The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the third book of the Torah. The text is Leviticus 19:9-18 and it follows the declaration of an important reality in verse 2 of the chapter. “You are (will be) holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Contextually this is a far superior translation than: “Be holy, because…” So, the set-up for our text is the declaring to the Israelites the reality which is theirs because they are the children of God, people of the Covenant. “You are holy because the LORD your God is holy, and this is what that looks like.” In other words, because of the relationship of presence the LORD has with His people, His holiness ‘gets on them,’ and, as a result, this is what their life now looks like because the holy LORD is their God. The LORD says, “You are mine, I am yours and this is how we live and walk together.” United together in covenant and communion, the people are holy because of their union with the Holy One.
When considering these chapters of Leviticus, it comes down to identity and relationship. These laws, statutes and commands, given at Sinai, anticipate the people of Israel living with their LORD in the Promised Land. John Kleinig writes in his Leviticus Commentary:
By these prohibitions the Lord covered the members of his holy community with the canopy of his holiness and protected them from abuse by their associates. The prohibitions deal with those kinds of abuse and injustice that could not be treated in a normal court of law but could only be judged by God. By prohibiting them, God made these acts of injustice sins against himself and his holiness. He therefore upheld the integrity of the community and protected the sanctity of its members with his holy Word. His holiness supported and sustained those who were socially vulnerable and economically disadvantaged in the congregation of Israel (p. 410).
The love of God for His people and the love of His people for their LORD is demonstrated in a physical way as they live out this God-established relationship in the Covenant. This is their identity, and this is what it looks like.
Thank you to John Kleinig for his insightful commentary on Leviticus in the Concordia Commentary Series.
19:9 וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם (u-ve-kutz-re-Chem) root: קצר (kaw-tsar) Qal, infinitive: “to reap; harvest; to gather in”
קְצִיר (ke-Tzir) “harvested crops; harvest; crop”
פְּאַת. (pe-At) “side; edge (of a field); corner” Rabbinic tradition indicates this as the last furrow on the side of the field.
לִקְצֹר (lik-Tzor) root: קצר (kaw-tsar) Qal, infinitive: “to harvest; gather in; reap”
וְלֶקֶט> (ve-Le-ket) “remnants; gleanings”
תְלַקֵּט. (te-lak-Ket) root: לקט (law-kat) Piel: “to keep remnants; glean”
19:10 וְכַרְמְךָ> (ve-char-me-Cha) from: כרם (keh-rem) “vineyard”
תְעוֹלֵל (te-o-Lel) root: עלל (aw-lal) Polel: “to glean; strip” The idea is you should not strip or go over your vineyard/field a second time.
וּפֶרֶט (u-Fe-ret) “grapes that have broken off; fallen to the ground”
לֶעָנִי (le-a-Ni) “without (adequate) property; impoverished; needy; poor”
וְלַגֵּר> (ve-lag-Ger) from: גר (gare) “stranger; sojourner; temporary dweller; newcomer”
19:11 תִּגְנֹבוּ (tig-Nou) root: גנב (gaw-nab) Qal: “to steal” This is not so much open stealing, but theft of a secret or furtive nature.
תְכַחֲשׁוּ (te-cha-cha-Shu) root: כחשׁ (kaw-khash) Piel: “to deny; deceive; lie”
תְשַׁקְּרוּ. (te-shak-ke-Ru) root: שׁקר (shaw-kar) Piel: “to deal falsely; to break faith; lie”
בַּעֲמִיתוֹ (ba-a-mi-To) from: עמית (aw-meeth) “fellow citizen; fellow; associate”
19:12 וְחִלַּלְתָּ (ve-chil-lal-Ta) root: חלל (khaw-lal) Piel: “to desecrate; defame”
19:13 תַעֲשֹׁק (ta-a-Shok) root: עשׁק (aw-shak) Qal: “to oppress; to wrong; to exploit”
רֵעֲךָ (re-a-Cha) from: רע (ray-ah) “neighbor” In this context it refers to anyone who lives in Israel.
תִגְזֹל (tig-Zol) root: גזל (gaw-zal) Qal: “to rob; to take/tear away”
תָלִין (ta-Lin) root: לין (loon) Qal, or Hiphil. I would suggest the Hiphil translation of; “you shall not cause (the wages) to remain overnight”
פְּעֻלַּת (pe-ul-Lat) “wages; wage”
שָׂכִיר (sa-Chir) “hired laborer; hireling”
19:14 תְקַלֵּל (te-kal-Lel) root: קלל (kaw-lal) Piel: “to curse (verbally); to be accursed”
חֵרֵשׁ (che-Resh) “deaf”
עִוֵּרI (iv-Ver) “blind”
מִכְשֹׁל (mich-Shol) “stumbling block; hindrance; offence”
19:15 עָוֶל (a-vel) “injustice; unrighteousness”
דָל (Dal) “poor; helpless; downtrodden”
תֶהְדַּר (the-Dar) root: הדר (haw-dar) Qal: “to honor; pay honor to”
*Kleinig points out the “chiastic” structure of this verse.
19:16 רָכִיל (ra-Chil) “slander”
19:17 הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ (ho-Che-ach to-Chi-ach) root: יכח (yaw-kahh) Hiphil, infinitve, absolute with the imperfect: “to rebuke; reprove” The infinitive absolute with the imperfect gives a strong, emphatic sense.
חֵטְא (tis-Sa) “guilt; punishment as a result of sin”
19:18 תִקֹּם (tik-Kom) root: נקם (naw-kam) Qal: “to avenge oneself; to entertain thoughts of revenge” This word is used for actions taken outside of the accepted legal system; in other words, taking matters into one’s own hand.
תִטֹּרi (tit-Tor) root: נטר (naw-tar) Qal: “to bear a grudge; to keep a grudge toward”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Leviticus 19:9-18.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Leviticus 19:9-18.