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Leviticus 26:21

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 3-45

As “the book of the covenant” Exodus 23:20-33, so does this collection of laws contained in the Book of Leviticus. But the former passage relates to the conquest of the land of promise, this one to the subsequent history of the nation. The longer similar passage in Deuteronomy Leviticus 26:4

Rain in due season - The periodical rains, on which the fertility of the holy land so much depends, are here spoken of. There are two wet seasons, called in Scripture the former and the latter rain Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3; James 5:7. The former or Autumn rain falls in heavy showers in November and December. In March the latter or Spring rain comes on, which is precarious in quantity and duration, and rarely lasts more than two days.

Leviticus 26:5

Compare the margin reference; Joel 2:19; Job 11:18.

Leviticus 26:8

Five of you shall chase - A proverbial mode of expression for superiority in warlike prowess Deuteronomy 32:30; Isaiah 30:17.

Leviticus 26:9

Establish my covenant - All material blessings were to be regarded in the light of seals of the “everlasting covenant.” Compare Genesis 17:4-8; Nehemiah 9:23.

Leviticus 26:10

Bring forth the old because of the new - Rather, clear away the old before the new; that is, in order to make room for the latter. Compare the margin reference.

Leviticus 26:16

The first warning for disobedience is disease. “Terror” (literally trembling) is rendered trouble in Psalm 78:33; Isaiah 65:23. It seems here to denote that terrible affliction, an anxious temperament, the mental state ever at war with Faith and Hope. This might well be placed at the head of the visitations on a backslider who had broken the covenant with his God. Compare Deuteronomy 32:25; Jeremiah 15:8; Proverbs 28:1; Job 24:17; Psalm 23:4.

Consumption, and the burning ague - Compare the margin reference. The first of the words in the original comes from a root signifying to waste away; the latter (better, fever), from one signifying to kindle a fire. Consumption is common in Egypt and some parts of Asia Minor, but it is more rare in Syria. Fevers of different kinds are the commonest of all diseases in Syria and all the neighboring countries. The opposite promise to the threat is given in Exodus 15:26; Exodus 23:25.

Leviticus 26:18

For all this - i. e. for all the afflictions in Leviticus 26:16-17.

Seven times - The sabbatical number is here proverbially used to remind the people of the covenant. Compare Genesis 4:15, Genesis 4:24; Psalm 119:164; Proverbs 24:16; Luke 17:4.

Leviticus 26:19, Leviticus 26:20

The second warning is utter sterility of the soil. Compare Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:18; Ezekiel 33:28; Ezekiel 36:34-35.

Leviticus 26:21, Leviticus 26:22

The third warning is the multiplication of destructive animals, etc. Compare Deuteronomy 32:24; Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 14:15; Judges 5:6-7; Isaiah 33:8.

Leviticus 26:23-26

The fourth warning. Yahweh now places Himself as it were in a hostile position toward His people who “will not be reformed” (rather, brought unto God: Jeremiah 2:30). He will avenge the outraged cause of His covenant, by the sword, pestilence, famine, and captivity.

Leviticus 26:26

Omit “and.” “To break the staff of bread,” was a proverbial expression for cutting off the supply of bread, the staff of life (Psalm 105:16; Ezekiel 4:16; Ezekiel 5:16; Ezekiel 14:13; compare Isaiah 3:1). The supply was to be so reduced that one oven would suffice for baking the bread maple by ten women for ten families, and when made it was to be dealt out in sparing rations by weight. See 2 Kings 6:25; Jeremiah 14:18; Lamentations 4:9; Ezekiel 5:12; Hosea 4:10; Micah 6:14; Haggai 1:6.

Leviticus 26:27-33

The fifth warning. For Leviticus 26:29 see 2 Kings 6:28-29; Jeremiah 19:8-9; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10, for Leviticus 26:30 see 2 Chronicles 34:3; Ezekiel 6:4; Jeremiah 14:19, for Leviticus 26:31 see 2 Kings 25:9; Psalm 74:6-7: for Leviticus 26:32-33 see Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalm 44:11; Jeremiah 9:16; Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 4:7; Ezekiel 9:6; Ezekiel 12:15; Zechariah 7:14.

Leviticus 26:30

High places - There is no doubt that the word here denotes elevated spots dedicated to false worship (see Deuteronomy 12:2), and especially, it would seem, to that of Baal Numbers 22:41; Joshua 13:17. Such spots were, however, employed and approved for the worship of Yahweh, not only before the building of the temple, but afterward (Judges 6:25-26; Judges 13:16-23; 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 16:5; 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 18:30; 2 Kings 12:3; 1 Chronicles 21:26, etc.). The three altars built by Abraham at Shechem, between Bethel and Ai, and at Mamre, appear to have been on heights, and so was the temple.

The high places in the holy land may thus have been divided into those dedicated to the worship of Yahweh, and those which had been dedicated to idols. And it would seem as if there was a constant struggle going on. The high places polluted by idol worship were of course to be wholly condemned. They were probably resorted to only to gratify a degraded superstition. See Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:2-5. The others might have been innocently used for prayer and religious teaching. But the temptation appears to have been too great for the temper of the people. They offered sacrifice and burnt incense on them; and hence, thorough reformers of the national religion, such as Hezekiah and Josiah, removed the high places altogether 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:5.

Your images - The original word is rendered in the margin of our Bible sun images (2 Chronicles 14:5; Isaiah 17:8; Ezekiel 6:4, etc.). Phoenician inscriptions prove that the word was commonly applied to images of Baal and Astarte, the god of the sun and the goddess of the moon. This exactly explains 2 Chronicles 34:4 following.

Idols - The Hebrew word here literally means things which could be rolled about, such as a block of wood or a lump of dirt. It was no doubt a name given in derision. Compare Isaiah 40:20; Isaiah 44:19; 2 Kings 1:2.

Leviticus 26:31

Sanctuaries - The holy places in the tabernacle and the temple (Psalm 68:35. Compare Psalm 74:7).

I will not smell the savor … - See Leviticus 1:9.

Leviticus 26:35

More literally: All the days of its desolation shall it rest that time which it rested not in your Sabbaths while ye dwelt upon it. That is, the periods of rest of which the land had been deprived would be made up to it. Compare 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.

Leviticus 26:38

The land of your enemies shall eat you up - Compare Numbers 13:32; Ezekiel 36:13.

Leviticus 26:39

Iniquity - The meaning here is, in the punishment of their iniquity, and, in the next clause, in the punishment of the iniquity (as in Leviticus 26:41, Leviticus 26:43) of their fathers. In the next verse the same Hebrew word is properly represented by “iniquity.” Our translators have in several places put one of the English words in the text and the other in the margin (Genesis 4:13; Genesis 19:15; 2 Kings 7:9; Psalm 69:27, etc.). The language of Scripture does not make that trenchant division between sin and punishment which we are accustomed to do. Sin is its own punishment, having in itself, from its very commencement, the germ of death. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” James 1:15; Romans 2:5; Romans 5:12.

Leviticus 26:40

trespass - The Hebrew word signifies an injury inflicted on the rights of a person, as distinguished from a sin or iniquity regarded as an outrage of the divine law. Every wrong act is of course both a sin and a trespass against God. In this place Yahweh takes the breach of the covenant as a personal trespass.

Leviticus 26:41

Uncircumcised hearts - The outward sign of the covenant might be preserved, but the answering grace in the heart would be wanting (Acts 7:51; Romans 2:28-29; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 9:26; compare Colossians 2:11).

Accept of the punishment of their iniquity - literally, enjoy their iniquity. The word here and in Leviticus 26:43 rendered “accept” in this phrase, is the same as is rendered “enjoy” in the expression “the land shall enjoy her sabbaths” Leviticus 26:34. The antithesis in Leviticus 26:43 is this: The land shall enjoy her sabbaths - and they shall enjoy the punishment of their iniquity. The meaning is, that the land being desolate shall have the blessing of rest, and they having repented shall have the blessing of chastisement. The feelings of a devout captive Israelite are beautifully expressed in Tobit 13:1-18.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 3-45

As “the book of the covenant” Exodus 23:20-33, so does this collection of laws contained in the Book of Leviticus. But the former passage relates to the conquest of the land of promise, this one to the subsequent history of the nation. The longer similar passage in Deuteronomy Leviticus 26:4

Rain in due season - The periodical rains, on which the fertility of the holy land so much depends, are here spoken of. There are two wet seasons, called in Scripture the former and the latter rain Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3; James 5:7. The former or Autumn rain falls in heavy showers in November and December. In March the latter or Spring rain comes on, which is precarious in quantity and duration, and rarely lasts more than two days.

Leviticus 26:5

Compare the margin reference; Joel 2:19; Job 11:18.

Leviticus 26:8

Five of you shall chase - A proverbial mode of expression for superiority in warlike prowess Deuteronomy 32:30; Isaiah 30:17.

Leviticus 26:9

Establish my covenant - All material blessings were to be regarded in the light of seals of the “everlasting covenant.” Compare Genesis 17:4-8; Nehemiah 9:23.

Leviticus 26:10

Bring forth the old because of the new - Rather, clear away the old before the new; that is, in order to make room for the latter. Compare the margin reference.

Leviticus 26:16

The first warning for disobedience is disease. “Terror” (literally trembling) is rendered trouble in Psalm 78:33; Isaiah 65:23. It seems here to denote that terrible affliction, an anxious temperament, the mental state ever at war with Faith and Hope. This might well be placed at the head of the visitations on a backslider who had broken the covenant with his God. Compare Deuteronomy 32:25; Jeremiah 15:8; Proverbs 28:1; Job 24:17; Psalm 23:4.

Consumption, and the burning ague - Compare the margin reference. The first of the words in the original comes from a root signifying to waste away; the latter (better, fever), from one signifying to kindle a fire. Consumption is common in Egypt and some parts of Asia Minor, but it is more rare in Syria. Fevers of different kinds are the commonest of all diseases in Syria and all the neighboring countries. The opposite promise to the threat is given in Exodus 15:26; Exodus 23:25.

Leviticus 26:18

For all this - i. e. for all the afflictions in Leviticus 26:16-17.

Seven times - The sabbatical number is here proverbially used to remind the people of the covenant. Compare Genesis 4:15, Genesis 4:24; Psalm 119:164; Proverbs 24:16; Luke 17:4.

Leviticus 26:19, Leviticus 26:20

The second warning is utter sterility of the soil. Compare Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:18; Ezekiel 33:28; Ezekiel 36:34-35.

Leviticus 26:21, Leviticus 26:22

The third warning is the multiplication of destructive animals, etc. Compare Deuteronomy 32:24; Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 14:15; Judges 5:6-7; Isaiah 33:8.

Leviticus 26:23-26

The fourth warning. Yahweh now places Himself as it were in a hostile position toward His people who “will not be reformed” (rather, brought unto God: Jeremiah 2:30). He will avenge the outraged cause of His covenant, by the sword, pestilence, famine, and captivity.

Leviticus 26:26

Omit “and.” “To break the staff of bread,” was a proverbial expression for cutting off the supply of bread, the staff of life (Psalm 105:16; Ezekiel 4:16; Ezekiel 5:16; Ezekiel 14:13; compare Isaiah 3:1). The supply was to be so reduced that one oven would suffice for baking the bread maple by ten women for ten families, and when made it was to be dealt out in sparing rations by weight. See 2 Kings 6:25; Jeremiah 14:18; Lamentations 4:9; Ezekiel 5:12; Hosea 4:10; Micah 6:14; Haggai 1:6.

Leviticus 26:27-33

The fifth warning. For Leviticus 26:29 see 2 Kings 6:28-29; Jeremiah 19:8-9; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10, for Leviticus 26:30 see 2 Chronicles 34:3; Ezekiel 6:4; Jeremiah 14:19, for Leviticus 26:31 see 2 Kings 25:9; Psalm 74:6-7: for Leviticus 26:32-33 see Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalm 44:11; Jeremiah 9:16; Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 4:7; Ezekiel 9:6; Ezekiel 12:15; Zechariah 7:14.

Leviticus 26:30

High places - There is no doubt that the word here denotes elevated spots dedicated to false worship (see Deuteronomy 12:2), and especially, it would seem, to that of Baal Numbers 22:41; Joshua 13:17. Such spots were, however, employed and approved for the worship of Yahweh, not only before the building of the temple, but afterward (Judges 6:25-26; Judges 13:16-23; 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 16:5; 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 18:30; 2 Kings 12:3; 1 Chronicles 21:26, etc.). The three altars built by Abraham at Shechem, between Bethel and Ai, and at Mamre, appear to have been on heights, and so was the temple.

The high places in the holy land may thus have been divided into those dedicated to the worship of Yahweh, and those which had been dedicated to idols. And it would seem as if there was a constant struggle going on. The high places polluted by idol worship were of course to be wholly condemned. They were probably resorted to only to gratify a degraded superstition. See Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:2-5. The others might have been innocently used for prayer and religious teaching. But the temptation appears to have been too great for the temper of the people. They offered sacrifice and burnt incense on them; and hence, thorough reformers of the national religion, such as Hezekiah and Josiah, removed the high places altogether 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:5.

Your images - The original word is rendered in the margin of our Bible sun images (2 Chronicles 14:5; Isaiah 17:8; Ezekiel 6:4, etc.). Phoenician inscriptions prove that the word was commonly applied to images of Baal and Astarte, the god of the sun and the goddess of the moon. This exactly explains 2 Chronicles 34:4 following.

Idols - The Hebrew word here literally means things which could be rolled about, such as a block of wood or a lump of dirt. It was no doubt a name given in derision. Compare Isaiah 40:20; Isaiah 44:19; 2 Kings 1:2.

Leviticus 26:31

Sanctuaries - The holy places in the tabernacle and the temple (Psalm 68:35. Compare Psalm 74:7).

I will not smell the savor … - See Leviticus 1:9.

Leviticus 26:35

More literally: All the days of its desolation shall it rest that time which it rested not in your Sabbaths while ye dwelt upon it. That is, the periods of rest of which the land had been deprived would be made up to it. Compare 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.

Leviticus 26:38

The land of your enemies shall eat you up - Compare Numbers 13:32; Ezekiel 36:13.

Leviticus 26:39

Iniquity - The meaning here is, in the punishment of their iniquity, and, in the next clause, in the punishment of the iniquity (as in Leviticus 26:41, Leviticus 26:43) of their fathers. In the next verse the same Hebrew word is properly represented by “iniquity.” Our translators have in several places put one of the English words in the text and the other in the margin (Genesis 4:13; Genesis 19:15; 2 Kings 7:9; Psalm 69:27, etc.). The language of Scripture does not make that trenchant division between sin and punishment which we are accustomed to do. Sin is its own punishment, having in itself, from its very commencement, the germ of death. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” James 1:15; Romans 2:5; Romans 5:12.

Leviticus 26:40

trespass - The Hebrew word signifies an injury inflicted on the rights of a person, as distinguished from a sin or iniquity regarded as an outrage of the divine law. Every wrong act is of course both a sin and a trespass against God. In this place Yahweh takes the breach of the covenant as a personal trespass.

Leviticus 26:41

Uncircumcised hearts - The outward sign of the covenant might be preserved, but the answering grace in the heart would be wanting (Acts 7:51; Romans 2:28-29; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 9:26; compare Colossians 2:11).

Accept of the punishment of their iniquity - literally, enjoy their iniquity. The word here and in Leviticus 26:43 rendered “accept” in this phrase, is the same as is rendered “enjoy” in the expression “the land shall enjoy her sabbaths” Leviticus 26:34. The antithesis in Leviticus 26:43 is this: The land shall enjoy her sabbaths - and they shall enjoy the punishment of their iniquity. The meaning is, that the land being desolate shall have the blessing of rest, and they having repented shall have the blessing of chastisement. The feelings of a devout captive Israelite are beautifully expressed in Tobit 13:1-18.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
After God has set the blessing before them which would make them a happy people if they would be obedient, he here sets the curse before them, the evils which would make them miserable, if they were disobedient. Two things would bring ruin. 1. A contempt of God's commandments. They that reject the precept, will come at last to renounce the covenant. 2. A contempt of his corrections. If they will not learn obedience by the things they suffer, God himself would be against them; and this is the root and cause of all their misery. And also, The whole creation would be at war with them. All God's sore judgments would be sent against them. The threatenings here are very particular, they were prophecies, and He that foresaw all their rebellions, knew they would prove so. TEMPORAL judgments are threatened. Those who will not be parted from their sins by the commands of God, shall be parted from them by judgments. Those wedded to their lusts, will have enough of them. SPIRITUAL judgments are threatened, which should seize the mind. They should find no acceptance with God. A guilty conscience would be their continual terror. It is righteous with God to leave those to despair of pardon, who presume to sin; and it is owing to free grace, if we are not left to pine away in the iniquity we were born in, and have lived in.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 429

The prophet made plain the fact that our heavenly Father allows His judgments to fall, “that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” Psalm 9:20. “If ye walk contrary unto Me, and will not hearken unto Me,” the Lord had forewarned His people, “I, even 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.” Leviticus 26:21, 28, 33. PK 429.1

At the very time messages of impending doom were urged upon princes and people, their ruler, Jehoiakim, who should have been a wise spiritual leader, foremost in confession of sin and in reformation and good works, was spending his time in selfish pleasure. “I will build me a wide house and large chambers,” he proposed; and this house, “ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion” (Jeremiah 22:14), was built with money and labor secured through fraud and oppression. PK 429.2

The wrath of the prophet was aroused, and he was inspired to pronounce judgment upon the faithless ruler. “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong,” he declared; “that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.... Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know Me? saith the Lord. But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it. PK 429.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 661

The Lord made a covenant with Israel that, if they would obey His commandments, He would give them rain in due season, the land should yield her increase, and the trees of the field should yield their fruit. He promised that their threshing should reach unto the vintage and the vintage unto the sowingtime, and that they should eat their bread to the full and dwell in their land safely. He would make their enemies to perish. He would not abhor them, but would walk with them and would be their God, and they should be His people. But if they disregarded His requirements, He would deal with them entirely contrary to all this. His curse should rest upon them in place of His blessing. He would break their pride of power and would make the heavens over them as iron and the earth as brass. “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. And if ye walk contrary unto Me,” “then will I also walk contrary unto you.” 2T 661.1

Those who are selfishly withholding their means need not be surprised if God's hand scatters. That which should have been devoted to the advancement of the work and cause of God, but which has been withheld, may be entrusted to a reckless son, and he may squander it. A fine horse, the pride of a vain heart, may be found dead in the stable. Occasionally a cow may die. Losses of fruit or other crops may come. God can scatter the means He has lent to His stewards, if they refuse to use it to His glory. Some, I saw, may have none of these losses to remind them of their remissness in duty, but their cases may be the more hopeless. 2T 661.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 157.2

Tests of a True Christian—The conversation of the man who claims to believe the truth for this time should be in heaven, not common, earthly, cheap, sensual. Holy maxims must be adopted or that man will walk contrary to Christ, deceiving the world, betraying the truth. Why, oh, why do professed Christians keep so low a level when they have so pure and perfect a gospel? TSB 157.2

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