Published on
December 30, 2023

Leviticus 24

“Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father was among the Israelites. A fight broke out in the camp...”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Leviticus 24
“Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father was among the Israelites. A fight broke out in the camp between the Israelite woman’s son and an Israelite man. Her son cursed and blasphemed the Name, and they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, a daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan.) They put him in custody until the Lord’s decision could be made clear to them. Then the Lord spoke to Moses: Bring the one who has cursed to the outside of the camp and have all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then have the whole community stone him.” Leviticus 24:10-14 (HCSB)

The sole aim of the Book of Leviticus is to communicate the importance of being sanctified set apart. Sanctification is stressed for both the community and the individual. Therefore, when anyone presumes to desecrate the Lord’s Name, the penalty must be ruthless.

It is common knowledge that a “mixed multitude” left Egypt along with the Israelites. The mixed multitude represented two spiritual realities: 1) Many in Egypt, apart from the Hebrews, believed in God and desired to follow Him, and 2) Just because Israel left the land of Egypt doesn’t mean they left their intimacy with the ways of Egypt. This “half-breed” son was emblematic of Israel’s love affair with Egypt and foreshadowed Israel’s problems with spiritual infidelity.

To “blaspheme” the Lord’s Name meant to treat it with contempt and dishonor. Orthodox (non-Messianic) rabbinic commentators remark that this man’s genealogy is recorded to impress upon the Israelites that a man’s life is not alone to do with as he pleases. His disgrace is also that of his parents, tribe, and people. Sin bears collateral damage. We have lost much of this sense of “community” in our Christian culture. In seeking to stress the rights of the individual, our society runs the risk of sacrificing accountability, which is necessary to protect itself.

The Torah ordained, “Thou shalt not revile God” (Exodus 22:27). But no penalty had been mentioned in that connection. Now, the Lord has spoken: The offender was to be stoned.

Notice how those who were direct recipients of the blasphemy were to literally have hands-on participation in executing the Lord’s judgment. Again, people were called to be personally concerned about the offense because the blasphemous words had fallen upon their ears. They were, therefore, discharging their duty by bringing the culprit to justice.

We live in a church culture that seems preoccupied with “not offending” people. My observation is that many pulpits would rather preach on the virtues of reconciliation and ignore the fact that there are times when conflict is necessary, especially in cases where sin is so blatant that it must be confronted to protect the community of believers.

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