What is the context of Leviticus chapter 19 pertaining to tattoos, shaving your head
and mixing of seeds in in the same fields?
In order to understand what is being said in this chapter of the book of Leviticus, we need to take a look at the historical background of the entire chapter. The reason for this is that these laws pertained to some prohibited practices of the time in the lives of the Israelites. These questions about chapter 19 are listed individually below.
After prayer and research, to answer the first part of your question which is in general, what is the 'context' of Leviticus chapter 19? This chapter is dealing with the Holiness of God and His decrees or laws. As such, the laws given throughout this chapter (vs. 1-37) deal with maintaining the lives of the Israelites in accordance with that holiness. With that explanation, let me address the specific issues asked about;
Tattoos:- This issue is brought out in verse 28;
“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD. " Lev. 19:28
The cutting of the flesh and tattoos had Pagan origins and was used by several pagan cultures. The cuttings that would produce blood and markings (tattooing) would be considered an offering to the deity of false gods.
Cutting of hair:- This is given in verse 27;
"You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard." Lev. 19:27
At this time in history the offering of hair was done in a certain religion of Syria and different Arabian tribes. There is one theory that hair had a 'mystical' power so the law of prohibiting the cutting of it was given to prevent the people of Israel from practicing this.
The planting of different seeds together and using two different threads in your clothes: - These issues are addressed in verse 19;
"You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you. Lev. 19:19
These are laws that pertain to the thought 'what God has ordained originally, no one should alter'. God created every kind of animal to breed with its own kind and mixing breeds is unnatural to God's original intentions. The same thing applies to the mixing of various threads in ones clothes and mixing of seeds in crops. Mixing of seeds would produce hybrid crops and again, against the natural order that God had created. There is also one thought in a commentary that the mixing of Linen and Wool would produce static electricity which would seem strange to the people, but I can not find much support for that theory.