And the LORD
spake unto Moses, saying,
Of giving seed to Molech, and the punishment of this crime,
Of consulting wizards, &c., 6-8.
Of disrespect to parents, 9.
Of adultery, 10.
Of incestuous mixtures, 11, 12.
Different cases of incest and uncleanness, 17-21.
Exhortations and promises, 22-24.
The difference between clean and unclean animals to be
carefully observed, 25.
The Israelites are separated from other nations, that they may
be holy, 26.
A repetition of the law against wizards and them that have
familiar spirits, 27.
NOTES ON CHAP. XX
Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be
of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any
of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
Verse 2. That giveth
any of his seed unto Molech
] To what
has been said in the note on Le 18:21
, we may add, that the
rabbins describe this idol, who was probably a representative or
emblematical personification of the solar influence, as made of
brass, in the form of a man, with the head of an ox; that a fire
was kindled in the inside, and the child to be sacrificed to him
was put in his arms, and roasted to death. Others say that the
idol, which was hollow, was divided into seven compartments
within; in one of which they put flour
, in the second turtle-doves
, in the third a ewe
, in the fourth a ram
, in the
fifth a calf
, in the sixth an ox
, and in the seventh a child
which, by heating the statue on the outside, were all burnt alive together
. I question the whole truth of these statements,
whether from Jewish or Christian rabbins. There is no evidence
of all this in the sacred writings. And there is but
presumptive proof, and that not very strong, that human
sacrifices were at all offered to Molech by the Jews. The passing through the fire
, so frequently spoken of, might mean no
more than a simple rite of consecration
to the service of this
idol. Probably a kind of ordeal
was meant, the persons passing suddenly
through the flame of a large fire, by which, though
they might be burnt
, yet they were neither killed
. Or they might have passed between two large fires
, as a sort of purification. See Clarke on Le 20:14
; and "Le 18:21"
Caesar, in his history of the Gallic war, lib. vi., c. 16,
mentions a custom of the Druids similar to this. They made an
image of wickerwork
, inclosed those in it whom they had adjudged
to death, and, setting the whole on fire, all were consumed
And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.
¶ And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.
¶ Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am
And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am
which sanctify you.
¶ For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be
Verse 9. Curseth his father or his mother
] See Clarke on Ge 48:12
, and "Ex 20:12"
He who conscientiously keeps the fifth
commandment can be in no
danger of this judgment. The term yekallel
only to curse
, but to speak of a person contemptuously
, to make light of
; so that all speeches which have
a tendency to lessen our parents in the eyes of others, or to
render their judgment, piety, &c., suspected and contemptible, may
be here included; though the act of cursing
, or of treating the
parent with injurious and opprobrious language, is that which is
¶ And the man that committeth adultery with another
man's wife, even he
that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Verse 10. Committeth adultery
] To what has been said in Clarke's note on "Ex 20:14"
, we may add, that the word adultery
comes from the Latin adulterium
, which is compounded of ad, to
, and alter, another
, or, according to Minshieu, of ad alterius forum
, he that approaches to another man's bed
And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be
And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be
Verse 12. They have wrought confusion
See Le 18:1-30
, and especially Clarke's note on "Le 18:6"
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be
And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is
wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
Verse 14. They shall be burnt with fire
] As there are worse
crimes mentioned here, (see Le 20:11
and Le 20:17
,) where the
delinquent is ordered simply to be put to death
, or to be cut off
, it is very likely that the crime mentioned in this verse
was not punished by burning alive
, but by some kind of branding
by which they were ever after rendered infamous. I need not add
that the original, baesh yishrephu
, may, without
violence to its grammatical meaning, be understood as above,
though in other places it is certainly used to signify a
consuming by fire. But the case in question requires some
explanation; it is this: a man marries a wife, and afterward
takes his mother-in-law or wife's mother to wife also: now for
this offence the text says all three shall be burnt with fire
and this is understood as signifying that they shall be burnt alive
. Now the first wife, we may safely presume, was
, and was legally married: for a man may take
to wife the daughter if single
, or the mother if a widow
, and in
neither of these cases can any blame attach to the man or the
party he marries; the crime therefore lies in taking both
Either, therefore, they were all branded as infamous
and this certainly was severe enough in the case of the first
wife; or the man and the woman taken last were burnt
: but the
text says, both he
; therefore, we should seek for
another interpretation of they shall be burnt with fire
that which is commonly given. Branding
with a hot iron would
certainly accomplish every desirable end both for punishment and
prevention of the crime; and because the Mosaic laws are so
generally distinguished by humanity
, it seems to be necessary to
limit the meaning of the words as above.
And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be
Verse 16. If a woman approach unto any beast
] We have the
authority of one of the most eminent historians in the world,
Herodotus, to say that this was a crime not unknown in Egypt;
yea, that a case of this nature actually took place while he was
απικετο-Herod. in Euterp., p. 108. Edit. Gale, Lond. 1679.
"In this district, within my own recollection, this portentous
business took place: a goat coupled so publicly with a woman
that every person knew it," &c. After this, need we wonder that
God should have made laws of this nature, when it appears these
abominations were not only practised among the Egyptians, but
were parts of a superstitious religious system? This one
observation will account for many of those strange prohibitions
which we find in the Mosaic law; others, the reasons of which
are not so plain, we should see the propriety of equally, had
we ampler historic records of the customs that existed in that
And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is
a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.
And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.a
And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister, nor of thy father's sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.b
And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is
an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.c
¶ Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
Verse 22. The land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
] See this energetic prosopopoeia explained in
the note on Le 18:25
. From this we learn that the cup of
the iniquities of the Canaanitish nations was full; and that,
consistently with Divine justice, they could be no longer spared.
And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am
your God, which have separated you from other
Verse 24. A land that floweth with milk and honey
] See this explained "Ex 3:8"
Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.d
Verse 25. Between clean beasts and unclean
] See the notes on Le 11:1-47
And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am
holy, and have severed you from other
people, that ye should be mine.
¶ A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be
Verse 27. A familiar spirit
] A spirit or demon, which, by
magical rites, is supposed to be bound to appear at the call of
his employer. See Clarke on Ge 41:8
; "Ex 7:11"
; "Ex 7:22"
; And see Clarke's notes "Ex 7:25"
; and "Le 19:31"
FROM the accounts we have of the abominations both of Egypt
and Canaan, we may blush for human nature; for wherever it is
without cultivation, and without the revelation of God, it is
every thing that is vile in principle
and detestable in practice
. Nor would any part of the habitable globe materially
differ from Egypt and Canaan, had they not that rule of
righteousness, the revealed LAW of God, and had not life
been brought to light by the GOSPEL among them. From
these accounts, for which we could easily find parallels in
ancient Greece and Italy, we may see the absolute need of a
Divine revelation, without which man, even in his best estate,
differs little from the brute