
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.
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any
of these abominations; neither
any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were
before you, and the land is defiled;)
That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were
For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them
shall be cut off from among their people.
Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye
commit not any one
of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am
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
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
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.