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Idolatry Forbidden

19 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

“Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.(A) Each of you shall [a]respect his mother and his father, and you shall keep My Sabbaths; I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods (images cast in metal); I am the Lord your God.

‘Now when you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it and on the day following; and if anything remains until the third day, it shall be burned in the fire. But if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is repulsive; it will not be accepted [by God as an offering]. Everyone who eats it will bear [the responsibility for] his wickedness, for he has profaned a holy thing of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from his people [excluding him from the atonement made for them].

Various Laws

‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings (grain left after reaping) of your harvest. 10 And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather its fallen grapes; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.

11 ‘You shall not steal, nor deal deceptively, nor lie to one another.(B) 12 You shall not swear [an oath] falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.

13 ‘You shall not oppress or exploit your neighbor, nor rob him. You shall not withhold the wages of a hired man overnight until morning. 14 You shall not curse a deaf man nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God [with profound reverence]; I am the Lord.

15 ‘You shall not do injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor show a preference for the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You shall not go around as a gossip among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor [with slander or false testimony]; I am the Lord.

17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you may most certainly rebuke your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.(C) 18 You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself; I am the Lord.(D)

19 ‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear clothing of two kinds of material mixed together.

20 ‘Now if a man has intimate relations with a woman who is a slave acquired for [marriage to] another man, but who has not been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment [after an investigation]; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free; 21 but he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord to the doorway of the Tent of Meeting, a ram as a guilt offering. 22 The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin which he has committed; and he shall be forgiven for his sin.

23 ‘When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall consider their fruit [b]forbidden. For three years the fruit shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all the fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. 25 In the fifth year you may eat the fruit [of the trees], this is so that their yield may increase for you; I am the Lord your God.

26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination [using omens or witchcraft] or soothsaying. 27 You shall not trim and round off the side-growth of [the hair on] your heads, nor mar the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuts on your body [in mourning] for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves; I am the Lord.

29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, so that the land will not fall to prostitution and become full of wickedness. 30 You shall keep My Sabbaths and revere My sanctuary. I am the Lord.

31 ‘Do not turn to mediums [who pretend to consult the dead] or to spiritists [who have spirits of divination]; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

32 ‘You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall fear your God [with profound reverence]; I am the Lord.

33 ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress or mistreat him. 34 But the stranger who resides with you shall be to you like someone native-born among you; and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

35 ‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight or quantity. 36 You shall have just and accurate balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just [c]hin. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 You shall observe and keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them. I am the Lord.’”

On Human Sacrifice and Immoralities

20 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Moreover, you shall say to the children of Israel,

‘Any Israelite or any stranger residing in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech (the god of the Ammonites) [as a human sacrifice] shall most certainly be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will also set My face against that man [opposing him, withdrawing My protection from him] and will cut him off from his people [excluding him from the atonement made for them], because he has given some of his children to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. If the people of the land should ever tolerate that man when he gives any of his children [as a burnt offering] to Molech, and fail to put him to death [as My law requires], then I shall set My face against that man and against his [extended] family, and I will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in [d]playing the prostitute (commit apostasy) with Molech.

‘As for the person who turns to mediums [who consult the dead] or to spiritists, to play the prostitute after them, I shall set My face against that person and will cut him off from his people [excluding him from the atonement made for them].(E) You shall consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep My statutes and do them. I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

‘If anyone curses his father or mother, he shall most certainly be put to death; he has cursed his father or mother; his blood is on him [that is, he bears full responsibility for the consequences].

10 ‘The man who commits adultery with another’s wife, even his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall most certainly be put to death.(F) 11 The man who lies [intimately] with his father’s wife has [e]uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall most certainly be put to death; their blood is on them. 12 If a man lies [intimately] with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall most certainly be put to death; they have committed incest; their blood is on them. 13 If a man lies [intimately] with a male as if he were a woman, both men have committed a detestable (perverse, unnatural) act; they shall most certainly be put to death; their blood is on them. 14 It is immoral and shameful if a man marries a woman and her mother; all three shall be burned in fire, so that there will be no immorality among you.(G) 15 If a man has intimate relations with an animal, he shall most certainly be put to death; you shall kill the animal also. 16 If a woman approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall most certainly be put to death; their blood is on them.

17 ‘If a man takes his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the sons of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he bears [responsibility for] his guilt. 18 If a man lies [intimately] with a woman during her menstrual cycle and uncovers her nakedness, he has exposed her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood; both of them shall be cut off from their people [excluding them from the atonement made for them]. 19 You shall not uncover the nakedness of (have intimate relations with) your mother’s sister or your father’s sister, for such a one has uncovered his blood relative; they will bear their guilt. 20 If there is a man who lies [intimately] with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they will bear their sin. They will die childless. 21 If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is a hated and unclean thing; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They will be childless.

22 ‘Therefore keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out [as it did those before you].(H) 23 You shall not follow the statutes (laws, practices, customs) of the nation which I am driving out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I have loathed them. 24 But I have said to you, “You are to inherit and take possession of their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land [of plenty] [f]flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples (pagan nations). 25 You are therefore to make a distinction between the [ceremonially] clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that crawls on the ground, which I have set apart from you as unclean. 26 You are to be holy to Me; for I the Lord am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples (nations) to be Mine.

27 ‘A man or woman who is a medium [who pretends to consult the dead] or who is a spiritist shall most certainly be put to death, and be stoned with stones; their blood is on them.’”

Regulations concerning Priests

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them:

‘No one shall defile himself [that is, become ceremonially unclean] for the dead among his people [by touching a corpse or assisting in preparing it for burial], except for his relatives who are nearest to him, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, and his brother, also his virgin sister, who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may become unclean. He shall not become unclean as a relative by marriage among his people, and so profane himself. The priests [g]shall not shave their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their body. They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God; for they present the offerings by fire to the Lord, the food of their God; so they shall be holy. They shall not take [as a wife] a woman who is a prostitute, nor a woman who is divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God. You shall consecrate him, therefore, for he offers the food of your God; he shall be holy to you; for I the Lord, who sanctifies you, am holy. The daughter of any priest who profanes herself by prostitution profanes her father; she shall be burned in fire.(I)

10 ‘But he who is the high priest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the [sacred] garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes [in mourning], 11 nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself [by doing so, even] for his father or for his mother; 12 nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane (make ceremonially unclean) the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am the Lord. 13 He shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 He may not marry a widow or a divorced woman or one who is profaned by prostitution, but he is to marry a virgin from his own people,(J) 15 so that he will not profane or dishonor his children among his people; for I am the Lord who sanctifies the high priest.’”

16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Say to Aaron, ‘Throughout their generations none of your descendants who has any [physical] defect shall approach [the altar] to present the food of his God. 18 For no man who has a defect shall approach [God’s altar as a priest]: no man who is blind or lame, or who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19 or a man who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a [physical] defect and is disfigured or deformed is to approach [the altar] to present the offerings of the Lord by fire. He has a defect; he shall not approach [the altar] to present the food of his God. 22 He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go within the veil or approach the altar [of incense], because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries; for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’”(K) 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons, and to all the Israelites.

Footnotes

  1. Leviticus 19:3 Lit fear; the Hebrew can refer to respect or reverence as essentially healthy forms of fear.
  2. Leviticus 19:23 Lit uncircumcised.
  3. Leviticus 19:36 Approx one gallon.
  4. Leviticus 20:5 I.e. abandon the true God for an idol.
  5. Leviticus 20:11 See note 18:7.
  6. Leviticus 20:24 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.
  7. Leviticus 21:5 These practices were mourning customs associated with paganism.