31 Mar. Leviticus 1;1-14:4

31 Mar. Leviticus – the book of religious laws for the Levites of Israel

“The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Meeting Tent, saying, ‘Tell the people of Israel: “When you bring an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from the herd or flock… If the offering is a sheep or a goat from the flock, it must be a male that has nothing wrong with it…”’” (Lev.1:1, 10)

“When anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD, it must be made from fine flour. The person must pour oil on it, put incense on it, and then take it to Aaron’s sons, the priests…” (Lev.2:1)

“If a person’s fellowship offering to the LORD is from the herd, it may be a male or female, but it must have nothing wrong with it…” (Lev.3:1)

“If the whole nation of Israel sins accidentally without knowing it and does something the LORD has commanded not to be done, they are guilty. When they learn about the sin they have done, they must offer a young bull as a sin offering and bring it before the Meeting Tent…” (Lev.4:13-14)

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘If a person accidentally sins and does something against the holy things of the LORD, he must bring from the flock a ram that has nothing wrong with it. This will be his penalty offering to the LORD…’” (Lev.5:14-15)

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Tell the Israelites this: ‘These are the land animals you may eat: you may eat any animal that has split hoofs completely divided and that chews the cud… Now the pig has a split hoof that is completely divided, but it does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you…” (Lev.11:1-2,7)

“Of the animals that live in the sea or in a river, if the animal has fins and scales, you may eat it…” (Lev.11:9)

“Also, these are the birds you are to hate… You must not eat eagles, vultures, black vultures, kites, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven, horned owls, screech owls, sea gulls, any kind of hawk, little owls, cormorants...” (Lev.11:13-17)

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel this: “If a woman gives birth to a son, she will become unclean for seven days, as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day, the boy must be circumcised…”’” (Lev.12:1-3)

“'After she has a son or daughter and her days of cleansing are over, the new mother must bring certain sacrifices to the Meeting Tent. She must give the priest at the entrance a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a dove or young pigeon for a sin offering… If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering…'” (Lev.12:6-8)

“'If a person has a harmful skin disease, he must be brought to the priest, and the priest must look at him. If there is a white swelling in the skin, and the hair has become white, and the skin looks raw in the swelling, it is a harmful skin disease… The priest must announce that the person is unclean…'” (Lev.13:12)

“'If a person has a skin disease that spreads, he must warn other people by shouting, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ His clothes must be torn at the seams, he must let his hair stay uncombed, and he must cover his mouth. That person will remain unclean while he has the disease; he is unclean. He must live alone outside the camp.'” (Lev.13:45-46)

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘These are the teachings for the time at which people who had a harmful skin disease are made clean. The person shall be brought to the priest, and the priest must go outside the camp and look at the one who had the skin disease. If the skin disease is healed, the priest will command that two living, clean birds, a piece of cedar wood, a piece of red string and a hyssop plant be brought for cleansing the person with the skin disease…’” (Lev.14:1-4)

 

 

After the Exodus from Egypt, God chose Aaron and his sons to be priests, dedicated and set aside to serve God in the Holy Tent (see Exodus 29:1). God also appointed the descendants of Levi - the Levites – to maintain the religious discipline of the Israelites and to set up, take down and transport the Holy Tent (see Exodus 32:26-28 & 40:1-17). The Book of Leviticus is the manual they followed to ensure that God’s laws were strictly adhered to.

Leviticus contains numerous regulations about the Meeting Tent and about the way in which the Israelites were to worship God. It gives explicit details of the many different sacrifices and offerings to be made to the LORD – including animal sacrifices that were burnt on the altar (Leviticus 1:1-17), grain offerings (Leviticus 2:1-16), fellowship offerings (Leviticus 3:1-17) and sin offerings (Leviticus 4:1-35).

It lists detailed rules about which foods could and could not be eaten by the Israelites, including ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ animals (Leviticus 11:1-8), fish (Leviticus 11:9-12), birds (Leviticus 11:13-19) and insects (Leviticus 11:20-25).

It gives detailed guidance on the main religious festivals (Leviticus 23:1-44) and lists numerous rules and regulations about personal relationships, sexuality, births and deaths, diseases and other aspects of life (Leviticus 12 – 20).

Much of the book is difficult for non-Jews to follow, but it’s helpful to realise that many incidents recorded in the New Testament are grounded in the Levitical laws and can only be understood in that context.

After his birth, for example, Jesus was circumcised when he was eight days old (see Luke 2:21 & Leviticus 12:3). A month later, Mary and Joseph went to the Temple to offer a sacrifice. As they were too poor to afford a year-old lamb for a burnt offering, they offered two birds instead, “as the law of the Lord says, ‘You must sacrifice two doves or two young pigeons’.” (see Luke 2:24 & Leviticus 12:6-8).

Later in his ministry, Jesus healed a man with a dreadful skin disease and told the man, “Don’t tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest and offer a gift for your healing, as Moses commanded.” (see Luke 5:12-14 & Leviticus 14:1-32)

When a woman “who had been bleeding for twelve years” (Luke 8:43) came up, touched Jesus and was immediately healed, she was terrified when Jesus said, “Who touched me?” because the Levitical law deemed her to be ‘unclean’, and by touching Jesus she had also made him ‘unclean’ according to the law (see Leviticus 15:19). Jesus also made himself ‘unclean’, according to the Levitical law, when he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (see Luke 8:53-54 & Leviticus 21:1), and when he healed a man who lived among the burial caves (see Mark 5:1-19 & Leviticus 21:11).

The photo (by Willy Horst) shows a Torah scroll at the Glockengasse Synagogue, Cologne, containing the first five books of the Bible (the Law of Moses), including the Book of Leviticus.

You can read more about the origins and authorship of the Torah @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/22-the-world-of-the-old-testament-journeys/who-wrote-the-old-testament/


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