Leviticus: *Worship the *LORD in the Beauty of *Holiness

Holy Priests and a Holy Nation

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Leviticus chapters 8 to 16

www.easyenglish.info

Gordon Churchyard

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible, except for the words in brackets (…).

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

Go to: Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16

The Work of the Priests – chapters 8:1 to 10:20

Chapter 8

The *ordination of priests

v1 Then the *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Bring Aaron and his sons (here). Also, (bring these things).

·  Their special clothes.

·  The *oil (with which) to *anoint them.

·  The *bull for the *sin offering.

·  The two *rams.

·  The basket that contains bread. (Somebody) made (this bread) without *yeast.

v3 Gather all the people to the entrance of (the yard round) the *meeting tent.’

v4 So Moses did what the *LORD had ordered him to do. And the people gathered at the entrance to (the yard round) the *meeting tent.

v5 Moses said (this) to all the people. ‘This is what the *LORD has ordered us to do’.

v6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons to the front (of everybody who was there). Then he washed them with water.

v7 (Moses) put the special shirt onto Aaron. He tied a belt round him. Then Moses put a long coat onto Aaron. Next, he put the *ephod onto Aaron. He tied the *ephod onto (Aaron) with a special belt, which someone had made skilfully. So (Moses) fastened the *ephod to (Aaron).

v8 Then (Moses) put the *breastpiece onto (Aaron). He put the *Urim and Thummim in the *breastpiece.

v9 Then (Moses) put the special hat onto (Aaron’s) head. And he put onto the front (of the special hat) the gold plate. (It was called) the holy crown. This was what the *LORD had ordered Moses (to do).

v10 Then Moses took the *oil (that the *Jews used) to *anoint people. He *anointed the *tabernacle and everything that was in it. This made them holy and special for God.

v11 (Moses) splashed some of the *oil on the *altar 7 times. He *anointed the *altar and all its tools. This included the basin (of water) and what it stood on. So he made them all holy and special for God.

v12 He poured some of the *oil onto Aaron’s head. This *anointed Aaron and it made him holy and special (to serve God).

v13 Then (Moses) brought Aaron’s sons to the front. He put shirts on them and he tied belts round them. Then he put caps on them, as the *LORD had ordered Moses to do.

 

v14 Then (Moses) offered the *bull for the *sin offering, and Aaron and his sons put their hands onto its head.

v15 Moses killed the *bull and he took some of (its) blood. With his finger, he put it onto all the *horns of the *altar. This made the *altar *clean. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the *altar. So he made the *altar holy and special (for God). He made *atonement for it.

v16 Moses also took all the *fat that was round the inside parts of the animal. (He took the *fat that) covered the *liver. (And he took) both *kidneys and their *fat. He burned all this *fat on the *altar.

v17 But (Moses) burned the *bull outside the camp, with its skin and its meat and the dirt inside it. This was what the *LORD had ordered Moses (to do).

 

v18 Then (Moses) offered the *ram for the *whole offering. Aaron and his sons put their hands onto its head.

v19 And Moses killed the *ram and he splashed (its) blood against all the sides of the *altar.

v20 (Moses) cut the *ram into pieces. He burned (its) head, the pieces and the *fat.

v21 He washed the inside parts (of the *ram) and (its) legs with water. He burned the whole *ram on the *altar. (It was) a *whole offering and its smell pleased (the *LORD). It was an *offering that they made to the *LORD on the fire. This was what the *LORD had ordered Moses (to do).

v22 (Moses) then offered another *ram; (it was) the *ram for the *ordination. Aaron and his sons put their hands onto its head.

v23 And Moses killed the *ram. Then he put some of its blood on (these places).

·  The lower part of Aaron’s right ear.

·  The *thumb of (Aaron’s) right hand.

·  The big toe of (Aaron’s) right foot.

v24 Moses also brought Aaron’s sons to the front. He put some of the blood on (these places).

·  The lower parts of their right ears.

·  The *thumbs of their right hands.

·  The big toes of their right feet.

Then (Moses) splashed blood against all the sides of the *altar.

v25 (Moses) took the *fat, the *fat tail and all the *fat round the inside parts (of the *ram. He also took the *fat) that covered the *liver. (And he took) both the *kidneys with their *fat and the right upper leg.

v26 There was a basket of bread in front of the *LORD. (Someone had) made the bread without *yeast. (Moses) took a cake of bread (from the basket) and a cake (that someone had) made with *oil. (He also took) a thin, flat biscuit. He put these on the *fat parts (of the *ram) and on its right upper leg.

v27 He put all these things into the hands of Aaron and his sons. They lifted them up and they waved them in front of the *LORD. This was a *wave offering.

v28 Then Moses took these things from their hands and he burned them on the *altar. He put them on top of the *whole offering. They were an *ordination offering. Its smell pleased (the *LORD). It was an *offering that they made to the *LORD on the fire.

v29 Moses also took his share of the *ordination offering. This was the breast of the *ram. He lifted it up and he waved it in front of the *LORD. It was a *wave offering. This was what the *LORD had ordered Moses (to do).

v30 Then Moses took some of the *oil that he used to *anoint (Aaron). He also took some of the blood from the *altar. He splashed both (the *oil and the blood) onto Aaron and his clothes. (He also splashed them) onto (Aaron’s) sons and their clothes. So he made them all special to God, (that is,) Aaron and his clothes, and also his sons and their clothes.

 

v31 Then Moses said (this) to Aaron and to his sons. ‘Cook the meat at the entrance of the *meeting tent. Eat it there, with the bread from the basket of *ordination offerings. I ordered this when I said, “Aaron and his sons must eat it.”

v32 Then burn the rest of the meat and the bread.

v33 You must not leave the entrance of the *meeting tent for 7 days. Then the days of your *ordination will be complete. Your *ordination must last for 7 days.

v34 The *LORD has given us a command. Today, we have done what (he told us to do). It will make *atonement for you.

v35 You must remain at the entrance of the *meeting tent for 7 days and 7 nights. You must do what the *LORD wants you to do. Then you will not die. This is what (the *LORD has) ordered me.’

v36 So Aaron and his sons did everything that the *LORD had ordered them to do, by (the words of) Moses.

Notes

Aaron was Moses’ brother. God told Moses to appoint Aaron and his *descendants to be the priests for the *Israelites. In Exodus chapter 29, God told Moses how he should appoint Aaron. All the instructions for the ceremony are in that chapter. And here, in Leviticus chapter 8, Moses obeys these instructions.

Everything that happened during this ceremony was very important. The ceremony gave the priests authority to act on behalf of both God and the *Israelites. Without priests, there could be no *sacrifices. And the priests would be unable to carry out *sacrifices until the ceremony was complete.

The table (series of boxes) below shows what happened at the ceremony.

What happened?

Why?

The *Israelites gathered at the *meeting tent.

God wanted them to see that he had appointed Aaron and his sons to be their priests.

Moses washed Aaron and his sons. (They probably bathed their whole bodies.)

This part of the ceremony was to show that they had to be *clean (free) from *sin.

Moses put splendid clothes on Aaron.

These splendid clothes showed that he was the chief priest. God had separated him to carry out holy duties.

Moses poured *oil on Aaron.

*Oil is a word picture of the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit came on Aaron, to give Aaron the power to do his work.

Moses put clothes on Aaron’s sons.

These were also special clothes. These clothes showed that they too were priests. But they were not the chief priest.

Moses offered the *bull as a *sin offering.

It was necessary to deal with the priests’ *sins before they could deal with other people’s *sins.

Moses offered the first *ram as a *whole offering.

This showed that the priests had to give themselves completely to God for his service.

Moses offered the second *ram.

This was a special *sacrifice for the *ordination.

Moses put blood on the priests’ right ears, hands and feet.

This showed that they must obey God.

They must obey what he tells them. They must do what he says. And they must go where he sends them.

Moses splashed *oil and blood onto the priests and their clothes.

This showed that they and their clothes were only holy because of *sacrifice.

They had to repeat the ceremonies for 7 days.

At the end of the week, they would be ready to begin their work as priests.

Verse 2 There is a list of the special clothes in Exodus 28:4. They were called holy in Exodus 28:2. This meant that the chief priest could only use them in the *meeting tent. Only the chief priest wore them. The clothes did not mean that the chief priest was special. They meant that God was special. The *oil was from a fruit called the olive. When they *anointed (poured *oil onto) a priest, they mixed special materials with the *oil (Exodus 30:22-33). These materials gave a special smell to the *oil. These materials included the substances called myrrh, sweet calamus, sweet cinnamon and cassia. They all came from plants.

Verse 4 Moses told all the *Israelites to gather for this important occasion. They would all be witnesses that God had appointed Aaron and his sons to be their priests.

This was a public ceremony, because the priests served everybody. There was not room inside the yard, so the people had to stay outside the entrance. Perhaps they stood on something, so that they could see inside!

Verse 6 The *Hebrew word for ‘brought’ means ‘put in front of’. The priests did that with the animals that they offered to God. Here, it shows that Moses offered Aaron and his sons to God as priests. Some Bible students think that Moses only washed the hands and feet of the priests, Exodus 30:19-21. Other Bible students think that he washed their whole bodies on this occasion, Leviticus 16:4. But normally, before the priests served God, they would just wash their hands and feet (Exodus 30:19). Jesus seems to refer to this in John 13:10.

Verse 7 Moses put the clothes on Aaron. This was a special part of the ceremony. Moses was acting on behalf of God. His actions showed that God had appointed Aaron. The chief priest would be able to do his duties because God had made him *holy. His special clothes, which God had provided, were evidence of that fact.

The *ephod was a short coat, which fitted round the chief priest’s body. It fastened over the shoulders. The chief priest wore the *ephod under the *breastpiece, Exodus 28:6-8.

Verse 8 The *breastpiece covered the upper part of the priest’s body. It contained the *Urim and Thummim. Bible students are not sure what these were. All that we know is this. They helped the chief priest to know God’s purposes, as in 1 Samuel 14:41. The words ‘*Urim and Thummim’ mean ‘perfect light’ in the *Hebrew language. So many Bible students think that the *Urim and Thummim were some sort of precious stones. But we do not know how the chief priest used them.

Verse 9 The gold plate had words on it. They said, ‘Holy to the *LORD’ (Exodus 28:36). This did not mean that the chief priest’s special clothes were very, very good. It meant that the chief priest took the people’s *sin on himself (Exodus 28:38). That was why he alone could go into the most holy place (see chapter 16).

Verses 10-12 ‘*Anoint’ means ‘pour *oil on’. They used a special *oil, see note on verse 2. The *tabernacle was the place where the *meeting tent, the outside *altar, the basin of water and the yard were. There is a plan near the start of this commentary. (See the section called ‘What is in the house of God?’) Later, the *tabernacle was called the *temple. This was after Solomon built the *temple in Jerusalem. The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. Exodus 30:22-29 and Exodus 40:9-11 tells Moses to *anoint these things. He did it here, before he *ordained the priests. ‘Special for God’ means that the priests could only use these things to serve God.

Aaron was now wearing clothes that were beautiful and impressive. But the ceremony to appoint him was not complete. He needed to receive the *oil before he would be the chief priest. In the Bible, *oil is often a word picture for the Holy Spirit. Here, the Holy Spirit is separating Aaron for his special work for God. As the chief priest, he alone will be able to enter the most holy place (see chapter 16).

You can read another description of this event in Psalm 133.

Verse 13 The ceremony for Aaron’s sons was simpler and Moses did not *anoint them.

Verses 14-17 This follows the directions for the *sin offering in Leviticus 4:1 to 5:13. The Bible teaches that everyone since Adam is guilty of *sin (Romans 3:10-19). So it is clear that the priests – and even the chief priest – needed a *sacrifice for *sin.

Verse 15 There were 4 *horns on the *altar. Animals like cows and *bulls have *horns on their heads. The *horns were at the corners of the *altar. The *horns pointed upward, to where God lives in heaven. Notice that not only must the priests be *clean. Everything else must be *clean also. So Moses made *atonement for the *altar.

Verses 18-21 This follows the directions for the *whole offering in Leviticus 1:3-13.

Verse 22 *Ordination is a special word. It comes from an old word … 3500 years old … that means ‘to fill up’. This happens in verse 27, where Moses ‘fills up’ the hands of Aaron and his sons. But the word ‘*ordain’ now means ‘to appoint someone to be a priest’. We still use this word in the Church. But when we *ordain a priest or a minister (church leader), we still ‘fill up’ his hands … with a Bible! The ceremony is called ‘*ordination’.

Verses 23-24 Notice that Moses puts blood on three important parts of the priests’ bodies.

·  The priest’s ear: he must always listen to what God is saying to him.

·  The priest’s hand: he must always do what God wants him to do.

·  The priest’s foot: he must always go where God tells him to go.

1 Peter 2:9 tells us that all Christians are priests. All Christians must therefore use their ears, hands and feet for Jesus. Notice also that the blood touches the priests and the *altar. Therefore it linked the priests with their job. Their job was to help people come to God. That is still the job of a Christian. Look at Something to do number 4, below.

Verse 25 Some translations have ‘shoulder’ instead of ‘upper leg’.

Verses 26-28 What happened here is not in the rest of Leviticus. This was only for the *ordination ceremony. Usually, the priests could eat part of the *corn offering, Leviticus 2:10, but not here. Neither could they eat any of the meat here. Usually they could eat part of the meat, Leviticus 7:14.

Verse 29 Moses acted as the chief priest for a short time. After this ceremony, Moses was not the chief priest. Now Aaron was the chief priest. As Moses was for a time the chief priest, he had to have a share. The breast is the front part of a *ram or a sheep.

Verse 30 Even after this ceremony, the priests could only serve God because of the blood of the *sacrifice. Even the wonderful and beautiful clothes of the chief priest would not be holy without a *sacrifice.

Verse 33 Here they were separate from the people.

Verse 35 Moses had to repeat these *offerings for the next 7 days. During this time, Aaron and his sons could not leave the entrance of the *meeting tent. If they left, they would become *unclean. Then God would not accept the ceremonies, and so they would die. The ceremony to appoint a priest was a very serious matter because God is completely *holy. In other words, he is separate. And because the priests would serve him, they had to be separate too.

During those 7 days, Aaron and his sons ate at the entrance of the *meeting tent. All the *Israelites saw them there, as they had *fellowship with God.

Something to do

1. Moses was still the leader of his people when he *ordained the priests. Read Numbers 12:7 and Hebrews 3:2. Read about the way in which God expects leaders to serve their people, Matthew 20:27 and Mark 10:44.

2. The chief priest’s clothes were magnificent to see. Clothes are important in the Bible. Read these verses: Psalm 132:9, Isaiah 61:10, Job 29:14, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

3. In Romans 1:1, Paul says that God separated him for the purpose of God’s good news. In which verse or verses of Leviticus chapter 8 did God separate the priests for their work?

4. Read Revelation 1:5-6. Notice that this is similar to Leviticus 8:23-24.

Chapter 9

The priests start their work

v1 On the 8th day, Moses ordered Aaron, his sons and the leaders of *Israel to come.

v2 (Moses) said to Aaron, ‘Fetch a young *bull for your *sin offering and a *ram for your *whole offering. Both (animals) must be perfect. Offer them to the *LORD.

v3 Then say to the *Israelites, “Fetch a male goat for a *sin offering. Also, (fetch) a young *bull and a *lamb for a *whole offering. They must both be a year old and perfect.

v4 And (fetch) a cow and a *ram for the *peace offerings. You must offer them to the *LORD, together with a *corn offering (that you have) mixed with *oil. (Do this) because the *LORD will appear to you today.” ’

v5 So they brought everything that Moses had told them to bring. (They brought them) to the front of the *meeting tent. All the people came near and they stood in front of the *LORD.

v6 Then Moses said (this). ‘This is what the *LORD has ordered you to do. Now the *glory of the *LORD will appear to you.’

v7 Moses said to Aaron, ‘Come to the *altar. Kill your *sin offering and your *whole offering. Make *atonement for yourself and for your family. Kill the *offering that is for the people. (This will) make *atonement for them. This is what the *LORD has ordered you (to do).’

v8 So Aaron came to the *altar and he killed the young *bull as a *sin offering for himself.

v9 His sons brought (its) blood to him. (Aaron) put his finger into the blood and he put it on the *horns of the *altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the *altar.

v10 He burned the *fat on the *altar. (He also burned) the *kidneys and the *fat that covered the *liver. These all came from the *sin offering, as the *LORD had ordered Moses (to do).

v11 (Aaron) burned the meat and the skin (of the animal) outside the camp.

v12 Then Aaron killed the *whole offering. His sons gave (its) blood to him and he splashed it against all the sides of the *altar.

v13 (His sons) gave (Aaron) the pieces of the *whole offering, one at a time. They included the head (of the animal). (Aaron) burned them on the *altar.

v14 (Aaron) washed the inside parts and the legs (of the animal). He burned them on the top of the *whole offering on the *altar.

v15 Then Aaron brought the *offering that was for the people. He took the goat that was for the people’s *sin offering. He killed it and he offered it as a *sin offering. (This was) what he did with the first *sin offering.

v16 (Then Aaron) brought the *whole offering (for the people). He offered it as the rules told him (to do).

v17 Then he brought the *corn offering. He took some of it in his hand. He burned it on the *altar, as well as the morning’s *whole offering.

v18 (Aaron) killed the cow and the *ram for the people’s *peace offerings. His sons gave him the blood and he splashed it against all the sides of the *altar.

v19-20 But they laid the *fat parts of the cow and the *ram on the breasts (of the animals). (The *fat parts) were the *fat tail and the *fat on the *kidneys, *liver and inside parts (of the animal). Then Aaron burned the *fat on the *altar.

v21 And Aaron waved the breasts and the right upper leg in front of the *LORD. It was a *wave offering, as Moses had ordered him (to do).

v22 Then Aaron lifted his hands towards the people and he blessed them. Then he came down (from the *altar). (This was) after he had offered the *sin offering, the *whole offering and the *peace offerings (to the *LORD).

v23 Then Moses and Aaron went into the *meeting tent. When they came out (of the *meeting tent), they blessed the people. And then the *glory of the *LORD appeared to all the people.

v24 Fire came out from the place where the *LORD was. It burned the *whole offering and all the pieces of *fat that were on the *altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted. (This was because they were so happy.) And they all fell down with their faces to the ground.

Notes

Verse 1 This is the 8th day after the 7 days in Leviticus chapter 8. Aaron was now the chief priest. On God’s behalf, Moses gave instructions to Aaron. The leaders were older people in the many families in *Israel. *Israel was the name of all the people; each person was an *Israelite. Aaron had 4 sons. 1 Chronicles 6:3 tells us their names.

Verse 2 Although the priests had not left the *meeting tent, there still had to be a *sin offering. The chief priest had to offer a *sin offering for himself on all these public occasions. Read the note about original *sin at the start of my notes on Leviticus chapter 4. Original *sin still affected the chief priest. So he had to make a *sin offering on his own behalf first. A *bull is a male cow and a *ram is a male sheep.

Verse 3 The *Israelites must also offer a *sin offering, as well as all the other *offerings. These *sacrifices took their place as *sinners. This was essential to prepare for the event that would happen in verse 23. God’s *glory would appear to all the *Israelites.

Verse 4 The *LORD sometimes appeared as a bright cloud. This happened in Exodus 33:9, Numbers 16:42, Matthew 17:5 and many other places. On this occasion, we know that they saw fire from heaven (verse 24). We do not know whether they saw something else. But they all saw God’s *glory (verse 23).

In the *Hebrew language, the words ‘will appear’ are actually in the perfect tense. Usually, this would mean that the event has already happened. But here, it means that the event will definitely happen. The *LORD will definitely appear to them.

Verse 5 ‘Stood in front of the *LORD’ means this. ‘Stood in front of the *meeting tent’. God was present at the *meeting tent in a special way.

Verse 6 We could translate this sentence as: ‘This is the word that the *LORD has ordered you to do.’ The *Hebrew word that we have translated ‘what’ really means ‘the word’. In English, we often say that words are not important. But in the Bible, ‘the word’ often means something that is very important. For Christians, ‘the word’ is a name for Jesus, John 1:1. Here, ‘the word’ means the command that the *LORD had given to the *Israelites.

The *Hebrew word for ‘*glory’ here means ‘weight’. Weight is something that ‘presses’ down. So the *glory is something that ‘impresses’ us. It is ‘impressive’.

Verse 7 Our translation says, ‘your family’. That is the meaning of the words in the *Greek Bible. And it is also the meaning of the *Hebrew words in Leviticus 16:6 and 16:11. However, the words here in the *Hebrew Bible mean ‘the people’. ‘Your family’ (Aaron’s family) would mean the priests; but ‘the people’ would mean all the *Israelites.

Verse 9 The note on Leviticus 4:3-12 explains ‘the *horns of the *altar’.

Verses 8-11 Aaron here follows the rules in Leviticus 4:11-12.

Verses 12-14 Aaron here follows the rules in Leviticus 1:6-9.

Verses 15-21 Aaron here follows the rules in Leviticus chapters 1 to 5.

Verses 22-23 They probably used the words in Numbers 6:24-26 to bless the people. The *glory of the *LORD probably appeared as in Exodus 40:34. Here, the *glory appeared to show that the priests had authority from God to do their work.

Verse 24 The fire from God burned what Aaron’s fire had not burned. In the Bible, fire often tells us that God is doing something. Here, it showed that God had given authority to Aaron’s family to be the priests. He approved of them and he accepted their *sacrifices.

Another similar place where fire came from God was Acts 2:3. As God’s chief priest, Jesus had offered his own blood to God (Hebrews 9:12). And God accepted Jesus’ *sacrifice. So then, God showed his *glory to the first Christians. Fire came down and it rested on each of them.

Look at Something to do number 2 below for some other verses about fire.

Something to do

1. Read some of the verses where God appears as a bright cloud. The verses include Exodus 33:9, Numbers 16:42 and Matthew 17:5.

2. Read these verses about how God works by means of fire. Deuteronomy 4:24; Psalm 18:8-14; Ezekiel 1:4; Malachi 3:2; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Revelation 1:14.

3. Leviticus chapter 9 can confuse us easily! Study it with the use of this table (arrangement of boxes).

 

*Offerings for the priests

 

*Offerings for the people

Verse 1

 

Moses tells Aaron and the people what to do.

 

Verse 2

Aaron must fetch his *sin and *whole offerings.

 

 

Verses 3-4

 

 

The people must fetch their *sin, *whole, *peace and *corn offerings.

 

 

Moses promises that the *LORD will appear.

 

Verse 5

Aaron brings the animals for his *offerings.

 

The people bring the animals for their *offerings.

 

 

 

 

Verse 6

 

Moses again promises that the *LORD will appear.

 

Verse 7

 

Moses again promises that the *LORD will appear.

 

Verses 8-11

Aaron offers the *sin offering for himself and his family.

 

 

Verses 12-14

Aaron offers the *whole offering for himself and his family.

 

 

Verse 15

 

 

Aaron offers the people’s *sin offering.

Verse 16

 

 

Aaron offers the people’s *whole offering.

Verse 17

 

 

Aaron offers the people’s *peace offering.

Verses 18-21

 

 

Aaron offers the people’s *corn offering.

 

 

 

 

Verses 22-24

 

Moses and Aaron bless the people.

 

 

 

The *glory of the *LORD appears.

 

Notice two important things.

·  Both Aaron and the people offer *whole and *sin offerings. The *sin offering is for *atonement. This means that God will forgive their *sin. The *whole offering is for *fellowship. It means that Aaron and the people can come near to God as his friends.

·  When Aaron and the people obey the rules for the *offerings, the *glory of the *LORD appears.

Christians offer Jesus as their *offering. And when they obey him, The *glory of the *LORD appears in their lives.

Chapter 10

The deaths of Nadab and Abihu and further rules

v1 (Two of) Aaron’s sons (were called) Nadab and Abihu. They got their *censers and put fire and *incense into them. Then they offered fire to the *LORD, which it was not right to do. (The *LORD) had not told them to do this.

v2 So fire came from where the *LORD was. It burned them, so that they died in front of the *LORD.

v3 Moses then said to Aaron, ‘The *LORD spoke about this. He said, “I will show myself to be holy among those people who come near to me. Everybody will see that honour comes to me.” ’ But Aaron was silent.

v4 Moses ordered Mishael and Elzaphan to come. They were the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. (Moses) said to them, ‘Come (here). Carry your cousins’ (bodies) outside the camp. (Take them) away from the front of the *meeting tent.’

v5 So they came and carried them away outside the camp. This is what Moses had ordered them to do. (Nadab and Abihu) were still wearing their (priests’) clothes.

v6 Then Moses said (this) to Aaron and to his (other two) sons, Eleazar and Ithamar. ‘Do not make your hair untidy and do not tear your clothes. (If you do,) you will die. Then (the *LORD) will be angry with all (the *Israelites). But your relatives (and) all the *Israelites may *mourn because of the fire that the *LORD sent.

v7 Do not leave the entrance of the *meeting tent, or you will die. (This is) because of the *LORD’s *oil that *anointed you. It is still on you.’ So they did what Moses said.

Verse 1 Nadab and Abihu were the oldest of Aaron’s 4 sons. Their names are in 1 Chronicles 6:3. A *censer was a flat pan that carried fire. What they did was not legal. It was wrong, for several possible reasons.

·  They should have put fire into the *censers from the *altar, Leviticus 16:12. But perhaps they did not take their fire from the *altar.

·  Perhaps they tried to enter the most holy place. Only the chief priest could do this. He could only do it once a year on the Day of *Atonement, Leviticus chapter 16.

·  Perhaps they decided to do this in order to oppose Moses and Aaron. Perhaps Nadab and Abihu thought that they themselves should be the chief priests.

·  Perhaps Nadab and Abihu had drunk too much wine. So the *LORD gave Aaron another rule in verse 9.

We can perhaps understand better the reasons for their deaths because some other people died in a similar manner (Numbers chapter 16). Those people decided, on purpose, to oppose the *LORD (Numbers 16:11). Moses warned them severely about their actions. But they still decided to approach the *meeting tent, with fire in their *censers that God would not accept. Fire came from the *LORD and it killed 250 men (Numbers 16:35).

It is very dangerous to oppose God’s work on purpose. Moses had carefully warned Nadab and Abihu that they must obey God completely (Leviticus 8:35). But for some reason, they chose to do something that God did not permit. What they did opposed God’s work at the *meeting tent. That is why their punishment was so severe.

Verse 2 Numbers 15:30-31 tells us what happens to people like Nadab and Abihu. The *LORD punished them severely because they decided not to obey God. This passage from the Book of Numbers tells us something important. What they did was not an accident. They *sinned on purpose. The *Hebrew word for ‘burned’ means ‘ate’. The fire ate them!

Verse 3 These words of the *LORD do not appear anywhere else. But they do remind us of what the Bible teaches about priests. There are some verses about this in Something to do number 1, below. And Exodus 19:21-24 contains instructions with a similar meaning. Also, Peter reminds us that judgement begins among God’s people, 1 Peter 4:17. Aaron said nothing because he had to give proper honour to God. He knew that God’s judgement is always right. These events were clearly a bad shock for him. But as the chief priest, his love for God was more important than his love for his sons.

Verses 4-5 Aaron could not touch dead bodies, as that would make him *unclean. A priest who was *unclean could not do his work for God. There were special rules for the chief priest (Leviticus 21:10-15). He could never enter the place where a dead body was. He could not even become *unclean in order to bury his father or mother. So Aaron certainly could not bury his sons’ bodies. That was why Aaron’s cousins took the bodies away to bury them. The fire that killed Nadab and Abihu did not burn their priests’ clothes. The dead bodies were still wearing them.

Verses 6-7 The *Hebrew words for ‘make your hair untidy’ really mean this. ‘Make your head loose’. People made their ‘head loose’ when they took off the ribbon round their hair. This let the hair down so that it was untidy. People did this when they *mourned. They also tore their clothes. People *mourn when they are very sad at a death. The priests had to stay near the *meeting tent. If they went away, they would become *unclean. Then they would not be able to work as priests. Their work was more important than their feelings. Matthew 26:39 tells us that Jesus did the same. His work was more important than his feelings.

v8 Then the *LORD said (this) to Aaron.

v9 ‘You and your sons must not drink wine or any other *alcoholic drink before you go into the *meeting tent. If (you do), you will die. This is a rule that (priests) must always obey.

v10 You must learn the difference between what is holy and not holy. Also, (you must learn) what is *clean and *unclean.

v11 And you must teach the *Israelites all the laws that the *LORD has given to them by Moses.’

v12 Moses said (this) to Aaron and to his sons who were still alive, Eleazar and Ithamar. ‘Take what remains of the *corn offering. (It is an *offering that you) make to the *LORD on the (*altar) fire. (Prepare it) without *yeast by the *altar. Eat it, because it is very holy.

v13 Eat it in a holy place. It is your share and your sons’ share of the *offerings (that you) made to the *LORD on the (*altar) fire. This is what (the *LORD) told me (to say).

v14 But you and your sons and your daughters may eat the breast and upper part of the leg. (This is the breast that you) waved (in front of the *LORD). (And this is the upper part of the leg) that you offered (to the *LORD). Eat them in a place that is *clean for the purposes of your religion. They are your share and your children’s share of the *Israelites’ *peace offerings.

v15 You must bring these things, to wave them in front of the *LORD.

·  The upper leg that you gave (to the *LORD).

·  The breast that you waved (in front of the *LORD).

Bring them with the *fat parts of the *offerings that you make on the (*altar) fire.

They will be a *wave offering. It will be your regular share for you and for your children. The *LORD has said that (you will receive these things).’

v16 Then Moses asked carefully about the goat that was the *sin offering. He discovered that (Aaron’s sons) had burned it. So (Moses) was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons who were still alive. He told (this to) them.

v17 ‘You should have eaten the *sin offering in the holy place. (The *offering) was very holy. (The people) gave it to you to take away their *guilt. (The goat) made *atonement for them with the *LORD.

v18 You did not take its blood into the *meeting tent. Therefore you should have eaten the goat in the holy place, as I told you (to do).’

v19 Aaron said to Moses, ‘Today they offered their *sin offering and their *whole offering to the *LORD. But such things as these have happened to me! (I do not think that I ought) to have eaten the *sin offering today. (I do not think that) it would please the *LORD (for me to do that).’

v20 When Moses heard this, it satisfied him.

Notes

Verse 8 God spoke to Aaron. This was very unusual. Usually, God gave Moses instructions for Aaron.

After the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron probably thought that it was impossible to be chief priest. God is holy, and people are unholy. The result was that, already, two of Aaron’s sons were dead. It seemed as if his family would all die.

If Aaron was thinking such thoughts, God’s words would have brought some comfort. God told him that his *descendants, the priests, would continue to exist. They must learn to separate holy and unholy things. And Aaron’s *descendants would have the responsibility to teach these things to the *Israelites.

Verse 9 Many *Jewish Bible students believed that alcohol was part of the reason for Nadab’s and Abihu’s deaths, verse 2. Perhaps alcohol caused them to behave in a manner that offended God. Most people then drank drinks that contained alcohol. (For exceptions, see Numbers 6:1-4 and Jeremiah 35:3-6). Water is only a healthy drink where the supply is clean and pure. So drinks that contain alcohol are sometimes safer. People then had no coffee! (But they could use plants to make their own tea.)

Verse 10 Leviticus chapters 11 to 15 tell us what is *clean or *unclean. Part of the priests’ job was to tell people the difference between *clean and *unclean things. The priests might not be able to do this properly if they had drunk alcohol.

Verse 11 Christians are also priests in this way. They teach (tell) people what is right (*clean) and wrong (*unclean).

Verse 12 The *corn offering here is the one in Leviticus 9:4 and 9:17. Holy here does not mean good. It means that it was part of their religion. It was holy because they had offered it to God.

Verse 13 The holy place was by the *altar where they had offered the *corn offering.

Verses 14-15 These things are not ‘very holy’ as the *corn offering was. The priests and their families could eat them away from the *meeting tent. Women could not go near to the *meeting tent; only the men were priests.

Verses 16-17 Moses complained to Aaron’s sons. But Aaron himself answered Moses, verse 19.

Verse 18 The *Hebrew words for *meeting tent and holy place in this verse are the same: qodesh. We have translated them so that they mean inside and outside the *meeting tent.

Verse 19 ‘Such things as these’ probably means the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. Aaron was the leader of his family. So he explained why Eleazar and Ithamar had not eaten the *sin offering.

When a priest ate the *offering, he was having *fellowship with God. The priest could only do that because God had accepted the *offering.

However, on this day, God had clearly not accepted the *sin offering that Aaron’s 4 sons had made. The deaths of Nadab and Abihu proved that. So it would be wrong for Eleazar and Ithamar to eat an *offering that God did not accept. That was why they had to burn the *sin offering.

This explanation satisfied Moses.

Something to do

1. These verses tell us what priests should do. Remember, all Christians are priests. Revelation 1:6; Exodus 29:44; 1 Samuel 15:22; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:27; 1 Peter 1:15-16.

2. Read Acts 10:10-16. God can make *unclean things *clean!

Chapter 11:1 to 15:33

Rules about what is *clean and what is *unclean

The most important idea in Leviticus is *holiness. This means two things.

·  If you have ‘*holiness’, you are very, very good. Really, only God is holy. That is, only God is perfect; only God has no *sin. But he says that his people are holy too. They become holy because they belong to him. And he is changing their lives.

·  Because his people are holy, they must be separate for him. In chapters 11 to 15, we find rules that make God’s people separate from other people.

There are several groups of rules in these chapters.

·  Chapter 11 tells us what food is *clean or *unclean. Remember, *unclean does not mean dirty in Leviticus. God’s law did not allow the *Israelites to eat the meat from any *unclean animals.

·  Chapter 12 tells us about women who have a baby. They are *unclean after the baby’s birth. This does not of course mean that they were dirty. It means that they cannot go to the House of God.

·  Chapters 13 and 14 tell us about various diseases of the skin. These diseases make people *unclean. Here, ‘*unclean’ means that they could not live with the other people in the *Israelites’ camp.

·  Chapter 15 tells us about liquids from the body that made the *Israelites *unclean.

Chapter 11

Food that is *clean, and food that is *unclean

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses and to Aaron.

v2 ‘Say (this) to the *Israelites. “These are the animals that you may eat. (But you may not eat all the other animals that live on (dry) land.

v3 You may eat any animal with a completely *divided hoof that *chews the *cud.

v4 Some (animals) only *chew the *cud or they only have a *divided hoof. You must not eat these animals. The camel does *chew the *cud, but it does not have a *divided hoof. Your religion therefore says that it is *unclean.

v5 The animal called the coney does *chew the *cud, but it does not have a *divided hoof. (Your religion says that) it is *unclean.

v6 The rabbit does *chew the *cud, but it does not have a *divided hoof. (Your religion says that) it is *unclean.

v7 The pig does have a completely *divided hoof, but it does not *chew the *cud. (Your religion says that) it is *unclean.

v8 You must not eat the meat (from any of these animals). And you must not touch their dead bodies. (Your religion says that) they are *unclean.

 

v9 Many animals live in water. (They live in) the seas and in the rivers. You may eat any of them that have (both) *fins and *scales.

v10 But some animals in the seas and in the rivers do not have *fins and *scales. They may be animals that swim together. Or they may be other animals that are in the water. You must hate (to eat) them.

v11 And because you hate them, you must not eat their meat. You must hate their dead bodies.

v12 You must hate any (animal) that (is like this).

·  It lives in water.

·  Also, it does not have *fins and *scales.

 

v13-19 These are the birds that you must hate. You must not eat them because they are nasty. (These birds are called):

·  The eagle, the vulture and the black vulture.

·  The red kite and any kind of black kite.                                                                            (v14)

·  Any kind of raven.                                                                                                             (v15)

·  The owl with *horns, the owl that screams, the gull and any kind of hawk.                      (v16)

·  The little owl, the cormorant, and the great owl.                                                               (v17)

·  The white owl, the desert owl and the osprey.                                                                  (v18)

·  The stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.                                                     (v19)

 

v20 You must also hate most flying insects that rush about.

v21 But you may eat some flying insects that rush about. These ones are insects whose legs have *joints. They can therefore jump on the ground.

v22 From this group, you may eat any kind of *locust, bald *locust, desert *locust or *grasshopper.

v23 But you must hate all other insects that have wings and 4 (pairs of) legs.

 

v24 If you touch the dead bodies (of these animals), you will be *unclean until the evening.

v25 Anyone who picks up one of their dead bodies must wash his clothes. And that person will be *unclean until the evening.

v26 Anyone who touches (the dead body of) one of these animals will be *unclean. (The animals are those) whose *hoofs are not completely *divided. Or, (the animals) do not *chew the *cud.

v27 Many animals walk on all their 4 feet. If they walk on their paws, then they will make you *unclean. Anyone who touches their dead bodies will be *unclean until the evening.

v28 Anyone who picks up their dead bodies must wash his clothes. That person will be *unclean until the evening. (These animals) will make you *unclean.

 

v29-30 These animals that crawl on the ground will make you *unclean. (They include the animals called):

·  The weasel and the rat.

·  Any kind of great lizard.

·  The gecko and the monitor lizard.                                                                                     (v30)

·  The wall lizard.

·  The skink and the chameleon.

v31 All these animals that crawl on the ground will make you *unclean. If you touch their dead bodies, you will be *unclean until the evening.

 

v32 One of these (animals) may die and fall onto something. That thing, whatever it is, will be *unclean. (Someone may have) made it out of wood, cloth, animal skin or sacks. Put it in water. It will be *unclean until the evening. Then it will be *clean.

v33 One of (the dead animals) may fall into a *clay pot. Then, everything in (the pot) will be *unclean. You must break the pot.

v34 There may be some food that you could eat. But if it has water on it from such a pot, it is *unclean. Also, anything that you could drink from the pot is *unclean.

v35 If the dead body (of an animal) falls onto anything, (that thing) becomes *unclean. If it is an oven or a pot to cook (food in), you must break it. They are *unclean and you must consider them as *unclean.

v36 However, these things remain *clean (if a dead animal falls into them).

·  A well (into which fresh water comes).

·  A large bath that collects water.

But anyone who touches the dead bodies in them is *unclean.

v37 The dead body (of an animal) may fall onto (dry) seeds that are ready to plant. (Those seeds) will remain *clean.

v38 But if the dead body (of an animal) falls onto wet seeds, they are *unclean for you.

 

v39 An animal that you can eat may die. Anyone who touches its dead body will be *unclean until the evening.

v40 Anyone who eats any (meat from the animal’s) dead body must wash his clothes. He will be *unclean until the evening. Anyone who picks up the dead body must wash his clothes. He will be *unclean until the evening.

 

v41 You must hate every animal that crawls about on the ground. You must not eat any of them.

v42 You must not eat any animal that crawls about on the ground. It is nasty, whether it moves on its stomach, on 4 feet, or on many feet.

v43 Do not make yourselves *unclean with any of these animals. Do not become *unclean by them. Do not let any of them make you *unclean.

v44 I am the *LORD (who is) your God. Make yourselves separate (from other people) and be holy. (Do this) because I (the *LORD) am holy. Do not make yourselves *unclean with any animal that moves about on the ground.

v45 I am the *LORD who brought you out of Egypt. (I did it so that) I could be your God. Therefore, be holy because I am holy.

v46 These are the rules about animals and birds. (Also these are the rules about) everything that moves in water. (And these are the rules about) everything that moves on the ground.

v47 You must distinguish between what is *clean and *unclean. You must know which animals you can eat. And (you must know) which animals you must not eat.” ’

About these rules

The rules in this chapter remain very important for the *Jews today.

In 10:10, God told Aaron, ‘You must learn the difference between what is holy and not holy. Also (you must learn) what is *clean and *unclean.’

God had separated the *Israelites from other people. And God had also separated the animals to be *clean or *unclean. The *Israelites already knew something about this difference (Genesis 7:2). But they needed God to teach them more.

Soon they would enter the *Promised Land. But the *Promised Land was not perfect. It was not like heaven. And the *Promised Land was not like the garden called Eden, where everything was perfect. In the *Promised Land, there lived both *unclean animals and *clean animals. God told the *Israelites that they must not eat the *unclean animals.

All the kinds of *clean animals provide good, healthy meat. Some of the *unclean animals seem good too, but God still told the *Israelites not to eat them. So the *Israelites had to trust that God’s decision was right.

We do not know the reasons why all these animals were *clean or *unclean. But we can understand some of the reasons:

·  Some *unclean animals are actually dirty.

·  Some *unclean animals seem to behave in a cruel manner. So they did not behave as the *Israelites should behave.

·  Some *unclean animals eat food that was *unclean for the *Israelites. For example, those animals eat meat that comes from *unclean animals.

·  Some *unclean animals do not provide healthy meat.

·  Some *unclean animals are especially close to the ground when they walk.

When they followed these rules, the *Israelites were learning not to please themselves. They should not eat whatever they wanted to eat. Instead, they must always try to obey God.

Usually, the words ‘*clean’ and ‘*unclean’ are about whether a person can *worship God in public. But most of this chapter is not about public *worship. It is about the decisions that people must make each day. They decide what food they should eat. They make a choice whether to obey God, or not to obey God.

Notes

Verses 1-8 The *hoof is the foot of some animals. Sometimes there is a division in the *hoof. We call this ‘a *divided hoof’. Some animals can get their food back from their stomachs. Then they can eat it again, slowly. We say that they ‘*chew the *cud’. The cow has a *divided hoof and it *chews the *cud. So, the *Israelites could eat cows. They could also eat goats and sheep for the same reason. But they could not eat camels, coneys, rabbits and pigs. A coney is probably an animal like a large rabbit that lives on rocky ground. We are not certain about this. Some people think that it was the animal now called the badger. Neither are we now certain that coneys and rabbits *chew the *cud. So maybe these verses refer to other animals.

The religion of the *Israelites said that the animals in verses 4-7 were *unclean. That made the *Israelites separate from people who belonged to other religions. Other people could eat camels, rabbits and pigs. *Unclean does not mean that those people were dirty. But they did not live in the manner that God’s people lived. And they could not go to *worship God in his house.

Verses 9-12 A fish uses *fins with which to swim. *Scales cover its body. The word ‘hate’ in verses 11 and 12 has a special meaning. It means ‘not like’. This is because these animals could make the *Israelites ‘*unclean’.

*Jewish Bible students have a different explanation for the word ‘hate’. If a person touched even the dead body of an unclean animal, that person became *unclean. But that would not happen to a person who touched an *unclean fish, bird or insect. (And they say that verse 24 is about the passage after it, not before.) If so, ‘hate’ means simply that you must not eat that thing. But you can touch it.

Verses 13-19 Most of these birds eat smaller birds or dead animals. The bat is not a bird, but an animal that flies in the night. Again, ‘hate’ means the same as in verses 11-12.

‘Nasty’ means that they will make people *unclean. Here is a description of each of these birds. We cannot be sure what all these birds actually are.

Name of bird

Description

vultures, ravens

birds that eat dead animals

eagles, kites, hawks

birds that catch and eat smaller birds

osprey

an eagle that catches and eats fish

owls

birds that catch and eat small animals at night

cormorant, heron, stork

birds that live near water; they catch and eat fish and small animals

hoopoe

a bird that made its nest in dirty places

gull

a bird that lives near the sea

Verses 20-23 Again, ‘hate’ means the same as in verse 11. Leg *joints in insects are like knees in animals. *Locusts are important in several places in the Bible, including:

·  Exodus 10:12-19. They started the 8th *plague. The 10 *plagues were the bad things that happened to the King of Egypt and to his people.

·  Matthew 3:4 and Mark 1:6. They were part of the food that John (called the Baptist) ate.

Bible students are not sure what these 4 insects were. There are details in a *commentary on Leviticus by John E Harvey. Grasshoppers are like small *locusts. Insects have 3 pairs of legs. The 4th pair probably meant the antennae. Two antennae stand up from an insect’s head.

Verses 24-25 If someone merely touched the dead body of an *unclean animal, that person would be *unclean. Here, ‘*unclean’ means that the person could not go to God’s house. ‘Until the evening’ reminds us that the next day started each evening at sunset for the *Israelites.

Verses 26-28 These animals eat meat. This is probably why they made people ‘*unclean’. They are animals like cats and dogs, lions and bears. They ate meat that the *Israelites could not eat.

Verses 29-40 You can read something below about each animal. Bible students are not sure what each animal actually is.

Name of animal

Description

weasel

like a very big and long rat

rat

like a very big mouse

great lizard

an animal that can live in water or on the land; lizards have skins that shine

gecko

a lizard that makes a low sound

monitor lizard

a lizard up to 4 feet long

wall lizard

a type of lizard

skink

another type of lizard

chameleon

a lizard that can change its colour

The *Israelites made their ovens and pots with *clay. *Clay is a type of soil, so they could easily make new ovens and pots. The water in the well or bath often changes so it is *clean. Some Bible students think that the wet seeds were for food. The animals in verses 39-40 still had their blood in them. This made them *unclean.

Verses 41-47 Again, ‘hate’ means the same as in verse 11. The animals here are probably small animals like insects and snakes. ‘Nasty’ means that the animal will make people *unclean.

Verses 44-45 contain the most important message in the Book of Leviticus:

God’s people must be holy.

The word ‘holy’ is in Leviticus over 50 times. That is why we called this Commentary: ‘*Worship the *LORD in the beauty of *holiness.’ It is *holiness (or ‘the quality that a holy person has’) that makes God’s people different from other people.

Something to do

1. Read about Peter and the animals in the sheet, in Acts 10:9-16. Christians do not have to obey many of the rules for *Israelites – see Acts 15:28-29 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8.

2. Read Genesis 3:14. Of which verse in Leviticus chapter 11 does it remind you?

3. Learn to say 1 Peter 1:15-16 from memory. (‘From memory’ means that you do not look at the words.)

Chapter 12

The birth of children to a woman

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Tell (this) to the *Israelites. A woman may become *pregnant and then give birth to a son. She will be *unclean for 7 days. This will be as it is during her monthly *period.

v3 On the 8th day, they must *circumcise the boy.

v4 Then the woman must wait 33 days to become *clean after she bled. She must not touch anything that is sacred. She must not go to the *LORD’s house until she is *clean again.

v5 If she gives birth to a daughter, (the woman) will be *unclean for 2 weeks. This will be as it is during her monthly *period. After this, she must wait 66 more days to become *clean after she bled.

v6 At the end of the days for her to become *clean again, she must do this. Whether the baby is a boy or a girl, the woman must go to the entrance of the *meeting tent. She must bring to the priest there a *lamb that is one year old. This is for a *whole offering. (She must also bring) a young *pigeon or a *dove for a *sin offering.

v7 (The priest) must offer them to the *LORD to make *atonement for her. Then she will be *clean after she bled. These are the rules for a woman that has a baby boy or a baby girl.

v8 If she cannot afford a *lamb, she must bring two *doves or two young *pigeons. One will be for a *whole offering, and the other one will be for a *sin offering. So the priest will make *atonement for her and she will be *clean.

Notes

Verse 2 Bible students do not agree why a woman is *unclean after the birth of her baby. There are two main explanations:

·  The woman is *unclean because she bled during the birth. She is also *unclean each month during the period when she bleeds (15:19). So, she is *unclean because of the blood.

·  The woman is *unclean because of original *sin, which affects her baby too. See the explanation of original *sin in the notes at the start of chapter 4. Because of the birth of her baby, *sin continues in the world. Of course, the birth of her baby should be good news. But the fact that *sin affects even her new baby is very sad.

The birth of a baby is an important occasion. Because the woman became *unclean then, she would become especially aware of *holiness. And she would think about how God wants her to bring up her new child. As the mother, she had a special responsibility to teach that child about God.

Verse 3 People *circumcise a boy when they cut a small piece of skin from the end of his *penis. That is, the part of the body that only boys and men have. The *Jews do this because of the promises that God gave to Abraham (Genesis chapter 17). It is a way to say that they believe God’s promises. However, many people do it because of tradition, not because they believe.

Verse 4 The woman can become *clean after 40 days (that is, 7 + 33). 40 is an important number in the Bible. ‘Sacred’ means that it has a connection with her religion. In order to become *clean, the woman must first offer the *sacrifices in verses 6 to 8.

Verse 5 We do not know why there is a longer period for a girl. Perhaps it is because both the father and the mother used to teach a boy. But the mother alone used to teach a girl.

Verse 6 A *lamb is a young sheep. *Pigeons and *doves are birds that behave in a gentle manner. People often keep them at home.

Verse 7 ‘*Atonement’ means that the woman was ‘at one’ or united as friends with God. So afterwards, she could go near to God’s house. And she could *worship with God’s people.

Something to do

1. Study these verses that have the number 40 in them.

·  Genesis 7:9-12

·  1 Samuel 17:16

·  1 Kings 19:8

·  Matthew 4:2

·  Deuteronomy 2:7 and 8:2

In all these verses, something new happened after 40 days!

2. Read Luke 2:22-24. Mary and Joseph could not afford a *lamb.

Chapter 13

Chapters 13 to 15 – Rules about various *unclean things

Section 1 Diseases of the skin, 13:1-46

Chapter 13 v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses and to Aaron.

v2 ‘Someone may have a lump on their skin. Or their skin may become red. Or it may shine and become very white. These things may become diseases of the skin that strike a person. (People) must bring (the ill person) to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons who is a priest.

v3 The priest must look carefully at the bad place on the person’s skin. If the hair on the bad place has become white, it is a bad disease of the skin. Also, if the bad place is deeper than the surface of the skin, (it is a bad disease). That disease has struck (the person). When the priest looks carefully at it, he must declare the person to be *unclean.

v4 The spot on (the person’s) skin may be white, but the hair is not white. Also, the spot may not be deeper than the skin. The priest must tell the person to stay away from other people for 7 days.

v5 On the 7th day, the priest must look carefully at him. He may see that the spot has not changed. Also, the spot has not spread in the skin. Then he must tell the person to stay away from other people for another 7 days.

v6 On the 7th day, the priest must look carefully at him again. The spot may have lost colour and it may not have spread in the skin. Then the priest must say that (the person) is *clean. Only his skin is red. The person must wash his clothes. Then he will be *clean.

v7 But the red (colour) may spread in his skin after he has gone to the priest. The priest may have said that he was *clean. Then he must come in front of the priest again.

v8 The priest must look carefully at him. If the red (part) has spread, (the priest) must say this. (The priest must say) that he is *unclean. A disease has struck that person.

 

v9 Someone may have a bad disease, which has struck his skin. People must bring him to the priest.

v10 The priest must look carefully at him. (The priest may find these three things.)

·  There is a white lump in the skin.

·  The hair (in the skin) has turned white.

·  The part of the body under the skin is red.

v11 (If the priest finds these things) then the person (with them) has a bad disease of the skin. The priest must say that this person is *unclean. (The priest) need not tell the person to live by himself (while he waits to examine the skin again). (He must say that) the person is *unclean immediately.

 

v12 A disease may happen to all of a person’s skin. The priest may see that it is on all the skin of the person with the illness. (It affects his whole body,) from his head to his feet.

v13 The priest must look at him carefully. The disease may cover all that person’s body. Then (the priest) must say that the person is *clean. He is *clean because all (the skin) is white.

v14 But if red places appear (on his skin), the person will be *unclean.

v15 The priest may see red places (on the person’s skin). Then the priest must say that the person is *unclean. The red places (on his skin) make him *unclean. The disease has struck (his skin).

v16 If the red places (on the skin) change to white, (the person) must go to the priest.

v17 The priest must look (at the person) carefully. The bad places may have turned white. Then the priest must say that the person with the illness is *clean. Then he will be *clean.

 

v18 Someone may have a *boil on his skin, which heals.

v19 A white lump or a red and white spot may then appear where the *boil was. (If this happens), the person must go to the priest.

v20 The priest must look carefully (at the place where the *boil was). (The lump or spot) may be deeper than the skin and the hair on it may have turned white. Then the priest must say that (the person) is *unclean. He has a disease of the skin that has struck him. It is where the *boil was.

v21 But there may be no white hair (on the skin) when the priest looks carefully at it. Also, (the spot) may not be deeper than the skin and it may have disappeared. Then the priest must tell the person to live by himself for 7 days.

v22 But perhaps (after 7 days) it has spread on the skin. Then the priest must say that (the person) is *unclean. A disease has struck that person.

v23 But the spot may not change or spread (after 7 days). It is only a mark where the *boil was. The priest must then say that he is *clean.

 

v24 Someone may have a burn on his skin. A red or a white spot may appear where his body has the burn.

v25 The priest must look carefully at the spot. The hair in it may have become white. Also, it may be deeper than the skin. Then a disease has struck the person. It has started in the burn. The priest must say that the person is *unclean.

v26 But there may be no white hair in the spot when the priest looks carefully at it. Also, it may not be deeper than the skin and it may have started to disappear. Then the priest must tell the person to live by himself for 7 days.

v27 On the 7th day, the priest must look carefully (at the burn). It may have started to spread in the (person’s) skin. Then the priest must say that (the person) is *unclean. A disease has struck that person.

v28 But the spot may not have changed. It may not have spread in the (person’s) skin. It may have started to disappear. Then it is a lump after the burn. The priest must say that (the person) is *clean. It is only a mark from the burn.

 

v29 A man or a woman may have a sore place on their head or on their chin.

v30 The priest must look carefully at the sore place. It may be deeper than (the person’s) skin and the hair in it may be yellow and thin. The priest must then say that the person is *unclean. A disease has struck that person’s head or chin. It is called an *itch.

v31 But when the priest looks carefully at this sore place, it may not be deep in the skin. There may be no black hair in it. Then the priest must tell the person who has the sore place to live alone for 7 days.

v32 On the 7th day, the priest must look carefully at the sore place. The *itch may not have spread and there may be no yellow hair in it. It may not seem to be deeper than the skin.

v33 The person must shave himself, except for the sore place. Then the priest must order the person to live alone for another 7 days.

v34 On the 7th day, the priest must look carefully at the *itch. It may not have spread in the skin and it may not seem to be deeper than the skin. Then the priest shall say that (the person) is *clean. He must wash his clothes and he will be *clean.

v35 But the *itch may spread in the skin after (the priest) declares the person to be *clean.

v36 Then the priest must look carefully at him again. If the *itch has spread in the skin, the priest need not look for yellow hair. The person is *unclean.

v37 But the priest may decide that (the *itch) has not changed. Black hair may have grown on it. The *itch may have gone; the place may be healthy again. The person is *clean. The priest must say that (the person) is *clean.

 

v38 A man or a woman may have white spots on their skin. The spots may shine.

v39 The priest must look carefully at them. If the white spots do not shine, it is not a dangerous disease of the skin. The person is *clean.

 

v40 If a man loses his hair, he becomes bald. But he remains *clean.

v41 If he loses his hair from the front of his head, he has a bald *forehead. But he is *clean.

v42 But he may have a red or white sore place on his bald head or *forehead. This is a bad disease that is starting on his head or *forehead.

v43 The priest must look carefully at him. The sore lump on the (person’s) head or *forehead may be red or white. It may be like a bad disease of the skin.

v44 Then the person has a disease and he is *unclean. The priest must say that he is *unclean. This is because the (person has a) sore place on his head.

 

v45 Any person with a bad disease of the skin must wear clothes (that someone has) torn. His hair must be untidy. He must cover the lower part of his face. He must shout “*Unclean! *Unclean!”

v46 He remains *unclean for as long as he has the disease. He must live alone. He must live outside the camp.’

Notes on Section 1, 13:1-46

This section is about various diseases of the skin. Bible students are not sure what the modern names of these diseases are. Even as there are many forms of cancer, so there are many diseases of the skin. Some priests said there were 72 types of bad diseases of the skin. Some modern writers call them all ‘*leprosy’. This comes from a *Greek word, lepros, which means rough. In many diseases of the skin, people’s skin becomes rough. It does not stay smooth. As we are not sure what the diseases in 13:1-46 are, we have not given most of them medical names.

In most of the verses in this section, the *Hebrew words suggest (seem to say) that a man has the disease. But the rules probably affect women also. In verses 29 and 38 the *Hebrew words actually include women. This may be because verse 33 says that people must shave. Moses wrote Leviticus in the *Hebrew language.

The word ‘*unclean’ does not mean that these people are dirty. It does not mean that they have not washed themselves. It means that they must not go to God’s house. Before the *Israelites came to their own country, God’s house was a tent. About 400 years later, Solomon built a house for God in Jerusalem. It was called the *temple. The priests said whether people could go to God’s house or not. The priests did not cure people. They were not doctors. (Of course, the people had doctors too.)

*Unclean people could not live with other people. They lived outside the *Israelites’ camp while the *Israelites were travelling through the desert (verses 45-46). When the *Israelites lived in cities, *unclean people lived outside the city gates. There was a practical reason for this. Some of these diseases can spread from one person to another person. But the main reason was that God’s law told these people to live away from other people. And even kings had to obey this rule (2 Kings 15:5).

There are several types of diseases of the skin in verses 2-46.

Verses 2-8: A lump on the skin. The *Hebrew word here for ‘someone’ is ‘adam’. Although it usually means ‘a man’, here it means everyone: men, women and children. We have translated the *Hebrew word for the disease as ‘lump’. It is probably better to say that the skin breaks open. Bad, watery material may come out from it.

The priest tells the person to live alone for 7 days, then for another 7 days. This gives the disease time to grow. If it does not grow, the person is *clean. He must wash his clothes, then he can go to God’s house.

The *Hebrew Bible uses male words, even when it includes women, as in the verses after 29 and 38. So these rules were for both men and women.

Verses 9-11: A bad disease in the skin. This was probably *leprosy. The white part of the skin became watery, with bad stuff in it. The priest did not have to wait for the disease to develop. He knew that it was *leprosy. So he did not have to tell the person to live alone before he declared that person *unclean. He declared that the person was *unclean immediately. So the person must go and live outside the camp.

Verses 12-17: There are two diseases here:

·  In verses 12-13, the person’s skin is white, but there is no watery material. So, other people cannot get the disease from the person who has it. Probably the material that colours the skin has gone. It is not a real disease.

·  In verses 14-17, the person’s skin probably has red places that contain a watery material. The *unclean person must live outside the camp. So, really, the priest must go to him. If the red places are white, he is *clean. If not, he is *unclean and he must remain outside the camp.

Verses 18-23: A *boil on the skin. A *boil is a lump on the skin. Inside the lump is a yellow, watery material. We call it *pus. The priest must decide whether it is only a *boil, or *leprosy. *Boils soon heal, but *leprosy does not.

Verses 24-28: A burn on the skin. The red or white spot appears because the burn does not heal. Again the priest must decide whether it is dangerous to other people or not. Some Bible students think that we now call this disease *psoriasis.

Verses 29-37: A sore place on the head or on the chin. The modern name for this disease is probably *ringworm. Children get it more often than adults. If someone has it, other people may get it from him. An *itch is something that makes us want to rub it or to scratch it.

Verses 38-39: White spots that do not shine. This may be something that we now call *acne. It is not dangerous, but it may not look healthy.

Verses 40-44: A bald place on the head. The priest must make a decision. Perhaps the person is just bald. But perhaps the person has *leprosy.

Verses 45-46: These verses include all the diseases that make people *unclean in verses 2-44. The person with the disease had to leave the camp. He had to stay away from other people. He had to warn anyone who came near him about his disease. If he wanted to see the priest, then the priest had to come to him ‘outside the camp’.

The reasons for the rules about diseases of the skin

Bible students have given us three possible reasons why these rules are here. Probably, all three reasons are correct!

(1) God may have given these rules to protect the health of the *Israelites. Some of these diseases are very dangerous, and they could spread quickly, especially in a camp. So, God told the priests to examine people with skin diseases carefully. They must separate anyone who seemed to have such a disease.

(2) These rules may exist for social reasons. People may be afraid of someone who has a bad skin disease. They may be cruel to that person. But these rules protect that person. There would be a separate place where the person could live safely. It was clear what the person had to do in order to obey God’s law. The priests would make sure that other people dealt with that person in a proper manner.

(3) God wanted to teach the *Israelites about *sin. Of course, disease is not *sin. And most people who suffered these diseases were not ill because of any particular *sin. But the nature of these types of disease teach lessons about the nature of *sin. For example, the priests had to check whether the disease seemed deeper than the skin. So we cannot know a person’s true character if we merely look at that person. *Sin enters right into a person. It goes beyond that person’s body into their spirit. Another example is that serious diseases would spread. And in the same manner, *sin takes control of a person. Its effects always grow worse until it has ruined that person’s life. Also, it was necessary to separate a person from other people while that person had the disease. In the same manner, *sin separates us both from God, and from a right relationship with other people.

Section 2 *Mildew in clothes, 13:47-59

v47 ‘Clothes that someone has made from wool or *linen may have *mildew on them.

v48 It may be on any clothes that people made from wool, *linen or leather.

v49 If the disease makes the clothes green or red, people must show them to the priest. It is a *mildew that will spread. (This is so whether the clothes are) wool, *linen or leather.

v50 The priest must look carefully at the *mildew. He must put the clothes with *mildew on them apart for 7 days.

v51 On the 7th day, (the priest) must look carefully at (the clothes) again. If the *mildew has spread in the clothes, it is a bad *mildew. It will destroy anything that someone has made from wool, *linen or leather. The clothes are *unclean.

v52 He must burn the clothes that have the *mildew on them. The *mildew will destroy anything that someone made from wool, *linen or leather. He must burn the clothes.

v53 But the priest may look carefully at the clothes and the *mildew may not have spread. (This may be so whether the clothes are) wool, *linen or leather.

v54 Then the priest must order someone to wash the dirty clothes. Then he must put (the clothes) apart for another 7 days.

v55 After that person has washed the clothes with *mildew on them, the priest must look carefully at them again. If the *mildew looks the same, (the clothes) are *unclean. (They are *unclean) even if (the *mildew) has not spread. You must burn them with fire, whether the *mildew is on one side or the other side (of the clothes).

v56 But the *mildew may lose colour after someone has washed (the clothes). So, when the priest looks carefully at the clothes, he must tear the bad part from the clothes. (This is so whether the clothes are) leather, *linen or wool.

v57 But the *mildew may appear again on the clothes (that somebody made from) leather, *linen or wool. So, it is (a *mildew that is) spreading. You must burn everything that has the *mildew with fire.

v58 The clothes (that somebody has) washed may now have no *mildew on them. You must wash them again and then they will be *clean. (This is so whether the clothes are) leather, *linen or wool.’

v59 These are the rules about clothes that have *mildew on them. (These rules are for the clothes that people have made from) leather, wool or *linen. (The rules) decide whether the clothes are *clean or *unclean.

Notes

Verse 47 People made *linen clothes from a plant called flax. *Mildew is a disease. It grows on plants as well as cloth and leather. It is like the skin diseases in verses 1-46 because it changes the colour. It spreads through the cloth, and can pass to other clothes. In the end, it will destroy the clothes. It will not only make the clothes *unclean. It will make the person that touches them *unclean.

Verses 48-59 The *Hebrew words here for *linen and wool also tell us how people made the clothes.

·  Sometimes they knitted the clothes. People use a long needle to knit. ‘Knit’ means to join the threads (lines) of wool together.

·  Or they *weaved (wove) the lines together. Weave means ‘make into cloth’. People usually need a simple machine to do this. They set out many rows of thread (lines of *linen). Then they pass one thread forwards and back through the rows.

The rules are similar to those for diseases of the skin. The priest has to decide if the clothes are *unclean. It is necessary to destroy the *mildew so that it does not spread.

First, the priest must wait to see if the *mildew spreads (verses 50-51). If it does not spread, the owner must try to wash the *mildew out of the clothes (verses 54 and 56). The priest must burn the clothes if the *mildew spreads (verses 52 and 57). But even if the *mildew does not spread, he cannot allow it to remain in the clothes. He must tear out any piece of the cloth that has changed colour because of the *mildew (verse 56). Then of course, the owner has to repair the hole.

The reasons for the rules about *mildew on clothes

There are two possible reasons for these rules. Probably both these reasons are correct:

(1) God gave these rules for a practical reason. It was a lot of work to make clothes by hand. People would not want to destroy clothes if they had just a small amount of *mildew. But that *mildew could spread and it could cause great damage. It was better to deal with the problem as soon as possible.

(2) Like the rules about skin diseases, there are lessons here about the nature of *sin. *Sin does not just spoil our lives, it also spoils the products of our work, including our work for God. It was not wise to neglect even a little *mildew on clothes. And it is foolish to allow any *sin to remain in our lives. It can only ever cause damage and trouble.

Chapter 14

Section 3 More about diseases of the skin and *mildew in buildings, 14:1-57

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘These are the rules for a person with a disease (of the skin). (Someone must) bring him to the priest, when it is the time to make him *clean.

v3 The priest must go outside the camp to look at him carefully. The person may be healthy again after his bad skin disease.

v4 Then the priest must order someone to bring two *clean birds that are alive. (He must also bring) some *cedar wood, red string and *hyssop. They are for the person (that the priest will) make *clean.

v5 Then the priest must order someone to kill one of the birds. (That person) must do it over fresh water that is in a *clay pot.

v6 (The priest) must then put the bird that is alive into the blood of the dead bird. (The blood) is in the fresh water (in the pot). He must also put the *cedar wood, the red string and the *hyssop into the water (that is in the pot).

v7 (The priest) must splash the person who has the bad disease of the skin 7 times. Then (the priest) must say that the person is *clean. Then (the priest) must allow the bird that is still alive to go free in an open field.

v8 The person (who wants) to be *clean must wash his clothes. He must shave off all his hair. He must bathe himself with water. Then he will be *clean. After this, he may come into the camp, but he must stay outside his tent for 7 days.

v9 On the 7th day, he must shave off all his hair (again). (This means the hair on) his head, his beard, his *eyebrows, and the rest of his hair. He must wash his clothes and he must bathe himself in water. Then he will be *clean.

v10 On the 8th day, he must bring (to the priest) two male *lambs and a female *lamb. (The female *lamb) must be one year old. Each (*lamb) must be perfect. He must also bring about 7 litres of *finest flour that he has mixed with *oil. (The flour and *oil) are for a *corn offering. (He must bring) about ˝ litre of *oil.

v11 The priest will offer the man and his gifts to the *LORD, at the entrance of the *meeting tent. He will say that the man is *clean.

v12 Then the priest must take one of the male *lambs and he must offer it (to the *LORD) as a *guilt offering. He must also (offer) the *oil (with it). He must wave them in front of the *LORD as a *wave offering.

v13 Then he must kill the *lamb in the holy place. (It is the place) where he kills the *sin offering and the *whole offering. The *guilt offering belongs to the priest, like the *sin offering. It is very holy.

v14 The priest must take some of the blood of the *guilt offering. He must put it on the right ear of the person that he is making *clean. (He must also put it) on the *thumb of his right hand and the big toe of his right foot.

v15 The priest must then take some of the *oil. He must put it onto his own left hand.

v16 He must put his right first finger into the *oil in his (left) hand. With (this) finger, he must splash some of (the *oil) in front of the *LORD 7 times.

v17 Some of the *oil will remain in the priest’s hand. He must put it onto the right ear of the person whom he is making *clean. Also (he must put it) on that person’s right *thumb and on the big toe of his right foot. (The priest must put it) over the blood of the *guilt offering.

v18 Some *oil will remain on the priest’s hand. He must put it onto the head of the person that he is making *clean. So the priest will make *atonement for that person in front of the *LORD.

v19 Then the priest must kill the *sin offering. This will make *atonement for the person that (the priest) is making *clean. Then, the priest must kill the *whole offering.

v20 He must offer it (to the *LORD) on the *altar. (He must also offer) the *corn offering. This will make *atonement for the person (that he is making *clean). Then, (that person) will be *clean.

 

v21 But that person may be poor. He may not be able to afford these (animals). Then he must bring one male *lamb for a *guilt offering. (The priest) will wave it (in front of the *LORD). This will make *atonement for him. He must also offer two litres of the best flour. He must mix it with *oil for a *corn offering. (He must bring) about ˝ litre of *oil.

v22 (He must also offer) two *doves or two young *pigeons, which he can afford. (One bird) will be a *sin offering, (the other bird) will be a *whole offering.

v23 On the 8th day, he must bring these things to the priest, at the entrance of the *meeting tent in front of the *LORD. (They are the things) that will make him *clean.

v24 The priest must take the *lamb and the *oil and he must wave them in front of the *LORD. (The *lamb is) the *guilt offering. (Together they are) the *wave offering.

v25 The priest must kill the *lamb for a *guilt offering. He must take some of its blood. He must put it on the right ear of the person whom he is making *clean. (The priest) must also put it on (that person’s) right *thumb and on the big toe of his right foot.

v26 The priest must pour some of the *oil into his own left hand.

v27 With the first finger of his right hand, (the priest) must splash some of that *oil 7 times in front of the *LORD.

v28 (The priest) must take some of the *oil from his hand. He must put it onto the same places where he put the blood of the *guilt offering. (The places are these).

·  The right ear of the person whom he is making *clean.

·  His right *thumb.

·  The big toe of his right foot.

v29 Some of the *oil will remain in the priest’s hand. He must put it onto the head of the person whom he is making *clean. This will make *atonement for him in front of the *LORD.

v30 Then the priest must kill the *doves or the young *pigeons, whichever the person can afford.

v31 One will be a *sin offering and the other one will be a *whole offering. (The priest will also offer) the *corn offering. In this way, the priest will make *atonement in front of the *LORD. This will be on behalf of the person that (the priest) is making *clean.’

v32 These are the rules for anyone who has a bad disease of the skin. They are for the person who cannot afford the usual *offerings in order to become *clean.

 

v33 The *LORD said (this) to Moses and Aaron.

v34 ‘I will give you (the *Israelites) the country that is called *Canaan for your own possession. When you enter (that country), I may put a *mildew in a house. (The *mildew) may spread.

v35 Then the owner of the house must go to the priest. He must say (this to the priest). “I have seen something in my house that looks like *mildew.”

v36 Then the priest must order (the man) to empty the house. So, (the priest) cannot say that any of the things in the house are not *clean. Next, (the priest) must go into the house and he must look carefully at the *mildew.

v37 (The priest) must look carefully at the *mildew (on the walls). There may be red or green places (in the *mildew). They may appear to be deeper than the surface of the walls.

v38 Then the priest must go out of the house. He must close the entrance to the house for 7 days.

v39 On the 7th day, the priest must go into the house again. He must look carefully at the *mildew. If it has spread on the walls, v40 he must give an order. “Tear out all the stones with *mildew on them. Throw them outside the town into a place that is *unclean.”

v41 (The priest) must tell people to take the surface off all the walls inside the house. They must put all the material that they take off into the *unclean place outside the town.

v42 Then they must take other stones to replace (the stones that had *mildew). And they must use new *clay to make a new surface (of the walls) in the house.

v43 The *mildew may appear again in the house, after they tore out the stones. Also, (it may appear again) after they have replaced the old surfaces of the walls.

v44 Then the priest must go and he must look carefully at the *mildew. (He must see if) it has spread in the house. If so, it is a *mildew that destroys (things). The house is *unclean.

v45 They must pull down the house. They must take all its stones out of the town to an *unclean place. (They must also take) the wood from it and the surfaces (of the walls).

v46 (People should not go) into the house while it is closed. Anybody who does that will be *unclean until the evening.

v47 Anybody who sleeps in the house must wash his clothes. Also, anybody who eats in the house must wash his clothes.

v48 But the priest must look at the house after the walls have new surfaces. If the *mildew has not spread, then the house is *clean. (The priest) must declare this, because the *mildew has gone.

v49 (The priest) must take two birds, some *cedar wood, red wool and *hyssop. These are to make the house *clean.

v50 (The priest) must kill one of the birds over fresh water. (The water must be) in a *clay pot.

v51 Then (the priest) must take the *cedar wood, the *hyssop, the red wool and the bird that is alive. He must put them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water. Then he must splash the house 7 times.

v52 He will make the house *clean. (To do that, he will use) the bird’s blood, the fresh water, and the bird that is alive. (Also, he will use) the *cedar wood, the *hyssop and the red wool.

v53 Then (the priest) must let the bird that is alive go free into the open fields outside the town. In this way, he will make *atonement for the house. It will be *clean.’

v54 These are the rules for bad diseases of the skin, or for an *itch.

v55 (They are also the rules) for *mildew in clothes or in a house.

v56 (They are also the rules) for a lump, a sore place or a bright spot.

v57 They help (the priest) to decide whether something is *clean or *unclean. They are the rules for diseases of the skin and for *mildew.

Notes

This chapter tells a person who has been ill what to do. This person has had one of the skin diseases in chapter 13. The priest had declared that this person was *unclean. So this person left his home to live outside the camp. But now he is well again. His skin disease has gone. So this chapter describes the things that he must do next. This is how he (or she) can start to live normally again!

This chapter also includes rules for when a *mildew grows on the walls of an house. The people would not have houses until they left the desert to enter the country called Canaan, verse 34.

Verses 1-3 The priest must go outside the camp. The person with the disease could not enter the camp until the priest had declared him to be well.

Verses 4-7 *Clay is a type of earth from which people make pots. *Hyssop is a plant. The priest used it to splash the blood of the bird onto the person who had the skin disease. All the things that the priest used for this ceremony had a red colour. Red, of course, is the colour of blood. For Christians, this reminds them of the blood of Jesus. Only by Jesus’ death can we be free from *sin. For the *Jews, this would remind them of the blood of *sacrifices. The priests would splash that blood on everything in God’s house to make those things *clean and ready for service.

One of the birds had to die. But the other one can go free. This is an important principle in the Book of Leviticus. There has to be a death so that someone or something can go free. And this is also an important principle for people who love Jesus. Because of Jesus’ death, they can also go free!

Verses 8-9 The person had to shave his hair and to wash his body. This was to show that his previous state, with the disease, had ended. During the next week, the person could live in the camp, but he could not go back home. After 7 days, he shaved and he bathed again. Then he was completely *clean.

Verses 10-13 A *lamb is a young sheep. The *oil is from a plant, not fuel *oil. The person had to offer several different kinds of *offerings. There is a *guilt offering (verse 12), a *sin offering (verse 19), a *whole offering (verse 19), and a *corn offering (verse 20).

Verses 14-20 The ear, the *thumb and the toe mean these things.

·  The ear means what you hear from God.

·  The *thumb means what you do for God.

·  The toe means where your feet go for God.

Read the note on Leviticus 8:24.

These rules were very much like the rules for the *ordination of priests. Of course, the person who had the disease did not become a priest. But that person did join God’s people again. And all God’s people were like priests, because God wanted them all to be holy. They did not have the special duties or the rights of priests. They did not make the *sacrifices or enter God’s holy tent. But it was still their duty to serve God.

For Christians, the blood reminds them of Jesus’ blood. And the *oil reminds them of the Holy Spirit. When someone becomes a Christian, Jesus’ blood (his death) frees that person from *sin. But God does not just forgive that person. He also sends his Holy Spirit into that person’s life. And so God changes that person’s life completely.

*Atonement means ‘make at-one’. In other words, people who were enemies are now united as friends. They are one with (united as friends with) each other! People were God’s enemies, but now they can be friends of God. And this person, who had the disease, has now become a friend of God. Before this, he had to separate himself from God’s people and from God’s house because of his disease. But after this ceremony, he could *worship with God’s people again. He could go to the entrance of God’s house again. Now God accepted him as a friend.

Verses 21-32 Poor people would be unable to afford the usual *offerings. But birds were not expensive. So the poor person still gave a *guilt offering, a *sin offering, a *whole offering and a *corn offering. Perhaps the person was poor because of his disease. Perhaps he was unable to work because he was ill. Read the note on verses 14-20 for ideas on ear, *thumb and toe.

Verses 33-36 *Mildew is something that grows on walls as well as on clothes. *Canaan is the country that the *Israelites went into. They did this after Moses died. We also call that country the *Promised Land. God had promised to give that country to the *Israelites. But that country was not perfect. There were problems like *mildew that could destroy the homes. The people had to be careful and they had to look for the start of any problem. Perhaps if they removed any material with *mildew on it, it would not spread.

Perhaps these rules would also help people to understand the nature of *sin. People have to be careful of *sin. They should examine their own lives, behaviour and attitudes carefully. And they should deal with *sin as soon as they recognise it.

Verses 37-42 The people had no towns or houses at this time! During Moses’ life, they lived in tents in a camp. These rules were for the time after the *Israelites entered *Canaan.

The priest had to examine the house carefully. If the *mildew was just on the surface of the walls, it was not a serious problem. But if it was deeper, the priest would not allow anyone to enter the house for 7 days. Then he would examine the house again. If the *mildew had not spread, he followed the ceremony in verses 48-53. And then people could return to the house. But if it had spread, the priest told the owner to remove everything with *mildew on it. And the owner had to rebuild the house’s wall.

Verses 43-47 If the *mildew then returned, the problem was very serious. People must destroy the house if its stones have *mildew! Again, these rules were for the time when the *Israelites were living in their own country.

Verses 48-53 The ceremony for the house is similar to the ceremony for the person who had the skin disease. The rules about property in the *Promised Land are important. This is because there is a relationship between the *covenant and the land.

Something to do

1. Read Psalm 51:7. Compare the use of *hyssop here and in Leviticus 14:4-7.

2. Read John 19:29, where again people use *hyssop.

3. Think about these things.

·  What you hear from God.

·  What you do for God.

·  Where you go for God.

4. Read Romans 4:25. Consider whether there is a situation like the ‘two birds’ here. One bird dies, but the other bird flies away!

Chapter 15

Section 4: Liquids from the body that make people *unclean, 15:1-33

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses and to Aaron.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites. Say (this) to them. “If a liquid comes from a man’s body, (the liquid) is *unclean.

v3 (The liquid) may continue to flow from his body or it may stop. In both cases, it will make him *unclean. This is how the liquid will make him *unclean.

v4 Any bed that the sick man lies on will be *unclean. Anything that he sits on will be *unclean.

v5 Anyone who touches his bed must wash his clothes. He must also bathe in water. He will be *unclean until the evening.

v6 Someone may sit on something that the sick man has sat on. He, too, must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He also will be *unclean until the evening.

v7 Someone may touch the sick man. He, too, must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He also will be *unclean until the evening.

v8 The sick man may *spit on someone who is *clean. The (*clean) person must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He will be *unclean until the evening.

v9 The (sick) man may sit on (something) when he is riding. Everything (that he sits on) will be *unclean.

v10 Also, someone may touch the things that were under (the sick) man. That person also will be *unclean until the evening. Someone may pick up these things. He must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He will also be *unclean until the evening.

v11 The (sick) man may touch somebody before he washes his hands. That person must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He also will be *unclean until the evening.

v12 If the (sick) man touches a *clay pot, then (someone) must break the pot. (If he touches) something wooden, then wash it with water.

v13 When the (sick) man is well again after his illness, he must wait for 7 days. Then he can become *clean again for the purposes of his religion. The man must wash his clothes and he must bathe himself in fresh water. Then he will be *clean.

v14 On the 8th day, he must bring two *doves or two young *pigeons to the *LORD. (He must bring them) to the entrance of the *meeting tent and he must give them to the priest.

v15 The priest must kill them. One is for a *sin offering and the other one is for a *whole offering. So (the priest) will make *atonement in front of the *LORD for the man who was sick.

 

v16 *Semen may come out of a man. Then, he must bathe his *whole body with water. He will be *unclean until the evening.

v17 He must wash, in water, any clothing or leather that has *semen on it. It will be *unclean until the evening.

v18 A man may lie with a woman and *semen will come out from him. Then both (man and woman) must bathe in water. They will be *unclean until the evening.

 

v19 A woman’s blood flows regularly (every month). Her monthly *period will make her *unclean for 7 days. Also, anybody who touches her will be *unclean until the evening.

v20 Anything that she lies on during her *period will be *unclean. Also, anything that she sits on will be *unclean.

v21 Someone may touch her bed. That person must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He will be *unclean until the evening.

v22 Someone may touch what she sits on. He, too, must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He also will be *unclean until the evening.

v23 It does not matter (what it is). It may be her bed, or anything that she sits on. If anyone touches it, he will be *unclean until the evening.

v24 A man may lie with her during her monthly *period. If anything from her touches him, he will be *unclean for 7 days. Also, any bed that he lies on will be *unclean.

v25 A woman’s blood may flow for many days. This may not be during her monthly *period. Or, her (blood) may continue to flow beyond her monthly *period. She will then be *unclean for as long as the blood flows. This is like when she has her *period.

v26 Any bed that she lies on during (this time) will be *unclean. (This is the time) while her blood continues to flow. This is what happens to her bed during her monthly periods. Also, anything that she sits on (during this time) will be *unclean. (This is what happens) during her monthly periods.

v27 And anybody who touches these things will also be *unclean. He must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. But he will be *unclean until the evening.

v28 When the woman is well again after her illness, she must wait 7 days. Then she will be *clean for her religion.

v29 On the 8th day, she must bring two *doves or two young *pigeons to the priest. (He will be) at the entrance of the *meeting tent.

v30 The priest must offer one (bird) for a *sin offering and the other (bird) for a *whole offering. So, he will make *atonement for her in front of the *LORD. This is because her illness made her *unclean.

v31 You must separate the *Israelites from things that will make them *unclean. Then they will not die because they are *unclean. *Unclean people spoil my house, which is among them.” ’

v32 These are the rules for any man with a *discharge. Or (they are the rules) for anyone who is *unclean because of *semen.

v33 Also, (they are the rules) for a woman during her monthly *period, or for a man or a woman with a *discharge. (They are also the rules) for a man who lies with an *unclean woman.

Notes

This chapter is about *unclean substances that come from the human body. Verses 2-15 are about a *discharge from a man’s body because of illness. Verses 25-30 are about blood that flows from a woman’s body because of illness. Verses 16-24 are about substances that come from a healthy man’s or woman’s body. All these things are about the parts of the body that people use during sex. And they all make a person *unclean.

Many things surrounded the *Israelites that would make them *unclean. We have studied such things in previous chapters. But in this chapter, the *unclean substances come from inside a person. They even come from a healthy person’s body. And some of these substances are very *unclean. They can even make a person *unclean if that person just touches someone else’s bed or chair.

Many Bible students think that God is still teaching lessons about *sin in this chapter. Jesus too taught that *sin comes from inside a person (Mark 7:14-23). Of course, he was not talking about *unclean substances. He was speaking about the evil thoughts and wrong desires that cause people to do wicked things. And he taught that this was the real lesson to learn from the rules about *unclean things.

Verses 2-3 Bible students are not sure what the liquid is. It is not the liquid that we wash down the toilet. The *Hebrew word means ‘*discharge’. This is ‘a liquid that comes out’. The *Hebrew word seems to be referring to a sticky liquid. It may be one of these liquids.

·  Some Bible students think that it is *semen. This normally comes from a man during sex. Probably verses 2-15 are not about *semen. Verses 16-18 are about *semen.

·  Other Bible students think that the man has a sex disease. Perhaps it is a disease that we call gonorrhoea. R.K. Harrison argues this in his book about Leviticus. There are many other similar diseases.

*Unclean does not mean dirty here; although clearly, such a *discharge is not a clean thing. The word ‘*unclean’ means that the man cannot go to God’s house. The *unclean man can still pray; and he must still obey God’s law. But he cannot *worship with God’s people.

Verses 4-12 This translation has ‘sick man’ for ‘the man with a *discharge’. This is because he probably has a disease like gonorrhoea. People *spit when they send a liquid out of their mouths. ‘That person’ in verses 10 and 11 is not the sick man. It is the person that touches the sick man’s things (verse 10). Or, it is the person whom the sick man touches (verse 11). *Clay is a type of earth that people use to make pots.

Verses 13-15 These are the rules that make someone *clean again. First, he must wash his clothes and himself, verse 13. Then he must bring two birds, either *pigeons or *doves. The priest will offer them to the *LORD. Then the man will be *clean. He can go to God’s house. He will not be separate from God’s people any longer.

Verses 16-18 The *semen may come out from a man without an illness. For example, *semen sometimes comes from a man’s body while he is asleep. Or it may happen when he lies with a woman. ‘Lie with’ here means ‘has sex with’. *Semen is the liquid that comes out from a man during sex. Of course, it is not wrong for these things to happen. It is not wrong for a married man to have sex with his wife. And after *semen has come from a man’s body in these circumstances, the man does not offer *doves or *pigeons. Bible students are not sure why sex after marriage makes people *unclean until the evening. There were similar rules for a soldier if *semen came from his body during the night. He could not go back to his army until the next evening, Deuteronomy 23:10-11.

Verses 19-24 Every month until a woman is too old to have children, she has a ‘*period’. This is the time when blood and other material comes out from her body. The *Hebrew language says, ‘her blood flows’. This makes her, and people who touch her, *unclean. As in verses 16-18, they need not offer *doves or *pigeons. They only need to wash their clothes and bodies.

Verses 25-30 These are rules for a woman that has a disease of some kind. It is not her monthly *period. When she becomes well again, she must give *sacrifices. Like the man in verses 13-15, she brings two birds to the priest. He offers them as a *sin offering and a *whole offering. Then the woman is clean again.

Verse 31 When people were *unclean, they had to separate themselves. They could not join in with public *worship. They had to stay away from God’s house. They even had to do these things if nobody else knew about the matter.

If they did not separate themselves, this was a very serious matter. It would make God’s house *unclean.

Paul too warned people who want to eat the bread or to drink the wine at church (1 Corinthians 11:27-31). They must not do this if there is *sin in their lives. *Israelites had to examine themselves before they went to God’s house. They had to make sure that they were *clean. And Christians must examine themselves before they take the bread and wine. They must be free from *sin – not by their own efforts, but because Jesus died for them.

Something to do

1. Read the story of David and Bathsheba, 2 Samuel chapters 11-12. Note especially 11:8-11 and compare it with Leviticus 15:18 and Deuteronomy 23:9-11 and 1 Samuel 21:5.

2. Read Mark 5:25-34. Compare it with Leviticus 15:25-27 and Leviticus 15:7. This woman should not have touched anyone. But when she touched Jesus, she became well!

Chapter 16

The Day of *Atonement, *Yom Kippur and the Goat that Takes *Sin Away

v1 Two of Aaron’s sons died when they came near to the *LORD. After this (had happened), the *LORD spoke to Moses.

v2 The *LORD said (this) to Moses. ‘Tell (this) to your brother Aaron. He must not come into the most holy place whenever he chooses to come. (If he does) he will die. (The most holy place) is behind the curtain which is in front of the (*atonement) cover of the *ark. (He will die) because I (the *LORD) will appear in the cloud over the (*atonement) cover.

v3 This is how Aaron must go into the house of God. He must take (with him) a young *bull for a *sin offering and a *ram for a *whole offering.

v4 He must wear his sacred *linen coat. He must wear *linen *underclothes next to his body. He must tie the *linen belt round him and he must put on the *linen hat. These are sacred clothes. Therefore he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on.

v5 (Aaron) must take two male goats (to the *meeting tent). They will be a *sin offering from the *Israelites. He must also (take from them) a *ram for a *whole offering.

v6 Aaron must offer the *bull for his own *sin offering. It will make an *atonement for himself and for his family.

v7 Then (Aaron) must take the two goats. He must offer them to the *LORD at the entrance of the *meeting tent.

v8 One goat is for the *LORD. The other goat is to be the goat that takes (*sin) away. (Aaron) must (use the *Urim and Thummim to) decide which goat is which.

v9 Aaron must bring the *LORD’s goat and he must offer it for a *sin offering.

v10 But they must give the other goat to the *LORD. (The *Urim and Thummim) chose it as the goat that takes (*sin) away. (It must still be) alive. It will make *atonement (for the people) when they send it into the desert. The goat must go there to take (*sin) away.

v11 Aaron must bring the *bull for his own *sin offering. It will make *atonement for himself and for his family. He must kill the *bull for his own *sin offering.

v12 He must take a *censer full of coal that is burning. He must take (the coal) from the *altar that is in front of the *LORD. He must also take *incense that would fill two hands. It must be (*incense that is) a powder. It must have a nice smell. He must take them behind the curtain (that is in the *meeting tent).

v13 He must put the *incense on the fire in front of the *LORD. The smoke of the *incense will hide the *atonement cover that is over the *ark. So, (Aaron) will not die.

v14 He must put some of the *bull’s blood onto his finger. He must splash it onto the front of the *atonement cover. Then he must splash some of it with his finger 7 times onto the (top of the) *atonement cover.

v15 (Aaron) must then kill the goat for the people’s *sin offering. He must take its blood behind the curtain. He must do the same with it as he did with the *bull’s blood. He must splash it in front of and onto the *atonement cover.

v16 So (Aaron) will make *atonement for the most holy place. This is because the *Israelites are not *clean. Also, they have not obeyed (the *LORD). They may have done many *sins. (Aaron) must do the same for the *meeting tent. (This is because) it has been among *unclean people.

v17 Nobody must be in the *meeting tent when Aaron goes in to make *atonement in the most holy place. (Nobody must be there) until he comes out. He will have made *atonement for himself, for his family and for all the *Israelites.

v18 Then (Aaron) must come out to the *altar that is in front of the *LORD. He must make *atonement for it. He must take some of the *bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood. He must put it on all the *horns of the *altar.

v19 He must splash some of the blood with his finger on the *altar. He must do it 7 times. This will make (the *altar) *clean. It will make it *clean again after the *Israelites have made it *unclean.

v20 Then Aaron must bring to the front (of the people) the goat that is alive. This is after he has made *atonement for the most holy place, the *meeting tent and the *altar.

v21 He must put both his hands onto the head of the goat (that is) alive. He must confess over it all the *sins of the *Israelites. This will include all the evil things that they have done. (It will also include) the times when they have not obeyed the *LORD. (Aaron) will put these things onto the goat’s head. Then he will send the goat away into the desert. A man (whom the people have) appointed to do it will take the goat away.

v22 The goat will carry on itself all the *sins (of the people). (That goat) will take them to a place where nobody else is. The man (whom the people appointed for this task) will let the goat go free in the desert.

v23 Then Aaron must go into the *meeting tent. He must take off the *linen clothes and he must leave them there. He put on (these clothes) before he went into the most holy place.

v24 (Aaron) must bathe himself in water in a holy place. He must put on his usual clothes. Then he must come out. He must burn the *whole offering for himself. (And he must burn) the *whole offering for the people. So he will make *atonement for himself and for the people.

v25 He must also burn the *fat from the *sin offering on the *altar.

v26 The man who frees the goat to take (*sin) away must afterwards bathe himself. And he must wash his clothes in water. Then he may come into the camp.

v27 (Another man) must take the *bull and the goat outside the camp. These were the *sin offerings. Their blood made *atonement in the most holy place. (The man) must burn their skins, their bodies and the dirt from inside them.

v28 Then the man who burns them must bathe himself. And he must wash his clothes in water. After this, he may come into the camp.

v29 These must be rules that you will always obey. You must not eat food on the 10th day of the 7th month. And you must not do any work. Both *Israelites and foreigners who live among you (must obey these rules).

v30 (This is) because on this day (the chief priest) will make *atonement for you. You will be *clean. You will be *clean from all your *sins in front of the *LORD.

v31 It is (like) a *Sabbath Day when you must rest. You must not eat food (on the Day of *Atonement). You must always obey these rules.

v32 (The chief priest may die.) You will then choose and *anoint his son to be chief priest after his father. He will make *atonement (for you). He will wear the sacred *linen clothes.

v33 He will make *atonement for the most holy place, for the *meeting tent and for the *altar. (He will) also (make *atonement) for the priests and for all the people who live in your country.

v34 You must always obey these rules. (The chief priest) must make *atonement once a year for all the *sins of the *Israelites’.

And they did this as the *LORD had ordered Moses.

About the Day of *Atonement

This is the only chapter in the whole *Old Testament of the Bible about ‘The Day of *Atonement’. But the *Jews today still keep it as a serious and sacred day every year. They call it *Yom Kippur, although this name is not in Leviticus. The *Hebrew word in Leviticus is kapporet. There is a note on this word in verse 2, below. For Christians, Good Friday is their Day of *Atonement. Jesus died on the first Good Friday. A study of the Book of Hebrews will explain this. There is some help in Something to do below. It gives a list of some important verses in Hebrews. Chapters 8, 9 and 10 of Hebrews refer to the Day of *Atonement. But those chapters do not mention the name of that day. There is a note in verse 8 below about the *scapegoat. We have translated that word as ‘the goat that takes (*sin) away’.

Here are some important things about the Day of *Atonement:

·  It happened exactly 6 months after the *Passover every year.

·  The people had to be genuinely sorry for their *sins. And they had to act in a humble manner. For example, they did not eat food on that day.

·  The people would be very aware of their *sins on that day. They remembered that they had done very many wrong things. They did this while the chief priest carried out his duties. Also, they did this by their own humble actions during the day.

·  The chief priest was alone between God and the people. First, he had to make *atonement for his own *sins. Then he made *atonement for the people’s *sins. Each time, he took blood into the most holy place (verses 14-15).

·  This was the only day in the year when the chief priest entered the most holy place. (We have shown the most holy place as ‘A’ on our map. You can find the map in the section called ‘What is in the House of God’ near the start of this commentary.)

·  This was the day when the *Israelites sent a goat into the desert to take away their *sins.

This table (arrangement of boxes) will help you to understand this important ceremony:

Verse number in Leviticus chapter 16

What happened?

Why did it happen?

Verse 29

On the Day of *Atonement, the *Israelites do not work. They do not eat food.

This is a very serious day when they must be humble in front of the *LORD.

Verse 3

The chief priest brings a *bull and a *ram.

These are his own *sin offering and *whole offering.

Verse 4

The chief priest puts on *linen clothes.

 

Verse 5

The *Israelites bring 2 goats and a *ram.

The *ram is their *whole offering. The goats are a special *sin offering.

Verse 9

The chief priest chooses which goat must take *sin away.

 

Verse 11

The chief priest kills the *bull as a *sin offering.

It makes *atonement for himself and his family (that is, the priests).

Verses 12-14

The chief priest takes the *bull’s blood into the most holy place.

He splashes the blood in front of the *ark.

Verse 15

The chief priest kills one goat and he takes its blood into the most holy place.

It makes *atonement for the *sins of the *Israelites. He splashes the blood in front of the *ark.

Verses 18-19

The chief priest puts some of the blood of both the *bull and the goat onto the *altar.

This makes the *altar clean.

Verse 21

The chief priest puts his hands on the other goat. He confesses all the *Israelites’ *sins.

That goat (which is still alive) must carry the *Israelites’ *sins away.

Verse 21

A man takes the goat. He leaves it in the desert.

 

Verse 23

The chief priest takes off his *linen clothes. He bathes, then he puts on other clothes. Then he offers the 2 *rams.

The *rams are the *whole offerings from the chief priest and the *Israelites.

Verse 27

Another man takes the dead *bull and the dead goat. He burns their bodies outside the camp.

These animals were the *sin offerings.

Verses 26 and 28

The two other men must bathe before they return to the camp.

 

Notes

Verse 1 The account about the deaths of Nadab and Abihu is in Leviticus 10:1-5. The rules in this chapter were so that this did not happen again. These rules would protect the chief priest.

Verse 2 The *Hebrew words for ‘whenever he chooses’ really mean ‘at any time’. Therefore, the chief priest could only go into the most holy place on the Day of *Atonement.

There is an explanation of the words ‘*ark’ and ‘most holy place’ near the start of this commentary. See the note called ‘What is in the house of God?’. Bibles vary in their translations of the *Hebrew word kapporet, which comes twice in this verse. Here are some examples.

·  *Mercy seat (King James Version, KJV)

·  *Covenant box (Good News Bible, GNB)

·  *Atonement cover (New International Version, NIV)

·  *Throne of *mercy (Jerusalem Bible, JB)

·  *Atonement *Slate (Word Biblical *Commentary)

A *throne is a special seat that a king sits on. Translations that make ‘kapporet’ into a seat probably depend on verses like Psalm 99:1. This is what it says.

‘The *LORD is king.

The nations (in the world) must tremble (with fear).

He sits on his *throne between the *cherubim.

The (whole) earth must shake (because he is near).’

The *cherubim are special servants of God. There was an image of one on each side of the *ark. But the word ‘kapporet’ may not mean ‘seat’ or ‘*throne’. The KJV and JB translations decided that it did. As in Psalm 99:1, it was the place where God sat. There, he had *mercy (or he did not punish) his people. Other translations, like the NIV, decided that it meant ‘cover’. Notice that there is no word for *atonement in this verse in the *Hebrew Bible. That is why we have put it in brackets (…). Here is part of a note on Leviticus 16:6 by C.I. Scofield. I have translated the note into simpler English.

The meaning of the word ‘*atonement’ in the *Old Testament is not the same as it is for Christians. For Christians, it includes the work of Christ as *sacrifice and *redeemer. In the *Old Testament, *atonement translates *Hebrew words which mean ‘a cover’ or ‘to cover’. The *offerings in Leviticus ‘covered’ the *sins of *Israel until Jesus died on the *cross. They did not take away those *sins, Hebrews 10:4. These are the *sins which God ‘passed over’, Romans 3:25. It was the *cross, not the *offerings in Leviticus, which made a total and complete *redemption. God was able to use the *offerings in Leviticus to continue with his guilty people. This is because these *offerings looked forward to the *cross, Hebrews 10:1.

J.E.Hartley, in the Word Biblical *Commentary on Leviticus, does not agree with either seat or cover. Instead, kapporet comes from a word that means ‘to *atone’, or ‘to forgive *sin’. So, kapporet becomes ‘*atonement *slate’. A *slate is a thin piece of material, probably stone. When God looks down to the *ark, God sees the *slate with blood on it. So this *atones for (or covers) the people’s *sins, until the death of Jesus.

The curtain divided the two parts of the *meeting tent. Exodus 26:31-32 describes it. The kapporet divides God from the chief priest. The chief priest is in the most holy place for the *Israelites. He brings the blood there on behalf of the people. Jesus died at Calvary instead of everybody in the world. And he brought his own blood into the most holy place in heaven (Hebrews 9:12).

Verse 3 Aaron will kill a goat for the *sins of all the people. Before that, he must kill a young *bull for his *sins and his family’s *sins. His family would include all the other priests. The *ram is for his *whole offering. A *bull is a male cow and a *ram is a male sheep. The ‘house of God’ was the whole area round the *meeting tent.

Verse 4 *Linen is a material that people make from a plant called flax. It was probably white. Therefore, the clothes that the chief priest wore were not his beautiful clothes (Leviticus 8:7-9). They were not clothes that showed his importance. They were the simple clothes that all priests wore in order to serve God in God’s house.

Verses 5-7 Aaron must take the two goats and his own *bull. They are the *sin offerings.

Verses 8-10 We do not know how Aaron decided which goat would take the *Israelites’ *sin away. He probably used *Urim and Thummim. We do not know how the priest used *Urim and Thummim. By their use, he found what God wanted him to do. The *Hebrew word which some people translate as ‘*scapegoat’ is azazel. Bible students do not really know what the word means. It may mean ‘removal’. This means that the goat would remove the people’s *sins from them into the desert. So we have translated it ‘the goat that takes (*sin) away’. The important thing is this. People could not take their own *sin away. Something or someone had to do it for them. Christians believe that Jesus was that ‘someone’, John 1:29.

The word azazel appears only 4 times in the *Hebrew Bible. All of them are in this chapter. Bible students have suggested 4 things that it may mean.

·  ‘Goat that goes away’, which is ‘az azel’ in the *Hebrew language.

·  ‘For removal’, which is ‘le azazel’ in the *Hebrew language.

·  The place to which the goat goes. This was a rocky place. The Arabic word ‘azazu’ means ‘rocky ground’. (Arabic is another language of the region.) After the *exile to Babylon, the *Israelites did throw the goat down to the ground from a rocky place.

·  A name for a bad spirit, or for the devil himself. This is probably a wrong idea. The people were definitely not giving an *offering to the devil. And the devil does not take away *sin.

Verse 11 Remember that ‘his family’ means all the priests also. Aaron must deal with his own *sins and the priests’ *sins first. Then he can deal with other people’s *sins. Hebrews 7:27 refers to this. It says that Jesus was without *sin. So, unlike other chief priests, he did not need to deal with his own *sin.

Verses 12-13 The *altar that is ‘in front of the *LORD’ is the one outside the *meeting tent. When the chief priest took the coals and the *incense behind the curtain, the smoke would hide God from him. This meant that he would not die. God allowed the chief priest to enter the most holy place on this day only, see verse 2. The *incense must be of the best quality.

Verse 14 Compare this with Leviticus 4:6 and 4:17. Leviticus chapter 4 is in front of the curtain. Here it is behind the curtain, in the most holy place.

Verse 15 Aaron would come out of the most holy place. Then he would kill the goat for the people’s *sin offering. And then he would go into the most holy place again.

Verse 16 This verse refers to different kinds of *sin. There are the *sins that people know about. There are the *sins that they do not know about. And there is the *unclean state of people. These are all types of *sin that God forgave (Exodus 34:7). But he did not forgive people who refused to accept his *covenant love, Numbers 15:30. Such people had chosen, on purpose, not to have a relationship with him. So they received none of the benefits that God gave by his *covenant. Remember, the *ark contained signs of God’s *covenant with (or ‘promises to’) his people. God would see these signs as he looked through the ‘*covenant *slate’ onto the *ark. The words ‘*clean’ and ‘*unclean’ here do not mean whether the people were dirty or not. And they do not mean (as elsewhere in Leviticus) whether the people could join in public *worship. These words mean that the people were separate from God because of *sin.

Verse 17 Remember, Jesus was alone when he *atoned for the *sins of the whole world, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.

Verses 18-19 This was the *altar that was outside the *meeting tent. In Leviticus 4:7 and 4:18 we read that the priest put blood onto it. And the chief priest did this on this special day to make it *clean and ready for use. This blood was for the *Israelites. Their *sin had made it *unclean.

Verses 20-22 The goat will take away the people’s *sins. Read the note on verse 16. The goat must not come back into the camp, because it carried all the *sins of the people. So they appointed a man to take it away from the camp. After the *exile, they took the goat to a cliff. Then a man threw it over the cliff. This links with the ‘rocky place’ in the note on verses 8-10.

Verses 23-25 Aaron’s ‘usual clothes’ were not the ones that other priests usually wore. (See Leviticus 8:7-9 and 8:13.) Aaron’s clothes showed everybody that he was the chief priest. He had to wear these clothes for what he did in verses 24 and 25. The *altar in verse 25 was the one that was outside the *meeting tent.

Verses 26-28 Two other men had special tasks. We do not know if they were priests or not. They also had to wash after they had completed their tasks. This was usual for people who were *unclean, Numbers 19:8. Notice the words ‘outside the camp’ in verse 27. Jesus died ‘outside the camp’ , that is, outside the city called Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:11-12).

Verses 29-31 The *Hebrew words for ‘you must not eat food’ really mean this: ‘You must hurt yourselves’. But the meaning is not that people should cause themselves pain. Most people translate it as we have done. But the book is describing an attitude, not an action. People must be humble in front of God. They must confess their *sins to God. And they must really be sorry about their *sins. The *Israelites showed this by the things that they did. The rules that the *Israelites used said this: ‘You must not eat or drink. You must not pour *oil onto yourselves. You must not wear shoes. You must not have sex with your wife.’ Also, they probably had to wear rough clothes and to put ashes onto their heads. Today, this is one of the most important days in the year for *Jews.

Verses 32-34 When Aaron dies, the people must make another chief priest. This will be one of his sons. They must always do this when the chief priest dies. They must always obey the rules for the Day of *Atonement.

Something to do

1. Look again at the map near the start of this commentary. It is in the section called, ‘What is in the house of God?’ Find the *meeting tent, the most holy place and the *altar.

2. Make a list of the order in which the chief priest did these things.

·  Kill a *bull for his own *sin offering.

·  Wear his special clothes.

·  Take a *censer full of coal that is burning.

·  Bathe himself in water.

·  Splash the *bull’s blood onto the *atonement cover.

·  Put *incense on the fire in front of the *LORD.

·  Take a young *bull for a *sin offering and a *ram for a *whole offering to the house of God.

·  Take two male goats in front of the *meeting tent.

·  Use *Urim and Thummim to decide which goat is which.

·  Send the goat that takes *sin away into the desert.

·  Kill a goat for the people’s *sin offering.

3. Read carefully chapters 8, 9 and 10 of Hebrews. Make a special note of these verses:

·  Hebrews 8:1-2. Jesus did not go into the most holy place in the *meeting tent or in the *temple.

·  Hebrews 8:8-12. These words refer to a promise that God made in Jeremiah 31:31-34.

·  Hebrews 9:2-5. These words describe the holy place and the most holy place.

·  Hebrews 9:7 and 9:12. Jesus was alone when he died, Matthew 27:46.

·  Hebrews 9:13-15. What the chief priest did on the Day of *Atonement was temporary. What Jesus did was permanent.

·  Hebrews 10:4 and 10:12. *Bulls and goats cannot take away *sin; but Jesus can!

Word List

acne ~ a disease that causes spots on the skin; young people often get it.

alcoholic ~ something that contains alcohol.

altar ~ a special table where the priests burned *incense, grain and animals.

anoint ~ to pour *oil onto someone in order to appoint that person for a special task. The *Jews did this when they made someone into a priest or king.

anointed ~ the past form of the word ‘*anoint’; also, a description of someone whom people have appointed to do a special task by a ceremony with *oil.

ark ~ another word for box. In Leviticus, the ark was a sacred box where the *Jews kept special things.

atone ~ to forgive.

atonement ~ another word for what happens when God forgives us. After God forgives us, we are ‘at one’ with him. In other words, we are united as friends (or have friendly relations) with him.

boil ~ a lump on the skin. Inside the lump is a yellow, watery material. We call it *pus.

breastpiece ~ something that covered the upper part of the priest’s body.

bull ~ the male animal of the same kind as a cow.

Canaan ~ the old name for the countries afterwards called *Israel and *Judah.

cedar ~ a tree.

censer ~ a flat pan that carried fire.

cherubim ~ special servants of God; also called angels.

chew ~ to break food with teeth.

circumcise ~ to cut a small piece of skin off the end of a boy’s *penis.

clay ~ a type of earth that people use to make pots.

clean ~ suitable for God or for God’s people. A clean person could go to God’s house to *worship him.

commentary ~ notes about a book in the Bible.

corn offering ~ a gift of grain to the *LORD. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

covenant ~ the special promise or agreement that God made with the *Jews.

cross ~ the wooden object on which Jesus died.

cud ~ food that some animals get back from their stomachs to *chew. (For example, sheep and cows do this.)

descendant ~ members of your family who live after you live.

discharge ~ a liquid that comes out of the body.

divided hoof ~ the *hoof is the foot of some animals. Sometimes there is a division in the *hoof. We say that such an animal has a ‘divided hoof’.

dove ~ a type of bird that has a gentle character.

ephod ~ special clothes for the chief priest. The ephod was a short coat, which fitted round his body. It fastened over the shoulders.

exile ~ the time when the *Israelites had to live in Babylon.

eyebrow ~ the line of hair that is above each eye.

fat ~ part of an animal’s body that is not red meat, nor skin, nor bone. Fat is an oily substance.

fellowship ~ a special type of friendship between God and his people. Or, the special type of friendship that God’s people have with each other.

finest flour ~ in Leviticus, the best quality flour. People put it through the mill until it was like powder.

fins ~ the parts of a fish’s body that it uses in order to swim.

forehead ~ the front of the head.

glory ~ the beauty of God’s most wonderful character. The Bible often describes it as a bright light.

grasshopper ~ an insect that is like a small *locust.

Greek ~ the language of the people who live in Greece.

guilt offering ~ an *offering by someone who is responsible for certain wrong acts. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.

holiness ~ the quality of somebody who is *holy, or very, very good.

holy ~ very, very good; only God is really holy. Or, a description of something that belongs to God.

hoof ~ the foot of some animals.

horn ~ hard material that grows on the heads of some animals like cows and goats. Or, the points that were on the corners of the *altars.

hyssop ~ a type of plant.

incense ~ a material that gives a good smell when people burn it.

Israel ~ the name of the country where the *Jews went to live, especially the northern part of that country.

Israelites ~ the *LORD’s people whom Moses led out of Egypt. Afterwards, they lived in the countries called *Judah and *Israel.

itch ~ a problem with the skin that makes us want to rub it or to scratch it.

Jewish ~ a word that describes *Jews and what they do.

Jews ~ another word for the *Israelites.

joint ~ a part of the body where bones join together, for example, the knee.

Judah ~ the name of the southern part of the country where the *Jews went to live.

kidney ~ an important inner part of an animal’s body.

lamb ~ a young sheep.

leprosy ~ a serious skin disease.

linen ~ a material that people make from a plant called flax: it was usually white.

liver ~ an important inner part of an animal’s body.

locust ~ a type of insect that eats any green plant.

LORD ~ a special name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it translates YHWH. YHWH probably means ‘he is always alive’. So the word LORD (which means ‘master’) is not a proper translation.

meeting tent ~ the special tent where God met with Moses. The priests could enter it to *worship; they burnt *sacrifices on the *altar in front of it.

mercy ~ kindness.

mildew ~ a disease that may grow on plants. There are similar diseases that affect clothes and even buildings.

mourn ~ to be sad after a death.

offering ~ gift.

oil ~ a type of oil that comes from an oily fruit called the olive. People used this oil in their food and they burnt it in lamps.

Old Testament ~ the first 39 books in the Bible.

ordain ~ make into a priest.

ordination ~ the ceremony to appoint a man to be a priest.

ordination offering ~ the special *offering for the *ordination ceremony.

Passover ~ the special day when the *Israelites remembered that God led them out of Egypt.

peace ~ absence of war. Or, the calm and content attitude that one receives because of a right relationship with God and with other people.

peace offering ~ a gift to thank God. This *offering is about *fellowship with God and his people. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

penis ~ a part of the body that only males have.

period ~ when women lose blood once a month.

pigeon ~ a type of bird which has a gentle character.

plagues ~ bad things that happen to people. The ‘10 Plagues’ were 10 punishments that the inhabitants of Egypt suffered. This happened at the time of Moses.

pregnant ~ a woman’s state during the 9 months before her baby is born.

Promised Land ~ *Canaan, that is, the country that God promised to the *Israelites. It was the land that he promised to Abraham.

psoriasis ~ a type of disease of the skin.

pus ~ yellow, watery material inside a *boil.

ram ~ a male sheep.

redeem ~ to buy back.

redemption ~ what happens to you when somebody *redeems you.

ringworm ~ a type of disease of the skin; children often have it.

Sabbath (Day), Sabbath (Year) ~ the 7th day of the week; or the 7th year during a period of 7 years. The 7th day was a special day for rest and *worship. People did not work on that day.

sacrifice ~ something that people burned on an *altar for God; or to burn on an *altar for God. People also gave sacrifices to false gods.

scales ~ these cover the bodies of fish.

scapegoat ~ the goat that takes away *sin on the Day of *Atonement (or *Yom Kippur).

semen ~ the liquid that comes out of a man during sex.

sin ~ to do wrong things; not to obey God’s rules. Or, the things we do when we sin. Evil thoughts, words and deeds are all sin, whether we do them on purpose or not.

sin offering ~ an *offering by a person who is guilty of particular types of *sin. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

sinner ~ a person who *sins.

slate ~ a thin piece, probably of stone.

spit ~ to send liquid out of the mouth.

tabernacle ~ the place where the *meeting tent, the outside *altar, the basin of water and the yard were. See the plan in the section called ‘What is in the house of God?’ You will find it in the first part of this commentary.

temple ~ God’s house in Jerusalem.

throne ~ a special seat that a king sits on.

thumb ~ the thumb is next to the 4 fingers on a person’s hand.

unclean ~ unsuitable for God or for God’s people. When someone was unclean, that person was unable to *worship at God’s house.

underclothes ~ clothes that people wear next to their bodies.

unleavened ~ something that contains no *yeast. The Time of Unleavened Bread is a special holiday that begins immediately after *Passover. It lasts for a week. During the week, the *Jews do not eat bread that contains *yeast.

Urim and Thummim ~ special objects that the chief priest used to find out what God wanted. ‘Urim’ means lights; ‘Thummim’ means perfect (truths). Together, the two words mean ‘perfect light’. The Urim and Thummim were probably precious stones. But we do not know how the chief priest used them.

wave offering ~ a gift that the priest waves in front of the *LORD.

weave ~ to make into cloth.

whole offering ~ an *offering that the priests burned completely on the *altar. See the explanation in the note called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’ in the first part of this commentary.

worship ~ to praise someone (usually God). You tell him that you believe him to be very, very great. Also, you love him and you will obey him.

yeast ~ the substance that makes bread ‘rise’, that is, to get bigger in the oven.

yeast-free ~ with no *yeast, or *unleavened.

Yom Kippur ~ the *Jewish name for the Day of *Atonement. It is the special day to remember that God forgives *sin.

Book List

The Interlinear NIV *Hebrew-English Old Testament/John R Kohlenberger III/Zondervan

The Holy Bible (English Version for the Deaf)/Baker Book House

Word Biblical Commentary on Leviticus/John E Hartley/Nelson

Leviticus/R K Harrison/Inter-Varsity Press

 

© 2010, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2010

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