“Do not eat anything with blood. Do not practice divination or fortune-telling. Don’t round your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard. Don’t cut gashes in your flesh when someone dies or tattoo yourselves; I am YHVH.”-Leviticus 19:26
In verse 26, in rapid fire fashion, we are given a series of seemingly stand-alone commandments all packed together in one verse.
However, what we need to keep in mind is that these rulings are NOT stand-alone rulings but were given as a set to combat some pagan practice of some pagan nation or another.
They were not theoretical or hypothetical issues that the Lord was addressing.
These things were actually common practices among the Canaanites and God wanted the Hebrews to avoid them.
First, the prohibition against eating blood was speaking out against a pagan rite of divination in which a ritual meal was consumed over a pit or large receptacle containing blood.
The idea was that the spirits of the dead could be conjured up from the blood.
We can see that this is connected to the command that immediately follows which forbids the practice of divination or fortunetelling.
We’ll find that all throughout the TANAK (the Old Testament), the Israelites were drawn like a moth to a flame to the occult.
The unfortunate truth is that throughout all their history, the Hebrews made abundant use of the occult.
Wanting to know the future has always been, and will always be, something mankind is intensely drawn to.
However, God makes it clear that we are live our lives in faith by following His clearly defined laws and principles as set down at Mount Sinai.
If the Lord wants us to know something specific about the future, He will tell us through His chosen prophets.
Next, we’re told that we’re not to “round off the edge-growth of your head”.
The word for “edge-growth” is PE’AH and it is the same one used in verse 9 for the edge of the field, which was also not to be cut.
Shaving the head, tearing or mutilating the beard, and gnashing one’s body were all pagan mourning practices that the Lord didn’t want His people to be a part of.