25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God. Cutting and tattooing for the dead were religious-cultural norms in the pagan cultures under God’s judgment in the promised land. Copyright © 2020, Bible Study Tools. The verse in the Bible that most Christians make reference to is Leviticus 19:28, which says,”You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.”. #4 “I am the Lord.” God has made a statement and here grounds it in his declaration of himself. Found in one of the five books of Moses called the Pentateuch meaning 5, Leviticus 19:28, is primarily a part of the instructions God gave to the priests to follow. The meaning is, that if it could be, it was best to eat it all up the same day it was offered. Leviticus 19:28 is in reference to pagan mourning and humiliation practices. His reminder to them that he is the only God is further reason to believe that cutting and tattooing had a great deal to do with idol worship. There are some Christians who believe it is a sin. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, &c.] Either with their nails, tearing their cheeks and other parts, or with any instrument, knife, razor Jarchi says, it was the custom of the Amorites, when anyone died, to cut their flesh, as it was of the Scythians, as Herodotus F4 relates, even those of the royal family; for a king they cut off a part of the ear, shaved the hair round about, cut the arms about, wounded the forehead and nose, and transfixed the left hand with arrows; and so the Carthaginians, who might receive it from the Phoenicians, being a colony of theirs, used to tear their hair and mouths in mourning, and beat their breasts F5; and with the Romans the women used to tear their cheeks in such a manner that it was forbid by the law of the twelve tables, which some have thought was taken from hence: and all this was done to appease the infernal deities, and to give them satisfaction for the deceased, and to make them propitious to them, as Varro F6 affirms; and here it is said to be made "for the soul", for the soul of the departed, to the honour of it, and for its good, though the word is often used for a dead body: now, according to the Jewish canons F7, whosoever made but one cutting for a dead person was guilty, and to be scourged; and he that made one for five dead men, or five cuttings for one dead man, was obliged to scourging for everyone of them: nor print any marks upon you; Aben Ezra observes, there are some that say this is in connection with the preceding clause, for there were who marked their bodies with a known figure, by burning, for the dead; and he adds, and there are to this day such, who are marked in their youth in their faces, that they may be known; these prints or marks were made with ink or black lead, or, however, the incisions in the flesh were filled up therewith; but this was usually done as an idolatrous practice; so says Ben Gersom, this was the custom of the Gentiles in ancient times, to imprint upon themselves the mark of an idol, to show that they were his servants; and the law cautions from doing this, as he adds, to the exalted name (the name of God): in the Misnah it is said F8, a man is not guilty unless he writes the name, as it is said, ( Leviticus 19:28 ) ; which the Talmudists F9 and the commentators F11 interpret of the name of an idol, and not of God: I [am] the Lord; who only is to be acknowledged as such, obeyed and served, and not any strange god, whose mark should be imprinted on them. Explanation and Commentary of Leviticus 19:28 Cutting and tattooing for the dead were religious-cultural norms in the pagan cultures under God’s judgment in the promised land. I am the Lord.”. The surrounding passages refer to other rituals associated with paganism. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. Therefore contextually I would argue that the reference to tattooing is also so as 'not to be like those' who do these things as part of their idolatry worship and ceremonies. The verse directly before Leviticus 19:28 states, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (Leviticus 19:27). We should also think twice before getting any kind of tattoo. Here it refers to cutting “for the dead.” This is done still today in Eastern cultures in the process of mourning the dead. “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. God’s warnings largely regarded practices of those cultures, because God knew that the Israelites would be tempted to appropriate the cultures which they were supposed to be replacing. 11/12/2013 09:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017. Besides the branding of slaves and property, tattooing seemed to almost always identify one with gods, goddesses, and cult practices. Leviticus 19:28 You must not make any cuts in your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. “Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it” (Leviticus 19:26). of
Also, Christians should ask themselves if they are feeling a lack of identity and “specialness” before they go and do a potentially foolish thing that adds a permanent mark.