Political Supplements to the Third Commandment
Leviticus 24:15, 16
15. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
15. Ad filios Israel loqueris, dicendo: Homo qui maledixerit Dec sue, portabit scelus suum.
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.
16. Et qui transfixerit nomen Jehovae, morte moriatur: lapidando lapidabit eum universus coetus, sive indigena fuerit, sive peregrinus, quum transfixerit nomen, moriatur.
15. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Hence it now more clearly appears that the object of the Third Commandment was that God's holy name should be honored with the respect and veneration which it deserves, since the insult whereby it is violated is condemned to capital punishment. By the expression "cursing," Moses designates all profane and impure words which tend to brand it with dishonor; as if any one should accuse God either of injustice or cruelty; or should assail Him with blasphemies; or designedly detract from His glory either in anger or wantonness, since many, when exasperated, launch forth horrible blasphemies, whilst others make a parade of their audacity by scoffing at Him. The second verb, which is twice repeated in the next verse, bqn, nakab,1 means in Hebrew to hollow out or perforate, and metaphorically to unfold, thus the Latins say that what is thoroughly brought out is "enucleated." The source of the metaphor as applied to contumely is not very dissimilar. The translation "he who shall have expressed," which some give, is lame; to me the word "transfix" seems to be very suitable in the present passage, nor are the Latin phrases proscindere or lacerate very different. As to the meaning there is tolerable agreement, i.e., that God would not have His holy name disrespectfully traduced; and assuredly it is insupportably impious when the tongue of mortal man, which was created to celebrate the praises of God, is employed in insulting Him. The kind of death is also appointed, when He commands the offender to be stoned by the whole people, so that all may learn from the sight that such a monster should be annihilated as contaminating the earth. God also would prove the zeal of His people, by calling them all forth in defense of His glory, and arming them for vengeance. Moreover, He did not subject to this punishment the Jews only, who professed to be His worshippers, but also strangers who were dwelling in the land in the exercise of their business; viz., that they might more severely punish the crime in His own servants who were less excusable.