“The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.“-Leviticus 18:7
I want to take a close look at and define two terms we’ll find appearing quite frequently in our Bibles.
They are “uncover nakedness” and “his own flesh”.
“Uncovering nakedness” means the sexual body parts of the male for female body OR refers to sexual relations in general.
“His own flesh” means a man’s close relatives.
Hence, taken within the context of these sexual commands here in Leviticus 18, the idea is that a man is not to have sex with any female who falls within the God-defined boundaries of those who are part of his family.
Properly understanding these terms will enable us to better understand the list of who a man can and cannot have sex with.
For example, the following verse might normally not make much sense:
Do not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister; for she is your mother’s flesh.-Leviticus 18:13
It’s easy to comprehend that a man isn’t to lie with his mother’s sister or his aunt.
But what about that phrase “for she is your mother’s flesh”.
What this is simply getting at is the mother’s sister and the mother are close relatives by blood.
The Biblical term for being a close relative is “to be of someone’s flesh”.
Let’s take a look at verse 7.
“The nakedness of thy father,
or the nakedness of thy mother,
shalt thou not uncover:
she is thy mother;
thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.”
What in the heck does it mean “to not uncover the nakedness of thy father”?
Is this referring to engaging in homosexual sex with one’s own father?
Again, the answer is NO.
The phrase “father’s nakedness” is POSSESSIVE.
In other words, it is referring to the nakedness that your father owns, the nakedness that is his property so to speak.
The point here is that your father is the only one that has exclusive sexual rights to your mother.
She belongs to him and to him alone.
This reminds me of when Reuben broke this command by sleeping with his father’s concubine Bilhah.
“While Israel was living in that region,
Reuben went in and slept
with his father’s concubine Bilhah,
and Israel heard of it.”
Now a concubine, although not of the same status as a full-fledged wife, was still a man’s property, or a man’s nakedness.
Hence, this was a big no-no and Reuben was punished severely for it.
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might,
and the beginning of my strength,
the excellency of dignity,
and the excellency of power:
Unstable as water,
thou shalt not excel;
because thou wentest up
to thy father’s bed;
then defiledst thou it:
he went up to my couch.
Or how about when Absalom slept with his father’s concubines?
“So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof,
and he slept with his father’s concubines
in the sight of all Israel.”
-2 Samuel 16:22
What gross rebellion and such flagrant disregard for God’s Torah!!!
What’s interesting is that in both of these cases, sexual immorality was used as the illegitimate vehicle to achieve political power.
And in both cases, the perpetrators failed miserably.
Reuben lost his firstborn rights.
And Absalom ended up hanging from a tree by his hair dead from the arrows of his father’s army.
The Lord means business when He says obey my commands or pay the consequences.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile,
the murderers, the sexually immoral,
those who practice magic arts,
the idolaters and all liars
–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death.”