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Adam Clarke Commentary

Leviticus 26

Introduction

Idolatry forbidden, Leviticus 26:1 . The Sabbath to be sanctified, Leviticus 26:2 -3. Promises to obedience, of fruitful fields, plentiful harvests, and vintage, Leviticus 26:4 -5. Of peace and security, Leviticus 26:6 . Discomfiture of their enemies, Leviticus 26:7 -9. Of abundance, Leviticus 26:10 . Of the divine presence, Leviticus 26:11 -13. Threatenings against the disobedient, Leviticus 26:14 -15. Of terror and dismay, Leviticus 26:16 . Their enemies shall prevail against them, Leviticus 26:17 -18. Of barrenness, Leviticus 26:19 -20. Of desolation by wild beasts, Leviticus 26:21 -22. And if not humbled and reformed, worse evils shall be inflicted upon them, Leviticus 26:23 -24. Their enemies shall prevail, and they shall be wasted by the pestilence, Leviticus 26:25 -26. If they should still continue refractory, they shall be yet more sorely punished, Leviticus 26:27 -28. The famine shall so increase that they shall be obliged to eat their own children, Leviticus 26:29 . Their carcasses shall be cast upon the carcasses of their idols, Leviticus 26:30 . Their cities shall be wasted, and the sanctuary desolated, Leviticus 26:31 ; the land destroyed, Leviticus 26:32 ; themselves scattered among their enemies, and pursued with utter confusion and distress, Leviticus 26:33 -39. If under these judgments they confess their sin and return to God, He will remember them in mercy, Leviticus 26:40 -43; visit them even in the land of their enemies, Leviticus 26:44 ; and remember His covenant with their fathers, Leviticus 26:45 . The conclusion, stating these to be the judgments and laws which the Lord made between himself and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai, Leviticus 26:46 .

Verse 1

Ye shall make you no idols - See note on Exodus 20:4 , and see the note on Genesis 28:18 -19 (note), concerning consecrated stones. Not only idolatry in general is forbidden here, but also the superstitious use of innocent and lawful things. Probably the stones or pillars which were first set up, and anointed by holy men in commemoration of signal interposition of God in their behalf, were afterward abused to idolatrous and superstitious purposes, and therefore prohibited. This we know was the case with the brazen serpent, 2 Kings 18:4 .

Verse 3

If ye walk in my statutes - For the meaning of this and similar words used in the law, See the note on Leviticus 26:15 .

Verse 4

Rain in due season - What in Scripture is called the early and the latter rain. The first fell in Palestine at the commencement of spring, and the latter in autumn - Calmet.

Verse 5

Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage - According to Pliny, Hist. Nat., l. xviii., c. 18, the Egyptians reaped their barley six months, and their oats seven months, after seed time; for they sowed all their grain about the end of summer, when the overflowings of the Nile had ceased. It was nearly the same in Judaea: they sowed their corn and barley towards the end of autumn, and about the month of October; and they began their barley-harvest after the passover, about the middle of March; and in one month or six weeks after, about pentecost, they began that of their wheat. After their wheat-harvest their vintage commenced. Moses here leads the Hebrews to hope, if they continued faithful to God, that between their harvest and vintage, and between their vintage and seed-time, there should be no interval, so great should the abundance be; and these promises would appear to them the more impressive, as they had just now come out of a country where the inhabitants were obliged to remain for nearly three months shut up within their cities, because the Nile had then inundated the whole country. See Calmet. "This is a nervous and beautiful promise of such entire plenty of corn and wine, that before they could have reaped and threshed out their corn the vintage should be ready, and before they could have pressed out their wine it would be time to sow again. The Prophet Amos, Amos 9:13 expresses the same blessing in the same manner: The ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who soweth seed." - Dodd.

Verse 11

I will set my tabernacle among you - This and the following verse contain the grand promise of the Gospel dispensation, viz. the presence, manifestation, and indwelling of God in human nature, and his constant in dwelling in the souls of his followers. So John 1:14 the Word was made flesh, και εσκηνωσεν εν ἡμιν, and Made His Tabernacle among us. And to this promise of the law St. Paul evidently refers, 2 Corinthians 6:16 -18 and 2 Corinthians 7:1

Verse 15

If ye shall despise my statutes - abhor my judgments - As these words, and others of a similar import, which point out different properties of the revelation of God, are frequently occurring, I Judge it best to take a general view of them, once for all, in this place, and show how they differ among themselves, and what property of the Divine law each points out.1. Statutes. חקת chukkoth, from חק chak, to mark out, define, etc. This term seems to signify the things which God has defined, marked, and traced out, that men might have a perfect copy of pure conduct always before their eyes, to teach them how they might walk so as to please him in all things, which they could not do without such instruction as God gives in his word, and the help which he affords by his Spirit.2. Judgments. שפטים shephatim, from שפט shaphat, to distinguish, regulate, and determine; meaning those things which God has determined that men shall pursue, by which their whole conduct shall be regulated, making the proper distinction between virtue and vice, good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice; in a word, between what is proper to be done, and what is proper to be left undone.3. Commandments. מצות mitsvoth, from צוה tsavah, to command, ordain, and appoint, as a legislator. This term is properly applied to those parts of the law which contain the obligation the people are under to act according to the statutes, judgments, etc., already established, and which prohibit them by penal sanctions from acting contrary to the laws.4. Covenant. ברית berith, from בר bar, to clear, cleanse, or purify; because the covenant, the whole system of revelation given to the Jews, was intended to separate them from all the people of the earth, and to make them holy. Berith also signifies the covenant-sacrifice, which prefigured the atonement made by Christ for the sin of the world, by which he purifies believers unto himself, and makes them a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Besides those four, we may add the following, from other places of Scripture.5. Testimonies. עדות edoth, from עד ad, beyond, farther, besides; because the whole ritual law referred to something farther on or beyond the Jewish dispensation, even to that sacrifice which in the fullness of time was to be offered for the sins of men. Thus all the sacrifices, etc., of the Mosaic law referred to Christ, and bore testimony to him who was to come.6. Ordinances. משמרות mishmaroth, from שמר shamar, to guard, keep safe, watch over; those parts of Divine revelation which exhorted men to watch their ways, keep their hearts, and promised them, in consequence, the continual protection and blessing of God their Maker.7. Precepts. פקודים pikkudim, from פקד pakad, to overlook, take care or notice of, to visit; a very expressive character of the Divine testimonies, the overseers of a man's conduct, those who stand by and look on to see whether he acts according to the commands of his Master; also the visitors, because God's precepts are suited to all the circumstances of human life; some are applicable in adversity, others in prosperity; some in times of temptation and sadness, others in seasons of spiritual joy and exultation, etc., etc. Thus they may be said to overlook and visit man in all times, places, and circumstances.8. Truth. אמת emeth, from אם am, to support, sustain, confirm; because God is immutable who has promised, threatened, commanded, and therefore all his promises, threatenings, commandments, etc., are unalterable and eternal. Error and falsity promise to direct and sustain, but they fail. God's word is supported by his own faithfulness, and it supports and confirms them who conscientiously believe it.9. Righteousness. צדקה tsedakah, from צדק which, though not used as a verb in the Hebrew Bible, seems to convey, from its use as a noun, the idea of giving just weight or good measure, see Leviticus 19:36 . This is one of the characters which is attributed to the revelation God makes of himself; (see Psalms 119:137 -144; and by this the impartiality of the Divine testimonies is pointed out. God gives to all their due, and his word distributes to every man according to his state, circumstances, talents, graces, etc.; to none too much, to none too little, to all enough.10. Word Of Jehovah. דבר יהוה debar Yehovah, from דבר, dabar, to drive, lead, bring forward, hence to bring forward, or utter one's sentiments; so the word of God is what God has brought forth to man from his own mind and counsel; it is a perfect similitude of his own righteousness, holiness, goodness, and truth. This Divine law is sometimes expressed by: - 11. אמרה imrah, speech or word, variously modified from אמר amar, to branch out, because of the interesting details into which the word of God enters in order to instruct man and make him wise unto salvation, or, as the apostle expresses it, "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets," πολυμερως και πολυτροπως, in many distinct parcels, and by various tropes or figures; a curious and elegant description of Divine revelation; Hebrews 1:1 .12. All these collectively are termed the Law תורה torah, or תורת יהוה torath Yehovah, the law of the Lord, from ירה yarah, to direct, set straight and true, as stones in a building, to teach and instruct, because this whole system of Divine revelation is calculated to direct men to the attainment of present and eternal felicity, to set them right in their notions concerning the supreme God, to order and adjust them in the several departments of civil and religious society, and thus to teach and instruct them in the knowledge of themselves, and in the true knowledge of God. Thus those who receive the truth become the city of the living God - the temple of the Most High, built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. To complete this description of the word law, See the note on Exodus 12:49 , where other properties of the law of God are specified.

Verse 16

I will even appoint over you terror, etc. - How dreadful is this curse! A whole train of evils are here personified and appointed to be the governors of a disobedient people. Terror is to be one of their keepers. How awful a state! to be continually under the influence of dismay, feeling indescribable evils, and fearing worse! Consumption, שחפת shachepheth, generally allowed to be some kind of atrophy or marasmus, by which the flesh was consumed, and the whole body dried up by raging fever through lack of sustenance. See the note on Leviticus 11:16 . How circumstantially were all these threatenings fulfilled in this disobedient and rebellious people! Let a deist read over this chapter and compare it with the state of the Jews since the days of Vespasian, and then let him doubt the authenticity of this word if he can.

Verse 22

I will also send wild beasts among you - God fulfilled these threatenings at different times. He sent fiery Serpents among them, Numbers 21:6 ; Lions, 2 Kings 17:25 ; Bears, 2 Kings 2:24 , and threatened them with total desolation, so that their land should be overrun with wild beasts, etc., see Ezekiel 5:17 . "Spiritually," says Mr. Ainsworth, "these are wicked rulers and tyrants that kill and spoil, Proverbs 28:15 ; Daniel 7:3 -6; Psalms 80:13 ; and false prophets that devour souls, Matthew 7:15 ; Revelation 13:1 , etc. So the prophet, speaking of their punishment by tyrants, says: A Lion out of the forest shall slay them; a Wolf of the evening shall spoil them; a Leopard shall watch over their cities; every one that goeth out thence shall be torn to pieces, because their transgressions be many. And of their prophets it is said: O Israel, thy prophets are like Foxes in the deserts, Ezekiel 13:4 ; Jeremiah 8:17 ; Jeremiah 15:3 ."

Verse 26

Ten women shall bake your bread in one oven - Though in general every family in the East bakes its own bread, yet there are some public bakehouses where the bread of several families is baked at a certain price. Moses here foretells that the desolation should be so great and the want so pressing that there should be many idle hands to be employed, many mouths to be fed, and very little for each: Ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, etc.

Verse 29

Ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, etc. - This was literally fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, book vii., chap. ii., gives us a particular instance in dreadful detail of a woman named Mary, who, in the extremity of the famine during the siege, killed her sucking child, roasted, and had eaten part of it when discovered by the soldiers! See this threatened, Jeremiah 19:9 (note).

Verse 34

Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths - This Houbigant observes to be a historical truth - "From Saul to the Babylonish captivity are numbered about four hundred and ninety years, during which period there were seventy Sabbaths of years; for 7, multiplied by 70, make 490. Now the Babylonish captivity lasted seventy years, and during that time the land of Israel rested. Therefore the land rested just as many years in the Babylonish captivity, as it should have rested Sabbaths if the Jews had observed the laws relative to the Sabbaths of the land." This is a most remarkable fact, and deserves to be particularly noticed, as a most literal fulfillment of the prophetic declaration in this verse: Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land. May it not be argued from this that the law concerning the Sabbatical year was observed till Saul's time, as it is only after this period the land enjoyed its rest in the seventy years' captivity? And if that breach of the law was thus punished, may it not be presumed it had been fulfilled till then, or else the captivity would have lasted longer, i. e., till the land had enjoyed all its rests, of which it had ever been thus deprived?

Verse 38

The land of your enemies shall eat you up - Does this refer to the total loss of the ten tribes? These are so completely swallowed up in some enemies' land, that nothing concerning their existence or place of residence remains but mere conjecture.

Verse 44

Neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly - Though God has literally fulfilled all his threatenings upon this people in dispossessing them of their land, destroying their polity, overturning their city, demolishing their temple, and scattering themselves over the face of the whole earth; yet he has, in his providence, strangely preserved them as a distinct people, and in very considerable numbers also. He still remembers the covenant of their ancestors, and in his providence and grace he has some very important design in their favor. All Israel shall yet be saved, and, with the Gentiles, they shall all be restored to his favor; and under Christ Jesus, the great Shepherd; become, with them, one grand everlasting fold.

Verse 46

These are the statutes, and judgments, etc. - See on Leviticus 26:15 (note). This verse appears to be the proper concluding verse of the whole book; and I rather think that the 27th chapter originally followed the 25th. As the law was anciently written upon skins of parchment, sheep or goat skins, pasted or stitched together, and all rolled up in one roll, the matter being written in columns, one of those columns might have been very easily displaced, and thus whole chapters might have been readily interchanged - It is likely that this might have been the case in the present instance. Others endeavor to solve this difficulty, by supposing that the 27th chapter was added after the book had been finished; and therefore there is apparently a double conclusion, one at the end of the 26th and the other at the end of the 27th chapter. However the above may have been, all the ancient versions agree in concluding both the chapters in nearly the same way; yet the 26th chapter must be allowed to be by far the most natural conclusion of the book. The most important points in this chapter have already been particularly noticed in the notes; and to those on the 15th, 34th, and 44th verses, the reader is especially referred. How unwilling is God to cast off his people! and yet how sure is their rejection if they refuse to obey and live to him! No nation has ever been so signally elected as the Jews; and yet no nation has ever been so signally and so awfully reprobated. O Britain, be not high-minded, but fear! Behold here the goodness and severity of God!

Leviticus 26


  1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
  2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
  3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
  4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
  5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
  6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
  7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
  8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
  9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
  10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
  11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
  12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
  13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
  14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
  15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
  16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
  17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
  18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
  19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
  20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
  21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
  22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
  23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
  24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
  25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
  26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
  27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
  28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
  29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
  30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
  31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.
  32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
  33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
  34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
  35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
  36 And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.
  37 And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
  38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
  39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
  40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
  41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
  42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
  43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
  44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.
  45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.
  46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

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