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Leviticus 19:15-19

Context
Justice, Love, and Propriety

19:15 “‘You 1  must not deal unjustly in judgment: 2  you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. 3  You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 4  19:16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. 5  You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. 6  I am the Lord. 19:17 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. 7  19:18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge 8  against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. 9  I am the Lord. 19:19 You must keep my statutes. You must not allow two different kinds of your animals to breed, 10  you must not sow your field with two different kinds of seed, and you must not wear 11  a garment made of two different kinds of fabric. 12 

1 tc Smr has the singular rather than the plural “you” of the MT, which brings this verb form into line with the ones surrounding it.

2 tn Heb “You shall not do injustice in judgment” (NASB similar); cf. NIV “do not pervert justice.”

3 tn Heb “You shall not lift up faces of poor [people] and you shall not honor faces of great.”

4 tn Heb “In righteousness you shall judge your fellow citizen.”

5 tn The term רָכִיל (rakhil) is traditionally rendered “slanderer” here (so NASB, NIV, NRSV; see also J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 304, 316), but the exact meaning is uncertain (see the discussion in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 129). It is sometimes related to I רָכַל (“to go about as a trader [or “merchant”]”; BDB 940 s.v. רָכַל), and taken to refer to cutthroat business dealings, but there may be a II רָכַל, the meaning of which is dubious (HALOT 1237 s.v. II *רכל). Some would render it “to go about as a spy.”

6 tn Heb “You shall not stand on the blood of your neighbor.” This part of the verse is also difficult to interpret. The rendering here suggests that one will not allow a neighbor to be victimized, whether in court (cf. v. 15) or in any other situation (see the discussion in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 129).

7 tn Heb “and you will not lift up on him sin.” The meaning of the line is somewhat obscure. It means either (1) that one should rebuke one’s neighbor when he sins lest one also becomes guilty, which is the way it is rendered here (see NIV, NRSV, NEB, JB; see also B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 129-30, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 303, and the discussion on pp. 316-17), or (2) one may rebuke one’s neighbor without incurring sin just as long as he does not hate him in his heart (see the first part of the verse; cf. NASB, NAB).

8 tn Heb “and you shall not retain [anger?].” This line seems to refer to the retaining or maintaining of some vengeful feelings toward someone. Compare the combination of the same terms for taking vengeance and maintaining wrath against enemies in Nahum 1:2 (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 305).

9 sn Some scholars make a distinction between the verb אָהַב (’ahav, “to love”) with the direct object and the more unusual construction with the preposition לְ (lamed) as it is here and in Lev 19:34 and 2 Chr 19:2 only. If there is a distinction, the construction here probably calls for direct and helpful action toward one’s neighbor (see the discussion in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 305, and esp. 317-18). Such love stands in contrast to taking vengeance or bearing a grudge against someone and, in NT terms, amounts to fulfilling the so-called “golden rule” (Matt 7:12).

10 tn Heb “Your animals, you shall not cross-breed two different kinds.”

11 tn Heb “you shall not cause to go up on you.”

12 sn Cf. Deut 22:11 where the Hebrew term translated “two different kinds” (כִּלְאַיִם, kilayim) refers to a mixture of linen and wool woven together in a garment.



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