(In a regular year, read with Parashah 29; in a leap year read separately.)
“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Speak to the entire community of Isra’el; tell them, “You people are to be holy because I, Adonai your God, am holy”’” (Leviticus 19:3).
The title of this parashah is K’doshim or ‘holy people.’ In Hebrew, the word for ‘holy’ is kadosh. More familiar Greek terminology would be ‘saints’ and ‘sanctified.’ Both the Hebrew and Greek words mean ‘set-apart’ or ‘consecrated’ to Adonai. This parashah begins with Adonai telling His people to ‘be holy because He is holy.’
Hebrew Word Pictures
Holy or kadosh – קדש – kof, dalet, shin
– what is behind the pathway consumes
This parashah is a menagerie of commands, many of which add details to the Ten Commandments. The ordinances give more specifics to the Levitical priesthood, the ‘shadow’ of Yeshua’s royal priesthood. The commandments and ordinances set Adonai’s holy people apart from all others. The Torah should never be considered a burden, but a delight because it sanctifies Adonai’s people (1 John 3:4, John 17:17).
“I will find my delight in your regulations. I will not forget your word … Also your instructions are my delight; they are my counselors … I will delight myself in your mitzvot, which I have loved” (Psalm 119:16, 24, 47)
Two Greatest Commandments
“Observe my regulations” (Leviticus 19:19).
The Ten Commandments are ‘numbered’ with the Hebrew letters alef through yod. This section will be divided into the ‘big ten’ separated under the headings ‘Love God’ and ‘Love Your Neighbor.’ The ordinances from the parashah will be listed under each of the commandments so it will be easier to see what Yeshua meant when he said, “All the Torah and the prophets hang on these two commands” (Matthew 22:40).
Love Adonai Your God
“He [Yeshua] answered,
“You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your strength and with all your understanding;
and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
א Alef – An Ox means ‘first’ and ‘strong.’
“I Am Adonai your God.”
Ordinance: “Offer it [a peace offering] in a way that will make you accepted” suggests there is a way that a peace offering offering isn’t accepted (verses 5-7). The peace offering brought fellowship between the offerer and Adonai. It was a free-will offering given from the heart. An example of a peace offering is when Hannah dedicates Samuel to Elohim
(1 Samuel 1:21-28).
ב Bet – A House means ‘house’ or ‘family.’
“Have no other gods before me.”
Ordinance: “Do not turn to idols, and do not cast metal gods for yourselves; I am Adonai your God”(Leviticus 19:4). When we bow to an idol physically or give spiritual consent to another god, we commit spiritual adultery and turn from loving Adonai with all our hearts. Casting a metal or ceramic god is not acceptable to Elohim.
Ordinance: “Do not eat anything with blood. Do not practice divination or fortune telling” (Leviticus 19:26). These two ordinances about divination and fortune telling occur together because both of the practices involve drinking blood.
Ordinance: “Do not turn to spirit-mediums or sorcerers; don’t seek them out, to be defiled by them; I am Adonai your God” (Leviticus 19: 31). Adonai reminds His people not to consult mediums or sorcerers. Spirit-mediums invoke spirits from the dead or demons. In the account of the medium (witch) of Endor, the medium called forth Samuel’s spirit from the grave at King Saul’s request. These actions cost King Saul his life (1 Samuel 28).
In Greek, pharmakia is the word for ‘sorcery.’ Sorcerers used drugs to take people into an altered state of mind. Today, the modern sorcerer is a pharmacist at a pharmacy who sells ‘legal drugs.’ These drugs change our body’s chemical imbalances to worse imbalances. More people who take legalized anti-depressants kill themselves than people who do not. Some drugs, like marijuana, that were once illegal, but have become legal, are causing mental health problems for those who use it. The increase in sorcery is a sign of the end times and last days.
Ordinance: “The person who turns to spirit-mediums and sorcerers to go fornicating after them – I will set myself against him and cut him off from his people. Therefore consecrate yourselves–you people must be holy, Because I am Adonai your God” (Leviticus 20:6-7). This ordinance adds fornicating with mediums and sorcerers. Fornicating with mediums and sorcerers is the sin of spiritual adultery with the consequence of being ‘cut off’ from the people. As this parashah began: We are to be ‘holy as Adonai is holy.’
Ordinance: “A man or woman who is a spirit-medium or sorcerer must be put to death; they are to stone them to death; their blood will be on them” (Leviticus 20:27). According to Elohim, every matter must be established by two or three witnesses not just at the whim of someone who deems another guilty (Deuteronomy 19:15). This is what happened at the Salem witch trials. Though trying to follow Torah, false accusations ultimately led to the deaths of innocent people. Spirit-mediums and sorcerers were to be put to death, but could not be done arbitrarily and without proper witness.
Ordinance: “Don’t cut gashes in your flesh when someone dies or tattoo yourselves; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:28). This verse is often disputed because of the modern fixation with ‘body art.’ There are cultures that gash their flesh as a ritual when someone dies. This ordinance refers to ‘cutting’ which has also become a phenomenon with young people who are hurting inside and want to make the pain physical. Tattoos fall under the same category as ‘cutting’ because it involves cutting the skin or flesh and contaminating the blood. Remember: Elohim says the life of a creature or person is in its blood.
For those who justify getting tattoos, it is important to remember that Yeshua never sinned. This means that he never broke any of his Father’s commandments, including this one. He would never have had a tattoo nor would have encouraged tattoos or he would have sinned. ‘Body art’ deeply grieves Elohim because of the disrespect for the human body, the place where Elohim put His ‘breath of life,’ but even more grievous is tattooing His Word or His Name on human flesh.
When I have asked people about their tattoos, they invariably talk about the memory of someone who died. Such a memorial is strictly forbidden by Adonai in this commandment. As with so many of Elohim’s commands, choices are not based on the plumb line of His Word, but on the cultural practices surrounding us. Adonai commanded His people not to imitate the actions of the nations and, if we are truly His people, we will be set-apart from the ways of the world. If we love the things of the world, love for Elohim is not in us (1 John 2:15).
Ordinance: “Do not debase your daughter by making her a prostitute, so that the land will not fall into prostitution and become full of shame” (Leviticus 19:29). Temple prostitution was a ‘way of the nations.’ There are still religions today, like Hinduism, where young girls are prostitutes at Hindu temples. Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India who tried to save young girls from this type of defilement. Selling daughters into prostitution (along with human trafficking) shames the whether it’s Isra’el, America, China or South America. Elohim created young women as the glory of man and He desires them to be protected, not to be sold for their bodies.
Ordinance: “If someone from the people of Isra’el or one of the foreigners living in Isra’el sacrifices one of his children to Molech, he must be put to death: the people of the land are to stone him to death” (Leviticus 20:2). Sacrificing a child to Molech defiles Adonai’s sanctuary and profanes His name. The consequence for child sacrifice is death. This ordinance can also be found under gimel.
Ordinance: “Don’t round your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard” (Leviticus 19:27). From this ordinance comes the tradition of peyos or ‘side-curls’ worn by Hasidic Jewish men. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Adonai warned them many times not to do the things the nations they conquered did. This is another example of idolatry and worship of another god. They had already seen how the Egyptians cut their hair to honor the sun-god Ra with a round spot shaved off or keeping the sides so short there was the appearance of a halo around their head. Numerous commentaries say a similar practice was done by Arabs and worshipers of the Greek god Dionysus.
ג Gimel – Camel means ‘lift up’ or ‘pride.’
“You are not to use lightly the name of Adonai your God.”
Ordinance: “Do not swear by my name falsely, which would be profaning the name of your God; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:12). When I was growing up, I was taught this command meant not saying, “Oh my God” or “Jesus Christ.” Though these phrases appear to be profaning name of Elohim, it isn’t the reason for the command. ‘Taking His name in vain’ means to claim to be a child of Elohim or follower of Yeshua and live contrary to His commandments. This is vanity and profanes His name among those with whom you interact.
ד Dalet – A Door means ‘pathway.’
“Remember the Shabbat to set it apart for God.”
Ordinance: “You are to keep my Shabbats; I am Adonai your God” (Leviticus 19:3). This refers to the seventh-day Sabbath specifically as well as the other ‘appointed times’ given by Adonai.
“Keep my Sabbaths, and revere my sanctuary; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:30). Reverence for Elohim’s sanctuary is a command. One church I used to attend met in a gymnasium. As soon as the service was over, the chairs were removed and basketball games started. I tried to explain to several different leaders how that was not reverencing the sanctuary, but they did not understand. To them it was a basketball court where they worshiped, not a set-apart place or sanctuary.
Love Your Neighbor
“He answered, ‘You are to… [love] your neighbor as yourself’”
ה Hey – A Window means ‘reveal’ or ‘behold.’
“Honor your father and mother so that you have long life.”
Ordinance: “Everyone of you is to revere his father and mother …” (Leviticus 19:3).
Ordinance: “A person who curses his father or mother must be put to death, having cursed his father or mother, his blood is on him” (Leviticus 20:9). This verse is often quoted to prove that Adonai is a madman or His laws are foolish because no one stones their son or daughter for cursing their parents. This command was enacted arbitrarily. Through the ruling body set up by Moshe, innocence or guilt was determined by two or three witnesses.
Ordinance: “Stand up in the presence of a person with gray hair, show respect for the old; you are to fear your God; I am Adonai”(Leviticus 19:32). This ordinance has long been forgotten in western society along with a man relinquishing his seat to a woman on a train or bus. Eldership was held in high regard within the Israelite community because the ‘aged’ held the wisdom of life. Today many ‘elders’ in the church are young men with virtually no life experience and true elders are pushed to the ‘back of the bus’ because their wisdom is considered irrelevant in the modern world. This particular command adds ‘you are to fear your Elohim.’ Like the widow and the fatherless, Elohim has special regard for the elder, the one who has walked with Him a long time. To stand in their presence is to stand in the fear of Adonai.
ז Zayin – A Weapon means ‘divide’ or ‘cut.’
“Do not commit adultery.”
Ordinance: ”If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife …” (Leviticus 20:10-21). This whole section in Leviticus describes the multitude of sexual sins including incest, fornication, homosexuality, and beastiality. The sins are described as disgraceful, perverse, abominable, and depraved. Each incident has a consequence of blood or death, even death by fire. Sexual immorality is not tolerated by Adonai among His people.
ח Chet – A Fence means ‘protect.’
“Do not steal.”
Ordinance:“Do not steal from … (Leviticus 19:11).
Ordinance: “Do not oppress or rob your neighbor; specifically, you are not to keep back the wages of a hired worker all night until morning” (Leviticus 19:13).
ט Tet – Snake means ‘twist.’
“Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Ordinance: “[Do not] defraud or lie to each other” (Leviticus 19:11).
Ordinance: “Do not go around spreading slander among your people, but also don’t stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:16).
Slander is speaking lies about an individual to other people. It is one of the most grievous sins that my husband and I have experienced at the hands of those we considered family in Messiah. From personal experience, I would have liked for those who listened to the slanderous remarks ‘not to have stood idly by,’ but to have stood up for us rather than allow the slander to affect even more people. Consequently, the slander separated many close friends as a ‘perverse person’ does (Proverbs 16:28).
“He [Yeshua] answered … ‘[love] your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).
Ordinance: “Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native-born among you — you are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
Ordinance: “When you harvest the ripe crops produced in your land, don’t harvest all the way to the corners of your field, and don’t gather the ears of grain left by the harvesters. Likewise, don’t gather the grapes left on the vine or fallen on the ground after the harvest; leave them for the poor and the foreigner; I am Adonai your God” (verses 9-10). The gleanings of the field along with grapes missed on the vine or fallen to the ground were food for the poor and foreigner.
Ordinance: “If a foreigner stays with you in your land, do not do him wrong. Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native-born among you – you are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34).
Those who were not Israelite by birth were to be treated as equals when they lived in the Land. In Isra’el, there are Arab Israelis who follow the Muslim religion. As Israelis, they are treated equally with the same privileges and freedoms as citizens. They have voting rights, serve in the Knesset (government), work as doctors, lawyers, and bankers. They are not allowed, however, to serve in the military as they are foreigners.
There is spiritual equality within Elohim’s Kingdom and He desires that equality to be evidenced in the Land He gave to His people in how they treat foreigners. Those who are not DNA Jewish and join the Commonwealth of Isra’el through faith in Messiah are also foreigners.
Ordinance: “Do not speak a curse against a deaf person or place an obstacle in the way of a blind person; rather, fear your God; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:14). On the surface this ordinance seems obvious. Who would curse a deaf person or put an obstacle in the way of a blind person? Is it not the same thing when we judge someone who does not have ‘ears to hear’ or ‘eyes to see’ the Truth of Elohim’s word? Do we not put an obstacle in their way of learning Torah when we respond without mercy and compassion for their deafness or blindness? Yeshua healed on the Sabbath not only as a testimony to his authority, but also because he didn’t want the blind and deaf to stumble when it came to seeing and hearing his voice.
When John (the Immerser) questioned whether or not Yeshua was the promised one, Yeshua replied, “Go back and report to Yochanan what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me’” (Matthew 11:4-6).
Ordinance: “Do not be unjust in judging – show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but with justice judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15). Elohim commands us to judge our neighbor rightly as there is a ‘just’ way of judging and an ‘unjust’ way. When we judge someone based on life condition, like poverty, we misjudge it as a consequence of their heart condition. When honoring a rich man, we follow the assumption that because he is rich, his heart is right before Elohim. When it comes to justice, we are to judge all men equally. When it comes to the heart, only Adonai knows its condition and how we judge a person’s heart will come back upon us (Matthew 7:1-3)
When Samuel was called to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king of Isra’el, he thought that each son he met should be the one chosen by Elohim because of his outward appearance. However, it was Jesse’s youngest son, David, a shepherd boy, who Elohim chose because He knew David’s heart. He was a worshiping, teachable man who would seek the will of Elohim (1 Samuel 16:7).
“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22).
Those who willfully choose to disobey Adonai with their life choices quote this verse out of context expecting Adonai to ‘look at their heart.’ In truth, this verse should create ‘fear of Adonai’ because He does look at our heart. The prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and mortally sick. Who can fathom it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) King Solomon says that we are what we think in our hearts (Proverbs 23:7). What comes out in our lives, obedience or rebellion, love or hate, slander or kind words, begins in our heart.
Ordinance: “Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won’t carry sin because of him” (Leviticus 19:17). To rebuke means to ‘express sharp disapproval or criticism of someone because of their behavior or actions.’ This is one of the most difficult commands to obey because of spiritual and personal pride for both the rebuker and the rebukee. I can recall two times in my life when I felt the need to rebuke someone for their behavior. The first time it was a child and her reception of the rebuke was complete repentance and humility. I was actually amazed at the maturity of this seven-year-old girl. It was a testimony to her parents training as well as her heart before the Lord. Today, she’s in her twenties and an amazing young woman with a teachable and humble heart.
Another time I rebuked an adult and lost the friendship. I do not believe I was wrong in the rebuke, but it was not received with the intended motive and destroyed a friendship causing incredible grief in my life. According to this command, if we don’t rebuke a neighbor for a sin, we will eventually hate them and carry that sin and theirs within us. To achieve wholeness, sin has to be acknowledged as sin by or it will divide.
Ordinance: “Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people, rather love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:17). It is up to Adonai to avenge us when we are wronged. About 20 years ago, a pastor called me a heretic for covering my head and, for reasons only known to him, told me to never enter his church again. He judged me wrongly both in heart and in Scriptural practice. I had no recourse except to allow Adonai’s ‘vengeance.’ Several months after the incident, Elohim told me to go stand outside the church building and read Elijah’s prayer from 1 Kings 36-37. I went to the church building, stood outside, and read the prayer aloud. Six months later, I was informed that this man was no longer pastor of the church and had left ‘in a hurry.’ Twenty years after the incident, I was invited to that same church by a different pastor. As I walked up the steps and into the door with my husband, I knew Adonai had avenged the wrong that had been done to me. Not only was I going into that building, my husband and I had been invited to lead a Passover seder.
Ordinance: “Don’t be dishonest when measuring length, weight or capacity. Rather, use an honest balance-scale, honest weights, an honest bushel dry-measure and an honest gallon liquid-measure; I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:35-36).
A friend who lived in Isra’el said there were always dishonest scales, especially at the street markets. Elohim desires honesty when dealing with others especially when it comes to weighing out matters. He knows that a dishonest scale means a dishonest heart.
“If you say, “But we knew nothing about this, ‘does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?’” (Proverbs 24:12)
Ordinance: “Don’t let your livestock mate with those of another kind, don’t sow your field with two different kinds of grain, and don’t wear a garment of cloth made with two different kinds of threads” (Leviticus 19:19).
These three regulations seem unrelated, but they are not. On the surface, mating a cow with a sheep is just not done. Nor is mating a goat with a ram. When a horse and donkey mate, their offspring is sterile. It cannot reproduce; it cannot be fruitful and multiply.
Living in a farming community with fields everywhere, I have yet to see anyone plant corn and wheat together. They are always in separate fields. However there are mixed grains called hybrids. Some are a genetically modified organism that our bodies cannot digest and accept as food. A hybrid grain does not reproduce like a natural grain. Once upon a time, you could take an apple from a tree and use its seeds to make another tree. Hybrids and their seeds are sterile; they cannot be fruitful and multiply.
Garments made with two different kinds of thread would result in wool from a sheep and linen from a plant being sewn together which is not done. Nor do we sew cotton from a plant and silk from a worm together. Yet, we do mix natural fibers like wool and cotton with man-made fibers like polyester and rayon. Mixing natural threads creates an impure garment. Mixing what Elohim has created with something man-made destroys the purity of His creation. The priesthood was to wear fine linen as does the Bride of Messiah. Mixing fine linen with cotton, wool or silk changes the integrity of the linen. It takes on the aspects of the other fabrics, no longer being a pure fabric.
“When you enter the land and plant various kinds of fruit trees, you are to regard its fruit as forbidden – for three years it will be forbidden to you and not eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, for praising Adonai. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, so that it will produce even more for you; I am Adonai your God” (Leviticus 19:23).
A fruit tree generally doesn’t produce fruit the first year it’s planted, but in subsequent years, it will begin to bud and bear fruit. Picking fruit from a tree before it is completely established will decrease its fruit production. We had a tree on our property that we didn’t plant so we didn’t know what kind of tree it was. For several years, it just remained a small tree with no buds, flowers or fruit. We bought an apple tree and planted it nearby. About 5 years after planting the second tree which barely lived and never bore fruit, my daughter came running into the house with apples. When she told me where she picked them, I went out to see the tree. The original tree was packed with apples. Apparently, the apple tree needed a friend. Ironically, my daughter found the apples on Rosh Hashanah so that year, and subsequent years, we enjoyed apples and honey for the holiday.
“Observe all my regulations and rulings and do them; I am Adonai”(Leviticus 19:37).
“Observe my regulations and obey them; I am Adonai, who sets you apart to be holy” (Leviticus 20:8).
Yeshua, the Word of Holiness
“Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Yeshua prays to his Father to set-apart his talmidim (disciples) for holiness as well as those who would put their faith in him through their testimony. The way Yeshua states to become ‘holy’ or ‘sanctified’ is through the Truth or the Word of Elohim. Holiness is not imparted at the new birth, but comes through the process of learning the commandments and putting them into practice. With each step of faith obedience, a person becomes more set-apart, sanctified, and holy. Yeshua further asks his Father that everyone be united so that the world will believe his Father sent him to save the world. It is only when we are in unity through the Truth of Elohim that the ‘one new man’ will emerge and the world will be convicted of sin and repent.
“With the Messiah, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one” (Galatians 3:27-28).
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Yeshua quotes the prophet Isaiah about man-made traditions versus loving Adonai with all our hearts: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship of me is useless, because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines” (Isaiah 29:13).
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