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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Leviticus Chapter 24

Leviticus 24:1

lev 24:1

The directions concerning the oil for the holy candlestick (Lev 24:1-4) and the preparation of the shew-bread (Lev 24:5-9) lose the appearance of an interpolation, when we consider and rightly understand on the one hand the manner in which the two are introduced in Lev 24:2, and on the other their significance in relation to the worship of God. The introductory formula, "Command the children of Israel that they fetch (bring)," shows that the command relates to an offering on the part of the congregation, a sacrificial gift, with which Israel was to serve the Lord continually. This service consisted in the fact, that in the oil of the lamps of the seven-branched candlestick, which burned before Jehovah, the nation of Israel manifested itself as a congregation which caused its light to shine in the darkness of this world; and that in the shew-bread it offered the fruits of its labour in the field of the kingdom of God, as a spiritual sacrifice to Jehovah. The offering of oil, therefore, for the preparation of the candlestick, and that of fine flour for making the loaves to be placed before Jehovah, formed part of the service in which Israel sanctified its life and labour to the Lord its God, not only at the appointed festal periods, but every day; and the law is very appropriately appended to the sanctification of the Sabbaths and feast-days, prescribed in ch. 23. The first instructions in Lev 24:2-4 are a verbal repetition of Exo 27:20-21, and have been explained already. Their execution by Aaron is recorded at Num 8:1-4; and the candlestick itself was set in order by Moses at the consecration of the tabernacle (Exo 40:25).

Leviticus 24:5

lev 24:5

The preparation of the shew-bread and the use to be made of it are described here for the first time; though it had already been offered by the congregation at the consecration of the tabernacle, and placed by Moses upon the table (Exo 39:36; Exo 40:23). Twelve cakes (challoth, Lev 2:4) were to be made of fine flour, of two-tenths of an ephah each, and placed in two rows, six in each row, upon the golden table before Jehovah (Exo 25:23.). Pure incense was then to be added to each row, which was to be (to serve) as a memorial (Azcarah, see Lev 2:2), as a firing for Jehovah. על נתן to give upon, to add to, does not force us to the conclusion that the incense was to be spread upon the cakes; but is easily reconcilable with the Jewish tradition (Josephus, Ant. iii. 10, 7; Mishnah, Menach. xi. 7, 8), that the incense was placed in golden saucers with each row of bread. The number twelve corresponded to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. The arrangement of the loaves in rows of six each was in accordance with the shape of the table, just like the division of the names of the twelve tribes upon the two precious stones on Aaron's shoulder-dress (Exo 28:10). By the presentation or preparation of them from the fine flour presented by the congregation, and still more by the addition of incense, which was burned upon the altar every Sabbath on the removal of the loaves as azcarah, i.e., as a practical memento of the congregation before God, the laying out of these loaves assumed the form of a bloodless sacrifice, in which the congregation brought the fruit of its life and labour before the face of the Lord, and presented itself to its God as a nation diligent in sanctification to good works. If the shew-bread was a minchah, or meat-offering, and even a most holy one, which only the priests were allowed to eat in the holy place (Lev 24:9, cf. Lev 2:3 and Lev 6:9-10), it must naturally have been unleavened, as the unanimous testimony of the Jewish tradition affirms it to have been. And if as a rule no meat-offering could be leavened, and of the loaves of first-fruits prepared for the feast of Pentecost, which were actually leavened, none was allowed to be placed upon the altar (Lev 2:11-12; Lev 6:10); still less could leavened bread be brought into the sanctuary before Jehovah. The only ground, therefore, on which Knobel can maintain that those loaves were leavened, is on the supposition that they were intended to represent the daily bread, which could no more fail in the house of Jehovah than in any other well-appointed house (see Bhr, Symbolik i. p. 410). The process of laying these loaves before Jehovah continually was to be "an everlasting covenant" (Lev 24:8), i.e., a pledge or sign of the everlasting covenant, just as circumcision, as the covenant in the flesh, was to be an everlasting covenant (Gen 17:13).

Leviticus 24:10

lev 24:10

The account of the Punishment of a Blasphemer is introduced in the midst of the laws, less because "it brings out to view by a clear example the administration of the divine law in Israel, and also introduces and furnishes the reason for several important laws" (Baumgarten), than because the historical occurrence itself took place at the time when the laws relating to sanctification of life before the Lord were given, whilst the punishment denounced against the blasphemer exhibited in a practical form, as a warning to the whole nation, the sanctification of the Lord in the despisers of His name. The circumstances were the following: - The son of an Israelitish woman named Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan, and of an Egyptian whom the Israelitish woman had married, went out into the midst of the children of Israel, i.e., went out of his tent or place of encampment among the Israelites. As the son of an Egyptian, he belonged to the foreigners who had gone out with Israel (Exo 12:38), and who probably had their tents somewhere apart from those of the Israelites, who were encamped according to their tribes (Num 2:2). Having got into a quarrel with an Israelite, this man scoffed at the name (of Jehovah) and cursed. The cause of the quarrel is not given, and cannot be determined. נקב: to bore, hollow out, then to sting, metaphorically to separate, fix (Gen 30:28), hence to designate (Num 1:17, etc.), and to prick in malam partem, to taunt, i.e., to blaspheme, curse, = קבב Num 23:11, Num 23:25, etc. That the word is used here in a bad sense, is evident from the expression "and cursed," and from the whole context of Lev 24:15 and Lev 24:16. The Jews, on the other hand, have taken the word נקב in this passage from time immemorial in the sense of ἐπονομάζειν (lxx), and founded upon it the well-known law, against even uttering the name Jehovah (see particularly Lev 24:16). "The name" κατ ̓ ἐξ. is the name "Jehovah" (cf. Lev 24:16), in which God manifested His nature. It was this passage that gave rise to the custom, so prevalent among the Rabbins, of using the expression "name," or "the name," for Dominus, or Deus (see Buxtorf, lex. talmud. pp. 2432ff.). The blasphemer was brought before Moses and then put into confinement, "to determine for them (such blasphemers) according to the mouth (command) of Jehovah." פּרשׁ: to separate, distinguish, then to determine exactly, which is the sense both here and in Num 15:34, where it occurs in a similar connection.

Leviticus 24:13

lev 24:13

Jehovah ordered the blasphemer to be taken out of the camp, and the witnesses to lay their hands upon his head, and the whole congregation to stone him; and published at the same time the general law, that whoever cursed his God should bear (i.e., atone for) his sin (cf. Exo 22:27), and whoever blasphemed the name of Jehovah should be stoned, the native as well as the foreigner. By laying (resting, cf. Lev 1:4) their hands upon the head of the blasphemer, the hearers or witnesses were to throw off from themselves the blasphemy which they had heard, and return it upon the head of the blasphemer, for him to expiate. The washing of hands in Deu 21:6 is analogous; but the reference made by Knobel to Deu 17:7, where the witnesses are commanded to turn their hand against an idolater who had been condemned to death, i.e., to stone him, is out of place.

Leviticus 24:17

lev 24:17

The decision asked for from God concerning the crime of the blasphemer, who was the son of an Egyptian, and therefore not a member of the congregation of Jehovah, furnished the occasion for God to repeat those laws respecting murder or personal injury inflicted upon a man, which had hitherto been given for the Israelites alone (Exo 21:12.), and to proclaim their validity in the case of the foreigner also (Lev 24:17, Lev 24:21, Lev 24:22). To these there are appended the kindred commandments concerning the killing of cattle (Lev 24:18, Lev 24:21, Lev 24:22), which had not been given, it is true, expressis verbis, but were contained implicite in the rights of Israel (Exo 21:33.), and are also extended to foreigners. אדם נפשׁ הכּה, to smite the soul of a man, i.e., to put him to death; - the expression "soul of a beast," in Lev 24:18, is to be understood in the same sense.

Leviticus 24:19

lev 24:19

"Cause a blemish," i.e., inflict a bodily injury. This is still further defined in the cases mentioned (breach, eye, tooth), in which punishment was to be inflicted according to the jus talionis (see at Exo 21:23.).

Leviticus 24:23

lev 24:23

After these laws had been issued, the punishment was inflicted upon the blasphemer.

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