Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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LEVITICUS - Chapter 20

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Leviticus xx.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Moloch. See chap. xviii. 21.

Ver. 3. I will thus execute vengeance upon him by the hands of the people; and, in case they neglect it, or the crime be secret, I will surely punish the guilty person, and all who may have consented to his wickedness, ver. 5. (Haydock) --- Face: Chaldean, "wrath," which manifests itself on the countenance. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 4. My commandment: Hebrew, "If the people hide their face not to see:" (Calmet) or Septuagint, "look over on purpose, and neglect the man who has given of his seed to the ruler."

Ver. 6. Them. To have recourse to them, is to deal with the devil and to commit idolatry. See chap. xix. 31.

Ver. 8. Sanctify you, and order you to keep at a distance from the impure worship of other nations. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Die. The Rabbins say, by being strangled, when nothing farther is added: but if the following addition be made, stoning is understood. But their authority is not of much weight, and is contradicted, ver. 2. Stoning was the most usual method of putting to death in the days of Moses, and is commonly meant; or perhaps the judges might determine the mode of execution. --- Upon him. He deserves to die. He can blame no other. See Matthew xxvii. 25. (Calmet) --- For greater infamy, the person to be stoned or hung, was stripped of his clothes. (Tirinus) --- The punishment of lapidation (ver. 2,) seems to be designed for the following crimes, as it was for adultery, Deuteronomy xxii. 24. (Menochius) (John viii. 5.)

Ver. 10. Adulteress. Philo (de Josephus) says, whoever discovered a man in the very act, might kill him; and the Roman law allowed the same liberty, impun necato. But God requires a juridical process, and witnesses, as we see in the case of Susanna, (Daniel xiii.) and in that of the woman who was brought to our Saviour. [John viii.] One witness might authorize a person to put his wife away, and if he then retained her, he was esteemed a fool, Proverbs xviii. 23. But more witnesses were requisite before she could be put to death. They put their hands on the heads of the guilty, thus taking their blood upon themselves, if they accused them wrongfully. Solon allowed the husband to kill the adulterer. The woman was not permitted to wear any ornaments, or to enter any temple afterwards. If she did, any one might tear her clothes, and beat, but not kill her.

Ver. 11. Father. See chap. xviii. 8. It is supposed that the father was dead, otherwise the punishment would probably be greater than for adultery. The Samaritan, "with the wife of his father's brother." (Calmet)

Ver. 12. Crime. Hebrew tebel, "confusion," the same term which is used in speaking of bestiality, (chap. xviii. 23,) though the latter crime be more enormous. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Alive, is not in the original; but must be understood. The Rabbins say melted lead was to be poured down the throats of the guilty. The words of Moses seem rather to refer to external fire. (Calmet) --- With them, if they both gave their consent to the crime. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. The beast also ye shall kill. The killing of the beast was for the greater horror of the crime, and to prevent the remembrance of such abomination. (Challoner) --- The beast was to be killed with clubs; the man was stoned to death. (Jonathan)

Ver. 16. Them. This monstrous abomination, teras, as Herodotus, an eye-witness calls it, was not unknown to the Egyptians. Gunaiki tragos emisgeto; (B. ii. 46,) nor to other nations. (Apuleius, Met. 10.)

Ver. 17. A crime. Hebrew chesed, commonly signifies an act of piety or goodness, as if Moses intended to insinuate that such marriages were at first lawful. (Thalmud; Selden, Jur. v. 8.) But a softer term is used to denote a great impiety, as the Hebrews say to bless, when they mean to curse, or to blaspheme; (Calmet) and the Greeks call the furies Eumenides, or "the good-natured." --- One another's. Hebrew, "He hath uncovered his sister's," &c. Whether they saw what was indecent or not, if they admitted of any unlawful commerce, they were to be stoned to death. (Haydock)

Ver. 18. People, if the action become public; otherwise the man may be purified, chap xv. 24. This intemperance was by a positive law declared a mortal offence in the Jews, though in itself it might be venial. (Sanchez ix. 21.) The text shews that the woman here gives her consent. --- And she open. Hence she deserves to die, for exposing herself and her children to great danger. (Haydock)

Ver. 19. Flesh, or relation. (Menochius)

Ver. 20. Children. The Sadducees read, "they shall die naked." The present Hebrew has simply, "they shall be without children;" their offspring shall be illegitimate. (St. Augustine, q. 76.) God will not bless their marriage. "Such we know can have no children." (St. Gregory, q. 6.; St. Augustine, Apost. Anglorum.) The guilty shall be slain without delay. (Grotius) (Calmet)

Ver. 24. Honey. Most fertile and delicious. (Menochius)

Ver. 26. Mine. This is the reason of these different prescriptions, that they may know the dignity to which they have been raised, and may avoid the manners of the profane. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Spirit. Hebrew ob, means also a bottle. See chap. xix. 31. If those who consult such people be guilty, the authors of the delusion deserve death still more. (Haydock) --- The spirit of python is no other than the spirit of the devil, or of Apollo, who was called Pythius, on account of his having slain the serpent python. His oracles were in great request, as he was supposed to know the secrets of futurity. (Calmet)


Bible Text & Cross-references:

Divers crimes to be punished with death.

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, *saying:

2 Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: *If any man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers, that dwell in Israel, give of his seed to the idol Moloch, dying let him die: the people of the land shall stone him.

3 And I will set my face against him: and I will cut him off from the midst of his people, because he hath given of his seed to Moloch, and hath defiled my sanctuary, and profaned my holy name.

4 And if the people of the land neglecting, and as it were little regarding my commandment, let alone the man that hath given of his seed to Moloch, and will not kill him:

5 I will set my face against that man, and his kindred, and will cut off both him and all that consented with him, to commit fornication with Moloch, out of the midst of their people.

6 The soul that shall go aside after magicians and soothsayers, and shall commit fornication with them, I will set my face against that soul, and destroy it out of the midst of its people.

7 *Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy, because I am the Lord your God.

8 Keep my precepts, and do them. I am the Lord that sanctify you.

9 *He that curseth his father or mother, dying let him die: he hath cursed his father, and mother, let his blood be upon him.

10 *If any man commit adultery with the wife of another, and defile his neighbour's wife, let them be put to death, both the adulterer and the adulteress.

11 If a man lie with his stepmother, and discover the nakedness of his father, let them both be put to death: their blood be upon them.

12 If any man lie with his daughter-in-law, let both die, because they have done a heinous crime: their blood be upon them.

13 If any one lie with a man as with a woman, both have committed an abomination, let them be put to death: their blood be upon them.

14 If any man after marrying the daughter, marry her mother, he hath done a heinous crime: he shall be burnt alive with them: neither shall so great an abomination remain in the midst of you.

15 He that shall copulate with any beast or cattle, dying let him die, the beast also ye shall kill.

16 *The woman that shall lie under any beast, shall be killed together with the same: their blood be upon them.

17 If any man take his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother, and see her nakedness, and she behold her brother's shame: they have committed a crime: they shall be slain, in the sight of their people, because they have discovered one another's nakedness, and they shall bear their iniquity.

18 If any man lie with a woman in her flowers, and uncover her nakedness, and she open the fountain of her blood, both shall be destroyed out of the midst of their people.

19 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy aunt by thy mother, and of thy aunt by thy father: he that doth this, hath uncovered the shame of his own flesh, both shall bear their iniquity.

20 If any man lie with the wife of his uncle by the father, or of his uncle by the mother, and uncover the shame of his near akin, both shall bear their sin: they shall die without children.

21 He that marrieth his brother's wife, doth an unlawful thing, he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness: they shall be without children.

22 Keep my laws, and my judgments, and do them; lest the land, into which you are to enter to dwell therein, vomit you also out.

23 Walk not after the laws of the nations, which I will cast out before you; for they have done all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

24 But to you I say: Possess their land, which I will give you for an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your God, who have separated you from other people.

25 Therefore do you also separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the clean fowl from the unclean: defile not your souls with beasts, or birds, or any things that move on the earth, and which I have shewn you to be unclean.

26 *You shall be holy unto me, because I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from other people, that you should be mine.

27 *A man, or woman, in whom there is a pythonical or divining spirit, dying let them die: they shall stone them: their blood be upon them.

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1: Year of the World 2514.

2: Leviticus xviii. 21.

7: 1 Peter i. 16.

9: Exodus xxi. 17.; Proverbs xx. 20.; Matthew xv. 4.; Mark vii. 10.

10: Deuteronomy xxii. 22.; John viii. 5

16: Leviticus xviii. 6. and 23.

26: 1 Peter i. 16.

27: Deuteronomy xviii. 11.; 1 Kings xxviii. 7.