BIBLE STUDY SERIES #284, 285 and 286

27 April, 1997


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies which began several years ago with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12 has taken us down the years and generations of his progeny to Mount Sinai where the Children of Israel are now gathered to receive the laws and directives which Moses is relaying to them from their national husband, The Almighty God, Yahweh or Jehovah. We have now reached Chapter 20 of the book of Leviticus. For those who have not heard the previous Bible Studies, we propose to follow our usual approach, making a brief review of the Scripture itself, before moving to have a look at some recognised Commentaries which expound thereon. At certain points we may also find it profitable to make momentary digressions to quote related Biblical verses, or to draw to our aid the words of The Companion Bible or other references.

On the last study, we had taken the first part of Leviticus, Chapter 20 as our chief area of concern, although the whole chapter bears a unity of thrust and purpose which does not allow of an easy division for two programmes. Today, we shall have to take a short reiew of that first part, in order to gain background needed to make sense of the second part. In addition we shall, today, be considering some New Testament passages which bear upon our attitude of mind as we read these Old Testament Laws. We shall pick up the reading at verse 20, but with the needed summary of what went before.

In verses 1-19, there is a statement, or perhaps better, a re-statement, of some forbidden defilements which have appeared in earlier chapters of God's Law, but Leviticus 20 puts the penalties for transgression of those Laws before us, and there is, or at least must appear to be, a certain harsh strictness guiding the matter as the death penalty by stoning is specified for transgression in these matters, and we, today, tend to take an approach therefore which separates the "God of the Old Testament" from "The God of the New Testament." There is, however, only One God, so we must find some resolution to the apparent we continue with today's portion, and its New Testament Sequel.

20. And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
21. And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.
22. Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
23. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
24. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.
25. Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
26. And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
27. A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

We had, in Part I, used comments from The New Bible Commentary, from which we will now continue to draw some further insights. It says, having in view the latter part of the Levitical chapter, the following further words: "Verses 22-26 remind the Israelites that the enormities just described are those of the people whose land they are to possess. It has 'vomited out' (cf. xviii. 25) its inhabitants for their abominations, and Israel will suffer the same fate if she practises them (cf. xviii. 28). Yet the land is their inheritance and it is a goodly land (Ex. iii. 8, 17). The Lord has 'separated' them (24). Note the fourfold use of this word in verses 24-26 (see RV). This section indicates quite clearly that a principal aim of the dietary laws of chapter xi was to make and promote a definite separation between Israel and the Canaanites. Since eating and drinking was an important part of the daily life of the people, and since verses 22-26 serve as a kind of conclusion to this great body of laws, ceremonial and moral, which the people are to observe, a reference back to chapter xi with which it begins is entirely appropriate. 'That ye should be mine' (26). Here the whole aim of the law is briefly summarized. The Lord's people must keep His law if they are to be truly His. Verse 27 is simply the further application of verse 6. The mediums who lead the people astray are to be punished by stoning (2, cf. xxiv. 14f.). By returning again to this subject, the heinousness of this sin (cf. Dt. xviii. 9-14) is particularly stressed. It is a sin of idolatry, and Israel must shun idolatry in every form."

Last week, I said that I would make reference to the passage found in John 8, in which the strict application of the Israelitish death penalty for adultery was used as a challenge to Christ's claims of Divine authority. On the matter which was mentioned in the news, wherein the Taliban Islamic movement in Afghanistan, under an extremely strict application of Sharia Law, has stoned to death a young woman named Jamila caught trying to flee with her lover from a village and charged with adultery. At that time, I said that later, I would have something to say with regard to a similar occurrence which the Bible reports in John 8:1-11. Let us read that passage from the Christian Gospel.

1. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4. They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Christ here fulfilled the equivalent part to that of the priest in Numbers 5:16-26, a passage which we shall study on a future programme. At this point several things are noteworthy. One is that the New Testament situation, in the Roman Province called Judaea, was governed under the laws of the Roman Empire, to which many prophetic Biblical students would assign a position as the fourth of the Babylonian succession of world powers of Daniel's visionary interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, recorded in Daniel 2, noting particularly verses 40-45. This was the last of the four gentile empires which were to arise during the "seven times", or in other words 2520 years, of Israel's punishment for their national adultery from The Almighty God, their national husband. For this national adultery, the bill of divorce was given to the Northern House of Israel, (Jeremiah 3:8) and it was broken up and dispersed, ("sifted" as Amos states in Amos 9:9), but later to be re-gathered in order to vindicate God's words by fulfilling the unconditional promises to the Patriarchs.

Second, Rome reserved to itself the sole prerogative to apply the death penalty in lands under its dominance, and Christ's opponents were obviously seeking to place Christ in a dilemma between the demands of the Mosaic Law and that of Rome wherein He would have to declare either for the one or the other, and thus fail in His ministry. However His answer provided a solution which resolved both requirements while placing the opponents themselves in that challenging position of dilemma.

Third, as we have just been studying this last two weeks, the Mosaic Law did, indeed, designate the death by stoning for any case of proven adultery.

Fourth, that Law Code also demanded that no person be executed by the mouth of only one witness, even a murderer. At least two or three were required, a fact which we can verify by turning to Numbers 35:30-31 which states "Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shalt take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death." and Deuteronomy 13:9 which speaks of one who seeks to draw away Israelties to worship of foreign deities, and commands a witness to that transgression saying "But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God...", and Deuteronomy 17:1-7 which repeats this penalty with regard to serving other gods, and worshipping them, "either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven", but with the reservation which specifies dilligent enquiry of the matter, and concludes "at the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people." It was with such laws in mind that opponents were about to stone Christ in John 8:59 and again in John 10:31.

Keep in mind the identity of the present-day descendants of these Israelites to whom these words were addressed. We of the British-Israel-World Federation affirm that the vast majority are located today in the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples, and to them these words must especially apply but also having the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, in view.

Our time has gone. May you find much food for thought in the passage which formed the subject of today's discussion.

4 May, 1997


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies began several years ago with God's Call to Abram. We have been working our way more or less steadily, with occasional digressions, through successive chapters of the Book of Genesis, then of Exodus, and latterly of Leviticus since that time.

On our last broadcast we had discussed Leviticus Chapter 20; a chapter which dealt with the sundry punishments to be meted out to those who had transgressed the various laws, which we have studied in the previous chapters. We have now arrived at Leviticus 21, a chapter which, together with the one which follows it, The New Bible Commentary examines under the general heading "Instructions For The Priests." Let us read Leviticus 21:1-9.

1. And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people:
2. But for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother,
3. And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.
4. But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.
5. They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
6. They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.
7. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.
8. Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.
9. And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

With that last verse particularly in view, I might draw into consideration two or three Biblical episodes which might not at once come to mind. However, due to its length, I shall treat of only one today, leaving the remainder for next week.

One Biblical episode concerns the Prophet Hosea to whom had been assigned the task of explaining to the sinful, Northern House of Israel (the ten-and-a-half tribed nation which had been split from the House of Judah many years before), their true spiritual condition and consequent impending fate. Assyrian dominance would form God's method of punishment upon this people who had turned their backs upon the God of their fathers. They would soon be deported, and the nation dispersed in captivity, and so Hosea's message was an essential witness to their condition, and its impact had to be forceful. Hosea records in the first chapter of his Prophetic Book how, in order to make his sermons the more dramatic, he was ordered by The Almighty God to take to himself a wife who would be in relation to that Prophet in a position parallel to that of Israel to God. Hosea's words in Hosea 1:2-3 explain thus: "And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son."

Now a question is placed before us. As we seek an answer, hold in view certain facts. One is the fact that Hosea stood in relation to the nation of Israel among whom he laboured as a Priest. Second, the Law of Leviticus 21:7 states of a priest, a son of Aaron: "They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God." Third, the law of verse 14 which we shall read shortly, and which pertains to the High Priest states: "A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife." Fourth, we note the fact that God never breaks His own Law. Here is the question: In light of these points, what then must be Gomer's racial origin, and the true nature of Gomer's "whoredom"?

By God's Law, Hosea could not have been ordered by The Almighty to marry any non-Israelite woman, nor one who was physically an adulteress or harlot. The name Gomer had been used many centuries before by Japheth to name his eldest son in Genesis 10:2. However it must have likewise circulated among Israel's descendants for two considerations. First, this girl had to be an Israelite woman by God's Law, in order to marry one effectively occupying the office of a priest. Second, the whole effectiveness of this dramatic teaching device displayed before all of Northern Israel would have been lost had Gomer been, in fact, of foreign, non-Israelitish extraction because (a) the Prophet would have violated God's Law and lost his authority to speak, and (b) she was chosen to epitomise Israel's condition and relationship to God Himself through her marriage to Hosea.

The answers must be first, that Gomer was an Israelite, and second, that her "whoredom" must have been, like that of Israel, a spiritual condition. These Israelites would, within a short time, remember Hosea's dramatic preaching, and some might well have begun referring to themselves as "Gomerites" or "Gamir" as they passed into captivity and exile ("Galah" in Hebrew means "captive", and "exile").

I might extend this comment by adding a most important postscript which, incidentally, may explain why many otherwise learned theologians and Bible teachers have been led astray concerning the thesis of British-Israel. Many centuries after the days of Hosea, and the Assyrian deportations of Israel, there lived in the first century AD, the Jewish historian, Josephus, who sought to supply a genealogic ancestry for various races. Josephus picked up a brief item of genealogical information obtained from the Greeks who were themselves correctly informed concerning the ethnic origins of their neighbours, the Galatians. The Greeks explained to Josephus that these Galatians "(Galls)", were before that "called Gomerites." Now in New Testament times, the more restricted ethnic usage of the word "Galatia" would confine this name to the North Galatians, whom historians know to have been Gauls who had migrated from Central Europe. The New Bible Dictionary, item "Galatia", states: "A great population explosion in central Europe brought Gauls into this area during the 3rd century BC." Another usage assigns the name "Galatia" to an expanded geographic area extending the Roman Provincial boundary southward to include, along with the North Galatians, the areas of Pontus, Phrygia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, and Paphlagonia.

Competing views assign the Pauline "Epistle to the Galatians" to the southern (Roman) extension alone, or alternatively to all of Galatia. In any event, there is no doubt to whom Peter addressed his "First Epistle General." It was to "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" so he was definitely defining "Galatia" in the narrower ethnic sense of "North Galatia.".

It is important to see that Josephus was quoting the Greeks, and their ethnic information, not the Roman usage of the term, and hence the ethnic Galatians are those who were the Gauls that had previously been called "Gomerites."

Here we find two authorities who differ, and one is right and the other wrong! Josephus tacked the item of ethnic information concerning those ethnic Galatians to his genealogical account of Japheth's eldest son, Gomer, in Josephus "Antiquities of the Jews", Book I, Chapter VI, Item 1. My English translation of Josephus contains no Index reference to the Prophet Hosea, nor does the list of "Texts of the Old Testament Parallel to Josephus's Histories" yield any Hosea Scripture parallel. One might assume from this that Josephus knew nothing of Hosea the Prophet, let alone his wife, Gomer!

Peter, in his Epistle knows thoroughly the prophecies found in Exodus 19:5-6, and, of even more significance because of the specific direction of the assigned prophecy to deported Northern Israel, Hosea 2:23, which can legitimately be assigned only to this deported Northern House of Israel. These he assigns specifically in I Peter 2:9-10 to these North Galatians, together with the others in their area mentioned in I Peter 1:1. These cannot be reassigned to a non-Israelite "church." Whereas Josephus would make the Gauls of Europe Japhethites, Peter clearly knows their identity as Galah (Hebrew: captive, exile) Israelites, whom Hosea had been, in effect, instructed by God to call "Gomerites" before their departure into that exile from which they derived their Hebrew appellation "Galah" or Gaul, subsequently deformed into the name "Galatian." So the Greeks were right. The name sequence was "called Gomerite" (by Hosea), Galah (Gaul) in captivity and exile under Assyria, and "Galatians" in after centuries. The Josephus assignation of "Gomerites" to Gomer, son of Japheth was doubtless a guess based on similarity of name and ignorance of the obvious true alternative explanation. He was a good historian, but not perfect. Mistakes are to be expected in any work as vast as his. This is one which ought to be re-examined in light of his apparent lack of knowledge concerning Hosea's preaching and Hosea's wife, Gomer.

11 May, 1997


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies began several years ago with God's Call to Abram. We have been working our way more or less steadily, with occasional digressions, through successive chapters of the Book of Genesis, then of Exodus, and latterly of Leviticus since that time.

On our last broadcast we had discussed the first verses of Leviticus 21, a chapter to which we now return. We had seen how that the laws contained herein had been given concerning instructions for the Priests. Verse 9 had stated "And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire." With that last verse particularly in view, I began last week to draw into consideration two or three Biblical episodes which might not at once come to mind. Hosea was one. Another, although it occurred prior to the formal institution of this law through Moses, concerns Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law. Back in Genesis 38, you may remember the occasion when Er, Judah's half-Canaanitish son who was married to Tamar died without issue, and also the second brother Onan. As the third son, Shelah, was not given her, Tamar devised the strategy of pretending to be a veiled prostitute, and obtained seed from Judah himself, together with a deposit of his staff, bracelets and signet ring pending payment for such service. Later, hearing the report that his daughter-in-law, Tamar had played the harlot and become pregnant, Judah ordered "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt." She then revealed, using the evidences of staff, bracelets and signet ring as her proofs, that she was with child by Judah himself, and so escaped that fate in honour. This, incidentally, gave rise to the inclusion of matching symbolic tokens to validate the continuing line of descent in the present Coronation service of the British Monarchy. The Companion Bible note to Genesis 38:24 says of the order to burn Tamar: "This was strictly in accordance with the code of Khammurabi (#157) which was then in force throughout Canaan." It is here seen that the Biblical law tallies with that of Hammurabi in this instance. However, the significant aspect of that episode lies in the fact that only a priest's daughter would be so punished, stoning being the ordinary means of execution for other women (as in the case of the woman taken in adultery and brought before Jesus in John 8:2-11). Such others, not being a priest's daughter, would be stoned, not burned, as outlined by Deuteronomy 22:21-24 for such adultery. This is evidence that Tamar must have been the daughter of a priest within the Patriarchal clans closely related to Israel.

The Companion Bible note groups the first 15 verses of Leviticus 21 under the heading "Defilements (mourning)." It may seem strange to see this association of the natural and normal sense of mourning and grief at the passing of a loved one into the grave with the concept of defilement. We might pause to ask ourselves why this would be so. Even Christ Himself joined the family and friends of Lazarus at the tomb in Bethany. Indeed the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept", records His reaction to the situation wherein the loved ones in the family and the friends of Lazarus were in mourning, not fully aware of His immediate power over death. He planned his delayed arrival on this occasion to permit the process of death to take place in order to demonstrate that power to raise the dead. This He proceeded to accomplish to the amazement of all, but He realised that reports of the miracle were to precipitate the decision of the rulers of the nation to move towards seeing that Jesus Himself would be put to death on the Cross. Even His disciples also had viewed this situation with apprehension of its gravity and the Scriptures record the reaction of one of them, Thomas, to Jesus' plan to return into Judaea (John 11, especially verses 7, 8 and 16).

Let us make a start by reviewing briefly those first verses of Leviticus 21. The first part of the chapter particularized aspects of the theme that, unlike others, a Priest in Israel was to be especially holy, and even more so, an High Priest.

The New Bible Commentary assigns the sub-heading "The priests must be holy" to its comments on these verses 1 to 9. On this passage the Commentary says: "If the people are to separate themselves from everything evil, how much more so the priests! They are not to defile themselves (xxi. 1, 3, 4), nor to profane the name of their God (6); they are to be holy to Him (6, 7) and must be treated as such (8). The reasons given are their high rank - a priest is a chief man among his people (4) - and the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer (6), a statement which makes it clear that the offering of sacrifice was their chief function. The bread (food) of their God is a phrase used frequently in this chapter (6, 8, 17, 21, 22; cf. xxii. 25, also iii. 11, 16). The particular matter first dealt with is defilement by contact with the dead. This they must avoid, except in the case of their next of kin. Death being the penalty of sin, contact with it was defiling. The failure to mention the wife when mother, father, son, daughter, and sister are specified must mean that the wife's position is unique. She is not his kin, that is near unto him (2) but 'one flesh' with him (Gn. ii. 24); to mention her would be superfluous. The command to abstain from pagan practices is one which applies to priest and people alike (cf. xix. 27f.; Dt. xiv. 1). A priest must obviously be exemplary in all his conduct. He will of course marry. But he must marry a virtuous woman and one who has not been divorced. Again the reason is repeated: he ministers in holy things (7, 8). For the daughter of a priest to become a harlot is especially heinous and to be most severely punished." We continue at verse 10.

10. And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;
11. Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;
12. Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.
13. And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
14. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
15. Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.

Continuing, under the sub-heading "Special rules for the High Priest (xxi. 10-15)", the Commentary has this information to add: "In view of the unique holiness of the High Priest, the rules against defilement are more rigid than in the case of the ordinary priest. This is because the consecration of his God is upon him. The holy oil has been poured on his head and he wears the holy garments. He may not exhibit the usual tokens of grief and may not defile himself with any dead body, the exceptions made for the ordinary priest being definitely withdrawn. The direction that he is not to leave the sanctuary (12) probably means not to leave it in order to do the honours to the dead, not that he was always to stay in the courts of the tabernacle. A further restriction is that he must marry a virgin of his own people. His wife must be a daughter of Israel. Neither shall he profane (15); better as in RV 'and he shall not (by so doing) profane his seed', i.e. render them unfit for holy office, or to share in holy things by an unworthy marriage."

We can understand the essence of the defilement as we contemplate the relationship of sin with its destructive outworking. Indeed, St. Paul clarifies the relationship in plain words, in Romans 6:23, where we read these words: "For the wages of sin is death... ." Continuing:

16. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
17. Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
18. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
19. Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
20. Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
21. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.
22. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.
23. Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
24. And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.

There is an additional note on this next portion, verses 16-21 of the chapter, under the sub-heading "The effect of physical deformity." It states: "Just as the animals offered in sacrifice must be without blemish, so must the priests be who offer them. But those who are debarred from serving at the altar are to be permitted to eat of the holy things which are the priest's portion. Mention is made of abnormalities both of deficiency and of excess, e.g. six fingers instead of five. Castration came under this head, and eunuchs were barred from the congregation (Dt. xxiii. 1; cf. Is. lvi. 3ff.)." The Companion Bible notes that the verses 16-24 pertain to what it terms "Blemishes." The New Bible Commentary has further notes which will be consulted as we continue with the following chapter, so we will leave them for the occasion when that next chapter becomes our focus of study.

May you find much food for thought in the passage which formed the subject of today's discussion.