This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Leviticus 18:19-30 — Other Prohibitions

 "19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness. 20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her. 21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. 22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: 27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God." — Leviticus 18:19 KJV.


19. Thou shalt not approach — This verse forbids contracting the ceremonial impurity specified in Leviticus 15:19, 25. See notes. In Leviticus 20:18, the penalty of death is denounced against both parties to the offence. See note.

20. Thy neighbour’s wife — This is a repetition of the seventh commandment, in another form, for the purpose of emphasis and of completing the enumeration of abominations prevalent in Egypt and Canaan. This verse prohibits not only adultery proper, or double adultery, as some laws define this crime, in two married persons, (see Exodus 20:14, note,) but also one species of single adultery. Defile thyself — This is moral and ceremonial pollution.  

21. Seed pass through the fire — Those Semitic nations that burned their children upon the funeral pyre, when they would spare their lives let them pass through the fire. The word fire is supplied from Deuteronomy 18:10. This prohibits the burning of children in honour of Molech, or Moloch, the fire-god, called in Deuteronomy 12:31, simply אֱלֹהִים  (elohim), gods. He was a Canaanitish god, easily identified by the philologist with Melkarth, Malcham, Baal-melech, and other such names as appear in Carthagenian and Phenician mythology. He was propitiated by the sacrifice of children. The service of this fire-god had spread in the lands bounding Egypt on the east. We infer from this rigid prohibition that this cultus had even at this time penetrated into the camp of Israel. Since idolatry is regarded as whoredom, it is appropriately mentioned in this connexion. See chap. xvii, note. Properly speaking, this worship symbolized the purification of the soul after destroying its earthly dross, and consequently its immortality. To sustain this horrid and unnatural practice the idolatrous Hebrews quoted Numbers 31:23. The children were first slain (Ezekiel 16:20, 21) and then burned on a mound, built up in the valley of Hinnom, called, in Jeremiah 19:5, “the high places of Baal,” with whom Moloch is once identified. He is commonly identified with the Moabitish Chemosh. The name Moloch, written without the points, is the same as Melek, king, and is translated by the Seventy as a common noun, ἄρχων. This confusion of terms is supposed to cover up a widespread worship of this grim divinity. Thus Isaiah 30:33 may be read, “For Tophet is ordained of old, yea, for Moloch it is prepared.” Most of the Jewish interpreters have endeavoured to soften this worship by saying that the children were not burned, but made to pass between two burning pyres, as a purifying rite. But the slaughter of the innocents is evident from 2 Chronicles 28:3; Psalm 106:37, 38; Jeremiah 7:31. Kimchi describes the image of Moloch as set within seven chapels, the outer ones being opened to those who brought annual sacrifices, but the inner one, enshrining the idol, was opened only to him who offered his son. This may explain the tabernacle of Moloch in Acts 7:43. According to Diodorus Siculus the hands of the image of the Carthagenian Kronos stretched forth like a man about to receive something of his neighbour. When it was heated with fire the priests took the babe and put it into the hands of their Moloch, and the babe gave up the ghost, while the priests drowned its screams by beating drums. The Israelite who became a votary of Moloch was to be stoned. Leviticus 20:3. Neither… profane the name of thy God — This forbids the irreverent use of the divine name. The Hebrews understood it as prohibiting the pronunciation of Jehovah, the sacred tetragrammaton, יהוה, the correct pronunciation of which was lost in consequence. See Leviticus 24:10-14, notes.

22. Lie with mankind, as with womankind — The whole heathen world, according to St. Paul, (Romans 1:27, note,) corroborated by the ancient historians and all modern travellers, was more or less addicted to the disgusting vice of paederastia, or boy love, a crime against nature, “male on male performing the unseemliness,” which Christianity has banished. To this loathsome form of sensuality Roman poets once unblushingly sung praises. Read Virgil’s Second Eclogue. Abomination — The Hebrew word occurs one hundred and sixteen times, and always expresses the loathsome and disgusting aspects of crimes and criminals.

23. With any beast — Let him who denies the inherent depravity of man study this prohibition. This prohibition implies the sacredness and dignity of human nature, inasmuch as the abomination was punished by death. In Egypt women publicly submitted themselves to goats. Nor has unregenerate nature entirely outgrown its dreadful downward tendency. In modern Egypt men lie even with female crocodiles. (Sonnini, R. 11, p. 330.) The heathen generally have no moral abhorrence for this crime. The Revised Statutes of Massachusetts, a foremost Christian State, contains this law: “Whoever commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature, either with mankind or with any beast, shall be punished in the State prison not exceeding twenty years.” Confusion — Hebrew תֶּ֥בֶל (tebhel), pollution or profanation.

25. The land itself — Canaan. Vomiteth — By a striking personification the very ground on which these abominations are enacted, like the stomach of a sick man, figuratively ejects the perpetrators of these filthy deeds.

26. The stranger in all his moral conduct must be coerced into obedience. In his speculative religious beliefs he was left free. This was three thousand years before Roger Williams. In Deuteronomy 14:21 the alien was left more at liberty in eating, and the Hebrew in selling to him the flesh of the animal that died of itself.

28. Spew not you out also — The impartial justice of the moral government of Jehovah here flashes out in prophetic warning to the nation called to be the peculiar people of God. Like sins will be invariably followed by like punishments. See Joshua 6:21, note. The fact that this passage assumes the occupation of the land of Canaan by Israel does not argue that it is a supplementary remark of a writer after that event, as the “higher criticism” avers, for the words are the words of Jehovah directing Moses what he is to say to the children of Israel.

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