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.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Levitius 18:1-5 — The Vices of Egypt Prohibited

"1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. 3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. 4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. 5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD." —  Leviticus 18:1-5 KJV.


All nations which reject God, the fountain of spiritual joy, turn with eagerness to the fetid pools of sensual pleasures to satisfy their thirsty souls. The sexual nature, one of the chief sources of such pleasures, is stimulated to the highest degree, and often to an activity unnatural and bestial. This is the striking feature of paganism, however advanced in civilization, as in Egypt. The era of the greatest intellectual splendour in Greece, when Athens sat queen of the arts and Corinth queen of commerce, was the period of the most widespread licentiousness. See Romans 1:24-32. The Hebrews, chosen as they were to be the people of the holy God, needed special safeguards against this degrading form of sin. This chapter prohibits the vices of Egypt and Canaan, (1-5,) incestuous marriages, (6-18,) and unlawful lusts. Verses 19-30.  THE VICES OF EGYPT AND CANAAN PROHIBITED, 1-5.

2. I am the Lord — In giving commandments, the authority of the Lawgiver is made prominent. See Leviticus 11:44, note.

3. After the doings of… Egypt — The Israelites appear during the oppression, for the most part, to have adopted the religion of their masters, (Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7, 8,) and, of course, were morally defiled. Ashtoreth, the oriental Venus, was worshipped in Memphis with all the pollutions attendant upon such a cultus, as is shown by a tablet recently discovered. The sculptures and paintings of the tombs give a very full insight into the domestic life of the ancient Egyptians, as exhibited by Sir G. Wilkinson. Licentious and naked festal dances are conspicuous in the stony record, exactly corroborating Exodus 32:25. Concubines, or trains of inferior wives, also appear on the tablets. The gross and unnatural vices of the Egyptians are hinted at in this chapter. After the doings of… Canaan — Outside of the Old Testament we have no clew to the manners or customs of this people; but within, the sacred annals are abundant proofs of the moral abominations by which the land was defiled. Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 12:30, 31. Whither I bring you — These words point to the sojourn in the wilderness prior to the occupation of Canaan; and they are an insuperable objection to the theory that the Levitical legislation was an invention of crafty men centuries after Moses died. Ordinances — The extent and pervasiveness of Canaanitish depravity may be inferred from the fact that their very laws, in which moral purity lingers longest, had been changed from guardians of virtue to patrons of vice.

4. Judgments — Judicial utterances or legal precepts.

5. If a man do, he shall live — This important sentence contains the whole doctrine of justification by works. It is rendered more correctly and more emphatically in Ezekiel 20:11, 13, 21, “he shall even live.” “The precepts of the law,” says Aquinas, “are not concerning things to be believed, but concerning things to be done.” Nevertheless, acceptable doing implies faith, while evangelical believing includes the subsequent doing of the will of God as the fruit of faith. As regards the life here promised, the Jewish interpreters themselves included in it more than mere earthly felicity in Canaan, (Deuteronomy 30:20,) and extended their view to a better life hereafter. The Palestine Targum renders it, “he shall live in them in the life of eternity;” that of Onkelos, “an everlasting life.” Says Tholuck, “Life seems to be a general promise, and length of days a particular species of felicity. In the New Testament this idea (of life) is always exalted into that of life blessed and eternal. See Matthew 7:14; 18:8, 9; Luke 10:28.” Hence this is a plain intimation of the doctrine of a future life in the Pentateuch, which is denied by some superficial readers. St. Paul found “to be unto death” “the commandment which was ordained to life,” just as the murderer on the scaffold finds that the law against murder, designed to protect life, when transgressed, is “unto death.” The design and normal tendency of the law is life; but through man’s imperfection and disobedience the actual result is death. See Galatians 3:21, note, and John 11:25, note. In them — He shall live in the strength of, or by means of, these laws, in the faithful keeping of which is his fountain of life. But “he is a debtor to do the whole law.” Failure to do this renders “all the world guilty before God.”


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