LEVITICUS 26: ITS RELATIONSHIP TO
COVENANT CONTEXTS AND CONCEPTS
William D. Barrick
Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements
for the degree of Doctor of Theology in
Grace Theological Seminary
Title: LEVITICUS 26: ITS RELATIONSHIP TO COVENANT CONTEXTS
Author: William D. Barrick
Degree: Doctor of Theology
Date: May, 1981
Adviser: D. Wayne Knife
No other pericope of the Old Testament possesses the affinity
which Leviticus 26 has for the Palestinian Covenant (Deuteronomy 27-30).
The blessings and curses contained in the two pericopes are the most
extensive in the Old Testament. Some Bible expositors have classified
Leviticus 26 as a prophetic preview of the Palestinian Covenant. This
study tests that hypothesis. A brief consideration of the Mosaic author-
ship of the pericope and a development of the covenant concept in the
book of Leviticus initiates the study. The exegesis commences with a
text-critical analysis which supports the reliability of the Massoretic
Text and demonstrates the unreliability of the textual apparatuses of
Biblia Hebraica (Kittel) and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The verse
by verse treatment of the interpretation of the pericope directs atten-
tion to the grammatical, contextual, and literary elements. A compara-
tive analysis of Leviticus 26 and similar extra-biblical materials (the
Esarhaddon vassal treaties and the Sefire inscriptions) supplements the
exegesis. The writer concludes the study by systematically summarizing
the key doctrines of Leviticus 26.
Leviticus 26 is parenetic revelation written in an elevated lit-
erary style. It was granted at Sinai on the
wilderness wanderings. The promulgation of the Mosaic Covenant had
caused an apparent tension with the Abrahamic Covenant. After three
disturbing apostasies at Sinai, Leviticus 26 was revealed to explain
the relationship between the two covenants and to reemphasize the exclu-
sive lordship of Yahweh. The Mosaic Covenant did not nullify the prom-
ises of the Abrahamic Covenant. This message in Leviticus 26 antedated
Paul's in Galatians 3:17 by fifteen centuries. The Mosaic legislation
emphasized the recipients of the land promised to Abraham. The bless-
ings and curses of the pericope are developed with both covenants and
their respective emphases in mind. Loyalty to Yahweh would initiate
blessings. These are described in terms of the landedness promised by
the Abrahamic Covenant. Disloyalty would initiate cursing. This is
described as a five-stage process of Mosaic Covenant vengeance with the
exile as the ultimate chastisement. The purpose of cursing was to pro-
duce confession of guilt, humility, and restitution. The sabbatical
principle is deeply involved in the restitution. Circumcision was the
seal of the Abrahamic Covenant, but the sabbaths were the seal of the
Mosaic. The sabbatical principle is central to Leviticus 26. Yahweh is
both the lord of space (the land) and time (the sabbaths). The land-
giver and exodus-causer will always be loyal to his covenants. The peri-
cope anticipates but does not reveal the Palestinian Covenant per se.
The extra-biblical treaties were composed seven centuries after
Leviticus 26. Leviticus 26, the Esarhaddon vassal treaties, and the Sefire
inscriptions were independently written. A mutual stream of covenant mate-
rials may have influenced the, but each possesses its own distinctions.
Accepted by the Faculty of Grace Theological Seminary
in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree
Doctor of Theology
John J. Davis
James E. Eisenbraun
Copyright © 1981 by William D. Barrick
Digitally prepared and posted on the web by Ted Hildebrandt (2004)
Please report any errors to:
The writer expresses his thanks to those who have contributed
their efforts toward the completion of this dissertation. During the
writing, the writer was engaged in missionary deputation as preparation
for participation in the Old Testament Translation Project of the Bengali
Common Language Bible in
committee exercised patience and good faith while the writer was travel-
ing. Their Christian grace, coupled with their desire for academic
excellence, has been an inspiration.
While on deputation in
exclusive use of the office and typewriter of a close friend, Pastor
Jim Parker. Jim's encouragement by word and by supplying space, equip-
ment, and books, will never be
forgotten. He and his wife,
examples of true Christian hospitality.
Last, but certainly not least, the writer expresses his deepest
gratitude to his wife, Barbara, who has patiently endured to the end
the years of doctoral education and dissertation production. In the
midst of preparing the family
for departure to
neglect to encourage her husband in his writing. Her prudence and grace
are precious. dvbk jmtt NH-twx . . . tklWm hwx hvhym "a wife
possessing good sense/prudence is from Yahweh . . . a gracious woman
attains honor" (Prov 19:14; 11:16).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii
I. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Preliminary Statements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Statement of Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Statement of Pertinence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Statement of Procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Text-critical analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Exegetical analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Comparative analysis with extra-biblical treaties 17
Systematic theological synthesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
General Introduction to Leviticus 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Date and Authorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Contextual Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
II. A TEXT-CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF LEVITICUS 26 . . . . . 23
Verse 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Verse 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Verse 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Verse 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Verse 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Verse 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Verse 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Verse 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Verses 34 and 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Verse 39 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Verse 41 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Verse 42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Verse 43 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Verse 44 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Verse 46 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
III. AN EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF LEVITICUS 26 . . . . . . . . 44
Precept (vv. 1-2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Prohibition of Idols (v. 1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Preservation of Sabbaths and Sanctuary (v. 2) . . . . . . . . . . 47
The sabbath observance (v. 2a). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
The sanctuary reverence (v. 2b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Promise (vv. 3-13) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
The Prerequisite: Obedience (v. 3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
The Product: Blessing (vv. 4-12) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Productivity (vv. 4-5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Peace (v. 6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Power (vv. 7-8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Population (v. 9) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Provision (v. 10) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Presence (vv. 11-12) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
The Premise: Yahweh's Salvation (v. 13) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
The Summary of Verses 3-13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Aim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Penalty (vv. 14-45) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
The Cause: Disobedience (vv. 14-15) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
The Consequence: Retribution (vv. 16-38) . . . . . . . . . . 90
Debilitation and defeat (vv. 16-17) . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Drought (vv. 18-20) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Devastation by wild beasts (vv. 21-22) . . . . . . . . . 102
Deprivation by siege (vv. 23-26) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Deportation (vv. 27-38) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Introduction (vv. 27-28) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Dehumanization (cannibalism) (v. 29) . . . . . . . . . 116
Desolation (vv. 30-32) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Dispersion (exile) (v. 33) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
Desertion of the land (vv. 34-38) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
The Sabbath rest (vv. 34-35) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
The stricken remnant (vv. 36-38) . . . . . . . . . . 134
The Contingency: Repentance (vv. 39-45) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
(vv. 39-41) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
Remembrance: Yahweh's acceptance of repentance
(v. 42) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
Repetition: A summary concerning retribution
(v. 43) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
Reaffirmation: Yahweh's promise to the exiles
(vv. 44-45) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
The Summary of verses 14-45 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Aim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
Postscript (v. 46) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
IV. A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF LEVITICUS 26, ESARHADDON’S
TREATIES, AND THE SEFIRE INSCRIPTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Dating the Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Dependence in the Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
The Esarhaddon Vassal Treaties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Comparison with Leviticus 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
The Sefrre Inscriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Comparison with Leviticus 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
V. SYSTEMATIC SYNTHESIS OF THE THEOLOGICAL CONCEPTS
OF LEVITICUS 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Abrahamic Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Sinaitic Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Palestinian Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
Land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Heilsgeschicht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
Breach and Preservation of Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Relation to Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
Prohibition of Idolatry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
Observance of Sabbaths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
Yahweh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Selbstvorstellungsformel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Relation to Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
Presence and Sanctuary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Promise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Blessing and Curse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Obedience and Disobedience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
Guilt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
Retribution and Chastisement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
Exile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Repentance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Restitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Revelation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
Leviticus 26 and the New Testament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
VI. CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
AB Anchor Bible
Afo Archiv fur Orientforschung
AnBib Analecta Biblica
AnOr Analecta Orientalia
AOAT Alter Orient and Altes Testament
ASV American Standard Version (1901)
BAG W. Bauer, W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich, Greek-English
Lexicon of the New Testament
BDB F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, Hebrew and English
Lexicon of the Old Testament
BDF F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and R. W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of
the New Testament
BHK R. Kittel, Biblia Hebraica, 1st edition
BHK3 R. Kittel, Biblia Hebraica, 3rd edition
BHS K. Elliger, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
BibOr Biblica et Orientalia
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
CSCO Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium
EJ Encyclopaedia Judaica
GAG W. von Soden, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik
GKC Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar
HAT Handbuch zum Alten Testament
ICC International Critical Commentary
IDB G. A. Buttrick (ed.), Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies
JNSL Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages
JSS Journal of Semitic Studies
JTS Journal of Theological Studies
KAI H. Donner and W. Rollig, Kanaanaische und aramaische Inschriften
KB L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testament
LSJ Liddell-Scott-Jones, Greek-English Lexicon
MT Massoretic Text
NASB New American Standard Bible
NICOT New International Commentary on the Old Testament
NIV New International Version
n.s. new series
OTL Old Testament Library
OTS Oudtestamentische Studien
SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series
STDJ Studies on the Texts of the
s.v. sub verbo "under the word"; sub voce "under the title"
TDNT G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of
the New Testament
TDOT G. J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren (eds.), Theological Dictionary
of the Old Testament
THAT E. Jenni and C. Westermann (eds.), Theologisches Handworter-
buch zum Alten Testament
UT C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook
VT Vetus Testamentum
VTSUP Supplements to Vetus Testamentum
WMANT Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten and Neuen Testament
ZAW Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
(Thanksgiving Hymns) from
(War Scroll) from
11QLev Leviticus from
Jewish children once commenced their biblical studies with the
book of Leviticus.1 Today, however, the book has been neglected by the
church. Few commentaries are available to the serious student, and few
of those make any concerted effort to exegete the book verse by verse.
The student of Leviticus will find much of the book uninterpreted in
even the best of commentaries and will be required to strike out on his
own if he is to uncover its riches. Wenham's well-written commentary2
should renew interest in the book of Leviticus because of its clear
presentation, bold approach to key subjects (e.g., the clean-unclean
and holy-profane categories3), and integration with New Testament
truths.4 Unfortunately, it also suffers occasionally from exegetical
malnutrition. A case in point is the treatment of Leviticus 26.5
Leviticus 26 has consistently been the threefold victim of
neglect: (1) It has been avoided in the synagogue because of its
1 Bernard J. Bamberger, Leviticus, vol. 3 of The Torah: A Modern
Commentary, 5 vols. (
1979), p. xix.
2 Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, NICOT (
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979).
3 Ibid., pp. 18-25.
4 Each chapter concludes with a discussion of its relationship
to the New Testament and Christianity.
5 Ibid., pp. 324-34.
unpleasant subject matter.1 (2) It has been treated sketchily in the
commentaries (past and present, Jewish and Christian). (3) Its covenant
affinities are rarely discussed even in materials dedicated to the con-
cept of covenant in the Old Testament. However, there are references
to the chapter occasionally, and some of these demonstrate an awareness
of the chapter's significance for covenantal studies. Delbert Hillers,
for example, places Leviticus 26 on a par with Deuteronomy 28:
In the first place, the prophets did employ much traditional mate-
rial 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 pre-
served in Deut 28 and Lev 26. Thirdly, these Israelite maledictions
resemble, at many points, curses from Akkadian and Aramaic treaties.
None of the parallels looks like simple copying, but the possibility
of influence of treaty-curses on Israelite literature, or of mutual
influence, or of dependence on common sources, cannot be disregarded.
After all, we possess only a relatively small body of treaty-curses,
and of these only a portion are useful for comparative purposes; in
view of this the number of parallels to expressions in the prophets
The significance of Leviticus 26, therefore, may be viewed from several
perspectives: (1) its relationship to Deuteronomy 28, (2) its relation-
ship to the Old Testament prophets and their revelations, and (3) its
relationship to the treaties of the ancient Near East.
The abundance of similarities between Leviticus 26 and Deuter-
onomy 26-28 serves to catapult the former pericope into the same sphere
of significance as the latter. Meredith Kline tantalizingly suggests
that the curses of Deuteronomy 28 were "anticipated in the promises and
1 Bamberger, Leviticus, p. 290.
2 Delbert R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Proph-
ets, BibOr 16 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964), p. 78.
threats of a similar section in Leviticus (chap. 26)."l The exact
nature of this anticipation needs definition--especially as it relates
to the concepts of prophetic revelation and progressive revelation.
With this brief introduction to the significance of Leviticus
26 in mind, the following preliminary statements are presented in order
to map out the purpose and procedure of this study.
Statement of Purpose
This dissertation is committed to the testing of the following
thesis: Leviticus 26 is a prophetic preview of the Palestinian Cove-
nant. In order to facilitate the treatment of the thesis, the follow-
ing working definitions are offered:
Prophecy is the message of God which he has revealed directly
to his chosen spokesman. Thus, prophecy is divine revelation above
all else. Prophecy is not being used here in the narrow sense of
prediction nor in the strictest form-critical category totally dis-
tinct from narrative, law, psalms, and wisdom. The means and form
of prophecy may differ radically from prophet to prophet. The time
scheme of prophecy may be past, present, or future--at times even
overlapping these three frames of reference.2
1 Meredith G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant
Deuteronomy: Studies and Commentary (
B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), p. 124.
2 There is such a wide range of acceptance of this definition
and its factors that it would not serve the purpose of this study to
present the biblical bases for the definition. The reader is referred
to the following sources for the detailed treatment of the definition
and its bases: Richard N. Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism
(Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1976), pp. 129-33; Edward J. Young, My
Servants the Prophets (
A preview is "a statement giving advance information: FORE-
TASTE, GLIMPSE."1 The verb may have the meaning "to give an overall
presentation of (a subject of study) before beginning systematic
The Palestinian Covenant is the pact God established with
was entered by
by sacrifice 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 Palestinian Covenant include
Deuteronomic Covenant and Covenant of the Plains of Moab.3
As this study progresses the problems of contexts must be
treated. These include: (1) the general context of the treaty forms
of the ancient Near East; (2) the historical-theological context of
both the Abrahamic and Sinaitic covenants; and, (3) the prophetic-
theological context of the Palestinian Covenant. The first of these
contexts will be developed in Chapter IV ("A Comparative Analysis of
1952), pp. 56-75; J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy
York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973), pp. 3-9;
An Introduction to the Old Testament
Press, 1968), pp. 37-40; Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Intro-
duction, trans. Peter R.
1965), pp. 76-81.
1 Philip Babcock Gove, ed., Webster's Third New International
Dictionary of the
C. Merriam Co., Publishers, 1976),--p. 1798.
3 Cf. Charles
Faith (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1953), pp. 58-59; Eissfeldt,
The Old Testament, pp. 214-17, 226, 230; S. R. Driver, An Introduction
to the Literature of the
1956), p. 71; TDOT, s.v. "tyriB;," by M. Weinfeld, 2:256, 268-69; Moshe
Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School
Press, 1972), pp. 59-116; Delbert R. Hillers, Covenant: The History
Leviticus 26, Esarhaddon's Treaties, and the Sefire Inscriptions").
The second and third contexts will be treated as they are encountered
during the exegesis of Leviticus 26 in Chapter III ("An Exegetical
Analysis of Leviticus 26") and in the discussion of the theological
emphases of the pericope in Chapter IV ("A Systematic Synthesis of
the Theological Concepts of Leviticus 26").
Statement of Pertinence
The subject of the significance of Leviticus 26 has already
been introduced in the first section of this chapter.1 The relation-
ship of the pericope to Deuteronomy 27-30 is indicative of the position
it should be granted in biblical studies. The very fact that Leviticus
26 and Deuteronomy 28 both contain covenant blessings and curses sets
the two pericopes apart from the rest of the Old Testament--not because
they are the only such materials, but because they are the most exten-
sive.2 Since there is nearly a universal consensus that Leviticus 26
of a Biblical Idea (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969),
pp. 58-64, 134-42.
1 See above, pp. 1-3.
2 "In ausgefuhrter Form belegt ist sie einzig in Dt. 28 and Lev.
26, nur angedeutet ist sie in Texten, die von diesen beiden Kapiteln
traditionsgeschichtlich abhangig sind oder in engem Zusammenhang mit
ihnen stehen." Jorg Jeremias, Kultprophetie and Gerichsverkundigung in
der spaten Konigszeit
Verlag, 1970), p. 165. (Translation: "In an elaborate form it occurs
solely in Dt. 28 and Lev. 26, yet it is implied in those texts which
are traditio-historically dependent on both of these chapters or stand
in close relationship to them.") Cf. Deut 11:8-17, 26-29; 27:11-26;
30:15-20; Josh 8:33-34; 1 Kgs 8:31-53; Dan 9:11; Hag 1:5-11; Amos
4:6-13. See the chart of parallels between Amos 4, Leviticus 26, Deuter-
onomy 28, and 1 Kings 8 in Hans Walter Wolff, Joel and Amos, trans.
Waldemar Janzen, et al., ed. S. Dean McBride, Jr., in Hermeneia, ed.
Frank Moore Cross, Jr., et al. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977),
is closely related to Deuteronomy 28, it must have some bearing on the
Deuteronomic Covenant in the latter passage and its immediate context.
This covenant is not a minor statement of Yahweh's relationship to
Indeed it seems that isolated writers of this school added yet
another covenant in the
series, so that 'the whole structure of the religious relationship
now rested on these three covenants as on three massive pillars'.
At any rate, Deut. 26.17-19; 28.69; 29.8, 11, 13, 20 point in this
Since the Deuteronomic (or, Palestinian) Covenant is of such major
import, Leviticus 26 must, by its close association with it, be con-
sidered a significant piece of literature in the Old Testament's dis-
closure of the relationship of
Yahweh to his people,
covenants made with Abraham and Moses are not to be ignored in old
Testament theology, the
ought not to be ignored.
A caution should be issued regarding the subject of covenant:
"the covenant does not
explain everything about early
relationship of Leviticus 26 to covenant is inherent to the pericope:
the Abrahamic Covenant is specified in verse 42 and the Mosaic (or,
Sinaitic) Covenant is identified in verses 13-15. Verse 9 ("I will
ratify my covenant with you") provides the exegete with the problem of
identifying the covenant: Abrahamic? Mosaic? or, Palestinian? The
1 Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, 2 vols., trans.
J. A. Baker, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961), 1:53; with
quote from Richard Kraetzschmar, Die Bundesvorstellung im Alten Testa-
ment in ihrer
geschichtlichen Entwicklung (
2 Hillers, Covenant, p. 87.
impact on this pericope of covenant concepts and covenant relationships,
therefore, is evident. It is also quite true that the materials and
concepts of covenant provide one of the most important aspects of Yah-
weh's relationship to Israel.1 It behooves the student, however, to
walk with care in this area and to seek relevance rather than to create
it.2 The thrust of this study is in that direction: to seek the con-
cept and context of covenant in Leviticus 26. If that relationship is
discovered, it will then be tested and proof given in detail to sub-
It is with regard to covenant relationships in this pericope
that the possibility of prophetic anticipation must be investigated.
The idea is not novel. R. A. Barclay3 and H. G. Reventlow4 view Levi-
ticus 26 as prophetic. Such an identification of the material in this
pericope would not be inconsistent with Mosaic authorship since Moses
was consistently presented as a prophet by the Old Testament.5
The book of Leviticus is arranged in a fashion conducive to the
view that Leviticus 26 is in a covenant context. Chapters 1-7 present
1 R. E. Clements, Prophecy and Tradition, in Growing Points in
Theology (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975), pp. 8, 15.
2 Ronald E. Clements, God's
pretation of the Book of Deuteronomy (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969),
3 R. A. Barclay, The Law Givers: Leviticus and Deuteronomy, vol.
in Bible Guides, ed. William Barclay and F. F. Bruce (
don Press, 1964), p. 49.
4 Henning Graf Reventlow, "Die Volker als Jahwes Zeugen bei
Ezechiel," ZAW 71 (1959):40.
5 Cf. Hillers, Covenant, p. 141. Cf. Deut 34:10, "There has not
the sacrificial system which provided for an outward manifestation of
the covenant relationship individually and nationally. The sacrifices
were to be offered by covenant members only.1 The sacrifices did not
provide forgiveness for breach of covenant (i.e., they did not provide
forgiveness for sins or deliver from the consequences of sin). The
chief object of the sacrificial system was an exhibition of fellowship
with the God of the covenant and with the people of the covenant—
continued covenantal communion.2
Chapters 8-10 reveal the ministry of the priesthood. These
priests were the caretakers of the covenant relationship--especially
as it was to be continually manifested (even on a daily basis) in the
sacrificial system. Unfaithfulness to the strict stipulations of this
covenant ministry brought the death penalty to Nadab and Abihu (10:1-20).
Chapters 11-15 deal with the purity of life which Yahweh required
nize their identification with him. They were not to identify with any
of the deities of the surrounding peoples. By diet, by birth, by
treatment of "leprosy," and by personal hygiene, the covenant community
was to be distinct from its neighbors.
Chapter 16 brings the covenant relationship to the calendar of
nant renewal ceremonies. The tone of that day was one of Yahweh's sov-
ereign rule over
continued covenantal communion.
1 Cf. Lev 1:2-3; 2:1; 17:8; 22:18, 25. This covenant community
comprised of both native Israelites and proselytes.
2 Cf. Exod 29:42-43; Ps 50:16.
was ordained in order to bring every thought into conformity with Yah-
weh's authority. The divine suzerain blessed his covenanted people by
granting them his continued presence (a token of his protection) among
them (v. 16; cf. vv. 1-2).
Chapters 17-24 prescribe in detail the ordinances by which the
covenant community was bound. This legislation affected the diet, the
social relationships, the religious leadership, the calendar, the center
of covenant worship, and the abuse of the covenant relationship. The
calendar (chapter 23) focused on the seventh month with its three major
observances (vv. 23-43). The New Year celebration (the Feast of Trum-
pets, vv. 23-25) had overtones of kingship and kingdom.1 It was a
time when the sabbatical principle was operative (cf. seventh day,
seventh month, seventh year, and seventh seventh year observances). It
was a time for the covenant community to recognize formally the suze-
rainty of Yahweh. Chapter 24 presents ordinances pertaining to the
tabernacle (the dwelling place of the visible presence of Yahweh, vv.
1-9) and pertaining to retribution for blasphemy (vv. 10-23). Blasphemy
is further emphasized by way of illustration (vv. 10-12, 23). Blasphemy,
in this context, is best understood as the appropriation of the divine
name in the issuing of a curse without Yahweh's sanction.2 Such an
appropriation was a treasonous usurpation of covenant authority. This
1 For arguments against connecting the Old Testament New Year
festival to an enthronement festival, cf. Roland de Vaux, Ancient
See, also, Norman H. Snaith, The Jewish New Year Festival: Its Origin
and Development (
2 Cf. Wenham, Leviticus, p. 311.
record is followed closely by expanded sabbatical legislation (chapter
25) and the formal blessings and curses of the covenant (chapter 26).
All of the ordinances (chapters
17-24) involve the covenant at
(the Mosaic Covenant).
It appears that the overall design of the book of Leviticus
may have been influenced by covenant concepts.1 The following summary
of chapters 1-24 reflects this conclusion:
(1) Provision for the continued observance of the ratification
sacrifices and meals (chapters 1-7).
(2) Provision for the continued publication of the covenant
deposit and the delegation of responsibility to representatives of
the suzerain (chapters 8-10).
(3) General stipulations for maintaining the covenant identity
(4) Provision for the annual renewal of the covenant (chapter 16).
(5) Specific stipulations for maintaining the covenant identity
(chapters 17-24) .
Chapters 25 and 26 enter at this point to bring the Sinaitic
Covenant to a conclusion. This is accomplished by emphasizing the mono-
theistic and sabbatical principles which are the ultimate cornerstones
of the covenant (cf. 25:55-26:3 and Exod 20:2-11). It is not surprising
to find chapter 26 as the closing of Leviticus. Blessings and cursings
l The two terms in this statement are emphasized in order to dis-
tinguish this concept from the concept that Leviticus was patterned
after covenant or treaty forms. Cf. Hillers, Covenant, pp. 29-38.
usually concluded the treaties of the ancient Near East.1
Chapter 27 forms an appendix to the book. It is positioned
logically after the pericope regarding blessings and curses. Yahweh's
vows and promises (chapter 26) provide the perfect exemplar for human
vows and promises (chapter 27).2
Having viewed Leviticus 26 in its greater context (that of the
entire book), it is possible to understand the covenant significance
of the pericope as well as its vital contribution to the development
of the book. Leviticus 26 may be interpreted more accurately with a
proper understanding of the purpose and argument of the book as a whole.
Recent developments in "exile theology"3 have brought even
greater significance to this pericope. This area of study involves the
exilic prophets' dependence upon Leviticus 26 for some of their covenant
materials. "Exile theology" treats the pericope as prophetic.4 The
motifs of judgment and deliverance are emphasized in the old Testament
concept of exile. The exile was to become more than a punitive factor
other their faith (i.e., a rehabilitating factor).5
1 Cf. Dennis J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant: A Study in Form
in the Ancient Oriental Documents and in the Old Testament, AnBib 21A
(Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978), pp. 172-87.
2 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 336.
3 E.g.: Thomas M. Raitt, A Theology of Exile: Judgment/Deliver-
ance in Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977);
delphia: Fortress Press, 1979). The relationship of Leviticus 26 to
the exile by way of the subject matter of the pericope does not auto-
matically place its composition in the time of the exile. This matter
of date will be discussed at a later point in this study.
4 Raitt, A Theology of Exile, pp. 25-29, 240 n. 36.
The concept of exile is connected closely with the sabbatical
principle. This is implied by 2 Chronicles 36:21,
so that the word of Yahweh through Jeremiah might be fulfilled
until the land enjoyed the restitution of1 its sabbaths. All
the days of its devastation it rested so that seventy years might
This reference is commonly accepted as being dependent upon Leviticus
Then the land shall enjoy the restitution of its sabbaths all the
days of its devastation while you are in the land of your enemies.
Then the land shall rest; yea, it shall enjoy the restitution of
The sabbatical principle's relationship to the land, the exile, and the
a significant pericope.2 The observance of the sabbatical principle
(both weekly and annually) brought the promise of blessing (cf. Lev
25:18-21). The failure to observe the principle brought the threat of
cursing, indeed, the ultimate of curses: physical death (cf. Exod
31:13-17). Leviticus 26 closely connects the sabbatical principle and
the blessings and curses of the covenant. This is consistent with the
accentuation of these same aspects elsewhere in the Old Testament cove-
Statement of Procedure
The procedure adopted in this study reflects the writer's con-
victions with regard to exegetical methodology. The following steps
outline the procedure:
1 The italics in the biblical quotation represent words added to
2 Cf. Niels-Erik A. Andreasen, The Old Testament Sabbath: A
SBLDS 7 (
of Biblical Literature, 1972), pp. 80-81, 203-54.
(1) A text-critical study of Leviticus 26 will be presented
first in order to establish the text--the foundation of all exegesis.
(2) An interpretive study of the pericope will follow in order
to exegete the established text.
(3) A comparative study of Leviticus 26 with key treaties of
the ancient Near East (namely, Esarhaddon's treaties and the Sefire
inscriptions) will be pursued in order to evaluate influence.
(4) A conceptual-theological analysis of the pericope will be
presented finally in order to systematize the doctrinal contribu-
tions to Old Testament theology.
There are two different approaches to be considered with regard
to the study of the text of the Old Testament. These approaches involve
both the establishment and the interpretation of the text:1
(1) The textual methodology emphasizes the graphic transmission
of the text and characteristically opts to emend the Massoretic
Text (sometimes by conjecture) rather than to await philological
or linguistic elucidation.
(2) The philological methodology emphasizes the semantic trans-
mission of the text and characteristically opts for cognate eluci-
The first of these methodologies seems to dominate the majority
of commentaries on Leviticus. Kittel's Biblia Hebraica2 is the leading
1 Thomas A. Nicholas, "The Current Quest for the Meaning of the
Text of the Old Testament," WTJ 34 (1972):120.
edition of the Hebrew Old Testament exhibiting this text-critical
philosophy. Although conjectural emendation has not maintained its
domination in Old Testament text-critical study,1 it continues to be
an influential viewpoint and practice. In the strictest sense, con-
jectural emendation is "a reading for which no authority can be found
in any text-tradition, direct or indirect, known to us up to the
present time."2 The ultimate thrust of conjecturalism3 is the text's
supposed state of imperfection and its resultant lack of authority.4
This philosophy is humanistic and wrongly denies the text its prima-
facie status.5 Conjecture with reference to the autographa should have
no place in "text criticism in sensu stricto."6 However, such an evalu-
ation of the emendatory approach to the text of the Old Testament should
1 David Noel Freedman, "Prolegomenon," in The Forms of Hebrew
Poetry, George Buchanan Gray
House, 1972), p. xxiii; Sidney Jellicoe, The Septuagint and Modern
Study (reprint ed.,
2 Jellicoe, The Septuagint and Modern Study, p. 20 (with regard
to the viewpoint of Joseph Ziegler).
3 Conjecturalism is not limited to textual criticism. It is also
exhibited in the exegetical practice of many commentators who conjectur-
alize interpretations on the flimsiest of grounds. See, M. H. Goshen-
Gottstein, "The History of the Bible-Text and Comparative Semitics--A
Methodological Problem," VT 7 (1957):198.
4 Cf. James Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old
Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 68; Bertil Albrektson,
"Reflections on the Emergence of a Standard Text of the Hebrew Bible,"
VTSup 29 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978), pp. 62-63; James A. Sanders,
"Text and Canon: Concepts and Method," JBL 98 (1979):19-20, 24-26.
5 See Robert Dick Wilson, A Scientific Investigation of the Old
Testament, rev. Edward J. Young (Chicago: Moody Press, 1959), pp. 82-
6 Sanders, "Text and Canon," p. 12.
not be taken to such an extreme that the beneficial effects of the
While deploring the mutilating effects on the text of their labors,
we may agree that scholars so inspired stimulate response and
reaction, and in their way they contribute to progress in the
The second of these methodologies is exemplified by the contri-
butions of men like Mitchell Dahood3 and James Barr.4 These men are
the chief representatives of two different schools of text-critical
Both methodologies have their negative and their positive
aspects. Extremism may be found in both conjectural emendation and
philological imagination. The external evidence involved in the
textual approach cannot be ignored (manuscript and versional evidence).
Nor can the internal evidence involved in the philological-linguistic
school because of the relationship it had to the chief representative of
this school, Julius Wellhausen. The title "surgical school" has also
been employed (cf. Freedman, "Prolegomenon," p. xxii). The writer has
described the various text-critical schools in a research paper: "Old
Testament Textual Criticism: Its Current Trends and Tensions" (unpub-
research paper, Grace Theological Seminary,
2 Freedman, "Prolegomenon," p. xxiii (emphasis added).
3 E.g., Mitchell Dahood, The Psalms, AB (
Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1966-70).
4 Cf. Barr, Comparative Philology.
5 See above, n. 1.
6 Cf. G. R. Driver, review of Proverbs and Northwest Semitic
Philology, by M. Dahood, JSS 10 (1965):113-14; James Barr, "Semitic
approach be ignored (etymological, stylistic, grammatical, and semantic
evidence). All the evidence must be considered objectively. The text
critic should employ both methodologies, emphasizing one or the other
depending on the evidence available for each particular textual problem.
Textual emendation must not be ruled out dogmatically, but it should
be employed only as the last resort. The Massoretic vocalization
should be given priority until the evidence cannot support it.1 The
excesses of pan-Ugaritism or any other panism should be avoided.
The writer's approach, therefore, may be termed eclectic. In
other words, he reserves the privilege of pursuing all pertinent avenues
of research and of considering all forms of evidence rather than to
assume that the prima-facie evidence of the present Massoretic Text is
The procedure will be to consider the variants as they appear
(verse by verse), giving greater attention to those text-critical prob-
lems which have the greater significance to the exegetical process.
Since there are no material variants in Leviticus 26, the discussion
will be somewhat limited. It is not the purpose of this study to give
an exhaustive text-critical analysis of every recurrent variant. The
evidence for each variant will be presented in the following order:
(1) Massoretic Text, (2) Samaritan Pentateuch, (3) Septuagint and its
Philology and the Interpretation of the Old Testament," in Tradition
and Interpretation, ed. G. W. Anderson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979),
1 Cf. Nicholas, "The Current Quest," p. 127; Barr, Comparative
Philology, pp. 35-36, 188-222.
2 Barrick, "Old Testament Textual Criticism," pp. 25-26.
daughter versions, (4)
(8) Latin Vulgate, (9) Sahidic, (10) Coptic, (11) Ethiopic, (12) Arabic,
and (12) Armenian.l
In the treatment of the textual evidence some amount of inter-
pretation will have been employed already. Ideally, however, it should
be kept to a minimum in order to insure text-critical objectivity. The
exegesis will proceed along the lines of a full grammatical analysis of
the established text of Leviticus 26. Illustrative materials will be
utilized from the Old Testament, extra-biblical documentation, and
(where pertinent) New Testament references (e.g., Lev 26:12 and 2 Cor
6:16b). An interpretive outline will be presented as the study pro-
Details concerning fine points of grammar or grammatical dis-
putation will be relegated to the footnotes. The writer's grammatical
opinions will be reflected in the body of the study. The reader wish-
ing to pursue the writer's lines of reasoning for those grammatical
opinions should find the footnotes helpful. In an exegetical analysis
of forty-six verses there is little room for extensive discussion or
defence of grammatical niceties.
Comparative analysis with extra-biblical treaties
The choice of the Esarhaddon treaties and the Sef're inscrip-
1 Cf. James R. Battenfield, "Hebrew Stylistic Development in
Archaic Poetry: A Text-Critical and Exegetical Study of the Blessing
of Jacob, Genesis 49:1-27" (unpublished doctor of theology dissertation,
tions was based upon the agreement of Weinfeld,1 Hillers,2 McCarthy,3
and Wiseman4 regarding their importance and relationship to Leviticus
26. This opinion, however, is not held by Bamberger who declares that
this pericope "does not present such close parallels to any known docu-
ment from the
typed language of the treaty curses."5 In response to Weinfeld's
comparison of Leviticus 26 to the Sefire materials, Bamberger also
says, "these similarities appear to me slight and superficial, not like
the striking parallels between Deuteronomy and the Assyrian treaties."6
Obviously, there is a difference of opinion and sufficient ground for
reevaluation of the evidence.
Such a comparative study must be based upon a proper under-
standing of the texts involved. Therefore, this section of the study
will follow the textual and exegetical analyses of Leviticus 26. Such
preparatory measures are necessitated by the fact that better commen-
taries are available on Esarhaddon's treaties and the Sefire inscrip-
tions than on Leviticus 26: The following works will provide the base
1 Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School, pp. 59-157.
2 Hillers, Treaty-Curses, p. 77; and, Covenant, pp. 132-40.
3 McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant, pp. 112-15, 287.
4 D. J. Wiseman, The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon (
R. Frankena, "The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon and the Dating of Deu-
teronomy," OTS 14 (1965):122-54; F. C. Fensham, "Maledictions and Bene-
dictions in Ancient Near-Eastern Vassal-Treaties and the Old Testament,"
ZAW 74 (1962):1-19.
5 Bamberger, Leviticus, p. 290.
6 Ibid., p. 338 n. 5. Cf. Clements, Prophecy and Tradition, pp.
from which the extra-biblical materials will be examined: Esarhaddon--
Borger1 and Wiseman;2 Sefire--Donner and Rollig3 and Fitzmyer.4
Systematic theological synthesis
Since "the historical principle operating side by side with the
systematic in a complementary role"5 is a proper description of the
methodology of Old Testament theology, this study will present both the
diachronic and synchronic viewpoints of the doctrinal contributions of
Leviticus 26. The synchronic will be inherent in the choice of doc-
trinal topics or emphases from the pericope itself (e.g., the prohibi-
tion of idolatry, the sabbath, law, covenant, blessing, imprecation,
exile, the land, guilt, etc.). The diachronic will be presented within
each topical discussion. Each subject will be related to the historical
perspective (i.e., viewed with respect to progressive revelation).
This particular section of the dissertation will not be treated
in great detail. The purpose is not to present an Old Testament the-
ology, but to evaluate the contributions of Leviticus 26 to Old Testa-
Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956).
2 Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon.
4 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Aramaic Inscriptions of Sefire, BibOr
19 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1967).
5 Eichrodt, Theology, 1:32 (emphasis his). For practical pur-
poses, this statement by Eichrodt is a description of the concept of
progressive revelation. God's revelation not only deals specifically
with the needs of a particular time period in which his people live,
it also builds upon previous revelation.
General Introduction to Leviticus 26
Date and Authorship
Two major factors contribute to the writer's conclusion that
Leviticus (and, thereby, Leviticus 26) was written by Moses: (1) the
direct statements of Leviticus to the effect that Moses was the recipi-
ent of the revelation contained therein (cf. 1:1; 4:1; 5:14; 6:1 [Heb.,
5:20], 8 [Heb., 6:1], 19 [Heb., v. 12], 24 [Heb., v. 17]; 7:22, 28, 38;
8:1; 11:1; 12:1; 13:1; 14:1, 33; 15:1; 16:1, 2; 17:1; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1;
21:1, 16; 22:1, 17, 26; 23:1, 9, 23, 26, 33; 24:1, 13, 23; 25:1; 26:46;
27:1, 34); and, (2) the "considerable degree of uncertainty"1 about any
alternative dating of Leviticus as a whole or in part (especially the
Holiness Code of chapters 17-26 and chapter 26 alone2 ). In lieu of
reliable evidence to the contrary, the prima-facie evidence of the
document's own claim to Mosaic authorship must be allowed to stand.3
To do otherwise would be to resort to conjecture, as admitted by the
1 Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, p. 238; cf. pp. 233-39.
2 Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1: A Commentary on the Book of the
Prophet Ezekiel, Chapters 1-24, trans. Ronald E. Clements, ed. Frank
pp. 46-52. Zimmerli presents an excellent summary of the similarities
and differences between Ezekiel and Leviticus 26 (ibid., p. 51) as
well as a brief presentation of some of the various views of the author-
ship of Leviticus 26, including Ezekiel as a possible author (ibid.,
"In contradistinction to the inquisitorial method is that which pre-
sumes a man to be innocent until he is proven guilty. As applied to
documents it proceeds on the presumption that a document is to be pre-
sumed to be what it purports to be until it shall be proved that it is
not." Ibid., p. 27.
writers who question the Mosaic authorship of Leviticus or of chapter
Proceeding upon the assumption of Mosaic authorship, Leviticus
26 has as its mise en scene the period of time immediately subsequent
to the revelation of the Sinaitic Covenant to Moses on Mt. Horeb/Sinai.
This setting must be recognized for what effect it has on the revela-
tion in this pericope: exilic statements should not be attributed to
prophecy after the occurrence of the event (vaticinium ex eventu).
The remote (the book of Leviticus) and the immediate (chapters
25 and 27) contexts of Leviticus 26 were unfolded in the discussion of
the significance of the pericope in the book as a whole.2 Both contexts
indicate the covenant relationship which dominates chapter 26. Chapter
25 belongs with chapter 26 as a single literary unit consisting of two
sections: 25:1-55 and 26:1-46. This literary unit is set apart by an
inclusion involving 25:1
("Then Yahweh spoke to Moses on
and 26:46 ("These are the decrees, judgments, and instructions which
Yahweh presented between
himself and the sons of
Chapters 25 and 26 share the emphasis of the sabbatical principle
1 See above, p. 20 nn. 1 and 2. Cf. Wenham, Leviticus, pp. 8-13;
Peter R. Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration A Study of Hebrew Thought of
the Sixth Century B.C., OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968),
pp. 84-86. For additional confirmation of an early date for the context
of Leviticus 26 (esp. chapter 25), see: Stephen Herbert Bess, "Systems
of Land Tenure in Ancient Israel" (unpublished doctor of philosophy dis-
2 See above, pp. 7-11.
while chapters 26 and 27 share the emphasis of the vows and/or
promises. The pericope under consideration, therefore, is not an
isolated or appended unit lacking significant ties to its contexts.
This unity of material is also conducive to the Mosaic authorship of
the entire book of Leviticus.1
1 For a defence of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (and
thus, Leviticus 26), see: Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old
Testament Introduction (revised ed.,
105-18, 162-64; G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch in Its Cultural
Environment (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), pp. 205-69; M. H.
Segal, The Pentateuch: Its Composition and Its Authorship and Other
Biblical Studies (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1967), pp. 6-27, 56-57.
A TEXT-CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF LEVITICUS 26
Leviticus 26 evidences a stable text presenting only recurrent
variants which have little effect upon the exegesis of the pericope.
This factor accounts for the seeming neglect of text-critical discussion
in most of the commentaries. The text-critical variants of the pericope
do offer some instructive perspectives, however. They illustrate
current trends in Old Testament textual criticism and reveal the charac-
ter of text-critical apparatuses in the editions of the Hebrew Old
The following studies in the text of Leviticus 26 are presented
in the order of their occurrence in the pericope. A summary of the
types of problems encountered will be presented in tabular form at the
conclusion of this chapter.
The Syriac presents a minor variant with (pwqdny)
"my ordinances" for yttbw "my sabbaths." This appears to be nothing
more than a scribal error (perhaps paramneia?) resulting from a confu-
sion of memory with either 25:18 or 26:3 where this term is employed
with the concept of "keeping" (rmw tvcm). Thus, the retroversion of
BHS (ytvcm) "my commandments") is consistent with the Syriac-Hebrew
equivalents in the context but is text-critically irrelevant since the
rendering is most likely due to scribal error rather than to a
similar Vorlage. It would have been better had BHS given only the
transliterated Syriac variant (omitting the irrelevant retroversion which
might lead one to believe that a different Vorlage was probable).
The questionable character of the critical apparatuses in both
BHK3 and BHS manifests itself in the lemma for this verse. Both indi-
cate that Codex Hillel reads Mtx "them" instead of Mktx "you." How-
ever, Codex Hillel actually has Mktx!1
The sole dissenting witness from the MT's ynkwm "my dwelling"
is the Septuagint's th>n diaqh<knh mou "my covenant." However, the
testimony is divided among Septuagint manuscripts, some of which read
skh?nh "tabernacle" in place of diaqh<kh.2 It is again premature (or
presumptuous?) of BHK3 and BHS to offer a retroversion (ytyrb "my cove-
nant"). The theological association of the divine residency with the
covenant is familiar to the student of the Old Testament (cf. Exod
24:7, 8, with 24:16; Lev 26:9 with 26:11; 1 Kgs 6:19 with 6:13; 8:1,
6, 21, 23, with 8:12; and, especially Ezek 37:26 with 37:27). Several
explanations for the Septuagintal reading may be offered before the text
critic should resort to retroversion: (1) The scribe accidentally may
Pentateuch: Codex Hillel (
Ltd., 1974), 2:297.
Greek According to the Text of Codex Vaticanus, Supplemented from Other
Uncial Manuscripts (Cambridge: University Press, 1909), 1/2:397.
have altered the MT due to the proximity of Leviticus 26:9 (parablep-
sis?); (2) the scribe accidentally may have altered the MT due to his
theological awareness of the relationship between the divine presence
and the divine covenant (perhaps via the Ezek 37:26-27 passage?). In
any case, there is no reason to give the impression that some of the
Septuagint manuscripts possessed a variant Hebrew Vorlage (as is
accomplished by offering a retroversion).
An additional observation is worthy of note: the massorah
indicates that ynkwm is found but three times in the Old Testament ( g o).
Such a notation is an indication that this reading has been maintained
carefully so that it is not altered by the Massoretic scribes. It is
indeed a marvel how often the circellus in the MT appears "precisely
over words emended in the apparatus of BHK or BHS!"1 The circellus
ought, to the contrary, indicate to the textual critic that extreme
caution should be observed in order not to alter the text.2 Certainly,
evidence for alteration in Leviticus 26:11 is not weighty enough to
In this verse another example of the preserving influence of
the massorah is discovered. The MT hlhb "immediately" is rendered by
some of the Samaritan manuscripts as hlHb "with sickness." The variant
1 Sanders, "Text and Canon," p. 18.
2 Ibid., p. 17. For a different viewpoint concerning the massorah,
see: IDB, s.v. "Text, OT," by B. J. Roberts, 4:586. The notations of
the massorah do not establish the text, they merely confirm the reli-
ability of the prima-facie evidence.
may be due to a confusion of the Samaritan script's h ( ) and H ( ).
Since there is no other witness to support the Samaritan, the MT should
be maintained. Sanders expresses succinctly the force of the massorah's
lamed (l) in such cases
A lamed in the mp, keyed by the Massoretes to a word in the line
indicated, stands like a soldier to remind the next scribe that the
word in question must be copied precisely as written or corrected
in the Vorlage. The text critic who takes the massorae seriously
and pursues each case far enough soon realizes that there was often
good reason for them. The word in question with a lamed in mp is a
hapax in the detailed form in the text. There is no other quite
like it anywhere else in the Bible and it must be guarded in its
particularity; it must retain its peculiarity and not be assimi-
lated to another form of the word more common in the Bible or else-
The major text-critical problem of this verse involves the MT's
vdrv "and they shall rule" in contrast to the Septuagint's kai> diw<contai
= vpdrv (?) "and they shall pursue."2 This lemma illustrates the need
for considering the translation techniques of the Greek versions (espe-
addition, this lemma demonstrates the failure of BHS to give an adequate
accounting of relevant variants.3
The Hexaplaric variants unfortunately were omitted by both BHK3
and BHS. Alloi present paideu<sousin "they shall chastise" and e]pikrath<-
1 Sanders, "Text and Canon," p. 17.
2 Cf. Dominique Barthelemy, et al., Preliminary and Interim
Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3 vols. (2nd revised
3 John Wm. Wevers, "Text History and Text Criticism of the Sep-
tuagint," VTSup 29 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978), pp. 395-97.
sousin "they shall rule over/prevail/conquer."1 It appears that the
Greek version of
normally rendered hdr by e]pikrate<w.2 Symmachus is credited with kata-
doulw<sontai "they shall enslave," while Theodotion agrees with Alloi.3
All three Greek readings are in harmony with the concept of the MT.
The concept of chastisement is
interpretive: the subjection of
to another nation was a matter of chastisement for disobedience to
God.4 The concept of enslavement is likewise interpretive since sub-
jection may result in enslavement. However, katadoulo<w may have the
meaning, "absolute subjection or the loss of autonomy."5 The Septuagint
reading may be interpretive also since subjection involves persecution
or even expulsion.6 The Septuagint may be understood also as an assim-
ilation of this part of the verse to the last section of the verse.
Another text-critical aspect of the reading vdrv is the massorah
indicating that this form occurs only twice: here and in Isaiah 14:2.
The Massoretic notation again preserves the integrity of the text. The
MT's circellus alerts the reader to this confirmatory evidence (as in
the previously discussed examples at vv. 11 and 16).
1 Fridericus Field, ed., Origenis Hexaplorum quae supersunt sive
Veterum Interpretum Graecorum in Totum Vetus Testamentum, 2 vols. (Oxonii:
2 Ibid., n. 23. Cf. Joseph Reider, An Index to
Turner, VTSup 12 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966), pp. 92, 309.
3 Field, Origenis Hexaplorum, 1:215.
4 TDNT, S.V. "paideu<w," by Georg Bertram, 5:606-12.
5 TDNT, S.V. "dou?loj," by Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, 2:279.
6 TDNT, s.v. "diw<kw," by Albrecht Oepke, 2:229.
A minor variant exists in the current text of this verse which
has been ignored by the commentaries: the substitution of hdWh "the
field" for Crxh "the land" in the last part of the verse. Crxh is
Onqelos (majority of manuscripts; incorrectly identified as Targum
Jonathan by BHS), and the Syriac Peshitta (omitted by both BHK3 and
BHS). hdWh is supported by the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint,
at least four manuscripts of Targum Onqelos, Targum Neophyti I, the
Syriac Hexapla, and the Arabic. A number of Hebrew manuscripts also
possess this latter reading. The Latin Vulgate chose to omit the term
The greatest influence on the variant reading appears to have
been verse 4 which is a very close parallel. Both BHK3 and BHS indi-
cate this situation by "ut 4." The variant could have arisen through
unintentional memory error (paramneia?) or through intentional harmoni-
The infrequency of hdW in Leviticus (and, in Deuteronomy)3 con-
firms the MT reading. The combination hdWh Cf "trees of the field"
occurs only in verse 4 and Deuteronomy 20:19. In Ugaritic the pair
1 David Noel Freedman, "Variant
2 As in Wenham's translation (Leviticus, p. 325).
3 hdW (25x in Leviticus, 13x in Deuteronomy) vs. Crx (82x in Levi-
ticus, 198x in Deuteronomy): Peter M. K. Morris and Edward James, A
Critical Word Book of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, vol. 8 of The
Computer Bible, ed. J. Arthur Baird
and David Noel Freedman (
MT: Scholars Press and Biblical Research Associates, Inc., 1975), pp.
102, 109, 128, 138.
ars // sd "land // field" occurs in the same context as the combination
‘sm ars "trees of the land," offering further confirmation of the MT in
both verses 4 and 20.1
Like verse 20 with its attraction to verse 4, verse 24 has been
attracted to verse 28 by either paramneia or harmonization. In this
case, the text-critical problem involves more than a single word and
has a greater breadth of textual evidence to consider. The MT reads,
yrqb Mkmf ynx-Jx ytklhv "then, indeed, I myself shall walk in opposition
to you." The Samaritan Pentateuch only alters the particle Jx "indeed"
to Mg "even," which is a semantic equivalent.2 This variant is the
only one recognized by either BHK3 or BHS. Translation ad sensum for
yrq "opposition" is manifested in some Septuagint manuscripts (plagi<wj
"contrary to," e]mfhloneikwj "obstinately," e]nanti<wj "against"), the
Targums (vywqb "with difficulty," yrm "rebellious/contentious/obsti-
nate") , the Syriac ( qry’yt "contentiously,”
ptyl’yt "obliquely/contrary"), and the Latin Vulgate (adversus). All
of these renderings have the sense of opposition or adversity.
The majority testimony of the Septuagint, however, reads qu<w
plagi<& "in adverse anger" (or, "in angry/fervent adversity/opposition").
BHK3 and BHS ignore this reading, however, choosing instead to recognize
the lesser variant regarding
the particle. The evidence from
appears to lend support to the Septuagint with yrq tmHb "in fervent/
angry opposition" (11QLev). Support may be found also in the margin of
1 UT 126:3-6 (p. 193).
2 GKC, pp. 483 (§153), 484 (§154a n. 1).
Targum Neophyti I: vywqbv hmHb "with anger and with difficulty." This
reading, however, appears to be conflate. It expands and emphasizes the
adverbial phrase in order to express more fully the translator's inter-
pretation of the character of divine opposition.
The term yrq is limited to Leviticus where it is always found
in construction with by Mf jlh "walk with" and occurs only in chapter 26
(vv. 21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 40, 41). The occurrence of hmH "anger" in
verse 28 is a hapax legomenon in Leviticus. It would appear that
verse 28 (yrq-tmHb "with angry/fervent opposition") has been the primary
factor in the variant history of verse 24 in both the Septuagint and
According to Barr, BHS has a tendency to "cite 'nonn Mss' or
'mlt Mss' in support of a variation, when these are in most cases late
medieval manuscripts" having "no independent evidential value"1 (when
considered in the light of the ancient sources, such as the Samaritan,
do support the singular Mkwdqm "your sanctuary" as opposed to the MT
plural Mkywdqm "your sanctuaries." The latter is supported by the
Septuagint, Targum Onqelos, and the Latin Vulgate. The context of the
verse presents a number of pluralities: "your high places," "your
incense altars," and "your cities" (vv. 30-31). Thus, the concept of a
plurality of idolatrous sanctuaries is not antagonistic to the immediate
context. Indeed, the parallelism of the first portion of verse 31
("your cities") would seem to require the following plural, "your sanctu-
1 James Barr, review of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, in JTS
aries." The idolatrous practices of the Israelites would one day per-
meate their entire nation with idol sanctuaries existing in many of its
cities (cf. 1 Kgs 12:29; Amos 8:14).
Verses 34 and 35
The text-critical apparatuses of BHK3 and BHS for these two
verses exhibit misleading information. The citation, without explana-
tion, of the Samaritan variant hmwx "guilt" (vv. 34 and 35) leaves the
reader in a quandary: Is the notation intended to suggest a different
Vorlage for the Samaritan Pentateuch in these verses? However, the MT
is supported by the fact that the reference to this verse (or, to this
verse's concept) in 2 Chronicles 36:21 maintains hmwh "its desolation/
devastation." The x in the Samaritan could be explained by the possi-
bility of a miscorrection of hmwxh, since the Samaritan is known to
have inserted vocalic x's from time to time.1 If this seems to be too
far afield, let one consider the possibility that there was virtually
no theological difference
between the concrete result of
("devastation") and the abstract result of
ence ("guilt/sin"). In the mind of the scribe(s) they may have been
understood as one and the same. Either way, the reading can be
explained without resorting to a differing Vorlage.
BHS's notation that the Septuagint adds au]th?j "its" is unnec-
essary. The Hop’al infinitive absolute has the third feminine pronominal
1 Adolf Brull, Das samaritanische Targum zum Pentateuch, Anhang 1:
Kritische Studien (reprint ed.,
p. 19 nn. 40 and 41. The inserted x in such a case could be an argument
for the pointing hmwhA (as in 2 Chr 36:21) rather than hmwhI (Lev 26:34).
suffix appended: hm.Awa.hA = h.m.Awa.hA "its devastation."1 The Septuagint,
therefore, was merely translating the form accurately, not providing a
variant reading. In fact, the Samaritan, Syriac, and Latin Vulgate all
accurately include the pronominal suffix exhibited in the MT and the
It should also be noted that the MT includes a circellus over
both forms of hmwh (vv. 34 and 35). The same is true of hmwhb "in its
devastation" in verse 43 which suffered the same alteration in the
Samaritan. The massorah could indicate, therefore, the Massoretes'
understanding of corruptions to the text and they took steps to insure
that later scribes realized the importance of copying the text accu-
Both BHK3 and BHS note that the Samaritan has a clearly feminine
form for tcrhv "and she shall enjoy" (= htcrhv). This should not be
taken as an indication that the MT does not have the feminine form.
The third feminine singular of the perfect (qtl) does occur with just
the t ending.3
BHS cites the Septuagint's dia> ta>j a[marti<aj u[mw?n "because of
your sins" as a variant for the MT's Mnvfb "because of/in their iniqui-
ties/guilt." The major problem is that of the pronominal suffix since
the concept is the same. it is significant that there is Septuagintal
1 GKC, pp. 182 (§67y), 256 (§91e).
2 Sanders, "Text and Canon," pp. 17-18.
3 GKC, p. 209 (§75i).
support for the third person pronominal suffix1 (a fact not indicated
by BHS) and that the daughter versions of the Greek Old Testament all
support the third person reading.2 The ignoring of the manuscript evi-
dence and the daughter versions by BHS produces a misconception of the
ancient Greek versional evidence.
The most problematic lemma of this verse, however, is Mkybyx
"your enemies." The second masculine plural pronominal suffix is chal-
lenged by a qere in Codex Muga (a ninth-century codex evidently
by the same scribe as Codex Or. 4445 of the British Museum3), a multi-
tude ("mlt" = 20-60)4 of manuscripts, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the
versions (at least a plurality, if not all).5 The reading supported
by this array of witnesses is the third masculine plural pronominal suf-
fix Mh_ "their." Although neither BHK3 nor BHS state in their appara-
tuses that this latter reading should be accepted, the very method of
citation would have a psychological effect upon a text critic influenced
by quantity rather than quality. Even the careful critic might assume
that these apparatuses testify to a nearly unanimous witness which has
few, if any, contrary voices. However, the following facts surface
upon closer scrutiny: (1) Codex Muga is a prejudicing citation since
its contribution is but a qere and no statement is made concerning Codex
1 Brooke and McLean, eds., The Old Testament in Greek, p. 401.
2 Field, Origenis Hexaplorum, 1:216.
3 Ernst Wurthwein, Der Text des Alten Testaments (4th edition,
4 BHS, p. xlvii. Cf. BHK3, p. 186 ("87 MSS").
5 BHS, p. xlviii.
Or. 4445 (i.e., whether it, as a manuscript by the same scribe, agrees
by text or qere). Such information would help in evaluating the evi-
dence. In fact, this piece of evidence may be duplicated in the "mlt"
following in the apparatus. (2) BHK3 cites "87 MSS" while BHS indicates
at least 27 less! (3) BHK3's "Edd" (editions) is also a prejudicing
citation since these comprise other editors' opinions of a similar
nature to those found in BHK3 and BHS. Editions are not primary evi-
dence, but secondary (or, even tertiary)! (4) Among the versions,
nal suffix by u[mw?n "your" in contrast to his less than literal fellows
in the Hexapla who unanimously have au]tw?n "their."1 (5) There are dis-
senting witnesses in the manuscripts of Onqelos' Targum.2 (6) Lastly,
a circellus is to be observed over the three occurrences of Mhybyx
"their enemies" in verses 36, 41, and 44. The massorah points out that
this form does appear these three times in this context.3 There is no
inclusion of a like form or notation by the massorah in verse 39. That
would seem to indicate that the Massoretes were guarding the occurrences
in verses 36, 41, and 44 from a corrupting influence (Mkybyx "your ene-
mies") found in verses 7, 17, 34, 37, 38, and 39. In addition, the
Rabbinic Bible places a circellus over Mkybyx "your enemies" in verse 39
1 Field, Origenis Hexaplorum, 1:216.
2 Alexander Sperber, ed., The Bible in Aramaic, 5 vols. (
E. J. Brill, 1959-73), 1:214, 4B:282. The Ongelos Targum in the Pabbinic
Bible has the second person pronominal suffix. tvlvdg tvxrqm, 10 vols.
(New York: Pardes Publishing House, Inc., 1951), 3:loc. cit.
3 BHS, p. 205. Cf. Gerard E. Weil, ed., Massorah Gedolah Manu-
scrit B. 19a de
vol. 1: Les Listes (
Pontifical, 1971), p. 99 (#821). BHK3 omits this massorah.
and cites a Sevir:l Mhybyx ylb NyfFm "in this it is misleading to
read Mhybyx 'their enemies'" (or, "occasion for error is given with
Mhybyx"). Thus, with these six preceding points in mind, the case for
the current reading in the MT is stronger than one is led to believe by
either BHK3 or BHS.
This verse and its lemmas have demonstrated the value of
carefully evaluating the text-critical apparatuses of BHK3 and BHS
due to their incompleteness and misleading information. It has also
produced additional examples of the values of the massorah and of the
Greek daughter versions
The first lemma in this verse is presented by BHS. BHS offers
the Septuagint's kai> a]polw? "and I shall destroy" in place of the MT's
ytxbhv "and I shall bring out" and provides the retroversion ytdbxhv
"and I shall destroy." The citation of the retroversion in BHS includes
a question mark indicating that there might be evidence of a differing
Vorlage. However, the semantic range of a]polu<w includes the meaning of
exile or deportation.2 The Septuagint, therefore, may be taken as being
consistent with the concept of the MT.
The second lemma consists of the double particle zx-vx "whether/
if then" which provides several interesting considerations: (1) the
necessity for a critical edition of the Syriac Peshitta, (2) the contri-
bution of rabbinic scholarship, (3) the BHK3 penchant for emendation,
1 tvlvdg tvxrqm, 3:loc . cit. With regard to the Sevirin, cf.
Robert Gordis, The Biblical Text in the Making A Study of Kethib-Qere
(New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1971), pp. 26-28.
2 LSJ, p. 208.
and (4) the Septuagint's influence on the Samaritan Targum of the
Both BHK3 and BHS cite the Syriac in this lemma as unfavorable
to the MT but favorable to the Septuagint. BHS offers a translitera-
tion of the Syriac and a Hebrew retroversion: "whjdjn = zxAv;."1 BHK3
offers only an ambiguous retroversion: “zxA(v;).”2 It may be noted
that the Syriac is still a double particle which could reflect the
translator's understanding of vx as a conjunctive ("or") rather than as
a conditional ("if"), an emphatic ("even"), or an interrogative
("whether") particle. Syriac does have an equivalent to vx: ‘w
It is employed for the Hebrew conjunctive vx three times in Leviticus
25:49. The fourth occurrence of conditional vx near the end of the
verse is rendered in Syriac by w’n "and if/if." Therefore, the
availability of the Syriac does not guarantee its use--especially
in conditional clauses. The reading in the Peshitta in 26:41 could be
an assimilation to the occurrence of zxv and then" later in the verse
(where the Syriac is identical in meaning: whydyn "and
then"). The Syro-Hexaplar, on the other hand, shows definite signs of
conformity to the Septuagint: zx-vx = hydyn = to<te = "then"
(v. 41a) and zxv = whydyn = kai> to<te = "and then" (v. 41b).3
A critical edition of the Syriac Peshitta is in preparation, though the
1 BHS, p. 205.
2 BHK3, p. 187.
3 Samuel Lee, ed., Ktb' qdys’ [
and Foreign Bible Society, ca. 1823 , was employed for this study. The
Syro-Hexaplar source was: Arthur Voobus, The Pentateuch in the Version
of the Syro-Hexapla, CSCO 369 (Louvain: Secretariat du CorpusSCO, 1975).
Leviticus volume is yet unavailable.1 Perhaps it will prove to be of
interest and enlightening concerning this problem. Meanwhile, there is
no direct evidence that the present Syriac contradicts the MT.
In the Rabbinic Bible the commentaries of Rashi (Rabbi Shelomo
Yitzchaki, d. 1105) and Ramban (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, called Nach-
manides, 1194-1270) are included. Both relate this lemma to the use
of vx as a conditional particle ("if/whether") in Exodus 21:36.2 The
grammars do not cite Leviticus 26:41, but they do cite Exodus 21:36 as
an example of the conditional use of vx.3 This grammatical identifica-
tion is not the same as that given by the Hebrew Old Testament Text
Project4 nor by Elliger5 who refer to it as introducing an indirect
question.6 However, the rendering in GKC ("if perchance")7 indicates
that the two classifications are quite closely related if not overlap-
ping to the extent that they cannot be adequately separated.
While BHS is satisfied with offering a citation of critical
evidence, BHK3 stepped out on a limb by suggesting an emendation: "1 frt
1 The Peshitta Institute of the
Old Testament in Syriac
According to the Peshitta Version (
Brill, 1966- ).
2 tvlvdg tvxrqm, loc. cit.
3 E.g., GKC, p. 498 (g159cc); P. Paul Jouon, Grammaire de l’He-
breu Biblique (reprint ed.,
p. 517 (§167q).
4 Barthelemy, Preliminary and Interim Report, 1:205.
5 Karl Elliger, Leviticus, HAT 1/4 (
Mohr/Paul Siebeck, 1966), p. 363.
6 GKC, p. 475 (§150i).
cPS zx(v;)" ("read perhaps with Septuagint and Syriac, zx(v;).1
This sort of emendatory suggestion has brought justified criticism.
Upon checking the Samaritan Targum,2 the writer discovered that
the Septuagint's to<te "then" had been transliterated into the Samaritan:
(Hebrew transliteration: hFF). This sort of occurrence was
noted by Brull over a century ago (though he did not cite this particu-
lar passage),3 but has received little attention since that time. Tal,
in a recent study, emphasized Arabic and Aramaic corruptions of the
Samaritan Targum,4 but only mentioned Greek corruptions in passing.5
The Samaritan Targum, like other witnesses, increase in text-critical
value in direct proportion to the increased knowledge and understanding
of those witnesses.
BHS and BHK3 both note that the Septuagint omits the first per-
son singular suffix of ytyrb "my covenant" in this verse. However, they
do not note that there are Septuagint manuscripts supporting the suffix
(mou “my”).6 BHS indicates that the Syriac insertion of d’m
1 BHK3 , p. 187.
2 Brull, Das samaritanische Targum, 3:151. Cf. H. Petermann, ed.,
Pentateuchus Samaritanus (Berolini: W. Moeser, 1872-91), p. 342.
3 Brull, Das samaritanische Targum, 1:33, 2:40. occurs in
v. 34 (2x) and v. 41 (2x) and other passages in the Pentateuch cited by
4 A. Tal, "The Samaritan Targum to the Pentateuch, Its Distinctive
Characteristics and Its Metamorphosis," JSS 21 (1976):26-38.
5 Ibid., p. 29.
6 Brooke and McLean, eds., The Old Testament in Greek, p. 401.
"with" between ytyrb and the proper noun following it throughout this
verse is equivalent to the Hebrew Mf "with." BHK3 proposes that the
Hebrew order be altered from ytyrb-tx to -tx ytyrb on the basis of the
Syriac. Both suggestions are unnecessary since the syntax of the phrase
in the MT has been translated accurately by the Syriac.1 The BHK3 pro-
posal for the alternation of word order is also contradicted by the
massorah (note the circellus over the first tx). The massorah indicates
both the position of the particle near the beginning of the verse and
the triple occurrence of that particle within the same verse. Once
again, the MT should be maintained in spite of the impressions one
might receive from the apparatuses of BHK3 and BHS.
The comments made above concerning verses 34-35 suffice as an
answer to the BHS lemmas regarding this verse.
The triple particle construction at the head of this verse has
produced a text-critical discussion due to the apparent difference in
some Targum manuscript(s?) cited by BHS (but not by BHK3). In checking
this supposed variation, it is discovered that neither Targum Onqelos
(via Sperber:2 xd Mrb Jxv "yet nevertheless this"), Targum Yerushalmi
(via Sperber:3 xdb Mrb dvHlv "except only in this"), nor Neophyti I
(which actually lacked vv. 42-44 and was reconstructed as xdhb Jvxv
1 GKC, p. 426 (§131r). The suggestion of a dittography of the y
is unnecessary (cf. GKC, p. 415 [§128d]).
2 Sperber, The Bible in Aramaic, 1:215.
"and also in this")1 contain BHS's citation of the simple bd’ (xdb "in
this"). None of the manuscripts referred to disagree with the MT in
their Aramaic translations. More significantly, none of the manuscripts
has the same reading in verse 44 as in verse 27--which is offered as
the reason for the supposed variation in the Targums by BHS and as the
reason for the proposed emendation by BHK3. To emend txz-Mg-Jxv "yet
in spite of this" to txzb-Jxv "yet in this" (or, "and even in this")
would decrease the emphasis presented by this array of particles.2
Also, it would betray the massorah which carefully marked the particle
construction in verse 27 (txzb-Mxv "and if in this") for preservation
and noted the primary position of Jxv "yet" (or, "and yet") in verse 44.
The plural tvcrxb "in the lands" for the MT singular Crxb "in
the land" is found in the Samaritan. However, the Samaritan is best
explained by the influence of the plural suffixes on the translator.
The BHS citation of Septuagint miniscule manuscript(s?) for the
second person plural pronominal suffix at the end of the verse in place
of the MT's third person plural is significant in that this citation of
minor Greek witnesses was employed in a place of editorial advantage.
In the preceding discussions it has been observed that such evidence
was conveniently ignored when it was contrary to the editorial opinion.
This type of subjective recording of textual evidence is not conducive
to accuracy and does not merit the trust of students. The massorah's
1 Alejandro Diez Macho, Neophyti I: Targum Palestinense MS de
la Biblioteca Vaticana, 5 vols. (
gaciones Cientificas, 1971), 3:202-3.
2 C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, vol. 2, trans.
James Martin, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (reprint ed.,
circellus over the compound divine title (Mhyhlx hvhy "Yahweh their
God") indicates that the Massoretes believed this title (including the
third person plural pronominal suffix) should be preserved.
The text-critical lemma in this verse concerns the MT's plural
trvthv "and the laws" as compared to the Septuagint's singular o[ no<moj
"the law." The Hexapla demonstrates that the Greek daughter versions
followed the MT: oi[ no<moi "the laws."
ered one of them. His literalness would argue strongly for the MT.
The circellus over this form also argues for the preservation of the
plural. The use of the t as a feminine singular absolute termination
would be a rarity1 with little support here. The Septuagint's reading
probably exhibits more interpretation than translation.
It should be evident to the reader by now that the text-critical
apparatuses of BHK3 and BHS have proven quite disappointing to this
researcher. The omissions, miscitations, prejudices, and carelessness
of the two apparatuses render them practically useless to those unable
to check the manuscripts and versions for themselves. This disappoint-
ment over the more recent BHS is shared by other reviewers. Barr says,
"it is sad to have to say that the critical apparatus of BHS represents
a step backward rather than forward in comparison with BHK (which itself
was not so very good)."2
1 GKC, pp. 223-24 (480f-g) .
2 Barr, "review," p. 215.
The instruction of Sanders concerning the placement of the
circellus has been fruitful throughout this pericope. It has proven
to be significant by its consistent presence where emendation has been
sought by BHK3 or BHS. The material presented in this section of the
study could be expanded easily by a more detailed survey of the trans-
lational techniques of the ancient versions (especially the Septuagint,
the Greek daughter versions, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac
Peshitta, and the Targums). However, such is not within the scope or
purpose of this dissertation.
The following chart is offered as a convenient summary of the
nature of the text-critical problems discussed in this study:
1.1 - Error: verses 2 (Syriac), 16 (Samaritan), 20 (Samaritan,
Septuagint), 31 (Samaritan, Syriac), 34-35 (Samari-
tan), 44 (Samaritan)
1.2 - Alteration: verses 11 (Septuagint), 20 (Samaritan, Septuagint)
2. Editorial (BHK3 and/or BHS)
2.1 - Error: verses 9 (Hebrew ms), 20 (Targums), 34-35 (Samaritan,
Septuagint), 44 (Targums)
2.2 - Incompleteness: verses 11 (Septuagint)., 17 (Greek versions),
24 (Septuagint), 39 (Septuagint, Greek versions, Tar-
gums), 42 (Septuagint), 44 (Targums), 46 (Greek ver-
2.3 - Miscellaneous: verses 39 (Hebrew mss, editions, Greek versions,
Targums), 41 (Septuagint, Syriac), 44 (Septuagint)
3. Massorah: verses 11, 16, 17, 34-35, 39, 42, 44, 46
4. Miscellaneous sources of solution: verses 24 (translation techniques),
31 (context), 41 (translation techniques, rabbinics),
This chart demonstrates that: (1) The Samaritan text is the most likely
to be subject to scribal error in Leviticus 26. (2) The Septuagint of
Leviticus 26 is the freest in its handling of the text. (3) The text-
critical apparatuses of BHK3 and BHS evidence carelessness in several
areas, but especially regarding the Septuagint, Greek versions, and
Targums. (4) The massorah may be a major factor in the text-critical
study of the Old Testament.
AN EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF LEVITICUS 26
The Massoretic divisions of the text of Leviticus traditionally
have included 26:1-2 with 25:55 and have made these three verses the
second half of 25:47-26:2. There is much to be said, however, for a
break between 25:55 and 26:1-2. Some commentators believe the break is
so certain that they often consider 26:1-2 an insertion.1 The peculi-
arity of 26:1-2 argues for annexion to the following pericope rather
than isolation from it. Moses
relationship to Yahweh at the commencement of this section dealing with
covenant blessings and curses. These "elemental dimensions of covenant"2
provide the ground for the remainder of the pericope. Without verses
1-2, the following verses have no specified antecedent for the "stat-
utes" (HQh) and "commandments" (hvcm) of Yahweh (cf. v. 3). It is
noteworthy that the refrain, "I am Yahweh (your God)," provides "a
double formula at the beginning and end of the chapter"3 (vv. 1, 2, 13
44, 45). The following exegetical analysis, therefore, recognizes the
1 Cf. J. R. Porter, Leviticus, CBC (
Press, 1976), p. 207; Shalom M. Paul, Studies in the Book of the Cove-
nant in the Light of
Cuneiform and Biblical Law, VTSup 18 (
Brill, 1970), p. 34.
2 Walter Brueggemann, The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and
Challenge in Biblical Faith (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), p. 67.
3 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 327.
unity of Leviticus 26:1-46. The major divisions of the pericope con-
sist of Precept (vv. 1-2), Promise (vv. 3-13), Penalty (vv. 14-45), and
postscript (v. 46).1
Precept (vv. 1-2)
Prohibition of Idols (v. 1)
The apodictic formula of this prohibition emphasizes the abso-
lute responsibility of
not optional. The threefold repetition of the l preposition underscores
the intent of the idol-makers: personal worship (Mkl "for yourselves,"
twice; tvHtwhl "to bow down/worship," once). The l in Mkl could intro-
duce a dativus commodi (i.e., dative of interest or benefit). The idols
were believed to be beneficial, possessing powers which could enrich the
lives of their worshippers (both physically and spiritually). These
benefits would accrue to the one who acted as a vassal in the presence
of his suzerain.2 Being a vassal to an idol (or, idols) made it impos-
sible to be a vassal to Yahweh. Either Yahweh was the sole suzerain,
or the Israelite had breached the covenant.
The covenant stipulations prohibited the production (hWf xl),
the erection (Mvq xl), and the appointment/designation (Ntn xl)3 of
1 Cf. Elliger, Leviticus, p. 363.
2 Cf. J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, NICOT (
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), p. 275. tvHtwh is an
infinitive construct Histap'el (or, St-stem) with a causative-reflexive
force, from the root hvH. Cf. Thomas O. Lambdin, Introduction to Bib-
lical Hebrew (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), p. 254 (§181).
A discussion of the force and significance of the .t-stem may be found
in GAG, pp. 122-23 (§94).
3 Cf. BDB, pp. 680-81. Ntn has within its semantic range the con-
cepts of designation, assigning, confirming, imputing, and constituting--
as with covenants, kings, decrees, ordinances, etc. It is the writer's
idols. The three verbs are not necessarily synonymous. Each verb may
be understood as furthering the concept introduced by the previous verb.
In this fashion, each verb narrows the focus: making --> raising -->
appointing. The focus is on the concept of exclusive authority. Their
exclusivity and authority were not actually inherent. These qualities
were derived from their worshippers who attributed exclusivity and
authority to them as representatives of supernatural beings. The oppo-
site is true of Yahweh, the
covenant deity of
and authority are inherent, his suzerainty independent of human attri-
bution and unique in the universe--he alone is God (cf. Isa 43:10-11,
15; 44:6-21; 46:5-11; see, also, 1 Cor 8:4).
Four classes of idols are listed: "idols" (lylx), “images”
(lsp), "pillars" (hbcm) , and "figure stones" (tykWm Nbx). The first
noun appears to be employed with a pejorative sense as a general term
for all idols: "worthless/powerless."1 The second noun refers to the
fact that these idols had been handmade, cut or carved from stone or
wood.2 The third noun is basically equivalent to a menhir, a memorial
stone in which a deity was thought to reside.3 The fourth noun seems
to present the concept of an attractive carved relief in stone.4 As a
opinion that Ntn, in this context, conveys the concept of setting up
something in such a manner that the observers understand that it is
authoritative, that it demands respect and vassalage. Cf. Ntn's use
for the appointment of a king (1 Sam 12:13), a leader (Num 14:4), a
prophet (Jer 1:5), and an idol-priest (2 Kgs 23:5).
1 TDOT, s.v. “lylix<“, by Horst Dietrich Preuss, 1:285-87. Cf.
Targum Onqelos, vfF "something causing to go astray."
2 BDB, p. 820.
3 Cf., out of many sources, Eichrodt, Theology, 1:115-17; de
4 Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1, p. 221; BDB, p. 967.
group, these four classes are representative of all idols. These terms
also convey the breadth of idolatrous worship in the ancient Near East.
Such worship was well-developed and had its appealing aspects.1
The ultimate reason for the prohibition of idols is succinctly
expressed in the Selbstvorstellungsformel ("self-introduction formula"):2
"for I am Yahweh your God." The contrast is self-explanatory. Yahweh's
inherent exclusive authority made idols worthless, powerless, anthropo-
centric, empty, and without spiritually redeeming values. There is no
room for divided loyalties. Yahweh insists upon exclusive lordship in
the lives of the Israelites. This prohibition of idolatry was "not due
to pettiness on Yahweh's part. It has to do with the character of
Yahweh and the character of the other gods."3 The Selbstvorstellungs-
formel is the key phrase in Leviticus 18-26.4 The awareness of Yahweh's
existence, identity, and presence was central to the covenant relation-
Preservation of Sabbaths and Sanctuary (v. 2)
The change from apodictic prohibition to deictic requirement is
heralded by a change in the word order to emphasize the sabbaths and
the sanctuary: the direct objects precede the verbs. The employment
1 For further information on idols, see: Shalom m. Paul and
William G. Dever, Biblical Archaeology, in Library of Jewish Knowledge,
Geoffrey Wigoder (
1973), pp. 272-77.
2 John Van Seters, "Confessional Reformulation in the Exilic
Period," VT 22 (1972):455.
3 Brueggemann, The Land, p. 57.
4 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 250.
of the imperfect (yqtl) forms as imperatives does not seem to reflect
any softening of the force of the commands. Instead, it appears that
they were chosen in order to maintain the continuity of force already
introduced in verse 1 by the yqtl of prohibition.1
The sabbath observance (v. 2a)
"My sabbaths" (Yttbw) possesses two points of significance
the presence of the first person singular pronominal suffix and the
employment of the plural. Yahweh identified himself in verse 1. Now,
in verse 2, he identifies the sabbaths as being his. Due to the prox-
imity of Leviticus 25, one must consider that the plural in 26:2
includes at least the weekly sabbaths and the sabbatical years. Per-
haps the year of jubilee should also be included since it is an exten-
sion of the sabbatical principle concerning the sabbatical year obser-
Sabbath observance is theologically rich. It specially signi-
fies God's dominion over
Israel.2 God's sovereignty over
his establishment of
1 The employment of the prefix tense (yqtl) suggests that the
prepositive position of the direct objects draws sufficient attention
away from the imperatives to cause the writer to utilize a verb form with
less emphasis upon the root concept of the verb. The imperative is not
preceded by prefixation; therefore, the root concept of the verb remains
undiluted. The yqtl forms in v. 1, like those in the Decalogue, direct
the emphasis to the negative (XL). Yqtl prefixation does not affect
time, mood, or aspect; it merely allows attention to be focused on some-
thing other than the semantics of the root from which it was derived.
E.g., VRmwt "(you) keep/observe" in v. 2 directs attention to that which
is to be observed (Yttbw) rather than to the keeping itself (Rmw). The
word order aids in this focusing of attention. Had the writer desired
to place more emphasis upon the actual observing/keeping, he would have
employed the non-prefixed imperative (rmw "Keep:"). Cf. J. Weingreen,
A Practical Grammar for
don Press, 1955), p. 76.
2 Matitiahu Tsevat, "The Basic Meaning of the Biblical Sabbath,"
ZAW 84 (1972) :455.
and his demand upon the time
were also a means of remembering the sacred history concerning deliver-
ance from bondage.2 "Take Time to Be Holy" could serve well as the
hymnic theme for
to God because
sabbaths placed the Israelite in the precarious position of denying the
lordship of Yahweh over his life.
The sanctuary reverence (v. 2b)
The fact that verse 2 is identical to 19:30 provides the inter-
preter with a clue to the identity of the sanctuary. In the context of
19:30 the "tent of meeting" (dfvm lhx, v. 21) is mentioned. This
reference to the Tabernacle demonstrates that it may be included as a
"sanctuary" (wdqm), which it is called in 16:33.3 As with "sabbaths"
in the first part of this verse, the first person singular pronominal
suffix is appended to the noun. As the sabbaths had been identified
with Yahweh, so also the sanctuary is identified as his. The sanctuary
was not only the appointed place of meeting for the Israelite, it was
also the location of the terrestrial manifestation of Yahweh's presence
(cf. 16:7, 18; 19:21, 22--especially the employment of the phrase,
"before Yahweh," hvhy ynpl).
1 Tsevat, "The Basic Meaning of the Biblical Sabbath," p. 455.
2 Brueggemann, The Land, p. 64. Although Brueggemann states that
the Sabbath observance was "for honoring land" (ibid.), such a viewpoint
misses the major emphasis of honoring the land-giver, Yahweh. This does
not nullify, however, Brueggemann's otherwise noteworthy discussion of
centrality of the Sabbath in
3 It should be noted that technically the "sanctuary" included
both the "tent of meeting" and the "altar" which sat before its door.
"Tabernacle" is used here, therefore, in the broad sense of the tent/
tabernacle and its grounds--the entire sanctum.
An abbreviated refrain (hvhy ynx "I am Yahweh") closes verse 2,
serving again to identify the land-giver, the non-idol, the sabbath-
lord. Observance and reverence are empty practices without the recog-
nition of Yahweh. Such recognition must be more than assent. It must
consist of a heart attitude and a life yielded to his lordship in
every realm (including mind, space, and time). The commandments of
verses 1-2 "are grounded in the being of God who is the sole measure of
holiness."1 These precepts are derived "from the one divine will which
called for the sole response of obedience."2 Thus, the sum of holiness
is obedience. This principle is universal, transcending both testa-
ments (cf. 1 Sam 15:22 and Jas 1:22). Only with this principle in mind
does the following pericope (vv. 3-46) have its proper force and correct
Promise (vv. 3-13)
This section of the pericope is highlighted by promise. How-
ever, the promise is conditioned upon obedience (v. 3). The promise
consists of blessing (vv. 4-12) and is grounded in the historical rela-
tionship of Yahweh to the
The Prerequisite: Obedience (v. 3)
Verse 3 is the protasis for a conditional sentence which con-
tinues through verse 12. Verses 4-12 comprise the apodosis. Being
more interested in the promise of Yahweh in verses 4-12, the commentaries
have ignored verse 3 in their exegetical comments. The verse is of
1 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scrip-
ture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), p. 185.
2 Ibid., p. 186.
major import for at least four reasons: (1) It is the protasis without
which the lengthy apodosis cannot be properly contextualized. (2) It
emphasizes the relationship of
employment of hqH "statute" and hvcm "commandment"1 in positions of
grammatical emphasis (preceding the verb). (3) It is grammatically
equal to its lengthy counterpart (though it could be argued that it is
not conceptually or logically equal since much more space and thought
are given to the apodosis). (4) The form of the conditional sentence
(the particle Mx "if/when" + the yqtl verb form) indicates a real
(present and/or future, durative or frequentative) possibility2 for the
presence of casuistic law (involved in covenant stipulations?) by the
pausal juncture (rather than contextual juncture) of protasis and
apodosis--indicating objective (rather than subjective) consequence.3
Yahweh does not allow for apostasy; he forbids it'.
The two terms for "law" (hqH and hvcm) are mutually reinforcing
rather than mutually exclusive. In both terms the emphasis is upon the
sovereign demand of Yahweh. The study of the two terms as they occur
in Leviticus is instructive.
hqH/tvqH is employed 26 times in Leviticus (12 singular and 14
plural). The singular is always used with the qualifying adjective
Mlvf "everlasting" and is used of individual statutes such as the non-
1 Cf. Georg Braulik, "Die Ausdrucke fur 'Gesetz' im Buch Deuter-
onomium," Bib 51 (1970):53-60.
2 Cf., out of many, Jouon, Grammaire, pp. 513-15 (§167c-h).
3 H. B. Rosen, "The Comparative Assignment of Certain Hebrew
Tense Forms," in Proceedings of the International Conference on Semitic
1969), pp. 217-18.
consumption of blood (3:17), Aaronic sacrificial portions (7:36), non-
consumption of alcoholic beverages by Aaronic priests on duty in the
sanctuary (10:9), festival sabbaths (16:29, 31, 34; 23:14, 21, 31, 41),
nonidolatrous sacrifice (17:7), and the menorah's oil (24:3). The
plural is employed as the subject or object of a verb, normally with
a pronominal suffix (with the exception of 18:30 and 20:23, which both
refer to Canaanite customs and are qualified by terms of derision:
"abominable" and "heathen"), and refer to the entire Mosaic legal code
(with the exception of 18:3, 30, and 20:23--all referring to the pagan
customs to be avoided by the Israelites). The only employment of a
pronominal suffix which is not the first person singular is contained
in 18:3. There the third person plural refers to the Canaanites. The
first person antecedent is clearly Yahweh by context. The usual verb
is rmw "keep/observe" (18:4, 5, 26, 30; 19:19, 37; 20:8, 22). How-
ever, jlh "walk" is employed in 18:3; 20:23; and 26:3 (the first two
of pagan customs, the last of Yahweh's statutes1). hWf "do/perform" is
used once (25:18) with hqH as its object although it is often found in
the context of the occurrences of hqH as a summary statement: "yea,
you shall do/practice them" (19:37; 20:8, 22; 25:18; 26:3; cf.
26:15). Twice hqH (in the plural with the first person singular suffix)
is employed with negative verbs (sxm)3 "reject,",26:15; '9 "abhor,"
A note of grammatical interest concerns the employment of verb
forms with relation to the position of hqH as a direct object. When
1 "Custom" and "statute" are not being employed here to imply
some inherent qualitative distinction within hqH. The English connota-
tion of "custom" is social whereas the connotation of "statute" is
legal. Although the pagan hqH might have been legislated, the hqH of
Yahweh was definitely legislated.
the object is preverbal, the verb is yqtl (18:4; 19:19; 26:3, 15);
when the object is postverbal, the verb is qtl (18:5, 26; 19:37;
20:8, 22; 25:18).1 The only exception occurs in 26:43, where the
verb lfg "abhor" is employed and where special emphasis is present due
to the nature of the statement itself.2
hvcm/tvcm occurs only in the plural in Leviticus (10 times).
It occurs with the qualifying adjective lk "all" in 4:2, 13, 22, 27;
5:17; and 26:14. It possesses the first person singular pronominal
suffix (with Yahweh as antecedent) in 22:31; 26:3, and 15. The usual
verb employed with hvcm is hWf (4:13, 22, 27; 5:17; 26:14, 15),
though rmw occurs in 22:31 (qtl preceding the direct object) and 26:3
(yqtl following the direct object).
It is clear from the examination of the usages of hqH and hvcm
in Leviticus, that they both refer to the entirety of the Mosaic legis-
lation. It is also clear that 26:3 employs unusual verb counterparts
for the two nouns--perhaps as a means of emphasis rather than mere
variety. The grammatical presentation is normal for the style of the
author of Leviticus. The pronominal suffix ties this verse and its
identification with Yahweh to verse 2 where the same suffix was employed.
The three verbs of verse 3 are mutually reinforcing. They
emphasize the concept of obedience. jlh "walk" emphasizes the totality
of obedience in the various spheres of life's activities.3 rmw "keep/
1 See above, p. 48 n. 1.
2 The parallel of lfg, sxm "reject," is also employed as qtl fol-
lowing its direct object, Fpwm "judgment."
3 THAT, s.v. "jlh," by G. Sauer, 1:489-90.
observe" emphasizes the root concept of obedience: preserving the com-
mandment by practicing it.1 hWf "do/perform" is but a generalizing
term drawing the previous two together in one summary statement. This
third term is expressed by wqtl. This construction introduces either
a result clause or an epexegetical clause (perhaps, in the latter case,
with an asseverative force = "yea" or "indeed"). The resumptive2 Mtx
"them" (i.e., the previously-mentioned statutes and commandments)
closes the protasis emphatically--bringing the mind of the reader back
to the precepts and their source rather than to the recipients and their
obedience. Unless the Israelite recognized theonomy, he could not
experience promise (including theophany; cf. v. 12). The legislative
revelation of Sinai did not
supplant the promises to Abraham.
would be responsible for both: to obey the legislation and to claim
(or, believe) the promise. The walk of faith involved both the doing
and the claiming (or, believing).
The Product: Blessing (vv. 4-12)
The blessings enumerated in the following verses fall into these
categories: productivity (vv. 4-5), peace (v. 6), power (vv. 7-8),
population (v. 9), provision (v. 10), and presence (vv. 11-12). All
were tied to the land which
These blessings were to be landed blessings. They would not be experi-
enced in landlessness. The tie with the land which they had not yet
1 H. Freedman and Simon Maurice, eds., Leviticus, trans.
Slotki, vol. 4 in Midrash Rabba (London: Soncino Press, 1961), p. 450.
2 See, P. P. Saydon, "Meanings and Uses of the Particle tx,"
VT 14 (1964):205. The employment of tx with the suffix as the pronomi-
nal object of a verb is especially prominent in the body of literature
of which Leviticus 26 is a part. This may be due to the desire of Moses,
in those portions of the Pentateuch, to use "greater distinctness and
precision" (BDB, p. 85).
received points out the revelatory nature of this pericope. The reve-
lation from Yahweh provided
known otherwise. As such, then, the pericope has the tone of prophecy.1
This section of the pericope continues the conditional sentence
by means of a series of consecutive qtl forms. The apodosis with the
consecutive qtl was employed in the milieu of classical Hebrew in the
Mosaic era. Indeed, the Amarna period provides evidence for the condi-
tional function of wqtl.2 Since the present context (Lev 26:3-12) is
grammatically characteristic of wqtl, it would be unnecessary to clas-
sify wqtl in verses 4-12 as waw-conversive (or, waw-inversive3) forms.4
The suffix verb forms (qtl) serve here to place greater emphasis on the
1 See above, p. 3.
2 William L. Moran, "The Hebrew Language in its Northwest Semitic
Background," in The Bible and the Ancient Near East, ed. G. Ernest
3 Cf. Jouon, Grammaire, pp. 319-20 ( 117).
4 It is this writer's opinion that there is no validity to the
designation "conversive" (or "inversive") since there are no demonstrable
reasons for converting (or inverting) the function of a verb form merely
because of a prefixed waw. Any alteration of time or logical relation-
ship is due to the influence of the context alone--whether or not the
waw is present. The qtl with waw is characteristic of prophetic style
because of the emphasis on the root concept of the verbs (i.e., the
action or event itself rather than the order or sequence of actions or
events). The wyyqtl (lfqy.va) is characteristic of narrative style due
to the emphasis on the prefixed particle which designates logical or
sequential relationship to the context. Cf. J. Wash Watts, A Survey of
Syntax in the Hebrew Old
Publishing Co., 1964), pp. 53-54, 103-17. The waw of wyyqtl is best
understood as an adverb (or, at least, a non-conjunctive particle).
This concept of the wyyqtl is presented in a study comparing Egyptian
particle usage to the Hebrew waw: G. Douglas Young, "The Origin of the
Waw Conversive," JNES 12 (1953):248-52. Cf., also, GKC, pp. 133 (§49b
n. 1) and 330-31 (§112b n. 2), which calls the term "waw conversive"
a "superficial description," "old-fashioned," and "unscientific." See,
also, Weingreen, Practical Grammar, p. 91; William D. Barrick, "The
Basic Verb Forms" (Broomfield, CO: 1978; mimeographed). The Bibli-
ography of this present study (see below, pp. 215-30) contains additional
sources for the study of this problem of the Hebrew verbs.
root concepts of the individual verbs rather than on extra-verbal
concepts such as negation, subject, object, or adverbial phrases may
Productivity (vv. 4-5)
It is not without significance that the first wqtl form is
Ntn "give" in the first person singular. The force of promise is
gift. The source of promise is the giver. The resumption of the
first person suffix (here on the verb, previously on nouns) reasserts
the concept behind the dual Selbstvorstellungsformel in verses 1 and 2.
Yahweh is the rain-giver.
The Palestinian rains came seasonally in October-November
(early) and March-April (latter). The promise of Yahweh was that
these rains would be a dependable phenomenon in order that the land
might produce an abundant harvest: "And I shall give your rains in
their season (tf)." Rashi claimed that the rains would come at times
when no one needed to travel (such as the evening before the sabbath).1
Such interpretation is an example of rabbinic excesses in biblical
interpretation. The same blessing was promised again in the Pales-
tinian Covenant (Deut 28:12; cf., also, 11:17 and Ezek 34:26).
As a direct result of the rain-giver's gift, the land would
yield its gift (lvby Ntn "yield produce") and the trees would yield
their gift (yrp Ntn "yield fruit"). The triple employment of Ntn in
this verse emphasizes the concept of gift. The third occurrence, uti-
lizing yqtl (as opposed to the wqtl of the first two occurrences), is
conducive to inclusion in the broader second statement. The "trees of
1 dxm tvlvdg tvytvxb
hrvt ywmvH hwmH llvk wmvH
Hebrew Publishing Company, n.d.), p. 134.
the field" are included in "the land." The flow of the concepts in
verse 4 is from general to specific: "I shall give your rains in their
season so that the land will yield its produce, yea, the trees of the
field will yield their fruit."1 The presence of the same juxtaposition
of "the land" and "trees of the field" in verse 20 and Ezekiel 34:27
may indicate dependence upon verse 4. Verse 20 may be a contextual
dependence for the purpose of maintaining continuity. Ezekiel 34:27
may be a prophetic exposition of the covenant. Such an exposition indi-
cates the parenetic value of the pericope to the Israelites of Ezekiel's day.
"The time of threshing" (v'J`i) 2 would extend to the "vintage"
1 Elliger, Leviticus, p. 364, identifies v. 4b as parallelismus
membrorum. He understands much of vv. 3-12 as poetic parallelism (ibid.,
pp. 364-69). His identifications may be doubtful at times, but the pos-
sibility of poetic style must not be hastily discounted. According to
McCarthy (Treaty and Covenant, pp. 176-79 nn. 36, 41-44; 272, 275, 279),
the poetic literary form is employed in the covenant contexts of Exod
19:3-8 and Deut 28:1-69. He identifies the employment of inclusion,
chiasm, and parallelism in Deuteronomy 28. Freedman presents an approach
antagonistic to the identification of poetic form in Leviticus 26. He
observes that the Hebrew particles tx (sign of the accusative), rwx
(relative pronoun), and _h (definite article) occur six to eight times
more frequently in prose than poetry. The absence or presence of these
particles is thereby employed in indentifying the two types of literature.
He admits, however, that there are exceptions and some overlapping. See,
David Noel Freedman, "Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: An Essay on Bibli-
cal Poetry," in Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: Studies in Early Hebrew
Poetry (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1980), pp. 2-3. In Lev 26:3-12 PK
(9x) and _h (3x; always with Crx or hdW, in harmony with the pericope's
emphasis on landedness) occur. Some striking exceptions to Freedman's
theory include: Ezek 15:1-8 (tx, 5x; rwx, 2x; _h, 9x); Pss 34 (tx,
4x; _h, 4x); 103 (tx, 4x; _h, 7x); 105 (tx, 8x; rwx, 3x; _h, 2x) ;
117 (a two-verse psalm; tx, lx; _h, lx); 135 (tx, 5x; rwx, 2x; _h,
3x) ; 146 (tx, 4x; rwx, lx; _h, 3x); 148 (tx, 4x; rwx, lx; _h, 7x).
These examples exhibit high frequencies of occurrence. Many other iso-
lated examples could be offered as well. Emendation is not the answer
to the occurrences of these particles in poetry. The literary style of
a writer is not always as predictable as Freedman implies.
2 Cf. Arnold B. Ehrlich, Mikra Ki-Pheshuto: The Bible According
to Its Literal Meaning, 3 vols., in The Library of Biblical Studies, ed.
M. Orlinsky (reprint ed.,
(rycb) and the "vintage" would extend to the time of "sowing" (frz).
The spring and early summer grain harvests (planted in winter) would
last until the harvest of the fruit crops at the conclusion of the
summer. The fruit crops of late summer and early fall would continue
to be harvested till the time of the winter sowing of the grain crops.1
The concept is one of perpetual harvesting due to bumper crops. A
similar figure is employed in Amos 9:13 concerning the period of messi-
The prepositional phrase Mkl "for you" (probably a dative of
advantage/benefit) is significant. The promise is directed to the
obedient Israelites. The promise of bumper crops (v. 5a), like that
of rain and productivity (v. 4), contains a logical progression. The
repetition of fWn "extend/reach," like that of Ntn in verse 4, is
characterized by an alternation of verb form from wqtl to yqtl. Such
alternation of verb forms (especially cognate verbs) may characterize
an elevated prose (or prosaic poetry?).3 The resumption of wqtl in
verse 5b continues the logical progression: "therefore, you shall eat."
stuffs) until they were satisfied (fbW "satiety/fill/abundance,"4 cf.
Another wqtl presents a further outcome of productivity: "thus
you shall dwell (bwy) securely (HFbl) in your land." This is the ulti-
1 Cf. Porter, Leviticus, p. 210.
2 Cf. Wolff, Joel and Amos, p. 354.
3 Cf. F. C. Fensham, "The Use of the Suffix Conjugation and the
Prefix Conjugation in a Few Old Hebrew Poems," JNSL 6 (1978):9-18.
4 The employment of fbW in a sabbatical context may be signifi-
cant. See below, p. 113 n. 2.
mate result of the divinely given productivity. The second occurrence
of Crx with the second masculine plural pronominal suffix (cf. v. 1)
emphasizes the possession of the land by the Israelites. The land would
be theirs, not another nation's. Since the land belonged to them, they
would be accountable for its use and the manner in which they live in
it. The promise of security evokes the relationship to the observance
of the sabbatical and jubilee years in the preceding context (25:18,
19). Such anaphorical usages of terminology tie chapter 26 closely to
chapter 25--the sabbatical principle continues to be the leading thought.
Peace (v. 6)
As Wenham remarks, "Food without security is of limited value."1
The concept introduced in verse 5 by HFbl "securely" is resumed here
and developed. The construction wqtl continues the apodosis which
began in verse 4. It is noteworthy that this second section commences
with Ntn "give" in the first person singular, just as verse 4 began.
As Yahweh was the rain-giver, so, also, he was the peace-giver. The
concept of gift continues to pervade the context.
That which was to be given by Yahweh is designated as Mvlw.
The term occurs only here in Leviticus. The immediate context alone
must determine its meaning. The concepts of "peace," "wholeness,"
"welfare," "recompense," and "reward" are all involved in the semantic
range of Mvlw in the Old Testament.2 The subsequent context (especially
the phrase dyrHm Nyxv "without anyone making (you) afraid"3) would
1 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 329.
2 THAT, s.v. "Mlw," by G. Gerleman, 2:919-35.
3 Jouon, Grammaire, p. 488 (g159d).
indicate that Mvlw ought to be viewed as the opposite of military con-
flict due to enemy incursions.1 It cannot be ignored, however, that
"the purpose of the covenant is to establish Mvlw.2 Perhaps Malachi
2:5 best exemplifies this relationship: "my covenant was life and
Mvlw for him." Therefore, though the immediate context defines the
usage as specifically that of "peace," yet the covenantal context of
the usage draws the attention of the reader to an even broader range of
which this one specific promise is but a part.
The adverbial prepositional phrase describing the location of
the blessing of peace is Crxb "in the land." The blessing is tied to
the land. Without the land,
there could be no peace for
dyrHm Nyxv Mtbkwv "so that you shall (might?) lie down without
anyone making (you) afraid," completes the thought by further explana-
tion of the concept of Mvlw.3 The change to the second person plural
for the verb draws attention to
the activity of
the gift of Yahweh. The
peace-giver would allow
The second half of verse 6 reverts to the verb in the first
person singular with Yahweh as the subject: "and I shall exterminate
1 THAT, s.v. "U'W," by G. Gerleman, 2:922; Keil and Delitzsch,
2 Walther Zimmerli, Old Testament Theology in Outline, trans.
David E. Green (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1978), p. 49.
3 This continued use of logical progression to present the bless-
ings of this pericope demonstrates the care with which this pericope was
composed. Although there appears to be some evidence for logical paral-
lelism, it is not strong enough to follow Elliger's identification of
parallelismus membrorum dogmatically (cf. Elliger, Leviticus, pp. 364-
69). This is definitely, however, an elevated style which borders on
4 BDB, p. 1012.
the wild beast from the land." This promise is not the extermination
of every wild creature, but rather the extermination of those who would
only to the
harmony will exist between
be hindered by the fauna of the land.
The last phrase of this half of the verse is emphatic in its
syntactical form: (1) the subject (brH "sword") precedes the verb;
(2) the verb form is altered from the preceding qtl to a yqtl (rbft-xl
"shall not pass through"); and, (3) Mkcrxb "in your land" appears to
be involved in a chiasmus which closes this phrase in the same fashion
that Crxb closed the first phrase in the first half of the verse (verse
6 thus ends in the same fashion as verse 5). The alternation of gram-
matical persons from the first person singular of the first phrases of
both halves of the verse is consistent: 6a changes to the second per-
son while 6b changes to the third person. The literary style serves to
emphasize a concept found elsewhere in covenant contexts: '1)1nn I'M
"none making afraid", Jeremiah 30:10, 46:27, Ezekiel 34:28, 39:26,
Zephaniah 3:13; (nyn) 7''n "(wild) beasts," Ezekiel 5:17, 14:15, 21,
34:28, Hosea 2:20 (English, 18); ann "sword," Deuteronomy 28:22, Ezekiel
5:17, 14:17, 21, Hosea 2:20 (English, 18), Amos 4:10. Perhaps the most
fascinating of these parallel occurrences of the covenant concepts is
Hosea 2:20 (English, 18):
xvhh Mvyb tyrb Mhl ytrkv
hmdxh Wmrv Mymwh Jvf-Mfv hdWh tyH-Mf
Crxh-Nm rvbwx hmHlmv brHv twqv
1 Cf. Hans Walter Wolff, Hosea, trans. Gary Stansell, ed. Paul D.
in Hermeneia, ed. Frank Moore Cross,
Jr., et al. (
Fortress Press, 1974), p. 51.
"And I shall make a covenant with them in that day:
with the beast of the field and with the fowl of the heavens and
with the creeper of the ground;
and bow and sword and battle I shall break from the land
so that I might cause them to rest securely."
The Hosean prophecy apparently draws its imagery from the content of
Leviticus 26:6.1 This is not surprising in the light of the dependence
of the Hebrew prophets on the
covenants of Yahweh with
ticus 26 was evidently the earliest and most succinct of the Mosaic
statements concerning the nation's relationship to their land. The
instruction ("parenesis) concerning landedness was expanded later in
pericopes like Deuteronomy 27-30, but Leviticus 26 maintained its
privileged position--perhaps due to its closely knit relationship to
the sabbatical principle revealed in its preceding context (chapter 25)
and continued in chapter 26.
Power (vv. 7-8)
Having the security of landed existence promised to them, the
nation could have confidence in its ability to meet its foes on the field
of battle. The basis for such confidence would reside also in the
promise of victory. The protection from the enemy sword (brH) in
verse 6 is now revealed in a
reverse image: the sword (bRH) of
would take the offensive in order to put its enemies to rout.
This section commences with the characteristic wqtl: "so you
shall pursue" (Jdr). However, the grammatical person is not the first
singular which the reader has grown accustomed to expect at the start
of a section. Instead of the
activity of Yahweh, the activity of
1 Cf. Carl Friedrich Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets, 2 vols.,
trans. James Martin, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand
Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), 1:63; Wolff,
Hosea, pp. 50-51.
is depicted. It would appear that these two verses are an expansion
of verse 6. Verse 9 continues the first person singular concept with
four verbs of the wqtl type--drawing the attention back to Yahweh in
an impressive fashion.
Little is contained in the commentaries concerning verses 7-8.
The proverbial1 hxm "100" . . . hwmH "5" and hbbr "10,000" . . . hxm
"100" bear some resemblances to Deuteronomy 32:30 (Jlx dHx "1,000" and
hbbr "10, 000" . . Mynw “2”), Joshua 23:10 (Jlx "1,000" . . . dHx "l"),
and Isaiah 30:17 (dHx "1" . . dHx Jlx "1,000" and ??2 . . .HwmH "5") .
The numerical sequences represented in these passages present what may
be a pattern:
Lev 26:8 5 against 100 = 1:20 1
100 10,000 = 1:100 5
Deut 32:30 1 against 1,000 = 1:1,000 1
2 10,000 = 1:5,000 5
Josh 23:10 1 against 1,000 = 1:1,000 1
Isa 30:17 1 against 1,000 = 1:1,000 1
5 “ ?? = 1:?? ?
Although a few other examples of 1:1,000 can be offered (e.g., Judg
15:15, 16; 1 Sam 18:7, 8; Eccl 7:28), these lack the additional
figures which provide a ratio of 1/5 (1 Sam 18:7, 8 would only present
a 1/10 ratio). It may be significant that there seem to be no parallels
in extrabiblical literature to Leviticus 26:8 or Deuteronomy 32:30.3
1 Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 2:470.
2 The Septuagint inserts polloi< "many." 25,000 would be required
to obtain a ratio of 1/5. The NIV leans toward the Septuagint by the
3 I.e., as far as this writer was able to determine. On the other
hand, the poetic device of x + (x + 1) has abundant support from extra-
Therefore, it would be the better part of wisdom not to identify the
1/5 ratio as a poetic device.1
There is a logical parallelism within these two verses. It
may be visualized as follows:
:brHl Mkynpl vlpnv || Mkybyx-tx Mtpdrv -7
:brHl Mkynpl Mkybyx vlpnv || vpdry hbbr Mkm hxmv | hxm hWmH mkm vpdrv -8
7- And you shall pursue your enemies || and they shall fall before you
by the sword;
8- and five from among you shall pursue one hundred | and one hundred
from among you shall pursue ten. thousand, || and your enemies
shall fall before you by the sword.
Several observations may be made: (1) The verbs employed in the first
and second halves of each verse are identical (lpn "fall" || Jdr "pursue").
(2) The direct object of the first half of verse 7 (byx "enemy") is
paralleled by hxm "100" and hbbr "10,000" in verse 8, but is also
repeated in a chiastic pattern as the subject of the last half of verse
8. (3) The alternation of qtl and yqtl in the first half of verse 8 is
in keeping with the pattern already discerned in verses 2, 3, 4, 5, and
6, and serves to emphasize the unity of the two phrases. (4) Mkybyx
"your enemies" in the last phrase of verse 8 may be understood as a
ballast variant in order to offset the weight of the first two phrases
of the verse. It also serves to reiterate the antecedent to the numbers
employed in verse 7.
increased productivity of the landed
increased population (according to the following verse, 9). Verses 7-8
comprise a transition from verses 4-6 to verse 9. This emphasis on pro-
ductivity, however, does not mean that the increase guarantees victory
l At least until a greater body of evidence could be presented
from both biblical and extrabiblical materials.
on the field of battle. The
would be capable of overcoming the enemies' majority. This could occur
because Yahweh (the land-giver, the rain-giver, the produce-giver, the
peace-giver) is also the power/victory-giver. There is no natural
cause (nor human cause) which could be credited with the promised vic-
tory. The ultimate cause would be supernatural (and superhuman). The
divine blessing would be the deciding factor. Yahweh's presence would
determine the outcome.
the deciding factor. Contrary to humanistic feudalism, landedness is
not power. Landedness for
reliance and other-god-reliance
rather than Yahweh-reliance.1
would have to maintain the memory of the historically proven fact that
history was the nation's exodus
Population (v. 9)
As was previously mentioned,2 verse 9 is impressive for its
array of verb forms in the first person singular. The first phrase,
Mkylx ytynpv "and I shall turn unto you," is clearly a statement of
beneficence by context and has been taken as such by all the ancient
versions. The most interesting of these is that of Targum Ongelos:
Nvkl xbfyxl yrmymb ynptxv3 "and I shall turn/restore my word in order
to do good to you." The second phrase of verse 9 (Mktx ytyrphv "so
1 Brueggemann, The Land, pp. 53-59.
2 See above, p. 63.
3 Sperber, The Bible in Aramaic, 1:212.
that I might make you fruitful") is best interpreted as the result of
the first. A chiasmus may be observed in this verse:
Mktx ytyrphv || Mkylx ytynpv -9a
so that I might make you and I shall turn unto you
:Mktx ytyrb-tx ytmyqhv || Mktx ytybrhv -9b
because I have established/ and I shall multiply you
ratified my covenant with you
"Established/ratified" (Myqh) might also be understood as "shall carry
out."1 As in 9a the second phrase is the result of the first, so, also,
the first phrase of 9b is the result of the second. Keil and Delitzsch,
however, view 9b as a non-chiastic parallel to 9a:
The multiplication and fruitfulness of the nation were a constant
fulfilment of the covenant promise (Gen. xvii. 4-6) and an estab-
lishment of the covenant (Gen. xvii. 7); not merely the preserva-
tion of it, but the continual realization of the covenant grace, by
which the covenant itself was carried on further and further toward
its completion. This was the real purpose of the blessing, to which
all earthly good, as the pledge of the constant abode of God in the
midst of His people, simply served as the foundation.2
There are several reasons for maintaining the chiastic relationship:
(1) hrp "be fruitful" and hbr "multiply" are a formal combination found
repeatedly in the Old Testament (cf. the Hip’il in Gen 17:20, 28:3, 48:4;
and, the Qal in Gen 1:22, 28, 8:17, 9:1, 7, 35:11, 47:27, Exod 1:7, Jer
3:16, 23:3, Ezek 36:11). Therefore, they should be viewed as corres-
ponding members of the chiasmus. (2) hrp and hbr both have objects
introduced by tx while hnp "turn" and Mvq "establish" are qualified by
adverbial phrases introduced by prepositions (lx "unto" and tx "with,"
1 Cf. BDB, p. 879. The choice of tense for the translation at
this point depends upon the interpretation given to the phrase. See
below, p. 67.
2 Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 2:470-71.
respectively). Thus, there is a form of syntactical parallelism.
(3) hrp and hbr exhibit a phonetic similarity with the liquid r, the
bilabial p and b, and the guttural final h. This assonance adds to
the force of the statement. (4) It appears that the mention of tyrb
"covenant" was purposefully delayed so as to receive the maximum empha-
sis. Being mentioned last, it tends to linger in the minds of the
readers. McEvenue states that tyrb Myqh is used "always in the sense
of fulfilling an oath taken earlier."1 All such occurrences do bear
out his emphasis (cf. Gen 6:18; 9:9, 11, 17; 17:7, 19, 21; Exod
6:4; Deut 8:18; Ezek 16:60, 62). It is also noteworthy that all
occurrences of this covenant-fulfilling phraseology have Yahweh as
the subject.2 Yahweh is the covenant-fulfiller. This truth is empha-
sized by the first person singular in the verbs and by the first per-
son singular pronominal suffix on tyrb ("my covenant").
the covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen 17:6). The phrase tyrb Myqh is also
associated with the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gen 17:7, 19, 21; also,
Exod 6:4 and Deut 8:18). It seems reasonable, in the light of this
evidence, to see in Leviticus 26:9 a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant
of Genesis 17. This has been observed by Norbert Lohf ink and linked to
a theological theme in the Priestly materials.3 While agreeing that
1 Sean E. McEvenue, The Narrative Style of the Priestly Writer,
AnBib 50 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1971), p. 74. Cf. Elliger,
Leviticus, p. 374 n. 17.
2 2 Kgs 23:3 and Jer 34:18 have man as the subject of f'77, but
the object is tyrbh yrbd "the words of the covenant."
3 Norbert Lohfink, "Die Abanderung der Theologie des priester-
lichen Geschichtswerks im Segen des Heiligkeitsgesetzes: zu Lev.
26,9.11-13," in Wort and Geschichte: Festschrift fur Karl Elliger zum
Leviticus 26:9 is a reflection of the Abrahamic Covenant, this writer
chooses not to identify the theme with a secondary hand. Rather, it
seems far more consistent with the Pentateuchal materials to consider
them as purely mosaic with regard to authorship. The significance of
the Abrahamic Covenant is obvious to any reader of the Old and New
Testaments. There is no reason to impute its mention to a subsequent
editor who, due to an exilic or post-exilic position in time, chose to
insert Abrahamic promises of prosperity/hope/landedness into texts
related to the mosaic Covenant.1 Moses was quite able to reveal cove-
nant-promise as well as covenant-law. The hope of Abraham was surely
conveyed faithfully to his descendants. Moses was both a descendant of
Abraham and a minister of the Abrahamic Covenant (Exod 6:2-8) before he
was a recipient of the Sinaitic Covenant.
Leviticus 26:9 may be employed as an example of the distinctions
made in this pericope concerning the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants.
The Mosaic Covenant is characterized by the following: (1) The theme
of law. (2) The emphasis on human responsibility. (3) The elements
of sabbath, sanctuary, and divine sovereignty. On the other hand, the
Abrahamic Covenant is characterized by different features: (1) The
theme of promise. (2) The emphasis on divine fulfillment. (3) The
elements of land, prosperity, and blessing and/or cursing. Verse 9,
being placed in the midst of Mosaic Covenant materials, is distinct in
its features. It is Abrahamic in vocabulary, phraseology, and theme.
Its message to the Israelites was pertinent to the brief span of time
70. Geburtstag, hrsg. Hartmut Gese and Hans Peter Ruger, AOAT 18 (Neu-
kirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1973), pp. 131-36.
1 The secondary hand theory is proposed by all the recent books
written on the subject of exile theology. See above, p. 11 n. 3.
immediately following the
revealing of the Mosaic Covenant on
In effect, the message was: The newly presented revelation concerning
law is equal in authority to the older revelation concerning promise.
legislation of Moses. The legislation would not nullify the promise
(cf. Gal 3:17). The legislation would provide the opportunity to give
outward evidence of the inward faith in the Abrahamic promises. In
other words, the. Mosaic
Covenant would be the program by which
would manifest its faith by its works (cf. Jas 2:14-26).
The population increase promised in this section of the pericope
would also be a blessing in the Palestinian Covenant forty years later
(Deut 28:4, 11). It is significant, however, that Deuteronomy 27-30
does not contain either the combination hbr || hrp or the phrase Tyrb Myqh.
The concept is there, but not the phraseology. This would seem to indi-
cate mere similarity and not identity. It could also indicate a purpose-
ful avoidance of terminology in the Palestinian Covenant which was the
earmark of the Abrahamic Covenant.1
Provision (v. 10)
As in verse 7, verse 10 begins with a wqtl form in the second
person plural: Mtlkxv "so you shall eat." The break in the first per-
son singular seems, therefore, to indicate that verse 10 is explanatory
to verse 9. That which
1 The interpretation of Rashi is interesting. He identified the
covenant in v. 9 as "a new covenant not like the former covenant which
you breached" (htvx Mtrphw hnvwxrh tyrbk xl hwdH tyrb). wmvH,
p. 135. Such rabbinic references to a new covenant seem to be motivated by a
concept of nullification of each preceding covenant by the granting of
another covenant. Paul clearly disagreed with such an interpretation
of the old Testament covenants (Gal 3:17).
old harvest/store which has become stale." In this cognate construc-
tion the adjective Nwy "old" serves as a substantive. Of the eight times
where the adjective occurs in the old Testament, four are in Leviticus
25-26. Leviticus 25:22 is obviously related to the concept in 26:10 by
way of the sabbatical principle:
and when you should say, "How will we eat in the seventh year if
we do not sow nor gather our increase?", then I shall command my
blessing for you in the sixth year so that it shall produce increase
for three years. Thus you shall sow the eighth year and you shall
eat from the old increase until the ninth year--until the coming of
its increase you shall eat the old (25:20-22).
The former harvest would provide such an abundance that it would be
eaten for a long time. It would last even into the next harvest period.
room for the new harvest which would be great enough to require all
storage space: "and you shall clear out the old because of the new"
(vxycvt wdH ynpm Nwyv). The alternation of verb forms in verse 10 (qtl
of lkx to yqtl of xcy) is consistent with the style exhibited in this
pericope. It demonstrates the unity of the verse. The inversion of
the placement of Nwy from the first half to the second half of the
verse indicates its centrality to the theme of the verse. This verse
presents the manna theme all over again: when the manna was gathered
in abundance, the remainder grew stale and was replaced by the next
day's supply of fresh manna (cf. Exod 16:4-36). In fact, the manna was
also related to the sabbatical principle (cf. Exod 16:21-30). Yahweh
provided an abundance on the sixth day so that there would be no need
on the seventh day. Just as he had promised to provide manna on the
sixth day for the seventh day, so Yahweh promised to provide in the
sixth year what
Verse 10 is best connected with verse 9 rather than verse 5 since
an increased population requires an increased food supply. Even though
the population of
vision of Yahweh would always meet their needs. Indeed, there would be
an abundance evidenced by the remains of the old harvest when each new
harvest would be brought into storage. Yahweh did not promise produc-
tivity in the field (v. 5) and then proceed to nullify the prosperity
by a subsequent increase in population (v. 9). The prosperity would
continue at a rate commensurate with the population explosion. The
manna-giver would always be abreast of the needs of his people. The
promise-giver would never nullify one promise by the giving of another
promise. The land-giver would
exhausted even though they would increase in numbers. When the sabbath
days and the sabbath years came around, the increased population could
not be employed as an excuse for non-observance. Yahweh does not
demand that for which hi grace does not supply. The will of God will
never lead where the grace of God cannot keep!
Presence (vv. 11-12)
The final section of promise commences with the expected wqtl
in the first person singular: yttnv "and I shall give" (cf. vv. 4 and
6).1 The rain-giver and peace-giver is now presented as the presence-
granter. Nkwm does not appear to be a technical reference to the taber-
nacle or temple, but is a non-technical reference to an "abode" or
"dwelling place."2 Thus, the promise consists of Yahweh's abiding in
1 See above, pp. 56, 59.
2 Cf. Menahem
An Inquiry into the Character of Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting
of the Priestly School (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), p. 14 n. 3.
the midst (jvtb) of
gift (Ntn) . The conditional nature of the context (cf. "if," v. 3) does not nullify the
concept of gift. The presence of Yahweh would not be earned or merited. From the
divine perspective, the presence was an unconditional reality of the fulfillment of
covenant promise. From the human perspective, the promise was commensurate
with the obedience of covenant stipulations.1 The alternation of verb forms
continues in this verse: qtl of Ntn and yqtl of lfg "despise."2 "My soul shall not
despise you" is roughly equivalent to (or, is the cause of) "I shall grant my abode
in your midst."
The drought and famine of Jeremiah 14 is described in terms
familiar to the reader of Leviticus 26:
Have you completely rejected
look for peace (MVLW), but there is nothing good; and for a time
of healing, but, behold, dismay'. We acknowledge, 0 Yahweh, our
wickedness--the iniquity of our fathers--because we have sinned
against you. Do not spurn us, for your name's sake. Do not treat
the throne of your glory with contempt. Remember! Do not breach
your covenant with us (vntx jtyrb = Mktx ytyrb). Is there any
among the empty ones of the nations who can cause rain (Mwg); or
will the heavens grant (Ntn) showers? Aren't you the one (lit.,
he), O Yahweh our God? Therefore, we will wait for you because
you yourself produce all these things (Jer 14:19-22).3
The principles of promise/punishment revealed in Leviticus 26 manifest
themselves in the history of
1 The distinction of conditional and unconditional covenants in
biblical theology is a matter of perspective or semantics more than of
biblical statement. In this writer's opinion, all biblical covenants
may be considered unconditional from the divine perspective and condi-
tional from the human perspective.
2 This alternation deserves a complete study throughout the Penta-
teuch in order to determine whether it is a characteristic of Mosaic
literary style. Its relationship to covenant literary form also needs
to be researched with care.
3 Many other parallels between Jeremiah 14 and Leviticus 26 may
be offered: Jer 14:4-6/Lev 26:4; Jer 14:12/Lev 26:25-26; Jer 14:13/
and peace. The sense of Yahweh's rejection (despising) of the nation
was evidence of the loss of the divine presence. The covenant had been
breached because of the nations disloyalty. They had sinned against
Yahweh in the same fashion as their ancestors. Leviticus recorded the
revelation of the principle; Jeremiah recorded an application.
Verse 12 continues the statement of Yahweh's presence: "Thus
I shall walk in your midst so that I shall be your god and you your-
selves shall be my people." The logical development is carefully
structured as in previous verses:
Mkkvtb ytklhthv -12a = Mkkvtb ynkwm yttnv -11a
"thus i shall walk in your midst" = "and I shall grant my dwelling place
in your midst"
Myhlxl Mkl ytyyhv-12b = Mktx ywpn lfgt-xlv -11b
Mfl yl-vyht Mtxv
"so that I shall be your god = "and my soul shall not despise you"
and you yourselves shall be my
Several observations may be made concerning the structure of these two
verses: (1) Verse 11 has a complete correspondence of terms (though
not of equivalent syntax): lfgt-xlv | yttnv, ywpn | ynkwm, Mktx | Mkkvtb.
(2) Mkkvtb "in your midst" concludes both 11a and 12a. This emphasizes
the relationship which the divine presence has to the nation. (3) The
conceptual equivalent of ynkwm yttn "I shall grant my dwelling place"
is ytklhth "I shall walk." This supports the conclusion that the mean-
ing of Nkwm is non-technical. It is a reference to Yahweh's dwelling
among the people in general. The dwelling is not being limited to a
particular geographic location (such as the tabernacle or temple).
Lev 26:6-7; Jer 14:15/Lev 26:25-26; Jer 14:19/Lev 26:44; Jer 14:20/
Lev 26:39; Jer 14:21/Lev 26:42, 44; Jer 14:22/Lev 26:1, 2, 12, 13,
(4) As lib is the basis for 11a, so 12b is the basis for 12a. Yahweh's
presence would be based upon an identification by Yahweh with his people
and his people with him. (5) The common alternation of verb forms occurs
in 12b. Therefore, 12ba and 12bs are a single concept. Yahweh being
the god of
of Yahweh. (6) 12bb employs the prepositive emphatic personal pronoun
(Mtx "you") to designate the subject of the verb. This emphasizes
those addressed by Yahweh by expanding the second person masculine
plural pronominal suffix (Mk_) employed in all four of the previous
phrases in verses 11-12. Thus, the last two verses of the promise sec-
tion leave the reader with the distinct impression that the nation of
other people. They alone are the covenant people. They alone are to
be the landed people. Yahweh's land grant to them is unique. They
alone are the receivers of all which comes from the giver.
One more aspect of the interpretation of verses 11-12 must be
discussed before this analysis proceeds further: that of the New Testa-
ment quotation of this passage in 2 Corinthians 6:16. The introductory
formula in 2 Corinthians 6:16 is a hapax phainomenon in the New Testa-
ment and in the Septuagint.1 However, there does appear to be a rough
equivalent to kaqw>j ei#pen o[ qeo>j o!ti "even as/which also God has said"
in the Qumran Zadokite Document (or, Damascus Rule): lx rmx rwx "which/
of which God has said"
(vi.13 and viii.9).2 In the two
1 J. de Waard, A Comparative Study of the Old Testament Text in
the Dead Sea Scrolls and
in the New Testament,
STDJ 4 (
Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1966), p. 16.
2 Ibid. Cf. Eduard Lohse, hrsg., Die Texte aus
kritisch durchgesehene and erganzte Auf lage, Mtinchen: Kosel-Verlag,
1971), pp. 78-79, 82-83.
the first refers to a quotation of Malachi 1:10 which has been slightly
altered (primarily in grammatical person) to fit the application intended
and the second refers to part of Deuteronomy 32:33, which has not been
altered. Malachi 1:10 was interpreted literally and contextually;
Deuteronomy 32:33 was interpreted allegorically though maintaining the
proper contextual reference (to rebellious covenant people). The intro-
ductory formula, therefore, does not yield itself to an identification
with a specific type of quotation (even if it is associated with the
The quotation is as follows:
]Enoikh<sw e]n au]toi?j kai> e]nperipath<sw,
kai> e@somai au]tw?n qeo<j, kai> au]toi> e@sontai mou lao<j.
I shall dwell among them and walk among (them),
and I shall be their god, and they themselves shall be
The second part of this quotation is clearly identical to the Hebrew of
Leviticus 26:12b. Even the order of the possessive pronouns is consist-
ent: preceding the noun which they modify (just like Mkl and yl in the
MT of Lev 26:12b). The pronouns are altered to the third person plural
in the New Testament due to the writer's different point of reference.
]Enperipath<sw differs from the MT only in the omission of the pronominal
object concept (which may be supplied by ad sensum agreement with the
immediate context). The problem arises from e]noikh<sw e]n au]toi?j. This
is obviously intended as the equivalent of Leviticus 26:11a (yttnv
Mkkvtb ynkwm). The Septuagint offers a variant reading: kai> qh<sw th>n
diaqh<khn mou e]n u[mi?n "and I shall establish/set my covenant among you."
Reasons for the state of the Septuagint text have already been discussed.1
1 See above, pp. 24-25.
the first refers to a quotation of Malachi 1:10 which has been slightly
altered (primarily in grammatical person) to fit the application intended
and the second refers to part of Deuteronomy 32:33, which has not been
altered. Malachi 1:10 was interpreted literally and contextually;
Deuteronomy 32:33 was interpreted allegorically though maintaining the
proper contextual reference (to rebellious covenant people). The intro-
ductory formula, therefore, does not yield itself to an identification
with a specific type of quotation (even if it is associated with the
The quotation is as follows:
]Enoikh<sw e]n au]toi?j kai> e]nperipath<sw,
kai> e@somai au]tw?n qeo<j, kai> au]toi> e@sontai mou lao<j.
I shall dwell among them and walk among (them),
and I shall be their god, and they themselves shall be
The second part of this quotation is clearly identical to the Hebrew of
Leviticus 26:12b. Even the order of the possessive pronouns is consist-
ent: preceding the noun which they modify (just like Mkl and yl in the
MT of Lev 26:12b). The pronouns are altered to the third person plural
in the New Testament due to the writer's different point of reference.
]Enperipath<sw differs from the MT only in the omission of the pronominal
object concept (which may be supplied by ad sensum agreement with the
immediate context). The problem arises from e]noikh<sw e]n au]toi?j. This
is obviously intended as the equivalent of Leviticus 26:11a (yttnv
Mkkvtb ynkwm). The Septuagint offers a variant reading: kai> qh<sw th>n
diaqh<khn mou e]n u[mi?n "and I shall establish/set my covenant among you."
Reasons for the state of the Septuagint text have already been discussed.1
1 See above, pp. 24-25.
The MT need not be altered. The cause of the New Testament paraphrase
of Leviticus 26:11a may be found either in Paul's translation technique
or merely in his utilization of a conceptual equivalent for the Hebrew
phrase. This writer believes that the latter suggestion has the most
support. First, the clear emphasis of Paul's use of Leviticus 26:11-12
is the concept of identification with God in 12b. The omission of llb
is a clue to Paul's intention. That phrase (in llb) does not serve any
purpose in Paul's current discussion in 2 Corinthians 6. Since Levi-
ticus 26:11b is omitted, it would not be surprising to find, therefore,
that Paul only paraphrased lla in order to include the concept rather
than the quotation. Having established the concept and the context,
Paul proceeded to quote verbatim 12b. (This explanation would also
provide a reason for the ellipsis of the pronominal object of e]nperipa-
th<sw.) The elaborate discussions of conflation of old Testament texts,
"pearl stringing," pre-Pauline usage, and of 4Q LXX Leva are made
unnecessary by the simple reading of the New Testament text alongside
In the preceding discussion of verses 4-12 the concept of gift
has surfaced repeatedly. The constant repetition of the first person
singular has also emphasized the identity of the giver. While compar-
ing Ezekiel 34:25-30 to Leviticus 26:3-13, Klein makes the observation:
"the blessings according to Leviticus are responses to human obedience;
1 Cf. de Waard, Comparative Study, pp. 16-17; Richard N. Longe-
Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 112, 115, 116, 130. It is this
writer's opinion that there is much work to be done in the study of the
New Testament usage of the Old Testament. This is especially true since
current studies seem to overlook the plain sense of scripture, compara-
tive syntax, and translation techniques.
in Ezekiel's monergistic theology they are free gifts of God."1 This
is an overdrawn comparison. Not only does Klein miss the emphasis on
gift in Leviticus 26, he also misses the indications of human responsi-
bility in Ezekiel 34 (e.g., v. 22: "and I shall judge between sheep
and sheep"). The obedient nation is the recipient of divine blessing
in both Leviticus and Ezekiel. The disobedient nation likewise is the
recipient of divine cursing in both books. Divine monergism is undeni-
able throughout scripture when man is viewed as the undeserving recipi-
ent of divine grace. There is no synergism. Faith on the part of
mencement of divine covenant.
it must be admitted that
blessings in their perfection,2 it must be emphasized that they did
receive at least a partial fulfillment on both individual and national
levels. The same degree of fulfillment was also manifested concerning
the cursings. The emphasis of the covenant was on the national involve-
ment. Thus, the constant emphasis may be observed with regard to the
land. The concept in verse 12 of "my people" is evidence of the cor-
porate emphasis. The blessings and cursings of the covenant documents
aimed at the total benefit or total destruction "of the offender, all
he is and all he has."3 These formulas are "not limited to the vassal
2 Cf. Ramban (Nachmanides) Commentary on the Torah, 5 vols.,
trans. Charles B. Chavel (New York: Shilo Publishing House, Inc., 1974),
3:458-65; and, tvlvdf tvxrqm, loc. cit. Ramban also emphasizes the
miraculous in the blessings. They were not natural, but supernatural.
His total argument is for an eschatological fulfillment nationally but
an immediate fulfillment individually.
3 Hillers, Covenant, p. 38.
king but is spread, in widening circles, over his wife and children, to
the third generation, his possessions and his country"1 in keeping with
the ancient near eastern milieu. Since the covenant context of Leviti-
cus 26:4-12 has been established as involving both the Abrahamic (as in
v. 9) and Mosaic (as in vv. 1-3) covenants, both the eschatological
and the immediate fulfillments may be identified. The eschatological
are especially evident in relation to the Abrahamic Covenant. The
immediate are particularly evident with respect to the Mosaic Covenant.
These two emphases may be observed both in the immediate context of
Leviticus 26 historically and in the later pronouncements of the proph-
The closing statement of Leviticus 26:4-12 concerning the divine
presence serves to reemphasize the covenantal concept in this passage.
It is found primarily in Jeremiah and Ezekiel,2 but is found also in
Exodus 6:7 (its first full occurrence) and Deuteronomy 29:12 (a Pales-
tinian Covenant occurrence). Significant uses of Myhlxl hyh include
Leviticus 11:45; 22:33; 25:38; 26:45; Genesis 17:7, 8; and, Deuter-
onomy 26:17. Mfl hyh is especially noteworthy in Deuteronomy 26:18 and
27:9. All the blessings are related to the identification with Yahweh
and his identification with his people by means of his presence among
them. It was the centrality of this truth which led Paul to employ it
in a New Testament context emphasizing the identification of the New
1 Ibid. Cf. the writer's "Amos and the Palestinian Covenant"
research paper, Grace Theological Seminary,
IN, 1976) for a fuller discussion of national vs. individual blessing
and cursing in the covenant relationship.
2 Elliger, Leviticus, p. 374 n. 22; Raitt, Theology of Exile,
Testament believer with his God (2 Cor 6:14-7:1). Thus, this core-
truth remains central even today for those who would be identified with
God and his Messiah.
The Premise: Yahweh's Salvation (v. 13)
The Selbstvorstellungsformel of this verse is more elaborate than
those previously found in this pericope.l Mkyhlx hvhy ynx “I am Yahweh
your god" is identical to the Selbstvorstellungsforrnel of verse 2. How-
ever, the addition of the heilsgeschichtliche Formulierung ("salvation-
history formula"), Myrcm Crxm Mktx ytxcvh rwx "who brought you out of
had been specifically emphasized in Leviticus 25 as a basis for the obe-
The common deliverance from
fiable entity with the identical roots. The land-giver was first the
deliverer. The land-receivers were joint-recipients of the promises of
the covenant. As participants in the covenant, they must never perceive
their land "in a social or historical vacuum."2 The exodus-causer pro-
vided them with a common social and historical identity so that their
landedness could be kept in the proper perspective, the Yahweh-perspec-
tive: his gift, his authority, his presence, his people.
The following phrase employs Nm with the infinitive to express
a negative consequence:3 Mydbr Mhl tyhm,1n "so that (you) would not be
their servants." The antithesis to this phrase is clearly that of
1 See above, pp. 47, 50.
2 Brueggemann, The Land, p. 67 (cf. pp. 47-70).
3 Jouon, Grammaire, p. 521 (§169h).
verse 12: Mfl yl-Nyht Mtxv "and you yourselves shall be my people."
This is the only time that this phrase is employed in the entire old
Testament. A similar phrase (likewise connected with the Selbstvor-
stellungsformel/Heilsgeschichtsformel) appears in Exodus 20:2=Deuteronomy
5:6, Mydbf tybm Myrcm Crxm jytxcvh rwx jyhlx hvhy yknx "I am
Yahweh your god who brought you
out from the
servitude." In the contexts of Exodus 20:2 and Deuteronomy 5:6 the formula
is utilized in the promulgation of the Decalogue. As such, it has
Sinaitic overtones as far as a covenant is concerned. The Heilsge-
schichtsformel may exhibit a result of the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gen
15:13-14), but it is the basis for the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Exod 19:4).
Two wyyqtl forms are employed in the last section of this
verse: rbwxv "and I broke" and jlvxv "and I brought out." These forms
are characteristic of historical narrative.1 The historical tone of
the Heilsgeschichtsformel is undergirded, therefore, by the author's
introduction of these forms into a pericope where they are rare. The
historical reality of the
essential. Yahweh delivered
would not allow them to stand freely upright.
lf tFm "bars of the yoke" is a phrase found only here and in
Ezekiel 34:27. Both verses also speak of the breaking (rbw) of those
bars. The picture is that of "poles which are laid upon the necks of
beasts of burden (Jer. xxvii. 2) as a yoke, to bend their necks and
harness them for work."2 tvymmvq is a substantive serving as an adver-
1 GKC, p. 326 (§111a). it is noteworthy that Elliger (Leviticus,
pp. 364, 366-67) omits any reference to v. 13 as poetic parallelism.
2 Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, 2:471.
bial accusative of manner: "upright."1 As the yoke was a symbol of
bondage, so the upright walk was a symbol of freedom from bondage.2
Thus, the elaboration of the Heilsgeschichtsformel by unusual phrases3
stamps Yahweh's seal of approval upon the promises to be granted for
obedience to the divine precepts.4
The Summary of Verses 3-13
Due to the relationship of verses 6-8 and 9-10, together with
the independent nature of verses 3 and 13, the following outline of
this section of the pericope emerges:
1. Precept (vv. 1-2)
2. Promise (vv. 3-13)
2.1 - Prerequisite: Obedience (v. 3)
2.2 - Product: Blessing (vv. 4-12)
2.21 - Productivity (vv. 4-5)
2.22 - Peace (vv. 6-8)
2.23 - Population (vv. 9-10)
2.24 - Presence (vv. 11-12)
2.3 - Premise: Yahweh's Salvation (v. 13)
The attempt of Elliger to classify most of verses 1-13 as poetic
parallelism may stimulate further research regarding the features of
1 Ibid.; Jouon, Grammaire, p. 379 (§126d); GKC, p. 375 (§118q).
2 Targum Onqelos translated tvymmvq with tvryH "liberty," a ren-
dering already employed for rvrd "liberty/release/emancipation" in 25:10.
Targum Neophyti I offers a full paraphrase: yyrcmd Nvhydvbfw ryn tyrbtv
hpyqz [hmvqb] Nvkty tyrbdv hlzrp yrn jyh Nvkylf ywq hvhd Nvkyvvkyfm
"and I broke the yoke of the Egyptian servitude from upon you, that which was
difficult for you like a yoke of iron, and I led you with erect stature"
(Macho, Neophyti I, 3:195).
3 tvymmvq is a hapax legomenon.
4 Elliger, Leviticus, p. 374: "Die ausgeffurte Heilsgeschichts-
formel . . . druckt Jahwes Siegel unter die Verheissung des Lohnes, der
auf dem Halten der Gebote steht."
Hebrew poetry.1 It is unquestionable that this section of the pericope
does exhibit an elevated literary style. Proverbial use of numbers
(v. 8), chiasmus (v. 9), inclusion (vv. 1, 2, 13), and several carefully
developed examples of logical progression (e.g., vv. 4, 7-8, 11-12) all
occur in this section. The alternation of prefix (yqtl) and suffix
(qtl) verb forms is obviously a stylistic feature of the pericope. It
may not argue for poetry, but it certainly contributes to the high
literary form of the pericope. The intrusion of the wyyqtl forms in
verse 13 break the flow of the pericope at the most conducive point:
the salvation-history formula. The author of the pericope is captivat-
ing in his literary style. There is predictability in his employment
of verb forms, in the commencing of sections with yttnv (vv. 4, 6, and
11), and in his repetition of key words (vv. 4, 5, 6, 7-8, 10, and 12).
There is also an element of surprise in the manner in which he does
the unexpected (e.g., the abbreviated Selbstvorstellungsformel in v. 2,
the resumptive tx in v. 3, the insertion of Abrahamic Covenant phrase-
ology in v. 9, the emphatic personal pronoun in v. 12ba, and the employ-
ment of wyyqtl forms and hapax legomena in v. 13). This writer cannot
help but think of Acts 7:22, "Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of
the Egyptians and was powerful with words."
to the departure of
Yahweh sought to establish a summation of the nation's relationship to
1 See above, p. 57 n. 1.
2 This division of the study in hand was inspired by the excel-
lent arrangement of the Hermeneia commentaries. The significance of a
pericope in scripture is best seen in the light of what the author pur-
posed to accomplish by it.
him. Their relationship to Yahweh involved the past (Abrahamic Cove-
nant), the present (Mosaic Covenant), and the future (Palestinian Cove-
nant). The summation opens with a condensed version of the Decalogue:
Observe Yahweh's deity: idol worship is forbidden; and, observe Yah-
weh's lordship: preserve the sabbatical principles and the sanctuary
(vv. 1-2). The present covenant (which had been presented to them just
a month or two prior) was thus brought to the attention of the nation.
The following conditional statement (vv. 3-12) was based upon this
covenant relationship above all others (v. 3).
In verses 4-12 the concepts of covenant relate to the land, a
theme emphasized more in the Abrahamic past and looking, by way of pre-
view, to the Palestinian future. Verse 9 was designed especially to
remind the people of their Abrahamic heritage since its terminology was
limited to that context. The few parallels (terminologically) to Deuter-
onomy 27-30 were but a lead-in to the more extensive parallels later in
the pericope. The future in the blessings is tantalizingly faint. Per-
haps the faintness emphasized the present responsibility to obey Yahweh
under the terms of the current covenant.
An attitude toward Yahweh is carefully developed by the state-
ments of promise. Obedience must be real. Obedience must be voluntary
and sincere. Such obedience comes from realizing the true nature of
Yahweh and of
land-giver, the rain-giver, the produce-giver, the peace-giver, the
power-source, and the
land, and prosperity were from Yahweh alone. Their national identity
was not of their own making.
Their exodus from
own power. Their reception of the land would not be their own gain.
Their landed prosperity would not be their own product. Therefore,
all they were and possessed were from God. All they had belonged to
God. They were not their own; they were purchased by the price of the
exodus. Their liberty from
gation. Their landedness would be another means of identifying with
the historical presence of Yahweh and of confirming the reality of the
In the long years of wandering in the wilderness, these truths
would serve to direct the nation toward the fulfillment of landedness.
Those years of landlessness would be filled with the pursuit of promise.
Such hope would be founded upon their memory of past history (v. 13).
That memory would remind them of the nature of their national identity.
It would also comfort them with the thought that Yahweh's purpose in
causing the exodus was not fulfilled at Sinai. Sinai was but the com-
nutshell, verses 1-13 provided
the new covenant of law (the Mosaic) had not nullified the old covenant
of promise (the Abrahamic). Both were authoritative (cf. Paul's use of
derivatives of xupow "make valid/confirm/ratify" in Gal 3:17). The
authority of precept (Mosaic legislation, Lev 26:1-3) did not conflict
with the authority of promise (Abrahamic gift, vv. 4-12). In addition,
both are consistent with the authority of history (v. 13). The harmony
is due to the author of all
nants were now embodied in the
corpus of revelation entrusted to
precept. That obedience would be the avenue of receiving the promise.
Penalty, (vv. 14-45)
Most of Leviticus 26 is taken up with the concept of the curse.
cursings are the just retribution for disloyalty. In verses 14-15
the reason for retribution is established as disobedience to the cove-
nant stipulations of Yahweh. Verses 16-38 unfold the retribution in
five stages. Each stage seems to be complete in itself. Each allows
the chastised community (or individual) to return to the paths of obe-
dience. The purpose of this
retribution is restoration. "
is not a God of vengeance, but a God of didactic love."1 Yahweh uti-
lized retribution/chastisement to instruct his covenant people regard-
ing their covenant obligations. Because he loved them (an evidence of
their election to the covenant relationship, Deut 7:6-8), Yahweh would
punish them for their rebellion against the legislation of his covenant
(cf. Heb 12:6-11). The final group of verses in this section (vv. 39-
45) reveal the prospect of covenant retribution: repentance.
The Cause: Disobedience (vv. 14-15)
As with the conditional form in verse 3, Mx + yqtl in verse 14
presents the concept of a real possibility.2 The casuistic form of
legislation is carried over from verse 3. Here it is negative; there
it was positive. Here there is the potential of disobedience; there
there was the potential for obedience.
yl vfmwt xl-Mxv "and if you do not listen to me (or, obey me)"
does not have an equivalent positive statement in verse 3. The full
1 Elliger, Leviticus, p. 374: "Israels Gott ist kein Gott der
Rache, sondern ein Gott der erziehenden Liebe."
2 See above, p. 51.
effect of the first person singular in verses 1-13 (especially in the
Selbstvorstellungsformel) is exemplified in this first phrase: as
obedience to Yahweh's law was obedience to Yahweh, so disobedience to
Yahweh's law was disobedience to Yahweh. As the first major section of
the pericope presented the concept of Yahweh's sovereignty by forbidding
idols (v. 1), so the second major section manifests the same concept by
focusing on the ultimate target of disloyalty: Yahweh.
The second phrase of verse 14 is a conflation of verse 3bc:
hlxh tvcmh-lk tx vWft xlv "so that you do not perform/practice all these
commandments." There is no repetition of Mx "if." The syntax seems to
indicate a consecutive concept of result or epexegesis. The two phrases
complement each other--not as two separate "sins,"1 but as a doublet
presenting the same concept. The Septuagint's translation of fmw "hear/
obey" by u[pakou<w "obey" confirms this interpretation. fmw is the equiv-
alent of "doing what Yahweh says and wills."2 "All these commandments"
refers to the entire Sinaitic legislation in the preceding context.3
15 returns to the conditional protasis by means of
"and if you reject my statutes (hqHb sxm)." This concept is diametri-
cally opposite the concept of verse 3a. The resumption of the first
person singular pronominal suffix (omitted from hvcm in verse 14) main-
tains the identification with Yahweh which is the sine qua non. The
1 Cf. Rashi: tvrybf Mytw yrh vWft xl vdmlt xlWm "because you do
not learn you do not do--here are two sins/transgressions" (Unlit, p. 136).
2 THAT, s.v. "fmw," by H. Schult, 2:980, "Auf Jahwe oder seinen
Reprasentanten (z.B. Mose, Josua, einen Propheten [Ez 3, 7:]), 'horen'
heisst tun, was Jahwe sagt and will."
3 See above, p. 53.
employment of sxm "reject" is the first occurrence of the term in a
covenant context in the Old Testament.1 It sets the stage for a theo-
logoumenon concerning rejection. Rejection of the revelation2 of Yah-
weh is rejection of Yahweh himself (cf. Num 11:20). Rejection of Yah-
weh brings retributive rejection of the rebel by Yahweh (cf. Lev 26:15,
44; 1 Sam 15:23, 26; Hos 4:6). Two historical pericopes describe
tion by Yahweh because they failed to keep the sabbath and commenced
the worship of idols: Ezekiel 20 and 2 Kings 17. The first is a chron-
icle of the wilderness experience immediately following the revealing
of Leviticus 26 at Sinai. The second pericope is a record of apostasy
in the land, including the golden calf cult which originated in the
wilderness. Any reading of these two pericopes brings Leviticus 26 to
mind because of the consistent repetition of precept (especially pro-
sabbath and anti-idolatry),
history (especially the exodus from
land (prospective in Ezekiel 20; possessed in 2 Kings 17), covenant
(both Abrahamic and Mosaic), identification (with Yahweh as their god),
and promise (including the prospect of restoration to landedness/bless-
ing when they return to obedience). The concept of mutual rejection is
also present in both pericopes. Disobedience is disloyalty to the cove-
nant and its suzerain. Chastisement is administered for the breach of
covenant. Leviticus 26, by its chronology (given to Moses at Sinai)
1 sxm is employed in the book of Job (which this writer places
in the patriarchal period), but not in the context of covenant.
2 Terms for revelation which are objects of sxm include qH/hqH
"statute," hrvt "law/instruction," rbd "word," Fpwm "judgment," tfd
"knowledge," tvdf "testimony," and tyrb "covenant."
and its covenant form consisting of blessings and curses, is antecedent
to both historical settings. It is also antecedent to both writings
containing these two pericopes.
Another Mx precedes the next statement: "and if (Mx) your soul
despises (lfg) my ordinances (Fpwm)." This demonstrates that 14b should
be considered subordinate to 14a since OR was not repeated there. Here (v. 15) the
repetition of Mx is clearly coordinate. This syntax promotes the association of the two
subsequent infinitival clauses with the second Mx clause. The despising of Yahweh's
ordinances is an act of the inner man. It is the spurning of the authority of the lord of
the covenant. The evidence of the rebellion is the non-performance of Yahweh's
covenant stipulations: ytvcm-lk-tx tvWf ytlbl "not performing
all my commandments." The infinitival clause with the negative expresses
the direction which the spurning and rejection would take.1 The disobe-
dience involved the entire body of legislation: "all my commandments."2
The next infinitive is an attendant circumstance which might also indi-
cate the motive:3 "(thereby) breaking my covenant (tyrb rrp)." rrp "is
not primarily a legal word."4 "It governs berit in the sense of aban-
doning Yahweh completely in Dt 31,16.20; Is 24,5; Jer 11,10; 31,32."5
1 Cf. GKC, p. 348 (§114f).
2 This could involve omission as well as commission. The break-
ing of any aspect of the covenant could also be considered as breach of
the entire covenant (cf. Jas 2:10).
3 ibid., pp. 348 (§114f), 351 (§114o). If motives can be legiti-
mately included in the employment of the infinitive here, it would demon-
strate a willful and obstinate breach of covenant.
4 McEvenue, Narrative Style, p. 170. As McEvenue points out, how-
ever, it is used of breaking a law (Num 15:31) and includes laws in Lev
26:15, 44; Ezek 44:7; Ps 119:126; and, Ezra 9:14 (ibid.).
Usually the sense is that of nullifying an oath (whether it is one's
own or another's) when it is associated with tyrb (cf. Gen 17:14;
30:9, 13, 14, 16; Judg 2:2; Jer 14:21;1 33:20-21; Ezek 16:59;
16, 18; Zech 11:10-11).2 In other words, the breach of covenant
revealed in the Mosaic Covenant) and the subsequent nullification of
the promise of Yahweh (as revealed in the Abrahamic Covenant and in the
immediately preceding context of Lev 26:15, vv. 4-13).
landless nation of
must live in the light of Yahweh's promise of landedness/blessing
(Abrahamic Covenant), in the light of Yahweh's deliverance of the
its identity as the people of God (Mosaic Covenant). They were an
elect people, a covenanted people. They must demonstrate it by life
and deed as well as by word (cf. Exod 19:8, "All which Yahweh has com-
manded/spoken we will do/perform"). Shalom Paul's evaluation of these
motifs is worth repeating:
The leading motifs of early biblical literature, election, redemp-
tion, covenant, and law, are closely interconnected: God elected
the children of
tive intervention into history liberated an enslaved people who
became bound to God through a pact whose stipulations demand the
utmost obedience; the continued existence of this religious commu-
nity is completely predicated upon the observance and performance
of those principles and injunctions that constitute the charter of
its covenant with God. The will of God expressed through the law
is the basis of the covenant relationship between God and Israel.3
1 See above, pp. 72-73 (especially n. 3).
2 McEvenue, Narrative Style, p. 170.
3 Paul, Studies in the Book of the Covenant, pp. 40-41 (italic
The threat of punishment in Leviticus 26:14-45 is given in the light
of the tension of wills (Yahweh's will vs. man's will) and the claims
of authority (Yahweh's person and deeds vs. man's person and deeds).
The Consequence: Retribution (vv. 16-38)
The unfolding drama of retribution consists of five stages:
(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), and (5) deportation (vv. 27-38). Each of the stages is
introduced by a protasis employing the conditional particle 13M. The
protasis for verses 16-17 should be understood as verses 14-15 although
that protasis may be considered also as the introduction to the entire
section concerning retribution.1 Stages two through five are charac-
terized by the occurrence of the phrase MkytxFH-lf fbw "seven times for
your sins" (vv. 18, 24, 28; v. 21 employs yk in place of lf).2 The
overall effect of these five stages is that of an increasing punishment
for transgression of the covenant relationship to Yahweh. These pro-
gressive stages first prove the
then offer repeated opportunities for repentance.
Debilitation and defeat (vv. 16-17)
The emphatic ynx-Jx "yea/indeed/surely I" is employed three times
in this pericope (vv. 16, 24, and 41).3 The particle Jx is employed for
l As the preceding outline demonstrates (see above, pp. 85-90),
this writer understands vv. 14-15 as the introduction to vv. 16-38 as
well as the introduction to vv. 16-17.
2 The absence of this phrase in vv. 14-15 argues for their dis-
tinct nature. See above, n. 1.
3 Jxv "and indeed" is employed in vv. 39, 40, 42 bis, and 44.
"introducing emphatically a new thought."1 Such usages are primarily
in poetic material or "elevated prose."2 Only in verse 16 is Jx uti-
lized in this pericope to introduce an apodosis. It contributes to the
sense of urgency in this first series of judgmental threats. It also
confirms the wider scope of the protasis in verses 14-15 (i.e., as the
introduction to the entire section). The yqtl form of the verb follows
the emphatic particle and first person singular pronoun. The first
person singular of the verb joins with the personal pronoun to emphasize
the subject: Yahweh. In the protasis (vv. 14-15) Yahweh had been pre-
sented as the one who was not obeyed. He was the one whose covenant
had been breached by the disobedient. In the apodosis (vv. 16-17) Yah-
weh is being presented as the one who executes judgment: "Yea, I myself
shall do this to you" (Mkl txz-hWfx ynx-Jx).
hlhb Mkylf ytdqphv "yea, I shall summon against you immediately"
is explanatory of the first phrase.3 dqp is employed here as it is in
Jeremiah 15:3 in the hostile sense of summoning a series of judgments
for breach of covenant.4 hlhb is the difficult member of this phrase.5
It has been altered (cf. hlHb "with sickness" in the Samaritan Penta-
teuch) as well as translated in
a variety of senses: a]
1 BDB, p. 64. Cf., also, GKC, p. 483 (§153).
2 BDB, p. 64. That there is something special about the style of
Leviticus 26 has already been demonstrated (see above, esp. pp. 81-82).
Elliger repeatedly refers to this section (vv. 14-45) as "rhythmische
Prosa" (Leviticus, pp. 367, 368, 369, 370).
3 Being explanatory, the second phrase is logically parallel to the first.
s.v. “ dqp
Jer 15:1-4 are very similar to those in Lev 26:16-38.
5 See above, pp. 25-26.
(Septuagint), anou6n "immediately/suddenly" ( @Alloj in the Hexapla),1
vlyhb "haste/hastily" (Targum Ongelos),2 "dismay/terror"
(Syriac Peshitta), velociter "quickly/speedily" (Latin Vulgate), and
‘aly sur’a “quickly/speedily” (Arabic).3 hlhb is
employed once in the Qumran Cave 1 materials (1QH viii.33) and is
variously translated "destruction,"4 "fear,"5 and "confusion."6 The
Semitic background for lhb reveals a wide semantic range including the
concepts of supplication, execration, communication, revelation, ter-
rorization, acceleration/precipitation, idiocy, forgetfulness, relaxa-
tion/cessation, liberation, and insouciance.7 Haste and terror, how-
ever, are its dominant semantic elements in Hebrew and Aramaic.8 Jouon9
argues against the usual "sudden terror."10 His classification of hlhb
1 Field, Origenis Hexaplorum, 1:215. Origen offered a conflate
reading, believing X157n had not been translated by the Septuagint. He
marked it with the Aristarchian asterisk (the xi? periestigme<non).
2 This is also the Onqelos rendering of NvzpH "haste" in Exod
12:11. The Aramaic is directly related to the Hebrew.
3 Brian Walton, Biblia Sacra Polyglotta, 6 vols. (reprint ed.,
4 Lohse, Die Texte aus
5 G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in
English (2nd ed.,
Penguin Books Inc., 1975), p. 178.
6 Theodor H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures (revised ed., Garden
City, NY: Anchor Books, 1964), p. 170.
7 David Cohen, Dictionnaire des
ton, 1976), 2:48.
8 TDOT, s.v. “lhb“ by Benedikt Otzen, 2:3-5.
9 Jouon, Grammaire, p. 269 (§102d); "Notes philologiques sur le
texte hebreu," Bib 9 (1928):43-44.
10 Cf. BDB, p. 96.
as an adverb is supported by two major arguments (neither of which he mentions):
(1) The syntax of the clause indicates that tpHw "consumption" and tHdq "fever"
are the direct objects of dqp. The sign of the accusative (tx) is employed before each of
these nouns but not before hlhb.1 (2) All the remaining uses of hlhb in the old
Testament (Ps 78:33; Isa 65:23; Jer 15:8) were translated sioush< "immediately/sud-
denly" by the Septuagint. The best sense appears to be that Yahweh would send his
Yahweh would send tpHw "consumption"2 and tHdq "fever"3 as the chastisements.
The same two terms are employed again in Deuteronomy 28:22 where they are also
covenant curses against
terms in biblical Hebrew. The effects of these two physical debilitators are Mynyf tvlkm
"consuming the eyes"4 and wpn tbydm "languishing of the soul."5 Both verbs are plural
feminine participles. The grammatical agreement in
1 BDB's (p. 96) statement that the two nouns following hlhb are
"appositives" is incorrect since PK, in that case, surely would have pre-
ceded hlhb, too. Cf. John MacDonald, "The Particle tx in Classical
Hebrew: Some New Data on Its Use with the Nominative," VT 14 (1964):270.
2 In later Hebrew tr referred to a wasting, reduction, or loss
of flesh. Cf. Marcus Jastrow, comp., A Dictionary of the Targumim, the
Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, 2 vols.
Craigie offers the possibility that it means "tuberculosis" (i.e., con-
sumption of the lungs). Cf. Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy,
3 Or, "inflammation of the eye" (Jastrow, Dict., 2:1315).
4 Targum Onqelos: Nynyf NkwHm "darkening the eyes." Septuagint:
spakeli<zontaj tou>j o]fqalmou<j "gangrened eyes."
5 Cf. bxd "languish"|| hlk "consume" in Deut 28:65 and bvd||hlk in
1 Sam 2:33. wpn "soul" could be understood as a reference to the "life"
of the physical body or as the "desire" or emotional drive of the indi-
vidual to live.
number would require that both effects refer to both of the previously
identified debilitators. However, it is also possible to see a corres-
pondence between l6ba and 16bb:
"consumption" (fl ) = "Consuming (hlk) the eyes"
"fever/inflammation" = "languishing of the soul/life"
If this correspondence is accurate, the consumption would be most
noticeable or effective in the eyes of the disobedient. The fever would
cause the energy to ebb from the body or the will to live to disappear.
The debilitation described in l6ab would increase the nation's
susceptibility to invasion. They would sow, but not receive the bene-
fit of the harvest (16ca) since their invaders would devour it (16cb).1
The first 'v in 16c is best translated "so that."2 qyrl frz "sow to no
benefit" describes the resulting state of the nation. The second 'v is
best translated "since" or "because."3 The reason that there is no bene-
fit from the sowing is that their enemies would eat the harvest.
Verse 17 contains a recurrence of the familiar yttnv (cf. vv. 4,
6, and 11). However, this occurrence is different. It involves forfeit
rather than gift. "Thus I shall set (Ntn) my face (or, presence, ynp)4
against you" is a statement concerning the removal of blessing. Divine
1 This is a theme of covenant curses in the Palestinian Covenant:
Deut 28:33, 51. There is a logical progression (and, sociological real-
ity in the ancient Near East) from debilitation to vulnerability, from
vulnerability to conquest, and from conquest to pillaging.
2 Cf. GKC, pp. 504-5 (§166a). This interpretation is not required
by the syntax. It is allowed by the syntax. Even if the concept of
result is eliminated and the passage is interpreted as presenting differ-
ent areas of the Israelite's existence, it must be admitted that each was
often the natural cause of the subsequent condition in the ancient world.
3 Cf. GKC, p. 492 (§158a). See, also, BDB, p. 938, concerning qyr.
4 See Eichrodt, Theology, 2:35-39.
presence could be beneficial or
hostile. The disobedience of
manifestation of Yahweh on earth against them. The giver of blessing would become
the giver of cursing. Both aspects reside in the divine being. He is righteous and must
behave rightly toward those who are disloyal as well as toward those who are loyal.
Disloyalty, according to the divine word, would bring chastisement. Thus it must be
and ever will be. Yahweh would not be just if it were not so. The Mynp of Yahweh
was viewed as the giver of blessing (jrb), security (rmw), grace (NnH), and
peace/welfare/wholeness (Mvlw) in the Mronic Benediction (Num 6:24-26).
The Mynp of Yahweh as also associated with rest (Hvn, Exod 33:14). However,
the Mynp of Yahweh could also bring death (Exod 33:20). Due to the description
of the "presence" of
Yahweh in the accounts of the exodus from
that the Mynp of Yahweh should be interpreted as "a form of the divine manifesta-
tion"1 in the same category as the hvhy jxlm "messenger/angel of Yahweh"
and the hvhy dvbk "glory of Yahweh."2 Such an interpretation (in the
light of passages like Exod 33:2 and Isa 63:9) leads to an identification
of the Mynp (in at least some passages) with the Yahweh-destroyer of
Exodus 12:23 (cf. Exod 11:4; 12:12-13). Other passages (e.g., Gen
19:24, "So Yahweh rained
Yahweh out of the heavens") contribute to the conclusion that the Mynp
of Yahweh possessed a separate identity from other manifestations of the
divine essence. In Genesis 19:24 the destroyer is entitled Yahweh as
well as the one from whom he received the judgmental elements. The New
1 Eichrodt, Theology, 2:38.
2 Ibid., 1:214; cf. Zimmerli, Theology, pp. 73, 78, 80.
Testament revelation indicates that the theophanies of the Old Testament were, in fact, the
presence of the Son of God (cf. John 1:18). Thus, Leviticus 26:17 could be understood as a
statement concerning the delegation of judgmental authority to the second person of the
Godhead. Such a delegation of judgmental authority is revealed also in the New
Testament: "for neither does the Father judge anyone, on the contrary (a]lla<),l he has
entrusted (de<dwken)2 all judgment to the Son" (John 5:22).3
The divine presence in judgment would result in enemy attack: "so that you shall
be smitten (Jgv) before your enemies." Being beaten by their enemies, the Israelites would
be dominated4 by their haters (xnW "hater" = byx "enemy"). The domination would be so
complete and humiliating that
1 BDF, p. 232 (§448(2)).
2 BAG, p. 192. Di<dwmi = Ntn. The perfect tense of the Greek
verb is significant: it presents the concept of past completion.
3 The employment of the New Testament in the interpretation of
the Old Testament is too often either misrepresented or abused. It is
not an invalid methodology. Divine revelation is progressive in nature.
The interpreter is accountable for the total revelation received at the
time of his interpretation. He must seek to interpret each part of the
Word in the light of its previous revelatory context and in the light of
its subsequent revelatory context. To say that God did not intend a
meaning, which he later reveals as the meaning, is to deny the relevance
of later revelation merely because it is later. E.g.: (1) Acts 2:24-32
reveals that Ps 16:8-11 may be interpreted accurately only when the
resurrection of the Messiah is understood as its subject matter. (2) Heb
11:19 reveals that Abraham's reasoning in Gen 22:8-14 involved his belief
that God could resurrect. Isaac. Since God reveals in Hebrews that Abra-
ham believed thusly, the interpreter of Genesis is in error if he denies
it on the grounds that such was not revealed in Genesis. (3) The "land"
of Gen 12:3 must be interpreted as the "land" defined in the later reve-
lation of Gen 15:18-21, because that was God's own definition of what he
meant by "land" in the earlier revelation. The examples could be multi-
plied, but the principle is obvious: scripture (even later revelation)
is a valid means of interpreting scripture.
4 See above, pp. 26-27.
that you shall flee even without one pursuing you (Mktx Jdr-Nyxv)."l
The structure of verse 17 may be represented as follows:
Mkybyx ynpl Mtpgnv Mkb ynp yttnv -17a
so that you shall be smitten thus I shall set my presence
before your enemies against you
Mktx Jdr-Nyxv Mtsnv Mkyxnw Mkb vdrv -17b
so that you shall flee even and your haters shall rule
without one pursuing you over/dominate you
The elevated style of the pericope is once again demonstrated by the
employment of chiasmus in the conceptual arrangement of verse 17.
Peace and security would be removed by the chastisements pre-
sented in verses 16-17. It is the opposite of verses 6-8 which pre-
sented the blessing of peaceful existence and powerful security. Both
the physical and political aspects of Mvlw "wholeness/peace" would be removed
in the chastisement revealed in verses 16-17. The first would be the means of
advancing the second: the lack of physical well-being would set the stage for
the removal of peaceful existence. Debilitation would lead eventually to defeat.
Drought (vv. 18-20)
The introduction to the second stage of chastisement is con-
tained in verse 18. It consists of a full conditional sentence (protasis
and apodosis). The protasis commences with the usual particle, Mx, but
continues with a construction found only here in the Hebrew Old Testa-
ment.2 The temporal sense of df in this context would appear to be
"during.3 The antecedent for the demonstrative pronoun (hlx "these")
1 See above, p. 59 (Nyxv) .
2 Note the circelli in the MT and the massorah's l.
3 Cf. BDB, p. 724 (sub I2ab).
would consist of all the judgments described in the previous context
(vv. 16-17). The employment of yl fmw "listen to/obey me" is reminis-
cent of the first statement in verse 14.1 If Israel failed to obey
Yahweh before the end of the chastisement consisting of debilitation
and defeat, he would continue to deal with them through judgment.
The apodosis presents, for the first time, the concept of
degrees or increase in the chastisement: "then I will continue2 to
discipline/chastise you seven times for your sins" (Mktx hrsyl ytpsyv
MkytxFH-lf fbw). The employment of rsy "discipline/chastise" in this
pericope is limited to the introduction to stages two, four, and five
(vv. 18, 23, and 28). The purpose of divine discipline is presented
by Amos (4:6, 8, 9, 10, and 11) as the production of repentance, return-
ing to Yahweh.3 Amos employed the same descriptions or elements of
covenantal discipline: disease, defeat, and drought. The "seven"
(fbw) is more than a symbolic number:4 "It is an appropriate and
evocative number in view of the importance of the seventh in Israelite
religion."5 It should not be understood as a revelation concerning
seven punishments equivalent to seven sins extrapolated from the preced-
1 See above, pp. 85-86.
2 The employment of Jsy with a complementary infinitive having
the l prefix is a common occurrence in biblical Hebrew. In such con-
structions, Jsy) may have the sense of "continue." Cf. GKC, p. 350 (§114m).
3 bvw "return" is Amos' term for repentance. The Syriac equiva-
lent, twb, occurs in the Peshitta's paraphrase of the first half
of v. 18.
4 Cf. Elliger, Leviticus, p. 375: "Naturlich ist 'sieben' eine
schematische Steigerungszahl" ("'Seven' is naturally a stylized number
of intensity") .
5 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 331.
ing context.1 The sabbatical context2 and content (e.g., vv. 34-35) of
Leviticus 26 provide MkytxFH-lf fbw "seven times for your sins" with an
aura of just recompense.3 The repetition of this phrase in the remain-
ing stages of chastisement is significant. The sabbatical principle is
reinforced by it. The emphasis of that principle was on the lordship
of Yahweh--his authority over
ship. By not observing the sabbaths, they placed themselves under the
covenant curses. Those curses would enforce the sabbatical principle
where they had failed to do so voluntarily.
Verse 19 continues the string of wqtl verb forms: "and I shall
smash (wqtl, rbw) your proud might, and I shall make (wqtl, Ntn) your
heavens like iron and your ground like bronze." Prosperity had puffed
Once in the land,
destructive forces which would lead to a perversion of the land and a
1 Cf. Rashi: hlfml tvrvmxh tvrybf fbw lf tvynfrvp fbw "seven
punishments for seven transgressions/sins which were mentioned above"
(re: MkytxFH-lf fbw, v. 18); cf. hWf xlv dml xl ... tvrybf fbw yrh
rqyfb rpvk tvlmb rpvk MyrHxh tx fnvm MymkHh tx xnvW Mywvfh MyrHxh sxvm
"these are seven transgressions/sins . . . he does not study and he does
not practice, rejecting others who practice, hating the wise, restrain-
ing the others, denying the contents (of scripture), denying the essence
(of God) " (re: ytyrb tx Mkrphl, v. 15). wmvH, pp. 136-37.
2 See above, pp. 47-49.
3 An interesting reference to a seven-year recompense for nonob-
of the sabbath or festivals occurs in CD (
Document) xii.5 (in this case it was not a capital offense since the
was presumed mentally ill). Cf. Lohse, Die
4 Cf. Wenham, Leviticus, p. 331; Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch,
distortion of the identity of the land-giver, Yahweh:
The land, source of life, has within it seductive power. It invites
with all its demands and possibilities to serene space apart from
history, without contingency, without demand, without mystery.1
historical people, open either to the Lord of history or to his
blessings yet to be given. Settled into an eternally guaranteed situation,
one scarcely knows that one is indeed addressed by the voice in history
who gives gifts and makes claims. And if one is not addressed, then one
does not need to answer. And if one does not answer, then one is free not
to care, not to decide, not to hope, and not to celebrate.2
It would be necessary for Yahweh to deflate the puffed up ego
of his people in order to bring them back to covenant stipulations. He
would proceed to "smash" (rbw, the same root employed to describe Yah-
weh's destruction of
new yoke, "proud might" (zf Nvxg) or "pride of power."3 This combina-
tion is employed by Ezekiel
five times (of
24:21).4 Pride is described by the prophets as the central aspect of
Amos 6:8). The root of their guilt was their pride in their military
1 Brueggemann, The Land, p. 53.
2 Ibid., p. 54.
3 The Septuagint's th>n u!brin th?j u[perhfani<aj "the wanton violence
of arrogance" is very revealing since u!brij is the attitude "arising from
the pride of strength" (LSJ, p. 1841). Equally interesting to the expos-
itor is the interpretive translation of Targum Onqelos: Nvkpqt rqy "your
precious power." The genitive relationship in the MT's construction may
be classified as limitation/specification describing the point where the
pride is applied; cf. A. B. Davidson, Introductory Hebrew Grammar:
Hebrew Syntax (3rd ed., reprint,
4 TDOT, s.v. "hxAGA," by Diether Kellermann, 2:350.
security.1 Their pride was the evidence of their inability to repent.2
Therefore, in order to bring
where she could choose to repent), God would have to destroy her ter-
rible pride. Such destruction would be gracious. If pride persists in
its stubbornness, it leads to complete and final destruction (cf. Prov 16:18).
As a means of smashing
the same verb employed in the description of the equivalent blessing,
v. 4) the heavens like iron and the earth like bronze. This same fig-
ure occurs in Deuteronomy 28:23 (Palestinian Covenant). The rain-giver
would be the drought-giver. He would be giving always, but the gift
would depend on the obedience or disobedience of his people. Drought
was a common means of dealing
drought to chastise
(Amos 4), Josiah (Jeremiah 14), and Zerubbabel (Haggai 1), just to name
a few. In these cases the basis (i.e., the revelatory basis) for the
chastening may have been Leviticus 26:19 and/or Deuteronomy 28:23.
The result of the drought and the description of its effect
(Hk) shall be exhausted (wqtl, Mmt) without benefit (qyr, cf. v. 16)
because your land shall not yield its produce nor the trees of the land
their fruit." The entire causal clause is identical to that in 4b
1 Wolff, Joel and Amos, p. 282. The "pride of Jacob" was the
object of Yahweh's abhorrence (hapax legomenon bxt=bft, Amos 6:8).
2 Wolff, Hosea, p. 100. Note that Hos 5:5 is in a rib-patterned
pericope (cf. v. 1) manifesting breach of covenant. Both in 5:4 and in
ance" (bvw) to their god.
(with the exception of the negatives here and the changing of hdWh Cf
to Crxh Cf).1
gift itself (the land) to cry out against them. Landedness with obedi-
ence produced a harmonious existence on the land and with the land.
Landedness with disobedience and breach of covenant would produce
enmity with the land. Estrangement from the land was merely an evidence
of estrangement from the land-giver, Yahweh. A spiritual drought (cf.
Amos 8:11-13) would bring about a physical drought. In simple terms,
the demand on
perity of the land will be withheld.
Devastation by wild beasts (vv. 21-22)
The third stage of covenant cursing corresponds to the blessings
of harmony with the land's fauna (v. 6) and of unhindered population
increase (v. 9). The protasis is contained in 21a: "and if you walk
contrary to me2 and are not willing (hbx xl) to obey me.3" The deed
and the desire were anti-Yahweh. Rashi unnecessarily explained the
term yrq "opposition" as "irregularly (yxrf)" obeying the commandments
Verse 21b provides the first part of the apodosis: "then I
1 See above, pp. 28-29, 56-57.
2 For the meaning and employment of the idiom yrq Mf jlh, see
above, pp. 29-30.
3 See above, pp.. 85-86, re: fmw. The mention of willingness
demonstrates Yahweh's concern for the internal as well as the external
aspects of obedience.
4 wmvH, p. 138
shall add against you (lf Jsy) a plague/blow (hkm) seven times/seven-
fold1 for your sins.2" Again, Rashi offers an extrapolation of seven
judgments.3 However, the meaning has already been established by its
previous employment in verse 18; it is a means of drawing attention to
the sabbatical principle which had been violated by the nation. The
"plague/blow" is that which smites (being the substantive of the verb
"smite," hkn), that which inflicts injury or destroys.4 The term is
employed in two contexts as a reference to the "blow" of Yahweh: those
contexts in which he is the exodus-causer (Num 11:33; 1 Sam 4:8) and
those in which he is the land-giver (Lev 26:21; Deut 28:59 ter, 61;
29:21). Even in those contexts where Yahweh is represented as the
land-giver (in Leviticus and Deuteronomy), the contexts express the
history of the exodus and Deuteronomy 28:59 relates the "blow" to the
covenant with Yahweh, he will treat them in the manner in which he
be treated like
"Yea, I will send against you the beasts of the field (tyH
hdWh)" identifies the nature of the "blow/plague" (v. 22a). Rashi5
and Onqelos6 explained or translated Hlw "send" by yrg "incite."
1 Cf. Jouon, Grammaire, p. 442 ( 142q).
2 See above, pp. 98-99.
3 wmvH, p. 138, re: Mkykrd vmwnv, v. 22.
4 BDB, pp. 645-47. The verb is employed in Leviticus only four
times (24:17, 18, 21; 26:24). In all the contexts in Leviticus the
smiting is fatal.
5 wmvH, p. 138.
6 Sperber, The Bible in Aramaic, 1:213.
Yahweh will turn the animals of the land against the inhabitants. He
will incite those animals to attack both the people and their livestock.
In 22b the results are described vividly: "so that they1 will make you
childless (lkw Pi’el), destroy (trk Hip’il) your cattle, diminish (Ffm
Hip’il) you, and your roads will become desolate (Mmw Nip’al)." All
of the verbs in this result clause are of the wqtl type. Each explains
a different aspect of the plague of wild animals. The verbs are not
necessarily in chronological order, though perhaps in logical order.2
The ravaging lions which devoured imported non-Israelites in
the early years of the Assyrian captivity (2 Kgs 17:24-26) should not
be considered a fulfillment of this covenant (or any covenant made with
participants.3 However, the account of the forty-two young men of
with the curse of Leviticus 26:22 (2 Kgs 2:23-25). Ezekiel refers to
this form of divine, judgment several times in his prophecies (Ezek
5:17; 14:15, 21). When the curse or plague of the wild beasts would
be sent by Yahweh, the unfaithful Israelites would lose their children
(cf. the forty-two young mockers of Elisha) and their livestock. In
that manner, the population would diminish. The young children would
become food for the beasts and the remaining Israelites would be starv-
ing because their livestock had also been destroyed. They would soon
1 The third feminine singular of all the verbs in 22b is in gram-
matical agreement with the subject, hyH, which is a collective singular.
3 Contra Wenham, Leviticus, p. 331; Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1, p. 315.
The theological covenants of the Old Testament were all made with the
be holed up at home for fear of the dangers presented by the beasts
along their roads and pathways. The disobedient Israelite's day would
pass much as the individual in Amos 5:19: he might flee from a lion in
his field, escape from a bear met along the path of flight, arrive home
to lean against his wall frightened and out of breath, only to be bit
by the poisonous serpent lying in wait for him in the wall! There is
no escape from the judgment of Yahweh.