Leviticus 18

Listen to Leviticus 18

Unlawful Sexual Relations

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, 1I am the LORD your God.
3 2You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and 3you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.
4 4You shall follow my rules[a] and keep my statutes and walk in them. 5I am the LORD your God.
5 6You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; 7if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.
6 "None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am the LORD.
7 8You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness.
8 9You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness.
9 10You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home.
10 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son's daughter or of your daughter's daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness.
11 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife's daughter, brought up in your father's family, since she is your sister.
12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's sister; she is your father's relative.
13 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, for she is your mother's relative.
14 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt.
15 11You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.
16 12You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother's wife; it is your brother's nakedness.
17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is depravity.
18 And you shall not take a woman as a 13rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness 14while her sister is still alive.
19 15"You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.
20 16And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor's wife and so make yourself unclean with her.
21 You shall not give any of your children to 17offer them[b] to 18Molech, and so 19profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
22 20You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
23 21And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is 22perversion.
24 23"Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, 24for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean,
25 and the 25land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land 26vomited out its inhabitants.
26 But 27you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the 28native or the stranger who sojourns among you
27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean),
28 lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.
29 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.
30 29So keep my charge never to practice 30any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: 31I am the LORD your God."

Leviticus 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Unlawful marriages and fleshly lusts.

- Here is a law against all conformity to the corrupt usages of the heathen. Also laws against incest, against brutal lusts, and barbarous idolatries; and the enforcement of these laws from the ruin of the Canaanites. God here gives moral precepts. Close and constant adherence to God's ordinances is the most effectual preservative from gross sin. The grace of God only will secure us; that grace is to be expected only in the use of the means of grace. Nor does He ever leave any to their hearts' lusts, till they have left him and his services.

Cross References 31

  • 1. Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 20:7; Exodus 6:6, 7
  • 2. Ezekiel 20:7, 8; Ezekiel 23:8
  • 3. Exodus 23:24; Deuteronomy 12:30, 31
  • 4. ver. 26; Leviticus 19:19, 37; Leviticus 20:8, 22; Deuteronomy 5:18">2Deuteronomy 5:18; Deuteronomy 4:1, 6; Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:1; Deuteronomy 12:1; Ezekiel 20:19
  • 5. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 6. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 7. Ezek. 20:11, 13, 21; Cited Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12; [Luke 10:28]
  • 8. For ver. 7-16, see Leviticus 20:11-21
  • 9. Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; [Genesis 49:4; Amos 2:7]
  • 10. [2 Samuel 13:12; Ezekiel 22:11]
  • 11. [Genesis 38:26; Ezekiel 22:11]
  • 12. [Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5; Matthew 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28]
  • 13. [1 Samuel 1:6]
  • 14. [Genesis 31:50]
  • 15. [Leviticus 15:24; Leviticus 20:18; Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 22:10]
  • 16. See Exodus 20:14
  • 17. Leviticus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 18:10
  • 18. [1 Kings 11:7, 33; Acts 7:43]
  • 19. Leviticus 19:12; Leviticus 20:3; Leviticus 21:6; Leviticus 22:2, 32; Ezekiel 36:20, 22; Malachi 1:12
  • 20. Leviticus 20:13; [Genesis 19:5; Judges 19:22; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Timothy 1:9, 10]
  • 21. Leviticus 20:15, 16; Exodus 22:19
  • 22. Leviticus 20:12
  • 23. ver. 30; [Matthew 15:19, 20; Mark 7:21-23]
  • 24. Leviticus 20:23; [Deuteronomy 18:12]
  • 25. Numbers 35:34; Jeremiah 2:7; Ezekiel 36:17
  • 26. Leviticus 20:22
  • 27. See ver. 4, 5
  • 28. See Leviticus 16:29
  • 29. Leviticus 22:9
  • 30. ver. 3, 26; Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 18:9
  • 31. See ver. 2

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or my just decrees; also verse 5
  • [b]. Hebrew to make them pass through [the fire]

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the Israelites are directed in general not to imitate the customs and practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites, but to keep the ordinances, statutes, and judgments of the Lord, Le 18:1-5; and they are instructed particularly to avoid incestuous marriages, Le 18:6-18; carnal copulation with a menstruous woman, Le 18:19; adultery, Le 18:20; letting any of their seed pass through the fire to Molech, Le 18:21; sodomy, Le 18:22; and bestiality, Le 18:23; and they are deterred from these things by observing to them the pollution and destruction which they brought on the inhabitants of Canaan, and would bring the same on them should they commit them, Le 18:24-30.

Leviticus 18 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.