Leviticus 18:6 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(6) None of you shall approach.—Literally, man, man, ye shall not approach. It is part of the phrase used in Lev. 17:3; Lev. 17:8; Lev. 17:13, and should accordingly be rendered by no man whatsoever shall approach. The absence of the words “of the house of Israel,” which, in the other instances, form part of this phrase, as we are assured by the authorities in the time of Christ, shows that these prohibitions are also binding upon the stranger who took up his abode among the Israelites, lest the land be defiled by his transgressions. Though primarily addressed to man, who, in these cases, takes the initiative, the punishment for violating any of these laws was visited upon both man and woman.
Near of kin to him.—Literally, the flesh of his flesh. (See Psa. 73:26; Psa. 78:20; Psa. 78:27; Mic. 3:2-3.) The combination of two synonymous expressions is often used to denote intensity. Thus the phrase rendered “my exceeding joy” in the Authorised Version (Psa. 43:4), literally means the joy of my joy, or, as the Margin has it, “the gladness of my joy.” Accordingly, “the flesh of his flesh” signified “nearness of his flesh,” his near kin. This technical sense is assigned to the first of these two words by itself in Lev. 18:12-13, &c, where it is translated “near kinswoman.” It expresses kinship of both consanguinity and mere affinity. (See Lev. 18:17.)
To uncover their nakedness.—Upon the import of this phrase depends the interpretation of the laws laid down in this chapter and chapter 20, inasmuch as it furnishes the clue to the definition whether the interdicts refer to illicit commerce or to incestuous marriages. In the only other passage in the Pentateuch where it occurs, it does not appear to imply any unseemly intention (Exo. 20:26). This is also its sense in Isa. 47:3. In the seven instances in Ezekiel, however (Eze. 16:36-37; Eze. 22:10; Eze. 23:10; Eze. 23:18; Eze. 23:29), which are the only other passages in the Bible where this phrase is used, it denotes unseemly exposure, sexual intercourse, etc. Hence some high authorities maintain that in the twenty-one instances in which it is used in this part of the legislation (Lev. 18:6-19; Lev. 20:11; Lev. 20:17; Lev. 20:20-21), it denotes extra-conjugal licentiousness, and is simply an explanatory addition to the phrase “approach to,” with which it is combined in Lev. 18:6; Lev. 18:14; Lev. 18:18. From a comparison, however, of Lev. 18:18 with Lev. 18:19 to Lev. 20:11, it will be seen that it is undoubtedly used to denote sexual intercourse both within and without the pale of matrimony. As cohabitation without any religious ceremony whatever constituted and consummated marriage amongst the early Hebrews, the euphemistic phrases “to take home,” “to approach to,” “to know,” etc., as well as the less veiled expressions, “to lie with,” “to uncover her nakedness,” etc., denote marriage in Hebrew, not excluding, however, the primary sense of illicit commerce or incestuous marriages. The context in which the phrase occurs must determine the sense in which it is used. The administrators of the law during the second Temple, whilst rightly interpreting it here generally to denote incestuous marriages, also apply it in some instances to fornication and adultery.
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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Charles John Ellicott (1819 - 1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol.
His works include:
- An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1897. (Editor)
- A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.