- A prohibition of conformity to the heathens, verse 1-5.
- Particular laws against incest, verse 6-18.
- Against unnatural lusts and barbarous idolatries, verse 19-23.
- Enforced from the destruction of the Canaanites, verse 24-30.
Your God - Your sovereign, and lawgiver. This is often repeated because the things here forbidden were practised and allowed by the gentiles, to whose custom he opposes divine authority and their obligation to obey his commands.
Egypt and Canaan - These two nations he mentions, because their habitation and conversation among them made their evil example in the following matters more dangerous. But under them he includes all other nations.
My judgments - Though you do not see the particular reason of some of them, and though they be contrary to the laws and usages of the other nations.
He shall live in them - Not only happily here, but eternally hereafter. This is added as a powerful argument why they should follow God's commands, rather than mens examples, because their life and happiness depend upon it. And though in strictness, and according to the covenant of works they could not challenge life for so doing, except their obedience was universal, perfect, constant and perpetual, and therefore no man since the fall could be justified by the law, yet by the covenant of grace this life is promised to all that obey God's commands sincerely.
To uncover their nakedness - I think Mr. Free has made it highly probable, that this phrase does not mean marriage, but fornication, throughout this chapter. So it unquestionably means in the twentieth chapter.
Thy brother's wife - God afterwards commanded, that in one case, a man should marry his brother's widow.
Thou shalt not take a wife to her sister - Perhaps this text doth not simply forbid the taking one wife to another, but the doing it in such a manner or for such an end, that he may vex or punish, or revenge himself of the former; which probably was a common motive amongst that hardhearted people to do so.
As long as she is set apart - No not to thy own wife. This was not only a ceremonial pollution, but an immorality also, whence it is put amongst gross sins, Ezekiel 18:6. And therefore it is now unlawful under the gospel.
Pass through fire - This was done, either by burning them in the fire, or by making them pass between two great fires, which was a kind of consecration of them to that God. Moloch - Called also Milcom, was an idol chiefly of the Ammonites. He seems to be the Saturn of the heathens, to whom especially children and men were sacrificed. This is mentioned, because the neighbours of Israel were most infected with this idolatry, and therefore they are particularly cautioned against it, though under this one instance all other idols and acts, or kinds of idolatry, are manifestly comprehended and forbidden.
I visit - I am about to visit, that is, to punish.
Nor any stranger - In nation or religion, of what kind soever. For though they might not force them to submit to their religion, yet they might restrain them from the publick contempt of the Jewish laws, and from the violation of natural laws, which, besides the offence against God and nature, were matters of evil example to the Israelites themselves.
Cut off - This phrase therefore of cutting off, is to be understood variously, either of ecclesiastical, or civil punishment, according to the differing natures of the offences for which it is inflicted.