Leviticus 19–20: "Be Holy for I Am Holy"

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 61


Leviticus 19–20 records the Lord’s emphasis on being holy. The word for holy in Hebrew is “qadash,” which means to be sanctified, consecrated, and dedicated or to be separated from the world and worldliness. Not only did the Lord command the Israelites to be holy, but in these two chapters He gave specific examples of things they could do in their daily lives to obey this commandment. Each of these specific practices helped remind the Israelites to separate themselves from the world and its ungodly practices. Jesus later explained the basic principle behind holiness when He taught His Apostles that He would not take them out of the world but would keep them from evil (see John 17:14–16).As you read, determine the principle behind each commandment the Lord gave. In what ways has He asked us to live these principles today as we strive to be “not of the world”?

Understanding the Scriptures

Leviticus 19

Fear (v. 3)Love and respect 
Ought (v. 6)Anything 
Bear (v. 8)Have responsibility for 
Profaned (vv. 8, 12)To desecrate the sacred 
Gleanings (v. 9)What is left after the field is harvested the first time 
Defraud (v. 13)Cheat 
Avenge (v. 18)Seek revenge 
Gender (v. 19)Mate 
Diverse (v. 19)Different 
Sow (v. 19)Plant 
Mingled (v. 19)Mixed (two different kinds) 
Betrothed (v. 20)Engaged 
Redeemed (v. 20)Paid for and made free 
Scourged (v. 20)Whipped 
Uncircumcised (v. 23)Unholy 
Enchantment, observe times (v. 26)Different kinds of fortune telling 
Round the corners of your heads (v. 27)Refers to a kind of haircut used by those involved in false religions 
Them that have familiar spirits (v. 31)Those who claim to communicate with the spirits of the dead 
Wizards (v. 31)Men who call up the spirits of the dead 
Hoary (v. 32)White 
Sojourn (v. 33)Stay 
Vex (v. 33)Mistreat and make angry 
Meteyard (v. 35)Measurement of length 
Ephah, hin (v. 36)Units of measure (see Bible Dictionary, “weights and measures,” pp. 788–89) 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Leviticus 19–20.

Activity A iconFind the Principle

If you consider the principle behind each commandment in Leviticus 19, nearly every commandment in the chapter applies to Latter-day Saints today. Some are obvious (like the ones in vv. 11–12), but others seem strange to us. Choose two of the commandments in Leviticus 19 that seem to be specifically for the people of that day. Identify the principles behind the commandments and rewrite them to apply to our time. For example, in verse 19 the Lord said not to have a field with two different kinds of plants or a piece of clothing with two different kinds of fabric in it. Through these commandments, the Lord reminded Israel that they could not mix themselves with the world and remain holy. Today we might apply this principle to the idea of dating or marriage. We should date members of the Church and marry within the covenant.

Activity B Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Leviticus 19:18

Read Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 22:35–39. What did the Lord say in Leviticus about the importance of this commandment?