Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

The Holiness Code

  • The fear of vomiting land isn't exactly a winner when it comes to keeping people out of the sack. In chapter 19 the explanations level up.
  • The result: what might very well be the most important chapter in all of Leviticus.
  • Chapter 19 boils the reason for everything down to one core principle: "You shall be holy, because I, YHVH, your God, am holy."
  • Practically, this means that Israelites should love their neighbors as themselves, thus proving that even Jesus reads Leviticus.
  • The rest of the chapter is details, details, details.

Be Excellent to Each Other

  • The first few laws are designed to keep Israel on the YHVH track.
  • Honor parents, keep sabbaths, keep the altar pure, don't turn to metal idols—in other words, think different.
  • Then come instructions for keeping the community together and strong.
  • Don't exploit the poor, the weak and non-Israelite n00bs. For instance, let them have part of every harvest and the last peanut in every bag.
  • Don't rig the law for the rich and powerful. As God puts it in verse 15, "If thou dost let the big guys take advantage of the small, yea verily, it's only a matter of time before the proverbial poopeth hits the faneth."
  • Rigging the law for the priests—well, that's not okay either, wink wink.
  • Don't take someone else's stuff. Pay employees promptly. Use accurate weights and measures, except for the scales at the gym.
  • Israelites making an agreement have to stick to it, especially if they make a vow in God's name. Or pinky-swear.
  • Israelites are not to raise money pimping out their daughters. Think twice about that reality show deal, too.
  • God commands the Israelites to tell people what you really think and not act like a passive-aggressive gossiping jerk.
  • Don't seek revenge, and for cryin' out loud don't take it out on a person's kids. Haven't you seen what happens in Liam Neeson movies?

Holiness Ain't What It Used to Be

  • So far the rules are no-brainers.
  • Don't mate two critters from different kinds of species, and don't wear clothes with different kinds of fibers. Don't mix different kinds of plants.
  • No tattoos. Pagans wear tattoos. Slaves wear tattoos. Anyway, what would mother think?
  • No psychics. No fortune-tellers. No more hokey Lifetime movies about spirit guides. Ghosthunters is okay, though, because, c'mon, really?
  • The spirits of past family members are unclean, too, which is not good news for the Red Sea Island medium.
  • Obeying parents and old people is one thing, but revering family spirits sets up worship in competition with Tabernacle and Israelite unity.
  • Not stealing includes not sleeping with a female slave who's been set up to marry someone else so they can make productive little slave babies. Buy her owner a beer and offer a few sacrifices. See, it's all good.
  • When an Israelite plants a tree, it is to grow freely for three years "uncircumcised," a command deeply appreciated by Israel's male Ents.
  • For the tree, circumcision means that fruit from year four goes to God (that is, his trusty representatives) and in year five, you get finally get to chow down.

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