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Leviticus 18

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Leviticus as a whole is basically divided into three basic sections. The first of which is often called the Priestly Code. (1-16,25) in which are given ordinances regarding the Aaronic priesthood and its consecration and duties, laws of sacrifices and liturgical seasons, diet, and cleanliness. The second section is usually termed The Holiness Code. (18-26) which first deals with both basic moral laws which mainly forbid idolatry and illicit sexual partners. It is in the light of such foundational laws that we most basically understand how to obey, "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. 19:18) In addition, various culturally applied civil and judicial laws are given, which are based on foundational moral principles but which usually require the particular culture of Israel at that time for their full literal obedience, though laws based upon their principles are seen to be in force today.<ref>Leviticus An Economic Commentary, by Gary North http://www.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/a_pdfs/gnlv.pdf</ref>
===Cultural factors===
Historical background is an important consideration in interpreting Scripture,<ref>Hermeneutics - A Guide To Basic Bible Interpretation, By Darryl M. Erkel; V. The Basics of Bible Interpretation http://www.theologue.org/HERMENEUTICS-DMERKEL.html</ref> and which may be observed to have affected the institution of Levitical laws in all its categories, as well as laws given elsewhere. Israel was surrounded by idolatry, and for both practical and illustrative purposes their negative examples were often invoked as an example of how not to be, and of the punishment that such iniquities incurred. Revisionist writers seek to use these aspects to negate the universal scope and transcendence of Biblical laws against homosexual intercourse.<ref>Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. pp 100-01</ref>
Noted commentator Albert Barnes states
The laws of the Jews are commonly divided into moral, ceremonial, and judicial. The moral laws are such as grow out of the nature of things, and which cannot, therefore, be changed - such as the duty of loving God and his creatures. These cannot be abolished, as it can never be made right to hate God, or to hate our fellow-men. Of this kind are the [[Ten Commandments]], and these our Saviour has neither abolished nor superseded. The ceremonial laws are such as are appointed to meet certain states of society, or to regulate the religious rites and ceremonies of a people. These can be changed when circumstances are changed, and yet the moral law must be untouched. A general in an army may command his soldiers to appear sometimes in a red coat and sometimes in blue or in yellow. This would be a ceremonial law, and might be changed as he pleased. The duty of obeying him, and of being faithful to his country, could not be changed. <ref>Albert Barnes, (Mt. 5:18)</ref>
===Judicial and civil laws===
<ref>Albert Barnes, (Mt. 5:18)</ref>
== Chapter 18 ==
Laws in this chapter are prefaced with the admonition, "After the doings [H4639] of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings [H4639] of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. [H2708] " (Lv. 18:3) Also Lev 18:30: "Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, [H2708] that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs [H2708], which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God." And in Lev 20:23: "And ye shall not walk in the manners [H2708] of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them."
====Lev. 18:18: Marriage to wife's sister====
A wife to her sister - Thou shalt not marry two sisters at the same time, as Jacob did Rachel and Leah; but there is nothing in this law that rendered it illegal to marry a sister-in-law when her sister was dead; therefore the text says, Thou shalt not take her in her life time, to vex her, alluding probably to the case of the jealousies and vexations which subsisted between Leah and Rachel, and by which the family peace was so often disturbed. Some think that the text may be so understood as also to forbid polygamy.<ref>Adam Clarke</ref>
While these commands explicitly condemn homosexual intercourse between males and are presented as general commands given to all Israel, relatively recently these have become the subject of an intense attack by pro-homosex [[polemicist]]s. While most admit that sexual moral codes are transcultural and transhistorical, attempts are made to find grammatical, categorical and cultural aspects that would disallow the injunctions which prohibit homosexual intercourse.
Most of these prohomosex writers usually first assert that the Hebrew word ''tōʻēḇā'' for ''abomination'', which describes male sex with men here, does not usually signify something inherently evil, like adultery or theft, but something which is ceremonially unclean for Jews, such as the dietary laws. (Lv. 11).<ref>Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. pp 100-01</ref> <ref>Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality By Jack Bartlett Rogers, p. 72.</ref><ref>Horner, David loved Jonathan, p.73, 85.</ref><ref>Daniel Helminiak, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, pp. 46-47, http://www.reformed.org/social/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/social/hodges_response_helminiak.html</ref> The Hebrew word “zimmâh” (Lv. 19:29) is instead sometimes suggested as the word which would have been used if the prohibitions, of Lv. 18:22, were not intrinsically evil.
Such revisionists generally conclude that these Levitical injunctions against homosexual intercourse only prohibit pagan temple prostitution, or were only concerned with the waste of sperm, though even noted prohomosex author Robin Scroggs thinks the latter explanations to be conjecture which are best not to speculate about,<ref>''The New Testament and Homosexuality'', p. 73.</ref> rather than being universal and transcendent injunctions, such as the other laws against illicit partners are.
As regards zimmâh, unlike ''tōʻēḇā'', this word is not not often used for specific sexual sins, but is generally seen in reference to sexual "lewdness" (Jdg. 20:6; Jer.13:27, Eze. 16:43, 58; 22:9; 23:21,27,29,35,48-49; Eze. 24:13; Hos. 6:9). It often is another word to describe the vile nature of many clearly universal sins which are also categorized as tōʻēḇā, (Lv. 18:17; 19:29; Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 22:11: adultery=tōʻēḇā, incest= zimmâh ). Yet, it is not always used for all universal sexual sins, and the absence of zimmâh in relation to a sexual sin cannot necessarily negate the intrinsic evil of its nature, while sins which tōʻēḇā refers to include such.
In addition, ceremonial dietary and ritual cleansing laws overall do not target pagan cultic activity. However, there are practices which evidently are a direct expression of formal idolatry, such as temple prostitution (Dt. 23:17), versus amoral things which merely accompany idolatry activity, such as a grove of trees in worship (Dt. 16:21). The Bible makes these categories discernible, as it lists the type of sins which were ceremonial, (Gal. 4:10; Col. 16,17; Heb. 9:10) while explicitly reincorporating many basic moral commands in the Mosaic code into the New Testament code,<ref>Homosexuality and the Old Testament, P. Michael Ukleja http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/03-Leviticus/Text/Articles/Ukleja-Homsex-BS.htm</ref> upholding basic universal moral laws by type and often individually. <ref>Charles C. Ryrie, "The End of the Law," Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (July-September July–September 1967):246.</ref><ref>By this it is not meant that Christians are "under law" as though being saved on account of his works, in contrast to imputed righteousness by faith, (Rm. 3-5), or that we look to the letter of the law as the standard, over its intent and foundational basis, but because of faith in the Lord Jesus, Christian are mandated and rightly motivated and enabled to fulfill the righteous intent of the law (Rm. 8:4), which goes beyond the letter of it (though it is evident that this results in keeping the letter of basic universal moral laws as well)</ref> (Rm. 13:8-10; Heb. 10:28; Ja. 4:11; 1Cor. 10:7; 2Cor. 6:16,17; 1Jn. 5:21; Rv. 9:20; 13:14,15 14:11; 1Tim. 6:1; Eph. 6:1-3; 1Cor. 9:8,9) with unlawful sex between outlawed partners or outside marriage being prohibited in the N.T. (Mat. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mk. 7:21; Jn. 8:41; Acts 15:20; 15:29; 21:25; Rom. 1:29; 1Co_5:1; 1Co. 6:9,13, 18; 7:2; 2Co. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Ths. 4:3; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; 1Pet. 4:3; Rev. 9:21; 14:8, 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2) The prohibitions against homosexual intercourse clearly fit in this category by type,<ref>"That Which is Unnatural" Homosexuality in Society, the Church, and Scripture by Joseph P. Gudel -ICR http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0108a.html</ref> and it is only condemned and never sanctioned wherever such is dealt with (Rm. 1:16,27) while things such as simply where to worship or eat would only be contextually wrong. (1Cor. 8,10)
Secondly, neither the grammar nor any categorical division or cultural context warrants relegating these Levitical commands to merely being prohibitory of idolatrous temple homosex.
*Contains the marks of moral impurity. Contrary to those who dismiss these prohibitions as antiquated ritual purity law, the prohibition bears the marks of a moral purity issue. Unlike impurity of a merely ritual sort (e.g., corpse impurity, genital discharges, scale disease), moral impurities such as the prohibitions of incest, adultery, male-male intercourse, and bestiality are not (a) contagious through physical contact and (b) rectified by ritual bathing; moreover, (c) moral impurities concern only intentional acts. They also do not involve merely an exchange of fluid (as does menstrual impurity)
*Adopts a creation/nature model. The prohibition leads the hearer back to a foundational creation/nature model (cf. also the prohibition of bestiality as illicit "mixing" of creation boundaries)
*Appropriated by the New Testament. The term ''arsenokoitai'' ("men who lie with a male") in 1 Corinthians 6:9, is formulated from the [[Septuagint]] translation of Lev 18:22 and 20:13, which refers to not 'lying' (koite) with a 'male' (arsen). Paul's critique of homosexual relations in Romans 1:24-27 also echoes Lev 18 and 20 by using two terms that appear in Septuagint translation of these chapters: ''akatharsia'' ("uncleanness, impurity" in Romans 1:24 and Lev 18:19; 20:21, 25) and ''aschemosune'' ("indecency, indecent exposure" in Rom 1:27 and twenty-four times in Lev 18:6-19; 20:11, 17-21). <ref>Gagnon, Why the disagreement over the Biblical witness on homosexual practice? http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf</ref>
As regards the attempts to negate the universality and transcendence of v. 22 by creating a divisional break from universal laws to culturally-bound laws, beginning in v. 21 due to the culturally specific aspect of child sacrifice to Molech, this also cannot be established, as that law is not restricted to child sacrifice to only one specific idol, and cannot be relegated to merely being ceremonial. Rather, it is based upon foundational moral law (Gn. 9:5,6; Ex. 20:2; 34:15) and is literally applicable in principal and by modification to all cultures and times. In addition, consistent with the prohomosex hermeneutic behind their attempt, v.19 (intercourse during menstruation, which is more akin to ceremonial law) would disallow the intrinsic sinfulness of the next verse (adultery). While types of laws are sometimes grouped together, Biblical laws codes as a whole are not strict categories of laws, but types are more manifest by their nature and foundational principals.
However, extensive examination reveals that zakhar/zekhur are strictly gender specific words which are primarily used to differentiate between males and females in general, as well as those in special classes of people, and that is the only special significance it provides. These word provide a distinction between genders without signifying a difference in what the Levitical injunctions proscribe. The reason for their most prevalent use being within special classes of males is simply because that is most often the subject, from sacrificed animals to Jews returning from exile.
Some prohomosex polemicists argue that Lev. 20:13 only prohibits actual male intercourse, while also not forbidding lesbian eroticism.<ref>Wrestling with God and Men, pp. 80-93; by Steven Greenberg</ref>The New Testament and Homosexuality, Palestinian Judaism Scroggs</ref>
However, as v. 22 is substantially evidenced as being based upon foundational design and decree, just as the forbiddance of bestiality in the next verse is, in principle its application is not restricted to only male homosex but same gender sex as well. Male sex with another male represents an illicit partner, contrary to all Biblical marriages, just as Molech represents an illicit object of worship, contrary to all statements relative to such, and the respective injunctions against both are universal based upon inherent qualities which disallow the forbidden functions.
"Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion."
"A female one, as Aben Ezra notes, as a mare, cow, or ewe, or any other beast, small or great, as Ben Gersom, or whether tame or wild, as Maimonides;<ref> Hilchot Issure Biah, c. 1. sect. 16. (c) Geograph. l. 17. p. 551. (d) De Animal. l. 7. c. 19. (e) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 46. (f) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 53. col. 642.</ref> and even fowls are comprehended, as the same writers observe:
"'It is confusion'"; a mixing of the seed of man and beast together, a blending of different kinds of creatures, a perverting the order of nature, and introducing the utmost confusion of beings, from whence monsters in nature may arise.<ref>John Gill</ref>
"Sinful customs are abominable customs, and their being common and fashionable does not make them at all the less abominable nor should we the less abominate them, but the more; because the more customary they are the more dangerous they are."
Lv. 18:29-30: God has elsewhere declared His good will for them and the blessings of obedience, (Ex. 3:,16-18; 6:8; 13:1-5; 19:5,6; 33:1-3) and will do so more, (Lv. 20:24; Dt. 14:12) but here the consequences of disobedience are made clear by varied repetition. Tragically, Israel did not learn obedience for long, but learned the way of the heathen which the prophets pleaded with them not to do, and to turn from (Jer. 6:16; 10:2ff; Is. 1:5; Hos. 6:1-3; 10:12). After much Divine long suffering, they thus realized great destruction in chastisements, and were scattered into the "four corners of the earth" (Lam. Ezek. 7:1-4ff). And to await the promised regathering of Israel (Is. 11:2ff) and redemptive enlightening, (Rom. 11)<ref>http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/israel-chosenorforgotten.html</ref> though divergent positions are held on such.<ref>The Millennial Kingdom By John F. Walvoord [http://books.google.com/books?id=2aTJCiHoxfsC&pg=PP1&dq=The+Millennial+Kingdom+By+John+F.+Walvoord#PPR12,M1The Millennial Kingdom By John F. Walvoord]</ref>
== See also ==
*[[Homosexual misinterpretation]]
== References ==
{{reflist|2}}
[[Category:Old Testament]] [[Category:Homosexuality]]
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