Matthew Henry's Commentary
God ordained divers kinds of oblations and sacrifices, to assure his people of the forgiveness of their offences, if they offered them in true faith and obedience. Also he appointed the priests and Levites, their apparel, offices, conduct, and portion. He showed what feasts they should observe, and at what times. He declared by these sacrifices and ceremonies, that the reward of sin is death, and that without the blood of Christ, the innocent Lamb of God, there can be no forgiveness of sins.
Chapter 1 Introduction:
The offerings. (1,2) From the herds. (3-9) From the flocks, and of fowls. (10-17)
Chapter 2 Introduction:
The meat-offering of flour. (1-11) The offering of first-fruits. (12-16)
Chapter 3 Introduction:
The peace-offering of the herd. (1-5) The peace-offering of the flock. (6-17)
Chapter 4 Introduction:
The sin-offering of ignorance for the priest. (1-12) For the whole congregation. (13-21) For a ruler. (22-26) For any of the people. (27-35)
Chapter 5 Introduction:
Concerning various trespasses. (1-13) Concerning trespasses against the Lord. (14-19)
Chapter 6 Introduction:
Concerning trespasses against our neighbour. (1-7) Concerning the burnt-offering. (8-13) Concerning the meat-offering. (14-23) Concerning the sin-offering. (24-30)
Chapter 7 Introduction:
Concerning the trespass-offering. (1-10) Concerning the peace-offering. (11-27) The wave and heave offerings. (28-34) The conclusion of these institutions. (35-38)
Chapter 8 Introduction:
The consecration of Aaron and his sons. (1-13) The offerings of consecration. (14-36)
Chapter 9 Introduction:
The first offerings of Aaron for himself and the people. (1-21) Moses and Aaron bless the people, Fire cometh upon the altar from the Lord. (22-24)
Chapter 10 Introduction:
The sin and death of Nadab and Abihu. (1,2) Aaron and his sons forbidden to mourn for Nadab and Abihu. (3-7) Wine forbidden to the priests when in the service of the tabernacle. (8-11) Of eating the holy things. (12-20)
Chapter 11 Introduction:
What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
Chapter 12 Introduction:
Ceremonial purification. - After the laws concerning clean and unclean food, come the laws concerning clean and unclean persons. Man imparts his depraved nature to his offspring, so that, excepting as the atonement of Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit prevent, the original blessing, "Increase and multiply," |Ge 1:28|, is become to the fallen race a direful curse, and communicates sin and misery. Let those women who have received mercy from God in child-bearing, with all thankfulness own God's goodness to them; and this shall please the Lord better than sacrifices.
Chapter 13 Introduction:
Directions to the priest to judge concerning leprosy. (1-17) Further directions. (18-44) How the leper must be disposed of. (45,46) The leprosy in garments. (47-59)
Chapter 14 Introduction:
Of declaring the leper to be clean. (1-9) The sacrifices to be offered by him. (10-32) The leprosy in a house. (33-53) Summary of the law concerning leprosy. (54-57)
Chapter 15 Introduction:
Laws concerning ceremonial uncleanness. - We need not be curious in explaining these laws; but have reason to be thankful that we need fear no defilement, except that of sin, nor need ceremonial and burdensome purifications. These laws remind us that God sees all things, even those which escape the notice of men. The great gospel duties of faith and repentance are here signified, and the great gospel privileges of the application of Christ's blood to our souls for our justification, and his grace for our sanctification.
Chapter 16 Introduction:
The great day of atonement. (1-14) The sacrifices on it, The scape-goat. (15-34)
Chapter 17 Introduction:
All sacrifices to be offered at the tabernacle. (1-9) Eating of blood, or of animals which died a natural death, forbidden. (10-16)
Chapter 18 Introduction:
Unlawful marriages and fleshly lusts. - Here is a law against all conformity to the corrupt usages of the heathen. Also laws against incest, against brutal lusts, and barbarous idolatries; and the enforcement of these laws from the ruin of the Canaanites. God here gives moral precepts. Close and constant adherence to God's ordinances is the most effectual preservative from gross sin. The grace of God only will secure us; that grace is to be expected only in the use of the means of grace. Nor does He ever leave any to their hearts' lusts, till they have left him and his services.
Chapter 19 Introduction:
laws. - There are some ceremonial precepts in this chapter, but most of these precepts are binding on us, for they are explanations of the ten commandments. It is required that Israel be a holy people, because the God of Israel is a holy God, ver. |2|. To teach real separation from the world and the flesh, and entire devotedness to God. This is now the law of Christ; may the Lord bring every thought within us into obedience to it! Children are to be obedient to their parents, ver. |3|. The fear here required includes inward reverence and esteem, outward respect and obedience, care to please them and to make them easy. God only is to be worshipped, ver. |4|. Turn not from the true God to false ones, from the God who will make you holy and happy, to those that will deceive you, and make you for ever miserable. Turn not your eyes to them, much less your heart. They should leave the gleanings of their harvest and vintage for the poor, ver. |9|. Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things. We are to be honest and true in all our dealings, ver. |11|. Whatever we have in the world, we must see that we get it honestly, for we cannot be truly rich, or long rich, with that which is not so. Reverence to the sacred name of God must be shown, ver. |12|. We must not detain what belongs to another, particularly the wages of the hireling, ver. |13|. We must be tender of the credit and safety of those that cannot help themselves, ver. |14|. Do no hurt to any, because they are unwilling or unable to avenge themselves. We ought to take heed of doing any thing which may occasion our weak brother to fall. The fear of God should keep us from doing wrong things, though they will not expose us to men's anger. Judges, and all in authority, are commanded to give judgment without partiality, ver. |15|. To be a tale-bearer, and to sow discord among neighbours, is as bad an office as a man can put himself into. We are to rebuke our neighbour in love, ver. |17|. Rather rebuke him than hate him, for an injury done to thyself. We incur guilt by not reproving; it is hating our brother. We should say, I will do him the kindness to tell him of his faults. We are to put off all malice, and to put on brotherly love, ver. |18|. We often wrong ourselves, but we soon forgive ourselves those wrongs, and they do not at all lessen our love to ourselves; in like manner we should love our neighbour. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour. Ver. |31|: For Christians to have their fortunes told, to use spells and charms, or the like, is a sad affront to God. They must be grossly ignorant who ask, "What harm is there in these things?" Here is a charge to young people to show respect to the aged, ver. |32|. Religion teaches good manners, and obliges us to honour those to whom honour is due. A charge was given to the Israelites to be very tender of strangers, ver. |33|. Strangers, and the widows and fatherless, are God's particular care. It is at our peril, if we do them any wrong. Strangers shall be welcome to God's grace; we should do what we can to recommend religion to them. Justice in weights and measures is commanded, ver. |35|. We must make conscience of obeying God's precepts. We are not to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God. And the nearer our lives and tempers are to the precepts of God's law, the happier shall we be, and the happier shall we make all around us, and the better shall we adorn the gospel.
Chapter 20 Introduction:
Law against sacrificing children to Moloch, Of children that curse their parents. (1-9) Laws repeated, Holiness enjoined. (10-27)
Chapter 21 Introduction:
Laws concerning the priests. - As these priests were types of Christ, so all ministers must be followers of him, that their example may teach others to imitate the Saviour. Without blemish, and separate from sinners, He executed his priestly office on earth. What manner of persons then should his ministers be! But all are, if Christians, spiritual priests; the minister especially is called to set a good example, that the people may follow it. Our bodily infirmities, blessed be God, cannot now shut us out from his service, from these privileges, or from his heavenly glory. Many a healthful, beautiful soul is lodged in a feeble, deformed body. And those who may not be suited for the work of the ministry, may serve God with comfort in other duties in his church.
Chapter 22 Introduction:
Laws concerning the priests and sacrifices. - In this chapter we have divers laws concerning the priests and sacrifices, all for preserving the honour of the sanctuary. Let us recollect with gratitude that our great High Priest cannot be hindered by any thing from the discharge of his office. Let us also remember, that the Lord requires us to reverence his name, his truths, his ordinances, and commandments. Let us beware of hypocrisy, and examine ourselves concerning our sinful defilements, seeking to be purified from them in the blood of Christ, and by his sanctifying Spirit. Whoever attempts to expiate his own sin, or draws near in the pride of self-righteousness, puts as great an affront on Christ, as he who comes to the Lord's table from the gratification of sinful lusts. Nor can the minister who loves the souls of the people, suffer them to continue in this dangerous delusion. He must call upon them, not only to repent of their sins, and forsake them; but to put their whole trust in the atonement of Christ, by faith in his name, for pardon and acceptance with God; thus only will the Lord make them holy, as his own people.
Chapter 23 Introduction:
The feasts of the Lord, The Sabbath. (1-3) The Passover, The offering of first-fruits. (4-14) The feast of Pentecost. (15-22) The feast of Trumpets, The day of atonement. (23-32) The feast of Tabernacles. (33-44)
Chapter 24 Introduction:
Oil for the lamps, The shew-bread. (1-9) The law of blasphemy, blasphemer is stoned. (10-23)
Chapter 25 Introduction:
The sabbath of rest for the land in the seventh year. (1-7) The jubilee of the fiftieth year, Oppression forbidden. (8-22) Redemption of the land and houses. (23-34) Compassion towards the poor. (35-38) Laws respecting bondmen, Oppression forbidden. (39-55)
Chapter 26 Introduction:
Promises upon keeping the precepts. (1-13) Threatenings against disobedience. (14-39) God promises to remember those that repent. (40-46)
Chapter 27 Introduction:
The law concerning vows, Of persons and animals. (1-13) Vows concerning houses and land. (14-25) Devoted things not to be redeemed. (26-33) Conclusion. (34)