If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him:
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.
Leviticus 24:17-22Matthew 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.
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.
II. THE HEINOUS QUALITY OF THE CRIME.
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."
III. FACTS EXPLANATORY OF SUCH BLASPHEMOUS SPEECH. The sin of profanity points to —
1. An ungoverned tongue.
2. Passionate contention and strife.
3. An unsanctified heart.
(W. H. Jellie.)
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.
IV. THE PUNISHMENT WHICH ALL LIKE SIN MERITS.
(W. Wayland, B. A.)
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).
IV. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS SUFFERING. AS —
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.)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.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.).
PeopleAaron, Dan, Dibri, Ephah, Israelites, Israelitess, Moses, Shelomith
TopicsAnyone, Blemish, Cause, Causes, Damage, Disfigurement, Fellow, Injures, Maim, Neighbor, Neighbour, Putteth, Whatever
Outline1. 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 ThemesLeviticus 24:17-20
LibraryThe 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.
Jesus Defends Disciples who Pluck Grain on the Sabbath.
Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
Third Stage of the Roman Trial. Pilate Reluctantly Sentences Him to Crucifixion.
A Divine Saviour.
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