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Leviticus 20:1-13

Context
Prohibitions against Illegitimate Family Worship

20:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 20:2 “You are to say to the Israelites, ‘Any man from the Israelites or from the foreigners who reside in Israel 1  who gives any of his children 2  to Molech 3  must be put to death; the people of the land must pelt him with stones. 4  20:3 I myself will set my face 5  against that man and cut him off from the midst of his people, 6  because he has given some of his children to Molech and thereby defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 7  20:4 If, however, the people of the land shut their eyes 8  to that man 9  when he gives some of his children to Molech so that they do not put him to death, 20:5 I myself will set my face against that man and his clan. I will cut off from the midst of their people both him and all who follow after him in spiritual prostitution, 10  to commit prostitution by worshiping Molech. 11 

Prohibition against Spiritists and Mediums 12 

20:6 “‘The person who turns to the spirits of the dead and familiar spirits 13  to commit prostitution by going after them, I will set my face 14  against that person and cut him off from the midst of his people.

Exhortation to Holiness and Obedience

20:7 “‘You must sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 20:8 You must be sure to obey my statutes. 15  I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Family Life and Sexual Prohibitions 16 

20:9 “‘If anyone 17  curses his father and mother 18  he must be put to death. He has cursed his father and mother; his blood guilt is on himself. 19  20:10 If a man 20  commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, 21  both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. 20:11 If a man has sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, he has exposed his father’s nakedness. 22  Both of them must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves. 23  20:12 If a man has sexual intercourse with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. They have committed perversion; 24  their blood guilt is on themselves. 20:13 If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, 25  the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves.

1 tn Heb “or from the sojourner who sojourns”; NAB “an alien residing in Israel.”

2 tn Heb “his seed” (so KJV, ASV); likewise in vv. 3-4.

3 tn Regarding Molech and Molech worship see the note on Lev 18:21.

4 tn This is not the most frequently-used Hebrew verb for stoning (see instead סָקַל, saqal), but a word that refers to the action of throwing, slinging, or pelting someone with stones (רָגָם, ragam; see HALOT 1187 s.v. רגם qal.a, and B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 136).

5 tn Heb “And I, I shall give my faces.”

6 sn On the “cut off” penalty see the notes on Lev 7:20 and 17:4.

7 tn Heb “for the sake of defiling my sanctuary and to profane my holy name.”

8 tn Heb “And if shutting [infinitive absolute] they shut [finite verb].” For the infinitive absolute used to highlight contrast rather than emphasis see GKC 343 §113.p.

9 tn Heb “from that man” (so ASV); NASB “disregard that man.”

10 tn The adjective “spiritual” has been supplied in the translation to clarify that this is not a reference to literal prostitution, but figuratively compares idolatry to prostitution.

11 tn Heb “to commit harlotry after Molech.” The translation employs “worshiping” here for clarity (cf. NAB, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT). On the “cut off” penalty see the note on Lev 7:20.

12 sn For structure and coherence in Lev 20:6-27 see the note on v. 27 below.

13 tn See the note on the phrase “familiar spirits” in Lev 19:31 above.

14 tn Heb “I will give my faces.”

15 tn Heb “And you shall keep my statutes and you shall do them.” This appears to be a kind of verbal hendiadys, where the first verb is a modifier of the action of the second verb (see GKC 386 §120.d, although שָׁמַר [shamar, “to keep”] is not cited there; cf. Lev 22:31, etc.).

16 sn Compare the regulations in Lev 18:6-23.

17 tn Heb “If a man a man who.”

18 tn Heb “makes light of his father and his mother.” Almost all English versions render this as some variation of “curses his father or mother.”

19 tn Heb “his blood [plural] is in him.” Cf. NAB “he has forfeited his life”; TEV “is responsible for his own death.”

sn The rendering “blood guilt” refers to the fact that the shedding of blood brings guilt on those who shed it illegitimately (even the blood of animals shed illegitimately, Lev 17:4; cf. the background of Gen 4:10-11). If the community performs a legitimate execution, however, the blood guilt rests on the person who has been legitimately executed (see the remarks and literature cited in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 328).

20 tn Heb “And a man who.” The syntax here and at the beginning of the following verses elliptically mirrors that of v. 9, which justifies the rendering as a conditional clause.

21 tc The reading of the LXX minuscule mss has been followed here (see the BHS footnote a-a). The MT has a dittography, repeating “a man who commits adultery with the wife of” (see the explanation in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 328). The duplication found in the MT is reflected in some English versions, e.g., KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV.

22 sn See the note on Lev 18:7 above.

23 tn See the note on v. 9 above.

24 tn The Hebrew term תֶּבֶל (tevel, “perversion”) derives from the verb “to mix; to confuse” (cf. KJV, ASV “they have wrought confusion”).

25 tn Heb “[as the] lyings of a woman.” The specific reference here is to homosexual intercourse between males.



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