Leviticus 24 Commentary

Reverence for God (24:1-23)

Further instructions are given to remind the Israelites of their daily and weekly responsibilities in relation to the Holy Place. To begin with the people had to supply the oil so that the priests could keep the lamp burning continually (24:1-4). The priests also had to make sure that twelve cakes of ‘presence bread’, renewed weekly, were on the table before the Lord continually. This was possibly to symbolize that the nation Israel, which consisted of twelve tribes, lived continually in the presence of God and received its provision from him (5-9; cf. Exod 25:23-30).

A quarrel that arose in the camp resulted in one of the parties cursing the holy name of God. This was not merely bad language, but speech that showed an irreverent and rebellious spirit towards God, possibly influenced by attitudes brought from Egypt. Moses did not act hastily in punishing the offender, but waited for God to show him what to do (10-12).

God’s judgment was that any person, regardless of nationality, who was heard cursing his name should be stoned to death. The public participation of the accusers in the execution would impress upon


them that they could not make accusations lightly. They had to be absolutely certain that the person was guilty (13-16).

The principle that God laid down as the basis of judgment, in civil as in religious offences, was that the punishment had to be in proportion to the crime. It was never to take the form of revenge and was never to be in excess of the wrong that had been done (17-23; see notes on Exod 21:22-27).

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