Leviticus 19:2 and 3, Be holy…revere. Reverence for or fear of parents is part of walking in holiness. The Jewish sages say that this commandment prohibits, for example, children from sitting in their parents’ favorite chair, from interrupting them, contradicting them in a discourteous manner or otherwise showing them disrespect. Honoring one’s parents, as mandated in the Ten Commandments, also refers to caring for their personal needs. This is sometimes easier said than done, but it is part of the walk of holiness and a fulfillment of Torah. How would our society be improved were all members conscious of this one commandment alone? Though the Scriptures admonish children to obey their parents, obeying YHVH’s commandments (e.g., the Sabbath) takes precedence over the wishes of parents should these be contrary to the Word of Elohim. Observing the seventh day Sabbath is a way of honoring our Heavenly Father, as well, since he is our Creator. This is one reason that the instructions of verse three follows verse two.
Leviticus 19:3–4, You shall fear/revere…sabbaths. What is the relationship between children revering (or honoring) their parents, observing YHVH’s sabbaths (including the annual appointed times or festivals) and shunning idols? Is there a cause-and-effect chain reaction relationship between these three things? If so, what does this teach parents about how to raise their children to help keep them in the paths of righteousness later on? Honoring our parents teaches us to fear and reverence Elohim who gifted us with life through our parents, while keeping YHVH’s weekly and annual sabbaths (the biblical feasts) helps us to stay in the paths of righteousness and, hence, in a right spiritual relationship with our earthly parents and our Heavenly Parent.
Leviticus 19:7–8, Not be accepted. What are rejected offerings? The Torah teaches that offerings can be disqualified because YHVH’s protocols for making the offering were not followed. The peace offering was a voluntary offering where the offerer’s expresses thanks to Elohim and seeks friendship or communion with him. It celebrated a good relationship between YHVH and the offerer who had repented of his sin, and was now at peace with his Maker. (Actually, this is a prophetic picture of and the Torah basis for the New Testament communion or the Lord’s supper ritual.) What lessons are in this for us? In the larger picture, for example, YHVH has given us specific instructions to come into a spiritual relationship with him and to obtain his free gift of eternal life. How is this relationship achieved? (See John 3:15–18, 36; 5:24; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 1 John 1:9; Rom 10:9–10,13; 16:31.) Who is the doorway into that forever relationship with our Father in heaven? (Read John 10:7–10.) What does Yeshua say about those who invent self-styled religious systems in an effort to obtain immortality while circumventing YHVH’s spiritual door? (See John 10:1.) YHVH sets the rules, and it is up to man to follow them. Those who don’t will be rejected.
Leviticus 19:6–7, It shall be eaten…the third day. In Scripture, the terms first, second and third day can have prophetic significance (e.g., Hos 6:2; Gen 22:4; Luke 13:32; Exod 19:11, 15) by referring to the salvational work of Messiah Yeshua that occurred at his first coming, and which will continue through the first, second and third millennia after his first coming. Day three would correspond to the beginning of the seventh millennia from the creation of man—a date we must be very near.
If Torah reveals that the peace offering was not accepted on the third day, what is this suggesting prophetically? Leviticus 7:17–18 says of the same offering that the portion of the sacrifice which remains until the third day shall be burnt with fire, while Leviticus 19:6–8 says that the person who eats the peace offering on the third day will “bear his iniquity” and “will be cut off from his people.” That is, the peace offering will be of no avail to that person, and they will not have peace with their Redeemer. What is this seem to be telling us prophetically?
Is a day coming when the door of opportunity for salvation will be shut (as was the case when the door of Noah’s ark was shut before Elohim brought judgment upon the earth by the flood, Gen 7:16)? That is, in the end times, will the period of grace that we are now in end just prior to that time when the wrath of Elohim will be poured out upon the unregenerate (Rev 15–16) just prior to the return of Yeshua? If so, this begs the following question: Are you saved by the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH? Have you repented of your sins (violation of YHVH’s Torah-laws [1 John 3:4]), and are you walking in a righteous and obedient relationship with your Heavenly Father through Yeshua the Messiah by the power of the Ruach Kodesh (Set-Apart Spirit)?
For he says, “I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2)
Leviticus 19:9, Corners of your field.Leaving the corners of the fields unharvested, and leaving the gleanings in one’s field for the poor was a wonderful way to help the impoverished and disadvantaged—the poor that Yeshua declared would always be among us (John 12:8). There was no government welfare system in the Torah for those who were able to work. Moreover, YHVH commands us to work for six days and then to rest on the seventh day or Sabbath (Exod 20:8–11), and that if a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat (2 Thess 3:10), and that a righteous man provides for his household (1 Tim 5:8). However, just because a person is poor doesn’t mean that they are lazy. They may be poor for a variety of reasons other than slothfulness. So, since there will always be poor people (John 12:8), helping the poor is a timeless principle of how YHVH expects his people to show love for those who are less fortunate. The Torah here, as understood by the Jewish sages, teaches that we are first obligated to help the needy of our immediate physical family, then our extended family, and finally the poor in general (Deut 15:7–8 cp. Deut 14:28–29 and 26:12–13). What do you do to help the poor? When was the last time you extended your hand of love to a person in need? (Let’s not forget what Yeshua teaches us in Matt 25:31–46. Also note Jas 1:27; John 3:16.)
Leviticus 19:16, A talebearer among your people. The dictionary defines a talebearer as “a person who maliciously gossips or reveals secrets.”
Leviticus 19:17–18, Not hate your brother.
On Vengeance, Retribution, Vindictiveness and Bearing Grudges Against Others
The KJV and NKJV translations of this verse are difficult to understand. What is this verse really telling us?
Various Bibles translate this verse differently.
The NIV reads, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”
The NAS has, “You shall not hate your fellow-countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.”
Finally, the ASET reads, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.”
What we learn from these various translations is that when your brother treats you improperly, honestly confront him, or as Yeshua said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matt 18:15). However, if he ignores you and is still prone to vengeance or bearing a grudge against you, don’t become like him and retaliate against him (Lev 19:18). Instead, love him as yourself, or treat him with love as you wish to be treated (ibid.), or else you will incur his sin by becoming like him (v. 17).
Yeshua summed up this godly principle of not giving in to vengeance and retaliation when wronged this way, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:39). This is loving one’s neighbor as oneself and is the summation of the second half of the Torah (Mark 12:29–31) as summed up by the last six of the ten commandments (Exod 20:12–17).
The bottom line is that exhibiting vengeance, retribution, vindictiveness or bearing a grudge against one’s neighbor demonstrates a lack of self control, is a result of anger and is a form of hatred, which are all works of the flesh resulting in contentions between people (Gal 5:20). These are sinful behaviors and are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24), and people who habitually practice these sins along with the other works of the flesh are in danger of not being in the kingdom of Elohim (Gal 5:21).
Leviticus 19:19, Livestock breed with another kind…sow your field with mixed seed.
The Bible on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
What does the Torah have to say about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or foods? This verse is a remez or hint level understanding of Scripture seems to addresses this issue. The ancient biblical writings are amazingly prescient on this issue when the Torah forbids the mixing of dissimilar species (such as seeds and animal species), which were separated in the creation by Elohim, and which he established to reproduce after their own kind.
The type of genetic modification of plants and animals that we’re concerned about is that of forcing the DNA of one species into that of another. In reality, it’s a form of man-induced macro-evolution where one species takes on the characteristics of another species. Micro-evolution is a natural phenomenon that occurs between like plant and animal species (e.g., diverse kinds of cats, apples, palm trees, etc.).This can occur naturally (called adaptation) and through the human-induced processes of hybridization. This isn’t a bad thing, in most cases. However, there are no examples of macro-evolution in the creation despite evolutionists’ best efforts to prove otherwise. Evolutionists have failed to find the missing links between monkeys and men, or lizards and birds, or slime and amphibians—at least not until genetic engineering came along. Now through genetic engineering they can create the missing link. This is not only an affront to the Creator, and goes contrary to the Bible, but it’s the opening of a Pandora’s box of all sorts of unintended evil consequences where man is playing God, while not knowing what the consequences will be.
The Creator simply commands men not to mix diverse kinds (species) without giving the reasons. We are to assume that he knows best whether we understand the technical reasons or not.
Since the recent emergence of the science of genetic engineering and the negative consequences of some aspects of it, perhaps the Creator’s prohibitions against mixing dissimilar species now makes more sense.
Here are the scriptural prohibitions:
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee. (Lev 19:19)
Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. (Deut 22:9)
Here are some excerpts from some Bible commentaries on Leviticus 19:19 pertaining to this subject:
These practices might have been considered as altering the original constitution of God in creation; and this is the view which the Jews, and also Josephus and Philo, take of the subject. (The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on Lev 19:19)
God in the beginning made the cattle after their kind (Gen 1:25), and we must acquiesce in the order of nature God hath established, believing that is best and sufficient, and not covet monsters. Add thou not unto his works, lest he reprove thee; for it is the excellency of the work of God that nothing can, without making it worse, be either put to it or taken from it, Eccl 3:14. As what God has joined we must not separate, so what he has separated we must not join. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Lev 19:19)
By these laws the observance of the natural order and separation of things is made a duty binding on the Israelites…as a divine ordinance founded in the creation itself (Gen 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25). All symbolic, mystical, moral, and utilitarian reasons that have been supposed to lie at the foundation of these commands, are foreign to the spirit of the law. (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the OT on Lev 19:19).
God created the world with certain distinct species, and His wisdom decreed that these species remain intact and unadulterated. For man to take it upon himself to alter the order of Creation suggest a lack of faith in God’s plan. Moreover, each species on earth is directed by a Heavenly force, so that the earthly species represents profound spiritual forces. To tamper with them is to cause harm that earth-bound man cannot fathom. (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash on Lev 19:19)
…God’s Creation should be permitted to function according to the laws of nature that He instituted, without tampering by man. It should be noted that these laws of mixture are limited to specific matters [i.e. cross-mixing of species], and do not limit the infinite number of alloys or combinations that are so much a part of modern life. To the contrary, man is duty bound to improve the world and, in a sense, “complete” the work of the Creation. (The ArtScroll Tanach Series Levticus Commentary on Lev 19:19)
With regard to GMO foods, there is also the issue of what is biblically kosher or not. If foods are genetically altered, who knows if what one thinks he is eating actually is totally that. Within the milk you’re drinking or the steak that you’re eating, for example, there may be genes from an unkosher animal.
Leviticus 19:23–25, You shall count their fruit. We are to honor YHVH and give him his due in all areas of life including our fruit trees. This principle of reaping and sowing and giving YHVH a portion of that which is his anyway is a universally applicable principle in the Scriptures. This principle applies NOT only to agricultural increase, but to every area of our lives in which we prosper, for the earth is YHVH’s and the fullness thereof (Ps 24:1), and everything belongs to him anyway. YHVH is simply lending everything to us (including our very lives) that which belongs to him, and we honor this fact by giving back to him a tenth of our increase.
There are some believers who say that giving YHVH the first fruits of our increase applies only to those involved in agricultural enterprises. If this were the case, then how do we account for Abraham’s tithing to Melchizedek from the spoils of war (Gen 14:20)? Furthermore, Solomon taught that we are to honor YHVH with the first fruits of all our labors (Prov 3:9). Moreover, Malachi taught that to not tithe is to rob YHVH and to invite the destroyer to ravage our finances (Mal 3:8–11). Yeshua taught the blessedness of giving (Luke 6:38), and Paul taught that we reap what we sow, and that if we sow nothing we will reap nothing (Gal 6:7–10). This universal principle doesn’t apply just to finances, but to all areas of life.
Do you have an attitude of honoring YHVH whenever possible by your giving of not only your treasure, but your time and talent as well? Giving is a lifestyle practice motivated by a heart attitude of love and gratitude, and a desire to please and honor your heavenly Father.
There are two kinds of people: givers and getters. Which one are you? Yeshua said that it’s more blessed to give than to get (Acts 20:35).
Leviticus 19:27, You shall not shave around the sides of your beard.
Should Men Wear Beards?
Some Torah scholars say that there is no place in the Torah, or anywhere else in the Scriptures, that explicitly commands men to wear beards. Others who are of the opinion that men should wear beards agree that while there may be no direct command to wear a beard, the Scriptures give an implied or indirect command to do so. In other words, it’s assumed that men will have a beard. I am of the latter opinion.
Some will point to Leviticus 19:27 and 21:5 in attempts to prove that men are to wear beards — that they are not to shave their beards. In reality, this command related specifically to shaving the beard in honor of the dead according to some ritual the ancient pagans practiced. In other words, YHVH is telling the Israelite men not to shave their beards as the pagans did in honor of the dead. What exactly that pagan practice was, we don’t know for sure.
Can these two verses be taken as a prohibition against a man shaving his beard? Those who say no will say that there is no direct command in the Bible to have a beard, but if you do have one, don’t shave it in honor of the dead as the pagans did. Those who say yes will say that these two verses imply a command for men to have a beard; that is, how can you cut something that you don’t already have? There are well-meaning people on both sides of this debate.
These things we know for sure. Aaron the high priest had a beard (Ps 133:2). Yeshua had a beard or else Isaiah 50:6 was a false prophecy. Ezekiel had a beard (Ezek 5:1), Ezra had a beard (Ezra 9:3); David had a beard (1 Sam 21:13); and many Israelite men wore beards (2 Sam 10:4-5; 1 Chr 19:5; Jer 41:5). It is also a religious Jewish tradition to this day for men to have beards, and we know that this tradition is rooted in antiquity.
One could also ask the question why would YHVH create men with facial hair if only for the purpose of shaving it off?
Leviticus 19:28, Cuttings in the flesh for the dead…tattoos. Cutting the flesh and making tattoos involving either cutting or piercing the flesh and inserting dies caused the letting of blood, which was an ancient means of conjuring up demons who are attracted to blood. “For the dead” indicates that the purpose of cutting the flesh was to contact the spirits of the dead for the purpose of necromancy or to consult the dead. Since the Bible teaches that the dead know nothing and that a person ceases to exist upon death, it was not the dead who those who practiced necromancy were consulting, but demons who were posing as the dead person. Therefore, flesh cutting is a form of devil worship, which is why YHVH forbad it. (For further discussion on this, see my notes at Lev 17:1–14.)