Leviticus 18:6

There are times when and conditions under which it is both our right and our duty to speak on this subject. We may offend delicacy by speech, and must therefore be careful what we say. But we may neglect obligation and opportunity by silence, and must therefore use fitting occasion for speech. There is a time to warn the young against an evil which may slay them with a mortal wound. We may glance, and only glance, at -

I. THE FEARFUL LENGTH TO WHICH IMPURITY MAY PASS. God made man male and female that, related to one another thus, they might be happy in one another's fellowship; that husband, wife, and child might complete the harmony of human life. But for the confusing and disturbing element of sin, there would have been nothing but holy conjugal affection and happy human homes. How dark and sad a contrast to this does society present! How melancholy the thought that impurity should Dot only have tainted so many souls, but should have taken so may forms! that not only have the natural relations of the sexes been too unlimited, too unrestrained, but that sin of this description has taken unnatural, shocking, and abominable forms! that its dark and shameful manifestations are such as we hardly like to Dame, and do not dare to think of (verses 22, 23)! Only a holy compulsion will induce us even to make passing reference to such things. So low, to such dark depths, into such a "far country" of vileness does the sin of impurity extend.

II. THAT GUILTY INDULGENCE IS THE ONLY EXPLANATION OF THIS EVIL PROGRESS. How can such things be? is the simple question of the pure heart. How by any possibility can human nature sink into such a gulf of depravity? How can we account for it that the soul which once knew the innocency of childhood finds an awful pleasure in such shameful deeds? The answer is undoubtedly here. The very possibility of it is a part of the penalty of the sins which have been committed. Sins of impurity leave a stain upon the soul; the seducer has not only to suffer the rebuke of God, the reproaches of the one he has wronged and ruined, and the stings of his own conscience - some day to be awakened, but he has to "bear his iniquity" in a depraved taste, in a stained and injured nature, in a lowered and baser appetite. In this, as in other matters, perhaps more fearfully than in most, "he that sinneth against God wrongeth his own soul" (Proverbs 8:36). Let the man who gives way to impurity remember that he is traveling on a downward course that ends in saddest depravation of soul, and that will leave him open to those more vile temptations which would disgrace and even disgust him now.

III. THE TRUE TREATMENT OF THIS DESTROYING SIN. Trace the evil back from its worst developments to its mildest form; from its fullest crime to its source in the soul. Incest, adultery, fornication, seduction, indecency, indelicate conversation, the impure thought. This last is the source of all. It is that which must be assailed, which must be expelled. In this matter of the relation of the sexes, there are three main truths.

1. God gives to most of us the joy of conjugal love, and this is to be sanctified by being accepted as his gift (James 1:17). Where it is denied we must be well satisfied with other mercies so freely given.

2. Its lasting happiness is only assured to the pure of heart. With all others its excellency will soon fade and die.

3. Therefore let us, by all possible means, guard our purity:

(1) by avoidance of temptation (evil company, wrong literature);

(2) by energetic expulsion of unworthy thoughts;

(3) by realization of the presence of the heart-searching Holy One;

(4) by earnest prayer; let us "keep our heart beyond all keeping," etc. (Proverbs 4:23). - C.

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him.
1. God the institutor of marriage (ver. 6).

2. Faith in Christ not commanded in the law (ver. 5).

3. Of the several kinds of kindred by consanguinity or affinity.

4. Of the computation of the degrees of consanguinity.(1) Consanguinity is a communicating in blood, derived from one stock.(2) Affinity is a respective alliance and kindred which comes in by marriage.(3) A line is a collection of persons coming from the stock.(4) And it is threefold: the right line Ascending, as the father, grandfather; or descending, as the son, &c.; or collateral above, as the father's brother — or in the middle, as brother, sister, uncle's children — or below, as brother's son or daughter, and their sons and daughters.(5) A degree is the distance of persons from the stock.(6) In the right line ascending or descending, there are as many degrees as generations and persons.(7) In the collateral line there are as many degrees as persons.(8) In the collateral line the prohibition is extended to the fourth degree.(9) In the right line ascending and descending, the impediment is perpetual when they are alive or dead, as grounded upon the law of nature.(10) The same degrees are forbidden ascending and descending by the like analogy.(11) The same degrees are restrained by the like analogy in both sexes.(12) Where the degree further off is forbidden, the nearer are inclusively interdicted.

5. Of the computation of the degrees of affinity.(1) In what degree of consanguinity the husband is distant, in the same degree of affinity the wife is removed, because man and wife are one flesh.(2) One person added to another by carnal copulation changes the kind of affinity, not the degree: as the brother's wife is of affinity in the second degree, and first kind; if after she marry another husband, he is in the same degree of affinity, but in the second kind.(3) There are three kinds of affinity — the near, middle, and remote: as the brother's wife is in the first kind, the brother's wife's second husband in the second, the second husband's second wife in the third.(4) Affinity in the first kind is a perpetual impediment.(5) Between such as are of kindred in blood to the husband, and them that are of kin to the wife, there is no affinity to hinder marriage: as, two brothers may marry two sisters.(6) In the degrees of affinity ascending and descending in the right line, the prohibition is infinitely extended without any limitation: as, it is not lawful to marry the wife's daughter's daughter, and so downward, nor the wife's mother, or grandmother, and so upward.(7) In the collateral line, affinity is restrained to the third degree, as to uncle's wife, who is in the same degree of affinity that her husband is in consanguinity.(8) Of the agreements and differences between the degrees of consanguinity and affinity.(1) Agreement.

(a)In what degree one is of consanguinity, the wife or husband is in the same degree of affinity.

(b)The impediment in both continues not only during life but afterward.

(c)The prohibition extends itself in both alike, in the right line ascending and descending without limitation; and in the collateral to the third degree expressly, and by a certain analogy to the fourth.(2) Differences.

(a)The efficient cause of consanguinity is a natural obligation, without any relation to the will and consent of man, in the propagation and the line of consanguinity; but in affinity there is a voluntary bond or obligation by consent in marriage.

(b)Consanguinity is by generation from one, both father and mother; affinity is by the copulation of two. The first is real, the second by relation.

(c)In consanguinity, on both sides the bond holds, both by the father and mother, but the kinsmen of the husband are not of affinity to the kindred of the wife; on the contrary, affinity holds only in the first kind, which changes by a new copulation, though the degree alter not, as the brother's wife's second husband is not properly of affinity; but in consanguinity, the kind and degree hold out together.

6. Marriage of divers wives successively, lawful, though not together (ver. 18).

7. The Scripture most pure, even when it makes mention of impure and obscene things.

(A. Willet, D. D.)

1. To walk constantly in the obedience of God's law (ver. 4).

2. Against the monstrous sin of adultery (ver. 20).

3. Against the unnatural and most abominable sin of bestiality (ver. 23).

4. To profit by other men's examples, and to be warned by their punishments (ver. 25).

5. God not partial in His judgments, and therefore no man should presume (ver. 28).

(A. Willet, D. D.)

By the wording of the Hebrew text a man is permitted to marry his deceased wife's sister, but not to have two sisters for wives at the same time, or one after the other while both are living — this is the logical inference to be drawn from the qualifying addition "in her lifetime"; and yet by the spirit of the Levitical laws, the former alliance also is like an alliance with a sister, and therefore no less objectionable. Such scruples were indeed unknown to the Hebrews of earlier times, since even in Genesis Jacob is represented as the husband of the sisters Rachel and Leah; but they followed with necessity from the severe theory of marriage gradually worked out and adopted. Philo, in the oldest explanation of our law that has come down to us, observes that it is impious for one sister to usurp the place of the other, and to make the misfortune of the latter a stepping-stone of her own happiness; thus bitter jealousies and implacable enmities must be engendered; and it would be as if the different members of the body, abandoning their natural harmony and fellowship, were to quarrel with one another, thus inevitably causing incurable diseases and endless mischief. In this sense the prohibition has commonly been understood, and if the words of our verse alone are weighed, it can hardly be understood otherwise: and yet the matrimonial laws, taken as a whole, were not prompted by considerations of mere expediency, such as the prevention of unsisterly rivalry, since their main object was to warn against alliances between near relations (ver. 6). From whatever side we weigh the question, we cannot help being struck by the incongruity of a code which permits a woman to marry, at least under certain conditions, her sister's husband, but expressly forbids a man to marry his brother's wife. If the wife dies, her husband does not cease to be the brother of that wife's sister; yet practical life seemed to demand some relief from the rigour of abstract logic, and the prohibition was limited to the lifetime of both sisters. It has bee contended that this was a concession analogous to the levirat and the permission of divorce; but the cases are not quite parallel: the Levitical legislators are entirely silent with regard to the levirat and divorce; for in their own time the former was unnecessary, and the latter was strongly opposed by contemporaries, such as Malachi; a direct repeal of the two statutes, known to the people as a part of Deuteronomy, or "the Book of the Law," was unfeasible; and silence on these subjects was sufficiently significant. We need hardly add that these remarks are merely designed to elucidate the meaning and intention of the command, without attempting to decide upon its value or its binding force; the latter points must be left to individual judgment and feeling, which in no other sphere claim greater respect and freedom. The prevailing laws of matrimony may possibly, in the course of time, call for revision; and progress and liberty of action should not be checked by a misconception of Biblical authority. The very verse under consideration affords the strongest proof that the ordinances of the Levitical code are not final and unalterable; for this verse involves the sanction of polygamy, which, not even abrogated by Christ and the apostles, is now regarded by western Jews and Christians not merely as inexpedient, but as immoral. It is well known that from comparatively early times, many chiefs of the Christian Church indeed translated the words of our verse literally, yet weighing the spirit of the law, were strongly opposed to the marriage with the deceased wife's sister. By the Apostolic Canons (about 300) persons contracting such an alliance were for ever incapacitated for clerical functions. The Council of Illiberis (about 305) excluded them from holy communion for five years; St. Basil (375) imposed upon them for seven years the ecclesiastical penalties fixed for adultery; his celebrated letter on the subject proves that, in the Church "a custom equivalent to a law, and handed down by holy men" had been established against such marriages; it was in his time probably that the Septuagint (in Deuteronomy 27:23) received the interpolation found in the Vatican copy of that version, "Cursed be he who lies with his wife's sister"; and similar views were enforced by the emperors Constantius and , Honorius, Theodosius II., and , and by all the leaders of the Greek and Latin Church: the only notable exception is Diodorus, bishop of Tarsus; but he was indignantly opposed by his contemporary St. Basil, who declared that such marriages are indeed permitted to the Jews because they are under the law and all its ceremonial enactments, but not to the free Christians, and asked how the offspring of the two sisters would be related to each other, whether they should be called cousins or brothers, since by a deplorable "confusion" they could claim both names. In England those marriages were forbidden in 1603 by the Convocation of the province of Canterbury in a Canon which has never been formally ratified by Parliament. Dispensations were, however, readily granted in the Roman Church; and since the last century many Protestant theologians and jurists, and among the first those of the pietistic schools, as Philip Jacob Spener, declared marriage with the deceased wife's sister unobjectionable, since the prohibition is not unequivocally enjoined in the Bible. It was disapproved of by the Karaites; but among the bulk of the Jews it has at all times not only been tolerated but encouraged.

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

As the chosen and covenant tribes of Israel were soon to take up their journey to the land of Canaan, the inhabitants of which were to be exterminated for their multifarious iniquities in the sight of God, a recital is here made of some of those aggravated forms of wickedness which were rife among them, and which God had determined signally to punish. This is done not only to illustrate the justice of the Divine proceedings in their excision, but also with a view to put the peculiar people themselves on their guard against yielding to the contagion of their pernicious example, and thus becoming obnoxious to the same fearful retributions which were now about to be visited upon the Canaanites. The particular class of abominations more especially pointed out in this chapter, and to which the brand-mark of the Divine reprobation is so conspicuously affixed, is that of incestuous connections. Not only had that abandoned race been guilty of a total apostacy from the worship of the true God, substituting in His room the sun, and moon, and host of heaven, and bowing down to stocks and stones and creeping things, but they had mingled with their idolatry every vice that could degrade human nature and pollute society. In the black catalogue of these the abominations of lust Stand pre-eminent; and whether in the form of adultery, fornication, incest, sodomy, or bestiality, they had now risen to a pitch of enormity which the forbearance of heaven could tolerate no longer, and of which a shuddering dread was to be begotten in the minds of the people of the covenant. And in order that no possible plea of ignorance or uncertainty might be left in their minds as to those connections which were lawful and those which were forbidden, the Most High proceeds in the present and in the 20th chapter to lay down a number of specific prohibitions on this subject, so framed, as not only to include the extra-nuptial pollutions, which had prevailed among the heathen, but also all those incestuous unions which were inconsistent with the purit and sanctity of the marriage relation. Both classes of crimes we think are in fact included; so that it is doing no violence to the spirit of the text to regard it as containing a system of marriage-laws by which the peculiar people were ever after to be governed. As this is the only passage in the compass of the whole Bible where any formal enactments are given on this subject, this and the connected chapters treating of this theme have always been deemed of peculiar importance in their relations to the question of the lawful degrees within which the marriage connection may now be formed by those who make the law of God the great standard of moral duty.

(G. Bush.)

The wilderness in which they now were was a very fit place for enjoining these laws upon the Israelites, as they were now removed from the snares and temptations of Egypt, and were not yet mingled with the people of Canaan.

(Bp. Kidder.)

The necessity for laws on this point at once discriminating, wise, and stringent, will be sufficiently obvious when we consider the strength of the passion to be controlled — constitutionally common to all ages of the world; the sacredness of the marriage relation and the inestimable value of moral purity in all human society — also common to all ages of the world's history; and (peculiar to the earlier ages) the necessity of defining the limits of consanguinity within which marriage should be prohibited. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that the race having sprung from a single pair and the world having been repeopled a second time from one family, those primitive examples may have sent down for many generations a certain looseness which called for special restraint and a carefully defining law. The crimes of Sodom, their polluting influence in so good a family as that of Lot; the low morals of Egyptian life; some sad manifestations in the early history of Jacob's family; the horrible contagion of Moab and Midian when the tribes of Israel came socially near them; these and kindred facts will be readily recalled as in point to show the necessity of vigorous legislation in the Mosaic code to counteract these untoward influences of their antecedent life and of surrounding society.

(H. Cowles, D. D.).

Israelites, Molech, Moses
Canaan, Egypt, Teman
Anyone, Approach, Blood, Close, Connection, Draw, Flesh, Kin, Nakedness, None, Relation, Relations, Relative, Relatives, Sex, Sexual, Uncover
1. Unlawful marriages and unlawful lusts

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Leviticus 18:6

     5378   law, OT

Leviticus 18:1-22

     5714   men

Leviticus 18:1-24

     8273   holiness, ethical aspects

Leviticus 18:6-18

     5681   family, nature of
     5711   marriage, restrictions

Leviticus 18:6-20

     6189   immorality, examples
     6237   sexual sin, nature of

Leviticus 18:6-23

     6206   offence

Leviticus 18:6-30

     7525   exclusiveness

General Character of Christians.
"And they that are Christ's have crucified the Flesh, with the Affections and Lusts." St. Paul is supposed to have been the first herald of gospel grace to the Galatians; and they appear to have rejoiced at the glad tidings, and to have received the bearer with much respect. But after his departure, certain judaizing teachers went among them, and labored but too successfully, to alienate their affections from him, and turn them form the simplicity of the gospel. The malice and errors of those deceitful
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects

"They have Corrupted Themselves; their Spot is not the Spot of his Children; they are a Perverse and Crooked Generation. "
Deut. xxxii. 5.--"They have corrupted themselves; their spot is not the spot of his children; they are a perverse and crooked generation." We doubt this people would take well with such a description of themselves as Moses gives. It might seem strange to us, that God should have chosen such a people out of all the nations of the earth, and they to be so rebellious and perverse, if our own experience did not teach us how free his choice is, and how long-suffering he is, and constant in his choice.
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Doctrine of Arbitrary Scriptural Accommodation Considered.
"But the Righteousness which is of Faith speaketh on this wise,--Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into Heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep?' (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth; and in thine heart:' that is, the word of Faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from
John William Burgon—Inspiration and Interpretation

Epistle Lxiv. To Augustine, Bishop of the Angli .
To Augustine, Bishop of the Angli [174] . Here begins the epistle of the blessed Gregory pope of the city of Rome, in exposition of various matters, which he sent into transmarine Saxony to Augustine, whom he had himself sent in his own stead to preach. Preface.--Through my most beloved son Laurentius, the presbyter, and Peter the monk, I received thy Fraternity's letter, in which thou hast been at pains to question me on many points. But, inasmuch as my aforesaid sons found me afflicted with the
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

The Two Sabbath-Controversies - the Plucking of the Ears of Corn by the Disciples, and the Healing of the Man with the Withered Hand
IN grouping together the three miracles of healing described in the last chapter, we do not wish to convey that it is certain they had taken place in precisely that order. Nor do we feel sure, that they preceded what is about to be related. In the absence of exact data, the succession of events and their location must be matter of combination. From their position in the Evangelic narratives, and the manner in which all concerned speak and act, we inferred, that they took place at that particular
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the Lord thy God, and do his commandments.' Deut 27: 9, 10. What is the duty which God requireth of man? Obedience to his revealed will. It is not enough to hear God's voice, but we must obey. Obedience is a part of the honour we owe to God. If then I be a Father, where is my honour?' Mal 1: 6. Obedience carries in it the life-blood of religion. Obey the voice of the Lord
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Blessings of Noah Upon Shem and Japheth. (Gen. Ix. 18-27. )
Ver. 20. "And Noah began and became an husbandman, and planted vineyards."--This does not imply that Noah was the first who began to till the ground, and, more especially, to cultivate the vine; for Cain, too, was a tiller of the ground, Gen. iv. 2. The sense rather is, that Noah, after the flood, again took up this calling. Moreover, the remark has not an independent import; it serves only to prepare the way for the communication of the subsequent account of Noah's drunkenness. By this remark,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Meditations for Household Piety.
1. If thou be called to the government of a family, thou must not hold it sufficient to serve God and live uprightly in thy own person, unless thou cause all under thy charge to do the same with thee. For the performance of this duty God was so well pleased with Abraham, that he would not hide from him his counsel: "For," saith God, "I know him that he will command his sons and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Appendix ii. Philo of Alexandria and Rabbinic Theology.
(Ad. vol. i. p. 42, note 4.) In comparing the allegorical Canons of Philo with those of Jewish traditionalism, we think first of all of the seven exegetical canons which are ascribed to Hillel. These bear chiefly the character of logical deductions, and as such were largely applied in the Halakhah. These seven canons were next expanded by R. Ishmael (in the first century) into thirteen, by the analysis of one of them (the 5th) into six, and the addition of this sound exegetical rule, that where two
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The emphasis which modern criticism has very properly laid on the prophetic books and the prophetic element generally in the Old Testament, has had the effect of somewhat diverting popular attention from the priestly contributions to the literature and religion of Israel. From this neglect Leviticus has suffered most. Yet for many reasons it is worthy of close attention; it is the deliberate expression of the priestly mind of Israel at its best, and it thus forms a welcome foil to the unattractive
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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