We’ve just started studying Leviticus 26 which contains a listing of blessings and curses for obeying or disobeying YHWH’s commands.
I should let you know that there has been constant pressure from the scientific community to portray the contents of Leviticus as being something NOT received by Moses on Mount Sinai around 1300 BC according to Bible chronology.
They will say these blessings and curses were something conjured up in the minds of Jews after they returned from Babylon in about 530 BC.
Well, I’d like to share a piece of objective evidence that I believe will serve as the death blow to this fallacious idea.
Here’s what you should know.
The listing of blessings and curses found in Leviticus 26 are actually patterned after a familiar and well-established format for that time period and area.
Leviticus 26 is quite similar in style to the legal codes of Lipit-Ishtar, the Laws Of Hammurabi, the Hittites and the Old Babylonian Kingdom.
When I say similar in style, I mean the codes usually spell out a series of laws and rulings that concludes with blessings on those who obey and curses on those who disobey.
Here’s an interesting sampling from the ancient Sumerian code of Lipit-Ishtar:
“If a man take a wife and do not arrange with her the (proper) contracts, that woman is not a (legal) wife.”
“If a woman hate her husband, and say: “Thou shalt not have me,” they shall inquire into her antecedents for her defects; and if she have been a careful mistress and be without reproach and her husband have been going about and greatly belittling her, that woman has no blame. She shall receive her dowry and shall go to her father’s house.”
“If a man destroy the eye of another freeman [i.e., a man in the upper class], they shall destroy his eye.”
“If one destroy the eye of a villein [a dependent laborer] or break the bone of a freeman, he shall pay one mana of silver.”
“If a man’s slave strike a man’s son, they shall cut off his ear.”
Not only does the existence of similar legal codes from the same era and region demonstrate that the Leviticus code was NOT something the Israelites made up after Babylon in about 530 BC, but also shows that the Hebrews were NOT an isolated group of people separated from the world around them.
As I’ve said before, YHWH often used (and He still does today) existing cultural apparatus to communicate and achieve His will.
This is what He did when He handed down the Levitical laws through Moses.
He took an already existing legal code and modified it for His divine purposes.
Finally, recognize that the contents of Leviticus 26 are being addressed to Israel as a nation.
YHWH is speaking to the WHOLE CONGREGATION of Israel, not just certain groups or chosen leaders.
While there may be cases where individual blessings or curses may be doled out, this is more about how God will respond to Israel as a whole group or community.
But if you think about it, a nation is nothing but a large group of individuals anyway.
If only a 100 or even a 1000 people of a nation’s population are disobedient, the overall effect on the nation is not so significant.
But if the number of rebellious sinners reaches numbers in the tens of thousands, then the cumulative effect begins to reach dangerous numbers to the point where the entire nation could be at risk of coming under God’s judgment.
There is an important takeaway here.
Your individual behavior matters whether for good or bad.
It’s no secret that what you do affects others.
Your good behavior could set off a positive chain reaction that could lead to national blessing or your bad behavior could set off a negative chain reaction that could lead to national curses.
Never think that your individual behavior is of no consequence, so why even do anything.
This is precisely why the punishments listed in the previous chapters are so harsh.
YHWH knows that the habitually disobedient are like a cancer that needs to be cut out before it affects the whole body.