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Leviticus 20

Leviticus 20:11, 12, 14, 17, 19-24

11. And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

11. Quicunque concubuerit cum uxore patris sui, turpitudinem patris sui revelavit: moriendo morientur ambo, sanguis eorum super eos.

12. And if a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.

12. Vir qui coierit cum nuru sua, moriendo morientur ambo: flagitium admiserunt, sanguis eorum super eos.

14. And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

14. Qui acceperit mulierem et matrem ejus, scelus est: igni comburent illum et illas, ne sit scelus in medio vestri.

17. And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off ill the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

17. Quisquis acceperit sororem suam filiam patris sui, vel filiam matris suae, et viderit turpitudinem ejus, ipsaque viderit turpitudinem illius, foeditas est: propterea succindentur ambo coram oculis populi sui: turpitudinem sororis suae revelavit, iniquitatem suam feret.

19. And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister; for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.

19. Turpitudinem sororis matris tuae et sororis patris tui, non discooperies: quia propinquam suam nudavit, iniquitatem suam portabunt.

20. And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.

20. Quisquis dormierit cum uxore fratris patris sui, turpitudinem fratris patris sui revelavit, iniquitatem suam portabunt, orbati morientur.

21. And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing; he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness: they shall be childless.

21. Qui acceperit uxorem fratris sui, opprobrium est, turpitudinem fratris sui revelavit, orbati erunt.

22. Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them; that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spew you not out.

22. Custodite itaque omnia statuta mea, et omnia judicia, et facite ea, ut non evomat vos terra in quam ego introduco vos ut illic habitetis.

23. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nations which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

23. Neque ambuletis in statutis gentis quam ego ejiciam a facie vestra: omnia enim ista fecerunt, et detestatus sum eas.

24. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.

24. Vobis autem dixi, Possidebitis terram eorum, quam ego daturus sum vobis ut haereditate eam possideatis terram fluentem lacte et melle: ego Jehova Deus vester qui separavi vos a populis.


Nothing new occurs here, for the object of Moses was, by the enactment of penalties, to sanction the instruction lately given. By previously condemning incestuous marriages, he would cite the Israelites before God, in order that their consciences might abhor the crime, although he gave them nothing to fear from earthly judges; whereas now he alarms them by the dread of punishment, in case any should indulge themselves with too great security. He does not chastise the incestuous with rods, as if they were only guilty of a light offense; but he pronounces it to be a capital crime, if any had sinned against the law of nature; and first he condemns the step-mother and step-son to death, if they should have had connection with each other; he then makes the same decree with reference to the father-in-law and daughter-in-law; and, thirdly, the step-father and step-daughter. But when, if a man cohabits at the same time with a mother and her daughter, he extends the punishment to the mother also, it must be understood, provided she also consents to the abominable medley; for, if a man, against the mother’s will, seduces her daughter, and the mother is unable to resist it if she would, she is free from guilt. The same punishment is awarded to brother and sister, and nephew and aunt, and it is extended also to affinity; if any should cohabit with the wife of his uncle or his brother. We have elsewhere explained the meaning of the expression, “their blood shall be upon them;” i.e., that the cause of their death is to be imputed to none but the gross criminals themselves, lest their judges, under the cloak of humanity, should shrink from being severe, since it often happens that those who do not sufficiently weigh the atrocity of the evil, are led away by an empty show of clemency. 9595     “Sont ployables, et faciles a pardoner;” are pliable and easily disposed to pardon. — Fr. Moreover, Moses indirectly hints that if the guilty be pardoned, vengeance will be thus provoked against the whole people, since iniquity is fostered by impunity, until it bursts out like a deluge. The penalty of childlessness corresponds with the crime, for it is just that those should be exterminated in barrenness from the world, who have endeavored to corrupt the holy race of Abraham with their adulterous seed.

22. Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes He now warns the Israelites, for the third time, not to imitate the Gentiles, and exhorts them to keep themselves within the limits of the Law. I have already pointed out that this was not done without reason, since otherwise they might have easily fallen away into the approval of their evil habits. Moreover, lest they should shake off God’s yoke, after He has said that the nations of Canaan were destroyed on account of similar abominations, He adds, that they were made the inheritors of the land on condition that they should separate themselves from heathen nations.

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