Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Le 26:1, 2.
1. Ye shall make you no idols--Idolatry had been previously
(Ex 20:4, 5),
but the law was repeated here with reference to some particular forms
of it that were very prevalent among the neighboring nations.
a standing image--that is, "upright pillar."
image of stone--that is, an obelisk, inscribed with
hieroglyphical and superstitious characters; the former denoting the
common and smaller pillars of the Syrians or Canaanites; the latter,
pointing to the large and elaborate obelisks which the Egyptians
worshipped as guardian divinities, or used as stones of adoration to
stimulate religious worship. The Israelites were enjoined to beware of
2. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary--Very
frequently, in this Book of the Law, the Sabbath and the sanctuary are
mentioned as antidotes to idolatry.
BLESSING TO THE
3. If ye walk in my statutes--In that covenant into which God
graciously entered with the people of Israel, He promised to bestow
upon them a variety of blessings, so long as they continued obedient to
Him as their Almighty Ruler; and in their subsequent history that
people found every promise amply fulfilled, in the enjoyment of plenty,
peace, a populous country, and victory over all enemies.
4. I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her
increase--Rain seldom fell in Judea except at two seasons--the
former rain at the end of autumn, the seedtime; and the latter rain in
spring, before the beginning of harvest
5. your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage
shall reach unto the sowing time, &c.--The barley harvest in Judea
was about the middle of April; the wheat harvest about six weeks after,
or in the beginning of June. After the harvest came the vintage, and
fruit gathering towards the latter end of July. Moses led the Hebrews
to believe that, provided they were faithful to God, there would be no
idle time between the harvest and vintage, so great would be the
This promise would be very animating to a people who had come from a
country where, for three months, they were pent up without being able
to walk abroad because the fields were under water.
10. ye shall eat old store--Their stock of old corn would be
still unexhausted and large when the next harvest brought a new
13. I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go
upright--a metaphorical expression to denote their emancipation
from Egyptian slavery.
CURSE TO THE
14, 15. But if ye will not hearken unto me, &c.--In proportion
to the great and manifold privileges bestowed upon the Israelites would
be the extent of their national criminality and the severity of their
national punishments if they disobeyed.
16. I will even appoint over you terror--the falling sickness
consumption, and the burning ague--Some consider these as
symptoms of the same disease--consumption followed by the shivering,
burning, and sweating fits that are the usual concomitants of that
malady. According to the Septuagint, "ague" is "the jaundice,"
which disorders the eyes and produces great depression of spirits.
Others, however, consider the word as referring to a scorching wind; no
certain explanation can be given.
18. if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will
punish you seven times more--that is, with far more severe and
19. I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass--No
figures could have been employed to convey a better idea of severe and
22. I will also send wild beasts among you--This was one of the
four judgments threatened
your highways shall be desolate--Trade and commerce will be
destroyed--freedom and safety will be gone--neither stranger nor native
will be found on the roads
This is an exact picture of the present state of the Holy Land, which
has long lain in a state of desolation, brought on by the sins of the
26. ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, &c.--The bread
used in families is usually baked by women, and at home. But sometimes
also, in times of scarcity, it is baked in public ovens for want of
fuel; and the scarcity predicted here would be so great, that one oven
would be sufficient to bake as much as ten women used in ordinary
occasions to provide for family use; and even this scanty portion of
bread would be distributed by weight
29. ye shall eat the flesh of your sons--The revolting picture
was actually exhibited at the siege of Samaria, at the siege of
Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar
and at the destruction of that city by the Romans. (See on
30. I will destroy your high places--Consecrated enclosures on
the tops of mountains, or on little hillocks, raised for practising the
rites of idolatry.
cut down your images--According to some, those images were made
in the form of chariots
according to others, they were of a conical form, like small pyramids.
Reared in honor of the sun, they were usually placed on a very high
situation, to enable the worshippers to have a better view of the
rising sun. They were forbidden to the Israelites, and when set up,
ordered to be destroyed.
cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, &c.--Like
the statues of idols, which, when broken, lie neglected and contemned,
the Jews during the sieges and subsequent captivity often wanted the
rites of sepulture.
31. I will make your cities waste--This destruction of its
numerous and flourishing cities, which was brought upon Judea through
the sins of Israel, took place by the forced removal of the people
during, and long after, the captivity. But it is realized to a far
greater extent now.
bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the
savour of your sweet odours--the tabernacle and temple, as is
evident from the tenor of the subsequent clause, in which God announces
that He will not accept or regard their sacrifices.
33. I will scatter you among the heathen, &c.--as was done when
the elite of the nation were removed into Assyria and placed in various
parts of the kingdom.
34. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth
desolate, &c.--A long arrear of sabbatic years had accumulated
through the avarice and apostasy of the Israelites, who had deprived
their land of its appointed season of rest. The number of those
sabbatic years seems to have been seventy, as determined by the
duration of the captivity. This early prediction is very remarkable,
considering that the usual policy of the Assyrian conquerors was to
send colonies to cultivate and inhabit their newly acquired
38. the land of your enemies shall eat you up, &c.--On the
removal of the ten tribes into captivity, they never returned, and all
traces of them were lost.
40-45. If they shall confess their iniquity, &c.--This passage
holds out the gracious promise of divine forgiveness and favor on their
repentance, and their happy restoration to their land, in memory of the
covenant made with their fathers
46. These are the statutes and judgments and laws--It has been
thought by some that the last chapter was originally placed after the
twenty-fifth [ADAM CLARKE],
while others consider that the next chapter was added as an appendix,
in consequence of many people being influenced by the promises and
threats of the preceding one, to resolve that they would dedicate
themselves and their possessions to the service of God [CALMET].