Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

Lectionary Text for February 24th, 2014

Old Testament Lesson

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

The Lord Is Holy

19 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. [1]

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. [2]


Two focus words for this text must be discussed before we can proceed with the study of this lesson.

The first is the word holy.  קָדוֹשׁ    pronounced ‘ka-doshe’ is the Hebrew word for holy.  To be holy is to be set apart. 

The second word is righteousness.  צֶ֫דֶק  pronounced ‘tse-deec’ is the Hebrew word for righteousness.  This word means to do something right or with justice.  It can also be described as a state of being.

In looking at these two words, we might assume that they mean the same thing.  However, they are not the same thing, yet they both come from the same place.  Holiness, with the understanding that only God can truly be holy (set apart from all other things and perfect), is a declarative state by virtue of being made holy.  For instance, a pot may be like any other ordinary pot, but once set apart for the purpose of transporting water, it is holy unto that purpose.  You would not want to transport raw meat in the same pot. That is unless it had been cleaned first. 

Righteousness is the right order of things done to make something holy.  Like our pot, the right thing to do to make it holy for carrying water, would be to clean and disinfect it before using it to carry water.  However, it would be wrong to say that righteousness leads to holiness because to be holy is a declarative state of being that is a meta-declaration (you can’t declare yourself holy).  You can do those things which have been given for holy things to do.

Therefore, verse two resounds with this understand, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”  We have been made holy because the Lord is the very essence of Holy. 

What follows are signs of the righteousness we have been given.  Summed up, we take care of one another we are not selfish unto ourselves.  We are reminded of this after each statement of what we are to do by God reminding us of why we do these things, because “I Am the LORD.”  This harkens back then to verse two.

Alongside of this understanding is the drastic contradiction of the world’s wisdom to what God is giving His people to do.  We are not to live for our self, but for our neighbor and we are to treat them as we would have our self treated.  We are not to be partial to anyone, poor or rich (15), but righteousness is to be our guide in carrying out these things.

Now, knowing that our nature is to not do these things, God has already declared us to be Holy.  In Christ, He has placed this seal of holiness upon you and made you to be righteous.  Therefore, as we read last week, this is not too great a thing for us, for we are Holy as God is Holy.      


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Le 19:1–2.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Le 19:9–18.