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Leviticus 19:1,2, 15?18 Essay, Research Paper

Leviticus 19:1,2, 15?18

Scope, Selection and Content of Pericope

Leviticus 19:1,2, 15?18 is the Old Testament pericope appointed for 23 Pentecost A in the LBW. Verses 15-18 are a thematically related set of laws regarding relationships with ?neighbors?. The pericope is in-complete without the introductory statement of 1,2, because the laws in this chapter are all expansion and commentary on v 2. The appro-pri-ate pericope is Lev 19:1,2, 15-18.


Leviticus as a whole is P material. Leviticus 17-26, the Holiness Code, is the remains of a pre-existing book brought into the P narra-tive. The theological center of this source is the meaning of ?holiness? within Israel. Within the Holiness Code are signs of a com-plex prior tradition history.

According to Cozelle?s categories, the laws in the pericope are apo-dictic prohibitions with one concluding positive commandment. Such laws are Israelite in origin, not borrowings from other cultures. In form, these are absolute demands from God addressed to each single member of the community.

Summary of Content

Preceding context

Chapter 19, a new unit within the Holiness Code, is unrelated to the context, Lev 17, the centralization of sacrifice, and Lev 18, sexual purity.


God speaks to Moses and commands him to transmit God?s words (which follow) to the people. ?You will be holy, because I am holy; Yahweh is your God.?

(The pericope is interrupted by verses 3?14.)

?Make your judgments with justice–do not favor either the rich or the poor. Do not slander your people or profit from the death of your neighbor. Do not hate anyone in your community. Give correction to your neighbor when your neighbor?s sins. If you do not correct your neighbor you will be guilty of what your neighbor does. Do not try to ?get back? at your neighbor. Do not keep your neighbor?s offenses against you in your mind. Love your neighbor instead, the same way you love yourself. You are to do these things because I am Yahweh.?


The second part of the chapter gives loosely-related laws. In v 34 is the command to love the resident alien as one?s self.



The primary meaning of the verb, wd-q= is ?to set apart?, the adjec-tive wodq=, kadosh, indicates the quality that comes from that set-apart-ness.

Kodesh is a quality of God, people, things, and time. It can be present in greater or lesser degree. It is contagious by contact. Kodesh can be decreased, damaged or destroyed by specific actions and by contact with the profane. Kodesh is manifested by the set-apart character of the holy thing, person, or time; kodesh is main-tained only by restriction.

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

The Hebrew is ambiguous. The verb is the Qal imperfect second person masculine plural of hy_h=, ?be?. This construction is often used of commands (e.g. Ex 20:14-17 and Lev 19:15) but, unlike the ab-so-lute infinitive, it is not restricted to commands. The second half of the verse is appositive and the translator must insert forms of ?be?. Literal translation is ?Kadosh you will be/you are being/you shall be/be, because kadosh (am) I, Yahweh (is) your God?.

One sense of the passage is that because Yahweh is their God, and Yahweh is kadosh, then the people also will be kadosh. Their kodesh derives from their relationship with Yahweh, not from their actions.

The second sense is that because Yahweh is their God, and Yahweh is kadosh, the people are commanded to also be kadosh in order to main-tain their relationship with Yahweh. Their kodesh derives from their actions (their obedience to the commands which follow) and their re-la-tionship with Yahweh is derived or maintained by their kodesh.

Both of these senses are present in the text; the ambiguity can be represented in English with the word ?will?: ?You will be kadosh.?

I am the LORD

This statement divides commands within the chapter. It is not merely a rhetorical device, but points back to the introduction, ?You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.?


Two words translated ?neighbor? are used synonymously in the peri-cope. ?Neighbor? in vv 15,16, and 18 is i-r2 ?friend, companion, fel-low? from the root for ?to associate with? (cf. Gen 38:12,20, Mi 7:5). Verse 16 and 18 K(m

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