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Leviticus 19:1-37

Context
Religious and Social Regulations

19:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 19:2 “Speak to the whole congregation of the Israelites and tell them, ‘You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. 19:3 Each of you must respect his mother and his father, 1  and you must keep my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God. 19:4 Do not turn to idols, 2  and you must not make for yourselves gods of cast metal. I am the Lord your God.

Eating the Peace Offering

19:5 “‘When you sacrifice a peace offering sacrifice to the Lord, you must sacrifice it so that it is accepted for you. 3  19:6 It must be eaten on the day of your sacrifice and on the following day, 4  but what is left over until the third day must be burned up. 5  19:7 If, however, it is eaten 6  on the third day, it is spoiled, 7  it will not be accepted, 19:8 and the one who eats it will bear his punishment for iniquity 8  because he has profaned 9  what is holy to the Lord. 10  That person will be cut off from his people. 11 

Leaving the Gleanings

19:9 “‘When you gather in the harvest 12  of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, 13  and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. 19:10 You must not pick your vineyard bare, 14  and you must not gather up the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

Dealing Honestly

19:11 “‘You must not steal, you must not tell lies, and you must not deal falsely with your fellow citizen. 15  19:12 You must not swear falsely 16  in my name, so that you do not profane 17  the name of your God. I am the Lord. 19:13 You must not oppress your neighbor or commit robbery against him. 18  You must not withhold 19  the wages of the hired laborer overnight until morning. 19:14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. 20  You must fear 21  your God; I am the Lord.

Justice, Love, and Propriety

19:15 “‘You 22  must not deal unjustly in judgment: 23  you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. 24  You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 25  19:16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. 26  You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. 27  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. 28  19:18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge 29  against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. 30  I am the Lord. 19:19 You must keep my statutes. You must not allow two different kinds of your animals to breed, 31  you must not sow your field with two different kinds of seed, and you must not wear 32  a garment made of two different kinds of fabric. 33 

Lying with a Slave Woman

19:20 “‘When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, 34  although she is a slave woman designated for another man and she has not yet been ransomed, or freedom has not been granted to her, there will be an obligation to pay compensation. 35  They must not be put to death, because she was not free. 19:21 He must bring his guilt offering to the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, a guilt offering ram, 36  19:22 and the priest is to make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin that he has committed, 37  and he will be forgiven 38  of his sin 39  that he has committed.

The Produce of Fruit Trees

19:23 “‘When you enter the land and plant any fruit tree, 40  you must consider its fruit to be forbidden. 41  Three years it will be forbidden to you; 42  it must not be eaten. 19:24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, praise offerings 43  to the Lord. 19:25 Then in the fifth year you may eat its fruit to add its produce to your harvest. 44  I am the Lord your God.

Blood, Hair, and Body

19:26 “‘You must not eat anything with the blood still in it. 45  You must not practice either divination or soothsaying. 46  19:27 You must not round off the corners of the hair on your head or ruin the corners of your beard. 47  19:28 You must not slash your body for a dead person 48  or incise a tattoo on yourself. 49  I am the Lord. 19:29 Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, 50  so that the land does not practice prostitution and become full of lewdness. 51 

Purity, Honor, Respect, and Honesty

19:30 “‘You must keep my Sabbaths and fear my sanctuary. I am the Lord. 19:31 Do not turn to the spirits of the dead and do not seek familiar spirits 52  to become unclean by them. I am the Lord your God. 19:32 You must stand up in the presence of the aged, honor the presence of an elder, and fear your God. I am the Lord. 19:33 When a foreigner resides 53  with you in your land, you must not oppress him. 19:34 The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so 54  you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 19:35 You must not do injustice in the regulation of measures, whether of length, weight, or volume. 55  19:36 You must have honest balances, 56  honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. 57  I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt. 19:37 You must be sure to obey all my statutes and regulations. 58  I am the Lord.’”

1 tn Heb “A man his mother and his father you [plural] shall fear.” The LXX, Syriac, Vulgate, and certain Targum mss reverse the order, “his father and his mother.” The term “fear” is subject to misunderstanding by the modern reader, so “respect” has been used in the translation. Cf. NAB, NRSV “revere”; NASB “reverence.”

2 sn Regarding the difficult etymology and meaning of the term for “idols” (אֱלִילִים, ’elilim), see B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 126; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 304; N. H. Snaith, Leviticus and Numbers (NBC), 89; and Judith M. Hadley, NIDOTTE 1:411. It appears to be a diminutive play on words with אֵל (’el, “god; God”) and, perhaps at the same time, recalls a common Semitic word for “worthless; weak; powerless; nothingness.” Snaith suggests a rendering of “worthless godlings.”

3 tn Heb “for your acceptance”; cf. NIV, NLT “it will be accepted on your behalf.”

4 tn Heb “from the following day” (HALOT 572 s.v. מָחֳרָת 2.b).

5 tn Heb “shall be burned with fire”; KJV “shall be burnt in the fire.” Because “to burn with fire” is redundant in contemporary English the present translation simply has “must be burned up.”

6 tn Heb “And if being eaten [infinitive absolute] it is eaten [finite verb].” For the infinitive absolute used to highlight contrast rather than emphasis see GKC 343 §113.p.

7 tn Or “desecrated,” or “defiled,” or “forbidden.” For this difficult term see J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:422, on Lev 7:18.

8 tn See the note on Lev 17:16 above.

9 sn Regarding “profaned,” see the note on Lev 10:10 above.

10 tn Heb “the holiness of the Lord.”

11 sn On the “cut off” penalty see the note on Lev 7:20.

12 tn Heb “And in your harvesting the harvest.”

13 tn Heb “you shall not complete the corner of your field to harvest.”

14 tn Heb “And you shall not deal severely with your vineyard.”

15 tn Heb “you shall not deal falsely a man with his fellow citizen.”

16 tn Heb “And you shall not swear to the falsehood.”

17 tn Heb “and you shall not profane”; NAB “thus profaning.”

18 tn Heb “You shall not oppress your neighbor and you shall not rob.”

19 tn Heb “hold back with you”; perhaps “hold back for yourself” (cf. NRSV “keep for yourself”).

20 tn Heb “You shall not curse a deaf [person] and before a blind [person] you shall not put a stumbling block.”

21 tn Heb “And you shall fear.” Many English versions (e.g., KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV) regard the Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) as adversative in force here (“but”).

22 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.

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

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

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

26 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.”

27 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).

28 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).

29 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).

30 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).

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

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

33 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.

34 tn Heb “And a man when he lies with a woman the lying of seed.”

35 sn That is, the woman had previously been assigned for marriage to another man but the marriage deal had not yet been consummated. In the meantime, the woman has lost her virginity and has, therefore, lost part of her value to the master in the sale to the man for whom she had been designated. Compensation was, therefore, required (see the explanation in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 130-31).

36 sn On the guilt offering see the note on Lev 5:15 above.

37 tn Heb “on his sin which he has sinned.”

38 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him.”

39 tn Heb “from his sin.”

40 tn Heb “tree of food”; KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV “trees for food.”

41 tn Heb “you shall circumcise its fruit [as] its foreskin,” taking the fruit to be that which is to be removed and, therefore, forbidden. Since the fruit is uncircumcised it is forbidden (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 306, and esp. B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 131-32).

42 tn Heb “it shall be to you uncircumcised.”

43 tn See B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 132, where the translation reads “set aside for jubilation”; a special celebration before the Lord.

44 tn Heb “to add to you its produce.” The rendering here assumes that the point of this clause is simply that finally being allowed to eat the fruit in the fifth year adds the fruit of the tree to their harvest. Some take the verb to be from אָסַף (’asaf, “to gather”) rather than יָסַף (yasaf, “to add; to increase”), rendering the verse, “to gather to you the produce” (E. S. Gerstenberger, Leviticus [OTL], 260, and see the versions referenced in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 306). Others take it to mean that by following the regulations given previously they will honor the Lord so that the Lord will cause the trees to increase the amount of fruit they would normally produce (Hartley, 303, 306; cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

45 tn Heb “You shall not eat on the blood.” See the extensive remarks in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 319-20, and B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 132-33. The LXX has “on the mountains,” suggesting that this is a prohibition against illegitimate places and occasions of worship, not the eating of blood.

46 tn Heb “You shall not practice divination and you shall not practice soothsaying”; cf. NRSV “practice augury or witchcraft.” For suggestions regarding the practices involved see B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 133, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 320.

47 tc Heb “and you [singular] shall not ruin the corner of your [singular] beard.” Smr, LXX, Syriac, and Tg. Ps.-J. have the plural pronouns (i.e., “you” and “your” plural) rather than the singular of the MT.

48 tn Heb “And slash for the soul you shall not give.” The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul, person, life”) can sometimes refer to a “dead person” (cf. Lev 21:1, 5; 22:5). See J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 306, 320-21.

49 tn Heb “and a writing of incision you shall not give in you.”

50 tn Heb “to make her practice harlotry.” Some recent English versions regard this as religious or temple prostitution (cf. TEV, CEV).

51 tn Heb “and the land become full of lewdness.” Regarding the term “lewdness,” see the note on Lev 18:17 above.

52 sn The prohibition here concerns those who would seek special knowledge through the spirits of the dead, whether the dead in general or dead relatives in particular (i.e., familiar spirits; see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 321, and B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 134). Cf. Lev 20:6 below.

53 tn Heb “And when a sojourner sojourns.”

54 tn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here.

55 tn That is, liquid capacity (HALOT 640 s.v. מְשׂוּרָה). Cf. ASV, NIV, NRSV, TEV “quantity”; NAB, NASB “capacity.”

56 tn Heb “balances of righteousness,” and so throughout this sentence.

57 sn An ephah is a dry measure which measures about four gallons, or perhaps one third of a bushel, while a hin is a liquid measure of about 3.6 liters (= approximately 1 quart).

58 tn Heb “And you shall keep all my statutes and all my regulations 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).



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