The name of this week’s parasha is Kedoshim, which means “holy ones,” and covers Leviticus 19:1 through 20:27. This parasha covers commandments regarding societal interactions and worship practices; punishments for disobeying God’s standards regarding worship, family interactions, and sexuality; and exhortations for the Israelis to be holy. Adonai tells Moses to inform the Israelis to be holy because Adonai is holy. Parents must be respected, God’s sabbaths must be kept, and idolatry is forbidden.
A peace offering must be eaten on the day it’s offered or by the next day; any leftovers remaining by the 3rd day must be burned up. If it’s eaten on the 3rd day, it’s impure and unacceptable; whoever eats it then must be cut off from the Israelis. A field’s edges, the gleanings of the harvest, and anything left from harvesting grapes is designated for the needy and the stranger, as seen when Ruth gleaned in the field in Ruth 2.
Prohibitions are listed against stealing, lying and deception; swearing falsely by God’s name; defrauding or robbing a neighbor; withholding wages; disrespecting the deaf or blind; perverting justice; spreading slander; and endangering a neighbor’s life. A fellow Israeli must not be hated, but a neighbor who needs rebuking must be rebuked, so their guilt won’t be shared.
Vengeance and grudge-holding by one Israeli against another is prohibited – they must love their neighbor as themselves. This commandment is declared by Yeshua as the second most important commandment of all the commandments, following only the commandment in Deuteronomy 6 to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind. Rabbi Paul states in Romans 13 that this commandment sums up all the commandments, and states in Galatians 5 that this commandment fulfills the entire Law. James proclaims in James 2 that those who are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture (referring to this commandment) are doing well.
The Israelis must keep Adonai’s decrees, and are prohibited from mating two types of cattle together, planting two kinds of seeds in a field, and wearing a garment of two types of material mixed together. A man who sleeps with another man’s slave girl must bring a ram for a guilt offering to the Tent of Meeting, and the priest will make atonement for his sin.
When the Israelis plant trees for food after entering the Promised Land, its fruit is forbidden for three years, but is considered holy in the fourth year and can be eaten in the fifth year. Prohibitions are given against eating meat with blood in it; practicing divination or sorcery; cutting the hair on the sides of the head or clipping a beard’s edges; cutting themselves for the dead or tattooing themselves; and degrading their daughters by making them prostitutes.
Adonai’s sabbaths must be observed, and His sanctuary must be revered. Mediums and spiritists must be avoided, because they defile those who seek them. The elderly must be respected, and an alien living with the Israelis must be treated like a native Israeli. Honest business standards must be used, and the chapter ends with the commandment to follow all of Adonai’s decrees and laws.
Chapter 20 opens with punishments for child sacrifice to Molech, and for turning to mediums and spiritists – anyone who committed these sins would be cut off from the Jewish people. The Israelis must consecrate themselves and be holy, because Adonai is their God. They must obey Him; He makes them holy.
Anyone who curses their parents must be put to death. Death was also the punishment for those engaged in sexual sins: adultery; a man and his father’s wife sleeping together; a man and his daughter-in-law sleeping together; homosexuality; a man marrying a woman and her mother; and bestiality.
The penalty for a brother marrying and sleeping with his sister, and for a man sleeping with a menstruating woman, is for both participants to be cut off from the Israelis. Sleeping with the sister of one’s father or mother is forbidden. Sleeping with an uncle’s wife, or marrying a brother’s wife, will result in childlessness.
The Israelis must obey everything God told them, so that the Promised Land wouldn’t vomit them out. They must not imitate the people there that Adonai was driving out, because He abhorred the people there for doing all these things. God will give their land to the Israelis as an inheritance, and He had set the Israelis apart from the nations. The Israelis must distinguish between clean and unclean animals and birds; they were to be holy to Adonai because He is holy, and He has set them apart from the other nations as His. The parasha ends with the warning that anyone who is a medium or spiritist would be put to death.
Parasha Kedoshim shows that holiness is a defining aspect of life for God’s people – this involves separating from that which is unholy and must involve everything in their lives, because engaging in an unholy lifestyle will keep them in bondage to sin and hinders them from obeying God, who is holy. The apostle Peter warns against conforming to previous evil desires held in ignorance in 1 Peter 1, and he quotes from this parasha when giving the reason why: God’s people must be holy because God is holy. Thankfully, by God’s will, Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews have been sanctified through the offering of Messiah Yeshua once for all – Yeshua is our holy, blameless and pure Savior who has provided the once-for-all-time sacrifice for our sins by offering His own life for our atonement.
Since evidence of a changed life is seen in a person’s actions, let’s show that we are Yeshua’s loyal followers by removing anything in our lives that is unholy, and let’s strive to live as holy people in obedience to our God, who truly is holy!