Leviticus 19:18 MEANING

Leviticus 19:18
(18) Thou shalt not avenge.--As the preceding verse enjoins upon us to reprove the offender, this verse forbids us to avenge the wrong even when the rebuke has proved ineffectual, thus demanding the greatest sacrifice on the part of the injured person. The administrators of the law during the second Temple illustrate what is meant by avenge by the following example. "When a disobliging person who is in need applies to you to lend him something, and you reply, 'I will not lend you even as you would not lend me,' this is to avenge." (Comp. also Romans 12:19.)

Nor bear any grudge.--The law goes further still. It enjoins that the injured man is to banish from memory the injury he has suffered, though the offender has made no reparation. The spiritual authorities during the time of Christ regarded the simple reference to the injury when a kindly act is performed to our adversary as a violation of this injunction. They illustrated it by the following example. When an adversary applies to you to lend him something, and you actually comply with his request, but in so doing you say, "I lend it you, I will not act as you have acted, for you have refused to lend me," this is a violation of the command not to bear any grudge. "He who at the reconciliation with his adversary readily forgives his transgressions, his own trespasses will also be readily forgiven in the day of judgment," is the oft-repeated precept of the sages during the second Temple. Again, "He who suffers injuries and does not return injury for injury, he who is reviled? 1 does not revile again, fulfils acts of love and rejoice in suffering; of him it is said, 'Those that love him are like the sun, which comes forth in its might from all dark clouds beaming with light'" (Judges 5:31).

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.--This sublime precept formed the centre around which clustered the ethical systems propounded by some of the most distinguished Jewish teachers during the second Temple. When Hillel was asked by one who wished to learn the sum and substance of the Divine Law in the shortest possible time, this sage replied by giving a paraphrase of the precept before us in a negative form, "What thou dost not wish that others should do to thee, that do not thou to others; this is the whole Law, the rest is only its interpretation. Now go and learn." Christ gives it in the positive form (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; Romans 13:8-10).

Verse 18. - Revenge and malice are forbidden as well as hatred, and the negative precepts culminate in the positive law. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, which sums up in itself one half of the Decalogue (Matthew 22:40). "For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Romans 13:8-10).

19:1-37 laws. - There are some ceremonial precepts in this chapter, but most of these precepts are binding on us, for they are explanations of the ten commandments. It is required that Israel be a holy people, because the God of Israel is a holy God, ver. 2. To teach real separation from the world and the flesh, and entire devotedness to God. This is now the law of Christ; may the Lord bring every thought within us into obedience to it! Children are to be obedient to their parents, ver. 3. The fear here required includes inward reverence and esteem, outward respect and obedience, care to please them and to make them easy. God only is to be worshipped, ver. 4. Turn not from the true God to false ones, from the God who will make you holy and happy, to those that will deceive you, and make you for ever miserable. Turn not your eyes to them, much less your heart. They should leave the gleanings of their harvest and vintage for the poor, ver. 9. Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things. We are to be honest and true in all our dealings, ver. 11. Whatever we have in the world, we must see that we get it honestly, for we cannot be truly rich, or long rich, with that which is not so. Reverence to the sacred name of God must be shown, ver. 12. We must not detain what belongs to another, particularly the wages of the hireling, ver. 13. We must be tender of the credit and safety of those that cannot help themselves, ver. 14. Do no hurt to any, because they are unwilling or unable to avenge themselves. We ought to take heed of doing any thing which may occasion our weak brother to fall. The fear of God should keep us from doing wrong things, though they will not expose us to men's anger. Judges, and all in authority, are commanded to give judgment without partiality, ver. 15. To be a tale-bearer, and to sow discord among neighbours, is as bad an office as a man can put himself into. We are to rebuke our neighbour in love, ver. 17. Rather rebuke him than hate him, for an injury done to thyself. We incur guilt by not reproving; it is hating our brother. We should say, I will do him the kindness to tell him of his faults. We are to put off all malice, and to put on brotherly love, ver. 18. We often wrong ourselves, but we soon forgive ourselves those wrongs, and they do not at all lessen our love to ourselves; in like manner we should love our neighbour. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour. Ver. 31: For Christians to have their fortunes told, to use spells and charms, or the like, is a sad affront to God. They must be grossly ignorant who ask, What harm is there in these things? Here is a charge to young people to show respect to the aged, ver. 32. Religion teaches good manners, and obliges us to honour those to whom honour is due. A charge was given to the Israelites to be very tender of strangers, ver. 33. Strangers, and the widows and fatherless, are God's particular care. It is at our peril, if we do them any wrong. Strangers shall be welcome to God's grace; we should do what we can to recommend religion to them. Justice in weights and measures is commanded, ver. 35. We must make conscience of obeying God's precepts. We are not to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God. And the nearer our lives and tempers are to the precepts of God's law, the happier shall we be, and the happier shall we make all around us, and the better shall we adorn the gospel.Thou shalt not avenge,.... That is, not avenge ourselves on him that has done us an ill thing, but leave it to him to whom vengeance belongs, see Romans 12:19; which is done when a man does an ill thing for another, or denies to grant a favour which he has been denied by another; Jarchi thus illustrates it, one says to him (his neighbour) lend me thy sickle; he answers, no (I will not); on the morrow (the neighbour comes, who had refused, and) says to him, lend me thy hatchet; he replies, I will not lend thee, even as thou wouldest not lend me; this is vengeance: this was reckoned mean and little, a piece of weakness with the very Heathens (b):

nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; those of the same place, city, or kingdom; or "not observe" (c) the injury done, take no notice of it, nor lay it up in the mind and memory, but forget it; or "not keep" (d) or retain enmity, as the Targum of Jonathan supplies it; and so do an ill turn, or refuse to do a good one; or if that is done, yet upbraids with the former unkindness; for upbraiding with unkindness shows that a grudge is retained, though the suit is not denied:

but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; sincerely and heartily, as a man loves himself, doing all the good to him as a man does to himself, or would have done to himself, and hindering all the mischief done to him he would have himself preserved from: Jarchi observes, that it was a saying of R. Akiba, that this is"the great universal in the law,''and it does indeed comprehend the whole of the second table of the law, and is the summary of it, and is pretty much the same our Lord says of it, that it is the second and great commandment, and like unto the first, on which two all the law and the prophets hang, Matthew 22:37; and so the Apostle Paul makes all the laws of the second table to be comprehended in this, Romans 13:9,

I am the Lord; the Creator of all men, and who has commanded them to love one another, and to whom alone vengeance belongs, and who expects obedience to the above laws of his.

(b) -----quippe minuti, &c. Juvenal. Satyr. 13. (c) "et non observabis", Montanus. (d) "Non servabis", Pagninus, Drusius; "neque iram asservato"; Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

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