World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
19. Various Laws
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.
3Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.
4Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.
5And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will. 6It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire. 7And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted. 8Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
9And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. 10And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.
11Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.
12And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.
13Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.
14Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.
15Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
16Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord.
17Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
18Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
19Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.
20And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. 21And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering. 22And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.
23And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. 24But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal. 25And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.
26Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times. 27Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. 28Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.
29Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
30Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.
31Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.
32Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.
33And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. 34But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
35Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. 36Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.
1. And the Lord spake. This is the object of the exhortation: first, that they should not measure the service of God by their own conceits, but rather by His nature; and secondly, that they should begin by studying281281 “Pour le servir deuement, ils commencent par ce bout, de se purifier de toutes souillures;” in order to serve Him duly, they should begin by purifying themselves from all uncleanness — Fr. to be holy. For nothing is harder than for men to divest themselves of their carnal affections to prepare for imitating God. Besides, they willingly lie slumbering in their own filthiness, and seek to cloak it by the outward appearance of religion. Here, then, they are recalled to the imitation of God, who, in adopting them, desired that they should bear His image, just as good and undegenerate children resemble their father. If any should pretend to equal God, his emulation would be madness; but although the most perfect come very far short even of the angels, yet the weakness of the very humblest does not prevent him from aspiring after the example of God. To this point did all the ceremonies tend, whereby God exercised His ancient people unto holiness, as we shall hereafter see. Although this declaration does not occur once only, yet because it is annexed in other places to special precepts in order to their confirmation, let it suffice at present to apprehend the general doctrine it contains.
God here explains somewhat more clearly His mind and design, for He enumerates as thefts eases in which either deceit or violence is employed. The two words, which we have translated to deny, and to lie, signify also to deceive; as also to lie, or to frustrate hope. 9898 A. V., “deal falsely, neither lie.” Ainsworth, “neither falsely deny, nor deal falsely.” There is no question, then, but that God would restrain His people from all craft, or deceit, that they may deal sincerely and honestly with each other; even as Paul wisely explains the meaning of the Holy Spirit, when he exhorts believers to
“put away lying, and to speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25.)
In the second passage, God commands men to demean themselves meekly and temperately with their neighbors, so as to abstain from all unjust oppression. The meaning which Jerome 9999 A. V., “Non facies calumniam proximo tuo, nec vi opprimes eum.” “The first of these terms signifies to oppress by fraud; the second to oppress by violence. Against both these offenses, John the Baptist warned the soldiers who came to him; Luke 3:14.” — Bush from Ainsworth. and others after him, have given to the word עשק gnashak, to calumniate, is incorrect altogether; for it is everywhere used for to oppress, despoil, rob, or lay hands on the goods of another. It is clear, therefore, that as Moses had previously provided against frauds, he now prohibits the iniquity of extorting from our neighbor what we have no right to. Still, violence, or open rapine, is better expressed by the other word גזל gezal; and these 100100 “Et a mon avis que le premier est comme genre, et le second comme espece;” and, in my opinion, that the first is, as it were, genus, and the second species. — Fr. two words are, ill my opinion, as it were, genus and species. After he had forbidden, therefore, that they should in any way oppress their brethren and possess themselves of their goods, he at the same time adds, that they should not use violence in despoiling them unjustly. Finally, he points out one mode of unjust oppression, when a person, who has hired himself as a laborer, is defrauded of his wages, and not only if he be sent away without payment, his wages being denied him, but if payment be deferred to the morrow. For we know that hirelings generally live from hand to mouth, and therefore, if there be ever so little delay, they must go without food. Consequently, if a rich man keeps a poor and wretched individual, whose labor he has abused, in suspense, he deprives him as it were of life, in depriving him of his daily food. The sum is, that humanity is so to be cultivated that none should be oppressed, or suffer loss from default of payment.
Since the Law comprehends under the word murder, all the wrongs whereby men are unjustly injured, that cruelty was especially to be condemned by which those wretched persons are afflicted, whose calamity ought rather to conciliate our compassion. For, if any particle of humanity exists in us, when we meet a blind man we shall be solicitous lest he should stumble or fall, and, if he goes astray, we shall stretch out our hands to him and try to bring him back into the way; we shall also spare the deaf, for to insult them is no less absurd or barbarous than to assail stones with reproaches. It is, therefore, gross brutality to increase the ills of those whom our natural sense impels us to relieve, and who are already troubled more than enough. Let us, then, learn from these words, that the weaker people are, the more secure ought they to be from all oppression or injury, and that, when we attack the defenseless, the crime of cruelty is greatly aggravated, whilst any insult against the calamitous is altogether intolerable to God.
16. Thou shalt not go up and down. The principle of the second clause is the same as that of the foregoing verse, for it is added to a general precept, whereby detraction is condemned: and much more ought we to be deterred from it, whilst we acknowledge that our tongue is thus armed cruelly to shed innocent blood. Some suppose that the word רכיל, racil, is metaphorically taken from merchants, because the tale-bearer or whisperer 169169 “Delator aut susurro.” — Lat. “The original properly signifies a trader, a pedlar, and is here applied to one who travels up and down dealing in slanders and detractions, as a merchant does in wares, possessing himself of the secrets of individuals and families, and then blazing them abroad, usually with a false colouring as to motives and a distortion of facts.” — Bush. “Some explain רכיל as if רגיל, (the ג being changed into כ,) from רגל, to run about, to explore.” — Fagius, from the Hebrew Commentators, in Poole’s Synopsis. “Non reperimus in S. Scriptura dictionem רכילות, quae non sit scripta lingua הליכה, i e., ambulationis.” — Sal. Jarchi in loco. See C. on Jeremiah 9:4, Cal. Soc. edit., vol. 1, p. 464 is no less busy in hunting for false reports, which he may afterwards circulate, than the merchant is diligently bent on buying and selling. Others think that there is a change of the letter ג into כ; and that thus the word is derived from the feet; because calumniators are always wandering about to hunt for grounds of detraction; and therefore is always joined with a verb which signifies to walk. I do not think, however, that it is always used in the same sense; for when Ezekiel reproves the Israelites, because there were always men called רכיל, racil, among them, to shed blood, 170170 “In thee are men that carry tales (margin, men of slanders) to shed blood.” — A.V. I understand men of fraud, or fraudulent persons, who plot against the good to procure their destruction. (Ezekiel 22:9.) Some also translate it spies. Meanwhile, I doubt not, but that Moses, in this passage, designates those vagabonds, who too eagerly run about hither and thither, and in their malignant inquisitiveness penetrate into everybody’s secrets, to bring quiet people into trouble. In short, we are taught that they are accounted false witnesses before God, whosoever by the virulence of their tongue bring their brethren into danger and inconvenience.
17. Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor. Because many, under the pretext of conscientiousness, are not only rigid censors of others, but also burst out in the open proclamation of their defects, Moses seeks to prevent this preposterous zeal, shewing how they may best restrain it, not by encouraging sin through their connivance or silence, whilst they are still far from evil-speaking. For those who labor under this disease of carping and vituperating, are wont to object that sins are nourished by silence, unless all are eager in reproving them; and hence their ardor in exclaiming against them and deriding them. But Moses points out a more useful remedy, that they should bring back wanderers into the way by private rebukes, and not by publishing their offenses. For whosoever triumphs in the infamy of his brother, precipitates his ruin as far as in him lies; whereas a well-regulated zeal consults the welfare of one who is ruining himself. Therefore we are commanded to rebuke the wandering, and not to regard our brethren as enemies. A similar course is prescribed by Christ, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” (Matthew 18:15.) In fine, an immoderate love of fault-finding will always be found to be arrogant and cruel. The word נשא, nasa, undoubtedly means to publish what was concealed, and thus by exposure to drive to despair those who would else have been corrigible.
Hence it clearly appears that God had a further object than that men should not kill each other, for He not only restrains their hands, but requires their hearts to be pure from all hatred. For, since the desire of vengeance is the fountain and cause of enmities, it follows that under the word kill is condensed whatever is opposed to brotherly love. And this is confirmed by the antithesis, that none should hate his brother, but rather love him as himself. We need, then, seek for no other expositor of the Commandment but God Himself, who pronounces those to be guilty of murder who are affected with any malevolence, and not only those who, when offended, desire to return evil for evil, but those who do not sincerely love their neighbors, even when with justice they deem them to be their enemies. Wherefore, in order that God may absolve us from spiritual murder, let us learn to purify our hearts from all desire of vengeance, and, laying aside hatred, to cultivate fraternal affection with all men.
Although the latter part of the verse embraces the sum of the whole Second Table, yet, because love is contrasted with vengeance, I have not thought fit to separate things which are so properly connected with each other, especially when one depends on the other. The precept is indeed only given with reference to the children of Abraham, because the crime of vengeance would be more atrocious between those who were bound together by fraternal rights; yet it is not to be doubted but that God generally condemns the vice. In the schools 1616 Fr., “Les Theologiens de la Papaute.” C. refers elsewhere to this scholastic maxim: “Nor is the argument worth a straw, That the thing regulated must always be inferior to the rule. The Lord did not make self-love the rule, as if love towards others was subordinate to it; but whereas, through natural pravity, the feeling of love usually rests on ourselves, He shows that it ought to diffuse itself in another direction — that is, should be prepared to do good to our neighbor with no less alacrity, ardor, and solicitude, than to ourselves.” — Inst., book 2, 8, Section 54. “Again, when Moses commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he did not intend to put the love of ourselves in the first place, so that a man may first love himself and then love his neighbors: as the sophists of the Sorbonne are wont to cavil, that the rule must always go before what it regulates.” — Harm. of the Evangelists, (C. Society’s Trans.,) vol. 3, p. 59. this sentence was grossly corrupted; for, since the rule (as they say) is superior to what is regulated by it. they have invented a preposterous precept, that every one should love himself first, and then his neighbors; of which subject I will treat more fully elsewhere. The word נטר, natar, meaning to guard, when used without any addition, is equivalent to bearing an injury in mind; as we also say in French: “garder une injure.” 1717 Addition in Fr., “Et pourtant il faut suppleer ou injure ou rancune; and, therefore, injury or grudge must be supplied.
Albeit in God’s sight there is no difference between bond and free, yet their condition is diverse as regards courts of justice; 7070 “Quant aux jugemens terreins, et humains.” — Fr. nor do the same evil consequences ensue from adultery with a bond-maid, (as with a free woman.) 7171 Added from Fr. Notwithstanding, therefore, that the crime is worthy of death, still, in consideration of the people’s infirmity, the punishment is mitigated, so that, if a person shall have corrupted a betrothed bond-maid, both shall be scourged. 7272 C.’s Latin version and Commentary agree here with the margin of, A. V. rather than the text, “she shall be scourged;” margin, “there shall be a scourging.” Dathe’s translation is “vapulabunt ambo,” and his note, “sic Vulgatus recte, sequitur enim pluralis non moriantur. Cf. Michaelis in J. M. P. V., p. 50.” From hence we infer that, if a concubine, who had already cohabited with a man, were seduced, it was accounted a capital adultery. Lest it should be falsely held, from the lenity or indulgence of the law, that the offense was a trifling one, this error is at once anticipated by the addition of the expiation: for, if one already beaten with stripes still required reconciliation, it follows that the measure of the offense is not to be estimated by its penalty.
23. And when ye shall come. There seems to me no question but that the circumcision of trees as well as of men appertains to the First Commandment, not only that the Jews might see a symbol of their own adoption in the very trees, but that they might learn that it was permitted to none but the children of God to feed on their fruit; and also that whatsoever the earth produces is in a manner profane, until it is purified. For surely by this ceremony was set forth what Paul teaches, that all things are “sanctified by the word of God, and prayer,” (1 Timothy 4:5;) not that anything is in itself impure, but because the earth has contracted pollution from the corruption of man, it is just, as regards us, that the harmless fruits also should be accounted to be in uncircumcision. In sum, God would raise up a wall whereby He might separate His people from the Gentiles, and at the same time admonish them that a legitimate use of those things which the earth produced could not be made by the sons of Adam, except by special privilege. But the similitude of uncircumcision, until the year appointed for their being circumcised, was a very appropriate one, that they might acknowledge the fruits of their trees to be pure for them by the same right whereby they were consecrated as God’s peculiar people. But, lest the three years’ unproductiveness should press heavily upon them, he promises them compensation from the future blessing of God; for, if they should abstain from eating the unclean fruit, a larger produce was to be expected in future.
27. Ye shall not round the corners. It clearly appears that God had no other object than by the interposition of this obstacle to sever His people from heathen nations. For there is nothing to which men are more prone than to conform themselves to the customs of others; and hence it arises, that they
mutually communicate each other’s vices. Wherefore care was especially to be taken lest the people of Israel should adopt foreign habits, and by this pliableness should fall away from the true worship of God; from whence too the ordinary phrase has arisen, that the word “common” should be used for “unclean.” God then strictly forbids them from declining to the habits of the Gentiles, and confounding the distinction which He had Himself placed between them. There is no doubt but that it was
usual for the Gentiles, out of superstition, to cut marks
“Most of the barbarous nations lately discovered have their faces, arms:, breasts, etc., curiously carved or tattooed, probably for superstitious purposes. Ancient writers abound with accounts of marks made on the faces, arms, etc., in honor of different idols; and to this the inspired penman alludes, (Revelation 13:16-17; 14:9-11, etc.), where false worshippers are represented as receiving in their hands, and in their forehead, the marks of the beast. These were called στίγματα among the Greeks, and to these St. Paul refers when he says, “I bear about in my body the marks (στίγματα) of the Lord Jesus.".(Galatians 6:17}
"All the castes of the Hindoos bear on their foreheads, or elsewhere, what are called sectarian marks, which not only distinguish them in a civil, but in a religious point of view, from each other."
"Herodotus observes that the Arabs shave, or cut their hair round, in honor of Bacchus; (lib. 3. ch. 8). He says, also, that the Macians, a people of Lybia, cut their hair round, so as to leave a tuft on the top of the head; (lib. 4. ch. 175."
"That the ancients were very violent in their grief, tearing the hair and face, beating the breast, etc., is well known. Virgil represents the sister of Dido: — Unguibus ora — foedans, et pectora pugnis. AEn. iv. 672.” — Adam Clarke, in loco. upon their faces, to trim the hair in certain steps or circles, and in their mourning to lacerate their flesh, or to disfigure it with marks. It is well known that the priests of Cybele 3232 The authorities for this practice of the Galli, or Priests of Cybele, are too numerous to mention. The following extract from a curious description given by Apuleius, of the religious dance of her worshippers, may suffice: “Die sequenti variis coloribus indusiati, et deformiter quisque formarti, facie coenoso pigmento delita, et oculis obunctis graphice, prodeunt; mitellis, et crocotis, et carbasinis, et bombycinis injecti. Quidam tunicas albas, in modum lanciolarum quoquoversum fluente purpura depictas, cingulo subligati, pedes luteis induti calceis, Deamque serico contectam amiculo mihi gerendam imponunt: brachiisque suis humero tenus renudatis, attollentes immanes gladios ac secures, evantes exsiliunt, incitante tibiae cantu lymphaticum tripudium.
"Nec paucis pererratis casulis, ad quandam villam possessoris beati perveniunt, et ab ingressu primo statim absonis ululatibus constrepentes, fanatice pervolant. Diuque capite demisso, cervices lubricis intorquentes motibus, crinesque pendulos rotantes in circulum, et nonnunquam morsibus suos incursantes musculos, ad postremum ancipiti ferro, quod gerebant, sua quisque brachia dissecant.” — Metam. (lib. 8, Edit). (Bipont. 1. 184-185) made gashes in their flesh with knives and razors, and covered themselves all over with wounds, for the sake of shewing their zeal. The same thing was also commonly practiced by others; inasmuch as the world is easily deceived by external ceremonies. But though this were a thing in itself indifferent, yet God would not allow His people to be at liberty to practice it, that, like children, they might learn from these slight rudiments, that they would not be acceptable with God, unless they were altogether different from uncircumcised foreigners, and as far as possible from following their examples; and especially that they should avoid all ceremonies whereby their religion was testified. For experience teaches how greatly the true worship of God is obscured by anything adscititious, and how easily foul superstitions creep in, when the comments of men are tacked on to the word of God. Doubtless that part, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead,” etc., might be expounded as a correction of immoderate grief; because we know how intemperately men set themselves against God when they give the reins to their sorrow; but since the object of the Gentiles was to pay what was due to the dead, and to celebrate their funeral obsequies 3333 “Et user de satisfactions pour racheter leurs ames;” and to offer satisfactions for the redemption of their souls. — Fr. as a kind of propitiation, it is probable, and more suitable, that by the whole context those preposterous gestures are condemned, which were proofs of piety among the Gentiles, but which would have been defilements to the people of God.
The same thing appears more clearly from the passage in Deuteronomy, which next follows, wherein Moses condemns cutting themselves, and making themselves bald for the dead in connection with each other, as if they were one thing; and confirms the law by a general argument, that they might withdraw themselves from every pollution as the children of God; since they were chosen to be His peculiar people; as much as to say, that God’s grace would be altogether frustrated, if they did not differ at all from foreign nations. As to his saying that they were chosen out of all the nations, it does not a little illustrate the gratuitous mercy of God, wherewith He honored them alone, by calling them to the hope of eternal salvation, and passing by the Gentiles; for there was no nobility found in them, nor did they exceed others either in number or in any other superiority, on account of which He should prefer them to the whole world. But the design of Moses in magnifying the extraordinary goodness of God, was that they might the more abhor that impure cornmixture, which, by bringing them on a par with the Gentiles, degraded them from this high honor.
This passage more clearly proves that all unlicensed connections 6464 “Toute compagnie d’homme et de femme hors le mariage.” — Fr. were always unlawful in God’s sight. It is a tame and forced interpretation to apply what is here said to spiritual fornication; and those also, who suppose that public stews only are forbidden, restrict the law too much, whereas God rather gives a general injunction that parents should preserve their daughters by means of a pure and chaste education. But even although we admit that nothing else is prohibited but that parents should be the panders of their daughters, still we gather from the word pollute 6565 Margin A. V., “profane.” (for some render the word חלל, chalal, too tamely to make common) that they are contaminated by their whoredom, and the reason given abundantly confirms the fact, that all whoredom is hateful to God, “lest the land fall to whoredom, (He says,) and the land become full of wickedness.” It is plain that adultery is not in question here; but God declares it to be criminal if a man and woman have connection out of wedlock. Consequently, the people are taught in the Seventh Commandment to beware of all unchastity.
Leviticus 19:30; 26:2. Ye shall keep my Sabbaths. From these two passages it is manifest that the service of the tabernacle was annexed to the Sabbath, and that the two things were not only connected by an indissoluble tie, but that the rest from labor had reference to the sacrifices; since it would have been a mere mockery to rest without any ulterior object; nay more, after Moses has spoken of the rest, he seems to subjoin the reverencing of the sanctuary, as if it were the generic ordinance; so that the people might understand that all impediments were removed which are wont to withdraw them from the service of God. The expression, “fear the sanctuary,” 336336 “Reverence my sanctuary.” — A.V. Ainsworth says, “In Targum Jonathan this law is explained thus, Ye shall go to the house of my sanctuary in fear;” and then quotes from Maimon many Jewish rites observed in the temple. is a figurative one; but is equivalent to this, that they should shew by their very reverence of the sanctuary how truly and sincerely they fear God, who had promised that He would be present there, whenever He should be invoked.
32. Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head. God teaches us that some sparks of His majesty shine forth in old men, whereby they approach to the honor of parents. It is not my purpose to gather quotations from profane authors in reference to the honor due to the old; let it suffice that what God here commands is dictated by nature itself. This appeared at Athens, 1414 Cicero, de Senectute, 18; and Val. Max., lib. 4:5. when an old man had come into the theater, and found no place among his fellow-citizens; but, when at length he was admitted with honor by the Spartan ambassador, (because old age is greatly reverenced among the Lacedemonians,) applause was raised on all sides; and then the Lacedemonian exclaimed, that “the Athenians knew what was right, but would not do it.” It was surely manifested by this universal consent of the people that it is a natural law in the hearts of all to reverence and honor old men. Many old men, indeed, either by their levity, or lewdness, or sloth, subvert their own dignity; yet, although gray hairs may not always be accompanied by courteous wisdom, still, in itself, age is venerable, according to God’s command.
Leviticus 19:33. And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land. Before I pass on to the other iniquities, I have thought fit to introduce this precept, wherein the people are commanded to cultivate equity towards all without exception. Fob if no mention had been made of strangers, the Israelites would have thought that, provided they had not injured any one of their own nation, they had fully discharged their duty; but, when God recommends guests and sojourners to them, just as if they had been their own kindred, they thence understand that equity is to be cultivated constantly and towards all men. Nor is it without cause that God interposes Himself and His protection, lest injury should be done to strangers; for since they have no one who would submit to ill-will in their defense, they are more exposed to the violence and various oppressions of the ungodly, than as if they were under the shelter of domestic securities. The same rule is to be observed towards widows and orphans; a woman, on account of the weakness of her sex, is exposed to many evils, unless she dwells under the shadow of a husband; and many plot against orphans, as if they were their prey, because they have none to advise them. Since, then, they are thus destitute of human aid, God interposes to assist them; and, if they are unjustly oppressed, He declares that He will be their avenger. In the first passage He includes widows and orphans together with strangers; in the latter He enumerates strangers only; yet the substance is the same, viz., that all those who are destitute and deprived of earthly succor, are under the guardianship and protection of God, and preserved by His hand; and thus the audacity of those is restrained, who trust that they may commit any wickedness with impunity, provided no earthly being resists them. No iniquity, indeed, will be left unavenged by God, but there is a special reason why He declares that strangers, widows, and orphans are taken under His care; inasmuch as the more flagrant the evil is, the greater need there is of an effectual remedy. He recommends strangers to them on this ground, that the people, who had themselves been sojourners in Egypt, being mindful of their ancient condition, ought to deal more kindly to strangers; for although they were at last oppressed by cruel tyranny, still they were bound to consider their entrance there, viz., that poverty and hunger had driven their forefathers thither, and that they had been received hospitably, when they were in need of aid from others. When He threatens, that if the afflicted widows and orphans cry unto Him, their cry shall be heard, He does not mean that He will not interfere, if they endure their wrongs in silence; but He speaks in accordance with the ordinary practice, that those who find no consolation elsewhere, are wont to appeal to Him. Meanwhile, let us be sure that although those who are injured abstain from complaining, yet God does not by any means forget His office, so as to overlook their wrongs. Nay, there is nothing which incites Him more to inflict punishment on the ungodly, than the endurance of His servants.
The nature of the punishment is also expressed; those who have afflicted widows and orphans shall perish by the sword, so that their own widows and orphans may be exposed to the audacity, violence, and knavery of the ungodly. Moreover, it must be observed that, in the second passage, they are commanded to love strangers and foreigners as themselves. Hence it appears that the name of neighbor is not confined to our kindred, or such other persons with whom we are nearly connected, but extends to the whole human race; as Christ shows in the person of the Samaritan, who had compassion on an unknown man, and performed towards him the duties of humanity neglected by a Jew, and even a Levite. (Luke 10:30.)
Leviticus 19:35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment. If you take the word judgment in its strict sense, this will be a special precept, that judges should faithfully do justice to all, and not subvert just causes from favor or ill-will. But since the word משפט, mishpat, often means rectitude, it will not be unsuitable to suppose that all iniquities contrary to integrity are generally condemned; and that he afterwards proceeds to particular cases, which he adverts to elsewhere, where he enumerates the most injurious thefts of all, and such as involve the grossest violation of public justice. For the corruption which tends to the subversion of judgments, or, by undermining rectitude, vitiates all contracts, leaves nothing in security; whilst deception in weights and measures destroys and sweeps away all legitimate modes of dealing. Now, if the laws of buying and selling are corrupted, human society is in a manner dissolved; so that he who cheats by false weights and measures, differs little from him who utters false coin: and consequently one, who, whether as a buyer or seller, has falsified the standard measures of wine or corn, or anything else, is accounted criminal. 103103 “Inter falsarios.” — Lat. “Pour faussaire.” — Fr. By the laws of Rome, 104104 Modest. 1. penult, ad legem Corn. de fals. — C. This law is to be found in Digest. 48, tit. 11, De falsis, 32, “Si venditor mensuras publice probatas vini, frumenti, vel cujuslibet rei, aut emptor corruperit, dolove malo fraudem fecerit, quanti ea res est, ejus dupli condemnatur. Decretoque Divi Hadriani praeceptum est in insulam eos relegari, qui pondera, aut mensuras falsassent.” he is condemned to a fine of double the amount; and by a decree of Adrian, he is to be banished to an island. It is not, therefore, without reason that Solomon reiterates this decree, that he may fix it the deeper in the hearts of all. (Proverbs 20:10, 23.) But although this pestilent sin is by no means to be endured, but to be severely punished, still God, even if legal punishments be not inflicted, summons men’s consciences before His tribunal, and this he does both by promises and threats. A just weight (He says) and a just measure shall prolong a man’s life; but he who has been guilty of deception in them, is an abomination before me. Length of life, indeed, has only a figurative connection with just weights and measures: but, because the avaricious, in their pursuit of dishonest gain, are too devoted to this transitory life, God, in order to withhold His people from this blind and impetuous covetousness, promises them long life, if they keep themselves from fraud and all knavish dealings. We perceive from the conclusion, that, not in this respect only, but in all our affairs, those trickeries are condemned, by which our neighbors are defrauded. For, after God has said that He abominates “all that do such things,” He adds immediately by way of explanation, “all that do unrighteously.” We see, then, that He sets Himself against all evil and illicit arts of gain.
36. I am the Lord your God. In these first four passages he treats of the same points which we have observed in the preface to the Law; for he reasons partly from God’s authority, that the law should be reverently obeyed, because the Creator of heaven and earth justly claims supreme dominion; and, partly, he sets before them the blessing of redemption, that they may willingly submit themselves to His law, from whom they have obtained their safety. For, whenever God calls Himself Jehovah, it should suggest His majesty, before which all ought to be humbled; whilst redemption should of itself produce voluntary submission. At the beginning he repeats the same words which he had lately used; and thence exhorts them to observe His statutes and judgments, i.e., treasure them diligently in their minds. Afterwards he reminds them wherefore they ought attentively to observe the Law, viz, that they may perform the works which God therein requires. Nor is it without a reason that at the end of the second verse He declares Himself to be Jehovah, because it is not easy either to subdue rebellious minds or to retain fickle ones in the fear of God. In the next verse, the qualification “which sanctify you” is added, to arouse them earnestly to prove their gratitude to God, who has by peculiar privilege separated them from the rest of mankind.