Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. To adore it. This explains the prohibition of making graven things, &c. The Protestants translate as usual, “Ye shall make you no idols, nor graven image, neither rear ye up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land to bow down unto it.” They seem terribly afraid of images, as if they were all idols. See Exodus xx. 4. (Haydock) — Pillars. Hebrew mattseba, “statue, or monument.” Such were erected by Jacob, Josue, and even by Moses himself, without any offence or danger of idolatry, Genesis xxviii. 8 and Josue iv. 4 and Exodus xxiv. 4. Apuleius (Flor.) makes mention, among other species of superstition, “of a stone anointed, and of an altar crowned with flowers.” — The stone, which is here condemned, is one set up “for adoration.” (Onkelos) — Hebrew, “a stone of sight,” placed on some eminence, or on the high roads. Strabo, (xvii.) speaking of those which he had seen in Egypt along the roads, says, “they are lofty, polished, and almost like a sphere, some 12 feet in diameter. There are sometimes three, of different dimensions, one upon another. Some were to be seen upon Mount Libanus. They were objects of adoration.” The Greeks raised heaps of stones on the high roads, in honour of Mercury, Proverbs xxvi. 7[8?]. (Calmet) — We are not forbidden to place land-marks, &c.: but we must not adore them. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 2. Reverence. The Rabbins inform us, with what respect their ancestors appeared in the temple. They left their sticks and shoes behind them, and washed their feet; entering solely to perform some act of religion, and not to go a shorter road to another street. When they had ended their devotions, they retired slowly without turning their back to the sanctuary. (Outram, Sacrif. lib. 3. n. 7.)
Ver. 3. Due seasons. Before harvest, in spring; and after that in autumn; when they sow their wheat and barley in Palestine. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Time. So great shall be the abundance, that you will scarcely have time to get all the work done before you will be called off to something else. (Haydock) — These promises would be so much the more agreeable to them, as in Egypt, they had been forced to keep in their houses two or three months together, on account of the overflowing of the Nile. In that country, as well as in Greece and Palestine, people sow both wheat and barley about October; while in other countries the latter is sown in spring. The harvest is ready in about six months, and that of wheat in seven. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xviii. 18.; Hesiod, ep. ii.) (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Five. Thus Gedeon’s 300 men put to flight the great army of the Madianites; (Judges vii. 22,) and the Machabees destroyed vast numbers with a small force.
Ver. 10. Old; Being unable to consume all. (Menochius) — Hebrew, “ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.” Septuagint, “you shall eat the old of old, and you shall bring out the old from the face of the new.” Like a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasury new things and old, Matthew xiii. 52. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Upright; and be no longer bowed down with a heavy yoke, like oxen. “I have broken the locks of your prison, and have set you at liberty,” Arabic. (Calmet) — A Greek proverb says, “Never was a slave’s head right, but always crooked, like his neck.” (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Heat. Hebrew kaddachath, is rendered “scab and jaundice,” by the Septuagint: and by others “a dangerous wind,” like that which causes so many diseases in Egypt. The precise meaning of some terms in this verse is not well known.
Ver. 18. More, (septuplum.) “Very often, or very much;” in which sense it is used in this chapter. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. As brass (æneam.) “Brazen,” without moisture, and barren. (Onkelos)
Ver. 22. Desolate, none being left to frequent them: or the few who remain, shall keep within doors, lest the wild beasts should meet and devour them, Isaias xxxiii. 8.
Ver. 26. Bread; or that which supports you. You shall be deprived of the necessaries of life. — One oven shall be used by 10 families, so little bread shall be baked, and even that little shall be delivered out by weight. I will also deprive it of its nutritive qualities, so that it shall not satisfy your craving appetite. (Calmet) See Psalm civ. 16 and Isaias iii. 1.
Ver. 28. Fury. You will gain nothing by opposing me, but your own destruction. I will treat you, as you would deal with me. (Haydock)
Ver. 29. Daughters. To such extremities were the Jews reduced, at the sieges of Samaria and Jerusalem. (4 Kings vi. 28 and Lamentations iv. 10.) (Josephus, Jewish Wars vii. 8.)
Ver. 30. Places. The temple of Solomon was built on Mount Moria or Sion. The Persians sacrificed upon the mountains, and the Romans and Athenians built their most magnificent temples on the highest parts of their respective cities. — Idols. Hebrew chammanim, denotes the chariots dedicated to the sun; (4 Kings xxiii. 11,) or the pyreia, or enclosures for the sacred fire, in honour of the god Homanus, (Strabo xv.) whose name is probably derived from this Hebrew word, (Calmet) as well as Hammon, a title of Jupiter. (Menochius) — Ruins. Hebrew, “and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your gods of dirt, and my soul shall vomit you out.” The Egyptians embalmed the carcasses of their sacred animals. God threatens that, if his people be so stupid as to adore them, they shall die, and be deprived of sepulture.
Ver. 31. Odours. Even the sanctuary of the Lord shall be destroyed, as you will be unworthy to have it among you, or to offer sacrifices to me. (Haydock)
Ver. 34. Desolation. It shall be uncultivated; and though you would not comply with my injunctions to let it rest one year out of seven, it shall now remain desolate for many years together. (Haydock) — Theodoret (q. 37) says for 70 years; the number of sabbatic years, from the reign of Saul till the captivity of Babylon, during the space of 490 years. This verse seems evidently to allude to those days of distress. (Calmet) (2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 21.) — But we can hardly suppose that none of the sabbatic years should have been duly observed during the reigns of David, Solomon, &c. (Haydock) — Instead of enjoy, Hebrew may be “shall expiate her sabbaths,” or the neglect of them. The same term, tirtse, is used, (ver. 41 and 43,) and the Vulgate generally renders it agreeable, speaking of sacrifices, chap. i. 4 and xxii. 20. (Calmet)
Ver. 35. Your sabbaths, holidays and years of rest, and of jubilee. The earth is represented as entering into the views of God, and rejoicing at his judgments. (Haydock)
Ver. 36. Fear. Septuagint, “timidity, or slavishness.” Hebrew morec, “softness and inactivity.” (Calmet) — Their haughty temper shall be broken; and though they have dared to rebel against their God, the fall of a leaf shall now terrify them. (Haydock)
Ver. 37. Brethren, in their flight; while each one is endeavouring to save himself. The Rabbins say they shall be punished for the sins of their brethren, if they have not endeavoured to prevent them.
Ver. 38. Consume you. The Hebrew spies said that the land of Chanaan devoured its inhabitants. Such shall be in reality the enemies’ country in your regard. You shall not be able to establish yourselves or be happy there.
Ver. 39. Own. The sins of their fathers, which they have imitated, shall fall upon them; so that they shall pine away with remorse and misery.
Ver. 41. Mind. Hebrew, “heart,” wicked, rebellious, and unclean. (Menochius) — Pray for. Hebrew and Syriac, “please themselves in,” &c. They shall see what advantage they have derived from their sins. (Calmet) — Then they shall enter into themselves, like the prodigal son. (Haydock)
Ver. 42. Jacob is placed first, because he was the father of no other nation; as Abraham and Isaac were. (Worthington)
Ver. 44. I did not. He speaks of a future event, which he sees will certainly come to pass, as if it had already happened. As God had preserved his people, in Egypt, conformably to his covenant with the patriarchs, so he will be reconciled to them, after they shall have done penance, and acknowledged all their excesses, in the captivity of Babylon. (Haydock) — The church never ceases all together. (Worthington)
Ver. 45. Moses. What has been hitherto recorded, was mostly prescribed by God at Mount Sinai, as some of the following laws were also. (Calmet) — It would seem as if this were the conclusion of Leviticus. We must remember, however, that these divisions were not introduced by Moses, as he wrote his five books without any interruption, like one verse. So St. John seems to conclude his Gospel, (chap. xx. 31,) though he afterwards adds another chapter. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
God’s promises to them that keep his commandments. And the many punishments with which he threatens transgressors.
1 I am the Lord* your God:** you shall not make to yourselves any idol or graven thing, neither shall you erect pillars, nor set up a remarkable stone in your land, to adore it: for I am the Lord your God.
2 Keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.
3 *If you walk in my precepts, and keep my commandments, and do them, I will give you rain in due seasons,
4 And the ground shall bring forth its increase, and the trees shall be filled with fruit.
5 The threshing of your harvest shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing-time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land without fear.
6 I will give peace in your coasts: you shall sleep, and there shall be none to make you afraid. I will take away evil beasts: and the sword shall not pass through your quarters.
7 You shall pursue your enemies, and they shall fall before you.
8 Five of yours shall pursue a hundred others, and a hundred of you ten thousand: your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
9 I will look on you, and make you increase: you shall be multiplied, and I will establish my covenant with you.
10 You shall eat the oldest of the old store, and, new coming on, you shall cast away the old.
11 I will set my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul shall not cast you off.
12 *I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
13 I am the Lord your God: who have brought you out of the land of the Egyptians, that you should not serve them, and who have broken the chains of your necks, that you might go upright.
14 *But if you will not hear me, nor do all my commandments,
15 If you despise my laws, and contemn my judgments, so as not to do those things which are appointed by me, and to make void my covenant:
16 I also will do these things to you: I will quickly visit you with poverty, and burning heat, which shall waste your eyes, and consume your lives. You shall sow your seed in vain, which shall be devoured by your enemies.
17 I will set my face against you, and you shall fall down before your enemies, and shall be made subject to them that hate you, you shall flee when no man pursueth you.
18 But if you will not yet for all this obey me, I will chastise you seven times more for your sins,
19 And I will break the pride of your stubbornness, and I will make to you the heaven above as iron, and the earth as brass:
20 Your labour shall be spent in vain, the ground shall not bring forth her increase, nor the trees yield their fruit.
21 If you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you for your sins:
22 And I will send in upon you the beasts of the field, to destroy you, and your cattle, and make you few in number, and that your highways may be desolate.
23 And if even so you will not amend, but will walk contrary to me:
24 I also will walk contrary to you, and will strike you seven times for your sins.
25 And I will bring in upon you the sword that shall avenge my covenant. And when you shall flee into the cities, I will send the pestilence in the midst of you, and you shall be delivered into the hands of your enemies.
26 After I shall have broken the staff of your bread: so that ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and give it out by weight: and you shall eat, and shall not be filled.
27 But if you will not for all this hearken to me, but will walk against me:
28 I will also go against you with opposite fury, and I will chastise you with seven plagues for your sins,
29 So that you shall eat the flesh of your sons and of your daughters.
30 I will destroy your high places, and break your idols. You shall fall among the ruins of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you,
31 Insomuch that I will bring your cities to be a wilderness, and I will make your sanctuaries desolate, and will receive no more your sweet odours.
32 And I will destroy your land, and your enemies shall be astonished at it, when they shall be the inhabitants thereof.
33 And I will scatter you among the Gentiles, and I will draw out the sword after you, and your land shall be desert, and your cities destroyed:
34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths all the days of her desolation: when you shall be
35 In the enemies’ land, she shall keep a sabbath, and rest in the sabbaths of her desolation, because she did not rest in your sabbaths when you dwelt therein.
36 And as to them that shall remain of you, I will send fear in their hearts in the countries of their enemies, the sound of a flying leaf shall terrify them, and they shall flee as it were from the sword: they shall fall, when no man pursueth them,
37 And they shall every one fall upon their brethren, as fleeing from wars, none of you shall dare to resist your enemies.
38 You shall perish among the Gentiles, and an enemy’s land shall consume you.
39 And if of them also some remain, they shall pine away in their iniquities, in the land of their enemies, and they shall be afflicted for the sins of their fathers, and their own:
40 Until they confess their iniquities and the iniquities of their ancestors, whereby they have transgressed against me, and walked contrary unto me.
41 Therefore I also will walk against them, and bring them into their enemies’ land, until their uncircumcised mind be ashamed: then shall they pray for their sins.
42 And I will remember my covenant, that I made with Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham. I will remember also the land:
43 Which when she shall be left by them, shall enjoy her sabbaths, being desolate for them. But they shall pray for their sins, because they rejected my judgments, and despised my laws.
44 And yet for all that when they were in the land of their enemies, I did not cast them off altogether, neither did I so despise them that they should be quite consumed, and I should make void my covenant with them. For I am the Lord their God.
45 And I will remember my former covenant, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, in the sight of the Gentiles, to be their God. I am the Lord. These are the judgments, and precepts, and laws, which the Lord gave between him and the children of Israel, in Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses.
1: Year of the World 2514. — ** Exodus xx. 4.; Deuteronomy v. 8.; Psalm xcvi. 7.
3: Deuteronomy xxviii. 1.
12: 2 Corinthians vi. 16.
14: Deuteronomy xxviii. 15.; Malachias ii. 2.