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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

The Exposition of the Commandment

Leviticus 19

Leviticus 19:17

17. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart.

17. Ne oderis fratrem tuum in corde tuo.


I doubt not but that this part of the verse should be taken separately, nor do I approve of the introduction of the adversative particle but, by which translators  15 connect it with what follows. We know that we are not always to trust to the division of verses; and, since it is clear that whatever precepts we meet with in the writings of Moses for the regulation of our lives depend on the Decalogue, this sentence sufficiently proves that murder was forbidden, not only in order that none should slay his brother by his ]land, or by a weapon, but also that he should not indulge in wrong-doing, by cherishing in himself hatred and ill-will. Hence the statement of Paul is confirmed, that “the Law is spiritual,” (Ro 7:14;) and their folly is refuted who pretend that Moses was an earthly lawgiver to the Jews, like Lycurgus or Solon, since he thus penetrates even to the secret affections. It is also probable that John derived from this passage his saying, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer,” (1Jo 3:15;) for the word heart is here used emphatically; since, although no outward signs of hatred may appear, yet the internal feeling is accounted murder before God.

Leviticus 19

Leviticus 19:18

18. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.

18. Ne ulciscaris te, neque serves odium contra filios populi tui: sed diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum: ego Jehova.


Hence it clearly appears that God had a further object than that men should not kill each other, for He not only restrains their hands, but requires their hearts to be pure from all hatred. For, since the desire of vengeance is the fountain and cause of enmities, it follows that under the word kill is condensed whatever is opposed to brotherly love. And this is confirmed by the antithesis, that none should hate his brother, but rather love him as himself. We need, then, seek for no other expositor of the Commandment but God Himself, who pronounces those to be guilty of murder who are affected with any malevolence, and not only those who, when offended, desire to return evil for evil, but those who do not sincerely love their neighbors, even when with justice they deem them to be their enemies. Wherefore, in order that God may absolve us from spiritual murder, let us learn to purify our hearts from all desire of vengeance, and, laying aside hatred, to cultivate fraternal affection with all men.

Although the latter part of the verse embraces the sum of the whole Second Table, yet, because love is contrasted with vengeance, I have not thought fit to separate things which are so properly connected with each other, especially when one depends on the other. The precept is indeed only given with reference to the children of Abraham, because the crime of vengeance would be more atrocious between those who were bound together by fraternal rights; yet it is not to be doubted but that God generally condemns the vice. In the schools  16 this sentence was grossly corrupted; for, since the rule (as they say) is superior to what is regulated by it. they have invented a preposterous precept, that every one should love himself first, and then his neighbors; of which subject I will treat more fully elsewhere. The word נטר, natar, meaning to guard, when used without any addition, is equivalent to bearing an injury in mind; as we also say in French: “garder une injure.”  17

Leviticus 19

Leviticus 19:14

14. Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

14. Surdo non maledices, et coram caeco non pones offendiculum, sed timebis a Deo tuo: ego Jehova.


Since the Law comprehends under the word murder, all the wrongs whereby men are unjustly injured, that cruelty was especially to be condemned by which those wretched persons are afflicted, whose calamity ought rather to conciliate our compassion. For, if any particle of humanity exists in us, when we meet a blind man we shall be solicitous lest he should stumble or fall, and, if he goes astray, we shall stretch out our hands to him and try to bring him back into the way; we shall also spare the deaf, for to insult them is no less absurd or barbarous than to assail stones with reproaches. It is, therefore, gross brutality to increase the ills of those whom our natural sense impels us to relieve, and who are already troubled more than enough. Let us, then, learn from these words, that the weaker people are, the more secure ought they to be from all oppression or injury, and that, when we attack the defenseless, the crime of cruelty is greatly aggravated, whilst any insult against the calamitous is altogether intolerable to God.



So in V. “Non oderis fratrem tuum in corde tuo, sed publice argue eum,” etc.


Fr., “Les Theologiens de la Papaute.” C. refers elsewhere to this scholastic maxim: “Nor is the argument worth a straw, That the thing regulated must always be inferior to the rule. The Lord did not make self-love the rule, as if love towards others was subordinate to it; but whereas, through natural pravity, the feeling of love usually rests on ourselves, He shows that it ought to diffuse itself in another direction — that is, should be prepared to do good to our neighbor with no less alacrity, ardor, and solicitude, than to ourselves.” — Inst., book 2, 8, Section 54. “Again, when Moses commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he did not intend to put the love of ourselves in the first place, so that a man may first love himself and then love his neighbors: as the sophists of the Sorbonne are wont to cavil, that the rule must always go before what it regulates.” — Harm. of the Evangelists, (C. Society’s Trans.,) vol. 3, p. 59.


Addition in Fr., “Et pourtant il faut suppleer ou injure ou rancune; and, therefore, injury or grudge must be supplied.

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