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Leviticus Chapter 18
Genesis
Exodus
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Deuteronomy

Sexual Laws
18:1 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
18:2 speak to the Israelites, and say to them:

I am God.

18:3 Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan, where I will be bringing you. Do not follow [any] of their customs.
18:4 Follow My laws and be careful to keep My decrees, [for] I am God your Lord.
18:5 Keep My decrees and laws, since it is only by keeping them that a person can [truly] live. I am God.

Incest
18:6 No person shall approach a close relative to commit a sexual offense. I am God.

Parents
18:7 Do not commit a sexual offense against your father or mother. [If a woman is] your mother, you must not commit incest with her.

A Stepmother
18:8 Do not commit incest with your father's wife, since this is a sexual [offense] against your father.

A Sister
18:9 Do not commit incest with your sister, even if she is the daughter of [only] your father or mother. Whether she is legitimate or illegitimate, you must not commit incest with her.

Grandchildren
18:10 Do not commit incest with your son's daughter or your daughter's daughter, since this is a sexual crime against yourself.

A Half Sister
18:11 Do not commit incest with a daughter that your father's wife has borne to your father. She is your sister, and you must not commit incest with her.

A Paternal Aunt
18:12 Do not commit incest with your father's sister, since she is your father's blood relative.

A Maternal Aunt
18:13 Do not commit incest with your mother's sister, since she is your mother's blood relative.

An Uncle's Wife
18:14 Do not commit a sexual offense against your father's brother by having [sexual] contact with his wife; she is your aunt.

A Daughter-in-Law
18:15 Do not commit incest with your daughter-in-law. She is your son's wife; you must not commit incest with her.

A Sister-in-Law
18:16 Do not commit incest with your brother's wife, since this is a sexual offense against your brother.

Other Forbidden Relations
18:17 Do not commit incest [by marrying] a woman and her daughter. Do not even take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter, since this constitutes incest. Since they are blood relatives, it is a perversion.
18:18 Do not marry a woman and [then take] her sister as a rival to her as long as [the first one] is alive.
18:19 Do not come close to a woman who is ritually unclean because of her menstruation, since this is a sexual offense.
18:20 Do not lie carnally with your neighbor's wife, since this will defile her.
18:21 Do not give any of your children to be initiated to Molekh, so that you not profane your God's name; I am God.
18:22 Do not lie with a male as you would with a woman, since this is a disgusting perversion.
18:23 Do not perform any sexual act with an animal, since it will defile you. A woman shall [likewise] not give herself to an animal and allow it to mate with her. This is an utterly detestable perversion.
18:24 Do not let yourselves be defiled by any of these acts. It was as a result of them that the nations that I am driving away before you became defiled.
18:25 The land became defiled, and when I directed My providence at the sin committed there, the land vomited out its inhabitants.
18:26 You, [however,] must keep My decrees and laws, and not become involved in any of these disgusting perversions - neither the native born nor any foreigner who settles among you.
18:27 The people who lived in the land before you did all these disgusting perversions and defiled the land.
18:28 But [you shall not cause] the land to vomit you out when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was there before you.
18:29 Thus, whenever anyone does any of these disgusting perversions, [all] the people involved shall be cut off [spiritually] from the midst of their people.
18:30 Keep My charge, and do not follow any of the perverted customs that were kept before you [arrived], so that you not be defiled by them. I am God your Lord.



Commentary:

Do not follow...
  This is a specific commandment not to emulate gentiles (Avodah Zarah 11a; Rashi; Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 11:1). See Leviticus 20:23.

truly live
  (cf. Ralbag). This teaches that one may violate any commandment of the Torah to save a life (Yoma 88b). The only exceptions are the three cardinal sins: idolatry, murder, and sexual crimes (Sanhedrin 74a).

close relative
  (Saadia). Sh'er in Hebrew. Or, 'flesh,' that is, one's flesh and blood (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim).

sexual offense
  Literally, 'to uncover nakedness,' since this is the first part of the sexual act (Ramban on 20:17; Ralbag). The word galah here may also mean 'be exiled', and hence le-galoth ervah may be translated, 'to exile nakedness' or 'to pervert sexuality' (cf. Targum Yonathan).

father
  By committing incest with his wife, as in Leviticus 18:8 (Rashi). Others say that it also forbids homosexual relations with one's father, providing such an act with a double penalty (Sanhedrin 54a; Ramban; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 351).

father's wife
  Even if she is not one's mother, and even after one's father is dead or divorced from her (Rashi).

since this...
  (cf. Saadia).

legitimate...
  (cf. Yevamoth 23a; Rashi; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Ramban). Literally, 'born in the house or outside' (cf. Saadia).

daughter's daughter
  And certainly one's daughter herself (Rashi).

against yourself
  Literally, 'this is your own nakedness.'

with a daughter...
  If a woman is one's sister borne by his father's wife, there is a double penalty (Yevamoth 22b; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 333). This also teaches that a step-sister who is the daughter of a stepmother from another man, is permitted (Yad, Issurey Biyah 3:2).

aunt
  And she is forbidden even after the uncle's death.

Do not...
  Even after the brother's death. The only exception is if the brother dies without children, see Deuteronomy 25:5.

by marrying
  (Yevamoth 97a; Rashi).

perversion
  (Saadia; Ramban). Zimah in Hebrew. Or, 'perverted love' (Targum Yonathan), or, 'a sinful plan' (Targum; Rashi; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; cf. Nedarim 51a; Yehuda HaChasid).

ritually unclean...
  Who has not immersed in a mikvah (Yad, Issurey Biyah 4:3).

will defile her
  So that she is forbidden to her husband henceforth (Yerushalmi, Sotah 5:1).

children
  (see Deuteronomy 18:10) Literally, 'seed.' If one gives one's children away in this manner, then the semen with which the child was conceived is considered to have been emitted in vain (Abarbanel). This also forbids one to have intercourse with a gentile (Megillah 25a).

Molekh
  This was a ritual that related to many idolatrous religions, but was particular to Molekh, an Ammonite God (Sanhedrin 64a; 1 Kings 11:7). The ritual was an initiation whereby a man's sons and daughters would go through fire (2 Kings 23:10; cf. Deuteronomy 18:10, 2 Kings 16:3, 17:17, 21:6). Some say that the initiation rite consisted of crossing a platform between two large fires, while others say that it consisted of jumping over a fire (Sanhedrin 64b; Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 6:3; cf. Kesef Mishneh ad loc.)

In general, the Molekh ritual did not involve human sacrifice (Yad, loc. cit.). According to some, however, it was a trial by fire, in which the child could be killed (Ibn Ezra). In some cases, it actually did involve human sacrifice (Ramban; Rashi, Yalkut, on Jeremiah 7:31). Cf. Jeremiah 19:5, Ezekiel 23:37,39. This was associated with various occult practices (Ramban; Deuteronomy 18:10), possibly as an initiation rite for the father (Septuagint on Deuteronomy 18:10).

an utterly detestable perversion
  (Saadia). Tebhel in Hebrew. Or, 'a destructive perversion' (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach, s.v. balal), 'a mixture of species' (Radak, Sherashim) or, 'a spicy experience' (Nedarim 51a).

foreigner...
  (Ibn Ezra). Since a gentile must also keep most sexual laws. Or, 'proselyte' (Sifra). Although the laws involving blood relatives do not apply to a proselyte (who has no blood relatives from the time he was a gentile), all the other laws apply to him.

all the people involved
  Both the man and the woman (Sifra; Rashi).





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