Leviticus 26 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Leviticus 26)

Verse 1

[1] Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.

An image — Or pillar, that is, to worship it, or bow down to it, as it follows. Otherwise this was not simply prohibited, being practised by holy men, both before and after this law.

Verse 2

[2] Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

My sanctuary — By purging and preserving it from all uncleanness, by approaching to it and managing all the services of it with reverence, and in such manner only as God hath appointed.

Verse 4

[4] Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Rain — Therefore God placed them not in a land where there were such rivers as the Nile, to water it and make it fruitful, but in a land which depended wholly upon the rain of heaven, the key whereof God kept in his own hand, that so he might the more effectually oblige them to obedience, in which their happiness consisted.

Verse 5

[5] And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

The vintage — That is, you shall have so plentiful an harvest, that you shall not be able to thresh out your corn in a little time, but that work will last till the vintage.

Verse 6

[6] And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

The sword — That is, war, as the sword is oft taken. It shall not enter into it, nor have passage through it, much less shall your land be made the seat of war.

Verse 8

[8] And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

Five — A small number; a certain number for an uncertain.

Verse 9

[9] For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

Establish my covenant — That is, actually perform all that I have promised in my covenant made with you.

Verse 10

[10] And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.

Bring forth — Or, cast out, throw them away as having no occasion to spend them, or give them to the poor, or even to your cattle, that you may make way for the new corn, which also is so plentiful, that of itself it will fill up your barns.

Verse 11

[11] And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

I will set — As I have placed it, so I will continue it among you, and not remove it from you, as once I did upon your miscarriage, Exodus 33:7.

Verse 12

[12] And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

I will walk among you — As I have hitherto done, both by my pillar of cloud and fire, and by my tabernacle, which have walked or gone along with you in all your journeys, and staid among you in all your stations, to protect, conduct, instruct, and comfort you. And I will own you for that peculiar people which I have singled out of mankind, to bless you here and to save you hereafter.

Verse 13

[13] I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

Upright — With heads lifted up, not pressed down with a yoke. It notes their liberty, security, confidence and glory.

Verse 15

[15] And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:

Break my covenant — Break your part of that covenant made between me and you, and thereby discharge me from the blessings promised on my part.

Verse 16

[16] I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

That shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart — Two remarkable effects of this distemper, when it continues long. It eminently weakens the sight, and sinks the spirit. All chronical diseases are here included in the consumption, all acute in the burning ague or fever.

Verse 19

[19] And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:

The pride of your power — That is, your strength of which you are proud, your numerous and united forces, your kingdom, yea, your ark and sanctuary.

I will make your heaven as iron — The heavens shall yield you no rain, nor the earth fruits.

Verse 20

[20] And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.

In vain — in plowing, and sowing, and tilling the ground.

Verse 25

[25] And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

The quarrel of my covenant — That is, my quarrel with you for your breach of your covenant made with me.

Verse 26

[26] And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.

When I have broken the staff of your bread — By sending a famine or scarcity of bread, which is the staff and support of man's present life.

Ten women — That is, ten or many families, for the women took care for the bread and food of all the family.

By weight — This is a sign and consequence both of a famine, and of the baking of the bread of several families together in one oven, wherein each family took care to weigh their bread, and to receive the same proportion which they put in.

Verse 29

[29] And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

The flesh of your sons — Through extreme hunger. See Lamentations 4:10.

Verse 30

[30] And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.

High places — In which you will sacrifice after the manner of the Heathens.

The carcases of your idols — So he calls them, either to signify that their idols how specious soever or glorious in their eyes, were in truth but lifeless and contemptible carcases; or to shew that their idols should be so far from helping them, that they should be thrown down and broken with them, and both should lie together in a forlorn and loathsome state.

Verse 31

[31] And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.

Sanctuaries — God's sanctuary, called sanctuaries here, as also Psalms 73:17; 74:7; Jeremiah 51:51; Ezekiel 28:18, because there were divers apartments in it, each of which was a sanctuary, or, which is all one, an holy place, as they are severally called. And yours emphatically, not mine, for I disown and abhor it, and all the services you do in it, because you have defiled it.

I will not smell — Not own or accept them.

Your sweet odours — Either of the incense, or of your sacrifices, which when offered with faith and obedience, are sweet and acceptable to me.

Verse 32

[32] And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.

Who dwell therein — Having driven you out and possessed your places.

Verse 33

[33] And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.

After you — The sword shall follow you into strange lands, and you shall have no rest there.

Verse 34

[34] Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.

The land shall enjoy her sabbaths — It shall enjoy those sabbatical years of rest from tillage, which you through covetousness would not give it.

Verse 37

[37] And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

When none pursueth — Your guilt and fear causing you to imagine that they do pursue when indeed they do not.

Verse 39

[39] And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.

Pine away — Be consumed and melt away by degrees through diseases, oppressions, griefs, and manifold miseries.

Verse 40

[40] If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;

If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against me — That is, with their prevarication with me and defection from me to idolatry, which by way of eminency he calls their trespass: and that also they have walked contrary to me, Leviticus 26:41, and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies - That is, that they are not come into these calamities by chance, nor by the misfortune of war, but by my just judgment upon them. And, if then their uncircumcised, that is, impure, carnal, profane, and impenitent hearts be humbled, that is, subdued, purged, reformed: if to this confession they add sincere humiliation and reformation, I will do what follows.

Verse 41

[41] And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:

If they accept of — The meaning is, if they sincerely acknowledge the righteousness of God and their own wickedness, and patiently submit to his correcting hand; if with David they are ready to say, it is good for them that they are afflicted, that they may learn God's statutes, and yield obedience to them for the future, which is a good evidence of true repentance.

Verse 42

[42] Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.

I will remember my covenant — So as to make good all that I have promised in it. For words of knowledge or remembrance in scripture, commonly denote affection and kindness.

I will remember the land — Which now seems to be forgotten and despised, as if I had never chosen it to be the peculiar place of my presence and blessing.

Verse 44

[44] And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.

For I am the Lord their God — Therefore neither the desperateness of their condition, nor the greatness of their sins, shall make me wholly make void my covenant with them and their ancestors, but I will in due time remember them for good, and for my covenant's sake return to them in mercy. From this place the Jews take great comfort, and assure themselves of deliverance out of their present servitude and misery. And from this, and such other places, St. Paul concludes, that the Israelitish nation, tho' then rejected and ruined, should be gathered again and restored.

Verse 46

[46] These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

These are the laws which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel — Hereby his communion with his church is kept up. He manifests not only his dominion over them, but his favour to them, by giving them his law. And they manifest not only their holy fear, but their holy love by the observance of it. And thus it is made between them rather as a covenant than as a law: for he draws them with the cords of a man.