Leviticus – Bible Study Commentary

*Worship the *LORD in the Beauty of *Holiness

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Leviticus

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.

 

‘The best book about Leviticus is Hebrews.’ (R.K. Harrison) (Hebrews is a book in the *New Testament of the Bible.)

Go to: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4:1 to 5:13 | Chapter 5:14 to 6:7 | Chapter 6:8 to 7:21 | Chapter 7:22-38 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 |

What does the word ‘Leviticus’ mean?

Moses, or one of his helpers, wrote Leviticus in the *Hebrew language. All the people called *Jews spoke the *Hebrew language. They belonged to the family that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob started. The *Jews called the Book of Leviticus ‘wayyiqra’. This is actually two *Hebrew words, ‘way’ and ‘yiqra’. They mean ‘and’ and ‘he called’. These words are the first words in the book in the *Hebrew language. When the *Jews translated their Bible into the *Greek language, they gave the book a new title. The new *Greek title meant ‘about the *Levites’. Our title ‘Leviticus’ is the *Latin word for ‘about the *Levites’. The people who lived in Greece spoke *Greek. The people who lived in Rome spoke *Latin. When Jesus came to the earth, many people spoke *Latin and *Greek.

Jacob had 12 children. One of them was called Levi. His *descendants became the *tribe of Levi. *Descendants are members of your family that live after you. A *tribe is a very large family. Members of this family were called *Levites. They had a special job to do. Some of them worked in the house of God. They were called priests. Other priests worked in every town in the country. They helped people to understand the Bible. The Book of Leviticus, (‘wayyiqra’), helped the priests to do their work. Remember that all the priests were *Levites.

But now there are no *Jewish priests with the same duties as they had at the time of Moses. But the Book of Leviticus is still important. The reason for this is that many things in the book *point to (describe) the life and death of Jesus! Leviticus was important after the *Jews left Egypt. Today, it is important after a person becomes a Christian. There is more about this below. But today, we could call the Book of Leviticus by another name. That name would be, ‘*Worship the *LORD in the Beauty of *Holiness’. ‘*Worship’ means many things. They include ‘love and obey’. *LORD is a special name for God. It probably means ‘always alive’. ‘*Holiness’ means that people always try to please God. God always thinks that this makes people beautiful.

Normally, it would not be possible for anyone to *worship the *LORD in the beauty of *holiness. The Bible says that all people are *sinners. By our own efforts, we cannot please God. But God has provided a method so that we can *worship him properly.

For the *Jews, that method was *sacrifice. They would give to God parts of the animals that they killed. Sometimes they gave the whole animal. The priests burned the gift on the *altar at the house of God. God accepted the animal’s death so that the *Jews could *worship him. The animal had suffered death so that the *Jews could live as friends with God.

For Christians, that method is also *sacrifice. But it is not the death of an animal. God has provided his own precious son, Jesus, to be the perfect *sacrifice. His death deals with every *sin of the people who invite him into their lives. He has freed them from *sin’s power so that they can *worship the *LORD in the beauty of *holiness. So we can all please God because of Jesus’ *sacrifice on the *cross.

Why is Leviticus important for Christians?

Before we read the Book of Leviticus, we must link Leviticus with Exodus. There are three main reasons for this.

Moses wrote Leviticus in the *Hebrew language. The first *Hebrew word in Leviticus is ‘way’. This *Hebrew word means ‘and’. It links the first sentence in Leviticus with the last sentence in Exodus. Moses wanted his people to read the two books together.

In Exodus, Moses described how his people should build the ‘house of God’. This was not God’s house in Jerusalem, called The *Temple. The *Jews did not yet live in Jerusalem. This house was a tent, which people could carry with them. Many ancient people did this, like the *Egyptians. A tent like this showed everybody that their god was with them. Moses’ tent showed people that the God of *Israel was with the *Jews. In Exodus we read how the *Jews made the tent. But in Leviticus, we learn what the priests had to do in God’s tent. All the priests belonged to the *tribe of Levi. They were God’s special servants.

The first 5 books of the Bible tell us about several periods in the life of each person. If that person is a Christian, then the books mean this:

Genesis … *Sin makes a person into a slave of the devil. *Sin is when we do not obey God. Everybody is in this group of people. ‘Everybody has *sinned’, Romans 3:23. We *sin when we do not obey God’s laws. Genesis also tells us about people who tried to obey God, including Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

Exodus … God makes people free. So they are not slaves. They are like the *Jews who came out of Egypt. Christians are free. In other words, *sin does not still control them like slaves. God makes them free when they first believe in Jesus. They believe that Jesus died to save them from the devil. Now they are not the devil’s people. Instead they are God’s people. We call this ‘conversion’.

Leviticus … God wants his people to be friends with him. This is a special type of friendship that we call ‘*fellowship’. God brought the *Jews out of Egypt so that they could have *fellowship with him. And God frees Christians from *sin so that they can have *fellowship with him. This is what God wants very much. Leviticus tells us that we can have *fellowship with God. We can have *fellowship with God because Jesus died for us! That is why Leviticus is important for Christians.

Numbers … God’s people look for the *Promised Land. For the *Jews, it was the country called Israel. For Christians it is Heaven and the New Earth. Heaven is the home of God. We call this the Christian’s ‘walk’ with God. God shows his people the way to go. We often call this ‘guidance’, because God is guiding his people.

Deuteronomy … God’s people have reached the *Promised Land. They are ‘home’! Here are the rules that they must obey while still on this earth. There are no such rules in Heaven.

What is in the ‘house of God’?

Here is a map of the ‘house of God’ that the *Jews made. The Book of Exodus describes it.

 

 

 

 

North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West

 

A

B

 

C

 

D

East

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

A and B was a tent. This is where God met Moses. This translation calls it the ‘*meeting tent’. The name reminded people that God met Moses there. After Moses, the only people who could go into the *meeting tent were the priests. All the priests could go into B, but only the chief priest could go into A. He could only go into A once every year. B was called the ‘holy place’, but A was called the ‘most holy place’. In A was a special box. It was called ‘the *ark of the *covenant’. ‘*Ark’ here is another word for box. The *covenant was a special promise that God made with the *Jews. In B there were other things:

1) An *altar, where the priests burned *incense. An *altar is a special table. When they burned *incense, it gave a nice smell.

2) A table, where the priests put some bread each week, on the *Sabbath day. It was called ‘the *showbread’.

3) A *lampholder that the *Jews had made from gold. A *lampholder is something that holds an oil lamp while it burns.

C was a large basin of water. The priests washed themselves and animals in it.

D was another *altar. The priests burned *sacrifices on this *altar. It was a wooden table with a metal top. The *sacrifices were animals, birds or corn. The people brought the animals, birds or corn to the priests. Leviticus chapters 1 to 7 tell us about these various *sacrifices. Also, there is a list of them below, in the section called ‘The 5 *sacrifices’. The *sacrifices are also called ‘*offerings’. ‘*Offering’ is another word for ‘gift’. They burned these *sacrifices, or gifts, for three reasons:

1) God told them to do it. This is one of the messages of the Book of Leviticus. If the people obeyed God, he would be very kind to them. But if they refused to obey him, they would not avoid their punishment.

2) God was pleased when his people gave *sacrifices. They realised that, like the animal, they should die because of their *sins. But God accepted the *sacrifice instead of the person who gave it.

3) After the *sacrifices, they could have *fellowship (special friendship) with God. God wanted his people to have friendly relations with him. And by means of the *sacrifices, God had made this possible.

For Christians, each *sacrifice has a special meaning. It tells them something about the death of Jesus Christ. The Book of Hebrews in the *New Testament explains this.

Round the ‘house of God’, there was a yard, where ordinary people could go. It was called a ‘*courtyard’. There was a wall all round it. The *Jews made the ‘wall’ from curtains and animal skins.

What is in the Book of Leviticus?

We can divide the Book of Leviticus into 8 sections.

1. Rules about the *sacrifices. (Leviticus 1:1 to 7:38)

2. Rules about how to make a priest. (Leviticus 8:1 to 10:20)

3. Rules about what is *clean and what is not *clean. (Leviticus 11:1 to 15:33)

4. The Day of *Atonement. (Leviticus 16:1 to 16:34)

5. Rules about religion. (Leviticus 17:1 to 22:33)

6. Holy days, weeks and years (Leviticus 23:1 to 25:55)

7. *Blessings and punishments. (Leviticus 26:1 to 26:46)

8. Rules about promises and *offerings. (Leviticus 27:1 to 27:34)

The 5 *sacrifices

In Leviticus chapters 1 to 7 we read about 5 types of *sacrifices. Below is a series of boxes. We call it a ‘table’. It helps us to understand the description and purpose of each *sacrifice.

 

Name of *sacrifice

Where to find it in Leviticus

The purpose of this *sacrifice

What the people offered (or gave as a *sacrifice)

What they did with it

*Whole offering

Leviticus 1:1-17

To make God favourable. To give yourself humbly to God.

A perfect *bull, sheep, goat, or birds (called *pigeons or *doves).

They burned everything.

*Corn offering

Leviticus 2:1-16

To thank God and also to make him favourable to the offerer. To give your goods and your work to God.

Cake or bread with no salt or *yeast (*yeast makes bread to rise).

They burned some and the priests ate some.

*Peace offering

Leviticus 3:1-17 and 22:18-30

To thank God; to be at peace with God; to be happy with other people; to express love to God.

Also, after you have carried out a promise completely.

A perfect male or female animal, whatever you can afford.

They burned the *fat; the priests and the offerer ate the rest of the animal.

*Sin offering

Leviticus 4:1 to 5:13

To ask God to forgive you when you *sinned by accident.

It depended who you were. There were various kinds of *sin offerings.

They burned the *fat for God; they burned the rest outside the camp

*Guilt offering

Leviticus 5:14-19

To ask God to forgive you when you *sinned against his holy things, or when you hurt somebody else.

A perfect male sheep.

They burned the *fat for God, but the priests ate the rest.

 

The note at the start of this Commentary tells us that Leviticus is about God’s people. 3500 years ago, they were the *Jews. But Leviticus also tells us about Jesus. So, it also tells us about Christian people.

The *Jews gave these 5 *offerings at the *meeting tent. Christians do not give animals as their *offerings. Instead, Jesus is their *offering; he is their *whole, *corn, *peace, *sin and *guilt offering. Normally, only *Jews and Christians give these types of *offerings. They are gifts to God from God’s people.

That helps us to understand that the first three *offerings are not for *sin. They are for *fellowship. They bring God and his people together. They become ‘at one’. In other words, they have friendly relations with him; they are united as friends with him.

That is why Leviticus 1:4 has *atonement (or ‘at-one-ment’) in it. But it is not the usual meaning of at-one-ment. The usual meaning is when God forgives a *sinner for the first time. They become ‘at one’. In Leviticus chapters 1 to 3, it is when a *Jew or a Christian wants to be ‘at one’ with God in his daily life. That is why the word ‘wants’ in Leviticus 1:3 is so important. Also, it tells us why they burned everything in chapter 1. The Christian who wants *fellowship with God gives everything to God. Something to do number 1 tells us how Jesus did this for Christians (see the end of chapter 1).

So, as you read Leviticus chapters 1 to 7, remember this. It is only about God’s people. In Moses’ time, they were *Jews. Now, also, they are Christians.

Chapter 1

The *Whole Offering

v1 And the *LORD called Moses. (The *LORD) spoke to him from the *meeting tent. This is what he said.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites. Say this to them. “Anyone among you may bring an animal as an *offering to the *LORD. But you must bring your *offering from the *herd or from the *flock.” ’

Notes

These two verses introduce (provide the initial information to explain) the whole Book of Leviticus. They also introduce the first section, Leviticus chapters 1 to 7.

Verse 1 The word ‘and’ links Leviticus with Exodus. Read the note at the start of this Commentary. *LORD is a name for God. In *Hebrew, it is YHWH. It probably means ‘always alive’. *LORD is not a translation of YHWH. It represents the *Hebrew word. There is a map that includes the *meeting tent in the opening sections of this Commentary. The *meeting tent is the place where the *LORD met Moses (Exodus 25:22).

Verse 2 The *Hebrew word for *Israelites in this verse is ‘sons of *Israel’. *Israel is another name for Jacob. Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. Jacob had 12 sons. Each son’s family became one of the 12 *tribes of *Israel. So ‘sons of *Israel’ is a name for all the *Jews. Note two things about the phrase: ‘anyone among you may bring… an *offering’.

·  ‘Anyone’ means only one person. This is not an *offering for the whole nation. It is for only one person. The *Hebrew word for ‘anyone’ in this verse is ‘adam’. Also, ‘anyone’ need not be *Jewish.

·  ‘*Offering’ means that the person wanted to offer something to the *LORD. It was not something that he had to do. The person wants *fellowship with God. So, by means of the *sacrifice, the person offers himself to God. The *Hebrew word for ‘*offering’ is ‘carban’. The word is in Mark 7:11: ‘It is Corban, which means a gift.’

‘*Herd’ means a ‘group’ of *cattle. Cows are *cattle. ‘*Flock’ means a ‘group’ of sheep or goats. So, ‘from the *herd or from the *flock’ means *cattle, sheep or goats. But verse 3 says that the *cattle must be male. A male cow is called a *bull.

Because the animals were valuable, the *offering cost the offerer something. This is important. It reminds us of what the death of Jesus cost God. Also, the *offering could not merely be the gift of money. The animal had to die. This too is important. We can only have a right relationship with God because Jesus died for us.

v3 ‘If someone wants to offer a *whole offering (from the *herd), he must do it at the door of the *meeting tent. It must be a perfect male (animal) from the *herd. Then the *LORD will accept it.

v4 He must lean (with) his hand on the head of the *whole offering. Then (the *LORD) will accept it on behalf of him. Then it will make *atonement for him.

v5 He must kill the *bull in front of the *LORD. Then the priests, who are Aaron’s sons, will bring the (animal’s) blood to the *altar. They will splash it all round the *altar, which is at the door of the *meeting tent.

v6 (The offerer) must take the skin off the *whole (animal). Then he must cut the *offering into pieces.

v7 The sons of Aaron, who is the priest, must put fire onto the *altar. Then they must put wood onto the fire.

v8 Aaron’s sons are the priests, They will then arrange the pieces (of the animal) onto the wood that is burning on the *altar. They will include the head (of the animal) and its *fat.

v9 (The offerer) must wash (the animal’s) legs and its inside parts with water. The priest will then burn it all on the *altar. It is a *whole offering. It is a gift that (people) offer by fire. Its smell pleases the *LORD.

 

v10 If someone wants to offer a *whole offering from the *flock, it will be either a sheep or a goat. He must offer a male (animal) that is perfect.

v11 He must kill it in front of the *LORD, at the north side of the *altar. Aaron’s sons, (who are) the priests, will splash its blood onto all the sides of the *altar.

v12 (The offerer) must cut (the animal) into pieces. The priest will then arrange the pieces on the wood that is burning on the *altar. He will include the head and the *fat.

v13 (The offerer) must wash the legs (of the animal) and its inside parts with water. Then the priest must bring it all and he must burn it on the *altar. It is a *whole offering. It is a gift that (people) offer by fire. Its smell pleases the *LORD.

 

v14 If someone wants to offer a bird as a *whole offering, he must offer a *dove or a young *pigeon.

v15 The priest shall bring (the bird) to the *altar. He will screw off its head and he will burn it on the *altar. He will drain its blood on the side of the *altar.

v16 (The priest) must remove the bird’s stomach and everything that is in it. He must throw it to the east side of the *altar, where the ashes are.

v17 He must pull the bird open by its wings, but he must not pull it apart completely. Then the priest must burn it on the wood that is burning on the *altar. It is a *whole offering. It is a gift that (people) offer by fire. Its smell pleases the *LORD.’

Notes

Verse 3 The offerer must want to give something to the *LORD.

The *Hebrew word for ‘*whole offering’ is olah. The *Hebrew word means something that ‘goes up’. As they burned the whole animal, we translate ‘olah’ as ‘*whole offering’. Its smell ‘goes up’ to the *LORD in the smoke. This pleased the *LORD very much. It is the thing that he wants most of all: to be at one with his people. (In other words, to have friendly relations with his people, or to be united as friends with them.)

That is why the *whole offering is the first of the five *offerings in the Book of Leviticus. Many English Bibles call the *whole offering ‘the *burnt offering’. This was because the priests burned it. But ‘*whole offering’ is a better name, because they also burned the other 4 *offerings.

The important word in this verse is ‘accept’. God really wants *fellowship with his people. This *offering is not about *sin. It is about the *sinner whom God has forgiven. It is about that *sinner who wants *fellowship with God. The *sinner gives himself to God, and his *offering is really himself. We can only find this *fellowship because Jesus offered himself for us. Jesus is our ‘carban/Corban’. (See my note on verse 2 for the meaning of ‘carban/Corban’.)

Verse 4 ‘*Atonement’ is a special word. When we do not obey God, we *sin. We become ‘apart’ from him. *Atonement means that we are not apart from God. We are ‘at one’ with him. In other words, we have friendly relations with him. When he forgives us, we are ‘at one’, or ‘together’ with him. When the offerer leaned his hand onto the animal’s head, he became at one with it. (In other words, he became the same as the animal.) So he felt that he should die like the animal. He may have said part of a psalm, such as Psalm 40, 51 or 66. Perhaps the priest replied with parts of Psalm 20 or 50.

But the important thing is this. The offerer is already one of God’s people. He is free. He is not a slave any longer. He has come through ‘the Red Sea’ (Exodus chapter 14). Now, *atonement means that he wants whole *fellowship with God. So he offers a *whole offering! The word ‘lean’ is the important word in this verse. The offerer must press on the animal’s head. This makes him one with (in other words, ‘the same as’) the animal. He unites himself with it.

Verse 5 It is the blood that is important. Christians know that the blood of animals cannot bring *atonement, Hebrews 10:4. This says, ‘The blood of *bulls and goats cannot take away *sins’. Only the blood of Jesus can take away the *sin that is part of human nature. By means of Jesus’ death, God gives us life that will never end.

But God provided animal *sacrifices so that the *Jews could have *fellowship with him. They could not know everything that we know now because of Jesus’ death. But God would forgive them and they would have friendly relations with him.

That is why in verse 5, the priest splashed the blood of the animal on all 4 sides of the *altar. He gave the animal’s blood to the *LORD instead of the offerer’s blood. Not only does this forgive *sin, it also makes the offerer at one (united as friends) with God. This is what God wants most of all. He wants *fellowship with his people.

The *Hebrew words for ‘*bull’ mean ‘son of the *herd’. That may mean *bull, but it may mean ‘young *bull’.

Verse 6 They must not burn the animal’s skin on the *altar. The offerer must remove it from the animal. Later the priests and *Levites removed the animal’s skin, 2 Chronicles 29:34. Perhaps this was because so many people offered animals for *sacrifices. The animal’s skin became the property of the priests.

Verse 7 The priests made the first fire. After this, the fire always burned. Sometimes they had to make many fires on the *altar, because there were so many *sacrifices, 1 Kings 8:64.

Verse 8 The head of the animal and its *fat were for God alone. The priests and the offerer never ate the *fat. (See the section called ‘the 5 *sacrifices’ near the start of this *commentary). Something to do number 2 tells us what each part probably means.

Verse 9 The offerer must wash the inside parts of the animal with water. It would not be right to make the *altar dirty with what is in the animal. The *Hebrew word for ‘burn’ means ‘make into smoke’. It is this smoke that pleases the *LORD. Because the smell is pleasant, we call this a ‘good smell’ *sacrifice. The first three *sacrifices in Leviticus are ‘good smell’ *sacrifices. The *Hebrew words ‘pleases the *LORD’ really mean this. ‘The *LORD now has rest.’

Verse 10 A *flock is a group of sheep or goats. As with the animal from the *herd, the offerer must want to offer something to the *LORD. Perhaps they included goats because of the *scapegoat in Leviticus chapter 16.

Verse 11 This time, the offerer does not put his hand onto the animal’s head. But he does kill the animal, as with the *bull, but not the birds (verse 15). Some Bible students think that ‘lean with his hand’, verse 4, also refers to all the *whole offerings.

Verse 12 Again, as with the *bull, the offerer must cut the animal into pieces. Then the priest put the pieces onto the *altar.

Verse 13 Again, the rules are similar to the rules for *bulls. Note again that the smell pleases the *LORD. It is a ‘good smell’ *sacrifice.

Verse 14 The rules allow birds because poor people could not afford *bulls, sheep or goats. Neither do the rules say that the birds must be male or perfect. This would make it easier for the poorer people.

Verses 15-17 The priest does everything. He kills the bird and pulls off its head. Then he pours out its blood and he burns the body. The priests took the ashes away regularly. Note again that the smell pleases the *LORD. It is a ‘good smell’ *sacrifice.

Further Note

The *whole offering means that the *worshipper offers the whole of themselves to God. God gives that person a humble attitude so that they will please God. Read Micah 6:6-8 and Romans 12:1-2.

Something to do

1. There are three things in this chapter: the offerer, the *offering and the priest. In Moses’ time, they were all different. But for Christians, they are all the same. They all *point to Jesus! Study the verses in the table below.

 

Christ was the offerer

 

They did not kill Christ. He offered himself so that they could kill him.

John 10:18

 

Christ was the *offering

 

This was the body that God had prepared for Christ. He offered his body to live for us and to die for us.

Psalm 40:6-8

Hebrews 10:5-9

 

Christ was the priest

 

Christ was a special priest.

He was not a *Levite. He was ‘after the type of Melchizedek’.

Hebrews 5:10

Then remember this. The offerer ‘must lean with his hand upon the head of the *whole offering’ (Leviticus 1:4). A Christian is ‘in Christ’. So Jesus did this for every Christian! He made it possible for them to have *fellowship with God. He made it possible for every Christian to *worship God.

2. There are several *offerings. They all *point to Jesus! Study the verses in the table below.

 

*Bulls (male cows)

The *bull was a strong animal.

Jesus was strong and he worked hard with people.

Psalm 144:14

Mark 1:35-38 and 3:20

Mark 6:30-45

 

Sheep or goats

The *lamb did not complain when it suffered.

Jesus did not complain when he suffered.

Isaiah 53:7

1 Peter 2:23

 

*Pigeons or *doves

 *Doves make a noise that sounds like people who are very sad. *Doves do nothing that is wrong. (That is, they are gentle birds.)

Isaiah 38:14 and 59:11

Mark 10:16

3. There are 4 things that make the *offerings important for Christians.

1) ‘Its smell pleases the *LORD’, verses 9, 13 and 17. God liked the *offering. So the offerer could come to where God was. Then there could be *fellowship.

2) God accepted the offerer, verse 3.

3) A life became the gift upon the *altar, verse 5.

4) Everything burned up completely on the *altar, verse 9. Nothing remained.

Think about the life of Jesus on this earth. Did he do these 4 things?

Chapter 2

The *Corn Offering

v1 ‘When anybody (wants to) bring a *corn offering to the *LORD, (that person must make it) with the *finest flour. They must pour *oil onto it and they must put *incense onto it.

v2 Then they must take it to the priests, (who are) Aaron’s sons. (The priest) must take as much (of the mixture) as he can hold in his hand. It must contain the *finest flour, (some) *oil and all the *incense. He must burn this on the *altar as a reminder. It is a gift that (people) offer by fire. Its smell pleases the *LORD.

v3 The rest of the *corn offering belongs to Aaron and to his sons. It is a very holy part of the *offerings that they make on the fire to the *LORD.

v4 If you bake your *corn offering in an oven, you must make it (like this).

·  Use the *finest flour.

·  Mix oil with the flour and make *unleavened bread.

·  Or make *unleavened biscuits and spread *oil on them.

v5 If you cook your *corn offering on a flat pan, you must (do these things).

·  Use the *finest flour.

·  Mix *oil with the flour.

·  Do not use *yeast.

v6 You must break (the *pancake) in pieces and then you must pour *oil onto it. It is a *corn offering.

v7 If you fry your *corn offering in a pan, you must make it with the *finest flour and with *oil.

v8 You must bring the *corn offering (that you) made from any of these things to the *LORD. Give it to the priest and he will bring it to the *altar.

v9 The priest will offer (part of) the *corn offering (to the *LORD). (It will be) a reminder. He will burn it on the *altar. It is a gift that (people) offer by fire. Its smell pleases the *LORD.

v10 The rest of the *corn offering belongs to Aaron and to his sons. It is a very holy part of the gifts that (people) offer to the *LORD by fire.

 

v11 You must not use *yeast in any *corn offering that you give to the *LORD. You must never burn any *yeast or any honey as a gift to the *LORD.

v12 You may bring those things to the *LORD when you offer the *first fruits (from your plants to him). But you must not offer them on the *altar (because they do not make) a pleasant smell (for the *LORD).

v13 You must put salt on every *corn offering that you make. Do not let the salt of your *covenant with God be missing from your *corn offerings. There must be salt with all the *offerings that you give (to the *LORD).

 

v14 If you bring a *corn offering of *first fruits to the *LORD, (do it like this). Break the pieces of new corn that come from the tops of the new plants. Then cook them in a fire. Then offer the *first fruits (to the *LORD).

v15 Put *oil and *incense on it, (because) it is a *corn offering.

v16 Then the priest will burn (part of) this, with the *oil and all the *incense (on the *altar). (It will be) a reminder. It is a gift that (people) offer to the *LORD by fire.’

Notes

This is the second ‘good smell’ *offering. As the *whole offering was, it was for the purpose of *fellowship. The people that made it were already God’s people. This means *Jews before Jesus came to the earth; or Christians today. So it is not about *sin. The 4th and 5th *offerings are about *sin. This is about people who want to ‘*worship the *LORD in the beauty of *holiness’. (A note near the start of this Commentary explains this phrase.)

Unlike the other *offerings, an animal does not die as a *sacrifice here. Instead, people gave a gift from their harvest. They were giving the result of their work to God.

Usually, people gave the *corn offering with one of the other *offerings. Only the poorest people could only afford to give a *corn offering.

Verse 1 The *oil came from a fruit called the olive. *Incense made a pleasant smell when they burned it. The first difference from the *whole offering is that they did not burn an animal or a bird. They burned some corn. They made the *finest flour from wheat. It cost twice as much as ordinary flour. They put it through the mill until only the tiniest pieces remained, like powder. It was hard work to make it. But afterwards, they could mix the flour easily.

Verse 2 Bible students are not sure whom the ‘reminder’ is for. Also, what does he remember? R.K. Harrison gives two main theories. Perhaps the reminder is:

·  to help God to remember the offerer (Psalm 20:4).

·  to help the offerer to remember what God has done for them.

Some Bible students think that it means both of these.

A ‘reminder’ means something that reminds someone about something else. The Book of Leviticus speaks several times about a reminder (see Leviticus 2:2, 2:9, 2:16, 5:12, 6:15 and 24:7). On each occasion, the priests burned a small quantity of something to God, which they gave instead of something larger. Afterwards, the rest of the gift was food for the priests.

Verse 3 Here is the next difference between the *corn offering and the *whole offering. In the *whole offering, the priests burned the whole *offering for God’s satisfaction. In the *corn offering, the priests can eat most of it. But, like the *whole offering, the pleasant smell allowed the offerer to have *fellowship with God. It was not an *offering that asked God to forgive the offerer’s *sin. Because it is an ‘holy part’, the priests had to eat it in a special part of the ‘house of God’. They could not take it outside.

Verse 4 ‘*Unleavened’ means that it has no *yeast in it. People add *yeast to bread to make it ‘rise’. In other words, the bread gets bigger as it cooks. People could bring bread or biscuits instead of corn. But they must not have *yeast in them, or they would not be pure.

Verses 5-6 We call *offerings like this ‘*pancakes’. So the *corn offering can be corn (verses 1-3), bread or biscuits (verse 4), or *pancakes (verse 5). *Pancakes were the type of bread that people cooked in a flat pan.

Verse 9 Read the note on verse 2 for ‘reminder’.

Verse 11 *Yeast made bread to ‘rise’, or get bigger in the oven. Honey was a sweet substance. It is a type of sugar. But when you burn it, it makes a nasty smell! Perhaps *yeast also makes a bad smell when people burn it. But both honey and *yeast made sugar to turn into alcohol. Perhaps this was the reason.

There is another possible reason. Flour with oil made a very simple type of bread. People usually added honey or they used *yeast to make the bread nicer. Honey would make it sweeter and *yeast would make it softer. But God told the people to offer him something that was simple and basic. The only way that they could improve the gift was their own effort to prepare it.

Verse 12 Deuteronomy 26:1-11 describes how people gave the *first fruits from their harvest to God. This was a special gift to thank God for all that he had provided. It could include things like honey, which God did not allow his people to include in the regular *offerings. But the priests did not burn these gifts on the *altar.

See verses 14-16 for another type of gift of *first fruits. The priests could burn that gift, but it did not contain honey or *yeast.

Verse 13 People in the east ‘ate salt’ together when they were friends. It was the custom to pour a little salt onto bread when friends ate together. Salt made this *offering a friendship *offering; it was for the purpose of *fellowship. Read also Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5.

Verses 14-16 The ‘*first fruits’ are the first corn plants that become ripe at the start of the harvest. If someone offered the ‘*first fruits’ to the *LORD, then they could use the rest for themselves. Perhaps they offered the ‘*first fruits’ of other plants too. They made these *offerings:

·  with the *whole offerings (Leviticus chapter 1);

·  at *Pentecost, when the corn was ready to harvest.

Verse 16 mentions the ‘reminder’ again, as in verse 2. Here again, the priest burns part of the grain, with oil and *incense, as a ‘reminder’.

Something to do

1. Compare the *whole offering with the *corn offering. In what ways are they (a) similar and (b) different?

2. There are 4 things in a *corn offering: flour, *oil, *incense and salt. As in the *whole offering, Jesus is again the *offering here instead of Christians. Look at the *gospels and epistles (the letters by Paul, Peter, James, and John) to find how Jesus was like these 4 things. In some passages, Jesus just speaks about these 4 things. The table below may help you.

 

flour

People broke the corn to make flour.

Matthew 15:37

1 Corinthians 11:24

*oil

*Oil represents (is a word picture of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:10

Luke 4:14

*incense

Its smell pleases God.

2 Corinthians 2:15

Ephesians 5:2

salt

It makes things pure.

Matthew 5:13

Mark 9:49

Chapter 3

The *Peace Offering

v1 ‘Someone may want to offer a *peace offering. If he offers an animal from the *herd, it can be male or female. But he must offer a perfect animal to the *LORD.

v2 He must lean his hand on the head of his *offering. Then he must kill it at the entrance of the *meeting tent. Then Aaron’s sons, (who are) the priests, will splash the blood against all the sides of the *altar.

v3 From the *peace offering, he must offer a gift to the *LORD on the fire. Some (*fat) covers the inside parts of the animal and some is on the inside parts. He must offer all this *fat (on the *altar).

v4 (He must also offer) both *kidneys with the *fat on them near (the animal’s) back legs. (And he must also offer the *fat) that covers the *liver. He will remove this with the *kidneys (from the animal).

v5 Then Aaron’s sons will burn (these parts of the animal) on the *altar. They will put them on the top of the *whole offering, on the burning wood. This is a gift that (people) offer by fire. Its smell pleases the *LORD.

 

v6 Someone (else) may want to offer a *peace offering. If he offers an animal from the *flock, it can be male or female. But he must offer a perfect animal to the *LORD.

v7 If he offers a *lamb, he must bring it in front of the *LORD.

v8 He must lean his hand on the head of his *offering. Then he must kill it in front of the *meeting tent. Then Aaron’s sons will splash the blood against all the sides of the *altar.

v9-10 From the *peace offering, he must offer a gift to the *LORD on the fire. (He must offer all these things).

·  The *fat.

·  All the *fat from the tail. (The offerer) must cut off (the tail) near the bone in (the animal’s) back.

·  All the *fat that covers the parts inside the animal, or is on these parts.

·  Both the *kidneys, with the *fat on them near (the animal’s) back legs.                            (v10)

·  (The *fat) that covers the *liver, which he must remove (from the animal) with the *kidneys.

v11 Then the priest must burn it all on the *altar. This is a gift of food that (the offerer) makes to the *LORD by fire.

 

v12 Someone may want to offer a goat. He must bring it in front of the *LORD.

v13 He must lean his hand on its head. Then he must kill it in front of the *meeting tent. Then Aaron’s sons will splash the blood against all the sides of the *altar.

v14-15 (The offerer) must give part of his *offering as a gift to the *LORD on the fire. (He must give these things).

·  All the *fat that covers the parts (that are) inside (the animal).

·  All the *fat that is on (these inside parts).

·  Both the *kidneys, with the *fat on them near (the animal’s) back legs.                            (v15)

·  (The *fat) that covers the *liver. He must remove this with the *kidneys.

v16 Then the priest must burn it all on the *altar. This is a gift of food that (the offerer) makes by fire. Its smell pleases (the *LORD). All the *fat belongs to the *LORD.

 

v17 Wherever you live, you must always obey this rule. And your families in future centuries (must obey this rule. The rule is this:) You must not eat any *fat or any blood.

Notes

Like the first two *offerings, this is a ‘good smell’ *offering. It is not about *sin. It is about a person who wants *fellowship with God. Again, the only way that this can happen is through Jesus.

Before the *Israelites entered Canaan, God did not allow them to kill animals anywhere for meat. If they wanted to eat meat from a cow, *bull, sheep or goat, they had to bring it to God’s house (17:8-9). They had to offer it to God as a *peace offering.

They would burn the *fat on the *altar. People considered the *fat to be the richest part, so they were giving the best part to God. The priest received part of the meat. And the person who brought the *offering received the rest of the meat. He ate it with his family and friends.

So the people were sharing the meat with God and his priests. They were having *fellowship together.

Verse 1 Some translations call this ‘the *fellowship offering’. *Fellowship is a special friendship that God has with his people. But the *Hebrew word is ‘shelamim’ which means ‘peaces’ (the plural of ‘peace’). We can have this *fellowship, or ‘*peace with God and our neighbours (other people)’, because Jesus died for us. His death did not only mean that God can forgive us. It also means that we can come into God’s house as his friends. A *herd is a group of cows. Male cows are called *bulls. So verses 1-5 are about *bulls and cows.

Verse 2 When the offerer leaned his hand on the head of the animal, he united himself with it. The note on Leviticus 1:4 explains this. The section called ‘What is in the house of God’ explains where the *meeting tent is. That section is near the start of this Commentary.

The priest had to use the blood to make the *altar *clean. Here, the word ‘*clean’ does not mean ‘not dirty’. It means that God approves of the *altar. So he accepts the gifts that his people offer there.

The blood is a word picture for the life of the animal. The animal’s life was the cost to provide *fellowship between the people, the priests, and God.

Verses 3-5 The *liver and *kidneys are important parts of bodies. In many religions, people examined the *liver and *kidneys to find out what would happen in the future. But God’s law did not allow people to do this. Instead, God told the *Jews to burn the *kidneys with the *fat on the *altar. They had to burn the *fat that covers the *liver too. The *altar was outside the *meeting tent.

Verse 6 An animal from the *flock would be a sheep or a goat. But the rules about goats are in verses 12-16. So verses 6-11 are about sheep.

Verse 7 ‘In front of the *LORD’ means outside the *meeting tent. The *Jews understood that the *LORD was in this tent. It was his home on the earth.

Verse 9 The sheep that lived in *Israel had very fat tails. Their tails weighed about 15 pounds (7 kilos)! The people offered all this *fat to the *LORD.

Verses 12-16 These verses contain the instructions for goats. They are very similar to the instructions for *cattle (verses 1-5) and for sheep (verses 6-11).

Verse 17 This was a very important rule, because the blood represented (stood for) the life of the animal. The life belongs to God, so the people could not take it for themselves.

Something to do

1. Study Hebrews 9:11-16. Notice that the death of Christ brings us into *fellowship with God.

This is the purpose of the first three *offerings: the *whole, *corn and *peace offerings.

2. The *Hebrew word ‘shalom’ means ‘peace’. But this peace does not mean that there is no war. It is better to translate it ‘healthy’. In other words, we are ‘healthy’ in everything that we do. For example, our relationships with other people are ‘healthy’ (good and friendly). Pray that God will make you shalom!

Chapter 4:1 to 5:13

The *Sin Offering

Chapter 4 v1 The *LORD said to Moses,

v2 ‘Say (this) to the *Israelites. The *LORD’s commands forbid you to do certain things. If anyone does any of those things, he has *sinned. If he has done it by accident, (he shall bring a *sin offering).

 

v3 If the chief priest *sins, this would make (all) the people guilty. He must bring to the *LORD a perfect young *bull. It is a *sin offering, for the *sin that he has done.

v4 He must bring the *bull to the entrance of the *meeting tent, in front of the *LORD. He must press his hand on its head and he must kill it in front of the *LORD.

v5 Then the chief priest must take some of the *bull’s blood and he must carry it into the *meeting tent.

v6 He must put his finger into the blood. He must splash some of it 7 times in front of the *LORD. (He must do this) in front of the curtain between the holy place (and the most holy place).

v7 The priest must then put some of the blood onto the *horns of the *incense *altar. This is in front of the *LORD in the *meeting tent. He must pour away the rest of the *bull’s blood at the base of the (other) *altar. This is where (the priests) burn the *whole offering. It is at the entrance of the *meeting tent.

v8 He must remove all the *fat from the *bull (which is) the *sin offering. This *fat covers the parts inside (the animal), or is on these parts.

v9 He must remove both (the animal’s) *kidneys, with the *fat on them (which is) near (the animal’s) legs. He must also (remove), with the *kidneys, (the *fat which) covers the *liver.

v10 He must (do it in the same way) as he removes the *fat from the cow. (He does that when) he kills (the cow) as a *peace offering. Then the priest must burn all these things on the *altar (where he burns) the *whole offering.

v11-12 The rest of the *bull includes its skin, its meat, its head and legs, the inside parts and the dirt. He must take all the rest of the *bull outside the camp. He must take it to a place that his religion considers to be *clean. They throw the ashes there (from the *altars). He must burn everything on a fire of wood on the ashes.’

Notes

What is the difference between *sin and *guilt offerings in Leviticus 4:1 to 6:7? Bible students explain it in different ways. Here are two of them. Most Bible students agree with the second one.

·  One way to understand it is this. The *sin offering refers to original *sin. The *guilt offering refers to actual *sin. When we are born, we all have original *sin. It is a result of Adam’s original *sin in Genesis chapter 3. So, we *sin without thought about what we are doing. We *sin ‘by accident’. We may not even realise that we have not obeyed God’s commands. Actual *sin is when we choose to *sin. We know that we are doing something wrong. The *guilt offering in Leviticus 5:14 to 6:7 is for actual *sin. The *sin offering in chapter 4:1 to 5:13 is for original *sin. Notice that the *offerings in Leviticus chapters 1, 2 and 3 are not about *sin. They bring the offerer into *fellowship with God. As a result, he or she is able to *worship God. But if the offerer worries about *sin, these two *offerings in Leviticus chapters 4, 5 and 6 will comfort him or her. (From ‘The Law of the *Offerings’, by Andrew Jukes.)

·  Another way to understand it is this. The *sin offering is for something that does not hurt people. But the *guilt offering is different. It is for *sins that have hurt people. This is true even if the *sinner did not intend to hurt people. So the *guilt offering includes money to pay to the person that the *sinner has hurt. (From Bible *Commentary by Fausset.)

Verse 2 In the *Hebrew Bible, the last part of the verse is a sentence without an end. We could translate it as: ‘If anyone *sins by accident, and does not obey the *LORD’s commands …’ Then, from verse 3, there are several sections. Each says what various *sinners must do. These *sinners include:

·  The chief priest, verses 3-12.

·  All the *Israelites, verses 13-21.

·  A leader of the people, verses 22-26.

·  One person among the people, verses 27-35 and 5:1-13.

The *Hebrew word for ‘anyone’, here and in Leviticus 4:27, 5:1, 5:15, 5:17 and 6:2 is ‘nephesh’. It means ‘*soul’. This is the part of us that lives when our body dies. This emphasises the importance of *sin.

Verses 3-12 These verses explain what happened if the chief priest *sinned by accident. He was the leader of the *Jewish religion, so his *sin affected everybody in the nation.

The priest may have done something in the wrong way, accidentally, in the *meeting tent. If he intended to do it, the punishment was death, Numbers 15:30, Hebrews 10:28. *Sins by accident like this were probably very rare.

We do not know how he might realise about his *sin. Perhaps he might read about his error in God’s law. Perhaps God would show the priest that he had *sinned. Or perhaps troubles, for example, poor harvests, would affect the nation because of his *sin.

The *Hebrew word for ‘chief priest’ really means ‘*anointed priest’. Ellicott’s Bible *Commentary says that the *Jews only *anointed chief priests. This was probably true when Moses was alive. They *anointed people when they poured olive *oil onto them. So we have translated ‘*anointed priest’ as ‘chief priest’. The *Hebrew word for ‘*anointed’ is (in English) ‘messiahed’! In English, the word ‘messiah’ is a translation of Christ! That is interesting, because Hebrews 8:26-27 describes Jesus as the ideal chief priest. And Hebrews 4:15 says that he was without any *sin.

There is a map near the start of this Commentary. That map shows where the *meeting tent, the holy place, the most holy place and the two *altars were. There were 4 *horns on both *altars. Animals like cows and *bulls had *horns on their heads. The 4 *horns were at the corners of the *altar. The *horns pointed upwards, to where God lives in heaven.

The chief priest put the *bull’s blood on the *horns of the *incense *altar and in various other places. By this means, he asked God to forgive his *sin. Remember this. God only forgives *sin when someone or something has died. The *bull had died instead of the chief priest, so that God could forgive the chief priest’s *sin.

When the chief priest *sinned, even by accident, it was a serious matter. It meant that the *meeting tent was not *clean. God would not answer his people’s prayers there. He could not forgive his people! So it was important that the chief priest made the *meeting tent ‘*clean’ again. When it was *clean, God could again meet with his people.

The chief priest burned the *bull’s *fat on the *altar, as he would burn the *fat of a *peace offering. And now the chief priest and the people could have *fellowship with God again.

Notice that, apart from *kidneys, *liver and *fat of the *bull, they burned the rest of the animal ‘outside the camp’. It was *unclean until the fire had burnt it completely. Hebrews 13:11-13 tells us that Jesus died ‘outside the camp’. The city of Jerusalem was ‘the camp’ and Calvary was ‘outside the camp’. Calvary was the hill where Jesus died.

v13 The people in *Israel must not do anything that the *LORD’s commands forbid. If all (the people in *Israel) *sin by accident, then they are (all) guilty. This is so even if the people do not know about it.

v14 When they become aware of their *sin, the people must bring a young *bull as a *sin offering. They must give it (to the *LORD) in front of the *meeting tent.

v15 The leaders of the people must press their hands on the *bull’s head in front of the *LORD. Then they must kill the *bull in front of the *LORD.

v16 Then the chief priest must take some of the *bull’s blood into the *meeting tent.

v17 He must put his finger into the blood. He must splash it 7 times in front of the *LORD. (He must do this) in front of the curtain (between the holy place and the most holy place).

v18 He must put some of the blood on the *horns of the *altar. This is the *altar which is in front of the *LORD in the *meeting tent. He must pour away the rest of the (*bull’s) blood at the base of the (other) *altar. This is where they burn the *whole offering. It is at the entrance of the *meeting tent.

v19 He must remove all the *fat from (the *bull) and he must burn the *fat on the *altar.

v20 He must do with this *bull what he did with the *bull for the *sin offering. So the priest will make *atonement for (the people) and (the *LORD) will forgive them.

v21 Then (the priest) must take the *bull outside the camp. He must burn it as he burned the first *bull. This is the *sin offering for all the people.’

Notes

Verses 13-15 This seems to refer to the situation where everybody *sins in the same incident. They did not intend to *sin, but they did not obey God’s law. This was a very serious matter. Perhaps the chief priest had given wrong advice to the people. Then all the people *sinned. The leaders must press their hands on the head of the *bull. This transfers their *sin to the *bull. It reminds us that God transferred our *sin to Jesus on the *cross.

Verses 16-21 Again, it was necessary to use the *bull’s blood to make the *meeting tent ‘*clean’. Again, the priest had to burn the *fat, as he burned the *fat of a *peace offering. When the *meeting tent was *clean, God could again meet with his people. And they could have *fellowship with him.

Notice that nobody eats any part of this *offering. They burned parts of the *bull on the *altar. They burned the rest outside the camp.

v22 ‘A leader must not do anything that the commands of the *LORD his God forbid. When a leader *sins by accident, he is guilty.

v23 When he becomes aware of his *sin, he must bring a perfect male goat as his *offering.

v24 He must press his hand on the goat’s head and he must kill it. (He must do this) in the place where they kill the *whole offering in front of the *LORD. It is a *sin offering.

v25 Then the priest must put some of the blood of the *sin offering onto his finger. He must put it onto the *horns of the *altar where they burn the *whole offering. He must pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the *altar.

v26 He must burn all the *fat on the *altar, as he burned the *fat of the *peace offering. So the priest will make *atonement for the man’s *sin. (God will) forgive the man.’

Notes

Verses 22-26 ‘Becomes aware’ (verse 23) probably means that someone told the leader about his *sin. There are some differences from the *offerings in verses 1-21.

·  The *offering is a goat.

·  One of the priests offers the goat, not the chief priest.

·  The priest puts the blood on the *horns of the other *altar. This is not the one inside the *meeting tent, as in verses 1-21. It is the one that is outside it.

·  The priest does not burn the animal outside the camp. Bible students say that he probably ate its meat himself. It was part of his wages.

The priest burned the *fat as he burned the *fat of a *peace offering.

v27 If one of the people *sins by accident, he is guilty. He has done something that one of the *LORD’s commands forbids.

v28 When he becomes aware of his *sin, he must bring a perfect female goat. It is his *offering for his *sin.

v29 He must press his hand on the head of the *sin offering. Then he must kill it where (the priests) offer the *whole offering.

v30 Then the priest must put some of the blood onto his finger. He must put it on the *horns of the *altar where they offer the *whole offering. Then he must pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the *altar.

v31 He must remove all the *fat as they remove the *fat from the *peace offering. Then the priest must burn it on the *altar. Its smell will please the *LORD. So the priest will make *atonement for him and God will forgive him.

v32 If anyone brings a *lamb as his *sin offering, he must bring a perfect female *lamb.

v33 He must press his hand on its head. Then he must kill it as a *sin offering in the place where people kill the *whole offering.

v34 Then the priest must put some of the blood of the *sin offering on his finger. He must put it on the *horns of the *altar where they offer the *whole offering. Then he must pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the *altar.

v35 He must remove all the *fat as they remove the *fat from the *lamb for the *peace offering. Then the priest must burn it on the *altar. He must put it onto the other *offerings that he gives to the *LORD by fire. So the priest will make *atonement for the *sin that he has done. Then (God) will forgive him.’

Notes

Verses 27-35 The *Hebrew word for ‘one of’ (in verse 27) is ‘nephesh’. It means ‘*soul’. Our *soul is the part of us that lives when our body dies. This emphasises the importance of *sin. This passage uses the word in several places. We have usually translated it as ‘he’ (that is, the offerer).

These are the rules for the *sin offering when an ordinary member of the public *sins by accident. They are like the rules for the leader (verses 22-26). The main differences are:

·  A leader must offer a male animal. But a member of the public gives a female animal.

·  A leader must offer a goat. But a member of the public may offer a *lamb instead.

These differences are probably because a leader is responsible for other people. So his *sin affects other people too. (Compare James 3:1.)

Chapter 5 v1 ‘A person may *sin (like this). He may hear (a judge) warn the public (to speak the truth). That person may have seen (the incident), or he may have learned about it. Although he is a witness, he does not tell anyone. But he is responsible.

v2 Or a person may touch something that is *unclean. It may be the dead body of an *unclean wild animal or an *unclean tame (animal). It may be the dead body of an *unclean animal that slides on the ground. But he does not realise that he has done it. Yet he becomes *unclean and so he is guilty.

v3 Or he may touch something *unclean that is of human origin. It may be anything that makes people *unclean. He may not be aware of it. But when he realises it, he is guilty.

v4 Or a person may make a quick promise (in front of God) to do something either good or bad. It is the sort of quick promise that many people make. Then he forgets about it. But afterwards he becomes aware of it. And then he will be guilty. This is true for any of these promises.

v5 When a person is guilty of any of these *sins, he must confess his *sin.

v6 He must bring his *sin offering to the *LORD for the wrong thing that he has done. He must bring a female *lamb or a female goat for a *sin offering. Then the priest will make *atonement for him because of his *sin.

v7 If he cannot afford a *lamb, then he must bring to the *LORD two *doves or two young *pigeons. This is what he must offer (to the *LORD. He must offer these birds) for the *sin that he has done. One is for a *sin offering and the other one is for a *whole offering.

v8 He must bring them to the priest, who will offer the first one for the *sin offering. The priest will screw its head round, but he will not cut it off completely.

v9 Then he must splash some of the *sin offering’s blood against the sides of the *altar. He must pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the *altar. It is a *sin offering.

v10 The priest shall then offer the other (bird) as a *whole offering. The priest must follow the rules (for the *whole offering). So (the priest) will make *atonement for what (the *sinner) has done. Then (the *LORD) will forgive (the *sinner).

v11 However, if he cannot afford two *doves or two young *pigeons, he must bring *finest flour as a *sin offering. His *sin offering must be one tenth of an *ephah of flour. He must not put *oil or *incense on it, because it is a *sin offering.

v12 He must bring it to the priest. The priest must take out of it what he can hold in one hand. It is a reminder. The priest will burn it on the *altar. He will put it on top of other gifts that (people) give to the *LORD by fire. It is a *sin offering.

v13 So the priest will make *atonement for (the *sinner), for any of these *sins that he has done. And (the *LORD) will forgive him. The rest (of the flour) is for the priest, as it is for the *corn offering.’

Notes

Verse 1 Bible students are not sure what this verse means.

Here is one possibility. A judge has ordered all the witnesses to give evidence in a court of law. This person is a witness, but he did not speak in the court. He has said nothing, but he is still guilty of *sin. Probably, like the people in verses 2-4, he is unaware of his *sin. For example, he did not realise the importance of something that he saw. Or he misunderstood what the judge was ordering people to do.

That person is guilty because he did not speak the whole truth. But the *LORD will accept a *sin offering on his behalf.

Verse 2 The word ‘*unclean’ means something that separates you from God. Here, it is a *religious word. It does not mean that our bodies are dirty! ‘*Religious’ means ‘about religion’. Bible students are not sure why some of these animals make a person *unclean.

It was not normally a *sin if a person became *unclean. But it was a *sin for an *unclean person to join in with public *worship. This person joined in with public *worship although he was *unclean. He did not know that he was *unclean. But he was still guilty of *sin. However, the *LORD will accept a *sin offering on his behalf.

Verse 3 Again, this verse is a puzzle for Bible students. In other parts of the Bible, this fault does not make a person guilty. Or there are other rules that make the person *clean again. So maybe there is something more here than we can understand.

Probably, as in verse 2, the person joined in with public *worship while he was still *unclean. He did not intend to carry out this *sin. But he was not aware that he was *unclean until later. Again, the person is guilty. But the *LORD accepts a *sin offering on his behalf.

Verse 4 The quick promise means one that he does not think properly about. In English, we call this a ‘rash’ promise. This person promised to do something, then he forgot about it. He could not perform his promise, until he remembered it again. And when he remembered, it was too late. He has *sinned, but the *LORD accepts a *sin offering on his behalf.

Verse 5 The person must confess his *sin to God in public. By this means, the person gives honour to God. The person humbly agrees that God is right.

Verse 6 ‘Make *atonement’ means ‘make *clean again’. Therefore, the *sinner and God can come together again.

Verse 7 *Doves and *pigeons are similar birds. They are about 1 foot (0.3 metres) long and people often keep them as tame birds. People think that they are gentle birds. This is why the *dove is often a sign of the Holy Spirit of God. However, they are not a sign of the Holy Spirit in this verse. Instead, they *point to Jesus, who offered himself for us.

Verses 11-12 One tenth of an *ephah is about 8 cups full of flour. There must be no *oil or *incense because it is not a ‘good smell *offering’, see Leviticus 2:6. Read the note on Leviticus 2:2 to explain ‘reminder’.

Verse 13 What the priest does not burn he can keep for himself. It is his wage. Probably, part of the *lamb, goat and birds are as well, but Leviticus does not say so.

Something to do

1. In the Bible, the number 7 means ‘complete’. Here are some verses for you to read. In each passage, decide what is complete. Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 25:37; Leviticus 4:6, 8:11, 8:35, 12:2, and 16:14; Numbers 19:19; 2 Kings 5:10-14; Joshua chapter 6; Revelation 5:6 and 5:15.

2. Study Hebrews 13:11-13 carefully. Compare these verses with Leviticus 4:3-12.

Chapter 5:14 to 6:7

The *Guilt Offering

Chapter 5 verse 14 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v15 A person may *sin *accidentally (like this). He may do something wrong about any (one) of the *LORD’s holy things. He must bring to the *LORD a perfect *ram from the *flock to pay for his *sin. It must have the proper value in silver *shekels. (Check it) by (the standard of) the *shekel in the holy place. It is a *guilt offering.

v16 He must pay for what he has not done properly about the holy things. He must also give one fifth of the value (of the *ram) extra. He must give it all to the priest. (The priest) will make *atonement for him with the *ram as a *guilt offering. Then (God) will forgive him.

v17 A person may *sin, although he does not know it. He may have done something that any (one) of the *LORD’s commands forbids. He is guilty and therefore he is responsible (for his *sin).

v18 He must bring a perfect *ram from the *flock to the priest. It is (his) *guilt offering. It must have the proper value. So the priest will make *atonement for his *accidental *sin. Then (God) will forgive him.

v19 It is a *guilt offering. He is guilty because he has done wrong things against the *LORD.’

 

Chapter 6 verse 1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2-3 ‘A person may *sin against the *LORD. He may not be loyal to the *LORD (in any of these ways).

·  He may lie to his neighbour about something that (his neighbour) gave him to look after.

·  (He may lie to his neighbour) about something that he stole.

·  He may cheat (his neighbour).

·  He may find property that somebody lost. Then he lies about it.                                      (v3)

·  He may promise something (to somebody), but he does not intend to do it.

·  He may do any of the *sins that people often do.

v4 When he does these *sins, then he becomes guilty. He must return what he stole. (He must give back) what he took wrongly. (He must return) what (his neighbour) gave him to look after. (He must give back) the property that he found.

v5 If he made a false promise, (he must do the right thing). He must pay completely (to the owner everything that he took). And he must also add a fifth of its value and he must give it all to the owner. He must do it on the day that he gives his *guilt offering (to the priest).

v6 And as a punishment he must bring his *guilt offering to the priest and to the *LORD. It must be a perfect *ram from the *flock. It must have the proper value.

v7 And so the priest will make *atonement for him in front of the *LORD. Then (God) will forgive him for any of the things that he did. (These things) made him guilty.’

Notes

Chapter 5:15 The *Hebrew word for person here is ‘nephesh’. Read the note on Leviticus 4:2. The wrong things may have included:

·  Bad *offerings.

·  No *offerings.

Part of the *offerings made wages for the priests. So the ‘nephesh’ may have hurt the priests. So this is a *guilt offering. Read the first note in chapter 4 for an explanation. The *Hebrew word for ‘something wrong’ is ma-al. It means that the ‘nephesh’ (person) does not respect God. He is not behaving like a good *Jew. The *Hebrew word for value means ‘your value’. This probably means that the priest decided the value of the ma-al (the wrong deed). A *ram was a male sheep. A *Hebrew *shekel at this time weighed about 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams).

Note the importance of the proper value. The ma-al (the wrong deed) has a real cost. And its cost matters to God. That is why the priest must check the weight. He must test it against the weight of the *shekel in the holy place.

Bible students have given us some examples of the type of ma-al (wrong deed) that this passage refers to.

·  A person might not give something that he promised to give to God (Ecclesiastes 5:6).

·  A person might eat the *first fruits from his harvest, which belong to God (Exodus 34:26).

·  A person might cut the wool from a *first-born sheep (Deuteronomy 15:19).

Verse 16 Bible students do not agree what people did here. Some think that the *sinner gave a *ram and money. Other Bible students think that the *sinner gave the value of the *ram in money and another fifth. And yet other Bible students think that the priest bought the *ram for the *guilt offering with the money. We cannot be sure.

If the ma-al (wrong deed) had an actual value, then probably the *sinner gave a fifth of that value. If so, in those cases he did not give a fifth of the *ram’s value.

Verse 18 Again, as in verse 15, ‘value’ is ‘your value’. Again, the priest must decide. Notice that here there is no need to give one fifth of the value of the *ram extra. This is probably because there is a difference between the *LORD’s things and his commands. In verse 15, the person took something that belonged to the *LORD. In verse 18, he did not. Also, the person or the priest may not know that he has *sinned. In verse 15, the priest knows, even if the *sinner does not!

Chapter 6:2 All the *sins in verses 2-3 are against people. But they are also against the *LORD, because the people are the *LORD’s people. If we steal from other people, we are in fact stealing from the *LORD. This verse again uses the *Hebrew word ma-al, as in Leviticus 5:15.

Verses 5-6 He must do everything before he brings his *ram to the priest. (See also Matthew 5:23-24.) A *ram is a male sheep. The priest must decide how valuable it must be as in 5:15. So the *sinner must return what he took wrongly. Also, he must bring the *ram as a punishment.

Something to do

1. Study these verses about how a Christian should behave: Romans 12:17; Ephesians 4:25; Philippians 4:8; Titus 2:9-10. Then read 1 Corinthians 12:26.

2. If you have not obeyed the verses above, then confess your *sin to God. Tell him that you are sorry. Do what you can to make things right.

Chapter 6:8 to 7:21

Further Rules about the *Offerings

Chapter 6:8 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v9 ‘Give this command to Aaron and to his sons. Say (to them): These are the rules for the *whole offering. The *whole offering must remain on the *altar fire all night until morning. The fire must continue to burn on the *altar.

v10 The priest must then put on his *linen clothes. He must wear *linen *underclothes next to his body. He must take away the ashes of the *whole offering, which the fire has burned on the *altar. He must put them at the side of the *altar.

v11 Then he must take off these clothes and he must put on other (clothes). He must carry the ashes outside the camp, to a place that (his) religion considers to be *clean.

v12 The fire on the *altar must continue to burn. It must not go out. Every morning, the priest must add wood to the fire. He must arrange the *whole offering on the fire. He must burn the *fat from the *peace offerings on it.

v13 The fire must always burn on the *altar. It must not go out.

 

v14 These are the rules for the *corn offering. Aaron’s sons must bring it to the *LORD, in front of the *altar.

v15 The priest must take in his hand some of the *finest flour and *oil. He must also take all of the *incense that is on the *corn offering. He must burn them on the *altar as a reminder. They will make a smell that pleases the *LORD.

v16 Aaron and his sons must eat the rest of it. But they must eat it without *yeast in a place that is holy. They must eat it in the yard outside the *meeting tent.

v17 They must not bake it with *yeast. I have given it to them. It is their share of the *offerings that people burn to me on the fire (outside the *meeting tent). It is very, very holy, like the *sin and *guilt offerings.

v18 Any male *descendant of Aaron may eat it. When people make *offerings to the *LORD by fire, (Aaron’s *descendants will burn them). But this is the regular share of those *offerings that Aaron’s *descendants will receive in future centuries. Whoever touches it will become holy.’

 

v19 The *LORD also said (this) to Moses.

v20 ‘This is the *offering that Aaron and his sons must bring to the *LORD. They must do this on the day when people *anoint him. (They must bring) one tenth of an *ephah of *finest flour as a regular *corn offering. (They must bring) half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening.

v21 Prepare it with *oil on a flat pan. Mix it well. Then break the *corn offering into pieces and burn it for the *LORD. Its smell will please him.

v22 The son (of the chief priest) who will be the next chief priest must prepare it. It is the *LORD’s regular share. (The priest) must burn it completely.

v23 (They) must burn every priest’s *corn offering completely. Nobody must eat it.’

 

v24 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v25 ‘Tell Aaron and his sons that these are the rules for the *sin offering. They must kill the *sin offering in front of the *LORD. (They must do it) in the place where they kill the *whole offering. It is very, very holy.

v26 The priest who offers it must eat it. He must eat it in a holy place, in the yard by the *meeting tent.

v27 Whatever touches any part of the meat will become holy. And if anyone spills any of the blood onto their clothes, they must wash the clothes in a holy place.

v28 The priest must break the *clay pot that he cooked the meat in. But if he cooked it in a metal pot, he must clean it well. Afterwards, he must clean the pot again with water.

v29 Any male member of a priest’s family may eat it. It is very, very holy.

v30 But the priests must not eat any *sin offering if they have taken its blood into the *meeting tent. It makes *atonement (for the *sinner) in the holy place. They must burn that *sin offering.’

Notes

The rules in Leviticus 1:1 to 6:7 are for the *worshipper. Here are further rules for the priests. They were the men who worked near and in the *meeting tent. Later, they worked in the House of God in Jerusalem. This house had the same things in it as the *meeting tent.

Chapter 6:8-13 Further rules for the *whole offering

There are three important further rules.

·  The fire on the *altar must burn all night, verse 9. In fact, it must never go out, verse 13. This rule would continuously remind the *Israelites of the importance of the *sacrifices. They carried out these *sacrifices because of God’s great kindness. He would forgive people because of the *sacrifices. He would have *fellowship with them because of the *sacrifices.

·  The priest must wear *linen clothes to take the ashes from the *whole offering away from the *altar. This includes clothes next to his body, what we now call *underclothes. People make *linen clothes from a plant called flax. But the priest must put on other clothes to take the ashes outside the camp.

·  He must burn the *fat of the *peace offering on top of the *whole offering, verse 12. This would make the *whole offering easier to burn. The passage does not explain the reason for this rule. But it seems right that the *peace offering should be close to the *whole offering. People gave *whole offerings in order to offer the whole of themselves to God. And the *peace offering was evidence that God had accepted their *offering. Now they could have *fellowship with God.

This particular *whole offering was probably the one in Exodus 29:38-42. The priests offered it in the morning and at night for all the people. This was in addition to the *whole offerings that people gave (Leviticus chapter 1). They would probably give their own *whole offerings on special occasions, for example, birthdays. (Compare Job 1:4-5 which probably describes a much earlier period of time.)

Chapter 6:14-23 Further rules for the *corn offering

Verses 14-18 These are further rules for the *corn offering that we read about in chapter 2. The priests burn a small part of it on the *altar as a ‘reminder’. Read the note on Leviticus 2:2. The rest is food for the priests and their male *descendants.

*Jews discussed the last sentence of verse 18 for many years after – see Haggai 2:12.

Verses 19-23 This is about the priests’ *corn offering. We have not read about this *offering before. It is different from the usual *corn offering, because nobody eats this one. The priests must burn it all on the *altar.

The chief priest made this *offering on the first day of his service. That was the day when people *anointed him. It seems that the chief priest made a *corn offering each day afterwards. And it seems that each priest made a *corn offering on his first day of service, but not afterwards.

‘*Anoint’ means ‘pour *oil onto’. The *oil was not fuel oil. The *oil came from a fruit called the olive. The *Jews *anointed men when they became priests or kings. The *Hebrew word for *anoint gives us our word ‘messiah’. Some Bible Students think that they only *anointed the chief priest during Moses’ life. Later, they *anointed all priests. For ‘*ephah’ read the note on 5:11.

Chapter 6:24-30 Further rules for the *sin offering

‘Holy’ in these verses does not mean ‘very, very good’. It means that it now belongs to the *LORD. It is part of the place of their religion, the *meeting tent. The ‘holy place’ in this chapter means in the yard round the *meeting tent.

The passage distinguishes between two different types of *sin offering. The priests must not eat the *sin offerings that are for *atonement in the holy place, verse 30. We read about those *sin offerings in 4:1-21. But the priests do eat other *sin offerings, although they are very, very, holy. These probably included *sin offerings that the priests offered regularly on behalf of all the *Israelites. The priests ate these *offerings to show that God accepted the *offerings. And he was allowing the priests to have *fellowship with him.

Chapter 7:1 ‘ “These are the rules for the *guilt offering, which is very, very holy.

v2 (The priest) must kill the *guilt offering in the place where he kills the *whole offering. He must splash its blood against all the sides of the *altar.

v3 He must offer all its *fat (to the *LORD). (This includes) the *fat tail and the *fat that covers the parts inside (the animal).

v4 (He must offer) both the *kidneys with the *fat that is on them near the legs. (The priest) must also remove (the *fat) that covers the *liver with the *kidneys.

v5 Then the priest must burn them on the *altar. They are an *offering that he makes to the *LORD on the fire. It is a *guilt offering.

v6 Any male person in a priest’s family may eat it. But (because) it is very, very holy, he must eat it in a holy place.

 

v7 (The priests) must use the same rules for the *sin offering as they use for the *guilt offering. The parts (that they do not burn) belong to the priest. He (is the priest) that has made *atonement with them.

v8 The priest who offers a *whole offering for anyone may keep the (animal’s) leather for himself.

v9 Every *corn offering belongs to the priest who offered it. This includes (corn) that they baked in an oven. (And it includes corn that) they cooked on a flat pan.

v10 Every *corn offering belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron. It does not matter whether it has *oil in it or not.

 

v11 These are the rules for a *peace offering that a person may give to the *LORD.

v12 He may offer it to say ‘thank you’ (to the *LORD). If so, then with this ‘thank-you’ *offering he must also offer (these things).

·  Cakes of bread (that he) mixed with *oil but not with *yeast.

·  Thin biscuits (that he) made without *yeast. He must spread *oil on them.

·  Cakes of bread (that he) made with the *finest flour. He must mix the flour and *oil well.

v13 With his ‘thank-you’ *peace offering, he must give (another) *offering. It is cakes of bread that (he has) made with *yeast.

v14 He must bring one of each kind as an *offering. It is something that he gives to the *LORD. It will belong to the priest who splashed the blood of the *peace offerings.

v15 (The offerer) must eat the meat of his ‘thank-you’ *peace offering on the day that he offers it. He must leave none of it until the morning.

v16 But there is (an exception). His *offering may be the result of a special promise. Or it may be an *offering that he just wants to make. Then he must eat the *offering on the day that he offers it. But he may eat any of it that remains on the next day.

v17 He must burn any meat from the *offering that remains until the third day.

v18 If anyone eats meat from the *peace offering on the third day, (God) will not accept it. (God) will not consider that the offerer has given (a proper *offering. The *offering) is not *clean. (God will make) anyone who eats any of it responsible.

v19 Nobody may eat any meat that touches anything *unclean. They must burn it. However, anyone whom (his) religion (considers) *clean may eat other meat.

v20 But nobody who is *unclean may eat any meat from the *peace offering. (If he does, the *LORD) will *cut him off from his people. (The *peace offering) belongs to the *LORD.

v21 Someone may touch something that is *unclean. (It may be) of human origin. Or (it may be) an animal that is *unclean. (Or, it may be) *unclean because it is really nasty. If he then eats any of the meat from the *peace offering, (the *LORD) will *cut him off from his people. (The *peace offering) belongs to the *LORD.” ’

Chapter 7:1-6 Further rules for the *guilt offering

We have read about the *guilt offering in 5:14 to 6:7. This passage shows what the priests must do with the *ram. The priests must offer all the fat, including the inner parts, to the *LORD. There is a similar rule for the *peace offering in 3:14-15 and for the *sin offerings in chapter 4.

Further rules include what to do with the meat after they have burned the *fat, *liver and *kidneys. The men in the priests’ families can eat the meat. The *liver and *kidneys are important parts inside an animal.

Chapter 7:7-10 Parts of the *offerings that belong to the priests

God allows the priests to receive something from each type of *offering. They even receive something from the *whole offering: the animal’s leather. So God provides for his priests: the *offerings become their meat, their bread, and even their clothes.

The offerer knew that the priests accepted the *offering on God’s behalf. This was clear because the priests took the proper parts for themselves. And the priests knew that God approved of them. This was clear because he was sharing his gifts with them.

Chapter 7:11-21 Further rules for the *peace offering

The *peace offering is an animal: cow, *bull, *ram, sheep or goat, Leviticus chapter 3. But the *peace offering may be to say ‘thank you’ to the *LORD for something. Then the offerer must also give an *offering of cakes, bread and biscuits.

The offerer receives back the meat from his *peace offering. He can eat it with his friends and family. But they must eat all the meat on that day. They cannot keep any of it.

However, sometimes there is an exception (verse 16). Then the offerer could eat some of the meat on the next day. But he must burn any that remains on the third day. This may be for their health. But clearly there is a more serious meaning too. If they do eat it on the third day, God will not accept any of the *offering. God only accepted fresh meat; and so we must offer our thanks to him for his daily kindness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

The word ‘*unclean’ in verses 19-21 means this. The *unclean person cannot come near to the *meeting tent. ‘Cut off’ means that the *LORD would punish that person. It may mean that the person would die. Or it may mean that the person must not still live among the *Israelites. The really nasty animal in verse 21 may be something that slides along the ground, like a snake. Bible students are not sure what it was.

Chapter 7:22-38

Rules about Blood, and Rules for the Priests

v22 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v23 ‘Say this to the *Israelites. “Do not eat any *fat from cows, *bulls, sheep or goats.

v24 (You may find a tame) animal that a wild animal has hurt. (Or you may find) an animal that is already dead. You may use its *fat for any other purpose, but you must not eat it.

v25 Someone may eat the *fat from a type of animal that you may offer on the *altar to the *LORD. (The *LORD) will *cut off that person from his people.

v26 And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal.

v27 If anyone eats blood, (the *LORD) will *cut off that person from his people” ’.

 

v28 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v29 ‘Say this to the *Israelites. “Anyone who brings a *peace offering to the *LORD must bring part of it. That part is a special gift to the *LORD.

v30 With his own hands, he must bring the *offering that he will make to the *LORD on the fire. He must bring the *fat and the breast. He must wave the breast in front of the *LORD as a *wave offering.

v31 The priest must burn the *fat on the *altar, but the breast belongs to Aaron and his sons.

v32 You must give the right leg of your *peace offerings to the priest. It is your gift to him.

v33 A son of Aaron will offer the blood and the *fat of the *peace offering. He must have the right leg as his share.

v34 I have taken these parts of the *Israelites’ *peace offerings. And I have given these parts to Aaron the priest and to his sons.

·  The breast that (the offerer) waves.

·  The leg that (the offerer) gives.

These parts will be their regular share from the *Israelites.” ’

v35 This is the share that was for Aaron and his sons. (It was their share) of the *offerings (that people made) to the *LORD on the fire. (The fire was on the *altar.) This happened on the day that (Aaron and his sons) came to the *LORD to serve him as priests.

v36 The *LORD ordered the *Israelites to give them this as their regular share. He did this on the day when they became priests. (The *Israelites had to do this) for all their *descendants (in future centuries).

v37 These are the rules for the *whole offering, *corn offering, *sin offering, *guilt offering, *ordination offering and *peace offering.

v38 The *LORD gave these rules to Moses on the mountain called Sinai. He did it on the day when he ordered the *Israelites to bring their *offerings to the *LORD. That was in the desert near Sinai.

Notes

Verse 23 The *Hebrew words for *Israelites means ‘sons of *Israel’. They were the *descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A *descendant is someone in your family that lives after you do.

Verse 24 Bible students have given us some examples of the uses for this *fat. They include its use in medicines, bandages, candles, and as oil. People could also use it to start fires.

Verse 25 The *Hebrew words for ‘on the *altar’ really mean ‘on the fire’. This fire was on the *altar. Notice this. This rule was only about the types of animals that the *Jews could offer as *sacrifices (*cattle, sheep and goats). That *fat belongs to God. But the *Jews could eat the *fat from other clean animals.

Verses 26-27 The passage emphasises blood. Blood is important. Life is in blood, Leviticus 17:11, and life belongs to God.

Verse 30 The breast is of course a piece of meat from the front of the animal’s body, near the animal’s heart. This part of the animal belonged to the priest. A recent *Jewish Rabbi has described the *wave offering. One waves the meat up and down, and left and right. For a *Jew, this reminds him that everything in heaven and earth belongs to God. He waves the meat to give it to God. But God gives that meat to the priest.

So the piece of meat that was closest to the heart belonged to the priest. *Jews considered that the heart was very special and important. People believed that you thought with your heart. And they believed that you felt love in your heart. So the gift of the meat that was closest to the heart was an expression of love.

In time, there were wicked priests. It is interesting that they refused to obey this particular rule (1 Samuel 2:12-14). They felt no love for the people whom they served.

Verse 32 They thought that the right leg was one of the best bits of meat on an animal. 1 Samuel 9:24 says that Samuel gave it to Saul. It was special!

Verses 35-36 These verses tell us that the priests would always have a share of the food. This meant that they could always be busy in the *meeting tent, or, later, in God’s house in Jerusalem.

Verses 37-38 *Ordination is what happened to a man in order to appoint him a priest. There is more about this in Leviticus chapter 8.

R.K. Harrison, in the IVP *Commentary on Leviticus, points out an interesting fact. There are very few problems with the *Hebrew words of Leviticus chapters 1 to 7. This probably means that these chapters were very important to the *Jews. So the *Jews copied them most carefully.

Something to do

1. Below is a table. This sort of table is a series of boxes. It makes it easy to see and to understand information. Read through Leviticus chapters 1 to 7 to find the information to fill in the boxes.

 

*Offering

What the offerer must bring

What the offerer and priest do

Does its smell please the *LORD?

Who, if anyone, eats the *offering?

What does this *offering mean to Christians?

 

*Whole offering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Corn offering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Peace offering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Sin offering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Guilt offering

 

 

 

 

 

 

The answer to the question on the right is either ‘*fellowship’ or ‘forgiveness’. ‘Forgiveness’ means that God has forgiven us. You may have to draw your own table if this one is not big enough!

2. Consider the ‘fire that never goes out’. For the *Jews, it meant that God’s house was in the middle of their camp. He was living among them. And he permitted them to offer *sacrifices so that they could have *fellowship with him. For Christians, it means that Jesus is continuously praying for them, Hebrews 7:24-25. It probably has many more meanings. Can you think of any?

3. It is the Holy Spirit that makes a Christian holy. It does not happen when he touches holy things. Read Ephesians 4:15, 2 Peter 3:18.

4. Read Acts 6:2, 1 Corinthians 9:13, 1 Corinthians 10:18 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18. Compare them with Leviticus 7:1-10.

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 ½ 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 ½ 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!

More rules about religion

Chapter 17

The importance of the blood

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the *Israelites. Say (this) to them. “This is what the *LORD has ordered you to do.

v3-4 An *Israelite might *sacrifice an animal that he does not bring to the entrance of the *meeting tent. That animal might be a cow, a *lamb or a goat. He might kill it in the camp or outside it. But the man does not give it as an *offering to the *LORD in front of the house of the *LORD. That man shall be guilty, because he spilled (an animal’s) blood. He has spilled blood and (the *LORD) will cut him off from his people.

v5 *Israelites are now making *sacrifices in the open fields (outside the camp.) But they must (in the future) bring them to the priest and to the *LORD at the entrance of the *meeting tent. They must *sacrifice them to the *LORD as *peace offerings.

v6 The priest must splash the blood onto the *LORD’s *altar, (which is) at the entrance of the *meeting tent. He must burn the *fat so that the smell pleases the *LORD.

v7 They must not again offer their *sacrifices to the images of goats that they *worship. They are not loyal (to me when they do these things.) This is a permanent rule for them which will continue in future centuries.”

v8-9 Say (this) to them. “An *Israelite, or a foreigner who lives with them must bring his *sacrifices to the entrance of the *meeting tent. He must offer them to the *LORD there. Otherwise, (the *LORD) will *cut off that man from his people.

v10 (I will oppose any) *Israelite who eats any sort of blood. And any foreigner who lives with the *Israelites (must not do that). I, (the *LORD), will be against that person who eats blood. I will *cut him off from his people.

v11 (This is) because the life of an animal is in its blood. I have given (the blood) to you to make *atonement for yourselves on the *altar. It is the blood that makes *atonement for (your) lives.

v12 So I say to the *Israelites that none of you may eat blood. Also, a foreigner who lives with you may not eat blood.

v13 Any *Israelite, or any foreigner who lives with you, may hunt an animal or a bird. (They may hunt the kinds of animals and birds) that (I) allow them to eat. But before they eat (that animal or bird, they must drain out the blood. They must cover (the blood) with earth.

v14 (This is) because the life of any animal is in its blood. So I have said to the *Israelites that they must not eat the blood of any animal. The life of any animal is in its blood. (I will) *cut off anyone who eats (the blood).

v15 Anyone, whether an (*Israelite) or a foreigner, may perhaps find a dead animal. Another animal may have killed it. If he eats it, (he must do these things). He must wash his clothes and he must bathe in water. He will be *unclean until the evening, and then he will be *clean.

v16 But he may, perhaps, not wash his clothes and bathe himself. Then he will be responsible (because he did not do these things).” ’

Notes

This chapter contains instructions that follow from chapters 1 to 7 and chapter 16. In particular, it tells us about the part that ordinary people have in the *sacrifices. The chapter also tells us that the *Israelites could not eat blood because of their religion.

Verses 1-2 These verses remind us that these are God’s rules. Moses did not make them up. The rest of the chapter gives three important rules that the *Israelites had to obey:

(1) When the *Israelites killed animals for meat, they had to offer them to God as *peace offerings (verses 3-9).

(2) The *Israelites could not eat the blood of animals (verses 10-12).

(3) The *Israelites might hunt animals. Or they might find animals that were already dead. There were special rules about the meat of those animals (verses 13-16)

Verses 3-9 When people killed animals, they had to offer them to the *LORD. So whenever the people killed *bulls, cows, sheep or goats, they had to take them to the *meeting tent. There, they *sacrificed those animals as *peace offerings (see chapter 3).

When the people offered the animal to the *LORD, then he would receive his part, Leviticus 3:1-17. The priest would also receive his part, Leviticus 7:11-18. The man who killed the animal could then eat the rest of it with his family and friends. But if someone did not obey this rule, that person was ‘blood guilty’. That was similar in those days to murder. The *LORD would *cut off that person. ‘*Cut off’ means that the *LORD would punish that person. And the *LORD would separate that person from his family or nation, perhaps by death.

This rule only lasted while the *Israelites were in the desert. When they entered Canaan, they did not still go to the *meeting tent to kill all their animals (Deuteronomy 12:21). Instead, they only offered special *sacrifices there.

So God taught the *Israelites that he provided even their daily meals. He gave them life. And as they offered their meat to him, he shared it with them. As they ate it, they had *fellowship with him. The *Jews still remember this lesson. They pray at each meal. They thank God for the food that he has provided for them.

Note verse 7. This rule means that people must not offer *sacrifices to bad spirits, such as images of goats. They thought that these false gods lived outside their camps. Exodus 32:1-6 reminds us that people easily persuaded the *Israelites to have false gods. Perhaps the *Israelites were giving *sacrifices to the bad spirits because they were afraid of the bad spirits. Perhaps they thought that they could protect themselves by their *sacrifices. But God teaches that we must not do this. We must not give to devils or to bad spirits the honour that God alone deserves.

Verses 10-12 These verses tell us that God did not want the *Israelites to eat blood. The blood is precious to God, because it represents (stands for) the life of the animal. And the blood of a *sacrifice represents the life of the person who offered it. All life belongs to God, because he made it.

*Jews still obey this rule. Meat with no blood in it is called ‘kosher meat’.

For Christians, the blood of Jesus, who is their *sacrifice, is very important. His blood, that is, his death, gives them life. And they must receive it into their own lives (John 6:53).

The first Christians did not believe that it was right to eat blood. They also made some other rules about food – see Acts 15:29. Paul discussed some similar matters in 1 Corinthians 10:18-33. He said that it was a matter of conscience. A Christian should not eat any food if he considers it wrong to eat that food. But also, a Christian must not do anything that offends another Christian’s conscience. Christians must always be careful not to cause problems for other people. They must care about people whose belief and trust in God may be weaker than theirs.

Verses 13-16 The *Israelites could not offer animals that they hunted as *sacrifices. They could eat them, but only after they had drained away the blood.

An animal may have died, or another animal may have killed it. If an *Israelite ate such an animal, he would be *unclean. He could not join in public *worship that day. And he had to bathe and to wash his clothes first.

These rules again emphasise the importance of the blood.

Something to do

1. Read Isaiah 13:21 and Isaiah 34:14. These verses remind us that ‘images of goats’ were ‘outside the camp’. They were false gods.

2. Study these verses, which tell us about the blood of Jesus. Here are some of the things that it gives to Christians.

·  Romans 5:9, Ephesians 1:7. His blood means that God can forgive us.

·  Hebrews 10:22. His blood allows us to come into the place where God is.

·  Revelation 12:11. His blood helps us to defeat evil things.

·  Revelation 7:15. His blood means that we can always live with God.

Chapter 18

Rules about sex in the family and in the nation

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “I am the *LORD, (who is) your God.

v3 You must not do what the people in Egypt did. You lived there in the past. You must not do what the people in *Canaan do. I will take you into (*Canaan). Do not do what they do.

v4 You must obey my rules. You must be careful to do what I tell you to do. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

v5 Obey my rules and my commands. The man who obeys them will live by them. I am the *LORD.

v6 Nobody must come to a close relative to have sex with them. I am the *LORD.

v7 Do not have sex with your mother. She is your mother, (so) do not have sex with her. It would cause shame to your father.

v8 Do not have sex with your father’s wife. It would cause shame to your father.

v9 Do not have sex with your sister or with your father’s daughter. (Do not have sex) with your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same house (as you) or elsewhere.

v10 Do not have sex with your son’s daughter or with your daughter’s daughter. This should cause shame to you.

v11 Do not have sex with the daughter of your father’s wife. She is your sister (because) she was born to your father.

v12 Do not have sex with your father’s sister. She is a close relative to your father.

v13 Do not have sex with your mother’s sister. She is a close relative to your mother.

v14 Do not come to your father’s brother’s wife, to have sex with her. She is your aunt. This would cause shame (to your father’s brother).

v15 Do not have sex with your *daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife. Do not have sex with her.

v16 Do not have sex with your brother’s wife. That would cause shame to your brother.

v17 Do not have sex both with a woman and with her daughter. Do not marry or have sex (both with a woman and) with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter. They are close relatives. It is evil to do (these things).

v18 Do not marry your wife’s sister to compete with your wife. Do not have sex with (your wife’s sister) while your wife is still alive.

v19 Do not come near to a woman to have sex with her during her monthly *period. She is *unclean (at this time).

v20 Do not have sex with your neighbour’s wife. This would make you really *unclean with her.

v21 Do not give any of your children to be *sacrifices to (the false god) *Molech. (This is) because you must not make your God’s name bad. I am the *LORD.

v22 Do not have sex with a man as you would with a woman. This is really nasty.

v23 Do not have sex with an animal. This would make you really *unclean. A woman must not give herself to an animal to have sex with it. That is really nasty.

v24 Do not make yourselves really *unclean in any of these ways. The nations that I am going to send away in front of you became really *unclean in these ways.

v25 Even the land (itself) became really *unclean. So I punished the land for its *sin. And the land (became like someone who is sick). It threw out from its stomach the people who lived there!

v26 But you must do what I have told you to do. You must obey my rules. The people who are *Israelites must not do any of these nasty things. Neither must the foreigners who live among you.

v27 The people, who lived in the land (the country called *Canaan) before you, did all these (nasty) things. So the land (itself) became really *unclean.

v28 And if you make the land really *unclean, the land will (again become like a sick person). It will throw you out from its stomach. It did this to the nations (who lived there) before you.

v29 (I will) *cut off everyone who does any of these nasty things from their people.

v30 Do what I ask you to do. Do not do any of the nasty things that they did before you. Do not make yourselves really *unclean by these things. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’

Notes

Verses 1-2 These laws are important, because the *LORD gave them. Moses did not make them up.

God says, ‘I am the *LORD your God.’ He is the *Israelites’ God. They have a relationship with him. So that is a special reason why they must obey his rules.

Verse 3 This verse seems to show that people in Egypt did have sex with their close relatives. People in *Canaan did this too. And God was angry with them because of this. We can see the results in verses 24-30. Clearly, God is saying that these rules are for people from every nation, not just the *Israelites. People’s conscience should tell them that such behaviour is wrong – see Romans 1:18-27.

Verse 5 God gave these rules for a good reason. A wrong desire for sex can ruin people’s lives. So God showed people that wrong desires did not have to control their lives. Instead, they should obey God’s law. And then God’s law, which is good and perfect, will rule their lives. They will live by God’s law.

Verse 6 In this verse, to have sex with’ is ‘to uncover the nakedness of’ in the *Hebrew language. ‘Nakedness’ really means ‘the sex parts’ of a man or a woman in the *Hebrew language. It is a polite way to refer to sex!

These words also appear in several other verses in this chapter.

Verses 7-16 These verses include a list of people in a man’s family. The man must not have sex with any of them. We call this *sin ‘incest’. There are several reasons why God gave this law:

(1) A child born as a result of incest may not be perfect. So these laws are partly for reasons of health.

(2) The father’s shame in verses 7 and 8 tells us that the marriage relationship is very important. This is another reason to avoid incest.

(3) God wanted his people to understand who their close relatives were. They had a duty to respect and to look after their close relatives. This list showed that they were not just responsible for their parents or their children. There were many other people to whom they owed duties as close relatives. God gave these rules so that people would have a good life – see verse 5.

(4) People should not do whatever wrong things they desire to do. They should not do things just because they feel strong emotions. They must learn to do the things that God wants them to do. People do feel very powerful emotions about sex. And those emotions often cause people to do wrong things. God has given rules so that people can learn to obey him.

Here is the list:

·  Mother, verse 7.

·  Father’s wife (not the man’s mother), verse 8

·  Sister, verse 9

·  Granddaughter, verse 10.

·  Stepsister, verse 11. A stepsister is the daughter of your father but not of your mother.

·  Aunt on your father’s side, verse 12. ‘Father’s side’ means ‘his part of the family’.

·  Aunt on your mother’s side, verse 13. That is, the ‘mother’s part of the family’.

·  Aunt who is the wife of your father’s brother, verse 14

·  Daughter-in-law (your son’s wife), verse 15.

·  Sister-in-law (your brother’s wife), verse 16.

This list shows the relatives that a man must not have sex with. But also, a woman must not have sex with similar male relatives.

Verses 17-18 These verses are more about marriage than incest. It is wrong to marry more than one person in the same family, verse 17. Or (it is wrong to marry) your wife’s sister while your wife is still alive. The two women would compete for their husband’s love, as Rachel and Leah did (Genesis 30:1).

However, these laws did permit a man to have more than one wife. The *Old Testament describes the problems that such marriages cause (for example, 1 Samuel 1:6-7). But we must look in the *New Testament to see that God prefers a man to have just one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). In the *Old Testament, God allowed some things because people were not willing to obey him (Mark 10:5).

Verse 19 The monthly *period is when women lose blood. Remember, *unclean in Leviticus means this. You cannot go to the house of God. Read Leviticus 15:24.

Verse 20 Exodus 20:14 tells us that this is wrong. It is one of the Ten Commands that God gave to his people. We call this *sin ‘adultery’. Read Leviticus 20:10.

Here, ‘neighbour’ does not only mean a person who lives near you. It can even mean someone from another country. See Luke 10:29-37. So people even have some responsibilities towards people whom they do not know.

Verse 21 Many nations burnt their children for their gods. They thought that their gods wanted them to do this.

Verse 22 We call this *sin ‘homosexuality’. Many ancient religions used homosexuality as part of what they did. Romans 1:27 shows us that God does not allow women to do such things with other women.

Verse 23 We call this *sin ‘buggery’. Again, many ancient religions used buggery. God did not allow his people to do it, Exodus 22:19 and Leviticus 20:15-16.

Verses 24-30 The people in *Canaan allowed their feelings about sex to rule their lives. They were carrying on the *sins that this chapter describes. God was patient with them for a very long time (Genesis 15:16). He gave them an opportunity to change their behaviour. But they did not change. In the end, God has to punish *sin.

God uses an unusual word picture here. He compares the land in *Canaan to a sick person. That person may feel ill for some time. But suddenly, the sick person vomits (in other words, his stomach forces out its contents). So the person’s body tries to remove whatever is causing the illness.

When God sent the *Israelites into *Canaan, he would use them to punish the inhabitants of *Canaan. So the people in *Canaan would suddenly have to leave *Canaan, or they would die. It was as if the land was trying to remove the cause of its problems.

But afterwards, the *Israelites had to be careful. They must not imitate the wrong behaviour of the inhabitants of *Canaan. If they did, the same thing would happen to them.

Something to do

1. When people do not obey God’s rules about sex, they can help bad illnesses to spread, for example AIDS. Pray for people who have this illness. God cares very much about them!

2. Prepare a list of the people who are alive in your own family. Use that list so that you can pray for them. And ask God to show you whether you can do anything to help those people.

Chapter 19

God’s *commandments

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Say this to all the *Israelites. Tell them (this). “Be holy, because I am holy. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

v3 Every one of you must respect his mother and his father. You must do the right things on my *Sabbath Days. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

v4 Do not turn (from me) to images (of false gods). Do not make gods out of metal for yourselves. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

 

v5 Sometimes you will *sacrifice a *peace offering to the *LORD. You must do it in the right way, so that (the *LORD) will accept it on behalf of you.

v6 You must eat it on the day that you *sacrifice it, or on the next day. You must burn anything that remains on the third day.

v7 Some may remain on the third day. Do not eat it, because it is not *clean. (God) will not accept it.

v8 Whoever eats it will be responsible. (This is) because he has made something holy to the *LORD as not holy. (I will) *cut off that person from his people.

 

v9 When you gather the harvest from your fields, do not gather from the edges of your fields. Do not gather the *gleanings of your harvest.

v10 Do not gather *grapes from your *vineyard a second time. Do not pick up the *grapes that fell (to the ground). Leave them for poor people (to gather) and for foreigners (to gather). I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

 

v11 Do not steal (things). Do not lie (to people). Do not make people believe what is not true.

v12 Do not promise to do something falsely in my name. This will make the name of your God *unclean (to people). I am the *LORD.

v13 Do not cheat your neighbour. Do not steal from him. Do not keep the wages of a man until the next day.

v14 Do not say bad things against deaf people. Do not put things in front of blind people so that they fall over. Be afraid of your God. I am the *LORD.

v15 Do not allow your judges to make unfair judgements. Do not give an (unfair) advantage to poor people. Do not allow a great person to impress you. Be fair when you act as a judge of (other) people.

v16 Do not tell people bad things about (other) people. Do not do anything that is dangerous to your neighbour’s life. I am the *LORD.

v17 Do not hate your brother in your heart (mind). If your neighbour has done bad things, then tell him. Then you will not be guilty with him.

v18 Do not think bad things about one of your people. Do not try to hurt them (because they have hurt you). Love your neighbour as (you love) yourself. I am the *LORD.

v19 Obey my laws. Do not cause different kinds of animals to have sex with each other. Do not put two different kinds of seeds in your field. Do not wear clothes that people make from two kinds of material.

 

v20 Perhaps a man will have sex with a girl who is a slave. She may be engaged to marry another man, but she is not yet a free (woman). Nobody has paid any money for her. So there must be a proper punishment. But neither the man nor the woman should die, because she is not a free woman.

v21 The man, however, must bring a male sheep to the entrance of the *meeting tent. It will be a *guilt offering to the *LORD.

v22 The priest must offer the male sheep as a *guilt offering. He will make *atonement for the man in front of the *LORD. This is because he has *sinned. Then, (the *LORD) will forgive his *sin.

 

v23 After you enter the land (the country called *Canaan), you may plant any kind of tree for food. But (I) will not allow you to eat its fruit. You must not eat the fruit from it for 3 years.

v24 In the 4th year, all its fruit will be holy. You must offer it to praise the *LORD.

v25 But in the 5th year, you may eat its fruit. If you do this, you will get a better harvest. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

 

v26 Do not eat any meat that still has the blood in it. Do not use signs to try to work out what will happen in the future. Do not do any magic.

v27 Do not cut your hair at the sides of your head. Do not cut off the edges of your beard.

v28 Do not cut your bodies (because you are so sad) about someone’s death. Do not *tattoo your bodies. I am the *LORD.

v29 Do not cause your daughter to have sex with men (except her husband). Such behaviour will make her really *unclean and it will ruin your country. This wicked behaviour will spread through your country and girls will be having wrong sex with men everywhere.

v30 Obey my rules about the *Sabbath Days. Respect my house. I am the *LORD.

v31 Do not ask for help from people who do magic of any kind. They will make you really *unclean. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

v32 Stand up when old people are present. Respect old people. Also, respect your God. I am the *LORD.

v33 Do not be cruel to the foreigner who lives in your country.

v34 You must behave towards him as towards one of your own people. Love him as (you love) yourself. Remember, you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.

 

v35 Do not use standards that are not honest, either for length, weight, or quantity.

v36 Be honest when you weigh things. Be honest when you measure things. Be accurate about measurements of both dry substances and liquids. I am the *LORD (who is) your God. I brought you out of the country called Egypt.

v37 Obey all my rules and follow all my laws. I am the *LORD.” ’

Notes

Verse 2 ‘Be holy, because I am holy’. This is the most important thing that the Book of Leviticus teaches. Jesus also teaches this in Matthew 5:48. God’s people cannot do whatever things they themselves want to do. They must do the things that God wants them to do. They must be separate because they are God’s people. They belong to him. So they cannot behave as other people behave.

Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God. But Leviticus does not tell us to love God. That is because Leviticus tells us to obey God. Jesus said this: ‘If you love me, you will obey me’, John 14:15. So they are both the same thing. We show our love for God when we obey his laws.

Verse 3 Some *Jewish experts think that the Ten *Commandments are in this chapter. ‘*Commandment’ is a special word for God’s ‘laws’. The Ten *Commandments are in Exodus 20:1-17. In Leviticus chapter 19 they appear in these verses:

·  *Commandments 1 and 2 are in verse 4.

·  *Commandment 3 is in verse 12.

·  *Commandments 4 and 5 are in verse 3.

·  *Commandment 6 is in verse 16.

·  *Commandment 7 is in verse 29.

·  *Commandments 8 and 9 are in verses 11 to 16.

·  *Commandment 10 is in verse 18.

Verse 3 contains a brief explanation of the *Commandments. It says that we have a relationship both with other people, and with God. So we cannot do whatever things we desire. Our duties, both to God and to other people, are more important than our own desires. We should respect our parents’ authority; by that means, we will learn to respect God’s authority too.

On the *Sabbath, everyone must rest. That includes employees, servants and slaves. Even the animals on the farms would rest then (Deuteronomy 5:14). It is a holy day each week, for the *Lord. The *Gospels change the *Sabbath Day (Saturday) to Sunday for Christians, Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1 and Revelation 1:10.

Verse 4 The *Hebrew word for ‘images of false gods’ is similar to the *Hebrew word for God. But it does not mean the same. It means ‘something that is empty’, as in Isaiah 44:10.

Verses 5-8 The rules for the *peace offering are in Leviticus chapter 3 and 7:15-18. People brought this type of *offering when they wanted to have *fellowship with God and with other people. They did not have to make these *sacrifices. But if they did, they had to obey the rules. And the rules said that they had to eat the meat immediately. Otherwise, they had to share it with other people. They could not dry it or use salt to store it for a future occasion. They had to eat it that day, or the next day. God would ‘*cut off’ the person who did not obey these rules. This probably means that that person will die.

Verses 9-10 God wants his people to care about poor people. He told them that they must leave part of the harvest for poor people to gather. This part is called the ‘*gleanings’. You can read more about this in Ruth chapter 2. Poor people still had to work to gather this food.

Christians must also care about poor people, Galatians 2:10. And God still wants people who can work for their food to do that, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12.

Verse 11 God’s people should not steal. They should not try to get things by any unfair method. They should not say things that are false. They should not cheat people.

Verse 12 ‘In my name’ means that God would agree. So the person is asking God to agree with something false. People would think that God is a bad god. And that is what is means to make God’s name *unclean.

Verse 13 There is a similar law in Deuteronomy 24:14. There the neighbour becomes a servant. As in Matthew 20:8, employers had to pay wages the same day. Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 4:1 tell us that Christians too must act fairly towards servants.

Verse 14 We must not try to get an advantage because of someone else’s weakness. We must not be cruel to someone who cannot defend himself. Instead, God wants us to help people who have problems. We must support them because God cares about those people too, James 1:27.

Verse 15 God is a fair judge. Even the greatest person cannot persuade him to do something that is not proper. When God’s people act as judges, they make their judgements on his behalf. So they must be fair to everyone, whether that person is rich or poor.

Verse 16 God’s people have a duty to protect other people. They must protect those people from dangers. And also, God’s people should not gossip. They should be careful not to hurt people, either by their actions or by their words.

Verses 17-18 Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19 tell us that God will punish people. We must not do it.

Leviticus 19:18 contains the rule that Jesus considered the second most important of all God’s laws. See the verses in Something to do number 3, at the end of this chapter.

Verse 19 God wanted his people to be different from the people in other nations. And he wanted his people to be separate from them. So he told the *Israelites not to marry people from other nations (Deuteronomy 7:3).

God emphasised these instructions by the rules in this verse. He did not want the *Israelites to mix different kinds of animals, plants or even materials together. People in other nations did these things. For example, they mated horses and *donkeys to produce a strong animal called the mule. But God’s people, the *Israelites, would live in a different manner from other people. They should live by God’s law.

Verses 20-22 The slave girl was engaged to marry another man. Usually, if a man had sex with an engaged woman, they were guilty of *adultery (Deuteronomy 22:23-27). The punishments were the same as if she were already married to another man. But there is a different rule here, because the woman was a slave. She was not yet free to marry the man to whom she was engaged.

There would still be a punishment. Someone would whip a person who was guilty of this *sin. But they would not die, because God accepts the man’s *guilt offering in such circumstances. The section called ‘the 5 *sacrifices’ near the beginning of this commentary explains ‘*guilt offering’.

Verses 23-25 God’s people must learn to control their own desires. A greedy person would want to eat the first fruits that his tree produces. But a person does not do that if he obeys God. Instead, that person waits until the right time. God does not want him to eat the fruit for the first three years. And he must give the fruit in the 4th year to God. It is holy.

Until recently, it was good advice not to eat the first three years’ fruit. Fruit trees are weaker if people allow the fruits to become ripe during the first few years. Now, with special roots, things are different. But perhaps we should still offer the *first fruits to the *LORD! That is the lesson to learn here. God deserves the first and most important place in our lives. And we should give to him the best things that we have.

Verse 26 The animal’s blood was important. It represented (stood for) the animal’s life. People had to drain it away. It was an *atonement for the animal’s life. See my notes on chapter 17.

The things that were magic included these:

·  Divination. This means that you use something to tell people about the future. For example, people might watch a snake’s movements. They thought that this was a sign. It would show them what would happen in the future.

·  Witchcraft. Here, it means this. You tell people what would be the best time to do something. People might watch the sky to try to work this out.

These things are wicked because people use spirits to try to do them. So they pray to spirits instead of the real God. God does not even allow us to *worship or to pray to the holy angels (his special servants in heaven), Revelation 22:8-9. We certainly must never ask evil spirits for help!

Verses 27-28 People did these things when people died. Many ancient religions used these things as part of what they did. People would cut themselves to show how sad they were after a death. A *tattoo is a picture on the body that people cut into the skin. They are difficult to remove.

Verse 29 Parents have a duty to control their daughters’ behaviour. They must teach their children that sex is only for a husband and wife. Young men need to know this too!

Verse 30 The *Sabbath Day was the 7th day of the week. It is our Saturday. The house of the *LORD was originally the *meeting tent. Later, it was the *temple in Jerusalem. Solomon built that *temple about 500 years after Moses’ life.

Verse 31 People who do ‘magic of any kind’ here contact the spirits of dead people. Saul did this in 1 Samuel 28:8-25, but God did not want his people to do this. In fact, that was one reason for Saul’s death (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Any special knowledge that these people may have comes from the devil. God’s people must pray to God alone. It is God whom they must ask for help.

Verse 32 An old person deserves special honour. People should respect that person’s age. We also respect old people because they may have learned much during their long lives. If we listen to them, perhaps we too will become wiser.

Many old people are weak and ill. But we should still respect them. We should respect them because God tells us to do it.

Verses 33-34 Sometimes foreigners would come to live in Israel. Perhaps they wanted to learn about God. Or perhaps they just wanted to live and to work there.

God’s people must not be cruel to those foreigners. The judges must deal fairly with foreigners, as well as *Israelites. And the *Israelites must show love to foreigners, even as they had to show love to their neighbours (verse 18). The *Israelites should always remember that they too were foreigners in Egypt.

The *Israelites are God’s special people. But God cares about the people from every nation. Christians believe that God sent Jesus to save people from every nation (John 3:16; Matthew 28:19). So Christians must be kind to foreigners too.

Verses 35-36 Traders must be fair and honest. They must not use measurements that are not correct in order to make more profits. Everything that God does is right and proper. So his people should only do things that are right and proper, too.

Verse 37 Moses did not make up these laws. They are God’s laws. They teach his people how they must behave. And they show that God’s standards are perfect.

Something to do

1. Read the Ten *Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17.

2. Read Ephesians 4:28. Of which verse in Leviticus chapter 19 does it remind you?

3. Read these verses. They tell us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves:

·  Matthew 19:19

·  Mark 12:31

·  Luke 10:27

Leviticus 19:18 also tells us to do that.

Chapter 20

Punishments for various *sins

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Tell (this) to the *Israelites. “One of you, or a foreigner that lives in your country, might give one of his children to *Molech. You must kill that person. The people in your country must throw stones at him (until he is dead).

v3 I (the *LORD) will be against that man. I will *cut off (that man) from his people because he gave (one of) his children to *Molech. He has made my holy place really *unclean, and he has made my name bad.

v4 However, the people in (your) country might not kill that man. They may do nothing when that man gives (one of) his children to *Molech.

v5 But I (the *LORD) will be against that man and his family. I will *cut off that man and everybody who follows him from their people. It is as if they have had sex with *Molech!

 

v6 I (the *LORD) will be against anyone who asks someone to inquire of the spirits of dead people. It is as if that person is trying to have sex with (these spirits)! I (the *LORD) will *cut him off from his people.

 

v7 Make yourselves separate (from bad things) and be holy. (Do this,) because I am the *LORD your God.

v8 Obey my rules. Do what my rules (tell you to do). I am the *LORD who makes you holy.

 

v9 If a man *curses his father or his mother, that man must die. He is responsible for his own death because he has *cursed his father or his mother.

 

v10 If a man has sex with his neighbour’s wife or with any other man’s wife, both of them (the man and the woman) must die.

v11 If a man has sex with his father’s wife, both of them must die. They are responsible for their own deaths, because they caused shame to the man’s father.

v12 If a man has sex with his son’s wife, both of them must die. They are responsible for their own deaths. What they did was very wrong.

v13 If a man has sex with another man, both of them must die. They are responsible for their own deaths, because they have done something very nasty.

v14 If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is a very bad thing. Both he and the two women must die. Burn them in fire, so that this bad thing will not continue to be among you.

v15 If a man has sex with an animal, both he and the animal must die.

v16 If a woman comes to an animal to have sex with it, you must kill the woman. Also, (you must kill) the animal. They must die. They will be responsible for their own deaths.

 

v17 It will bring shame to a man if he marries his sister or *half sister. If they have sex (with each other it is a bad thing). You must *cut them off from their people. All their people must know about it. The man has caused shame to his sister, and he is responsible (for his *sin).

v18 A man must not have sex with a woman during her monthly *period. He has shown where her (blood) flows from. She, too, has shown where her (blood) flows from. So *cut off both the man and the woman from their people.

v19 Do not have sex with your mother’s sister or with your father’s sister. That would cause shame to a close relative. Both of you would be responsible (for this *sin).

v20 If a man has sex with his aunt, he has caused shame to his uncle. They are both responsible (for this *sin). They will die before they can have children.

v21 If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is a very *unclean act. He has caused shame to his brother. They will die before they can have children.

 

v22 You must obey all my rules and (all my) laws. Then the land to which I am bringing you will not be (like a sick person). It will not throw you out from its stomach. You can remain in the land.

v23 I am going to send out the nations (that live there) in front of you. You must not follow their customs. Because they did all these things, I hated them.

v24 I have told you that their land will become yours. I myself will give their land to you. It will be your possession. It is a land where the milk and honey are plentiful. I am the *LORD (who is) your God. I have made you separate from the people (who belong to other countries).

v25 You must make a difference between animals that are *clean and *unclean. Also (you must make a difference between) birds that are *clean and *unclean. I have separated many animals birds and insects; they are *unclean for you. Do not make yourselves really *unclean with any of them.

v26 You must be holy for me, because I, the *LORD, am holy. I have separated you from the people (who belong to other countries). You are to be mine.

 

v27 If a man or woman among you tries to inquire of dead people, you must kill them. Throw stones at them (until they are dead). They will be responsible for their own deaths.” ’

Notes

Verse 2 *Molech was a false god. Leviticus 18:21 mentions him, but here there are more details. The ‘people in your country’ must kill people who give their children to *Molech. ‘Give their children’ means that they *sacrifice the children to *Molech. Bible students are not sure who ‘the people in your country’ are. There are two possibilities:

·  A group of leaders of the people.

·  The ordinary people.

Even foreigners who live in *Israel must obey the rules. God told the *Israelites to kill people who had done wrong things in this way. This was the proper punishment for this very wicked *sin.

Verse 3 The *Hebrew words for ‘I will be against’ mean this. ‘I will turn my faces against’. (Also in verses 5, 6 and so on.) This may remind us that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is so, although he is one God. Or it may mean that every part of God is against this. God would separate or ‘*cut off’ that person. The people who serve *Molech are not part of God’s people any longer. But most important is the *Hebrew word that we have translated ‘children’. The *Hebrew word is tserah. It really means ‘seed’.

·  God made his promises to Abraham and to his tserah, Genesis 12:7, 15:18 and 24:7. These promises are not only for Abraham.

·  The tserah does not only mean Abraham’s children. It means children who share the same God with Abraham. It includes us, if we believe God.

·  Thus when an *Israelite gives his tserah to *Molech, he spoils God’s plans. God will not allow this to happen. So the punishment is death.

Verse 4 God will be against that man, even if the people in the country do not kill him.

Verse 5 ‘Have sex with *Molech’ means this. They love *Molech and they do not love God.

Verse 6 People still try to speak to people who are dead. They use *mediums and *spiritists. *Mediums and *spiritists say that they can contact dead people. Christians do not believe that they can. Here, God says that we must not even try to do it. Again, the punishment is similar.

This *sin was one of the reasons for King Saul’s death. See 1 Samuel chapter 28 and 1 Chronicles 10:13.

Verses 7-8 These two verses contain the main message of Leviticus. ‘Be holy, because I (the *LORD) am holy.’ The word holy appears about 60 times in Leviticus. Only in Psalms and Isaiah does it appear so often. If we are God’s people, we must be like him! We may often fail. But we must always try again to do what God wants us to do.

Verse 9 In this verse, *curse does not mean ‘to use bad language’. It means that someone says, ‘I want bad things to happen to you.’ People often used magic in their *curses. Luke 6:28 says that Christians must not *curse people. They must bless people. They must ask that good things will happen to other people.

Verses 10-16 This repeats Leviticus 18:6-23. But here, there are the punishments also. These punishments should help to persuade people that they should be holy. If a person does these wicked things, then God is against that person. That person deserves a death that brings shame. And God would punish that person if the *Israelites did not do it.

People should know that shame and death are the results of wicked behaviour.

The *Hebrew words for ‘they are responsible for their own deaths’ means this. ‘Their blood is on them.’ It is a special way that the *Jews spoke. Usually, the *Jews killed people with stones as a legal punishment. They threw stones at criminals until they were dead. But in verse 14, they burnt the criminals.

God said that certain actions were bad. Therefore, God’s people must not do them. They had to be like God; in other words, they should be holy. Read verses 7 and 8 again.

Verses 17-21 A *half sister is the daughter of your father or mother but not of your other parent. In other words, you have just one parent in common with a *half sister. This section tells people whom they may not marry. God gave this list as people often married relatives (for example, cousins).

There is a further rule in Deuteronomy 25:5-6. It allows a man to marry and then to have sex with his dead brother’s wife. This was called a levirate marriage.

Verse 18 is not about the people whom someone may marry. It is about sex while the woman is *unclean. Leviticus 15:19-24 has more instructions about this.

Verses 22-26 God was taking his people to *Canaan. To do that, the people who lived there had to leave *Canaan. God would force them to leave that country because they were bad people. They did not obey God’s laws. So the land was like a sick person. It would throw them out. Our stomachs throw things out when we are sick. Another word for this is *vomit. It is a strong word.

Verse 27 Compare this verse with verse 6. Here, the *Israelites must punish anyone who helps other people to contact dead people.

Something to do

1. Read Leviticus 24:16, Deuteronomy 13:6-10 and Numbers 15:32-36. Now make a list of punishments that God told the *Israelites to use. There are 2 more examples in this chapter.

2. Learn to say verses 7 and 8 from memory. Then you will not need to look at the words while you say them aloud.

3. Read Matthew 14:1-12. Of which verse in Leviticus chapter 20 does this story remind you?

4. Christians must be ‘separate’ from the people round them. Read 1 Peter 1:14-15, Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:19-21 and Colossians 3:8.

5. King Manasseh gave his children to *Molech. And he did many other things that are very wicked, too. But after that, he asked God to forgive him. Read about his life in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20.

Chapter 21

Rules for the priests, so that they remain holy

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses. ‘Speak to the priests, (who are) the sons of Aaron. Say this to them: “(A priest) must not make himself *unclean because one of his relatives has died.

v2 There is an exception for his closest relatives. (This means) his mother, his father, his son, his daughter and his brother.

v3 (It also means) a sister who has not married (anyone). She depended on him because she did not have a husband. So (the priest) may make himself *unclean if she (dies).

v4 He must not become *unclean (because he has touched the body of) a relative by marriage. This would make him very *unclean.

v5 (Priests) must not shave their heads (so that they have bald places). They must not shave off the edges of their beards. They must not cut their bodies.

v6 They must be holy for their God. They must not say bad things about God’s name. They must be holy, because they give the *offerings to the *LORD on the fire (at his house). The (*offerings) are (like) bread for God. So they must be holy.

v7 (A priest) must not marry a woman who has had sex with other men. (A priest) must not marry a woman (whose husband has) divorced (her). A priest must be holy for his God.

v8 Be sure that your priests are holy. (This is) because they offer bread to your God. You must consider them holy because I, the *LORD, am holy. (It is I who) makes you holy.

v9 If a priest’s daughter has sex with a man (apart from her husband,) you must burn her with fire. She has made herself very *unclean and she has made her father very *unclean.

 

v10 The (chief) priest is greater than (the other priests who are as) his brothers. They poured the special *oil on his head (when he became chief priest). Also, he must wear the special clothes (that is, the clothes of the chief priest). (When someone dies) he must not let his hair be untidy. He must not tear his clothes.

v11 He must not enter any place (where there is) a dead body. Even for his father or his mother, he must not make himself *unclean.

v12 He must not leave the house of his God. He must not make God’s house *unclean. His God’s *oil, which (the priests) poured on him, has made him separate (from everybody else). I am the *LORD.

v13 (The chief priest) must marry a woman who has never had sex with anybody.

v14 He must not marry a widow or a woman who has divorced (her husband). He must not marry a woman who has had sex with other men (for their religion or for money). He may only marry a woman who is from his own people. And she must not have had sex with anybody.

v15 He must not (marry such women) because they would make his children very *unclean among his relatives. I am the *LORD, who makes him separate (from everybody else).” ’

 

v16 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v17 ‘Say (this) to Aaron. “None of your *descendants who has something wrong with his body must ever come near to God. No such *descendant must ever offer him food.

v18 Nobody who has something wrong with his body may come near (to God). Such a person may be blind. He may not be able to walk normally. He may be very ugly. His arm or leg may be too long.

v19 Such a person may have a bad leg or a hand that will not work properly.

v20 He may have a bend in his back or he may be very small. He may have a problem with his eye. His skin may be a strange colour because he has a bad disease. He may have suffered an injury to the sex parts (of his body).

v21 None of Aaron the priest’s *descendants who has any damage in his body may come near (to God). He may not offer gifts to the *LORD by fire. Nobody (whose body) has damage of any sort may come near to offer food to his God.

v22 But he may eat the food (that the priests) offered to God. (He may eat) both the holy food and the most holy food.

v23 However, he must not go near the curtain or near the *altar. He will make my house *unclean because there is damage to his body. I am the *LORD who makes all these things holy.” ’

v24 Moses said this to Aaron, to his sons and to all the *Israelites.

Notes

Rules for ordinary priests – Leviticus 21:1-9

The priests were the male *descendants of Aaron. It was their duty to serve the *Israelites as they (the priests) worked for God. To do that properly, they had to be holy.

So the priests must not do the things that the other *Israelites could do. The priests had important responsibilities. So they must not be continuously sad because of people who had died. If they were always *unclean because of funerals, they could never do God’s work.

God told the priests that they should not usually make themselves *unclean after someone’s death. But if one of a priest’s closest relatives died, then the priest could bury the body. And the priest could show his sad feelings then. But at other times, God’s work was more important.

These verses also contain rules about priests’ marriages, their families, and their proper behaviour.

Verses 1-4 A priest would become *unclean if he touched a dead person, Numbers 19:11-13. So God did not allow the priests to do that. God made an exception for very close relatives. If the priest were *unclean, he would not be able to serve God in God’s house.

Verses 5-6 These were things that people from other religions did. Their priests did these things when somebody died. This verse really repeats Leviticus 19:27-28. God did not want his people to do what priests from other religions did. If they cut themselves, they would not be able to serve God in his house. The cut would make them *unclean.

Verse 7 Again, God does not allow his priests to do what other priests did. They had sex with women as part of their religion. Bible students are not sure what the *Hebrew words in part of this verse mean. Our translation is therefore very simple.

Verses 8-9 The people must respect the priests and their families. The man in verse 9 is not the daughter’s husband. The daughters of priests could marry and they could have sex with their husbands. But this daughter probably did what some female priests of false gods did. They had sex with men because of the rules of their false religion. God does not allow this.

Rules for the chief priest – Leviticus 21:10-15

Verses 10-15 These are special rules for the chief priest. The *oil was from a fruit, probably a fruit called the olive. It is not the same as the *oil that we use as fuel. People poured it on him on the day when he became chief priest. The special clothes showed people that he was the chief priest, Leviticus 8:6-9 and Exodus 28:1 to 29:9.

Because the chief priest was closer to God than anyone else, he had to have a higher standard than them. He always had to be close to God. He always had to be ready to serve God. He always had to be holy. So he could not allow himself to become *unclean because of a dead body. This was so, even when a close relative died. The chief priest could not show people that he was sad. People usually made their hair untidy to show that they were sad. Also, they tore their clothes. The chief priest must do none of these things. He could not go to funerals. He must always serve God.

There were also higher standards for the chief priest’s marriage. The chief priest had to marry a woman ‘from his own people’. This probably means from the families of the priests. This was because his son would probably be the next chief priest.

Rules for priests who have something wrong with their bodies – Leviticus 21:16-23

Verses 16-24 Aaron’s *descendants were his sons, and their sons, and so on, for many centuries. They were the priests. These priests had to be men. But some of Aaron’s male *descendants could not perform all the duties of priests. This was because they had certain illnesses or other problems with their bodies.

Bible students are not sure what some of these problems were. For example, ‘very ugly’ in verse 18 may mean ‘cannot speak properly’. But it is clear that, to serve God, a priest must have good health.

These rules showed people that God’s priests should be perfect. Of course, these rules were about their bodies. But the lesson was about their lives. Really, it is *sin that spoils a person’s relationship with God. And it is *sin that spoils someone’s work for God.

The men with these problems still had a special relationship with God. Their illnesses and other problems were not *sin. So these men still ate the food that God gave to the priests. These men even ate the most holy food. But because of their problems, God did not allow them to do certain things that other priests did.

‘Come near to God’ means this: ‘Serve God in his house’. The food in verse 16 means the *offerings of meat and flour that the priests made. The curtain (verse 23) was inside the *meeting tent. The *altar was outside; the priests burned the *sacrifices there. Below are places where you can find the holy food and the most holy food (verse 22).

Holy Food

Most Holy Food

Leviticus 7:31-34

Leviticus 6:22

Numbers 18:12-13

Leviticus 7:1,6

Numbers 18:15

Leviticus 2:3,10

Numbers 18:26

Leviticus 6:9-11

Numbers 18:14

Leviticus 24:8-9

Something to do

1. For Christians, Jesus is their chief priest. Read Hebrews 7:25-26. Of which verses in Leviticus chapter 21 does that passage remind you?

2. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-6. Like the chief priest, Paul had to do unusual things because he was God’s servant. Compare these two things. (a) What Paul did. (b) What the chief priest had to do in Leviticus 21:10-15.

3. Compare the list in Leviticus 21:18-20 with the list in Leviticus 22:22-24.

Chapter 22

Food from the holy *offerings

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons. They must respect the holy *offerings that the *Israelites give to me. Then they will not make my holy name *unclean. I am the *LORD.

v3 Say (this) to them. “You may have *descendants who are *unclean in future years. (Any such *descendant must not) come near to the holy *offerings that the *Israelites give to the *LORD. (But if that *descendant does not obey this rule,) I will *cut him off from me. I am the *LORD.

v4 A *descendant of Aaron may have a bad disease of his skin. Or, (he may be *unclean) because of a *discharge (that comes from his body). (That *descendant) must not eat the holy *offerings until he is *clean. He may be *unclean because of something that he touched. That thing may be *unclean because it touched a dead body. Or it may be because of *semen that came from a man.

v5 He may have touched (an insect) that crawls (on the ground). (Such insects) make people *unclean. Or he may have touched a person who makes him *unclean for some reason.

v6 The (*descendant of Aaron) who touches anything like this will be *unclean until the evening. He must not eat any of the holy *offerings until he has bathed his body in water.

v7 When the sun sets, he becomes *clean. Then he may eat the holy *offerings, because they are his food.

v8 He must not eat any dead animal that people find. He must not eat a dead animal that a wild animal has torn apart. It would make him *unclean. I am the *LORD.

v9 The priests must obey my instructions. Otherwise, they will be guilty. Then they will die because they did not respect (my holy *offerings). I am the *LORD, who makes them holy.

v10 People who do not belong to a priest’s family must not eat any of the holy food. This includes a priest’s guests and workers that the priest has hired. They must not eat anything that is holy.

v11 But if a priest purchases a slave with money, he may eat (the holy food). Also, slaves who are born in his house may eat (the priest’s) food.

v12 Perhaps a priest’s daughter will marry a man who is not a priest. Then she must not eat any of the holy *offerings.

v13 Perhaps the priest’s daughter becomes a widow, or (her husband) divorces her. If she has no children, she can go back to her father’s house. She can live there. She can do it as when she was young. She can eat her father’s food. But nobody else who is not a priest may eat it.

v14 If somebody eats (part) of a holy *offering by accident, he must add one fifth to it. Then he must give the holy *offering to the priest.

v15 The priests offer the *Israelites’ holy *offerings to the *LORD. So the priests must not make these *offerings *unclean.

v16 They must not allow any other person to eat the holy *offerings. Such a person would be guilty and he would suffer punishment. I am the *LORD who makes them holy.” ’

 

v17 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v18-19 ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the *Israelites. Say (this) to them. “Whenever anyone gives a *whole offering to the *LORD, it must be a male animal. There must be nothing wrong with it, whether it is a *bull, a sheep or a goat. Then (the *LORD) will accept (the animal) on your behalf. (This rule is for both) the *Israelites and the foreigners who live with them. The person may give the *offering as a gift or because the person has made a special promise (to God).

v20 You must not give (to the *LORD) any animal that has something wrong with it. (If you do, the priest) will not accept it on your behalf.

v21 A person might bring a *peace offering to the *LORD. Perhaps the person has made a special promise to the *LORD. Or perhaps it is a gift that the person wants to give to the *LORD. (The gift) may be a cow or a sheep. (The priest) will only accept it if it is perfect. There must be nothing wrong with it.

v22 You must not give to the *LORD any animal that is blind. It must not have a broken leg. It must have no damage nor bad places that produce a liquid. It must not have a bad place or a disease on its skin. You must not offer animals like this to the *LORD. You must not burn them on the *altar as an *offering to the *LORD.

v23 But a *bull or a sheep may have a limb that is too long or too short. You can give that (animal) as a gift to the *LORD. But you must not give such an animal when you have made a special promise (to the *LORD).

v24 You must not give to the *LORD an animal whose sex parts have any damage. This includes bruises, injury or removal. You must not do this when you come into your own country (in the future).

v25 You must not get any animals like this from foreigners and then offer them as food to your God. (The priest) will not accept them on your behalf if there is anything wrong with them.” ’

 

v26 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v27 ‘Whenever a young cow, a goat, or a *lamb is born, it must remain with its mother for 7 days. From the 8th day, (the priest) can accept it as a gift to offer to the *LORD by fire.

v28 You must not kill on the same day a cow or a sheep and its young (cow or sheep).

v29 Sometimes you will offer a *sacrifice to give thanks to the *LORD. You must do it in a manner so that (the priest) will accept it on your behalf.

v30 You must eat it on the same day (as you killed it). You must not leave any of it until the morning. I am the *LORD.

v31 Obey my commands and do them. I am the *LORD.

v32 Do not do anything that brings shame to my holy name. The *Israelites must recognise that I am holy. I am the *LORD who has made you holy.

v33 I brought you out of (the country called) Egypt to be your God. I am the *LORD.’

Notes

Verses 2-3 A *descendant is a member of your family who lives many years (or centuries) after you. These are *descendants of Aaron, so they are priests or chief priests. ‘*Unclean’ means that they cannot go to the house of God.

While the priests are *unclean, they must not eat any food from the *offerings. If the priests ate that food then, they would bring shame to God’s holy name. This is a very serious matter. God would *cut off a priest who did that.

Verses 4-8 In these verses, ‘he’ means one of the priests. Verse 6 makes this clear. Only priests, or members of their family, could eat the holy *offerings.

These verses contain a list of several events that make a person *unclean. The list is here because an *unclean priest could not eat the *offerings.

The priest may be *unclean for a long time. This happens if he has some kinds of illnesses, for example a skin disease (chapter 13) or a *discharge (chapter 15). Or he may only be *unclean for a day. But while he is *unclean, he cannot eat the *offerings.

Verses 10-16 These verses tell us two things.

·  The people who could eat some of the priest’s food. God considers that families are important. So the whole family (unless they are *unclean) eats the priest’s sacred food. That includes people who live permanently in his house. So even the priest’s slave may eat the *offerings. But visitors and temporary workers must not eat these things.

·  What to do if someone ate the holy food by accident. This should not happen. The priests should teach the people about these rules. But if someone makes a mistake, that person must make a payment to the priest. That person must pay for the food that he should not have eaten. And he must add an extra fifth (20%) to his payment.

Verses 18-25 God is perfect. So, animals that people offer to him must also be perfect. God deserves the best gifts that we can give. And we should want to give him the best things that we have.

The passage mentions both *whole offerings (verses 18-20) and *peace offerings (verses 21-23). The animals for both types of *offerings had to be perfect.

Verse 24 says that a male animal’s sex parts must be perfect. Sometimes farmers remove these parts from an animal, perhaps to control its behaviour. But God would not accept those animals.

Verses 26-28 The rules about young animals are part of a duty to care about the things that God has created. There are also such rules about birds and trees, Deuteronomy 20:19-20 and Deuteronomy 22:6-7.

Verses 29-30 This rule is about *peace offerings that a person gives to say ‘thank-you’ to God. People must not store the meat. They can share it with family and friends, but everyone must eat it immediately. There are similar rules in 7:15-18 and 19:3-8.

Verses 31-33 The *LORD explains why the *Israelites must obey these rules. They are a holy nation. He brought the *Israelites out of Egypt. He made them free. He separated them so that they would be his people.

So God has made Israel holy. And the *Israelites must not do anything that would bring shame to God’s name. If an *unclean priest ate the holy *offerings, that would bring shame to God’s name. If people gave bad gifts to God, that would bring shame to God’s name. If people chose animals as *offerings in a cruel manner, that would bring shame to God’s name.

Such behaviour would give the wrong impression that God is not holy and perfect. That is why it brings shame to God’s name. And the *Israelites are God’s people. So they must always bring honour to God’s name. By their actions, they must show that God is holy and perfect.

Something to do

1. The priests had to be *clean. Read these verses. They tell us that Christians must be like the priests. Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 2:15; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:14.

2. Compare the rules about priests and animals in Leviticus chapter 22.

Chapter 23

Special Days in the *Jewish Calendar

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “The *LORD has decided that you must have special times to give honour to him. You must announce these special days. They are holy days, when the *Israelites should meet (to *worship God).

v3 You must do your work for 6 days. But you must rest on the 7th day. You must not do any work (on the 7th day). It is the *Sabbath Day. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must gather together on the *Sabbath Day with the *LORD, wherever you are living.

v4 These are the special days that the *LORD wants you to have. You should meet (to *worship God) on these holy days. You must announce (these days) at the right time.

v5 (The first special day is) the *LORD’s *Passover. It will be on the 14th day of the first month. It begins at the time when the sun sets.

v6 On the 15th day of this (same) month is the *LORD’s special Time of *Unleavened Bread. You must eat this *unleavened bread for 7 days.

v7 On the first (of these) days, you must gather together. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must not do any of your usual work (on this day).

v8 You must offer gifts by fire to the *LORD for 7 days. On the 7th (of these) days, you must gather together. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). And you must not do any of your usual work.” ’

v9 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v10 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “(Soon) you will come to the land that I will give to you. When you gather its (First) Harvest, you must bring some of the *first fruits of the corn to the priest.

v11 He will wave these *first fruits in front of the *LORD so that (the *LORD) will accept them on your behalf. On the day after the *Sabbath, the priest will wave them (for you).

v12 When you wave the *first fruits of the corn, you must also offer a male sheep to the *LORD. It must be one year old and perfect. It will be a *whole offering (to the *LORD).

v13 (With the sheep, give) a mixture of 4½ litres of good flour and *oil as the *corn offering. It is a gift to the *LORD (that the priests will offer) by fire. It has a smell that pleases the *LORD. The *offering of drink that is with it must contain a litre of wine.

v14 You must not eat any bread until the day when you bring this *offering to your God. Neither must you eat fresh corn or corn that you have cooked. This rule will always be important for all your *descendants wherever they live.

v15 You must count 7 complete weeks (until *Pentecost; Second Harvest) from the day after (this) *Sabbath. That is, (from the day) when you brought the *first fruits of the corn. (The priest) waved them in front of the *LORD.

v16 You must count 50 days until the day after the 7th *Sabbath. Then you must give a new *corn offering to the *LORD.

v17 From the places where you live, you must bring two loaves of bread for the *LORD. (The priest) must wave them as *first fruits (in front of the *LORD). You must make the loaves with 4½ litres of good flour. You will bake (the loaves) with *yeast.

v18 Also, with the bread, you must offer 7 young male sheep. They must be one year old and perfect. (You must also offer) one young *bull and two male sheep. They will be a *whole offering to the *LORD that you offer by fire. With the *offering of corn and drink, the smell of this *offering will please the *LORD.

v19 You must also offer one male goat. This will be a *sin offering. And you must offer two male sheep that are one year old. This will be a *peace offering.

v20 The priest will (lift them up) with the corn that is just ripe. (He will) wave them in front of the *LORD. It is a *wave offering. (He will) offer the two young sheep. They will be holy to the *LORD; they will belong to the priest.

v21 You must declare on the day itself (what day it is). It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must not do any of your usual work. This rule will always be important for all your *descendants, wherever they live.

v22 When you gather the harvest from your fields, you must not gather completely from the corners of your fields. And do not gather the fruits that you leave behind. You must leave them for poor people and for foreigners. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’

 

v23 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v24 ‘Speak to the *Israelites (and say this to them). “On the first day of the 7th month, you must have a special day when you rest. The (Day of) *Trumpets will remind people (that this is a special day). It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God).

v25 You must not do any of your usual work. You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire.” ’

 

v26 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v27 ‘Also, on the 10th day of the 7th month is the Day of *Atonement. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must not eat food. You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire.

v28 You must not do any work on this day, because it is the Day of *Atonement. (On this day, (the chief priest) will make *atonement for you in front of the *LORD your God.

v29 (The *LORD) will *cut off from the people (the *Israelites) anybody who eats food on this day.

v30 I will cause any of (the *Israelites) who works on this day to die.

v31 You must not do any work (on the Day of *Atonement). This rule will always be important for all your *descendants, wherever they live.

v32 (This day) is (like) an important *Sabbath for you, when you must rest. You must not eat food. On the evening of the 9th day of this month, until the next evening, will be your *Sabbath.’

 

v33 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v34 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “On the 15th day of the 7th month is the time for Tent Parties. (You must live) for 7 days (in tents) for the *LORD.

v35 The first of these days is a special day. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). (On this day) you must not do any of your usual work.

v36 You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire for 7 days. On the 8th day, you must all gather together. It is a holy day when you should meet (to *worship God). You must offer gifts to the *LORD by fire. It is a special time and a time for a holy meeting. (On this day) you must not do any of your usual work.

v37 These are the special times that the *LORD wants you to have (each year). You will announce that they are special times. Tell people that they must meet (to *worship God) at these holy times. They must offer (these) gifts by fire to the *LORD: *whole offerings, *corn offerings, *sacrifices and drink *offerings. You must offer the correct *offerings for each day.

v38 Also, you must give (special) *offerings for the *LORD’s *Sabbaths. And you may offer your own special gifts and *offerings to the *LORD. These include when you make a special promise (to the *LORD).

v39 So, on the 15th day of the 7th month, you must give honour to the *LORD for 7 days. You must do this when you have gathered the (final) Harvest from your fields. The 1st and 8th days must be special days when you rest.

v40 On the first of these days, you must take fruit from splendid trees. (You must take) branches from *palm trees and from trees with many leaves. You must take (branches from) *willow trees (that grow) by the river. You must be happy in front of the *LORD (who is) your God for 7 days.

v41 You must have a happy party with the *LORD for 7 days in each year. All your *descendants must always do it in the 7th month.

v42 You must live for 7 days in tents that you make from tree branches. All the *Israelites must live in these special tents.

v43 This will tell your *descendants (what happened many years ago). I made the *Israelites live in special tents when I brought them out of (the country called) Egypt. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’

 

v44 Moses told all the *Israelites about the *LORD’s special times.

Notes

This chapter contains a list of the holy days for the *Jewish people. They include the important *Jewish holidays which are usually in April, June and October. And there is the *Sabbath Day, which is in every week through the whole year.

All of these holy days and special times are still important for the *Jews today.

Special Time

Date in our Calendar

Bible reference

*Sabbath Day

7th day of every week (our Saturday)

Genesis 2:2-3

Exodus 20:8-11

Leviticus 23:2-3

Numbers 28:9-10

*Passover

The day of the full moon, in March or April

Exodus chapter 12

Leviticus 23:5

Numbers 28:16-25

Deuteronomy 16:2

*Unleavened Bread

The week after the *Passover

Exodus 23:14-17

Leviticus 23:6

First Harvest

During the week of *Unleavened Bread

Leviticus 23:9-14

Second Harvest (*Pentecost)

(Also called Shavuoth.)

50 days after the *Passover (so, during May or June)

Exodus 23:16

Leviticus 23:15-22

Leviticus 25:8-9

Numbers 28:26-31

Day of *Trumpets

(Also called Rosh Hashana or the *Jewish New Year’s Day).

The day of the new moon before the Tent Parties and Final Harvest (during September or October)

Leviticus 23:23-25

Numbers 29:1-6

Day of *Atonement

(Also called Yom Kippur)

9 days after the Day of *Trumpets

Leviticus chapter 16

Leviticus 23:26-32

Numbers 29:7-11

Tent Parties and Final Harvest

(Also called Tabernacles, Sukkoth, or the Feast of Shelters)

6 months after the *Passover (so, during September or October)

Leviticus 23:33-43

Numbers 29:12-38

Deuteronomy 16:13

Here are some notes on each of these special times.

Verses 2-3 The *Sabbath. This is the 7th day of the week, our Saturday. The word ‘*sabbath’ means ‘day of rest’. It is a special opportunity for God’s people to *worship him each week. In Genesis 2:3, God made the *Sabbath (or 7th day) very special. After he created the world, he himself rested on that day. When the *Jews went from Egypt to *Israel, God provided their food. He gave them a special, extra amount of the food called manna before each *Sabbath, Exodus 16:22-30. He did that so that they were able to rest and to *worship him on the *Sabbath. So they did not even have to make food or to collect food on the *Sabbath. (Manna was something like bread that God sent from heaven.)

The *Jews could only do simple jobs on the *Sabbath. They could not do any of their usual work whatever. It was their special day to *worship God. They rested from their work so that they had time to *worship him.

Most Christians *worship God on the 1st day of the week, that is, Sunday. They do this because Jesus became alive after his death on a Sunday. That is why many Christians keep Sunday as a *Sabbath. They do not work on this day. Instead, it is their special day for rest and *worship.

Verses 4-5 The *Passover. This was a most important time for the *Jews. It was during March or April. In it, the *Jews remembered the event just before God freed them from Egypt.

God allowed a terrible trouble to happen in Egypt. We call that event ‘the 10th *plague’. The oldest son in every family in Egypt died, in just one night. But God told each *Israelite family to kill a *lamb and to put its blood round their door. When God saw the blood, he would ‘pass over’ that house. That is why the day was called the *Passover. On that day, God saved the *Israelites from death (Exodus chapter 12).

The *Passover is important for Christians, as well as *Jews. But Christians call it ‘Easter’. Jesus died on the Friday before Easter day. The Bible calls Jesus: ‘the *lamb of God, who takes away the *sins of the world.’ On Easter Sunday, Jesus became alive again after his death.

Verses 6-8 The Time of *Unleavened Bread. People usually add *yeast to bread to make it ‘rise’. They do this before they cook it. ‘*Unleavened’ means that there is no *yeast in the bread. Thus, it does not ‘rise’ or ‘get bigger’. Bread that does not rise is flat.

At the Time of *Unleavened Bread, the *Jews remember the events immediately after the first *Passover. God led them out of Egypt at once. He did it so quickly that there was not even enough time for their bread to rise. They had to work hard like slaves when they lived in Egypt. But God made them free at once. That was the time when the *Jews became a nation.

Verses 9-14 The First Harvest. There are several types of grain. The first one that becomes ripe in Israel is called barley. Ruth 1:22 tells us that Naomi returned home ‘at the start of the barley harvest’. The priest had to hold up (or wave, verse 11) a bundle of barley plants in front of the *LORD. This was also called a ‘*wave offering’. It was God who provided all the crops in the *Israelites’ new country. God gave them that country after they left Egypt. And that country (Canaan, afterwards called Israel) had good land. So, by this ceremony, the *Israelites gave the first grain of each harvest back to God. And with it, they gave a *whole offering (chapter 1) and a *corn offering (chapter 2).

Verses 15-21 *Pentecost and the Second Harvest. The word ‘*Pentecost’ means ‘50th’. If we include the first and last days, this means 7 weeks. Here, the harvest is for grain that we call wheat. People use it to make bread. *Pentecost was a special occasion at the beginning of the wheat harvest. Again, it reminded people that their food came from God.

*Pentecost is very important for Christians. They sometimes call it ‘the church’s birthday’. It was on the day called *Pentecost that God sent his *Holy Spirit. You can read about that event in Acts chapter 2.

Verse 22 The *Israelites should not just thank God for their harvest by means of a ceremony. Also, they should thank God by means of the way that they harvested their crops. They should leave some food in the fields so that poor people and foreigners would find something to eat. They should always remember to provide for poor people. Ruth 2:7-8 describes how people did this.

Verses 23-25 Day of *Trumpets. Today we make *trumpets from a metal called brass. And we use them to make music. The *Jews did not use brass. They made their *trumpets from the *horns of animals like cows. *Horns grow on the heads of these animals. Numbers 10:1-10 also mentions silver *trumpets. The *Jews used the *trumpets to sound an alarm. Also, they sounded *trumpets on any important national occasion.

The Day of *Trumpets was at the beginning of the 7th month in the *Jewish calendar. As the 7th day of the week was special and holy, so was the 7th month. The Day of *Atonement, Tent Parties and Final Harvest happened during this month. The *trumpets reminded people about these things:

The *trumpets should remind the *Israelites that, in the future, God will rule his people as their king. Each year, God dealt with his people’s *sins on the Day of *Atonement. But at a future time, God will deal with all *sin. He will come to live among his people.

For Christians, this should remind them about Jesus’ return. He has promised to come back to this world. He will overcome *sin, death, and the devil’s power. And Jesus will rule with the authority and power of God the Father.

Verses 26-32 The Day of *Atonement. Leviticus chapter 16 tells us what the chief priest did on the Day of *Atonement. He put blood into the most holy place, as a special *sacrifice, so that God would forgive the people’s *sins.

Here we read what the ordinary people did. The words ‘to *atone’ mean ‘to make at one’. (In other words, to be united as friends with God.) It was the day when people were sorry for their *sins. They saw their *sins as God saw them. They were ‘at one’ with God, in other words, they agreed with his opinion. Christians believe that *atonement can only happen by the death of Jesus. His death means that now we do not have to offer the gifts in the Book of Leviticus.

Verses 27, 29 and 32 contain the rule that the *Jews must not eat on this day. In fact, the *Hebrew words are much stricter than what appears in our translation. People should not do anything to give themselves pleasure. See our notes on 16:29-31.

This day is not usually a Saturday, so it would not normally be a *Sabbath. But the *LORD told the people that it would be a day for rest, like the *Sabbaths (verse 32).

Verses 33-43 Tent Parties and Final Harvest. This was the time when the *Jews gathered the last of the harvest from the fields and gardens. They also remembered that God had ‘gathered’ them at last from Egypt. They lived in tents as they went from Egypt to *Israel. To remember this, they lived in shelters or tents for a week during September or October. But they did not make their ‘tents’ for this week from animal skins, as people usually did. Instead, they used the branches of trees to make ‘tents’ (that is, shelters). That is why verse 40 refers to various trees, like the *palm tree and the *willow. This time became a really happy party. The *LORD will complete all that he is doing for his people. And that is a wonderful reason to be joyful in front of the *LORD.

For Christians, the harvest is a very important occasion. It is the time when Christians thank God for their food. But each church chooses a different day in Autumn for this event. Many churches put fruit, food and flowers in the church and they have a happy ceremony. They thank God for all the good things that he provides. Afterwards, Christians take the fruit, food, and flowers away. They give these things to poor people, to ill people, or to old people who live near the church. So Christians share the good things that God has given to them.

Jesus told some parables (stories) about the harvest. For him, the harvest described well the events at the end of the present age. For example, see the story in Matthew 13:24-30, which Jesus explained in Matthew 13:36-40. He described how weeds and wheat may grow together in the same field until the harvest. But at the harvest, the farmer separates them. He destroys the weeds and he saves the wheat. And so, at the end of the age, God will be the judge of everyone. He will save the people who belong to him. But he will punish the people who serve the devil.

Something to do

1. Read Genesis 1:1 to 2:3, which tells us about the origin of the *Sabbath. Here are some other verses about the *Sabbath: Numbers 28:9 and 28:19; Leviticus 24:5-9; Numbers 15:32-36; Nehemiah 10:31 and 13:15-22.

2. Read the Book of Ruth, which refers to the First and Second Harvests of grain.

3. Read Exodus chapter 12, which tells us about the first *Passover.

4. Read Acts 2:1-4. It tells us what happened at *Pentecost to the first Christians.

Chapter 24

Rules about God’s table and *blasphemy

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Tell (this) to the *Israelites. “You must bring pure *oil for the lamps (in God’s house). You must press the fruit called olives to make the *oil. Then the lamps will burn all the time (and they will not go out).

v3 Aaron must look after (the lamps) from evening until (the next morning). He must do it in front of the *LORD all the time. (These are the lamps) in the *meeting tent. They are outside the curtain which is in the *meeting tent. This is a rule for all your *descendants.

v4 Aaron must look after the lamps which are on a pure gold *lampholder. They must burn in front of the *LORD at all times.

 

v5 You must use the best flour and you must bake 12 loaves with it. You must use 4½ litres (of flour) for each loaf.

v6 You must put (the loaves) in two rows. (There must be) 6 in each row. (You must put them) on the table of pure gold in front of the *LORD.

v7 In each row, you must put pure *frankincense. It is (your) gift by fire to the *LORD. The *frankincense, which you burn, is a reminder of the bread.

v8 Every *Sabbath Day, (the priest) must always arrange it in front of the *LORD. It is from the *Israelites. It is an agreement that will never end.

v9 (These loaves) belong to Aaron and to his sons. They must eat them in a holy place, because they are most holy. It is their part of the *offerings that people give to the *LORD by fire. This is a rule that must continue for all time.” ’

 

v10 Now, there was a man whose mother was an *Israelite woman. His father was an *Egyptian. This (woman’s son) came (into the camp) of the *Israelites. Then the *Israelite woman’s son and (another) *Israelite began to quarrel in the camp.

v11 Then the son of the *Israelite woman said something bad against (the *LORD’s) name. It was a *blasphemy. They brought the man to Moses. This man’s mother was called Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri. She came from the *tribe called Dan.

v12 The (*Israelites) locked the man in a prison. They did not know what the *LORD wanted them to do with the man.

v13 Then the *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v14 ‘Take the man who said the *blasphemy outside the camp. Everybody who heard him must put their hands onto his head. After this, all the people must throw stones at him (until he dies).

v15 Say this to the *Israelites. “Whoever says bad things against his God is responsible for his *sin.

v16 You must kill anybody who says bad things against the name of the *LORD. All the people must throw stones at him (until he is dead). Anyone, whether he is a foreigner or an (*Israelite), must die. This is if he says bad things against the name (of the *LORD).

v17 Anyone may perhaps hit and kill someone (on purpose). The people must kill that person.

v18 Someone may hit an animal and kill it. He must give a life for a life. He must replace it.

v19 Someone may cause an injury to another person. You must do to that man what he did to the other person.

v20 It will be damage for damage, and eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. As he did to the other person, (you must) do to him.

v21 Anyone who kills (someone else’s) animal must replace it. Anyone who kills a person must die.

v22 You must have the same law for foreigners and for (*Israelites). This is because I am the *LORD your God.” ’

v23 So Moses spoke to the *Israelites. Then they took away the man who had spoken *blasphemy. They threw stones at him outside the camp (until he was dead). So the *Israelites did what the *LORD had ordered Moses to do.

Notes

Verses 2-4 The *lampholder, which held the lamps in God’s house, had 7 branches. This means that there were 7 lamps on it. The *oil is from a plant called the olive. People would burn it to provide light. These rules are also in Exodus 27:20-21. They pressed the *oil with their hands. This means that it was very pure. It did not make much smoke.

Verses 5-9 Exodus 25:30 refers to the special bread. Only the priests could eat this special bread, Matthew 12:4. We call it the ‘show bread’ because it ‘shows’ various things.

·  It ‘shows’ that there were 12 *tribes (or large families) in *Israel. So it showed that God was with his people.

·  The *frankincense reminded (or ‘showed’) people what God had done for them. *Frankincense is a sticky material that people get from trees. It has a sweet smell.

·  They made the bread from the best flour. People must do everything as well as they can for God.

The priests put the bread on the table each *Sabbath Day. The *Sabbath Day was the 7th day of the week.

Verses 10-12 The word ‘*blasphemy’ means ‘a bad thing that someone says against God’. The *Israelites locked the man in a prison. Then they waited for the *LORD to say what to do with the man.

Verses 13-16 and 23 The *LORD said that the man must die. The people must take him outside the camp and they must kill him there. This meant that the camp itself remained *clean. So this is what the people did.

Verses 17-22 The law here means this. If someone does damage, he must undo the damage as far as possible. If a man kills another man on purpose, the killer must die. God did not allow a murderer to pay money in order to save his life (Numbers 35:31). But for other types of damage, the person who caused the damage must pay. So if a man kills an animal, he must give another animal to the owner.

Verse 20 contains a very important and well-known law. It is called ‘an eye for an eye’. When a person causes damage to someone else, he is responsible for it. So that person’s punishment must have a proper relationship to the damage that he caused.

Some Bible students think that the person responsible must suffer the same damage. For example, if the person damages someone else’s eye, his own eye must suffer damage. But *Jewish Bible students do not agree. They say that there is no record of any such punishment ever in *Jewish history. Numbers 35:31 shows that people paid money as a punishment (but not for murder). So ‘an eye for an eye’ really means this: There is a more severe punishment if the damage is worse. The punishment is less severe if the damage is minor. And the judge must deal with everyone alike, whether they are important or not.

Jesus referred to this law in Matthew 5:38-42. He explained it and he emphasised it. The purpose of the original law was to put a limit on the person’s punishment. But Jesus said that God’s people should not show cruelty, but kindness. They should want to forgive other people. And they should not even want all that they have a legal right to claim. Jesus said words that mean this: ‘You must not even fight back.’

Something to do

1. Read about Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-21. Notice verse 3, where the *LORD’s lamp is still burning. This house of God was in Shiloh, not in Jerusalem. The *LORD had several houses before the *Israelites built his house in Jerusalem.

2. Study these verses. Christians should be like a light at all times: Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15.

3. Read about the occasion when David and his soldiers ate the ‘show bread’, in 1 Samuel 21:1-7 and Mark 2:25-26.

Chapter 25

Special years in the *Jewish calendar

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses at the mountain (called) Sinai.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites and say (this) to them. “Do this in the land (country) that I will give to you. (Allow) the land to have a *Sabbath for the *LORD.

v3 You will sow (seeds) in your fields for 6 years. You will look after your *vineyards and you will gather the fruits for 6 years.

v4 Then, in the 7th year, your land will have a rest. It will be a special *Sabbath for the *LORD. You will not sow (seeds in) your fields, nor work in your *vineyards.

v5 (During the 7th year,) you must not gather the crops that will grow without your efforts. You must not harvest *grapes from the *vines where you have not worked. The land must have a whole year of special rest.

v6 Whatever (food) the land gives to you in the *Sabbath Year will be food for you. Also, (it will be food) for your male and female servants. Also (it will be food) for the people whom you pay to work for you. And (it will be food) for the guest who stays with you.

v7 And (it will be food) for all the animals on your land, whether they are wild or tame. All that (the land) gives you will be (your) food.

 

v8 You will count 7 *sabbaths of years. This is 7 times 7 years. So 7 *sabbaths of years means 49 years.

v9 Then you will make a sound on the *trumpet. (You will do this) on the 10th day of the 7th month. You will make a sound on the *trumpet on the Day of *Atonement through all your country.

v10 You will declare that the 50th year is holy. You will announce freedom in your country to everybody who lives there. It will be a *Jubilee Year for you. Everybody will return to the property that belongs to his family. And each (one) of you will return to his family.

v11 It will be the *Jubilee Year for you, (that is,) the 50th year. You must not sow (seeds). You must not harvest what sows itself. You must not gather (*grapes) from the *vines where you have not worked.

v12 It is your *Jubilee Year, and it will be holy for you. (In it) you will eat what your fields produce.

v13 In the *Jubilee Year, everybody must return to his (family’s) property.

v14 You may sell property to someone in your country. Or you may buy (property) from someone in your country. If so, do not (use this rule to) make an (unfair) profit from each other.

v15 If you want to buy a man’s land, then count the number of years since the last *Jubilee Year. (Use that number to decide the right price). Remember this. He is only selling you the right to harvest the crops until the next *Jubilee Year.

v16 If there are a lot of years (before the next *Jubilee Year), then the price will be high. If there are only a few years (until the next *Jubilee Year), then the price will be lower. The man is only selling that number of harvests to you.

v17 You must not make (unfair) profits from each other, but you must give honour to God. (Remember) that I am the *LORD your God.

v18 Remember and obey (all) my laws and rules. Then (I will allow you) to remain safely in the land (the country called *Canaan).

v19 Then the land will produce (good) crops for you. You will have plenty to eat. You will live there safely.

v20 You might ask (these questions). ‘What shall we eat in the 7th year if we do not plant crops? What shall we eat if we do not gather the harvest?’

v21 I will be especially kind to you during the 6th year. (During that year,) the land will produce enough food for 3 years.

v22 When you plant (crops) during the 8th year, you will eat (food) from the old harvest. You will continue to eat (food) from the old harvest until the 9th year. Then there will be a new harvest.

 

v23 The land really belongs to me. So you cannot sell it permanently (to someone else). You will be like foreigners who rent my land.

v24 People might sell their land, but they will always get it back (in the *Jubilee Year). That is so across the whole country that you will receive as a possession.

v25 One of your brothers may become poor, (so that) he has to sell some of his property. Then, his closest relative must come to buy back (the property) that his brother has sold.

v26 But the man may have nobody to buy it back (for him). And, (later), he may earn enough money to buy back (the property).

v27 Then he must calculate its value for the years since he sold it. He must return the money to the person to whom he sold (the property). Then he can return to his property.

v28 But he may not gain enough money (to buy it back). Then, the buyer will keep the property until the *Jubilee Year. Then, in the *Jubilee Year, the man will get his property back. He can return to his own property.

v29 Someone may sell a house in a city that has walls (all round it). He has the right to buy it back for a year after its sale. But he can only buy it back during that year.

v30 If he does not buy it back in that year, then the house will always belong to the buyer. (The buyer) may give it to his *descendants. It will not belong again to the seller in the *Jubilee Year.

v31 However, if the house is in a village without walls all round it, then it is (like) a field. The seller can always buy it back. It will belong to him again in the *Jubilee Year.

v32 Some cities will belong to the *Levites. (If a *Levite sells) a house in such a city, he may buy it back at any time.

v33 Any one of the *Levites may do this. Also, a house in the city will again belong to the *Levites in the *Jubilee Year. That is because houses in the *Levites’ cities are their possession among the *Israelites.

v34 But they must not sell the fields outside their cities. These field must always be the possession (of the *Levites).

 

v35 One of your brothers may become poor so that he cannot provide (food for himself). You must help him as you would help a foreigner (in your country). Also (as you would help) someone with a temporary home among you. Then, (your poor brother) can continue to live among you.

v36 Do not charge him money for a loan. Respect your God’s (laws). Then your brother may continue to live among you.

v37 You must not lend him money and charge him for it. You must not sell him food and make a profit.

v38 I am the *LORD (who is) your God. I brought you out of (the country called) Egypt to give to you the country called *Canaan. (I did this so that) I would be your God.

v39 One of your brothers may become poor and he may sell himself to you. But you must not make him do the work of a slave.

v40 You must deal with him as a wage earner, or as a temporary worker. He must work for you until the *Jubilee Year.

v41 Then you must allow him and his children to become free again. He can return to his family and to the property that his father’s (family) owned.

v42 (Do this) because (the *Israelites) are my servants. I brought them out of (the country called) Egypt. You must not sell them for the price of slaves.

v43 You must not rule them cruelly. You must respect your God.

v44 You must get your male and female slaves from the countries that surround you. You may buy male and female slaves from them.

v45 You may also buy (your slaves) from people who have temporary homes among you. Also, from their families who are among you and who have been born in your country. They will become your property.

v46 You may also give them to your children as their property (when you die). You may make them always to serve you. You may deal with them as slaves. But you must not rule over other *Israelites cruelly; they are like your brothers.

 

v47 A foreigner, or somebody who has a temporary home among you, may become rich. One of your brothers (who lives) near him may become poor. He may sell himself to the foreigner or to the person who has a temporary home among you. (He may sell himself) to a member of the foreigner’s family.

v48 (Your brother) still has the right to buy himself back after he has sold himself. Or one of his brothers may buy him back.

v49 Or his uncle or his cousin may buy him back. Or a relative from his larger family may buy him back. Or, if he does well, he may buy himself back.

v50 He and his owner must calculate the price of his sale. They must count the years from when he sold himself until the *Jubilee Year. They must calculate how much a worker would earn in that number of years. (So they must work out the price for his freedom.)

v51 But there may be many years (until the *Jubilee Year). Then the (brother) must give back a large part of the price. The amount will depend on the number of years.

v52 But only a few years may remain until the *Jubilee Year. Then, the (brother) must pay a small part of the original price.

v53 The foreigner must deal with your brother as a worker that he has hired each year. You must make sure that the foreigner does not rule (your brother) cruelly.

v54 But perhaps nobody buys him back in any of these ways. Then (your brother) must go free in the *Jubilee Year. Both he and his children must go free, v55 because the *Israelites are my servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of (the country called) Egypt. I am the *LORD (who is) your God.” ’

Notes

This chapter continues the list of special times and days that began in Leviticus chapter 23. As well as *Sabbath Days, there must be *Sabbath Years. Also, after 7 *Sabbath Years, there must be a very special year on the 50th year. This is called a *Jubilee Year. All this is about freedom. On the 7th year, the land is free from seeds and harvests. On the 50th year, people are free. The idea of the *Jubilee Year reminds the *Jews of these things.

·  The *LORD had made them free from Egypt.

·  The land belonged to the *LORD, and the *Jews could not always own it.

·  The *Jews must trust God to provide their food.

·  The land itself must be free from seeds and harvests in some years.

So the *Jews had to prepare for *Sabbath Years and *Jubilee Years. They had to keep enough food for them. Life would be simple in the *Sabbath Years, as it was on the way from Egypt to *Israel. Most people would not live through more than one *Jubilee Year.

These rules about *Sabbath Years and *Jubilee Years help us to understand the real meaning of the *Sabbath. The *Sabbath is not only about a pause from our usual work. It is about the special time when we *worship God. And especially, it is about the rest and the freedom that God gives to his people (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Real Christians have already started to receive that rest and freedom (Matthew 11:28-30). But this is just the beginning. In the future, God will defeat all his enemies (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). And then he will establish his rule in the New Jerusalem. There God’s people will always have perfect rest and freedom as they *worship him (Revelation 21:1-5).

But only the people who really are God’s people will know that rest and freedom. The freedom that God gave in the *Jubilee Year was only for God’s people, the *Israelites. God gave them freedom because, as he said, ‘They are my servants’ – verses 42 and 55.

We do not know whether a proper *Jubilee Year has ever happened. The Bible does not mention any such occasion. The *Jubilee Year was part of God’s perfect plan for the *Israelites. But perhaps it will not happen until God has created the New Earth. Then he will live among his people. And all these things will be possible.

Verses 1-7 The *Sabbath Day was the 7th day in the week. It reminded people that God rested on the 7th day. This was after he had made everything. So the *Sabbath for the land was every 7th year. And it was a year when the land rested. In other words, people did not plant their usual crops. The agricultural workers did not do their usual work. People did not harvest and store crops from the land. So in this year, the people would have more time for rest and for *worship.

*Vineyards were the gardens where people produced fruit. The fruits were called *grapes. They grow on plants called *vines. People made wine from *grapes. The rule about the *Sabbath Year also included other fruits. The *Jews could eat any fruit that grew. But it must be fruit that they had not sown. This would remind them of their journey from Egypt. They could not gather crops during the *Sabbath Year. So ‘all that (the land) gives you’ means the food that they ate fresh from the fields. They could eat it immediately, but they could not store it.

Verses 8-13 The *trumpet is a musical instrument. Today, we make them out of a metal called brass. During Moses’ life, people made ‘*trumpets’ from the *horns of animals. These *horns grew on the animals’ heads. The *Hebrew word for these ‘*trumpets’ was ‘yobel’. We get our word ‘*jubilee’ from this *Hebrew word ‘yobel’. The *Jews could not harvest what grew in their fields that year (verse 11). They had to eat what grew in the year before the *Sabbath Year (verse 12).

The *Jubilee Year began on the Day of *Atonement (see Leviticus 23:26-32). So it began when God forgave his people’s *sins. And during that year, God gave freedom to all his people. They returned to the places where their families lived. If they had sold their family’s land, God gave the land back to them again. God was making these things right again. And this should remind us that, in the future, God will make everything right.

Verses 14-18 It is against God’s law to carry on business in an unfair manner. We could translate part of verse 14 like this. ‘If you sell property to a man in your country, do not cheat him.’ Numbers 36:9 tells us that in the *Jubilee Year, land must go back to its original owner. Leviticus 25:24 also says this. The buyer did not own the land permanently. The land really belonged to God. He lent it to the people when they came into *Canaan. *Canaan was the old name of countries that we now call Palestine and *Israel. If the people wanted to remain in this land, they had to obey God.

Verses 19-24 So that people would not worry about food in the *Jubilee Year, God made them a promise. Remember, a *Jubilee Year followed a *Sabbath Year. That meant that the people would need food for 2 years. This would make the people trust God’s promises in verses 21-22.

Verses 25-28 The *Hebrew word for ‘relative’ is *goel. A *goel is a member of your family. There is a list of possible *goels in verses 48 and 49. Because a brother, uncle or cousin buys the property, it remains in the family. In the *Jubilee Year, the poor man could claim back his property. He could even claim it then if the *goel had not bought it back. The price to buy back the property before the *Jubilee Year depended on the number of years until then.

Verses 29-31 This is an exception to the *Jubilee Year rule. The reason is that in a city with walls there are no fields. And the *Jubilee Year rule is only about the return of the land.

There is a good reason for this exception. Some people, who were not *Israelites, would join the *Israelites. Those people would live in the cities. They should obey God’s law and they should believe God. Then God accepts them as *Israelites. But the law about the *Jubilee Year is completely fair. So those people do not lose their homes. Their right to live in the cities in Israel is a permanent right.

However, the agricultural workers would live outside the city walls. They had to live near the land where they worked. So when God gave the land back to the original families, he gave them houses to live in, too.

Verses 32-34 There were 13 *tribes, or large families, that came out of Egypt with Moses. Each *tribe contained *descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob. One of these sons, Joseph, had two *tribes. They were called by his sons’ names, Ephraim and Manasseh. 12 of the *tribes had land in *Canaan. One *tribe, called Levi, had no land. Instead, they had homes in 48 cities in *Canaan. The priests belonged to this *tribe. And the other members of this *tribe helped the priests. They were the *Levites. The cities were called ‘*Levites’ cities’. Most of the *Jews possessed land. The *Levites’ possession was houses. Outside their cities, the *Levites also had fields, which they could not sell. The *Levites had two important jobs to do:

·  They had to help the priests in the house of God.

·  They had to teach the people God’s laws and rules.

Verses 35-38 The ‘brother’ may mean a real brother, or a member of the same *tribe. James tells Christians to do the same for other (poorer) Christians, James 2:15-16.

Verses 39-46 The master must deal with the poor man as a wage earner. He is not a slave. In the 7th year, such a man could go free, Deuteronomy 15:12. If a *Jubilee Year came earlier, the man could go free then. However, if the man or woman or child is a foreigner, the rules are different. They will never be free.

Verses 47-55 Here is a list of ‘*goels’. The note on verse 25 explains the word ‘*goel’. If you are the poor man, the list starts with your brothers. They are close to you. Then uncles, either your mother’s or father’s brothers. Then your cousins. We do not really know where the list ended! The price depended on:

·  how many years there were until the *Jubilee; and

·  how many years the poor man had served.

Again, the owner must deal fairly with the man whom he is hiring. This is because the *Israelites are really God’s servants. This becomes clear every *Jubilee Year.

Something to do

1. Read Matthew 6:33. Compare it with the ideas of *Sabbath Years and *Jubilee Years.

2. Read Isaiah 5:8 and Amos 2:6. Do these verses seem to show that people did not obey the rules in Leviticus 25:1-24?

3. Read the stories in the Bible about *goels. They are in Ruth chapters 1 to 4 and Jeremiah chapter 32.

4. Read Joshua chapter 21 to find where the 48 *Levites’ cities were.

Chapter 26

More commands, promises and punishments

v1 ‘You must not make *idols for yourselves in the land (the country called *Canaan). You must not make an image (of a false god) or a column that you *worship. You must not get down onto your knees in front of a stone with a special shape. (Remember), I am the *LORD your God.

v2 Always remember (to rest and to *worship me on) my *Sabbath days. Give honour to my house. I am the *LORD.

v3 Do the things that I have told you to do. Obey all my commands.

v4 Then I will send you rain in its (proper) season. The ground will give you its crops and the trees in the fields (will give you) their fruits.

v5 You will beat the corn, in order to clean it, until you gather the *grapes. You will gather *grapes until it is time to plant (seeds). So you will have plenty of food to eat and you will live safely in your land.

v6 I will give you peace in your land. Then you will lie down and you will not be afraid. I will remove wild animals from your land. (People with) swords will not come into your land.

v7 You will chase your enemies and you will kill them with (your) *swords.

v8 Five (5) of you will chase a hundred (100) men. A hundred (100) of you will chase ten thousand (10 000) men. You will kill your enemies with (your) *swords.

v9 Then I will be kind to you and you will have many children. I will increase the numbers of your people. I will do what I have promised to do for you.

v10 You will have enough food from your crops to last for a whole year. When you gather the new harvest, you will have to throw the old harvest away!

v11 I will put my house among you and I will not hate you.

v12 I will walk round among you. I will be your God and you will be my people.

v13 I am the *LORD (who is) your God. I brought you out of (the country called) Egypt. So, you are not now the *Egyptians’ slaves. It was as if I broke the wooden bars from your shoulders. And so now you can stand up straight.

 

v14 But if you do not obey me, (I will punish you). Also, you must do all that I order you to do.

v15 But perhaps you will hate my laws and rules and you will neglect to obey all my commands. (If you do such things) you will be opposing my *covenant.

v16 This is how I will punish you. Suddenly, I will send terror to you. This will include bad diseases. People’s bodies will become too hot. Your eyes will not be able to see well. You will not want to eat your food. You will not harvest any crops after you sow your seeds. Your enemies will eat them.

v17 My face will be against you, so that your enemies will defeat you. People who hate you will rule over you. You will run away, even if nobody chases you.

v18 If after all this, you still do not obey me, you will suffer my punishment. (I will punish you) 7 times for your *sins.

v19 I will destroy your proud attitude. The sky will be like iron for you and the ground (will be) like metal.

v20 You will use your strength but you will get nothing for it. The land will not give (you) its crops. The trees on the land will not give (you) their fruits.

v21 If you continue to be against me, I will send you (more) trouble. If you do not obey me, (your trouble will be) 7 times greater because of your *sins.

v22 I will send wild animals that are loose against you. They will rob your children from you. They will kill your cows. They will make you very few in number. Your roads will be empty (because nobody will go on them).

v23 If after all these things, you will not accept my discipline (then I will continue to punish you). If you continue to fight against me, v24 then even I (your God) will fight against you. I, even I, will hit you hard 7 times for your *sins.

v25 I will bring (people with) *swords against you to satisfy my anger. This is the anger that my *covenant (with you contains). When you gather in your cities, I will send a bad disease among you. Also, your enemies will overcome you.

v26 I will stop your supply of bread. Then 10 women will bake your bread in one oven. They will distribute your bread by weight. You will eat, but (the food) will not satisfy you.

v27 If after all this, you still will not obey me (then more bad things will happen). If you continue to fight against me, v28 I will fight against you in an angry manner. You will suffer my punishment for your *sins 7 times.

v29 You will eat the bodies of your sons and you will eat the bodies of your daughters.

v30 I will destroy your high places (where you *worship false gods). I will ruin the *altars where you burn *incense. I will make a pile of your dead bodies on the dead images of your *idols. I myself will hate you.

v31 I will ruin your cities. I will make empty the places where you *worship (me). I will not find any delight in the pleasant smells when you burn things for me.

v32 I will make your land empty. When your enemies come to live in it, the state of it will give them a shock.

v33 I will chase you away with my *sword and I will scatter you among the nations. Your land will be empty and I will have destroyed your cities.

v34 Then the land will enjoy its *Sabbath Years during all the time that it is empty. You will be in the country of your enemies, so your land will rest. And then it will enjoy its *Sabbath Years.

v35 All the time that it is empty, (your land) will have rest. It did not have this rest during the *Sabbath Years when you worked on it.

v36 Some of you will remain alive, but I will take away their courage in the country of their enemies. The sound of a leaf that blows (in the wind) will chase them away! They will run away as if (someone with) a *sword chased them. They will fall down although nobody is chasing them.

v37 They will fall over each other, as if they were running away from a (man with a) *sword. (They will do this) although nobody is chasing them. You will not be able to stand up in front of your enemies.

v38 You will die among the nations. Your enemies’ country will eat you. (In other words, you will die there.)

v39 Those among you who remain alive will die in your enemies’ countries. (This will be) because of their own *sins. They will also die because of their fathers’ *sins, which I will add to theirs.

v40 But (my people) may confess their *sins and the *sins of their fathers. Their *sins are the bad things that they did against me. Really, they fought against me.

v41 But by then I will have fought against them. I will have brought them into the country of their enemies. Their hearts will be like the hearts of people who do not belong to me. But they may make their hearts humble and they may do the right things.

v42 Then I will remember my promises to Jacob. I will remember my promises to Isaac. I will remember my promises to Abraham. Also I will remember the land.

v43 But the land will be without (its people). It will enjoy its *Sabbaths while it is empty without them. The people did not like my rules and they hated my laws. But they will pay for their *sins (when the land rests).

v44 Although they have done all this, I will not hate them so much as to destroy their (families) completely. When they are in the country of their enemies, I will not destroy my promises to them. I will not hate them that much. I am the *LORD (who is) their God.

v45 I will remember my promises because (I love my people). I made those promises to their families when I brought them out of (the country called) Egypt. All the nations saw (what I did. I did it) to be their God. I am the *LORD.’

v46 These are the rules, laws and commands that the *LORD established between himself and (his people) the *Israelites. He did it at the mountain called Sinai through Moses.

Notes

Verses 1-2 An idol is an image that people *worship. People made stones with special shapes that they *worshipped. Verse 1 repeats Leviticus 19:4 and the second (2nd) of the 10 commands in Exodus 20:4-6. The 4 words for *idols in this verse include every type of false god. Verse 2 repeats the fourth (4th) of the 10 commands, Exodus 20:8-11 and Leviticus 19:30. All this emphasises that the *LORD God is the greatest God. He is the only real God. His people must *worship him and only him.

Verses 3-10 People beat corn in order to clean it, so that it stores well. They would start to beat the corn in April. And they started to gather the *grapes in October. So here, the *Israelites would beat their corn from April until October. This was a very long time to carry out that work. It did not usually take them so long to do it. But here, the reason for all this work was good news! It was because the harvest was so plentiful.

People use *grapes to make wine. Wine was important. Water often contained something that gave people diseases. But wine was safer to drink. So the promise was for plenty of bread and wine. They would even throw some of it away at the end of a year! But they had to obey God first. They would also be able to protect themselves against enemies. A *sword is a long knife that soldiers used. The wild animals were probably dangerous animals, for example lions and bears.

Verses 11-13 God reminds them about these things.

·  Who he is.

·  What he has done for them.

God also promises that he will live among them. His house was later the building called the temple, which Solomon built in Jerusalem. This temple was the building where the *Israelites *worshipped God.

People used to put wooden bars on animals when they had heavy work to do. And people sometimes did this to prisoners and slaves too. But here the word seems to be a word picture. In Egypt, the *Israelites had to work hard like slaves. But God made them free! The wooden bars did not still push them down. They did not still have to do heavy work for other people. ‘Stand up straight’ means that they could walk easily.

Verses 14-17 God had promised to help and to protect his people if they obeyed him. But if not, God promised that he would punish the people. ‘My face will be against you’ means this. God will consider his people to be his enemies, not his friends. The people’s bodies become too hot because they are ill.

Verses 18-20 The proud attitude here is not a good thing, but a bad thing. It made them feel as if they did not need God. So the sky would be like iron. That word picture means that there would be no rain. The ground would be as hard as metal. The people could not dig in it. So there would be few crops or fruits. There are several references to ‘7 times’ in this chapter. It probably means ‘very much more’.

Verses 21-26 If the people continued not to obey God, worse things would happen.

·  Wild animals would kill their children. These animals would include lions and bears. They lived near Jericho when David was king, 1 Samuel 17:34-36 and 2 Kings 17:25.

·  Their enemies would kill them. These enemies lived in the countries round *Judah and *Israel. There are examples in Judges 2:11-15, 2 Kings 17:18-20 and Isaiah 10:5-11.

·  There would be bad diseases that would make people die. The diseases would kill many people. Also, their enemies would kill them.

·  There would not be much food. One oven would contain bread for 10 families. That is not enough to satisfy their hunger. So they would remain hungry.

Verses 27-33 If they continued not to obey God, even worse things would happen!

·  They would have so little food that they would even eat their children. There are examples in 2 Kings 6:28-29 and Lamentations 2:20.

·  God would destroy their high places. These were places usually at the top of hills, where people *worshipped their false gods. They burned *sacrifices to these gods on the *altars.

·  God would also empty the places where they *worshipped him. He also would empty their land. Even their enemies would be surprised to see this.

·  The *Israelites would have to live in other countries. God would scatter them with his *sword. ‘God’s sword’ means the *swords of the enemies that God sent against his people.

Verses 34-35 The land should have rested during the *Sabbath Years. (See Leviticus 25:1-7.) ‘Rested’ means that people did not work on the land. The *Sabbath Years should have happened every 7th year. But when the *Israelites were in *exile, the land would get its rest! ‘*Exile’ means away from home, where God had scattered his people.

Verses 36-39 The ‘country will eat you’ is an *Hebrew way to say this. ‘You will die in the country’. Exodus 20:5 says that God will punish people and their *descendants. That is why God adds their fathers’ *sins to their *sins.

Verses 40-42 ‘Fathers’ here means fathers, grandfathers, and earlier members of the same family. ‘Hearts’ really means ‘minds’. The *Israelites believed that you thought with your heart. The *Hebrew words for hearts in verse 41 include a description of the attitude of their hearts. So our translation says, ‘Their hearts are like the hearts of people who do not belong to me.’ We could say, ‘Their hearts did not behave as *Israelites should behave.’ The promises or *covenants that God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in Something to do number 3.

Verses 43-45 The people did not obey God’s laws. Therefore the land did not rest on the *Sabbath Years. But now it can rest! But although the people *sinned, God promised not to destroy their families completely. God’s people, the *Israelites, would continue to exist. In the end, he would again rescue them and he would bring them back to their own country.

Verse 46 This verse probably refers to the whole Book of Leviticus.

Something to do

1. Study the 10 commands in Exodus 20:1-17. Compare Exodus 20:5 with Leviticus 26:39.

2. Read Isaiah chapter 11, which describes some of the New Earth to us. The New Earth will be where God lives among his people.

3. Study the *covenants that God made with:

·  Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:1-21.

·  Isaac, Genesis 26:24.

·  Jacob, Genesis 35:9-15.

Chapter 27

Laws about *tithes and *offerings

v1 The *LORD said (this) to Moses.

v2 ‘Speak to the *Israelites. Say this to them. “Someone might make a special promise to give a person to the *LORD. You must say what the value (of that person) is.

v3 The value of a male person whose age is between 20 and 60 years is 50 *shekels of silver. You must use *shekels (that match the standard of the *shekel) in my house.

v4 The value of a female person is 30 *shekels.

v5 If the male person is between the ages of 5 and 20 years, (his) value is 20 *shekels. (The value of) a female person is 10 *shekels.

v6 If the male person is between one month and 5 years old, (his) value is 5 *shekels of silver. (The value of) a female person is 3 *shekels of silver.

v7 If the male person is 60 years of age or older, (his) value is 15 *shekels. (The value of) a female person is 10 *shekels.

v8 But someone who made such a promise may be too poor to pay the price. He must make the person stand in front of the priest. The priest will work out how much the poor man will have to pay. It is what the poor man can afford.

 

v9 Someone may promise to give an animal to the *LORD. The animal may be a type of animal that (the priest) can offer (to the *LORD). Then the animal that the person gives to the *LORD becomes holy.

v10 He must not exchange it for another animal. He must not change a good animal for a bad animal, or a bad animal for a good one. If he does exchange one animal for another (animal), then both animals become holy.

v11 Someone may promise to give an animal that is not *clean. It is not an animal that (the priest) can offer to the *LORD. That animal must stand in front of the priest.

v12 The priest will work out what its value is, either high or low. It is the priest who will work out its value.

v13 If the man wants to buy (the animal) back, he must add 20% (per cent) of its value.

 

v14 A person may want to *dedicate his house as holy for the *LORD. The priest must work out what its value is, either high or low. Whatever the priest says will be its value.

v15 If the person wants to buy his house back, he must add 20% (per cent) to the price. Then (the house) will become his (house again).

 

v16 A person may want to *dedicate land to the *LORD. (That is,) part of his family’s (land). (The priest) must work out its value from the amount of seeds that someone would sow there. The rate is 50 *shekels of silver for 50 gallons (220 litres) of grain seeds.

v17 If he *dedicates his field during the *Jubilee Year, then that is its value.

v18 But if he *dedicates his field after the *Jubilee Year, the priest must work out its value. He will count how many years there will be until the (next) *Jubilee Year. He will reduce its value in proportion (to the number of years).

v19 The person who *dedicates (the field) may wish to buy it back. He must add 20% (per cent) of its value and then (the field) will be legally his (field again).

v20 If he does not buy back the field, nobody else can buy it back. (The same is true) if he sells the field to somebody else.

v21 When the field is free again in the *Jubilee Year, it will belong to the priests. It will be holy to the *LORD, like a field that belongs completely (to him).

 

v22 A man may *dedicate to the *LORD a field which he has bought. It is not part of his family’s land.

v23 The priest will work out the value of the field. It will depend on how long it is to the next *Jubilee Year. The man must pay its value on that day. It is holy for the *LORD.

v24 In the *Jubilee Year, the field will belong again to the person from whom the man bought it. It is part of the land that belongs to that person’s family.

v25 (The priest) will say (what) the value (of the land is) in *shekels. The *shekel will be as it is in the house of God. (It weighs 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams).) 20 *gerahs make one *shekel.

 

v26 Nobody may *dedicate a *first-born animal to the *LORD. This is because all *first-born animals already belong to him. (The animal) belongs to the *LORD, whether it is a cow or a sheep.

v27 But the animal may be an *unclean animal. Then the owner may buy it back for its value plus 20% (per cent). If he does not buy it back, (the priest) must sell it for its value.

 

v28 A person must not sell anything that he *devotes to the *LORD. He must not buy it back either. This is (the rule) for every such thing that he has. It may be a human person, an animal or one of his family’s fields. Everything that he *devotes belongs to the *LORD. It is most holy.

v29 But a human person whom (a judge) has *devoted (to the *LORD) must die. Someone must kill that person if it is proper to *devote that person. Nobody can buy back that person.

 

v30 A *tithe of everything from the land belongs to the *LORD. This includes grain from the land and fruit from trees. (The *tithe) is holy for the *LORD.

v31 If someone buys back any of his *tithe, he must add 20% (per cent) (to its price).

v32 (People must also give) a *tithe of their cows and sheep. A tenth of all that come under a farmer’s *rod will be holy for the *LORD.

v33 (The farmer) may not choose the good (animal) from the bad (animal). He may not put one animal in place of another (animal). If he does, then both animals become holy. He cannot buy back either of them.” ’

 

v34 These are the laws which the *LORD gave to Moses on the mountain called Sinai. (These rules) were for the *Israelites.

Notes

Verse 2 A person can make a special promise to the *LORD. That promise may be to give someone else (for example, a son or daughter) to the *LORD. Then, that other person would serve the *LORD in a special way.

Bible students do not agree about the purpose of the payment in verses 2-8. There are two main ideas:

(1) Perhaps this payment was to buy back the person from the *LORD. Bible students who think this give the example of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11:34-40. Jephthah gave his daughter to the *LORD. Afterwards, he wanted to change his mind. If these Bible students are right, then Jephthah had to pay this money instead. But the Book of Judges seems not to describe the mere payment of money.

(2) Perhaps the person who gave the gift had to pay money too. The other person would work for God for his whole life. This is what happened to Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:21-28. If these Bible students are right, then it was not possible to buy back a person from the *LORD.

Verses 3-7 A *shekel is a weight. It is 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams). Women had a lower value because they were not as strong as men. The people whom someone promised to give to the *LORD would help the priests in God’s house. The priests would train the children how to help them. In countries near to *Israel, people *sacrificed children to their false gods. The *LORD did not allow this in *Israel.

Verse 8 Here ‘the person’ means the person whom someone is *offering to the *LORD. This person must stand in front of the priest. The priest will decide how much the poor man can afford to pay.

Verses 9-10 When someone promises to give something to God, God accepts that gift immediately. It belongs to God even before the giver hands it over to the priest. So the giver cannot change his mind before he hands the animal over. He cannot give a different animal instead. If he tries to do that, then both animals belong to God.

The gift may be an animal that God accepts as a *sacrifice. Then the giver cannot ever buy that animal back. When he promised it, God accepted it. When God accepted it, the animal became holy. So the man must give that particular animal as a *sacrifice. God will not accept any payment or any other animal instead of it.

Verses 11-13 This man gave an animal that God does not accept as a *sacrifice. For example, the man may have given a *donkey or a horse. So the priest cannot *sacrifice it. Usually the priest would sell it for its proper value. The money would be for God’s house.

But perhaps the giver was sorry that he promised to give that animal. For example, perhaps it was his favourite horse. God allows the giver to buy back his animal. But the giver must know that he has done something wrong. He has taken back the animal that he gave to God. So he must pay an extra 20% (per cent), that is, one fifth. This is like the rules for the *guilt offering (see Leviticus 5:16 and 6:5).

Verses 14-15 *Dedicate means ‘to put away from daily use and to make holy’. Probably the priests would use such a house to live or to work in. Again, a man must add an extra 20% (per cent) to the price if he wants to buy his house back. He has to pay the extra money because he has done something wrong. He has taken back a gift that he gave to God.

Verses 16-21 A person could give some of his family’s land to the *LORD. Usually, the family would own again any land that they sold. It would become their land again in the *Jubilee Year (chapter 25). But if someone gave land to the *LORD, it would become permanently the *LORD’s, in the *Jubilee Year. However, until the *Jubilee Year, the giver could buy back the land. He had to pay an extra 20% (per cent) because he has done something wrong. He has taken back something that he gave to God.

The *Hebrew word for ‘50 gallons’ is ‘homer’. It is close to 50 gallons (220 litres) in size. ‘Homer’ means ‘*donkey’. A *donkey is a small horse. A homer of seed is what a *donkey can carry. Two things are not clear and they are a puzzle to Bible students.

·  Who does work on the field that the man has *dedicated to the *LORD? Does the man who *dedicated the field work on it? Then perhaps, he gives the harvest to the priests. Or do the priests work on the field? Bible students are not sure about the answers.

·  Who sells the field to somebody else in verse 20? Is it the man or the priests? Again, Bible students are not sure about the answers. Perhaps this is about land that the man has already sold. Usually, he would own the land again in the *Jubilee Year. But the man has given his rights over the land to the *LORD, so he cannot buy the land back. So in the *Jubilee Year, the land will become the *LORD’s.

Verses 22-25 These are the rules for a temporary gift of land to the *LORD. When someone had bought land, he only owned it until the next *Jubilee Year. Then the land went back to the original owner in the *Jubilee Year. So if the buyer gave this land to the *LORD, his gift was a temporary gift. He gave only the use of the land (or its harvests) until the *Jubilee Year.

Verses 26-27 The first young animal that a cow or a sheep has belongs to the *LORD, Exodus 13:2 and Exodus 34:19-20. That animal is the ‘*first-born’ of its parent. So nobody can give that animal to the *LORD; it is already his.

If the *first-born animal is *unclean, for example, a *donkey, the owner can buy it back from the *LORD at birth. Exodus 34:20 says that the owner must give a *lamb to the *LORD. That is the price to buy back the *first-born *donkey. If the owner does not want to buy back the *donkey, he must kill it.

Afterwards, the owner may decide to give again that *first-born *donkey to the *LORD. The owner would not be giving the *donkey for *sacrifice. The only animals that the priests *sacrificed were cows, *bulls, sheep and goats. The priests could sell the *donkey to someone else. Or, perhaps the owner might want to buy it back again. He must pay the extra 20% (per cent), because it is wrong to take back a gift from the *LORD.

Verses 28-29 The word ‘*devote’ means more than ‘*dedicate’. To *devote something to the *LORD is a very serious matter. Sometimes a person could buy back something that he had *dedicated to the *LORD. But nobody can buy back the things that someone *devotes to the *LORD. Such things belong wholly and completely to the *LORD. They are not only holy, they are most holy for the *LORD.

It seems that often, the people destroyed these things completely in order to hand them over to the *LORD. (See Joshua 6:17-19). This happened at certain battles (see 1 Samuel 15:17-23).

*Jewish Bible students think that verse 29 is about a judge’s decision. A judge could decide that a person must die because of his crime. So the judge would *devote that person to the *LORD, so that the person must die. And nobody could pay for the person to go free.

When the judge made that decision, he handed the person over to the *LORD. A judge would only make that decision for the worst crimes. For example, perhaps the person had killed someone on purpose. Or perhaps the person had decided on purpose that he would fight against the *LORD. (See Leviticus 24:13-17.)

Verses 30-33 A *tithe is one tenth, or 10% (per cent). The farmer’s *rod was a stick. He used it to guide and to protect his animals. Verse 32 seems to describe how he might count his animals. He would cause them to pass, under his *rod, through a narrow place. Then he could count each one in turn. And every tenth animal belonged to the *LORD. That animal was holy. So it was not possible to give another animal instead of it. But it was possible for a person to buy back some of his *tithe of grain or fruit. When someone did that, he was taking back a gift from the *LORD. So he had to pay the extra 20% (per cent) in addition to the value of the gift.

Verse 34 God gave these rules to the *Israelites because he wanted to have a relationship with them. He wanted to forgive their *sins so that they could have *fellowship with him. God wanted his people to be able to *worship him in the beauty of *holiness.

Something to do

1. Read 1 Samuel 1:11 and 1 Samuel 1:21-28. That passage is about Hannah, who *dedicated her son Samuel to the *LORD.

2. Read the stories in Joshua 6:17; Joshua 7:1-15; Deuteronomy 13:13-19; and 1 Samuel chapter 15. They are about things and people that someone *devoted to the *LORD.

3. Look for the farmer’s *rod in Psalm 23.

Word List

accidental ~ a description of an act that a person did not do on purpose.

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

adultery ~ the *sin when a man has sex with someone else’s wife; or a woman has sex with someone else’s husband.

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.

blasphemy ~ bad words that a person says against God; an insult against God.

blessings ~ good things that God gives to people.

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.

burnt offering ~ an *offering that the priests burned completely. It is the same as the *whole offering.

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

cattle ~ a number of cows and *bulls.

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.

commandment ~ another word for a command or a law. The ‘Ten Commandments’ is a name for God’s laws in Exodus chapter 20.

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’ near the beginning of this commentary.

courtyard ~ a yard round an important building.

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.)

curse ~ an evil statement that bad things should happen to someone. Or, to make such a statement. People often used magic in their curses.

cut off ~ to give someone a punishment that separates that person from his family or nation. That punishment may be death. But it may be to force that person to live abroad.

daughter-in-law ~ your son’s wife.

dedicate ~ to put something away from daily use and to make it holy or special.

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

devote ~ to give something completely and permanently to God. This word means more than ‘*dedicate’; it is a much more serious promise. Often when people devoted something to the *LORD, they destroyed that thing completely.

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’.

donkey ~ an animal that is like a small horse.

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

Egyptians ~ people who come from Egypt; Egypt is a country in north Africa.

ephah ~ 8 cups full of flour.

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.

first-born ~ the first baby that is born in a human family. Or, the first young animal to be born to its mother.

first fruits ~ the first fruits or grains that you pick each year.

flock ~ a group of sheep or goats.

forehead ~ the front of the head.

frankincense ~ a sticky material that has a sweet smell; people get it from trees. They use it as *incense.

gerah ~ a measurement that is 1/20th (5%) of a *shekel.

gleanings ~ a part of the harvest that people left for poorer people to gather.

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

goel ~ a member of your family who had to carry out special duties on your behalf. For example, the goel had to pay for your freedom if you became a slave. And he had a duty to buy back your family property if you had to sell it.

Gospels ~ the books that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote.

grapes ~ fruits that people use to make wine.

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’ near the beginning of this commentary.

half sister ~ the daughter of only one (and not both) of your parents.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.

herd ~ a group of cows and *bulls.

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.

idol ~ an image that people *worship; a false god.

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.

Jubilee Year ~ a special year that happened once at the end of each period of 50 years.

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.

lampholder ~ an object that holds a lamp.

Latin ~ the ancient language of the people who lived in Rome.

leprosy ~ a serious skin disease.

Levite ~ a member of the *tribe of Levi.

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.

medium ~ a person who says they can contact dead people.

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.

Molech ~ the name of a false god.

mourn ~ to be sad after a death.

New Testament ~ the last 27 books in the Bible.

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.

palm ~ a type of tree.

pancake ~ a flat bread that people cooked in a pan.

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’ near the beginning of this commentary.

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

pentecost ~ 50th. The Day of Pentecost was a special party at the beginning of the wheat harvest. It was 50 days after *Passover.

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.

point to ~ describe.

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.

religious ~ about religion.

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

rod ~ a stick that farmers used to protect and to guide their animals.

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.

sacred ~ something that has a connection with religion.

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.

shekel ~ a weight that is 0.4 of an ounce (12 grams).

showbread ~ the bread that the priests put on God’s *altar every week.

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’ near the beginning of this commentary.

sinner ~ a person who *sins.

slate ~ a thin piece, probably of stone.

soul ~ the part of us that lives when our body dies.

spiritist ~ a person who says they can contact dead people.

spit ~ to send liquid out of the mouth.

sword ~ a long knife that soldiers used.

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 near the beginning of this commentary.

table ~ a series of boxes into which to put information.

tattoo ~ a picture on your body under the skin; or, to put a tattoo on your body.

temperature ~ measurement of heat. Someone with a ‘high temperature’ is too hot because of an illness.

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.

tithe ~ one tenth or 10% (per cent).

tribe ~ a very large family.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument.

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.

vine ~ a type of bush. The fruit of a vine is the *grape.

vineyard ~ a garden or field where people produce *grapes.

vomit ~ when food returns to our mouths from our stomachs.

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’ near the beginning of this commentary.

willow ~ a type of tree.

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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