Leviticus 19:28 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(28) Cuttings in your flesh for the dead.—It was not only the custom for mourners to let their hair grow long and wear it in a disorderly manner (see Lev. 10:6), but the bereaved in the East to this day make cuts and incisions in their bodies in mourning for the dead. The Israelite, however, who is created in the image of God, and who is to be as holy as the Lord is holy, must not thus disfigure his body (see Lev. 21:6; Deu. 14:1, &c.); he must not sorrow as others which have no hope. For transgressing this law the offender received forty stripes save one.
Nor print any marks upon you.—This, according to the ancient authorities, was effected by making punctures in the skin to impress certain figures or words, and then filling the cut places with stibium, ink, or some other colour. The practice of tattooing prevailed among all nations of antiquity, both among savages and civilised nations, The slave had impressed upon his body the initials of his master, the soldier those of his general, and the worshipper the image of his tutelar deity. To obviate this disfiguration of the body which bore the impress of God’s image, and yet to exhibit the emblem of his creed, the Mosaic Law enacted that the Hebrew should have phylacteries which he is to bind as “a sign” upon his hand, and as “a memorial” between his eyes “that the Lord’s law may be in his mouth” (Exo. 13:9; Exo. 13:16; Deu. 6:8; Deu. 11:18).
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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.