Blasphemy - RR172AH64

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Blasphemy
Course: Course - Leviticus; The Law of Holiness and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 64
Length: 0:24:36
TapeCode: RR172AH64
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Leviticus The Law of Holiness and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Oh Praise the Lord all ye nations, praise Him all ye people, for His merciful kindness is great toward us and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that in a world of trouble, of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes, fires and storms; Thou art He who doeth not change. Thou art He whose will prevails, and whose Word accomplishes that which is ordained. And so we come to Thee our Father, and to Thy Word to find the word of certainty of truth, the word of peace and strength, the word of life and of power. Bless us in the study of Thy Word. In Christ’s name, amen.

Hear now the Word of God as it is given to us in Leviticus 24:10-16. Our subject is “Blasphemy.” Leviticus 24:10-16:

10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;

11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan :)

12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shewed them.

13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.

15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.

16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.” [00:03:00]

Now this is a very unpopular text to the ungodly

Now this is a very unpopular text to the ungodly. They cite it regularly of the primitivism of the Bible. This is a very odd charge coming from the smug members of the world’s most bloody and brutal century.

The question at stake in these verses and in the subject of blasphemy is authority. Blasphemy is forbidden in Exodus 22:28, which reads, “Thou shalt not revile”(or blaspheme, the words are the same) “the gods or judges, nor curse the ruler of thy people.” There is no penalty stated in Exodus and perhaps this meant that the penalty was determined by the situation and the case. In this instance, the man was held in custody so that the mind of the Lord might be showed them (according to verse 12).

J.R. Porter held that the case was further complicated by the fact that the man was half Egyptian. Did the Law therefore apply to him or was it only for the Israelites? The man’s descendants would be in the third generation, eligible for full entry into the covenant life, according to Deuteronomy 23:7, 8. Nothing is said about the father of this man, although we are given the name and the family of the mother. Perhaps this meant that the father was not with Israel. [00:04:48]

Rabbinical scholars have given us an account of the

Rabbinical scholars have given us an account of the father, and I quote from Samuel Clarke. “They say that the father of the young man was the Egyptian slain by Moses, according to Exodus 2:11 that he was the taskmaster under whom the husband of Shelomith worked and that Moses found him smiting the man whom he had injured and put to shame. It is added that the quarrel in which the young man was engaged arose out of a claim set up by him to have his abode in the camp of the Danites. See Numbers 2:2. Not being content to remain in the quarters appropriated to foreigners.” Now, this story is discounted by most Christian scholars, and it has no confirmation. On the other hand, much in history—a great deal—is without confirmation, and the rabbis were the best historians of antiquity. Clearly, there was something unusual about this episode, and perhaps the rabbinic report gives us the background.

In verse 14, we have the laying on of hands by the witnesses prior to the execution. Now the laying on of hands has varied meanings. It could mean ordination to God’s service, a blessing, a transfer of guilt, healing and other things as well. Here it apparently means that the witnesses testify to the man’s sin, that his blood is upon his own head, and that there is no guilt on those who stoned him to death, according to verse 15. [00:06:48]

Now, some rabbinic commentators have also claimed that

Now, some rabbinic commentators have also claimed that the guilty man’s mother was the only woman in the camp with an illegitimate child. They see her character indicated in her name. For example, Bernard J. Bamberger has said, “She said, ‘hello,’ ‘shalom,’ to all men and she was a chatterbox.” The latter part, chatterbox was a punning on the name of Dibri. However, this is a rather self-flattering tale, because we have no reason to believe that in a population of as many as 2 million, only one woman in the camp had an illegitimate child. Calvin was quite realistic and assumed that many young Israelite women did marry into the Egyptian nation in order to gain some protection for themselves and for their families through their husbands. Others had illicit relationships for the same reason. More than that, the rabbis to the contrary, Shelomith’s name means ‘woman of peace.’ To make it mean what they have said means altering the character of the name.

We are not given any specific data or comment about the nature of the blasphemy because it is not necessary to know these things. It was very obviously a flagrant offense and one that struck at the authority and majesty of the covenant Lord. According to Knight, it was a denial of God and His covenant, a declaration that belief in God and His covenant with Israel and also His providential care are nonsense. In some form it was a challenge, with contempt and a denial of the authority of the covenant God of Israel. It is an incident which makes clear that (and I quote Morgan), “If for any reason a stranger take up his abode within a circle of the divine government, he is amenable to the laws thereof.” In some way, very obviously; the blasphemer had denied that God had jurisdiction over him and this may be the reason why Moses consulted God. [00:09:58]

The word ‘blasphemy’ in the Hebrew means “to curse, to revile, to puncture or to pierce, to stab.” It means to seek to destroy, to kill something. It is warfare against God specifically, an attempt to destroy God and His covenant Law. This tells us something of this man’s offense. This incidence is set in the midst of the laws. It tells us that even as the law was being given, this man was expressing his contempt for God and God’s Law. The summons of the Law is to holiness. The offense of this man was in some form a contempt for, and an attack on the idea of God and God’s holiness. Arthur Peak saw the blasphemy as a renunciation altogether of any allegiance or regard for the covenant Lord.

The subject of blasphemy is a difficult one for modern man to understand. Modern man regards the whole subject as obsolete and irrelevant. He does not want to consider it. I do not know of any sermons that have been preached on blasphemy. They are no doubt quite infrequent if not rare. Even Christians, churchmen, have surrendered the subject of blasphemy because when you seek to establish a retreatist position, you constantly jettison one doctrine after another as excess baggage. I’ve actually heard some people claim, many people claim that they do not want to make a stand on abortion or on homosexuality or on a number of doctrines of scripture because they feel that what must be defended is the heart of the gospel, John 3:16. They want to preserve rebirth; anything else, they will jettison as long as they can go on begging people to be born again. A retreatist position is a defeatist one. [00:12:56]

When we turn to antiquity, we see a very different

When we turn to antiquity, we see a very different picture of blasphemy in culture after culture. Even in non-biblical cultures, it was commonly punished by death. In its most elemental and basic meaning, blasphemy is (and I quote from Heinsius) “Properly, any species of calumny and detraction.” But in the Bible it is limited to God and things sacred. It is a denial of the fundamental authority of God. It is a denial that there is a fundamental authority in all creation. Modern man sees himself as his own god and law. He has developed the implications of the fall to their limits. He lives in terms of Genesis 3:5, seeking to be his own god, his own source of law, his own determiner of good and evil. For modern man, contempt for authority is more congenial to him than respect. In one sphere after another of the modern life, authority is gone—the authority of parents, the authority of teachers, the authority of pastors, the authority of those over us in our place of work, the authority of those in politics—in every sphere. But where respect for God and His authority is gone, it follows that soon all authority is eroded. If the foundation is destroyed, then everything else goes down the drain. [00:15:10]

The Bible declares blasphemy to be a very serious offense

The Bible declares blasphemy to be a very serious offense, because any society which begins by profaning God and His authority will soon profane all things. Nothing will be sacred. No authority will stand. The alternative to authority is total terror by the power of State. This is why, as I’ve pointed out more than once, when the authority of God is destroyed, and when the doctrine of Creation was replaced with the doctrine of Evolution, Marx and Engels congratulated one another in that now their position was established. The foundations of all godly authority were shattered when God was no longer viewed as the creator. His Law, His Word, His person became thereby irrelevant to creation. If the Lord God of scripture did not make the Heavens and the earth and all things therein to the last atom, His Word does not govern creation. If Creation is a product of Evolution, then no law outside of itself can govern it. So the alternative to the authority of God is total terror by the power of State. Where there is no authority, there is soon no justice, because men then no longer speak the same moral languages of law and authority. The respect for God’s authority establishes communication and healthy dissent, the kind of dissent which thrives in an anarchist situation is the dissent of increasing evil, violence and destruction. Godly dissent is constructive, not destructive, and its goal is justice and holiness. [00:17:56]

Let us pray.

We praise Thee of Lord for Thy merciful kindness is great toward us and Thy truth endureth forever. We thank Thee that though men may deny Thy authority, Thy Law Word governs all men and nations, all creation, and Thy will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Thy truth, oh Lord, endureth forever, and Thy Law governs all men and nations and they shall be confounded who deny Thy Word. Preserve us oh Lord, from blasphemy. Preserve us from the despair which is blasphemy. Make us bold and confident in Thy Word and by Thy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen. [00:19:20]

Are there any questions now on our lesson?...

Are there any questions now on our lesson?


[Audience] Verse 15 says that anyone if anyone curses his God he will be held responsible and 16 says anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] Is there a difference there between cursing God and blaspheming the name of the Lord?

[Rushdoony] No, it’s parallelism. It’s the same thing.


[Audience] Well, there are still social sanctions against blasphemy, but the idols have changed.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] You can’t blaspheme against certain minorities and that includes even discussing their behavior.

[Rushdoony] Yes, very good.

[Audience] Um, Judge Bork is being attacked because in the 1971 article—1971, he questioned the right to privacy. As far as the Constitution is concerned, so he was committing blasphemy against Liberalism.

[Rushdoony] Very good. Excellent point.


[Audience] I think at one time or another, almost all of us have wondered what exactly is the unpardonable sin, and in listening to what you said today, it seems to me that blasphemy could come very close.

[Rushdoony] Yes, the unpardonable sin is really turning the whole moral order upside down, calling good evil, and evil good, deliberately and self-consciously. And this is what blasphemy is about. And today, of course, as Otto has said, we have reversed the moral order. We have made it blasphemy to speak ill of certain minority groups. And this is the problem, as Otto said, that Bork is facing right now.

Any other questions? [00:21:36]


[Audience] The passage ties the word ‘blasphemy’ with the word ‘name of the Lord.’ Is that significant?

[Rushdoony] Yes, uh, in the scripture, name is cognate with person. The name of the Lord is the person of the Lord. And names originally were, in the Bible, descriptions of the person, that’s why God said He had no name. And when Moses asked His name, He said, “I Am that I Am.” I am He who is. In other words, there is nothing above God in terms of which He can be described. He is the source of all definition and description, so Yahweh or Jehovah simply says that God is He who is, the eternal, the ever-existent one. So name is person. This is why Abram was named by God. We don’t know his original name. He was named Abram, then subsequently Abraham.

Any other questions? Well if not, let us conclude with prayer.

Oh Lord our God, how great Thou art, and how glorious Thy Word. Give us grace to honor Thy Word and to know it, for Thy Word gets to the heart of all things and all our problems and all our needs. Deliver us and our generation from blasphemy against Thee, and teach us to honor Thy name. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:24:15]

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