Chapters 1—5 describe the various sacrifices from the sacrificers' point of view, although the priests are essential for handling the blood. Chapters 6—7 go over much the same ground, but from the point of view of the priest, who, as the one actually carrying out the sacrifice and dividing the "portions", needs to know how to do this.
Sacrifices are between God, the priest, and the offerers, although in some cases the entire sacrifice is a single portion to God—i. Chapters 8—10 describe how Moses consecrates Aaron and his sons as the first priests, the first sacrifices, and God's destruction of two of Aaron's sons for ritual offenses. The purpose is to underline the character of altar priesthood i. With sacrifice and priesthood established, chapters 11—15 instruct the lay people on purity or cleanliness. Eating certain animals produces uncleanliness, as does giving birth; certain skin diseases but not all are unclean, as are certain conditions affecting walls and clothing mildew and similar conditions ; and genital discharges, including female menses and male gonorrhea, are unclean.
The reasoning behind the food rules are obscure; for the rest the guiding principle seems to be that all these conditions involve a loss of "life force", usually but not always blood. Leviticus 16 concerns the Day of Atonement. This is the only day on which the High Priest is to enter the holiest part of the sanctuary, the holy of holies. He is to sacrifice a bull for the sins of the priests, and a goat for the sins of the laypeople.
The priest is to send a second goat into the desert to " Azazel ", bearing the sins of the whole people. Azazel may be a wilderness-demon, but its identity is mysterious. Chapters 17—26 are the Holiness code.
It begins with a prohibition on all slaughter of animals outside the Temple, even for food, and then prohibits a long list of sexual contacts and also child sacrifice. The "holiness" injunctions which give the code its name begin with the next section: there are penalties for the worship of Molech , consulting mediums and wizards, cursing one's parents and engaging in unlawful sex. Priests receive instruction on mourning rituals and acceptable bodily defects. The punishment for blasphemy is death, and there is the setting of rules for eating sacrifices; there is an explanation of the calendar, and there are rules for sabbatical and Jubilee years; there are rules for oil lamps and bread in the sanctuary; and there are rules for slavery.
Chapter 27 is a disparate and probably late addition telling about persons and things serving as dedication to the Lord and how one can redeem, instead of fulfill, vows. The entire composition of the book of Leviticus is Priestly literature. Many scholars argue that the rituals of Leviticus have a theological meaning concerning Israel's relationship with its God. Jacob Milgrom was especially influential in spreading this view. He maintained that the priestly regulations in Leviticus expressed a rational system of theological thought.
The writers expected them to be put into practice in Israel's temple, so the rituals would express this theology as well, as well as ethical concern for the poor. Marx, Balentine , though some have questioned how systematic they really are. The main function of the priests is service at the altar, and only the sons of Aaron are priests in the full sense.
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In chapter 10, God kills Nadab and Abihu , the oldest sons of Aaron, for offering "strange incense". Aaron has two sons left. Commentators have read various messages in the incident: a reflection of struggles between priestly factions in the post—Exilic period Gerstenberger ; or a warning against offering incense outside the Temple, where there might be the risk of invoking strange gods Milgrom. In any case, there has been a pollution of the sanctuary by the bodies of the two dead priests, leading into the next theme, holiness.
Unclean persons were isolated for seven days ; i. Leviticus provides answers regarding two all important questions:.
These feasts, mentioned in chapters 23 and 25, were two-fold in nature. The last six in fact Lev. They speak of Calvary, the resurrection, Pentecost, the Second Coming, the great tribulation, and the glorious millennium. The phrase the Lord said appears more than 50 times in Leviticus—more than in any other Bible book.
Leviticus can be contrasted with Exodus.
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In Exodus we read how God got His people out of Egypt. In Leviticus we see the attempt of God to get Egypt out of His people! Leviticus stands in relationship to Exodus as the Epistles stand in relationship to the Gospels. In Exodus and the Gospels is seen the manifestation of the Passover Lamb! In the former book he spoke from Sinai, but here from the sanctuary.
Leviticus gives us the second of two great symbols for sin in the Old Testament. It is leprosy The other is leaven, as described in Exodus The triumph and tragedy of the book are closely related. The Peace Offering ; , signifies the peace Jesus gives to the believer Rom.
The Sin Offering ; signifies Jesus was made sin for us 2 Cor. The Trespass Offering ; signifies Jesus also became our trespass offering Col. The Anointed High Priest See Heb. The Two Goats on the Day of Atonement , The Feast of Passover See 1 Cor. Israel in particular, all believers in general. The first of five Levitical offerings 2. The consecration of the priests 3. The deaths of Nadab and Abihu 4.
Rules governing the cleansing of a leper 5.
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The Day of Atonement and the scapegoat 6. The seven annual feasts 7. Rules for the Sabbath 8. The rewards for obedience, the punishment for disobedience. Moses: Israel's great lawgiver 2. Aaron: Moses' older brother and Israel's first high priest 3. Nadab and Abihu: Aaron's two wicked sons, killed by God 4. Eleazar and Ithamar: Aaron's two godly sons. Base at Mt. Sinai: Israel would spend 11 months and 5 days in this location. In no other biblical book, with the possible exception of Revelation, is the number seven more prominent than in Leviticus.
Israel was to rest on the seventh day b. The entire land was to remain idle during the seventh year c. The year of Jubilee was to be celebrated after seven sevens of years d.
Some of these feasts were to be celebrated for seven days , 41 f. Seven Sabbaths were to be counted between the feast of First-fruits and Pentecost g. Blood was sprinkled seven times in the Tabernacle , 17 h. Unclean persons were isolated for seven days ; i. Leviticus provides answers regarding two all important questions:.