Leviticus 20

1 ADONAI said to Moshe,
2 "Say to the people of Isra'el, 'If someone from the people of Isra'el or one of the foreigners living in Isra'el sacrifices one of his children to Molekh, he must be put to death; the people of the land are to stone him to death.
3 I too will set myself against him and cut him off from his people, because he has sacrificed his child to Molekh, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name.
4 If the people of the land look the other way when that man sacrifices his child to Molekh and fail to put him to death,
5 then I will set myself against him, his family and everyone who follows him to go fornicating after Molekh, and cut them off from their people.
6 "'The person who turns to spirit-mediums and sorcerers to go fornicating after them -I will set myself against him and cut him off from his people.
7 Therefore consecrate yourselves -you people must be holy, because I am ADONAI your God.
8 Observe my regulations, and obey them; I am ADONAI, who sets you apart to be holy.
9 "'A person who curses his father or mother must be put to death; having cursed his father or his mother, his blood is on him.
10 "'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, that is, with the wife of a fellow countryman, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.
11 The man who goes to bed with his father's wife has disgraced his father sexually, and both of them must be put to death; their blood is on them.
12 If a man goes to bed with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death; they have committed a perversion, and their blood is on them.
13 If a man goes to bed with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they must be put to death; their blood is on them.
14 If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is depravity; they are to be put to death by fire, both he and they, so that there will not be depravity among you.
15 If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you are to kill the animal.
16 If a woman approaches an animal and has sexual relations with it, you are to kill the woman and the animal; their blood will be on them.
17 If a man takes his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter, and has sexual relations with her, and she consents, it is a shameful thing; they are to be cut off publicly - he has had sexual relations with his sister, and he will bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.
18 If a man goes to bed with a woman in her menstrual period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her blood, and she has exposed the source of her blood; both of them are to be cut off from their people.
19 You are not to have sexual relations with your mother's sister or your father's sister; a person who does this has had sexual relations with his close relative; they will bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.
20 If a man goes to bed with his uncle's wife, he has disgraced his uncle sexually; they will bear the consequences of their sin and die childless.
21 If a man takes his brother's wife, it is uncleanness; he has disgraced his brother sexually; they will be childless.
22 "'You are to observe all my regulations and rulings and act on them, so that the land to which I am bringing you will not vomit you out.
23 Do not live by the regulations of the nation which I am expelling ahead of you; because they did all these things, which is why I detested them.
24 But to you I have said, "You will inherit their land; I will give it to you as a possession, a land flowing with milk and honey."I am ADONAI your God, who has set you apart from other peoples.
25 Therefore you are to distinguish between clean and unclean animals and between clean and unclean birds; do not make yourselves detestable with an animal, bird or reptile that I have set apart for you to regard as unclean.
26 Rather, you people are to be holy for me; because I, ADONAI, am holy; and I have set you apart from the other peoples, so that you can belong to me.
27 "'A man or woman who is a spirit-medium or sorcerer must be put to death; they are to stone them to death; their blood will be on them.'"

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Leviticus 20 Commentary

Chapter 20

Law against sacrificing children to Moloch, Of children that curse their parents. (1-9) Laws repeated, Holiness enjoined. (10-27)

Verses 1-9 Are we shocked at the unnatural cruelty of the ancient idolaters in sacrificing their children? We may justly be so. But are there not very many parents, who, by bad teaching and wicked examples, and by the mysteries of iniquity which they show their children, devote them to the service of Satan, and forward their everlasting ruin, in a manner even more to be lamented? What an account must such parents render to God, and what a meeting will they have with their children at the day of judgment! On the other hand, let children remember that he who cursed father or mother was surely put to death. This law Christ confirmed. Laws which were made before are repeated, and penalties annexed to them. If men will not avoid evil practices, because the law has made these practices sin, and it is right that we go on that principle, surely they should avoid them when the law has made them death, from a principle of self-preservation. In the midst of these laws comes in a general charge, Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy. It is the Lord that sanctifies, and his work will be done, though it be difficult. Yet his grace is so far from doing away our endeavours, that it strongly encourages them. Work out your salvation, for it is God that worketh in you.

Verses 10-27 These verses repeat what had been said before, but it was needful there should be line upon line. What praises we owe to God that he has taught the evil of sin, and the sure way of deliverance from it! May we have grace to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; may we have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, but reprove them.

Chapter Summary


In this chapter several laws are, repeated, enforced with a penalty annexed to them, and the breach them made capital, to deter from it, as giving seed to Molech, Le 20:1-5; going after such that have familiar spirits, or are wizards, Le 20:6; by shunning which, and other sins, a regard would be shown to holiness, Le 20:7,8; such as cursing parents, Le 20:9; committing adultery, Le 20:10; incestuous copulations, and marriages, and beastly actions, Le 20:11-21; all which it became the Israelites to avoid, lest, when come into the land of Canaan, they should be cast out of it, as the old inhabitants were for the same things, Le 20:22-24; and therefore, that they might appear to be a distinct people from others, they were to put a difference between clean and unclean creatures, Le 20:25,26; and the chapter is closed with a law, making it death for any person to have a familiar spirit, or to be a wizard, Le 19:27.

Leviticus 20 Commentaries

Complete Jewish Bible Copyright 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.