Exhortation to Obedience
1 “‘You must not make for yourselves idols,sn For the literature regarding the difficult etymology and meaning of the term for “idols” (אֱלִילִם, ’elilim), see the literature cited in the note on Lev 19:4. It appears to be a diminutive play on words with אֵל (’el, “god, God”) and, perhaps at the same time, recalls a common Semitic word for “worthless, weak, powerless, nothingness.” Snaith suggests a rendering of “worthless godlings.” so you must not set up for yourselves a carved image or a pillar, and you must not place a sculpted stone in your land to bow down beforetn Heb “on.” The “sculpted stone” appears to be some sort of stone with images carved into (see B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 181, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 449). it, for I am the Lord your God.
2 You must keep my Sabbaths and reverencetn Heb “and my sanctuary you shall fear.” Cf. NCV “respect”; CEV “honor.” my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
The Benefits of Obedience
3 “‘If you walk in my statutes and are sure to obey my commandments,tn Heb “and my commandments you shall keep and do them.” This appears to be a kind of verbal hendiadys, where the first verb is a modifier of the action of the second verb (see GKC 386 §120.d, although שָׁמַר [shamar, “to keep”] is not cited there; cf. Lev 20:8; 25:18, etc.).
4 I will give you your rains in their time so thattn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here. the land will give its yield and the trees of the field will produce their fruit.tn Heb “the tree of the field will give its fruit.” As a collective singular this has been translated as plural.
5 Threshing season will extend for you until the season for harvesting grapes,tn Heb “will reach for you the vintage season.” and the season for harvesting grapes will extend until sowing season, sotn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here. you will eat your bread until you are satisfied,tn Heb “to satisfaction”; KJV, ASV, NASB “to the full.” and you will live securely in your land.
6 I will grant peace in the land so thattn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here. you will lie down to sleep without anyone terrifying you.tn Heb “and there will be no one who terrifies.” The words “to sleep” have been supplied in the translation for clarity. I will remove harmful animalstn Heb “harmful animal,” singular, but taken here as a collective plural (so almost all English versions). from the land, and no sword of wartn Heb “no sword”; the words “of war” are supplied in the translation to indicate what the metaphor of the sword represents. will pass through your land.
7 You will pursue your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword.tn Heb “to the sword.”
8 Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.
9 I will turn to you, make you fruitful, multiply you, and maintaintn Heb “cause to arise,” but probably used here for the Lord’s intention of confirming or maintaining the covenant commitment made at Sinai. Cf. KJV “establish”; NASB “will confirm”; NAB “carry out”; NIV “will keep.” my covenant with you.
10 You will still be eating stored produce from the previous yeartn Heb “old [produce] growing old.” and will have to clean out what is stored from the previous year to make room for new.tn Heb “and old from the presence of new you will bring out.”
11 “‘I will put my tabernacletn LXX codexes Vaticanus and Alexandrinus have “my covenant” rather than “my tabernacle.” Cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV “my dwelling.” in your midst and I will not abhor you.tn Heb “and my soul [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh] will not abhor you.”
12 I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people.
13 I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, from being their slaves,tn Heb “from being to them slaves.” and I broke the bars of your yoke and caused you to walk upright.tn In other words, to walk as free people and not as slaves. Cf. NIV “with (+ your CEV, NLT) heads held high”; NCV “proudly.”
The Consequences of Disobedience
14 “‘If, however,tn Heb “And if.” you do not obey me and keeptn Heb “and do not do.” all these commandments –
15 if you reject my statutes and abhor my regulations so that you do not keeptn Heb “to not do.” all my commandments and you break my covenant –
16 I for my parttn Or “I also” (see HALOT 76 s.v. אַף 6.b). will do this to you: I will inflict horror on you, consumption and fever, which diminish eyesight and drain away the vitality of life.tn Heb “soul.” These expressions may refer either to the physical effects of consumption and fever as the rendering in the text suggests (e.g., J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 452, 454, “diminishing eyesight and loss of appetite”), or perhaps the more psychological effects, “which exhausts the eyes” because of anxious hope “and causes depression” (Heb “causes soul [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh] to pine away”), e.g., B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 185. You will sow your seed in vain becausetn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have causal force here. your enemies will eat it.tn That is, “your enemies will eat” the produce that grows from the sown seed.
17 I will set my face against you. You will be struck down before your enemies, those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when there is no one pursuing you.
18 “‘If, in spite of all these things,tn Heb “And if until these.” you do not obey me, I will discipline you seven times more on account of your sins.tn Heb “I will add to discipline you seven [times] on your sins.”
19 I will break your strong pride and make your sky like iron and your land like bronze.
20 Your strength will be used up in vain, your land will not give its yield, and the trees of the landtn Heb “the tree of the land will not give its fruit.” The collective singular has been translated as a plural. Tg. Onq., some medieval Hebrew mss, Smr, LXX, and Tg. Ps.-J. have “the field” as in v. 4, rather than “the land.” will not produce their fruit.
21 “‘If you walk in hostility against metn Heb “hostile with me,” but see the added preposition בְּ (bet) on the phrase “in hostility” in v. 24 and 27. and are not willing to obey me, I will increase your afflictiontn Heb “your blow, stroke”; cf. TEV “punishment”; NLT “I will inflict you with seven more disasters.” seven times according to your sins.
22 I will send the wild animalstn Heb “the animal of the field.” This collective singular has been translated as a plural. The expression “animal of the field” refers to a wild (i.e., nondomesticated) animal. against you and they will bereave you of your children,tn The words “of your children” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied. annihilate your cattle, and diminish your populationtn Heb “and diminish you.” so that your roads will become deserted.
23 “‘If in spite of these thingstn Heb “And if in these.” you do not allow yourselves to be disciplined and you walk in hostility against me,tn Heb “with me,” but see the added preposition בְּ (bet) on the phrase “in hostility” in vv. 24 and 27.
24 I myself will also walk in hostility against you and strike youtn Heb “and I myself will also strike you.” seven times on account of your sins.
25 I will bring on you an avenging sword, a covenant vengeance.tn Heb “vengeance of covenant”; cf. NAB “the avenger of my covenant.” Althoughtn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) has a concessive force in this context. you will gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you and you will be given into enemy hands.tn Heb “in hand of enemy,” but Tg. Ps.-J. and Tg. Neof. have “in the hands of your enemies” (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 454).
26 When I break off your supply of bread,tn Heb “When I break to you staff of bread” (KJV, ASV, and NASB all similar). ten women will bake your bread in one oven; they will ration your bread by weight,tn Heb “they will return your bread in weight.” and you will eat and not be satisfied.
27 “‘If in spite of thistn Heb “And if in this.” you do not obey me but walk in hostility against me,tn Heb “with me.”
28 I will walk in hostile rage against youtn Heb “in rage of hostility with you”; NASB “with wrathful hostility”; NRSV “I will continue hostile to you in fury”; CEV “I’ll get really furious.” and I myself will also discipline you seven times on account of your sins.
29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.tn Heb “and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.” The phrase “you will eat” has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.
30 I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars,sn Regarding these cultic installations, see the remarks in B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 188, and R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:903. The term rendered “incense altars” might better be rendered “sanctuaries [of foreign deities]” or “stelae.” and I will stack your dead bodies on top of the lifeless bodies of your idols.tn The translation reflects the Hebrew wordplay “your corpses…the corpses of your idols.” Since idols, being lifeless, do not really have “corpses,” the translation uses “dead bodies” for people and “lifeless bodies” for the idols. I will abhor you.tn Heb “and my soul will abhor you.”
31 I will lay your cities wastetn Heb “And I will give your cities a waste”; NLT “make your cities desolate.” and make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will refuse to smell your soothing aromas.
32 I myself will make the land desolate and your enemies who live in it will be appalled.
33 I will scatter you among the nations and unsheathe the swordtn Heb “and I will empty sword” (see HALOT 1228 s.v. ריק 3). after you, so your land will become desolate and your cities will become a waste.
34 “‘Then the land will make up fortn There are two Hebrew roots רָצָה (ratsah), one meaning “to be pleased with; to take pleasure” (HALOT 1280-81 s.v. רצה; cf. “enjoy” in NASB, NIV, NRSV, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 452), and the other meaning “to restore” (HALOT 1281-82 s.v. II רצה; cf. NAB “retrieve” and B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 189). its Sabbaths all the days it lies desolate while you are in the land of your enemies; then the land will rest and make up its Sabbaths.
35 All the days of the desolation it will have the rest it did not havetn Heb “it shall rest which it did not rest.” on your Sabbaths when you lived on it.
36 “‘As fortn Heb “And.” the ones who remain among you, I will bring despair into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a blowing leaf will pursue them, and they will flee as one who flees the sword and fall down even though there is no pursuer.
37 They will stumble over each other as those who flee before a sword, thoughtn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) is used in a concessive sense here. there is no pursuer, and there will be no one to take a standtn The term rendered “to stand up” is a noun, not an infinitive. It occurs only here and appears to designate someone who would take a powerful stand for them against their enemies. for you before your enemies.
38 You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will consume you.
Restoration through Confession and Repentance
39 “‘As for the ones who remain among you, they will rot away because oftn Heb “in” (so KJV, ASV; also later in this verse). their iniquity in the lands of your enemies, and they will also rot away because of their ancestors’tn Heb “fathers’” (also in the following verse). iniquities which are with them.
40 However, whentn Heb “And.” Many English versions take this to be a conditional clause (“if…”) though there is no conditional particle (see, e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV; but see the very different rendering in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 190). The temporal translation offered here (“when”) takes into account the particle אָז (’az, “then”), which occurs twice in v. 41. The obvious contextual contrast between vv. 39 and 40 is expressed by “however” in the translation. they confess their iniquity and their ancestors’ iniquity which they committed by trespassing against me,tn Heb “in their trespassing which they trespassed in me.” See the note on Lev 5:15, although the term is used in a more technical sense there in relation to the “guilt offering.” by which they also walkedtn Heb “and also which they walked.” in hostility against metn Heb “with me.”
41 (and I myself will walk in hostility against them and bring them into the land of their enemies), andtn Heb “or then,” although the LXX has “then” and the Syriac “and then.” then their uncircumcised hearts become humbled and they make up fortn Heb “and then they make up for.” On the verb “make up for” see the note on v. 34 above. their iniquity,
42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham,tn Heb “my covenant with Abraham I will remember.” The phrase “I will remember” has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons. and I will remember the land.
43 The land will be abandoned by themtn Heb “from them.” The preposition “from” refers here to the agent of the action (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 455). in order that it may make up fortn The jussive form of the verb with the simple vav (ו) here calls for a translation that expresses purpose. its Sabbaths while it is made desolatetn The verb is the Hophal infinitive construct with the third feminine singular suffix (GKC 182 §67.y; cf. v. 34). without them,tn Heb “from them.” and they will make up for their iniquity becausetn Heb “because and in because,” a double expression, which is used only here and in Ezek 13:10 (without the vav) for emphasis (GKC 492 §158.b). they have rejected my regulations and have abhorredtn Heb “and their soul has abhorred.” my statutes.
44 In spite of this, however, when they are in the land of their enemies I will not reject them and abhor them to make a complete end of them, to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God.
45 I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestorstn Heb “covenant of former ones.” sn For similar expressions referring back to the ancestors who refused to follow the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant see, for example, Deut 19:14, Jer 11:10, and Ps 79:8 (see B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 192, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 471). whom I brought out from the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’”
Summary Colophon
46 These are the statutes, regulations, and instructions which the Lord establishedtn Heb “gave” (so NLT); KJV, ASV, NCV “made.” between himself and the Israelites at Mount Sinai throughtn Heb “by the hand of” (so KJV). Moses.