Reading 11.5: Leviticus 24:10-23

Nov 05, 2010

READ:  Leviticus 24:10-23

A Case of Blasphemy

Within this account of a man that Blasphemed the name of God is a string of summary regulations and responses.  Vs. 16-22 can be outlined in what is known as a chiasm.  Each lead-in point builds up to a central emphasis and then is reflected on the lead-out of the passage.  For example.

A     Stranger and Native [vs. 16]

B     kills any man [vs. 17]

C     kills an animal [vs. 18]

D     as he has done so shall it be done to him [vs. 19]

D’    as he has caused…sho shall it be done to him [vs. 20]

C’    kills an animal [vs. 21]

B’    kills a man [vs. 21]

A’    Stranger and Native [vs. 22]

The emphasis is lying on the fact that a man should get what he deserves; a man must pay the penalty that is equal to his offense.  Now the interesting thing about these penalties in the Jewish system of laws is the priority placed by God on family and religion.

We’ve already seen the severe penalties that one would face for offenses that destroy lives and families (eg. Lev 18 & 19) and we’ve just read of the penalty for blasphemy; yet the penalty for those that destroy property is not as severe.  It is said that in other cultures of the day the penalties had a different focus and ‘economy’; in the Babylonian ‘Laws of Hammurabi’ the death penalty is given for property damage [see Wenham, NICOT: Leviticus, p. 311].

Leviticus, through the laws and their applicable punishments, teaches that God values family, life and religion (true religion being the worship of Him alone).  It is profound to think through what is held as valuable in our own society.

Take life for example; in a society where abortion is accepted even to the point that it cannot at all be medically explained as ‘abortion’ [late-term].

Take family for example; in a society where divorce and affairs are not only common but they are accepted as a common practice of life.

Take religion for example; in a society where the name of God is used to curse more times than the ancient Jews could throw a stone at.

So, what do you hold as ethically valuable?