Copyright © 1999 by William D. Barrick.  Cited with permission.





The Eschatological Significance of Leviticus 26



William D. Barrick, Th. D.

       Professor of OT

  The Master's Seminary

        Sun Valley, CA


At the outset of this paper I wish to draw attention to its incompleteness and imperfections. Many factors

have contributed to this condition, not the least of which was the flooding of our household in the week

prior to ETS. The reader will note that there is no formal conclusion. This paper is presented as a work in

progress intended to incite its author and its readers to a more extensive study of Leviticus 26 and its

eschatological significance.


The Book of Leviticus is not noted for its eschatological content. Its theological

focus is on holiness.1 As the people of God, the Israelites were called to holiness in their

worship and in their daily living. Chapters 1--7 present the elements of a sacrificial

system providing for an outward manifestation of individual and corporate covenant

communion. The chief purpose of the sacrificial system was to exhibit continual

fellowship between the people of the covenant and the God of the covenant.

Chapters 8-10 define the priestly ministry. The priests were the caretakers of the

covenant relationship exhibited in the sacrificial system. Chapters 11-15 describe the

purity Yahweh required of His people in order that surrounding nations might recognize

Israel's identification with Him. The covenant community was summoned to a lifestyle

distinct from neighboring nations. Chapter 16 reveals that the Day of Atonement

provided the community with an annual renewal of the covenant. That day highlighted

the sovereign rule of Yahweh over the nation of Israel. The divine Suzerain blessed His

covenanted people by granting them His continued presence among them (16:16; cf. vv.


Chapters 17-24 prescribe in detail the ordinances by which the covenant

community was bound. This legislation affected their diet, social relationships, religious

leadership, calendar, and center of worship. The calendar (chapter 23) focused on the

seventh month with its three major observances (vv. 23-43). Eschatological overtones in

the realm of kingship and kingdom were especially prominent in the New Year

celebration (also known as the Feast of Trumpets, vv. 23-25).2

           Chapters 25 and 26 emphasize the monotheistic and sabbatical principles that were

the two great supporting pillars of the Sinaitic Covenant (cf. 25:55-26:3 and Exod 20:2-

11). Gerstenberger admits that Isaiah 61:1-2 together with Luke 4:16-21 suggests that

Leviticus 25 should be read eschatologically. He himself, however, found nothing


1 Philip J. Budd, Leviticus, New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans

Publishing Company, 1996), 34.

2 For arguments against connecting the Old Testament New Year festival to an enthronement festival, cf.

Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 2 vols. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1965), 2:502-6. See,

also, Norman H. Snaith, The Jewish New Year Festival: Its Origin and Development (London: Society for

Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1947).


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eschatological in the Levitical instruction concerning the year of Jubilee.3 On the other

hand, Gordon Wenham correctly connected Christ's quotation of Isaiah 61:1 with

Leviticus 25. rOrD; ("release") in Isaiah 61:1 is the same term employed in Leviticus


      It seems quite likely, therefore, that the prophetic description of the "acceptable year

      of the Lord" was partly inspired by the idea of the jubilee year. The messianic age

      brings liberty to the oppressed and release to the captives....

      ... The jubilee, then, not only looks back to God's first redemption of his people from

      Egypt (Lev. 25:38, 55), but forward to the "restitution of all things," "for new

      heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (Acts 3:21; 2 Pet. 3:13).4

            The twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus has been the threefold victim of perpetual

neglect: (1) In the synagogue it has been avoided because of its unpleasant subject

matter.5 (2) In commentaries (past and present, Jewish and Christian) it has been given

sketchy treatment. (3) In materials dedicated to the concept of covenant in the Old

Testament its covenant affinities are rarely discussed. Occasional references, however,

demonstrate that some biblical scholars are aware of its significance in the realm of

covenantal studies. Thirty-five years ago Delbert Hillers placed this section of the Torah

on a par with Deuteronomy 28:

      In the first place, the prophets did employ much traditional material in composing

      their threats of doom. This is not a new idea by any means, but it is worth pointing

      out that the parallels gathered here fully support it. Secondly, this inherited material

      in the prophets is related to the Israelite tradition of curses as preserved in Deut 28

      and Lev 26.6

The many similarities between Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 catapults the

former pericope into the same sphere of significance as the latter. Meredith Kline

tantalizingly suggested that the curses of Deuteronomy 28 were "anticipated in the

promises and threats ... in Leviticus (chap. 26)."7 Assuming Mosaic authorship for both

pericopes, it is perfectly consistent with the composition of the Pentateuch to assume that

Leviticus 26 was written prior to Deuteronomy 28. It could be argued, therefore, that the

latter passage is an exposition of the former.

Leviticus 26 consists of parenetic revelation given at Sinai on the threshold of

Israel's wilderness wanderings. The pericope's relevance is best understood in the light

of the apparent tension with the Abrahamic Covenant created by the promulgation of the

Mosaic Covenant. After three disturbing apostasies at Sinai, Leviticus 26 explained the

relationship between the two covenants and reemphasized the exclusive lordship of


3 Erhard S. Gerstenberger, Leviticus: A Commentary, The Old Testament Library, trans. Douglas W. Stott

(Louisville, Ken.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 398.

4 Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament,

ed. R. K. Harrison (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 324. See, also, the

extensive discussion of the eschatological implications of Jubilee in John E. Hartley, Leviticus, vol. 4 in

Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas, Tex.: Word Books, Publisher, 1992), 446-48.

5 Bernard J. Bamberger, Leviticus, vol. 3 of The Torah: A Modern Commentary, 5 vols. (New York: Union

of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), 290.

6 Delbert R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, Biblica et Orientalia 16 (Rome:

Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964), 78.

7 Meredith G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy: Studies and

Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 124.

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Yahweh. The chapter revealed that the Mosaic Covenant had not nullified the

eschatological promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul's teaching in Galatians 3:17

was anticipated by Leviticus 26 fifteen centuries earlier.

The blessings and curses in the chapter advance the respective emphases of the

Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. The blessings are directly related to the Abrahamic

Covenant's eschatological promises regarding land and blessing. The cursings

represented the Mosaic Covenant's five-stage process designed to produce confession of

guilt, humility, and restitution--elements that anticipated the New Covenant and its

eschatological elements. The element of restitution involved the sabbatical principle so

central to both the Mosaic Covenant and Leviticus 26. Indeed, the sabbatical principle is

itself eschatologically significant. The Land-Giver and Exodus-Causer will always be

loyal to His covenants and to His covenanted people. He is Lord of both space (the land)

and time (the sabbaths). Yahweh's future loyalty and work on behalf of Israel were

described by the Old Testament prophets. Along with Deuteronomy 27-28, Leviticus 26

anchored prophetic revelation's concepts of covenant.

      Yahweh continues to be presented as the only deity, the sole Lord of all that exists. In

       particular the Lord remains the God who has created, blessed, sustained and judged

       Israel depending on whether the people have kept or broken the Sinai covenant.

The covenant principles found in the Law lead the prophets to approve or

denounce the chosen nation's activities during their own lifetimes. The covenant

blessings and consequences announced in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-28

help the prophets assess Israel's past, and these same concepts give them hope that

the Lord has not finished with sinful Israel. The God who forgave once can surely do

so again, as Deuteronomy 30:1-10 indicates.8


An Outline of Leviticus 26


The following outline represents the contents of this significant chapter. The bulk

of this paper's discussion will be in the third major division regarding penalty (26:14-45),

especially the consequence of deportation or exile (vv. 27-38) and the contingency for

repentance (vv. 39-45).


I.          Precept (26:1-2)

A.        Prohibition of Idols (v. 1)

B.         Preservation of Sabbaths and Sanctuary (v. 2)

1.         The Sabbath Observance (v. 2a)

2.         The Sanctuary Reverence (v. 2b)

II.         Promise (26:3-13)

A.        The Prerequisite: Obedience: (v. 3)

B.         The Product: Blessing (vv. 4-12)

1.         Productivity (vv. 4-5)

2.         Peace (v. 6)

3.         Power (vv. 7-8)

4.         Population (v. 9)


8 Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 398.

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5.         Provision (v. 10)

6.         Presence (vv. I1-12)

C.        The Premise: Yahweh's Salvation (v. 13)

III.       Penalty (26:14-45)

A.        The Cause: Disobedience (vv. 14-15)

B.         The Consequence: Retribution (vv. 16-38)

1.         Debilitation and Defeat (vv. 16-17)

2.         Drought (vv. 18-20)

3.         Devastation by Wild Beasts (vv. 21-22)

4.         Deprivation by Siege (vv. 23-26)

5.         Deportation (vv. 27-38)

a.         Introduction (vv. 27-28)

b.         Dehumanization--Cannibalism (v. 29)

c.         Desolation (vv. 30-32)

d.         Dispersion -Exile (v. 33)

e.         Desertion of the Land (vv. 34-38)

(1)        The Sabbath Rest (vv. 34-35)

(2)        The Stricken Remnant (vv. 36-38)

C.        The Contingency: Repentance (vv. 39-45)

1.         Repentance: Israel's Acceptance of Retribution (vv. 39-41)

2.         Remembrance: Yahweh's Acceptance of Repentance (v. 42)

3.         Repetition: A Summary Concerning Retribution (v. 43)

4.         Reaffirmation: Yahweh's Promise to the Exiles (vv. 44-45)


Retributive Dispersion/Exile (Lev 26:33)

The emphatic preverbal position of the direct object in the disjunctive clause

presents the adversative: "but I shall disperse (hr,zAx< Piel) you (Mk,t;x,v;) among the

nations." Dispersion (hrz) is a subject common to this pericope and key sections in

Ezekiel (e.g., 5:2, 10, 12; 6:8; 12:14, 15; 20:23).  hrz is often employed "in agricultural

contexts of the winnowing process (e.g. Ruth 3:2; Isa. 30:24; 41:16)."9 Perhaps this

figure points to a remnant by implication (cf. Zech 1:18-21 [Heb. 2:1-4] and 13:8-9).10 At

Sinai Yahweh warned Israel about their complacency during the time of their residence

in the land. Dispersion would disrupt their complacency.11 The nation's apathy toward

Yahweh and His covenants would make them landless again. They would return to the

bondage out of which Yahweh had delivered them. Return to bondage would eventually


9 Ibid., 373.

10 In his study of the remnant, Hasel only refers to Leviticus 26 in passing. Summarizing the viewpoint of

Othmar Schilling, he writes: "the origin of the prophetic remnant motif is grounded in the sanctions of the

law, especially in Lev. 26 and its Deuteronomic parallels." Gerhard F. Hasel, The Remnant: The History

and Theology of the Remnant Idea from Genesis to Isaiah, 3rd ed., Andrews University Monographs:

Studies in Religion, vol. 5 (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press, 1980), 26; with reference to

Othmar Schilling, "’Rest’ in der Prophetie des Alten Testaments" (unpublished Th.D.

Inaugural dissertation, Universitat Munster, 1942). Hasel disagrees with Schilling because Schilling had

ignored early references in Genesis and had accepted too early a date for Leviticus 26. The author of this

paper would agree that the remnant motif is earlier than Leviticus 26, but would argue that the chapter had

a significant effect upon the prophetic development of the theology of remnant.

11 Budd, Leviticus, 372.

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cure their selective amnesia. Brueggemann's poignant observation applies here: “It is

hard enough for landed people to believe land will be lost. It is harder to imagine

Yahweh will do it” 12 (cf. Lev 26:32a, 33a).

       The goal of the Abrahamic Covenant was to give an inheritance to the people of the

covenant in accordance with Yahweh's promise (cf. Gen 12:7; 13:14-17).13 Exile delays

the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises. Therefore, it could be said that exile itself has

eschatological implications. Exile and dispersion indicate that the ultimate fulfillment of

the promise is yet future, or eschatological in nature.

       “Yea, I shall unsheath (ytiqoyrihEva Hiph’il) the sword (br,HA) behind you (Mk,yreHExa).” In

all four instances in the Old Testament where the idiom yrHx brH qyrh ("unsheath the

sword behind") occurs (here; Ezek 5:2, 12; 12:14) it is preceded by the employment of

hrz ("disperse") and it is always a reference to Israel. brH qyrh ("unsheath the sword")

is employed in three other passages but always in reference to the judgment of a nation

outside Israel (Egypt: Exod 15:9, Ezek 30:11; Tyre: Ezek 28:7). In these occurrences

neither hrz nor yrHx("behind") are employed.14 The idiom in Leviticus 26:33 is reserved

for Yahweh's dealing with Israel. Emptying (qyr) His scabbard is an act of hostility.

Yahweh will place the sword "behind" Israel for, on the one hand, they would be fleeing,

and, on the other hand, the path of return would be blocked by the divine sword. Shades

of Eden! As Adam and Eve were prevented reentry to Eden by the flaming sword of the

cherubim (Gen 3:24), so Israel would be prevented reentry to Canaan by the avenging

covenant sword of Yahweh.

       The summation of deportation's effects on the land comes next in 33b: "thus your

land shall be (htAy;hAv;) for devastation (hmAmAw;) and your cities shall be (Uyh;yi) ruins

(hBAr;HA)."15 Yahweh consigns the land and its cities to a state of devastation. This

declaration, in its conceptualization and its syntax, corresponds to the earlier statement of

divinely confirmed blessing:

      :MfAl; yli-Uyh;Ti MT,xav;            Myhloxle Mk,lA ytiyyihAv;     -12b

and you yourselves shall be my people         so that I shall be your God

:hBAr;HA Uyh;yi Mk,yrefAv;             hmAmAw; Mk,c;r;xa htAy;hAv;          -33b

and your cities shall be ruins                                     thus your land shall be for devastation


The deviations from strict correspondence in these two statements are instructive:

(1) The circumlocutions for the possessives "your" (Mk,lA) and "my" (yli) in 12b

      emphasize mutual identification in the covenant relationship.

(2) The phrase Mk,c;r;xa htAy;hAv; in 33b may be an allusion to Genesis 1:2

      (UhbovA Uhto htAy;hA Cr,xAhAv;, "and the earth was empty and void"). Such an

      allusion potentially serves three purposes:


12 Walter Brueggemann, The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith (Philadelphia,

Penn.: Fortress Press, 1977), 113.

13 Hartley, Leviticus, 468.

14 Cf. lf in Ezek 28:7 and 30:11, and no preposition in Exod 15:9. The h A of both substantives is clearly

assonant, drawing attention to the state of the land.

15 The alternation of the qatal and yiqtol of hyh is characteristic (cf. 12b).

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(a) to remind Israel that Yahweh is historically the Lord, the Creator, of all

     the earth--not just the Giver of the promised land;

(b) to emphasize the totality of the dispersion: the land would be without

      inhabitants; and,

(c) to imply that the dispersion was but the commencement of something new

     which Yahweh would do.

The possibility of an allusion to Genesis 1:2 in Leviticus 26:33b is noteworthy for

several reasons:

(1) The re-creation or new creation of the earth is a key eschatological theme in

      apocalyptic Scripture (cf. Isa 65:17; 2 Pet 3:10-12; Rev 21:1).

      Eschatologically, judgment precedes emptying or emptiness followed by

      renewal and restoration (cf. Isa 24-26). Eichrodt recognized that "the thought

      of God's activity as Creator and Giver in the berit. . . with the prophets--

      and even in P [including Leviticus 26] as well--was definitely primary.16

(2) Jeremiah 4:23 employs the very terms of Genesis 1:2 (UhbovA Uhto, "empty

      and void") to describe the land of Israel following judgment.17

(3) It is recognized also that removal from the land or "exile is the way to new life

      in new land."18


The Sabbath Rest (Lev 26:34-35).

The following pattern of correspondences and emphatic logical development

occurs in these verses:


Main clauses (a):

 hAyt,toB;wa             -tx,            Cr,xAhA hc,r;Ti zxA    -a1

then the land shall enjoy the restitution of its sabbaths

            :hAyt,toB;wa               -tx,   tcAr;hiv; Cr,xAhA tBaw;Ti  zxA    - a2

then the land shall rest, yea, it shall enjoy the restitution of its sabbaths

                        Mk,ytetoB;waB; htAb;wA-xlo rw,xE txe                  tBow;Ti      - a3

         it shall rest on account of your sabbaths in which it did not rest


16 Walter Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament,:2 vols., trans. J. A. Baker, Old Testament Library

(Philadelphia, Penn.: Westminster Press, 1961), 1:63. The liberal theologians' ascription of the creation

narratives to "P" cannot be accepted but their association of the two bodies of literature is important to

recognize and the reason for the biblical association must be sought in order not to miss the intended

message therein. Cf Ralph W. Klein, Israel in Exile: A Theological Interpretation (Philadelphia, Penn.:

Fortress Press, 1979), 125-48.

17 A significant reference to the "presence" of Yahweh in judgment may be seen in Jer 4:26b if hvAhy; yneP;mi

("from the presence of Yahweh") can be interpreted thus (in spite of the bound form yneP;mi cf the next

phrase in that context.

18 Brueggemann, The Land, 122. Cf. Jer 24:4-10.

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Temporal clauses (b):

hm.Awa.hI ymey; lKo           - b1

 all the days of its devastation

              Mk,ybey;xo Cr,x,B;     MT,xav;                                     - b2

while you are in the land of your enemies

 hm.Aw.ahA ymey;-lKA         - b1

all the days of its devastation

 hAyl,fA Mk,T;b;wiB;                                            - b3

while you were dwelling upon it


The schematization of the two verses helps to demonstrate the following points:

1. The triple chiasm and the repetition of b1 keep the temporal clauses together

     in order to emphasize the time factor in these verses--it is about the time of

     Israel's exile.

2. The repetition of tbw emphasizes the sabbatical principle.

3. Making Crx the subject of all three main clauses emphasizes the centrality

     of the land and its relationship to the sovereign decrees of Yahweh.

4. The juxtaposition of hcr and tbw demonstrates their theological

     equivalence. Verse 34b is transitional, employing the epexegetical waw to

     join these two terms in the middle member of the construction. While 34a

     employs hcr, 35 utilizes only tbw, having made the full transition.

The initial zxA ("then") of v. 34 sets that verse apart from the preceding context. It

serves, as it does sometimes in poetry, "to throw emphasis on a particular feature of the

description."19 The emphasis is upon the land's hcr. hcr is variously translated

"enjoy"20 and "make or obtain restitution,21 "Making restitution" could imply that the

land shared in the guilt of Israel's failure to observe the sabbatical years. This is unlikely

since the context appears to make hcr practically equivalent to tbw. The more positive

concept of "obtaining restitution" might indicate the basis for the land being able to enjoy

rest. The land might be depicted as being "pleased" at receiving "its due portion."22 The

"due portion" is defined as "its sabbaths." When will this take place? According to the

immediate context, "all the days of its devastation" (v. 35). Devastation will bring about

a forced sabbatical rest--a rest the land had been denied under Israel's plows:

       Then the land shall enjoy the restitution of (hcr, Qal yqtl)23 its sabbaths all the days

of its devastation while you are in the land of your enemies. Then the land shall rest;


19 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, eds., A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old

Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968 reprint), 23. Hereinafter cited as BDB.

20 Cf. ASV, NASB, NIV, Septuagint, Targurn Onqelos, Syriac, Latin.

21 Cf. BDB, 953 (the land makes the restitution); Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, eds., Lexicon

in Veteris Testamentwn Libros, 2nd ed. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1958), 906 (Qal = "obtain restitution," Hiphil =

"make restitution"); Karl Elliger, Leviticus, Handbuch zum Alten Testament 1/4 (Tiibingen: J. C. B.

Mohr/Paul Siebeck, 1966), 377; NASB margin: "make restitution," "satisfy."

22 "Ihm gebtihrenden Anteil annehmen"G. Gerlentan, "hcr," Theologisches Handworterbuch zum Alten

Testament, ed. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann (Miinchen: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1976), 2:811.

23 The italicized words are supplied in order to bring out the full scope of hcr.

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yea, it shall enjoy the restitution of (hcr, Hiphil qtl)24 its sabbaths. It shall rest all the

days of its devastation on account of your sabbaths in which it did not rest while you

were residing upon it (vv. 34-35).

        The expulsion of Israel was necessitated by their defilement of the land.25 Leviticus

appears to focus on Israel's unholy and impure condition as that which led to Israel's

ultimate collapse and deportation. The book shares this viewpoint with Deuteronomy,

Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.26 Idolatry and violation of the sabbath (Lev 26:2, 34-35) are

specified here as the key areas of disobedience. Of these two, the sabbatical matter

receives the greater emphasis in the context of this chapter. Second Chronicles 36:20-21

makes the same observation regarding the cause for the Babylonian exile:

      The remnant surviving the sword were deported to Babylon so that they became

      servants for him [the king of Babylon] and for his sons until the ascendancy of the

      kingdom of Persia, so that the word of Yahweh through Jeremiah might be fulfilled

      until the land enjoyed the restitution of (hcr, Qal qtl) its sabbaths. All the days of its

      devastation it rested, so that seventy years might be completed.27

The association made by the Chronicler is between the chronological extent of the exile

(seventy years) and the theological nature of the exile (the enjoyment of restitution for

non-observed sabbatical periods). Any attempt to account for exactly seventy years of

violated sabbatical years and/or jubilees would be an exercise in futility. The Scripture is

silent about such figuring and there are too many unknown factors28 to make an exact

accounting feasible.


The Stricken Remnant (Lev 26:36-38).

       This section may be divided into two parts: (1) vv. 36-37a, indicated by the third

person plural referring to the remnant, and (2) vv. 37b-38, identified by the second

person plural referring to the exiles. The disjunctive waw with the accusative casus

pendens serves to separate this section from the previous verses. "Those who are left

from among you" are the prominent topic:

      As for those who are left from among you, I shall bring timidity into their heart in the

      lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall pursue them; yea, they shall

      flee as though in flight from before the sword and they shall fall without a pursuer--

      indeed, they shall stumble over each other as though in flight from before the sword

      except there will be no one pursuing them (vv. 36-37a).

         The exiles will be sent into a panic by the mere rustling of leaves. In their paranoia

they will strain their ears to catch the slightest sound that might indicate the presence of


24 The alternation of the forms of hcr is characteristic of the elevated style of the pericope.

25 Cf. Hans Eberhard von Waldow, "Israel and Her Land: Some Theological Considerations," in A Light

Unto My Path: Old Testament Studies in Honor ofJacob M. Myers, ed. Howard N. Bream, et al.

(Philadelphia, Penn.: Temple University Press, 1974), 506.

26 Jacob Milgrom, "Leviticus, Book of," Encyclopedia Judaica, ed. Cecil Roth (Jerusalem: Keter, 1971),


27 The author's own translation. For a discussion of the problem of source and dependency in relationship

to Leviticus and Jeremiah, see William D. Barrick, "Leviticus 26: Its Relationship to Covenant Contexts

and Concepts" (unpublished Th.D. dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1981),133-34.

28 E.g., the number of times Israel was obedient in sabbatical observances; and, the exact dates for the

Babylonian exile itself.

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their enemies. With shattered nerves they will give place to their fears and cowardice.

They will flee, only to fall over one another.29 Not only will this wreak havoc with the

trampling of the fallen, it will also add to their unbearable humiliation. Defeated by a

non-existent enemy, they fall over their own soldiers in a stampede initiated by a stirring


Verses 36-37a are marked by the following forms of assonance:

                                                Jderov; . . . Jdero . . . JDAni . . .  JdarAv;

                                                   tsanum; UsnAv;

                                                               NyexA Jderov; . . .  Jdero Nyxev;

The assonance, conciseness, and the subject matter are reminiscent of the taunt-song best

exemplified by Isaiah 14:4, Micah 2:4, and Habakkuk 2:6.30 These taunt songs exhibit the

following characteristics: assonance, conciseness, third person grammar in a second

person context, a theme of judgment, an interrogative,31 and the use of lwm in the

introduction. Leviticus 26:36-37a contains all but the last two characteristics.

Turning from the remnant, verses 37b-38 describe the condition of the exiles lest

they forget their own dire predicament: "Nor shall there be (hy,h;ti-xlov;) any resistance

(hmAUqT;)32 from you (Mk,lA) before your enemies." There is a very obvious correlation

between the last word of 37a (NyexA, "there shall be no") and the first construction of 37b

(hy,h;ti-xlo, "nor shall there be"). It is an example of a carefully worded transition or

hinge, flipping from one subject to the next by means of the same concept though

employing different terminology.

        The result of nonresistance is clear: "so that you shall perish (MT,d;baxEva Qal) among

the nations; yea, the land of your enemies shall devour (hlAk;xAv;) you" (v. 38). The

message is emphatic. There would be absolutely no escaping the judgment of Yahweh.

Perishing (dbx, cf. Deut 28:22, 63) and being devoured (lkx), cf. Num 13:32 and Ezek

36:13-14 where land is the devourer) are parallel concepts as are also the nations (MyiOG)


29 One cannot help but be reminded of eschatological passages like Isa 24:17-18, Amos 5:18-20, and Ezek


30 George Buchanan Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Numbers, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T.

Clark, 1976 reprint), xiv, 344-45.

31 In Isa 14:4 and Mic 2:4 the interrogative is jyx ("How?") and in Hab 2:6 it is ytm-df ("How long?").

32  hmvqt (like j`remo, "timidity," in 36a) is a hapax legomenon. Targum Onqelos (hmvqt) and the Syriac

Peshitta (qwm) both employ the same semitic root (Mvq) as the MT. However, the Targum's term may

mean "rising" or "preservation" (Marcus Jastrow, compiler, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud

Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, 2 vols. [Brooklyn, N.Y.: P. Shalom Publishing Inc.,

1967 reprint], 2:1690) and the Syriac may mean "opposition" (J. Payne Smith, ed., A Compendious Syriac

Dictionary [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967 reprint], 495). The Septuagint indicates the ability to stand (ou]

dunh<sesqe a]ntisth?nai, "you shall not be able to resist/stand against") and the Vulgate bears the

concept of bringing oneself to resist/oppose (audebit resistere). In the Qumran materials from Cave 1, the

equivalent phrase employs dmfm ("resistance"--dmfm is never a synonym for hmvqt in the OT; cf. BDB,

765.). 1 QM xiv.8 is the nearest syntactically: ("and there is no resistance from any of their mighty

men/warriors"-Eduard Lohse, ed., Die Texte aus Qumran, 2nd ed., revised [Munchen: Kosel-Verlag,

1971], 212-13; cf., also, 1QM xviii.13 and 1 QH v.29). Lohse's translation of dmfm in 1 QM xiv.8 is

identical to Elliger's for hmvqt in Leviticus 26:37b: geben Standhalten ("give resistance/resist"--ibid.,

213; Elliger, Leviticus, 362, 377).

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and the land of the enemies (Mk,ybey;xo Cr,x,). It is not the land of Canaan which devours

the exiled captives. The infertility of Israel's land (due to devastation) is not intended,

either.33 Nor, for that very fact, could the devouring refer to wars, depopulation, drought,

famine, or the chastisements of Yahweh.34 The context of Leviticus 26:38b refers to

physical destruction so clearly that even the concept of spiritual stumbling (becoming

entangled in sins)35 must be ruled out as a viable interpretation. "Their falling under the

pressure of the circumstances in which they were placed"36 is too vague. What, then, is

the meaning? The reference is to the vanishing of the exiles. They would be taken from

the land Yahweh had given to them, would enter their enemies' land(s), and not return.

They would die and be decimated in a strange land (cf Amos 7:17, "but you yourself

shall die upon unclean ground [or, in an unclean land, hxAmeF; hmAdAxE-lfa]"37). When

Yahweh brought them out of exile, they would be fewer in number than when they went

into captivity.38 This exile would be unlike the Egyptian bondage in which the nation

multiplied greatly (cf. Exod 1:7). The entirety of the Abrahamic Covenant is set aside

during Israel's exile:

(1) Rather than possessing the land (Gen 12:1; 15:7, 18-21; 17:8), Israel would be

     dispossessed from the land (Lev 26:33-38).

(2) National greatness (Gen 12:2) would be turned into humiliation, inferiority,

      and insignificance (Lev 26:29, 32, 36-:37; Deut 28:43-44).

(3) Blessing (Gen 12:2; 22:17) would turn to cursing (Lev 26:14-38; Deut 28:15-


(4) Instead of being a blessing (Gen 1:2:2-3; 22:18), Israel would become a curse

      (Lev 26:32, 36-37a; Deut 28:25, 37).

(5) Multiplication (Gen 12:2; 15:5; 17:4-6; 22:17) would be replaced by     

     diminution (Lev 26:22, 29,. 38; Deut 28:18, 20-22, 53-57, 62).

(6) Success over Israel's enemies (Gen 22:17) would turn to defeat at the hand of

      their enemies (Lev 26:16-17, 32, 36-38; Deut 28:25, 31, 48, 52, 68).

Promise would be turned to privation. Covenant vengeance consisted of the removal of

all privileges and protection together with all attendant prosperity.


33 Cf. George Buchanan Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Numbers, International Critical

Commentary, ed. by Samuel Rolles Driver, et al. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Ltd., 1976 reprint), 151.

34 Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press,

1969), 207.

35 Cf. Carl Friedrich Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Ezekiel, 2 vols., trans. James Martin,

in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968

reprint), 2:104-5.

36 Carl Friedrich Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, 3 vols., trans. James Martin, in Biblical

Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971 reprint),


37 Cf. the use of ("land") in Amos 7:17 before and after this phrase.

38 The problems involved in the numbers of captives taken from the land (cf. 2 Kgs 24:16; Jer 52:28-30)

and the numbers of the returnees (cf. Ezra 2:64-65; Neh 7:66-67) must be viewed in the light of the

remnant (cf. Ezra 1:4; Neh 1:2; Hag 2:3), the necessity of multiplication in exile to survive (cf. Jer 29:6),

the male census figures (cf. 2. Kgs 24:16; Jer 52:28-30), and the later deportations of over 100,000 left in

the land (cf. R. K. Harrison, Old Testament Times [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,

1970], 256; C. F. Keil, The Prophecies of Jeremiah, 2 vols., trans. James Kennedy, in Biblical

Commentary on the Old Testament [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968 reprint],


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The Contingency: Repentance (Lev 26:39-45)

Divine retribution, according to verses 39-45, has the repentance of Yahweh's

covenant people as its ultimate goal (vv. 39-41). Their repentance would allow the

covenant relationship to be reinstated or reactivated by Yahweh. The reactivation of the

covenant must be founded upon a clear understanding of their relationship to the land, the

sabbatical principle, and the recognition of guilt by the transgressors (vv. 42-43). Thus,

the land and the people may be restored to a right relationship with Yahweh, Lord of the

covenant. Above all else, it must be remembered that Yahweh's covenant promise is

sure. He revealed His commitment to restoration in order to reassure His people (vv. 44-

45). Yahweh remains loyal to His covenant--even when His covenanted people are



Repentance: Israel's acceptance of retribution (w. 39-41). The same casus

pendens employed in verse 36 is repeated here: "As for those who are left from among

you."40 The languishing (Uq.m.ayi')41 suffered by the guilt-ridden Israelites is emphasized

here. This was their condition while in exile. Ezekiel best described both the resulting cry

of the people and Yahweh's response:

      Now you, O son of man, you say to the house of Israel: "Thus you speak: ‘Our

      transgressions and our sins are upon us so that we are languishing (Myq.eman; UnH;naxE) in

      them. Therefore, how shall we live?"' Say to them: "’As surely as I live,' declares

      Lord Yahweh, ‘I do not delight in the death of the wicked, but rather in the turning

      (or, repenting) of the wicked from his way so that he lives. Turn (or, Repent)! Turn

      from (or, Repent of) your ways, 0 wicked ones! Yea, why will you die, 0 house of

      Israel?"' (Ezek 33:10-11)42

Therefore, Leviticus 26:39a says of the remnant of Israel, "they shall languish because of

their guilt (MnAOfEBa) in the lands of your enemies." While in exile, the disobedient nation

would suffer terribly in exile: "Yea, they also (Jxav;) shall languish (Uq.mA.yi) because of the

guilt (tonOfEBa)43 of their fathers which44 shall be45 with them" (39b). By moving the verb

(qqm) from the first word in its clause (39a) to the last word in its clause (39b), an

inclusio brings emphasis upon the concept of languishing. "They will ... fester and decay


39 Cf. a similar concept in 2 Tim 2:13.

40 In v. 36 MyrixAw;n.ihav; ("those who remained") is an accusative casus pendens (i.e., an accusative absolute)

serving to isolate and give marked prominence to the object of the sentence. Cf. GKC § 143c.

41 "Many will perish in a foreign land. Others will qqm, ‘languish away,’ slowly in the land of their

enemies. qqm means ‘fester’ of wounds (Ps 38:6[5]). The noun of this root qm means ‘rot’ (Isa 3:24; 5:24;

BDB 596-97). In Zech 14:12 it describes the wasting away of the body, the flesh, the eyes, and the tongue.

Here it pictures the slow but steady erosion of people's lives as they eke out a miserable existence in a

foreign land (cf. Ezek 4:17; 24:23; 33:10)"--Hartley, Leviticus, 468.

42 The association of qqm with Nvf is a feature shared by both Leviticus (5:1, 17; 7:18; 10:17; 19:8; 20:17,

19; 22:16; 26:41, 43) and Ezekiel (4:17; 24:23; 33:10). Cf. Budd, Leviticus, 374.

43 Plural of intensity.

44 I.e., the guilt. Cf. Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 2:477. The third masculine plural is in agreement with

the plural of tnoOfEBa which is irregular and takes a feminine ending in the plural.

45 Supplied in agreement with the time element of the main verb in the context.

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as a generation, just as their fathers did."46  In 39b the preverbal adverbial phrases draw

attention to themselves: "because of their fathers' guilt ... with them." Rashi's

explanation for this concept is that "it means that the guilt of their fathers will be with

them as those who are holding fast to the practice of their fathers" (Mtvbx tvnvfwk

Mhydyb Mhytvbx hWfm MyzHvxwk Mtx).47 Various theologians offer the

explanation that corporate guilt (i.e., the concept of it) was rigid in Israel's early history.

In fact, corporate guilt was so rigidly maintained that the responsibility of the individual

was ignored until the exile during which it was demonstrated that Yahweh was concerned

more about the individual's guilt. This change in theology was to have come about by

experience and by the writings of the prophets.48 Usually, therefore, Ezekiel 18 is

praised as new light for Israel since it teaches individual responsibility.

Although their ancestral guilt had contributed to the reality of exile, 39a clearly

establishes (prior to the mention of corporate guilt) that Israel would be subject to its

own, current guilt. In other words, the generation of Israelites facing the day of

retribution was also guilty. This may not identify the individual per se, but it does

distinguish the guilt of separate generations. This same principle of distinguishing guilt

also applies to the concept of individual guilt.

In Ezekiel's day and in Moses' day, the way out of the entrapment was repentance

(bvw, Ezek 33:11) or confession (hdy, Hitpa’el, Lev 26:40a) of personal and corporate

guilt: “if49 they confess (UDvat;hiv;) their guilt (MnAOfE-tx,) and the guilt (NOfE-tx,v;) of their

fathers" (40a). The order is significant. Even though corporate guilt had brought about

their languishing in the awareness of the "specter of an irreversible destiny,"50 Yahweh

replied that personal guilt required attention first. The now-generation's guilt, as opposed

to the past-generation's guilt, must be admitted if the repentance was to be genuine. Such

a concept of personal guilt does not require a post-exilic date for Leviticus 26, any more

than the emphasis on corporate guilt in Daniel 9:1-19 would require a Mosaic date for the

composition of that pericope.

Corporate guilt cease to be a problem to the individual who has confessed his own

guilt. Corporate guilt is not a straight jacket or a bottomless pit. Escape from it is the

same as for personal guilt: repentance. It is not a destiny. It is a lesson. It is a lesson in

the history of the faith (or, lack of faith). The covenant not only brings blessing to

Abraham's descendants, it can also bring cursing, depending on each generation's

personal obedience or disobedience. Each generation has the same opportunity to rid

itself of a sordid history of disloyalty to the divine covenant. Each has the opportunity to

be personally loyal to the Lord of the covenant.

From 40b through 41b a parenthesis is encountered which serves to explain the

nature of the guilt and the reason for the nation thus burdened: "because of their being

unfaithful to me (ybi-UlfEmA rw,xE MlAfEmaB;)51 and also because they walked in opposition to


46 Budd, Leviticus, 374.

47 dxm tvlvdg tvytvxb hrvt ywmvH hwmH llvk wmvH (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., n.d.), 141.

48 Eichrodt, Theology, 2:413-43.

49 Cf. GKC, 337 (§ 112kk-ll), 494 (§ 159g).

50 A. B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament, ed. S. D. F. Salmond, in The International

Theological Library (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1961 reprint), 222. Cf. Davidson's full discussion, 217-27.

51 This construction is a cognate accusative with an internal object (cf. GKC, 366-67 [§l17p-q]). There is

no retrospective pronominal suffix and rw,xE introduces the relative clause acting as an attribute for the

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me (yriq,B; ym.ifi Ukl;hA)52,  I also walked in opposition to them (yriq,B; j`lexe)53 and I

brought them into the land of their enemies" (40b-41b). The only new terminology or

concept presented in this parenthesis is lfm, which may be translated "act unfaithfully."

It was employed of sacrilege in the case of Achan (Josh 7:1; cf. 22:20). It was also used

of the breach of vows (oaths or covenants; cf. Ezek 17:20; Num 5:12). This latter concept

appears to be that of Leviticus 26:40b, which deals with covenant treason.54 Such a

concept is also found in its employment in Ezekiel 14:13, 15:8, 20:27, and Daniel 9:7.

All those contexts are similar to Leviticus 26 in both contents and concepts.55

       The protasis begun in 40a (UDvat;hiv;, "if they confess") is resumed here by means of a

dual particle construction (zxA0-Ox) containing the conditional Ox ("if/whether") together

with the temporal zxA ("then"): "If then their uncircumcised heart (lrefAh, MbAbAl;) is

humbled (fnaKAyi) and then (zxAv;) they make restitution (Ucr;yi) for their guilt (MnAOfE-tx,)"

(41cd). The temporal reference comes after the exile and at the time of their confession of

guilt. This is the result of Yahweh's working in their heart (cf. v. 36a) while they are in

exile. Exile would strip the nation of all pretense of being spiritual. Exile would be the

irrefutable evidence that they were displeasing to Yahweh.

      The covenant Lord demands heart-consecration which reflected the fulfillment of the

      consecration sworn in the circumcision oath. Circumcision is an oath-rite. To be

      uncircumcised would be to place oneself outside the juridical authority of Yahweh

      and a refusal to consign oneself to the ordeal of the Lord's judgment for the final

      verdict on one's life-eternal weal or woe.56

Israel's spiritual condition would be that of an uncircumcised heart (cf. Jer 9:25; Ezek

44:6-9; see, also, Jer 4:4). This would be the nation's condition while living in exile

among uncircumcised nations who are outside the covenant (cf. Ezek 44:7). Yahweh was,

in effect, declaring to the nation: "If you want to live like the uncovenanted nations, then

live among them!" Exile was a fitting and just punishment.

        The confession of guilt (40a) must be sincere. There is no room for pride. The

humbling of the nation meant that they would no longer be self-reliant, but rather,

trusting Yahweh. fnk ("humble") occurs 36 times in the Old Testament (19 of which are

in Chronicles). In the spiritual sense (rather than the political or physical) it is used only


preceding noun. Note the employment of qatal in the relative clause. The emphasis of the expression could

be rendered, "being treasonously unfaithful."

52 The qatal may have been maintained as a fixed form for this particular phrase. Cf. vv. 23, 24, 27, 28. See

below, fn 34.

53 The only occurrence of this idiom with yiqtol. It is particularly significant since there is no waw involved

either here or in the immediately preceding employment of the phrase in 40b, which uses qatal. When 41a

is compared to 24a, it is clear that prepositive ynixE-Jxa is responsible for the yiqtol (with gatal in 24a it was


54 Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, Chapters 1-24, trans.

Ronald E. Clements, ed. Frank Moore Cross, et al., in Hermeneia (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress Press,

1979), 366.

55 Cf. Dan 9:4-5 (confession, covenant, commandments, guilt, unfaithfulness), 11-14 (Deuteronomic

Covenant), 15 (exodus history = covenant formula)), 16 (guilt of the fathers).

56 Meredith G. Kline, By Oath Consigned: A Reinterpretation of the Covenant Signs of Circumcision and

Baptism (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1968),47-48.

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18 times (14 in Chronicles, 3 in Kings, and Lev 26:41c).57 The employment of fnk in the

spiritual sense is always in a context of an invasion of the land by Israel's enemies. Such

invasions were in all cases the chastisement of Israel for sinful pride or idolatry. The

nations, therefore, would be the instrument of humiliation for disobedient Israel.

The last phrase of verse 41 is the most difficult theologically. The phrase

MnAOfE-tx, Ucr;yi("make restitution for guilt") occurs only three times in the Old Testament

(here, v. 43, and Isa 400:2). Wenham interprets the phrase in Leviticus 26:41 as meaning

that Israel would "accept (the punishment for) the guilt."58 Keil and Delitzsch, regarding

the same reference, say that Israel "will take pleasure, rejoice in their misdeeds, i.e. in the

consequences and results of them."59 In other words, Israel would rejoice that God was

just in awarding what was deserved. However, Delitzsch elsewhere (regarding Isa 40:2)

distinguishes between "a satisfactory reception" and “a satisfactory payment.”60 He

interprets Isaiah 40:2 in the latter sense. Edward J. Young takes the phrase in Isaiah 40:2

as a reference to the acceptance of "a sacrifice sufficient to atone for the iniquity."61 He

further indicates that such a sacrifice is “more fully revealed in the fifty-third chapter of

the book.”62

          Young's view, therefore, is messianic in scope. He makes the concept in the phrase

one of absolute soteriology wherein the only acceptable restitution for guilt must be made

by God Himself in the person of Christ. It would be accurate to say that redemption or

freedom from guilt is not the work of Israel, it is the work of Yahweh (cf. Isa 43:22-28).63

However, the phrase is not a statement of soteriological redemption. It is a statement of

federal consequence. Conversion or repentance must be manifested.64 Conversion must

demonstrate a turning away from sin. Conversion focuses

      on concrete commands, prescriptions, and rights, contempt for which had called

      down all the disasters of the past, and the strict observances of which was therefore

      essential in order to prove the seriousness of the new change.65

The making of restitution for guilt, therefore, would be "an evidence of the

repentance and expiation,"66 not the cause. Such evidence of true repentance also


57 Cf. Karl Elliger, Leviticus, Handbuch zum Alten Testament 1/4 (Ttibingen: J. C. B. Mohr/Paul Siebeck,

1966), 378 n 72.

58 Wenham, Leviticus, 332 n 12.

59 Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 2:478.

60 Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, 3 vols., trans. James Martin, in

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967

reprint), 2:140.

61 Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,

1965-72), 3:23.

62 Ibid.; cf. Delitzsch, Isaiah, 2:129.

63 Walther Zimmerli, Old Testament Theology in Outline, trans. David E. Green (Atlanta, Geo.: John Knox

Press, 1978), 217.

64 Cf. the concept of works as the evidence of faith in the epistle of James in the New Testament. The

manifestation of conversion ought not to be limited to the active participation in "good works." It must also

involve the passive acceptance of the righteous will of God regarding the effects of past sin.

65 Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, 2 vols., trans. J. A. Baker, in Old Testament Library,

ed. G. Ernest Wright, et al. (Philadelphia, Penn.: The Westminster Press, 1961), 2:470.

66 G. Gerleman, "hcr ," Theologisches Handworterbuch zum Alten Testament, 2 vols., ed. Ernst Jenni and

Claus Westermann (Munchen: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1971, 1976), 2:811, "Zeichen der Reue and Busse"

(emphasis added in translation).

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involves the acceptance of the consequences of sin which are not removed immediately:

"conversion and the necessity of continuing to bear God's punishment are not mutually

exclusive."67 An example of such federal consequences may be seen in the case of

Rehoboam's servitude to Shishak (2 Chron 12:1-12). The leaders of Israel "humbled

themselves" (fnk, as in Lev 26:41c), Yahweh granted them a stay of full execution, but

left the nation in subjection to Shishak as a means of teaching the converted leaders the

seriousness of disobedience to Yahweh and the pleasantness of walking in obedience (vv.

6-8, 12). The impact of exile would linger on. No matter when this repentance on the part

of Israel would take place, the remainder of the exile and the land's sabbaths would have

to be fulfilled. Also involved in making restitution for their guilt would be the

commencement of obedience to the demands of the law of Yahweh (e.g., regular

observance of the sabbaths; cf. Neh 10:28-31 and Isa 58:1-14).

The protasis that is presented in. 40a and 41cd consists of three parts: (1)

acknowledging before Yahweh the breach of covenant (i.e., confession), (2) subjugating

the mind and will (heart) to the God of the covenant (i.e., humility), and (3) obeying the

life-changing commands of the law-giver (i.e., restitution). Thereby the covenant

relationship may be reentered.


         Remembrance: Yahweh's acceptance of repentance (v. 42). The apodosis of the

conditional sentence begun with 40a is in a carefully constructed form:


     and I shall remember my covenant with Jacob,               bvqofEya ytiyriB;-tx, yTir;kazAv; -42a

                        even my covenant with Isaac,                           qHAc;yi ytiyriB;-tx, Jxav; -42b

yea, I shall remember my covenant with Abraham,  rKoz;x, MhArAb;xa ytiyriB;-tx, Jxav;-42c

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    and I shall remember the land.                                                      :rKoz;x, Cr,xAhAv; -42d


The repetition formed by the verb rkz ("remember') sets the tone of the apodosis. Six

occurrences of the first person singular (three times as the subject of rkz and three times

as a pronominal suffix on tyrb ("my covenant") indicate that Yahweh Himself will

respond to Israel's repentance. The threefold repetition of tyrb confirms (again) the

pericope's covenant context and of Israel's repentance.

In addition to the repetitions, the following observations may be made concerning

this apodosis: (1) The elevated style of 42abc approaches that of a tristich containing

synonymous parallelism.68 (2) rkz opens and closes the section in order to maintain the

emphasis on remembrance.69 "My covenant" is the object of rkz only four times in the


67 Eichrodt, Theology, 2:471. Punishment, in this sense, is not the mediate effect, but the immediate effect

of the sin. Similarly, the New Testament believer, though forgiven by Christ, yet must die physically. His

spiritual (second) death, however, is completely removed.

68 This does not mean that the three proper names are synonymous. Those names are but modifiers of tyrb.  

The last phrase of v. 42 and the subsequent context confirm that only one covenant is in view. If this

style is not poetic, it certainly is fastidiously developed so that the logical correspondences (parallelisms?)

are undeniable.

69 Note the typical weqatal followed by yiqtol. The absence of  rkz in 42b aids the employment of the

inclusion. Rashi indulges in fanciful speculation to explain the absence of rkz in 42b. He explains it on the

basis of the presence of the ashes of Isaac on an altar before God.

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Old Testament: Genesis 9:15; Exodus 6:5; and Ezekiel 16:60. In Leviticus 26 the

remembrance of the covenant is the opposite of the breach (rpehAl;, v. 44) of covenant.70

(3) Jxav; ("yea, also/even") in 42bc continues the concept initiated in 42a and is not

employed again at the commencement of 42d. This confirms the individual nature of 42d.

(4) The names of the patriarchs in 42abc are the reverse of the usual order.71 The order

certainly does not indicate comparative worth in an ascending fashion.72 It probably

presents a backward look to the original promise to Abraham. The order would serve to

confront Israel with the historical foundation of the nation and its covenant relationship

to Yahweh. (5) The apodosis is concluded by 42d. It substitutes Cr,xAhA ("the land") for

ytyriB; ("my covenant") since the central promise of the covenant was the land. It also

utilizes the juxtaposition of these two terms since they are the only truly significant

concepts in this context. The patriarchs are not the center of attention. The land, as given

by Yahweh, is the focus of the verse. That land was granted by the covenant made with

Abraham. (6) Verse 42d also duplicates the yiqtol of rkz at the end of the line (cf. 42c) to

maintain the continuity of thought between 42abc and 42d. Therefore, 42d is a concise

summary of 42abc.


Repetition: a summary concerning retribution (v. 43). Retribution is not

primarily reformatory, curative, or preventative in nature. Retribution is primarily

revelatory. The just punishment of the sinner (the covenant breaker) is a clear

manifestation of the holiness and righteousness of Yahweh. Verse 43 emphasizes the

reason for the retribution involving the land and people of Israel:

      Nevertheless,73 the land must be forsaken (bzefATe)74 by them, so that it might enjoy

      the restitution of (Cr,tiv;) its sabbaths during its desolation (hm.Awah;BA)75 without them.


70 Willy Schottroff, Gedenken' im Alten Orient and im Alten Testament: Die Wurzel Zakar im Semitischen

Sprachkreis, 2nd ed., Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten and Neuen Testament 15 (Neukirchen-

vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1967), 206.

71 This is a hapax phainomenon in the Old Testament. The triad (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) occurs as follows:

with  tyrb rkz: Exod 2:24; Lev 26:42

with  rkz: Exod 32:13 (lxrWy for Jacob); Deut 9:27

with tyrb: 2 Kgs 13:23; 1 Chr 16:15-18 = Ps 105:8-11

with Crx fbw ("the land sworn/promised to"): Gen 50:24; Exod 6:8; 32:13; 33:1; Deut 1:8; 6:10;


with hmdx fbw (same as Crx fbw): Num 32:11; Deut 30:20

with rbd fbw ("the word/promise sworn to"): Deut 9:5

with Myhlxl/Mfl hyh fbw ("sworn to be a people/a god"): Deut 29:12

with hxr ("[God of . . . ] appeared"): Exod 3:16; 4:5; 6:3

with yhlx ("God of'): Exod 3:6,15,16; 4:5; 1 Kgs 18:36; 1 Chr 29:18-12 Chr 30:6(where lx bvw

["return to"] precedes).

72 Cf. Rashi; H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, eds., Leviticus, vol. 4 in Midrash Rabba, trans. Judah J.

Slotki (London: Soncino Press, 1961), 462 (includes fanciful explanations for many aspects of v. 42).

73 The disjunctive waw is employed here with the emphasized subject, using the preceding Cr,xAhAv; (42d) as

a springboard.

74 Yiqtol here is interpreted as a jussive.

75 The irregular syncope of the form may be due to an attraction to the preceding word for vocalic

assonance: hm.Awah;BA // hAyt,(t)B;wa (unaccented holem is very minimal in pronunciation) rather than

hm.Aw.ahAB;. Cf. GKC, 182 (§67y).

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     However, they themselves must make restitution (Ucr;y Mhev;) for their guilt (MnAOfE-tx,)

     simply because (Nfayab;U Nfaya)76 they rejected my ordinances and they inwardly

     [deeply?] despised (MwAp;na hlAfEGA) by statutes.

The structure of verse 43 (together with the preceding line, 42b) may be represented in

the following fashion:77


(1cs)                                                                            :rKoz;x,       Cr,xAhAv;       -42d

I shall                 and

            remember            the



(3fs)                 Mh,me                          bzefATe       Cr,xAhAv;             -43a

by                                                        shall be and

them                                                     forsaken           the


Mh,me   hmA.wah;BA hAyt,toB;wa-tx,                 Cr,Tiv;                -43b

without its sabbaths                                           and it

them                 during its                                               shall

                        *                      desolation                                             enjoy


(3mp                                        MnAOfE-tx,                      Ucr;yi  Mhev; -43c

for their guilt                                         shall        and

make     they

restitu-    *


     UsxAmA yFaPAw;miB;  Nfayab;U Nfaya                                       -43d

         they rejected        simply because

         my ordinances


:MwAP;na        hlAfEGA ytaqo.Hu-tx,v;                                            -43e

their                     and despised

soul                     my statutes

The following observations may be made concerning this structure:

      (1) The repetition of the assonance involving fl in the first member of the first four

lines emphasizes the main concern of retribution and restoration: the land (fire).

      (2) The repetition of guttural + z (rKoz;x, and bzefATe) serves to heighten the

correspondence between the opposites rkz ("remember") and bzf ("forsake").

What Yahweh will remember, Israel will forsake.


76 Cf. Paul Jouon, Grammaire de l’ Hebre Biblique (Rome: Institut Biblique Pontifical, 1965), 523 (§170f

n. 1). This phrase occurs only here, Ezek 13:10, and 36:3. One Nfy occurs in Ezek 20:16, 24, with a similar

context. Its use is emphatic; cf. GKC, §158b.

77 Some of the correspondences are conceptual, but most involve assonance which can be observed only in

the Hebrew. The English translation cannot convey all the nuances (especially in the interlinear format).

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     (3) The third person masculine plurals (Mhev; Mh,me . . . Mh,me) bind the first three lines

of v. 43 together. Just as 42d and 43a began the same (Cr,xAhAv;), so 43a and 43b

end the same (Mh,me). Then 43c picks up the last concept of 43b (with Mhev;) to

maintain the continuity by means of anadiplosis. The logical progression is


forsaken by them -->  enjoyed restitution without them

            --> nevertheless, the must make restitution

      (4) In 43b and 43c the commencing verb is hcr. The cr continues the assonance of

42d and 43a. The concept of restitution is a key element in 43bc.

      (5) The repetition of nf in the last term of 43c and in the first two terms of 43d

binds those lines together by assonance. The concepts presented by the three

forms are also related: there is guilt, as is proven by the cause or reason for

restitution. In other words, restitution would have to be made because of guilt

which existed because of disobedience.

     (6) MwAp;na hlAfEGA ytaqo.Hu-tx,v; UsxAmA yFaPAw;miB; produces in reverse order the same

           phrases found in v. 15: Mk,w;p;na lfag;Ti yFaPAw;mi-tx, Mxiv; UsxAm;Ti ytaqo.HuB;-Mxiv;. It

is significant that both verbs in 43de are qatal even though they are preceded by

their objects. This is the only such example occurring in Leviticus regarding

hqH and its verbs. The same observation holds for Fpwm and its verbs: when the

noun precedes its verb, the yiqtol is employed; and when it follows its verb, the

qatal is utilized (Lev 18:4, 5, 26; 19:37; 20:22; 25:18; 26:15). The only

exception is 26:43. The departure from the usual syntax of the pericope must be

for the purpose of bringing the concepts forcefully to the mind of the reader.

Disobedience is the true and emphatic cause for the need of restitution. There is

no question regarding Israel's guilt. There is no doubt that restitution is


      (7) The first person singular is the subject of the verb in 42d. Every line of verse 43

has some mention of the third person plural (referring to Israel). However, the

third feminine singular (referring to the land) is the subject in 43ab, while the

third masculine plural (referring to the people of Israel) is the subject in 43cde.

     Therefore, verse 43 presents emphases concerning the land, responsibility/guilt,

restitution, disobedience, and Israel. It is truly a negative picture in contrast to that

presented by verse 42. The jussives (43abc), however, provide an element of anticipation

and decree. Operation Restitution would be initiated by Yahweh on the basis of His

covenant with Abraham. The Mosaic Covenant would have a role in the process by

means of the sabbatical stipulations. The Abrahamic Covenant promised a land and a

seed to inherit that land. The Mosaic Covenant promised a nation with a special

relationship to Yahweh (Exod 19:5-6). As circumcision was instituted as the seal of the

Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 17:9-14), so the sabbaths appear to have been the seal of the

Mosaic Covenant (cf. Exod 20:8-11; Lev 25; 26:2; Neh 10:28-31; Isa 58:1-14). The

emphasis on land in Leviticus 26 belongs to the sphere of the Abrahamic Covenant,

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while the emphasis on sabbatical restitution belongs to the sphere of the Mosaic



Eschatological Significance



"Covenant" (tyrb) is employed eight times in Leviticus 26 (vv. 9, 15, 25, 42 ter,

44, 45). It always denotes a binding relationship between Yahweh and His people Israel.

This relationship provided Israel with a life which had a goal and with a history that had

meaning. In all its occurrences in this pericope, "covenant" promotes the concept of the

sovereignty of Yahweh, the covenant-giver. In six of the eight uses of the term, the first

person singular suffix ("my") is attached (vv. 9, 15, 42 ter, 44). Yahweh Himself is

always the antecedent. The unilateral nature of the covenants is implied by this form of

reference. Yahweh Himself established the covenants, and He alone. Yahweh's personal

intervention in the history of Israel is a central theme of the covenants. Such intervention

is not limited to the past--it has its place eschatologically. His lordship is personal and

absolute. The covenant lays hold of the people of Israel and demands unconditional

surrender to the will of God. Loyalty to the covenant must be more than outward

acquiescence, it must be an inward reality. The "uncircumcised heart" (v. 41) is the

antithesis of this loyalty:

     The covenant Lord demands heart-consecration which reflects the fulfillment of the

     consecration sworn in the circumcision oath. Circumcision is an oath-rite. To be

     uncircumcised would be to place oneself outside the juridical authority of Yahweh

     and a refusal to consign oneself to the ordeal of the Lord's judgment for the final

     verdict on one's life-eternal weal or woe.79

The ultimate salvation of Israel is yet future (cf. Rom 9-11), therefore the covenant has

eschatological implications.


The Abrahamic Covenant

         Yahweh's covenant with Abraham appears to underlie the references to "covenant"

in verses 9, 42, and 44. The theme of a fruitful population is an echo of the Abrahamic

Covenant in Genesis 17:6, 7, 19, and 21 (cf, also, Exod 6:4 and Deut 8:18). Verse 9 may

be employed as an example of the distinctions made within the passage concerning the

Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. The Abrahamic Covenant is characterized by the

following elements:

(1) The theme of promise,

(2) emphasis on divine fulfillment, and

(3) references to land, prosperity, and blessing and/or cursing.

On the other hand, the Mosaic Covenant is characterized by:

(1) the theme of law,


78 Onqelos evidently interpreted the retribution of v. 43 in the light of the blessings and cursings of the

Deuteronomic covenant since he substituted the following phrase for Nfayab;U Nfaya: ytyx Nkrb JlH NyFvl

lydb Nvhylf ("there are cursings instead of blessings distinguished against them").

79 Meredith G. Kline, By Oath Consigned: A Reinterpretation of the Covenant Signs of Circumcision and

Baptism (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1968), 47-48.

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(2) emphasis on human responsibility, and

(3) references to sabbath, sanctuary, and divine sovereignty.

       Although v. 9 is in the midst of Mosaic Covenant material, it displays Abrahanic

vocabulary, phraseology, and theme. Its message is pertinent to that brief span of time

immediately following the revelation of the Mosaic Covenant at Mt. Sinai. In effect, the

message was: the revelation concerning law is equal in authority to the older revelation

concerning promise. In order to receive the promised blessings contained in the

Abrahamic Covenant, Israel would have to obey the stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant.

In other words, the Mosaic Covenant would be the program by which Israelites would

manifest their faith by faith's works (cf. Jas 2:14-26). Yahweh Himself will respond to

Israel's repentance when it occurs. When Israel repents and turns back to Yahweh, the

Abrahamic Covenant will be reconfirmed or renewed.

The blessings recited in Leviticus 26:4-12 are at least in part a fulfillment of the

covenant made with Abraham. Those blessings fall into six categories:

(1) productivity (vv. 4-5; cf. Gen 24:35, 27:28; 30:43)

(2) peace (v. 6; cf. Gen 22:17)

(3) power (vv. 7-8; cf. Gen 22:17)

(4) population (v. 9; cf. Gen 12:2; 15:5; 17:6)

(5) provision (v. 10; cf. productivity, above), and

(6) presence (vv. 11-12; cf Gen 17:7, 8).

All these blessings were associated with the land that Israel would receive from Yahweh.

They are consistent with various statements and restatements of the Abrahamic

Covenant. On the other hand, the covenant curses of Leviticus 26:14-38 are at least in

part a removal of the Abrahamic blessings.80

The basis for Yahweh's historical extraction of Israel from Egypt was the

Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gen 15:13, 14). While the nation resided at Mt. Sinai, they

would remember that covenant as part of their theological heritage. They experienced the

beginning of the historical fulfillment of its promises.

The Abrahamic Covenant demonstrated that Israel's national identity was not of

their own making. That covenant provided them with the hope of landedness at a time

when they were landless. Leviticus 26:1-13 revealed to Israel that the recent covenant

given at Mt. Sinai (the Mosaic Covenant) did not nullify the Abrahamic Covenant. The

central concept of the Abrahamic Covenant was the land of promise (v. 42). The Mosaic

Covenant would not conflict with the landedness promised long before.

Even the phraseology of covenant disloyalty ("uncircumcised heart," v. 41) was a

reflection of the impact of the Abrahamic Covenant on the theology and life of Israel.

Circumcision was the outward manifestation of inward commitment to the Abrahamic

Covenant (Gen 17:9-14). Personal commitment and accountability were implicit even in

the unilateral pact that Yahweh made with Abraham while the latter was in a deep sleep

(15:12-21). Divine sovereignty and human responsibility are not opposing concepts in the

biblical covenants. Indeed, it was because Yahweh was the sovereign Lord that the

human vassal must obey Him. Human accountability would be nonexistent (at least,

nonbinding) if it were not for the divine character. Yahweh's Lordship as revealed in His

covenant with Abraham is not altered by subsequent covenants. Since the sovereignty of


80 See page 10, above.

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God is not altered, neither are the promises of His covenant altered or nullified (cf. Gal


The continuity of the Abrahamic Covenant throughout the Old Testament in

deliverance contexts illustrates the eschatological implication of its presence in Leviticus

26. Arnold Fruchtenbaum demonstrated that this covenant ties the prophetic

pronouncements together concerning the redemption of Israel.81


The Sinaitic Covenant

In Leviticus 26 attention is directed to the Mosaic Covenant by the prominence of

the immediate historical context at Sinai and the legal nature of some of the terms used in

the chapter ("statutes, commandments," v. 3; "commandments, statutes, ordinances," vv.

14-15; "statutes, ordinances, laws," v. 46). The precepts of verses 1-2 have the Mosaic

Covenant in view:

           prohibition of idols

           observance of sabbaths, and

           reverence for the sanctuary

Any remaining doubt is removed by the clear statements of verses 15, 45, and 46. This

legal emphasis sets the stage for covenant vengeance in verse 25. It also promotes the

sense of Yahweh's Lordship which was already present in the Abrahamic Covenant. The

covenant at Sinai was based upon the historical deliverance of Israel from Egypt. That

deliverance was in accord with the prior covenant (vv. 13, 45). It was intended to identify

more narrowly the people of Yahweh. The Abrahamic Covenant's identification of the

land of promise was supplemented by the refined definition of the people of promise. Just

as the outward seal/sign of the Abrahamic Covenant was circumcision, so the seal/sign of

the Sinaitic Covenant was the observance off the sabbaths (cf. Lev 25; 26:2, 34-35, 43).

The seal/sign of each covenant affected the realm of the other covenant: the covenant of

the land (Abrahamic) was related directly to the people by circumcision, and the

covenant of the people (Mosaic) was related directly to the land by the sabbaths.82 Thus

the two aspects of these covenants (the land and the people) were bound together. The

land was for the people, and the people for the land.

        The legislation connected with the Mosaic Covenant encouraged a serious mindset

regarding submission to the divine overlord. It also produced humility with reference to

the unworthiness of Israel to be the special people of God, the chosen people (cf. Deut

7:6-11). Right behavior by the people of Yahweh was the means of witnessing to the

nations. By such behavior Israel participated in the testimony that Yahweh Himself

initiated by means of their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt (cf. Lev 26:45). The

legislation marked Israel as the people belonging to Yahweh, the Exodus-Causer.


81 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, rev. ed. (Tustin, Cal.:

Ariel Ministries Press, 1993), 577-81.

82 A distinction between a covenant of the land and a covenant of the people should not be pressed to an

extreme. The Abrahamic Covenant also identified the people of promise, referring to them as the

descendants of Abraham. It became clear, however, that some of the descendants of Abraham (through

Ishmael) would not be the people of promise. The Mosaic Covenant clarified the situation regarding the

identification of the covenant people.

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Disobedience to the absolute sovereign of Israel's history would also result in the

removal of covenant blessings associated with the Mosaic Covenant. The following

aspects of the Mosaic Covenant would be rendered inoperable by the exile:

      (1) Though previously a people above all the nations (Exod 19:5; Deut 26:18-19),

Israel would be abhorred by Yahweh and treated as the tail of all the nations

(Lev 26:30; Deut 28:43-44). The future "times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24;

Rom 11:25) reflect this curse.83

      (2) The kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6) would become ceremonially unclean and

their sacrifices unacceptable (Lev 26:31).

      (3) The holy nation of Israel (Exod 19:6) would be burdened with guilt (Lev 26:39)

and characterized by a heathenlike uncircumcised heart (v. 41).

      (4) Israel's history of national deliverance (Exod 19:4) would turn into a history of

national exile (Lev 26:33, 38).

Sinai was but the commencement of the relationship between God and Israel. God and

the nation must identify with each other if the wilderness years were to lead to the

promised land. The apostasies of Sinai84 only served to remind the nation why Yahweh

gave them legislation. They needed standards. Without the order those standards would

produce, there would be chaos and anarchy. The nation must be prepared for their

inheritance, the land. The means of preparation would be instruction, parenesis.

Instruction is the primary concept of hrvt (v. 46). Leviticus 26's focus is on

identification with the covenant deity/suzerain, Yahweh (cf. v. 45).


The Deuteronomic Covenant85

The many parallels between Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-30 present the

reader with a problem of relationship. How is the Palestinian Covenant related to

Leviticus 26? The similarities of structure (blessing and cursing), the revelation of the

ultimate chastisement for breach of covenant (exile preceded by siege which deteriorates

into cannibalism), and a time sphere subsequent to the impartation of the Mosaic

Covenant demonstrate a relationship in content. However, similarity is not identity. No

third covenant is ratified in Leviticus 26. No third covenant is described in terms of a

relationship to the past covenant (Abrahamic) and the present covenant (Mosaic). The


83 Wenham, Leviticus, 333.

84 The golden calf incident provoked the public shattering of the covenant tablets (Exod 32:19). About

3000 died that day (v. 28). Two priests, sons of Aaron, also died at Sinai when they did not follow divine

instructions concerning service at the altar (Lev 10:1-2). Later, a man was executed because of his

blasphemous appropriation of the name of God (Lev 24:10-23).

85 For the sake of discussion the Deuteronomic Covenant will be defmed as the pact God established with

Israel on the plains of Moab (Deut 27-30). That covenant was entered by Israel's oath (Deut 29),

confirmed by sacrifices and public deposit at Shechem (Josh 8:30-35), and renewed by common consent at

Shechem near the end of Joshua's ministry (24:1-28). Synonyms for this covenant include Palestinian

Covenant and Covenant on the plains of Moab. Cf. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial

Faith (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1953), 58-59; Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction,

trans. Peter R. Ackroyd (New York: Harper.& Row, Publishers, 1965), 214-17, 226, 230; S. R. Driver, An

Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (New York: The Meridian Library, 1956), 71; TDOT,

s.v. "tyriB;," by M. Weinfeld, 2:256, 268-69; Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School

(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 59-116; Delbert R. Hillers, Covenant: The History of a Biblical Idea

(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969), 58-64, 134-42.

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connotation of a future covenant may be present; however, that connotation would not

have been identified with Deuteronomy 27-30 by those who received Leviticus 26. The

former passage was revealed to the new generation of Israelites while they were camped

on the plateau of Moab. The latter was revealed to their parents and grandparents while

they were still at Mt. Sinai (Lev 26:46). Leviticus 26 may be considered a prophetic

preview of the Deuteronomic Covenant only in the sense that the basic theological

concepts of the Moab covenant are present in the pericope. However, Leviticus 26 does

not specify that covenant per se. Leviticus 26 does not provide a formal prophetic

announcement regarding any future covenant.

       Revelation is progressive in nature. The seeds of one age become the flowers of yet

another age. The seed of the Deuteronomic Covenant is present in Leviticus 26. The

blessings and cursings of that chapter were transitional. They prepared Israel for the land

while they were at Sinai prior to commencing their wilderness wanderings. Transitional

revelation would be expanded and formalized in a covenant upon arrival at the threshold

of the land (on the plateau of Moab). The title deed to the land (the Abrahamic

Covenant), the constitution for the people of the land (the Mosaic Covenant), and the

rights to the riches of the land (the Deuteronomic Covenant) would then provide the

nation with all the revelation necessary to live within the land itself



Every gift to the nation of Israel was also a summons to an obligation before the

covenant suzerain, Yahweh. The land grant to Israel involved the people's identification

with Yahweh. The Land-Giver was summoning the people to service. The summons was

both beneficial and binding. Benefits were conditioned upon obedience to the command

of Yahweh. The enslaved nation was delivered from Egypt and became bond slaves

belonging to Yahweh (v. 13). The prior bondage differed from the latter in that the latter

brought blessing (vv. 2-12). No such rewards accrued as a result of Egyptian bondage.

The land grant predated the existence of Israel per se. Abraham received the land

grant at the time of his own exodus from Mesopotamia. Israel's national identity was

established under Moses at the time their exodus from Egypt. God in His sovereignty

controlled the history of the land and the people. "From the roughly 160 cases in which

biblical passages speak of Jahweh's giving the land to Israel, more than half contain

references to ‘the fathers.’”86 It is significant, therefore that reference is made to "the

ancestors" (v. 45) in a context related to the Mosaic Covenant. This establishes a

continuity of covenants. Just as Abraham's descendants claimed the Abrahamic Covenant

while they were at Mt. Sinai, so, in the future days, an exiled people would repent and

claim the covenant made with their ancestors at Sinai. Willingness to identify themselves

as Yahweh's people will qualify them for restoration to the land.

The land of promise is depicted as the setting for the fulfillment of both blessings

(vv. 4-12) and curses (vv. 14-38). It is noteworthy that the worldwide extension of the

Davidic kingdom is described in Psalm 72:16-17 in terms reminiscent of the blessings in

Leviticus 26.87 That would be one indication of the eschatological significance of this


86 J. N. M. Wijngaards, The Dramatization of Salvific History in the Deuteronomic Schools, OTS 16

(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969), 73.

87 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1978), 161.

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chapter. Another could be seen in the fact that a series of increasingly severe calamities

affecting the reputation and the health of the nation of Israel should signal that divine

judgment is underway. "Then that nation should know that it was the hand of God, and

men should return to Him. This principle was first announced in Leviticus 26:3-33 and

used in most of the prophets, especially Amos 4:6-12."88 Reward and retribution could

not be fulfilled elsewhere. The landedness of Israel was essential for fulfillment. Israel

could not receive landed prosperity without the land. On the other hand, Israel could not

be exiled from the land until they had first possessed it.

        Interestingly, the land itself was treated as a separate participant in the covenant. It

could be the recipient of the restitution of sabbaths that it had been denied (vv. 34-35,

43). It was a land belonging first to Yahweh. As its sovereign Lord, He had authority to

grant it to Israel. He presented the title deed to Abraham's descendants. Any intermediate

generation who were disloyal to the covenant would be subject to expulsion from the

land (vv. 33-44). Yet, the land would remain, kept in store for the future generation who

would obey the precepts of Yahweh. The generations may come and go, but the land

would abide as the Abrahamic Covenant's material entity. By means of sabbaths Yahweh

intended to preserve the fruitfulness of the land for the ultimate possessors (cf. Lev 25).

Therefore, disobedience to Yahweh's sabbatical legislation was considered a sin against

the land. Even more, it was a sin against future generations since such a breach of the

covenant resulted from greed. Such greed would rob the land of its fruitfulness and rob

future generations of its provision.

Landedness made it possible for the people to be tempted in the areas of self-

sufficiency, idolatry, and sabbath breaking. Such temptations could be resisted by

remembering the history of the people and the land. Remembering the covenant deeds of

Yahweh would remind the people that the land they enjoyed was an unearned gift. The

exiled people, remembering the Lord of the land, would confess their guilt and make

restitution (vv. 40-41). Their remembering and acting upon that memory would, in turn,

result in Yahweh remembering the land (v. 42). He would them preserve the covenant

blessings for His people.

At Mt. Sinai, the land represented hope. In the wilderness, the land represented

hope. In the land, when the hope was fulfilled, the land presented the people with a

challenge. They were challenged to exercise faith in the God of the covenant. Such faith

had not been exhibited by those who apostasized at Sinai and who died in the wilderness.

          John Jelinek observes that some theologians note the absence of land as a theme in

the New Testament and assume that the Old Testament promises have been displaced. He

rightly concludes that "we are not justified in emasculating the OT by the virtues of the

NT.”89  If language means anything, Israel must yet possess the promised land following

their future national repentance.


88 Ibid., 251.

89 John A. Jelinek, "The Dispersion and Restoration of Israel to the Land," in Israel, the Land and the

People: An Evangelical Affirmation of God's Promises, ed. H. Wayne House (Grand Rapids: Kregel

Publications, 1998), 236. Jelinek's attention to Leviticus 26 is a welcome contribution to the study of the

eschatological significance of the pericope.

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Heilsgeschichte ("salvation history") was the foundation of the Mosaic Covenant

(vv. 13, 45). Yahweh is the God of history. He is the sovereign Lord of time and of place.

Divine election and deliverance are the main factors in Israel's history. Nothing that

Israel possessed was a result of her own work. Yahweh as Creator and Giver had

graciously and mercifully associated Himself with this nation. As the Lord of history, He

controls all history. He can move entire nations in order to chastise disobedient Israel and

return her to the land in the time of her repentance. The God of history can prepare the

nations for receiving the exiled people (cf. Joseph, Gen 50:20). The nations would

swallow up the scattered Israelites (Lev 26:33) and would make them vanish (v. 38). Yet,

Yahweh would preserve a remnant so that a new history could begin. Israel must trust the

God of history who controls all time, places, and nations.


Breach and Preservation of Covenant

Israel might breach (rrp, vv. 15, 44) the covenant, but Yahweh could not (v. 44).

The "uncircumcised heart" (v. 41) of disobedient Israel reflected her disloyalty to the

divine covenants. Yahweh could never be disloyal. He is always faithful because He is

"Yahweh their God" (v. 44).

Breach of covenant occurred when Israel disobeyed the stipulations of the Mosaic

Covenant (v. 15). Idolatry and sabbath breaking, especially, constituted breach of

covenant (vv. 1-2). Such an action was willful. It would result in the nullification of

blessings associated with the Abrahamic Covenant and identification associated with the

Mosaic Covenant. Any infraction of Mosaic legislation was deemed rebellion against the

sovereign will of the suzerain-legislator, Yahweh.

         Yahweh, however, "remembers" (rkz) His covenants. He preserves the covenants.

The covenants contained both blessing and cursing. Blessing and cursing were initiated

by promise, and implemented by legislation. Promise emphasized divine sovereignty;

legislation highlighted human responsibility. When Israel was unfaithful, Yahweh yet

remained faithful. The suzerain's faithful preservation of the covenant is in sharp contrast

to the vassal's failure to submit. Covenant history confirms both divine dependability and

human culpability.

The Abrahamic Covenant was identified as a covenant with roots in the history of

Israel. It involved Jacob, and before him, Isaac. Before Isaac, it was granted to Abraham.

Verse 42 presented this confirmation of prior history.90 As the Abrahamic Covenant was

preserved (and would continue to be preserved), so also the Mosaic Covenant would be

preserved for future generations (v. 45). Yahweh's deeds in history illustrate His

faithfulness to preserve the covenant in spite of the failure of one generation to be faithful

to it.


Prohibition of Idolatry

It is a serious crime to defy the Creator of the universe and the God of all history.

The ultimate reason for the prohibition of idolatry is succinctly expressed in the

Selbstvorstellungsformel ("self-introduction formula"):91 "for I am Yahweh your God."


90 See above, 4.

91 John van Seters, "Confessional Reformulation in the Exilic Period," Vetus Testamentum 22 (1972): 455.

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This formula is the key phrase in Leviticus 18-26.92 The contrast is self-explanatory.

Yahweh's inherent and exclusive authority makes idols worthless, powerless,

anthropocentric, and void of any spiritually redeeming value. There is no room for

divided loyalties. Yahweh insists upon exclusive lordship in the lives of His people.

Awareness of Yahweh's existence, identity, and presence was central to the covenant

relationship that Israel enjoyed.

The idolater chooses the way of the uncircumcised nations (cf. v. 41), therefore he

will be eaten up by those nations (v. 38) among whom he will be exiled (v. 33). His guilt,

his treason, will cause him great anguish (v. 39). The only way to be restored to

Yahweh's favor will be by confession, humility, and restitution (vv. 40-41). Idolaters

must confess their filthy idolatry. Humility must be produced by the realization that they

cannot manipulate Yahweh. Restitution must consist in allowing Yahweh and His land

priority in their lives. Only when this occurs will Israel be restored finally and

permanently to the land from which they were expelled in A.D. 70.


Observance of Sabbaths

"Sabbaths" is plural throughout the pericope (vv. 2, 34-35, 43). The reference is

undoubtedly intended to include both weekly sabbaths and annual sabbaths (including the

year of jubilee) that are mentioned in the preceding context (chapters 23-25).

         Sabbath observance is theologically rich. It specially signified God's dominion over

Israel.93 In His sovereignty Yahweh established the nation, granted them their land, and

claimed His demand upon their time.94 The sabbaths were also a means of reminding

Israel of their deliverance from bondage.95 "Any OT theology must pay attention to the

way in which the faith of the OT hears the commandment of its God in its liturgical

ordinances."96 Israel's liturgical calendar was Yahweh-oriented. Yahweh is the God of

time as well as the God of space. The sabbath honored the Lord of time. The Sabbaths

taught the Israelites to trust the Lord of all things for their provisions. Lordship was the

core of the sabbatical principle. By trusting the Lord to provide for the seventh day, the

seventh year, and the forty-ninth and fiftieth years, Israel gave tangible witness to His

power and wisdom. He who provided. in the wilderness had already proclaimed the

sabbatical principle while Israel was still at Mt. Sinai. The instruction for God's people

was simple: "Trust me to provide. I am Yahweh. I will not lead you where I cannot care

for you." God never demands what man is unable to do. He provides the way of service.

He blesses the path of obedience. Sabbath in the OT was more than an expression of the

vertical relationship to the Lord of all creation. It was also an expression of concern and

care for those who were fellow participants in the covenant (cf. Lev 25).


92 Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,

1979), 250.

93 Matitiahu Tsevat, "The Basic Meaning of the Biblical Sabbath," Zeitschrifi fur die alttestamentliche

Wissenschaft 84 (1972): 455.

94 Ibid.

95 Walter Brueggemann, The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith (Philadelphia:

Fortress Press, 1977), 64.

96 Walther Zimmerli, Old Testament Theology in Outline, trans. David E. Green (Atlanta: John Knox Press,

1978), 125.

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          The sabbatical principle was the test, the seat/sign, of the obedience demanded

under the Mosaic Covenant (Exod 33:17-21). The legal covenant represented the

legislative authority of Yahweh. The sabbath represented Yahweh's authority over time.

It was the legislation of time.

Even the land needed restitution when the time that Yahweh demanded for it was

not granted by Israel (Lev 26:34-35, 43). Yahweh is Lord of the land as well as the

people. The land was a promised possession in a time-space continuum. Breach of the

sabbatical principle regarding the land was evidence of rebellion against the Lord of time

and space. The violation of the land by denying its just recompense was a violation of

Yahweh's gift of fruitfulness. It was robbery because it denied continued fruitfulness for

future generations of Abraham's descendants. The liberty proclaimed in the sabbatical

principle was an echo of the Heilsgeschichte. The God of history delivered Israel from

servitude in Egypt so that the people would be free from oppression. To deny that

freedom was to deny the Lord who brought them out of Egypt (v. 13; cf. 25:38, 42, 55).


Presence and Sanctuary

        The presence of Yahweh is referred to by means of "presence" (Mynp, v. 17), "walk

among you" (jvtb jlhth, v. 12), "sanctuary" (wdqm, v. 2), and "tabernacle" (Nkwm,

v. 11). His presence works both weal (vv. 11-12) and woe (v. 17). His presence is both

edifice-oriented97 (vv. 2, 11) and people-oriented (vv. 12, 17). His presence is holy (note

the employment of the root wdq "holy" in wdqm, "sanctuary"). The reference to holiness

is particularly striking because it is in a context of precepts prohibiting of idolatry and

commanding observance of Sabbaths: Yahweh is holy because He is set apart from idols

and His presence is distinct from idols. Also, He is holy because sabbatical time is set

apart for Him.

        The implication of verses 14-45 is that when disobedient Israel is confronted by the

punishment-dealing presence of Yahweh, He has ceased to "walk among" them or to

tabernacle among them. Indeed, He is pictured as "walking in opposition" to them (vv.

24, 28).

        Even though His presence or sanctuary is not with the exiles among the nations (at

least not in the same fashion as when they were obedient and in the land), yet Yahweh

will preserve His covenant with them (v. 44).



Promise here is being used in a very broad sense of the term. It is being employed

to cover both the promise to bless and the promise to curse. It is in the sense of

fulfillment or commitment as much as in the sense of hope or expectancy.

Promise in Leviticus 26 is identified with the solemn divine self-introduction

(Selbstvorstellung) of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 1, 2, 13, 44, 45; cf v.

42). It is a promise preceding the history of deliverance from Egypt (the Abrahamic

Covenant) and the entrance into Canaan (the Mosaic and Palestinian covenants). It is not

a reference to something inward and spiritual, but a reference to the tangible aspects of


97 By "edifice-oriented" the writer does not mean that Yahweh is edifice-limited. The edifice was merely an

accommodation to focus attention upon Yahweh's presence among His people. Cf. Ezek 10:3-19; 11:22-

23; 43:1-5.

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covenant life: productivity, peace, population, presence, and land. The promise includes a

pledge to bless Israel for their loyalty to the covenant and to curse Israel for their

disloyalty. Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, promises His own loyalty to His covenant

with His people. He has not finished His design for Israel--His promises will yet be


        Even Israel's failure, however, would not imperil the purposes of God, for, as New

        Testament revelation makes clear, the Lord Jesus Christ--the suffering Servant of

         Isaiah--is in Himself a "new Israel," as is His Body the church. . . . But praise be to

        God, His promise to Israel is not abrogated--not by Israel's Old Testament

        disobedience or by the subsequent role of the church. For He will regenerate His

        ancient people and thus qualify them in ages to come to bring to fruition the grand

        design for which He had called and elected them (Lev. 26:40-45; Deut. 30:1-30; Jer.

        31:27-34; 33:19-26; Ezek. 36:22-38; Rom. 11:25-32). This is the theology of the



Blessing and Curse

         The blessings and curses of Leviticus 26 are quite similar to those of Deuteronomy

27-28 as well as to those of the Esarhaddon vassal treaties and the Sefire stelas. The

similarities involve both formal structure and traditional phraseology and vocabulary. By

their very contexts in the biblical materials, the blessings and curses are distinctly

covenantal.99 The blessings are directly related to the promised blessings and/or

privileges of both the Abrahamic and the Mosaic covenants. Likewise, the curses are

directly related to the nullification or removal of those same blessings and/or


The blessings and curses do not in themselves indicate the presence of the

Deuteronomic Covenant in Leviticus 26.101 Any preview of that covenant in the pericope

must maintain a continuity with the two previous covenants. In other words, a third

covenant (whether here or in Deuteronomy 27-30) does not nullify the Abrahamic and

Mosaic covenants.


Obedience and Disobedience

"Obedience to Yahweh, the one God, who delivered Israel out of slavery and is

jealous of his own uniqueness, defines the fundamental nature of the OT faith."102

Obedience reflects respect for who and what Yahweh is personally and historically (Lev

26:1-3, 13-15, 39-45). Obedience involves the acceptance of the lordship of Yahweh in

one's life in time and space (cf. vv. 2, 34-35, 43). Obedience produces participation in

the covenant blessings (v. 9). The precepts reveal the will of God for Israel. The will of

man must be yielded to the will of Yahweh in order to be loyal to the covenants (cf v.



98 Eugene H. Merrill, "A Theology of the Pentateuch," A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, ed. Roy

B. Zuck (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 87.

99 Contra Ronald E. Clements, Prophecy and Tradition, in Growing Points in Theology (Atlanta: John

Knox Press, 1975), 16-17.

100 See above, 5-6, 8-9.

101 See above, 9-10.

102 Zimmerli, Old Testament Theology, 116.

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        Disobedience is the denial of the identity of Yahweh in history, covenant, and law.

It is breach of covenant faith (v. 15). It is acting unfaithfully, disloyally, and treasonously

(v. 40). It is blatant opposition to God (vv. 21, 23, 27). It is nonperformance of His

commands (v. 14). It involves rejecting His statutes and despising His ordinances (v. 15).

It is a matter that is concerned with the inner man (vv. 15, 41, 43; note "soul" and

"heart"). Disobedience has frightful consequences. Even cannibalism is not beyond the

capability of the disobedient (v. 29). It causes the unacceptability of the sacrifices which

were the outward manifestation of faith (v. 31). Disobedience is worthy only of death

(vv. 25, 33, 37, 38) and exile (vv. 33, 44). Death is separation from the body; exile is

separation from the land.


Retribution and Chastisement

The application of the curses/penalties of verses 14-45 are highlighted by two

factors: (1) the gradation of the punishments in five stages of severity (vv. 16-17, 18-20,

21-22, 23-26, and 27-38)103 and (2) the recurring refrain, "seven times for your sins" (vv.

18, 21, 24, 28). The stages of chastisement are emphasized also by the occurrence of the

term "discipline" (rsy, vv. 18, 23, 28). The entire process, from start to finish, was

intended as a means of restoration. However, the primary purpose was not restoration,

but the glorification of the covenant God, Yahweh (cf vv. 44, 45).

Retribution may be terminal (cf. vv. 25, 30, 38), but chastisement may result in

restoration through repentance (cf. vv. 39-45). Both are involved in Leviticus 26. Divine

retribution will come upon those who fail to confess their sins. Chastisement will be

administered to those who confess their sins.

In the refrain, "seven times"104 implies the sabbatical principle and "for your sins"

indicates breach of covenant. "Sin" is also a term applied to breach of covenant in the

vassal treaties of Esarhaddon.105 Leviticus 26 emphasizes the seal/sign of the Mosaic

Covenant, the sabbaths. Since the sabbaths were related to the land (vv. 34-35, 43), the

Abrahamic Covenant is at least implied. Yahweh would judge His people for their

nonobservance of the sabbaths, for their worship of idols and for the resulting defilement

of the people among whom He dwelt (cf. vv. 1-2, 29-3 1). Divine judgment is not a

betrayal of the covenants (v. 44). On the contrary, judgment declares that disobedience is

sin and that sin in rebellion against the Lord. Eventually, Yahweh's judgments would

increase to such an intensity and nature that there would be no doubt that He had

exercised His covenant rights to exact retribution from those who defy His authority.

"Many of the horrifying judgments described in Rev. 6ff. find their original setting in the

covenant curses of Lev. 26 and Deut. 28."106


103 For an excellent discussion of the form, structure and setting of vv. 14-45, see John Hartley, Leviticus,

Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 4 (Dallas: Word Books, Publisher, 1992), 457-62.

104 Seven is more than just a symbolic number: "It is an appropriate and evocative number in view of the

importance of the seventh in Israelite religion" (Wenham, Leviticus, 331). Cf., also, Karl Elliger, Leviticus,

HAT 1/4 (Tubingen: Verlag von J. C. B. Mohr/Paul Siebeck, 1966), 375: "Naturlich ist 'sieben' eine

schematische Steigerungszahl" ("’Seven’ is naturally a stylized number of intensity").

105 See D. J. Wiseman, The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon, Iraq 20/1 (London: British School of

Archaeology in Iraq, 1958), 42 (col. iii 160), 50 (col. iv 272), 52 (col. iv 292), 58 (col v 397).

106 Wenham, Leviticus, 334. Cf., also, Hartley, Leviticus, 475.

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         Exile ("scattering among the nations," v. 33) was the ultimate penalty for breach of

covenant. It meant removal from the band of promise. The landedness for which the

nation had hoped would dissolve into the landlessness which had characterized their

sojourn in Egypt. Servitude would once again engulf them. With their "uncircumcised

heart" (v. 41) they would be placed among the uncircumcised-those who were outside

the covenants. Exile was a living death, a living separation from the land of abundant life.

Exile meant removal from the setting in which Israel could experience the blessings of

the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. Exile, however, need not be terminal. Exile,

landlessness, could be a condition that could give rebirth to hope (vv. 39-45).

Landlessness was not synonymous with divine rejection or abhorrence (v. 44). As at

Sinai, and in the wilderness, landlessness presented the people with a goal for life and a

meaning for history. The landless ones must cast their cares upon the one who would

guide them out of bondage to freedom. Even in the land of their enemies, Yahweh was

still their God (v. 44). The covenant relationship per se knows no geographical or

political boundaries. Yahweh's loyalty is unaffected by the landedness or the

landlessness of His people. He is above the circumstances of history, working for the

repentance of His covenanted people so that His covenants might one day be fulfilled




        The Hebrew word for "repentance" (bUw) does not occur in Leviticus 26. However,

the concept of repentance is found in a threefold turning of the exiled people to Yahweh:

      (1) They would confess their guilt and the guilt of their fathers (v. 40), recognizing

their personal and corporate culpability.

      (2) They would humble their "uncircumcised heart" (v. 41), bringing it into

subjection to the precepts of Yahweh. Submission to the divine Suzerain is

required of a covenanted people. They must submit to Yahweh's lordship. Their

submission must not be mere external compliance externally in religious

exercises; it must be internal and real.

      (3) They would make restitution for their guilt (v. 41), accepting the federal

consequences of sin. Such restitution is not soteriological redemption. It is the

evidence, not the cause, of repentance and expiation.

The impact of sin will be felt until the land has enjoyed its restitution. Exile will continue

after repentance until the penalty has been fulfilled. Getting right with God does not

insure immediate blessing and a solution to uncomfortable circumstances. It does

guarantee a restoration to the covenant relationship whereby promised blessings might be

renewed once the land is regained.

Is Israel's repentance a precondition to the establishment of the Messianic

Kingdom? Fruchtenbaum responds with a clear affirmative, employing Leviticus 26:40-

42 as the first piece of scriptural evidence.107 The future restoration of Israel is also

predicated upon the fulfillment of prophecies concerning a worldwide dispersion. The

return from the Babylonian Exile does not fulfill those announcements since the people

were restored from but one nation, not from among all nations. Leviticus 26:33 and 39


107 Fruchtenbaum, Israelology, 781-91.

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speak of a scattering among "the nations." Are these references generic--merely

referring to exile among Gentiles--or, are these references specifying a universal


The restoration of Israel from its worldwide dispersion will depend upon their

repentance (cf. Jer 3:11-18; Zech 12:11-10; Hosea 5:13 - 6:3). That this did not take place

prior to the return from Babylonian Exile may be seen by the words of Jesus Himself 600

years later:

     O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!

     How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks

     under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you

     desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed

     is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”108


Leviticus 26 and the New Testament

        The employment of verses 11-12 in 2 Corinthians 6:16 is the only concrete example

of the influence of Leviticus 26 on the revelation contained in the NT.109 The passage

from this pericope was employed in order that Paul might better emphasize the concept

of identification with God. It is unfortunate that Wenham did not deal with this NT usage

in his commentary.110 Wenham, however, does observe that the blessings and curses of

Leviticus 26 are expressed at least in principle by Christ's teachings in His pre-cross

ministry. The chastisement of Israel because of covenant disloyalty was a reality among

the Jews of Christ's day. Jesus also spoke of the eschatological reality of that

chastisement. Wenham claims that "many of the horrifying judgments described in Rev.

6ff find their original setting in the covenant curses of Lev. 26 and Deut. 28."111 This is

true insofar as they are directly related by the Book of Revelation to the nation of Israel.

Application of the covenant blessings and curses to the Gentiles is unwarranted (with the

exception of the blessing for all peoples mediated by Abraham's descendants; Gen 12:3).

Technically, the covenants were made with Israel alone.112

The principles of God's dealings with NT believers by means of reward and/or

chastisement are basically the same as the principles by which He dealt with Israel under

the covenants. This must not be construed, however, as meaning that the NT saints are

under the same covenant relationship as Israel. The similarity is due to the same God, not

to the same covenant. The very nature of God demands the federal consequences of sin

be exacted from His people in all ages (cf. Gal 6:7-10; 1 Cor 11:30). The same God


108 Matt 23:37-39 (NASB); the statement of Israel at the end of this passage is a quotation from Ps 118:26.

109 Paul's quotation of Lev 26:11-12 is paraphrastic. His emphasis was on the concept of identification with

God (Lev 26:12b). The apostle's omission of Lev 26:1lb is a clue to his intention. That phrase does not

serve any purpose in Paul's discussion in the context of 2 Cor 6. Since he would omit Lev 26:11b ("and my

soul will not despise you"), he paraphrased 11a ("I will set my dwelling place in your midst"--cf. 2 Cor

6:16, "I will dwell among them"). Having established the concept and the context, Paul proceeded to quote

Lev 26:12. Elaborate discussions of conflation of OT texts, "pearl stringing," pre-Pauline usage, and 4Q

LXX Leva are made unnecessary by the simple reading of the NT text alongside the MT.

110 Wenham, Leviticus, 329-30, 333-34.

111 Ibid., 334.

112 Cf. the postscript of Lev 26: "These are the statutes and the ordinances and the laws which

Yahweh established between himself and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai through Moses" (v. 46). This

same exclusivity is expressed in Exod 19:5-6 and Rom 9:4.

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provides lessons for believers in every era based upon His historical deeds (cf Rom 15:4;

1 Cor 10:11-13). The same God blesses in tangible ways those who are faithful (cf. 2 Cor

9:6-15). The same God is loyal even in the face of His people's disloyalty (cf. 2 Tim

2:11-13; Phil 1:6). The same God is Lord (cf. 1 Cor 12:3). The same Lord requires

confession, humility, and restitution (cf. 1 John 1:9; 1 Pet 5:5-7; Phile 1-25). The same

God promises that obedient service will be rewarded (cf. 1 Cor 15:58). The same God

demonstrates that the believer has been delivered from bondage into a servitude that is

totally unlike the bondage of fear and the curse (cf. Rom 6:12-23; Heb 2:14-15; Acts

26:18; Col 1: 12-13).

The Lord who by means of Leviticus 26 revealed to Israel the continued authority

and perpetuity of the Abrahamic Covenant after the ratification of the Mosaic Covenant,

also confirmed that testimony in Galatians 3:17. NT believers must recognize that the

authority of one covenant does not annul the authority of a previous one. Any exceptions

are clearly revealed by God (e.g., Heb 7:11-14). The epistle to the Galatian churches

teaches that Abrahamic faith in Yahweh was not replaced by law under Moses.

Therefore, faith is still binding upon any man's relationship to the God of Abraham.



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