Theology of transformation: Towards a moral compass of societal ethos

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The sons of Israel are admonished to reverence their mother and father in verse three

This verse provides two indications of personal purity for the sons of Israel. Since holiness is a state of being for the sons of Israel, purity is an outward manifestation of this state. The first part of this verse reverses the word order from the Exodus and Deuteronomy account (43  42  ) of the fifth commandment. The Leviticus account has mother preceding father. This seems odd in the midst of a patriarchal society (Hartley 1992:304). [The author possibly inverted the order to maintain the chiastic structure (Milgrom 2000:1608)]. Could it be that women, or more especially mothers, were being neglected or is the purpose of this to demonstrate the importance of women in this patriarchal society? For personal purity and cultic holiness to be relevant and for the sons of Israel to be different than the surrounding culture, they must honor/fear women within their society.
The writer of Leviticus chose  whereas the writers of Exodus and Deuteronomy utilized ד to describe the manner in which children should relate to their parents. ד is derived from ד2 ֹ5 which conveys the meaning of ‘heaviness like a stone.’ This depicts a child ‘weighing’ their parents down with honor and respect, while  has the connotation of standing in awe of a person.67 A person can stand in reverential awe of YHWH or of their parents. Wenham (1979:265) suggests: “As far as a child is concerned, his parents are in the place of God: through them hecan learn what God is like and what he requires.” Durham (1987:291), commenting on the use of these two verbs, states:
To ‘give honor’ to father and mother means more than to be subject to them, or respectful of their wishes: they are to be given precedence by the recognition of the importance which is theirs by right, esteemed for their priority, and loved for it as well. As Yahweh is honored for his priority of all life, so father and mother must be honored for their priority, as Yahweh’s instruments to the lives of their children. Lev. 19:3, in the chapter of the Holiness Code that gives special application of the Decalogue, even uses    ‘have reverence for, stand in awe of,’ instead of ד in the repetition of the fifth commandment.
Kiuchi (2007:349) commenting on the use of ד states: “‘Fear’ is normally used to describe one’s attitude towards God…(but) it is the Lord’s intention to push the Fifth Commandment to its extreme by commanding people even to fear their own mother, who is usually the object of affection, not fear.”
The second half of this verse deals with ֹ . This phrase is translated ‘my Sabbaths.’
This is an expansion of the phrase ; ‘ in Exodus and Deuteronomy – ‘the day of the Sabbath.’ Clearly the Exodus and Deuteronomy accounts are focusing solely on the seventh day that was set aside as a day of rest for all the people and livestock in the care of the sons of Israel. But the Leviticus account has expanded this to mean more than the seventh day only. Kiuchi (2007:349) states: “Sabbatot (pl.) includes not just the seventh day, but also the various fes tive days dealt with in ch. 23. On these occasions the Israelites are to rest completely, but here ‘my’ is important: those days belong to the Lord, not to the Israelites.”
This being the case, YHWH has now included the observance of all the festivals as an indication of purity that flows from personal holiness. This would be an outward signal to those around Israel that their allegiance is to YHWH alone. Along with honoring/fearing one’s parents as a sign of obedience, observation of ritual festivals would also be an indication of one’s humility in worshipping YHWH.
YHWH also acknowledges that these Sabbaths belong to him. This would give added emphasis in the way in which these days are to be observed. Now a holy God is in possession of these ‘holy days.’ This fact in itself would invoke the sons of Israel to approach these days with reverence and awe.

Verses 15 and 16 instruct against injustice based on a person’s social status.

In verse 15 the reader is introduced to three new layers of society: דל (one of low status), ל’ גד (powerful) and (countryman). All these societal layers could possibly involve manipulation if they are not handled with right motives and purity of heart. The lemma & (‘you will commit’) is the only verb in qal imperfect 2mp.
The remaining three lemmas in verse 15 are all qal imperfect 2ms. The legislation concerning litigation is directed toward the entire community of Israel signifying that the holiness of the nation would be shown by the non-use of the litigation system. Issues within the community must be resolved within the community and not the legal system. The remaining legislative commands are directed toward the individual within the community. All of the individuals mentioned in verse 15 occupy a specific status in society. דל  possibly refers to an individual that holds a low socio-economic tier of society or a person who ekes out a living on a meager wage. The ל’ גד 88 can be translated as great or powerful. The noun translated as countryman can also be understood as ‘associate,’ ‘neighbor,’ ‘companion’ or ‘someone who is a distant relative by close clan or national relationship.’ However one might choose to interpret these nouns, it is clear that they are speaking to different levels of society and the status of each group as they relate to ל % & דC ל . Kuykendall (2005:34, 58) states: “So, the individual not only looks and behaves according to his status; he feels his status…Social status is the significant variable, and race relations are really status relations. Hence, status is the primary determinant in situations of race relations.”89 This statement being true, ל % & דC ל are being reminded of the existing status90 of the various groups. They are also being commanded how these groups are to be or not to be treated. The author is warning against favoritism due to one’s status in society.


Chapter 1 – Outline for the proposed study of: Ideology of ‘Neighbor:’ A Theology of Transformation from a Theological-Ethical interpretation of Leviticus
1.3–Research Question
1.6–Outline/Research Structure
Chapter 2–Ideological Criticism as an interpretive methodology 
2.2 – Ideological Criticism as an interpretive methodology
2.3 – Utilization of Ideological Criticism
2.4 – Summary
Chapter 3 – A Critical Analysis of Leviticus
3.1 – Introduction
3.2 – YHWH speaks to the sons of Israel in verse two
3.3 – The sons of Israel are admonished to reverence their mother and father in verse three
3.4 – The Israelites are commanded not to worship idols and molten images in verse four
3.5 – Stipulations are given in verses 5-10 for peace offerings, gleanings and reaping
3.6 – An introduction to verses 11-18
3.7 – Specific guidelines for properly handling personal property are offered in verses 19-25
3.8 – In verses 26-28 stipulations are outlined as to the Israelite’s relationship to the supernatural world
3.9 – Verses 29-30 indicate ways the community can prevent defilement and profanity from entering into the land
3.10 – The prohibition against seeking spiritual guidance from spiritists is the focus of verse 31
3.11 – Verse 32 emphasizes the virtue of honor within society
3.12 – In verses 33 and 34, the people of Israel are instructed to treat the sojourner in their midst as a native born member of society
3.13 – Verses 35-37 demonstrate the vital importance of treating every aspect of life with honesty
3.14 – Historical setting of Leviticus
3.15 – Summary
Chapter 4 – Contextualization of ‘Neighbor’ in selected New Testament texts 
4.1 – Introduction
4.2 – Structural analysis of Leviticus 19
4.3 – Jesus’ Application of ‘neighbor’ in the synoptic gospels
4.4 – Paul’s interpretation of ‘neighbor’ in Romans 13:8-10 and Galatians 5:13-15
4.5 – James’ use of Leviticus 19
4.6 – Summary
Chapter 5 – From Philoxenia to Xenophobia: Denial or Discontent? 
5.1 – Introduction
5.2 – Xenophobia defined
5.3 – Xenophobic outbreaks of May 2008: An Introduction
5.4 – Summary
Chapter 6 – From xenophobia to philoxenia: Once we were blind but now we can see! 
6.1 – Introduction
6.2 – The concept of hospitality – ubuntu
6.3 – Reluctant evangelical involvement in social transformation
6.4 – Theology of transformation: Towards a moral compass of societal ethos
6.5 – Summary
Chapter 7 – Conclusion 
7.1 – Introduction
7.2 – Creeds of Past and Present
7.3 – The Hitler effect
7.4 – Summary of the study
7.5 – Reflections
7.6 – Future considerations
Reference List 


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