Leviticus 19:18 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(18) Thou shalt not avenge.—As the preceding verse enjoins upon us to reprove the offender, this verse forbids us to avenge the wrong even when the rebuke has proved ineffectual, thus demanding the greatest sacrifice on the part of the injured person. The administrators of the law during the second Temple illustrate what is meant by avenge by the following example. “When a disobliging person who is in need applies to you to lend him something, and you reply, ‘I will not lend you even as you would not lend me,’ this is to avenge.” (Comp. also Rom. 12:19.)
Nor bear any grudge.—The law goes further still. It enjoins that the injured man is to banish from memory the injury he has suffered, though the offender has made no reparation. The spiritual authorities during the time of Christ regarded the simple reference to the injury when a kindly act is performed to our adversary as a violation of this injunction. They illustrated it by the following example. When an adversary applies to you to lend him something, and you actually comply with his request, but in so doing you say, “I lend it you, I will not act as you have acted, for you have refused to lend me,” this is a violation of the command not to bear any grudge. “He who at the reconciliation with his adversary readily forgives his transgressions, his own trespasses will also be readily forgiven in the day of judgment,” is the oft-repeated precept of the sages during the second Temple. Again, “He who suffers injuries and does not return injury for injury, he who is reviled? 1 does not revile again, fulfils acts of love and rejoice in suffering; of him it is said, ‘Those that love him are like the sun, which comes forth in its might from all dark clouds beaming with light’” (Jdg. 5:31).
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.—This sublime precept formed the centre around which clustered the ethical systems propounded by some of the most distinguished Jewish teachers during the second Temple. When Hillel was asked by one who wished to learn the sum and substance of the Divine Law in the shortest possible time, this sage replied by giving a paraphrase of the precept before us in a negative form, “What thou dost not wish that others should do to thee, that do not thou to others; this is the whole Law, the rest is only its interpretation. Now go and learn.” Christ gives it in the positive form (Mat. 7:12; Luk. 6:31; Rom. 13:8-10).
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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.