Leviticus 24:18
Whoever kills an animal must make restitution--life for life.
A Suggestive EpisodeW. Clarkson Leviticus 24:10-16, 23
Shelomith's SonJ.A. Macdonald Leviticus 24:10-23
The Law of DeathR.A. Redford Leviticus 24:10-23
Public Justice Secured by the Law of RetaliationR.M. Edgar Leviticus 24:17-22
The Holy Law of GodW. Clarkson Leviticus 24:17-22

Leviticus 24:17-22
cf. Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:19-21. There is here presented to us, as a law upon which Israel was to act, the principle of retaliation. And yet we have seen in the moralities of Leviticus 19:17, 18, an express denunciation of revenge. How are we to reconcile this retaliation commanded with the revenge which is forbidden? Evidently the retaliation is to be deliberate, in cool blood, without the fever-heat of vengeance. Now, when we bear in mind the early age to which this law of retaliation was given, an age when the institution of public justice was rudimentary in character, then we can understand how very important a check it was on the lawlessness to which men are naturally tempted. Of course, when public justice has developed itself into a wide and vigilant system, the necessity for each man taking the law into his own hand ceases. Then it becomes a crime against law to usurp its functions; it only increases lawlessness to attempt for one's self what the organized state willingly undertakes for you. But in rude ages it is eminently desirable that savage spirits should contemplate as a dead certainty getting as much as they give. Let us notice one or two points.

I. THE LAW OF RETALIATION., ADMINISTERED IN A JUDICIAL SPIRIT, WAS IN THE INTERESTS OF JUSTICE AND ORDER. Its principle is a sound one. The criminal is to get exactly what he gave. It is only in this way that the nature of a crime can be driven home to a rude and tyrannical nature. If he has been cruel to a neighbour, let him taste the effect himself of the same amount of cruelty. A man who victimizes his neighbours will cease doing so if he finds that he is to be victimized in exactly the same fashion by public law. In fact, he comes to consider his own case as bound up most intimately with his neighbours', and, instead of indulging in cruelty, he by his better conduct ensures his personal peace. And a distinct corollary of this law of retaliation is the penalty of murder (verses 17, 21). If a man deliberately puts his brother out of life, it is an injury which admits of no repair, and so death becomes its just penalty.

II. THE LAW OF RETALIATION IS IN ONE RESPECT A PREPARATION FOB THE GOLDEN RULE. For the golden rule runs parallel to it. It is, so to speak, its glorious issue. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12). Yes, this very law of retaliation suggests to every thoughtful mind whether it would not be better to try the opposite plan, and do to others, not what we should be afraid they would do to us, but what we would like them to do to us. In other words, let us wisely win the good services of others, if we are to receive what we give, by doing all to them and. for them that we would welcome ourselves. And indeed, the reason why the golden rule does not prevail as widely as it might, is because immediate justice is not now executed as in the case of a law of retaliation it is. The return of kindness is often impeded by ingratitude, and men may do good to others for a long lifetime without receiving much thanks. But such an arrangement gives a field for faith and courage, such as a government of instantaneous justice could not secure. In truth, we should become mere mercenaries if the golden rule involved instantaneous returns. Now, however, we must rely on the wide range of providence, and believe that in the end it will prove wisest and best to have treated our neighbour as we would like to be treated ourselves.

III. IN CULTIVATING THE SPIRIT OF LOVE TOWARDS EVEN OUR ENEMIES, WE ARE BUT FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. For while re-enforcing the courage of his people in rude ages by commanding retaliation, he was himself at the same time making his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). He was not dealing with men after their sins, nor rewarding them according to their iniquities (Psalm 103:10). Not only in Nature, with its dignified refusal to be a respecter of persons, but also in his sacrificial worship, was God dealing with his enemies so as to make them his friends. He was pursuing even then the policy of overcoming evil by good (Romans 12:21). Such laws as retaliation, resting on inexorable justice, did something to check sin; but only love and goodness can overcome it. Hence the spirit of the old dispensation, while hostile to sin, as the outcome of a holy God must be, had an undertone of love and mercy. God, in fact, was practicing all the time his own golden rule. He was doing by men what he wanted men to do by him. In some cases this succeeded, for this is the substance of the Divine appeal in the gospel of Christ, as it was the undertone of the preliminary law; in some cases it failed through the waywardness of men. Still, the golden rule is the spirit of the Divine administration, and will be till the present dispensation is finished. Then must the great Governor deal with the impenitent in the way of strictest justice, since they will not yield to his dying love. The rhythm of the ages will be maintained; if the wrath of man is not turned to praise by the exercise of love, it must be restrained by the exercise of the cool and deliberate infliction of deserved wrath. - R.M.E.

Blasphemed the name of the Lord.
"Swearing is a sin that hath more malignancy in it against God, by how much the less is the temptation to it," says Burroughs; and adds, "I verily believe that if God had never made the Third Commandment, there could never have been so many oaths in the world; but it springs from a mere malignancy of spirit in man against God because He has forbidden, for no profit can arise from the practice." Yet, while "no profit" comes to the blasphemer, great ill and grief are thereby caused to others.

I. THE HISTORIC INTEREST OF THIS INCIDENT. This act of blasphemy, and the judgment which it called forth on the sinner —

1. Brought out clearly that the name of the Lord was Israel's most solemn trust.

2. Introduced the significant custom of avoiding the very use of the name of the Lord. Certainly this may admonish us against an undue freeness in the use of the august name either in pious speech or effusive prayer.


1. The crime defined. Blasphemy is calumny and insult against the holy God, uttered with the intention to defame Him. It not only expresses the hatred of Him in the speaker's own heart, but aims at awakening in his hearer's mind an equal loathing of Jehovah and all His claims. It is held up in Scripture as an assault upon the dignity and sanctity of God's name (Psalm 74:18; Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24).

2. The root of the sin. This must be traced to the vileness of the human heart, and its natural enmity to God (cf. Matthew 15:19). It should be noticed also as being the outgrowth of folly and pride (see 2 Kings 19:22; Psalm 74:18). Of all sins, blasphemy is an indication of a mind mad with impiety.

3. Its great offensiveness to God and man. How hateful to God is evident from the penalties inflicted (see v. 16 and cf. Isaiah 65:7; Ezekiel 20:27-32; Ezekiel 35:11, 12; Matthew 12:31, 32), how hurtful to man is manifest from Psalm 44:15, 16; Psalm 74:10, 18, 22. They who revere "this glorious and fearful name, The Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:58) are distressed at its profanation. Louis IX. of France branded swearers' lips with a hot iron for this offence, and when some complained that the punishment was too severe, he replied, "I could wish that by searing my own lips I could banish all profanity from my realm."


1. An ungoverned tongue.

2. Passionate contention and strife.

3. An unsanctified heart.

(W. H. Jellie.)

I. THE EVIL RESULTING FROM CONNECTION WITH THE UNGODLY, "whose father was an Egyptian" — said by the Rabbins to be the man whom Moses killed.

II. The danger ARISING FROM INDULGENCE IN PASSIONATE ANGER: "strove"; the blasphemy was uttered in a quarrelsome passion.

III. THE BLASPHEMY which, in this case, RESULTED FROM SUCH INDULGENCE. "Cursed" the holy name of Jehovah; which, the Israelites claimed, belonged to none but Israelites.


(W. Wayland, B. A.)

I. His PERSON. He is said to be the son of an Egyptian by an Israelitish woman. His father was one of that mixed multitude which came out of Egypt with Israel (Exodus 12:38), whom this woman married as many other women then married Egyptian men, to decline their rage and fury. For at that time the law prohibiting marriages with the heathen was not given them, and some charitably say he was a seeming proselyte; it is more probable that as his mother taught him to speak his father taught this his son to blaspheme.

II. THE OCCASION. He was of a quarrelsome, boisterous, and passionate temper, which demonstrates the danger of mixed marriages. For children, like the conclusion of a syllogism, follow the worst part.

III. His HEINOUS ACTION. He both blasphemed and cursed. In the heat and height of contention, what will not graceless persons both say and do? If this man was drunk, it was with frenzy, which made him belch forth blasphemies and horrid execrations out of his black mouth, and blacker gipsy heart.

1. He blasphemed ("Nakab," Hebrew signifies "perforate," to bore through). Thus blasphemers do pierce and strike through the sacred and tremendous name of God. Such diabolical wretches would both "bore" His name and" gore " His person if they could.

2. He cursed ("Kalal," Hebrew signifies "leviter de aliquo loqui,"to vilify and scoff at). Thus he set at naught the God of Israel, against whom, it seems, his quarrel was (saith )more than against that Israelite he quarrelled with. Thus he (like those three unnatural sons, that tried their archery which could shoot nearest their father's heart) shot his arrows at God and cursed himself. Cursing men are cursed men; such dogs come not into heaven by barking (1 Corinthians 6:9, &c.; Revelation 22:15).


1. He was apprehended as a grand malefactor, even against God Himself; impeaching the Divine honour by blasphemy and cursing out of a deep intestine malignity.

2. This capital offender is carried away to Moses, the chief magistrate, who soon committed him to custody, and probably confined him with chains and fetters; for it is improbable there could properly be any strong prisons in the wilderness, where they lived only in tents. Though Moses might have put him to death by virtue of that law against cursing father, &c. (Exodus 21:17), but the crime being very heinous against God Himself, as he used to do in other arduous cases, so in this he consults with God for a condign punishment.

3. God, the judge of all the earth, denounces his doom, "He shall be stoned": a punishment answerable to his stony heart. Let those that teach their tongues to lie, swear, curse, and blaspheme by a daily custom, consider this severe sentence of God, and what danger hangeth over their heads every day.

4. The people stone him, for —

1. It was a common quarrel to vindicate the contempt cast upon their common Benefactor, from whom they had their being and well-being.

2. That by executing this severity, they might be cautioned from committing the like abominable crime. Thus the reason is rendered, "That all Israel may fear" (Deuteronomy 13:11). And —

3. This was a means to pacify God, by putting away that evil (both person and thing) from among them; whereas His anger would have been incensed against them, had they permitted the blasphemer to pass unpunished. And whereas God had not as yet made a particular law against blasphemy; now upon this particular occasion a general law is here superadded for punishing blasphemers in all succeeding ages (vers. 15, 16).And God ordained also, that the witnesses who heard him blaspheme should lay their hands upon his head when he was to be stoned.

1. To confirm their testimony and the truth of it, that they did not, by slander, take away his innocency, nor, by murder, his life.

2. That his blood might be upon his own head, and that they were not guilty of his sin. If so —

3. It was a kind of imprecation, that they might suffer the same severity (so Deuteronomy 17:7, 12; Deuteronomy 19:20, &c., shows).

4. This sacrifice of justice expiates wrath from the survivors.

(C. Ness.)

It is striking to notice that in the Hebrew text it is only said that he blasphemed "The name"; what that was being left unwritten. On this omission the later Jews grounded their prohibition of the use of the word Jehovah, under almost any circumstances. "Those who utter the name of God according to its sound," says the Talmud, "have no position in the world to come." The priests might use it in the Temple services, but even they were not to let it cross their lips elsewhere. In the Hebrew Bible the vowels of the word Adonai, "Lord," are placed below it, and in the Greek it is always suppressed, the word Kurios, "Lord," being used in its place; a practice followed by the English version. Traces of this aversion to utter the Divine name occur early in the Old Testament, as where it is withheld from Jacob at Peniel, and from Mauoah. This dread of using the special name of the Deity characterised antiquity from the earliest ages, through the belief that it expressed the awful mysteries of the Divine essence, and was too holy to be breathed. Thus the "name of God is in the angel," who was to lead Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 23. 21), and the Temple was to be built for "the name" (2 Samuel 7:13), but in neither case is it given. Such reverence, just in itself, early led, however, to many superstitions. The knowledge of the secret name of any god or angel was thought to convey, to him who knew it, the control of their supernatural powers. He who discovered the hidden name of the god Ea, of the Accadians, became invested with attributes higher than those of the gods. The name, in fact, was regarded as a personification of its owner, with which was indissolubly connected the possession of his essential characteristics. Thus the Romans used the word "numen" for a divinity, by a mere play on the word "nomen," "a name." Among the Egyptians there was a god whose name it was unlawful to utter; and it was forbidden to name or to speak of the supreme guardian divinity of Rome. Even to mention a god's name in taking an oath was deemed irreverent. In the book of Henock a secret magic power is ascribed to the Divine name, and "it upholds all things which are." Men learned it through the craft of the evil angel, Kesbeel, who in heaven, before he was cast out, gained it by craft from Michael, its original guardian. Nor did the ancient world, alone, regard a name as thus potent. The Scandinavians firmly believed that if that of a fighting warrior were spoken out loud, his strength would immediately depart from him, for his name was his very essence. At this day, moreover, the true name of the Emperor of China is kept a profound secret, never to be uttered — perhaps to impress his subjects with his unapproachable elevation above common mortals.

(C. Geikie, D. D.)

There is not a sin in all the catalogue that is so often peremptorily and suddenly punished in this world as the sin of profanity. There is not a city or a village but can give an illustration of a man struck down at the moment of inprecation. At New Brunswick, U.S., just before I went there as a student, this occurrence took place in front of the college. On the rail-track a man had uttered a horrible oath. He saw not that the rail-train was coming. The locomotive struck him and instantly dashed his life out. The peculiarity of the circumstance was that the physicians examining his body found hardly a bruise, except that his tongue was cut out! There was no mystery about it. He cursed God and died. In Scotland a club assembled every week for purposes of wickedness, and there was a competition as to which could use the most profane oath, and the man who succeeded was to be president of the club. The competition went on. A man uttered an oath which confounded all his comrades, and he was made president of the club. His tongue began to swell, and it protruded from the mouth, and he could not draw it in, and he died, and the physicians said, "This is the strangest thing we ever saw: we never saw any account in the books like unto it: we cannot understand it." I understand it. He cursed God and died. At Catskill, N.Y., a group of men stood in a blacksmith's shop during a violent thunderstorm. There came a crash of thunder and some of the men trembled. One man said, "Why, I don't see what you are afraid of. I am not afraid to go out in front of the shop and defy the Almighty. I am not afraid of the lightning." And he laid a wager on the subject, and he went out and shook his fist at the heavens, crying, "Strike, if you dare!" and instantly he fell under a bolt. What destroyed him? Any mystery about it? Oh, no; he cursed God and died. Oh, my brother, God will not allow this sin to go unpunished. There are styles of writing with manifold sheets, so that a man writing on one leaf writes clear through ten, fifteen, or twenty sheets; and so every profanity we utter goes right down through the leaves of the book of God's remembrance.

(T. De Witt Talmage.).

Aaron, Dan, Dibri, Ephah, Israelites, Israelitess, Moses, Shelomith
Animal, Anyone, Beast, Body, Causing, Death, Killeth, Kills, Mortally, Payment, Repayeth, Restitution, Smiteth, Someone's, Strikes, Takes, Wounding
1. The oil for the lamps
5. The showbread
10. Shelomith's son blasphemes
13. The law of blasphemy
17. Of murder
18. Of damage
23. The blasphemer is stoned

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Leviticus 24:17-20

     5372   knife

Leviticus 24:17-21

     5492   restitution
     5495   revenge, and retaliation

Leviticus 24:17-22

     5346   injury
     5483   punishment
     5493   retribution
     8307   moderation

Leviticus 24:18-21

     4605   animals, religious role

The Doctrine of Non-Resistance to Evil by Force Has Been Professed by a Minority of Men from the Very Foundation of Christianity. Of the Book "What
CHAPTER I. THE DOCTRINE OF NON-RESISTANCE TO EVIL BY FORCE HAS BEEN PROFESSED BY A MINORITY OF MEN FROM THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY. Of the Book "What I Believe"--The Correspondence Evoked by it-- Letters from Quakers--Garrison's Declaration--Adin Ballou, his Works, his Catechism--Helchitsky's "Net of Faith"--The Attitude of the World to Works Elucidating Christ's Teaching--Dymond's Book "On War"--Musser's "Non-resistance Asserted"--Attitude of the Government in 1818 to Men who Refused to
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you

Feast of the Dedication. The Jews Attempt to Stone Jesus and He Retires to Peræa.
(Jerusalem and Beyond Jordan.) ^D John X. 22-42. ^d 22 And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem: 23; it was winter; and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. [The feast of dedication was one of eight days' duration and began upon the 25th Chisleu, which, according to the calculation of M. Chevannes, fell upon the nineteenth or twentieth of December, a.d. 29. The feast was kept in honor of the renovation and purification of the temple in the year b.c. 164, after it had been desecrated
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Defends Disciples who Pluck Grain on the Sabbath.
(Probably While on the Way from Jerusalem to Galilee.) ^A Matt. XII. 1-8; ^B Mark II. 23-28; ^C Luke VI. 1-5. ^b 23 And ^c 1 Now it came to pass ^a 1 At that season ^b that he ^a Jesus went { ^b was going} on the { ^c a} ^b sabbath day through the grainfields; ^a and his disciples were hungry and began ^b as they went, to pluck the ears. ^a and to eat, ^c and his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. [This lesson fits in chronological order with the last, if the Bethesda
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
AND PROOF, THAT THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN SABBATH. BY JOHN BUNYAN. 'The Son of man is lord also of the Sabbath day.' London: Printed for Nath, Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, 1685. EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. All our inquiries into divine commands are required to be made personally, solemnly, prayerful. To 'prove all things,' and 'hold fast' and obey 'that which is good,' is a precept, equally binding upon the clown, as it is upon the philosopher. Satisfied from our observations
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Third Stage of the Roman Trial. Pilate Reluctantly Sentences Him to Crucifixion.
(Friday. Toward Sunrise.) ^A Matt. XXVII. 15-30; ^B Mark XV. 6-19; ^C Luke XXIII. 13-25; ^D John XVIII. 39-XIX 16. ^a 15 Now at the feast [the passover and unleavened bread] the governor was wont { ^b used to} release unto them ^a the multitude one prisoner, whom they would. { ^b whom they asked of him.} [No one knows when or by whom this custom was introduced, but similar customs were not unknown elsewhere, both the Greeks and Romans being wont to bestow special honor upon certain occasions by releasing
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Voluntary Suffering
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. T hat which often passes amongst men for resolution, and the proof of a noble, courageous spirit, is, in reality, the effect of a weak and little mind. At least, it is chiefly owing to the presence of certain circumstances, which have a greater influence upon the conduct, than any inherent principle. Thus may persons who appear to set death and danger at defiance in the hour
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

A Divine Saviour.
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew xvi. 1; John vi. 69.) We meet with a certain class of Enquirers who do not believe in the Divinity of Christ. There are many passages that will give light on this subject. In 1 Corinthians xv. 47, we are told: "The first man is of the earth earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven." In 1 John v. 20: "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It

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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