Leviticus 18:1
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
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(1) And the Lord spake unto Moses.—Unlike the preceding Divine communications, which treated of the ritual and ceremonial pollutions, the enactments which Moses is here commanded to communicate direct to the children of Israel, or their representatives, the elders, affect their moral life—precepts which form the basis of domestic purity, and which are the foundation of human happiness.

Leviticus 18:1. It being one special design of God to preserve his people from the lewd and idolatrous customs of other nations, Moses now receives particular orders to prohibit the Israelites from many of those unnatural practices which were common among the ancient idolaters.

18:1-30 Unlawful marriages and fleshly lusts. - Here is a law against all conformity to the corrupt usages of the heathen. Also laws against incest, against brutal lusts, and barbarous idolatries; and the enforcement of these laws from the ruin of the Canaanites. God here gives moral precepts. Close and constant adherence to God's ordinances is the most effectual preservative from gross sin. The grace of God only will secure us; that grace is to be expected only in the use of the means of grace. Nor does He ever leave any to their hearts' lusts, till they have left him and his services.This law appears to be grounded on the fact that the body of an animal killed by a wild beast, or which has died of itself, still retains a great portion of its blood. The importance ascribed to this law in later times may be seen in 1 Samuel 14:32-35; Ezekiel 4:14; Ezekiel 44:31, and still more in the apostolic decision regarding "things strangled," which are pointedly connected with blood Acts 15:20. CHAPTER 18

Le 18:1-30. Unlawful Marriages.Israelites not to live after the customs of the Egyptians or Canaanites, but according to God’s institutions, Leviticus 18:1-5. To abstain from incestuous marriages, Leviticus 18:6-18; and copulation with a menstruous woman, Leviticus 18:19; and adultery, Leviticus 18:20; and offering children to Moloch, Leviticus 18:21; and all unnatural copulation with man or beast, Leviticus 18:22,23. These things the nations do; and the land is defied, and God is provoked; and they who do those things shall die: but God was their Lord, Leviticus 18:24-30.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... He continued speaking to him, after he had delivered to him the laws respecting the day of atonement, and the bringing of the sacrifices to the door of the tabernacle, and particularly concerning the Israelites not worshipping devils, as they had done in Egypt: the Lord proceeds to deliver out others, the more effectually to guard against both the immoral and idolatrous practice, of the Egyptians and Canaanites:

saying, as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
1. Purity in those connected through the relationship of parent and child.

The first Pentad: Kinship of the first degree, Leviticus 18:6-10.

The second Pentad: Kinship of the second degree, Leviticus 18:11-15.


CHAPTER 18. MORAL UNCLEANNESS AND ITS PUNISHMENT. This being the subject of the three following chapters (chapters 18-20), they naturally form a sequence to chapters 11-17, which have dealt with ceremonial uncleanness and its purification. It is a remarkable thing that, except by implication in connection with the sin offerings and the trespass offerings and the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, there has not yet been a single moral precept, as such, in the Book of Leviticus, and there has been very little recognition of sin as distinct from pollution. All has been ceremonial. But the ceremonial is typical of the moral, and from the consideration of ceremonial uncleanness and its remedy, we now proceed to the consideration of moral uncleanness and its penalty. It is to be noticed too that, while the ensuing laws are commanded as the positive injunction of God (verses 2, 30), which of itself is sufficient to give them their authority and force, they are still founded, like the ceremonial prohibitions, upon the feelings of repugnance implanted in the mind of man. To enter into the marriage relation with near relatives is abhorrent to a sentiment in mankind so widely spread that it may be deemed to have been originally universal, and the same abhorrence is entertained towards other foul sins of lust. Ugliness, which creates disgust by its ugliness, symbolizes sin; immorality, which inspires abhorrence by its immoral character, proves itself thereby to be sin. The section deals first with sin in the marriage relation, next with sexual impurities connected with marriage, then with other cases of immorality, and lastly with the penalties inflicted on these sins in their character of crimes. Verses 1-5 form an introduction to the Hebrew code of prohibited degrees of marriage and of forbidden sins of lust. The formal and solemn declaration, I am the Lord your God, is made three times in these five verses. This places before the people the two thoughts:

1. That the Lord is holy, and they ought to be like him in holiness;

2. That the Lord has commanded holiness, and they ought to obey him by being holy. Because the Lord is their God, and they are his people, they are, negatively, to refrain from the vicious habits and lax customs prevalent in the land of Egypt wherein they dwelt, and in the land of Canaan whither they were going, the sensuality of which is indirectly condemned by the injunctions which command purity in contrast to their doings; and, positively, they are to keep God's statutes, and his judgments, as laid down in the following code, which if a man do, he shall live in them. The latter clause is of special importance, because it is repeated in the same connection by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 20:11, 13, 21), and in the Levitical confession in the Book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:29), and is quoted by St. Paul in a controversial sense (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12). Its full meaning is that by obedience to God's commands man attains to a state of existence which alone deserves to be called true life - "the life which connects him with Jehovah through his obedience" (Clark). And this involves the further truth that disobedience results in death. Accordingly, St. Paul uses the text as being the testimony of the Law with regard to itself, that salvation by it is of works in contrast with faith. (Cf. Luke 10:28.) We have no evidence to tell us what were the doings of the land of Canaan in respect to the marriage relation, but this chapter is enough to show that the utmost laxity prevailed in it, and we may be sure that their religious rites, like those of Midian (Numbers 25), were penetrated with the spirit of licentiousness. With regard to the doings of the land of Egypt, we have fuller information. We know that among the Egyptians marriage with sisters and half-sisters was not only permissible, but that its propriety was justified by their religious beliefs, and practiced in the royal family (Died. Sic., 1:27; Die. Cass., 42). Other abominations condemned in this chapter (verse 23) also, as we know, existed there (Herod., 2:46), and if queens could be what in later times Cleopatra was, we may imagine the general dissoluteness of the people. Among Persians, Medes, Indians, Ethiopians and Assyrians, marriage with mothers and daughters was allowed, and from the time of Cambyses, marriage with a sister was regarded as lawful (Herod., 3:31). The Athenians and Spartans permitted marriage with half-sisters. All these concessions to lust, and ether unclean acts with which the heathen world was full (verse 22; Romans 1:27), were fallings away from the law of purity implanted in the heart of man and now renewed for the Hebrew people. Leviticus 18:1Holiness of the Marriage Relation. - The prohibition of incest and similar sensual abominations is introduced with a general warning as to the licentious customs of the Egyptians and Canaanites, and an exhortation to walk in the judgments and ordinances of Jehovah (Leviticus 18:2-5), and is brought to a close with a threatening allusion to the consequences of all such defilements (Leviticus 18:24-30).

Leviticus 18:1-4

By the words, "I am Jehovah your God," which are placed at the head and repeated at the close (Leviticus 18:30), the observance of the command is enforced upon the people as a covenant obligation, and urged upon them most strongly by the promise, that through the observance of the ordinances and judgments of Jehovah they should live (Leviticus 18:5).

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