Love Is The Greatest Commandment
In the book of Leviticus, a view of the world is presented that is centered on God’s holiness. God in his holiness is set apart, which is one of the core meanings of “holy.” He cannot come into contact with anything that is not holy. This includes human beings, who, at their creation, were in God’s image (Gen 1:27) and had an intimate and personal relationship with him (Gen 2). Through disobedience, humanity lost this relationship with the holy God (Gen 3
An awareness of God’s special relationship with Israel also permeates this chapter in the expression, “I am the LORD your God,” which occurs seven times (19:3, 4, 10, 25, 31, 34, 36), in addition to the shorter divine self-identification “I am Yahweh,” which occurs eight times (19:12, 14, 16, 18, 28, 30, 32, 37). The longer form of this expression opens the Ten Commandments (Exod 20:2; Deut 5:6). This is not only a statement of relationship, but also of exclusivity: “I and I alone am your God.” It is the positive statement of what the first of the Ten Commandments states in negative form (“You must not have any other god but me”), implying a statement like “Because I, Yahweh, am your God, you need no other god” (Exod 20:2–3). Because of the exclusive relationship Israel had with God, the people are reminded of their primary covenant commitment a total of 16 times throughout the chapter, from beginning to end.