Leviticus is named after the Levite tribe of priests of which Aaron was the first. It is a rather dry chapter full of laws and ceremonial procedures. The outline style is as painless as I can make it.
We note that ironically these laws are ostensibly the God of the universe’s laws, yet obsolete. They are better described as the tribal laws of ancient Israel. And very oppressive and depressing, in my opinion.
sacrificial laws — 1-7
burnt offerings — 1
From herd (cow) or flock (sheep) family. Pick without blemish. Lay hand on head to acknowledge acceptance. Slaughter. Dash blood on sides of altar and entrance to tent of meeting. Cut up and select defined parts for burning. Barbecue smoke is pleasing to God. God can smell? Only turtledoves are pigeons are acceptable for burning.
cereal offerings — 2
Make unleavened cake with flour, salt, oil and frankincense. Burn portion to ashes. Eat remainder. Flour to be first cuttings.
peace offerings — 3
Must be male or female cow, sheep, or goat without blemish. Always lay hand on head of offering before slaughter. Slaughter at entrance of tent of meeting. Dash blood on sides of altar. Must not eat fat or blood. Slight variations for different animals.
sin offerings — 4
If someone — priests, congregation, rulers, or ordinary persons — sins unintentionally, everyone is guilty. If priest or congregation sins, sacrifice a bull. Head, legs, skin, entrails and dung are burnt outside of temple. If a ruler sins, sacrifice a male goat. If an ordinary person sins, sacrifice a female sheep.
special cases — 5-6
- To know of a sin and not speak up us subject to punishment. — 5:1
- To touch the carcass of an unclean thing makes one unclean and incurs guilt. — 5:2
- If you to touch someone unclean when you are unaware of it and then later become aware of it, you are guilty. — 5:3
- If you utter an unauthorized oath for a bad or good purpose when you are unaware, you are guilty if you later realize your mistake. — 5:4
- of the above sins must be confessed. The sinner must supply a female sheep or goat or equivalent to the priest as a sin offering.
- Unintentional sins are forgiven by payment of a guilt offering.
- Fraud, deception and robbery defined as sin. — 6:2
- To find something and lie about it is a sin. 6:3
- The sinner must replace what he took dishonestly when he realized his guilt. — 6:4
- To be forgiven, he must pay an additional amount to the priest and give an acceptable animal as a guilt offering. — 6:5-7
daily offerings — 6-7
- Ritual of burnt offering: maintain perpetual fire on the altar. — 6:8-13
- Ritual of grain offering: eat unleavened bread ever day. — 6:14-18
- Ritual of ordination offering: make unleavened bread and burn entirely. Smoke was believed to disappear into God’s world. — 6:19-22
- Ritual of sin offering: eat slaughtered animals. — 6:24-30
- Ritual of guilt offering: eat more slaughtered animals the same day. — 7:1-10
- Ritual of peace offering: eat food. — 7:11-15
- Ritual of freewill offering: a dead offering is unclean as of the third day. It must then be burned. The offerer must be clean to engage in sacrifice and must not touch anything unclean. The penalty for either violation is ostracism from family.— 7:16-21
- Eat no fat of ox, sheep or goat, nor the blood of any animal. The penalty is ostracism from kin. — 7:22-27
- A person making a peace offering must supply the fat with the breast. The breast is raised as an elevation offering; the fat is burned into smoke. The priest gets to eat the right thigh. 7:28-38
ordination ceremony — 8-10
offerings — 8-9
- Make sin offering with bull; burnt offering with a ram; another ram for ordination.
- Place ram fat on unleavened bread on palms of hands. Raise them as an elevation offering.
- Eat what is necessary and burn rest.
- Must stay in tent of meeting for seven days.
- On the eighth day make a sin offering with bull calf and goat.
- Raise breasts and right thigh as an elevation offering. — 9:21
- They see fire as God’s way of eating. — 9:24
Aaron loses two sons — 10
- After being initiated into the priesthood, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, made a mistake. You would think that this acceptance into the priesthood was in recognition of their skill at performing sacrificial offerings. For the sin of making an unauthorized offering (10:1-2) by burning incense, God came out of his ark and killed them by fire (10:6). God’s presence is contained in the ark.
- Aaron’s nephews, Eleazar and Ithamar replaced them. God speaks to Aaron (10:8) with strict instructions not to drink inside the tent of meeting and to know the law. The penalty for violation is death.
- Moses got angry when the two boys did not eat their sin offering. Aaron assured him that if God was offended something bad would have happened.
legal purity — 11-15
animal cleanliness — 11
- Approved for eating: animals with divided hoofs; cleft-footed and chew cud. (cows, sheep and goats)
- Not approved: camels, rock badgers, hares and pugs. Do not even touch carcasses.
- Approved: only fish with fins and scales.
- Birds not approved: eagle, vulture, osprey, buzzard, raven, ostrich, nighthawk, sea gull, hawks, owls, cormorant, water hens, vultures, stork, herons and bats.
- Insects not approved: any with wings and or walk on all fours.
- Approved: locusts, crickets and grasshoppers.
- Unapproved: weasel, mouse, and lizards of all kinds, gecko and crocodile.
- If a dead insect fall inside a vessel, it is unclean; break it. Anything touched by the water from the vessel is unclean. 11:31-34
- Anything a carcass falls on; even a stove is unclean and shall be destroyed. (11:35) What if is a tent, house or tabernacle?
- If you eat an animal and it dies, anyone who touches the carcass is unclean until evening. 39
- Unclean: swarming insects, snakes
childbirth — 12
- If a mother conceives and bears a male child, she is unclean for seven days. At the time of menstruation she also unclean. 12:2
- The baby is circumcised on the eighth day.
- The mother cannot touch anything holy for 33 days.
- If she bears a female child, she is unclean for two weeks. Blood purification lasts 66 days. (An evil number) 12:5
- After purification, whether son or daughter, she must bring an approved animal for a burnt offering and a sin offering. 12:6-8
leprosy — 13-14
- Lepers are ceremonially unclean. Instructions are given to the priest to make the determination. — 13:1-44
- The leper must wear torn clothes, disheveled hair and a covered lip. Must cry out “Unclean, unclean.” — 13:45
- Clothing can have leprosy. The priest looks for discoloration. 13:46-59
- Personal cleansing and offerings are prescribed. — 14:1-32
- The phrase “when you come into the land of Canaan” implies the priest is inside setting policy for outsiders. — 14:34
- God infects houses with leprosy. — 14:34
- The priest examines the house for leprosy as if it were human. Symptoms are spots on the walls. The cure is to smear the house with bird blood. — 14:35-57
semen and menstrual blood — 15
- Any man with “discharge from his member” is ceremonially unclean. — 15:1-17 These laws would cover masturbation and wet dreams.
- Covers premature ejaculation.— 15:18
- A menstruating woman is unclean. Anybody who touches her is unclean for the day. If a man has sex with her, he is unclean for seven days. Anything she touches is unclean. Anybody who touches what she touches is unclean for the day. A woman is not clean until seven days after flow stops. — 15:19-27
- Anyone who enters the tabernacle unclean will die. — 15:31
day of atonement — 16
- After Aaron’s sons died, Moses tells Aaron not to go behind the curtain, where the mercy seat and ark are, until he sees a cloud on the mercy seat. Else he will die.—16:1-2
- Aaron must be properly dressed and is to make described offerings— 16:3-15
- The atonement is necessary because the people’s sins and transgressions make them unclean.—16:16
- Scapegoat: setting a goat free carries away the sins of the congregation.—16:20-22
- On the seventh month tenth day, it is a Sabbath.
moral laws — 17-20
blood sacredness — 17
- Anyone who slaughters an ox, lamb or goat and does not bring it to the tent of meeting is guilty of bloodshed and will killed.—17:1-4
- The animal is offered as a peace offering. —17:5-9 It’s a disguised tax.
- The penalty for eating blood is ostracism.—17:10
- “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.”—17:11 They meant the soul, not the medical context.
forbidden sex— 18
- The practice of Egyptian and Canaanite customs are forbidden.
- “Uncovering one’s nakedness” refers to a shameful, incestual, or otherwise forbidden sex act.
- Acts include: mother, stepmother, sister, stepsister, granddaughter, aunts, niece, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, anyone else’s daughter.—18:6-17
- Any woman with a sister. —18:8 Jacob was married to two sisters.
- Menstruating women.—18:19
- Neighbor’s wife.—18:20
- Child offering to Molech.—18:21
- Homosexuality.— 18:22
- Bestiality.— 18:23
- The penalty is death (cut off).—18:29
general laws— 19
- Revere mother and father and keep Sabbaths.—19:3
- Do not worship idols or make cast images. — 19:4
- Peace offerings must be eaten by the second day. On the third, it must be burned. Anyone caught eating an offering on the third day will be killed. — 19:5-8
- Do not steal or lie.—19:11
- Do not swear falsely.— 19:12
- Neighbor laws defined: defraud, steal, partiality, slander, hate, vengeance.—19:13-18
- On mixing animal breeds, seeds and clothing materials. — 19:19
- Sex with a slave woman assigned to another man. No death penalty for both — because she is not free — but he must make a guilt offering. — 19:20-22
- The fruit from new land is forbidden for three years. On the fourth year it is set apart (burnt, destroyed) for God. In the fifth year it can be eaten. — 19:23-25 they must have starved!
- Do not eat anything with blood or practice augury or witchcraft. —19:26
- Haircuts defined.— 19:27
- Do not scar your skin or make tattoos to memorialize the dead.—19:28
- Do not curse your daughter or make her a prostitute. —19:29
- Keep sabbath and reverence for sanctuary.—19:30
- Do not turn to mediums or wizards.—19:31
- Defer to those older.—19:32
- On alien slaves: do not oppress; love them as yourself.—19:33-34
- Do not cheat on weights and measures.— 19:35-36
punishments — 20
- Anybody who gives (sacrifices) their offspring to the god Molech will be stoned to death. — 20:2-3
- If the people witness a sacrifice to Molech and do not put them to death, God himself will cut off (kill) the perpetrators and their family. — 20:4-5
- Death to anyone turns to mediums and wizards. — 20:6
- Death to anyone who curses father or mother. — 20:9
- Death to adulterers. — 20:10
- Death for having sex with one neighbor. —20:11
- Death for having sex with ones daughter-on-law. — 20:12
- Death to both for having sex another male. —20:13
- Death to both for sex with mother-in-law. — 20:14
- Death to both if man has sex with an animal. — 20:15
- Death to both if woman has sex with animal. — 20:16
- Death to sister or step-sister — 20:17
- Punishment for sex when a woman has her period. — 20:18
- Punishment for sex with aunt. — 20:19
- Both remain childless for sex with uncle’s wife. — 20:20
- Both remain childless for sex with sister-in-law. — 20:21
- Keep the statutes and laws otherwise the land will “vomit you out.” — 20:22 probably written after Babylonian captivity.
- Distinguish between what is clean and unclean. — 20:25
- Stone to death mediums and wizards. — 20:27
- God “separated” the Jews from the rest of the world. — 20:24,26
rules for priests — 21
- No one will defile himself for a dead person among relatives, except for mother, father, son, daughter, brother, virgin sister who has no husband. — 21:2-4 “defile” in this case means to go near a dead body.
- Do not shave bald spots on head or shave off edges of beard or make scars. — 21:5
- Do not profane God’s name. “offerings by fire, the food of their God.” Fire is the vehicle for feeding God. They noticed that the burnt flesh disappeared, leaving only charred remains. They thought that the flesh disappeared into the supernatural world. —21:6
- Do not marry a prostitute or a divorced woman. — 21:7-8
- If his daughter prostitutes herself, she will be burned to death. — 21:9
- He shall not dishevel his hair or tear his vestments. — 21:10
- Do not go near a dead body, even if it is his father or mother. — 21:11
- Do not go outside the sanctuary. — 21:12
- Marry only a woman who is a virgin. — 21:13
- He cannot marry widows, divorcees, defiled women, or prostitutes; he shall marry a virgin of his own kind. 21:14
- He will profane his offspring among his kin. — 21:15
- No priest who has a blemish can offer food to God. — 21:17
- No priest who has a blemish, is blind or lame, mutilated face or a limb too long, or a broken foot or a broken hand, hunchback, dwarf, blemish in eyes, itching disease, scabs or crushed testicles. — 21:18-20
- A priest with a blemish shall make no offering or come near the God’s food, but he may eat God’s food. He shall not come near the curtain or approach the altar. — 21:21-23
more priest rules — 22
- The priest must treat the sacred donations carefully without profaning his name. — 22:2
- Any offspring that goes near the donations while unclean will be killed (cut off). — 22:3
- No offspring may eat sacred donations until clean. Touching a corpse or semen stains make one unclean. One can become clean by washing or by waiting until sunset. — 22: 4-7
- Dead animals or animals torn by other animals are unclean. —22:8
- No lay person shall eat the sacred donations unless they were purchased. A priest daughter may if she is divorced or widowed. If a lay person eats it unintentionally, he must pay 120% of its value. — 22:10-14
- Any vow or freewill offering, which is to be burnt, must be a perfect male bull, sheep, or goat. — 22:18-25
- No animal may be slaughtered until its eighth day from birth. Do not slaughter an animal with its young on the same day. Thanksgiving offerings must be eaten on the same day it is offered — no leftovers. — 22:27-30
holidays — 23
- On the seventh day of the week, do no work. 23:3
- Make a Passover offering on the 14th day of the first month. 23:4-5
- On the 15th day of the first month is the festival of unleavened bread. Eat unleavened bread for seven days. 23:6-8
- The priests raises (waves or elevates) the first fruits from the harvest to symbolize acceptance. It is consecrated or made holy. On the same day, they make a burnt offering, a grain offering, and a drink offering to go with the burnt offering. 23:10-13
- Makes elevation offering with first fruits and two lambs (23:20). It had to be destroyed.
- Seventh day of month is Day of Atonement. Do no work. Violators are cut off (killed).
- On the 15th> day of seventh month is the festival of booths (23:34). They live in the booths for seven days (23:4). Festival of booths started with Nehemiah 8:17. After the Jews returned from the exile, they built booths and lived in them. Occurred in second temple days.
more penalties — 24
- They burned olive oil from evening to morning. 24:2
- The son of an Israelite woman and Egyptian father got into a fight and “blasphemed the Name in a curse.” He was stoned to death. Note that the congregation first laid their hands on his head before stoning. 24:10-14, 23
- The penalty for blasphemy is death. 24:15-16
- Kill a human; be put to death. Kill someone’s animal; pay it back. Maim another; suffer the same injury. Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; the injury inflicted is the injury suffered. 24:17-21
the sabbath year — 25
- Every seven years they must not sow seed. They may only harvest what grows naturally off the land. — 25:3-7
- The phrase “dwelling house in a walled city” in 25:29. There was no walled city the time of Moses.
- Another phrase “houses in villages that have no walls around them” in 25:31
- Another phrase “cities” is used in 25:32-34
- The phrase “resident aliens” (25:35) when the Israelites were alone in the desert.
- “Money at interest” (25:37) when there was no money at time of Moses.
- If any become impoverished to the point of dependency, they can not be taken as slaves. They may remain as hired or bound laborers. 25:39-40
- The Israelites brought servants out of Egypt. They had slaves and were allowed to acquire slaves from the nations around them (25:44). There were also aliens residing with them who could be held as property (25:45). They could not own slaves if they were already slaves in Egypt. They had not encountered aliens at this time.
- If a relative becomes bound to a wealthy resident alien, they may be redeemed or bought back at a specified price (25:47-54).
the God of war — 26
- If you follow God’s law faithfully, he will give you ample rain and bountiful produce. There will be peace in your land, your enemies will run away from you or they don’t fall by your sword. Your population will multiply. I, God, will be with you wherever you go.
- But if you disobey me and reject my statutes, you will have broken my covenant (26:14-15).
- I will terrorize you.
- You will suffer consumption and fever that will make your life fade away.
- Your enemies will eat what grows from your seed.
- Your enemies will strike you down; you will be so afraid that you will run when no one is pursuing you.
- And if you still don’t obey me I will continue to punish you sevenfold for you sins (26:18).
- I will break your pride.
- Your strength will exhaust for no purpose; your land and trees will yield nothing.
- If you continue your hostility I will continue to plague you sevenfold for you sins (26:21).
- Wild animals will kill your children and destroy your livestock; they will decimate your population, and your roads will be deserted. (they had no roads)
- And if you remain hostile I will strike you sevenfold (25:24).
- Your enemies will bring their swords against you in vengeance. I will send pestilence and deliver you into enemy hands.
- There will be too little bread to satisfy your hunger.
- Continue hostility; continue sevenfold punishment (25:27-28).
- You shall eat your sons and daughters.
- I will destroy you high places (other gods) and your incense altars; I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols.
- Your cities will lay waste and your sanctuaries desolate and I will not smell your pleasing odors.
- I will devastate you land so bad that not even your enemies would be reject it.
- I will scatter you among the nations, the sword against you; your land shall be desolate and your cities a waste.
- The desolate land will enjoy its Sabbath years.
- The survivors will turn into cowards with no power to bring against their enemies.
- Your nation will be absorbed by other nations.
- The survivors will languish because of the sins of their ancestors
- If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, I will remember my covenant with Isaac and Abraham and I will remember the land (26:40-42)
- These laws were established “through Moses.” The phrase could not have been written by Moses.
- This chapter was probably written at a time when there were cities with walls; after the fall of Judah and the end of 2 Kings.
Redemption — 27
- Redeem is a term for payment, something for something; to sell.
- The monetary pricing of a slave is described (27:2-8).
- The assessment of animals is described (27:9-13)
- A house consecrated to God goes to the priests (27:14).
- Investigate ‘sanctuary shekel” and “gerah.” (27:25)
- Firstborn livestock can only be consecrated by priests unless it is unclean.
- Humans devoted to destruction cannot be ransomed; they shall be put to death (27:28-29).
- The word “devoted” implies sacrifice to God; it does not mean punishment.
- If it is holy and it is God’s, it is devoted to destruction. It cannot be redeemed.
- “Ransom” means to deliver from sin and its consequences.
- All tithes from the land and from the herds are God’s; they are holy.
- It one makes substitution for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy and cannot be redeemed
- The phrase, “These are the commandments that the lord gave to Moses,” was written long after Moses.