Leviticus 18:9
The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or daughter of your mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness you shall not uncover.
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(9) The nakedness of thy sister.—The fact that Adam married “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,” and that his sons married their own sisters, encouraged the ancient Hebrew to imitate their example. Hence we find Abraham, the father of the faithful, married his half-sister (Genesis 20:12). The same practice obtained amongst other nations of antiquity. Thus the Athenians married their half-sisters by their father’s side, and the Spartans married half-sisters by the same mother, whilst the Assyrians and Egyptians married full sisters. Though nothing can be more explicit than the law here laid down, and though the transgression of it is denounced as an accursed and impious crime, to be visited with capital punishment (see Leviticus 20:17; Deuteronomy 27:22), yet from the narrative of Amnon and his sister Tamar, and especially from the touching and melancholy remark of the outraged sister (2Samuel 13:13; 2Samuel 13:16; 2Samuel 13:20), it is evident that the practice of the primitive parents of the human race and the example of the father of the Hebrew nation, continued to be followed in spite of this law. (Comp. Ezekiel 22:11.)

Born at home or born abroad.—Literally, the birth, or offspring of the house or the birth, or offspring from abroad. According to the administrators of the law during the second Temple, the import of this precept is to forbid commerce between a brother and a sister, whether the sister is born in wedlock, which is meant by born at home, or whether she is illegitimate, which is meant by birth or offspring from abroad. Hence the ancient Chaldee Version of this clause, “whom thy father begot of another woman or of thy mother, or whom thy mother brought forth by thy father or by another man.”

Leviticus 18:9. Whether she be born at home, or born abroad — Whether she be legitimately born in wedlock, or illegitimately out of wedlock. Others explain it thus: “Whether she be thy sister by the same father, or by another marriage.”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.Thy sister - What was here spoken of was the distinguishing offence of the Egyptians. 6. None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him—Very great laxity prevailed amongst the Egyptians in their sentiments and practice about the conjugal relation, as they not only openly sanctioned marriages between brothers and sisters, but even between parents and children. Such incestuous alliances Moses wisely prohibited, and his laws form the basis upon which the marriage regulations of this and other Christian nations are chiefly founded. This verse contains a general summary of all the particular prohibitions; and the forbidden intercourse is pointed out by the phrase, "to approach to." In the specified prohibitions that follow, all of which are included in this general summary, the prohibited familiarity is indicated by the phrases, to "uncover the nakedness" [Le 18:12-17], to "take" [Le 18:17, 18], and to "lie with" [Le 18:22, 23]. The phrase in this sixth verse, therefore, has the same identical meaning with each of the other three, and the marriages in reference to which it is used are those of consanguinity or too close affinity, amounting to incestuous connections. Thy sister, by both parents.

The daughter of thy father, or

daughter of thy mother; thy sister by either of thy parents.

Whether she be born at home, to wit, of thy father by another wife, whom he hath taken into his house. Or born abroad; either of thy mother, by another, whether a former or a second husband, in another house and family; or of thy father by some strange woman, for there might be some doubt in these cases. The nakedness of thy sister,.... To lie with one in so near a relation is exceeding criminal, and for which the law curses a man, Deuteronomy 27:22; and to marry her is not lawful; for though it was necessary for the propagation of mankind that a man should marry his sister, for who else could Cain and Abel marry? yet afterwards, when there was an increase of mankind, and there were people enough remote from each other, it became unlawful for persons in such near ties of consanguinity to marry with each other; though the Egyptians did, in imitation of Isis and Osiris (e), and so the Persians, following the example of Cambyses (f):

the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother; whether she is a sister both by father and mother's side, or whether only by the fathers side and not the mother's, as Sarah was to Abraham, Genesis 20:12; or only by the mother's side and not the father's:

whether she be born at home or born abroad; not whether born and brought up in his and her father's house, or born and brought up in another place and province; though there were some, as Aben Ezra observes, that so interpreted it, according to the sense of the word in Genesis 50:23; but rather the sense is, as that writer gives it, whether born according to the law of the house of Israel, after espousals and marriage, or without it; that is, whether begotten in lawful marriage or not, whether a legitimate offspring or spurious, born in adultery and whoredom, whether on the father or mother's side; so the Targum of Jonathan, whom thy father begat of another woman, or of thy mother, or whom thy mother bore or brought forth, of thy father, or of another man; and to the same purpose Onkelos:

even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; neither lie with, or have carnal knowledge of, nor marry one or the other.

(e) Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 23. (f) Herodot. Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 31.

The nakedness of thy {e} 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.

(e) Either by father or mother, born in marriage or otherwise.

Verse 9. - In the third place, incest with a sister is forbidden, and it is specifically stated that under the term "sister" is meant the half-sister, the daughter of thy father, or... thy mother,... born at home, as would naturally be the case if she were the father's daughter, or born abroad, that is, the daughter of the mother by a previous marriage, when she belonged to a different household. Tamar's appeal to Amnon, "I pray thee speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee," exhibits to us the poor woman grasping at any argument which might save her from her half-brother's brutality, and does not indicate that such marriages were, in the time of David, permissible (2 Samuel 13:29). The exact degree of relationship which existed between Abraham and Sarah is not altogether certain (cf. Genesis 20:12 with Genesis 11:29). Ezekiel reckons this sin in the catalogue of the iniquities of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:11). Holiness 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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