Today we begin Leviticus Chapter 18.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“Adonai said to Moshe, “Speak to the people of Israel; tell them, ‘I am Adonai your God. You are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Egypt, where you used to live; and you are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you; nor are you to live by their laws.”-Leviticus 18:1-2
We’ve now arrived at that part of Scripture dealing with the Lord’s commands governing human sexual behavior.
And right off the bat we’re told that the guiding principle or purpose behind these commands is to draw a clear line of demarcation between the behaviors of the world and the behaviors expected of Israel AND those foreigners who are grafted into Israel.
Through these commands, the Lord is making two things very clear.
First, His people are NOT to continue the sexual behaviors that were commonplace in Egypt where they just left.
Second, they are NOT to adopt the sexual behaviors of the land they are about to enter, Canaan.
This might come as a bit of a surprise and shock to you, but while the Israelites resided in Egypt, it wasn’t like they lived in a state of disgust and shock at the immoral nature of the Egyptian society they found themselves immersed in.
Nor would they be taken aback by the sexual deviancy they encountered once they entered Canaan.
What behavior equalled “sexual immorality” had to be taught to them.
Until some outside objective force (in this case God) defined for the Israelites what SPECIFIC ACTIONS comprised sexual immorality, what was immoral or not was a completely subjective matter and differed from culture to culture and nation to nation.
I mean look at some Muslim societies where weddings between middle-aged men and 9 year olds take place!
But this is the kind of perversity that develops minus the firm hand of God’s commands to properly rein in and govern sexual behavior.
My point is, the Israelites, after being plucked out of Egypt, had to be taught a healthy disgust of those very practices YHVH disgusted.
For example, on a personal level, I find homosexuality absolutely disgusting.
When I was living in San Francisco and my eyes caught two guys making out like there was no tomorrow, I had to look away, and real quick.
I felt as if a part of my soul had just become tainted with dirtiness after being visually exposed to such an act.
Is my aversion to homosexuality some genetic trait I inherited?
No, I had to be taught through God’s Word that such acts are despicable.
I know this is true because obviously there are many people out there who aren’t shocked when exposed to ungodly sexual behavior.
People need rules and have to be taught what is right and wrong.
The same goes for CLEAN and UNCLEAN foods.
I had to be taught that pork and shellfish are UNCLEAN and to be avoided.
And now, thanks to TORAH, I have a healthy and natural aversion towards eating such creatures.
The same principle applied to the ancient Israelites.
God had to TEACH THEM (and remember TORAH really means “teaching” or “instruction”) to adopt his ways.
Much of these commands on sexual behavior were relatively new to the Hebrews.
After these commands were handed down, there might have been an Israelite or two who were irritated that they could no longer have sex with their pet goats anymore.
I mean think about it, the very fact that God had to hand down a command prohibiting certain behaviors shows that such behaviors must have been practiced to some extent by at least some of the folks in the community.
The Lord had to put His foot down and say, “No more Charlie, that activity is a no-no if you’re going to be one of my people”.
This brings me to my second point.
If you want to know exactly what actions comprise “sexual immorality”, Leviticus chapter 18 is where you have to go.
This is the place where you will find the one and only comprehensive list of God’s commands on sexual conduct.
Instead of just mindlessly accepting what your church or pastor says, who in most cases has very little foundational training in Torah principles, you need to study the Torah where sexual sin is defined.
And by the way, of all the sins listed, what’s interesting is you’ll find that sex before marriage is not on the list.
Here’s the list:
- Do not have sexual relations with thy father
- Do not have sexual relations with thy mother
- Do not have sexual relations with thy father’s wife
- Do not have sexual relations with thy sister
- Do not have sexual relations with thy son’s daughter
- Do not have sexual relations with thy daughter’s daughter
- Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of thy father’s wife
- Do not have sexual relations with thy father’s sister
- Do not have sexual relations with thy mother’s sister
- Do not have sexual relations with thy father’s brother
- Do not have sexual relations with thy father’s brother’s wife
- Do not have sexual relations with thy daughter-in-law
- Do not have sexual relations with thy brother’s wife
- Do not have sexual relations with a woman and her daughter
- Do not have sexual relations with a woman and her son’s daughter
- Do not have sexual relations with a woman and her daughter’s daughter
- Do not have sexual relations with thy wife in addition to her sister, as rivals
- Do not have sexual relations with a menstruous woman
- Do not have sexual relations with thy neighbor’s wife
- Man can not have sex between men
- Man can not have sexual relations with an animal
- Woman can not have sexual relations with an animal
You will notice that these rules are presented in a similar style as the 10 Commandments (or 10 Words).
They begin with the refrain…“I am YHVH thy God, you shall not…“
Also, like the 10 Commandments, the Lord doesn’t go out of His way to explain why He has issued such commands other than the reason that His People are to be HOLY because He is Holy.
One thing is clear about the Lord’s feelings on these prohibited practices.
They are not just a minor irritation to Him.
They are downright detestable, a total ABOMINATION.
However, on a positive note, the Lord says,
“if a person does obey my instructions,
he will have life through them;
I am YHVH.”