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Ritual and Moral Holiness


The L ord spoke to Moses, saying:

2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the L ord your God am holy. 3You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the L ord your God. 4Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the L ord your God.

5 When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to the L ord, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable in your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day; and anything left over until the third day shall be consumed in fire. 7If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination; it will not be acceptable. 8All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to the L ord; and any such person shall be cut off from the people.

9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the L ord your God.

11 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the L ord.

13 You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the L ord.

15 You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the L ord.

17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the L ord.

19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.

20 If a man has sexual relations with a woman who is a slave, designated for another man but not ransomed or given her freedom, an inquiry shall be held. They shall not be put to death, since she has not been freed; 21but he shall bring a guilt offering for himself to the L ord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram as guilt offering. 22And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of guilt offering before the L ord for his sin that he committed; and the sin he committed shall be forgiven him.

23 When you come into the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall regard their fruit as forbidden; three years it shall be forbidden to you, it must not be eaten. 24In the fourth year all their fruit shall be set apart for rejoicing in the L ord. 25But in the fifth year you may eat of their fruit, that their yield may be increased for you: I am the L ord your God.

26 You shall not eat anything with its blood. You shall not practice augury or witchcraft. 27You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the L ord.

29 Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, that the land not become prostituted and full of depravity. 30You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the L ord.

31 Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them: I am the L ord your God.

32 You shall rise before the aged, and defer to the old; and you shall fear your God: I am the L ord.

33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the L ord your God.

35 You shall not cheat in measuring length, weight, or quantity. 36You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the L ord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them: I am the L ord.

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.

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