Leviticus
ויקרא
Reading 2,11 - 27 Chapters - 859 verses - 24,546 words

 

   


Vital Statistics

 Purpose:  A handbook for the priests and Levites outlining their duties in worship, and a guidebook of holy living for the Hebrews
 Author:  Moses
 Original audience:  The people of Israel 
 Date written:  1450-1410 B.C.
 Where written:  In the wilderness during Israel's wanderings, somewhere in the Sinai peninsula
 Setting:  At the foot of Mount Sinai. God is teaching the Israelites how to live as holy people
 Key verse:  "You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy" (19:2)
 Key people:  Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar 
 Key place: Mount Sinai 
 Special feature:  Holiness is mentioned more times (152) more in any other book of the Bible 



Author and Date of Writing

See Genesis Author and Date of writing.


Title

    Leviticus receives its name from the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the deal only with the special duties of the Levites, it is so named because it concerns brew text of the book and means "And he [i.e., the Lord] called." Although Leviticus does not OT) and means "relating to the Levites." Its Hebrew title, wayyiqra" is the first word in the mainly the service of worship at the tabernacle, which was conducted by the priests who were the sons of Aaron, assisted by many from the rest of the tribe of Levi. Exodus gave the directions for building the tabernacle, and now Leviticus gives the laws and regulations for worship there, including instructions on ceremonial cleanness, moral laws, holy d; vs, the sabbath year and the Year of Jubilee. These laws were given, at least for the most part, during the year that Israel camped at Mount Sinai, when God directed Moses in organizing israel's worship, government and military forces. The book of Numbers continues the history with preparations for moving on from Sinai to Canaan. 


Theological Themes

    Leviticus is a manual of regulations enabling the holy King to set up his earthly throne among the people of his kingdom. It explains how they are to be his holy people and to worship him in a holy manner. Holiness in this sense means to be separated from sin and set apart exclusively to the Lord for his purpose and for his glory. So the key thought of the book is holiness (see notes on 11:44; Ex 3:5)—the holiness of God and his people (they must revere him in "holiness"). In Leviticus spiritual holiness is symbolized by physical perfection.Therefore the book demands perfect animals for its many sacrifices (chs. 1-7) and requires priests without deformity (chs. 8-10). A woman's hemorrhaging after giving birth (ch. 12); sores, burns or baldness (chs. 13-14); a man's bodily discharge (15:1-18); specific activities during a woman's monthly period (15:19-33)—all may be signs of blemish (a lack of perfection) and may symbolize human spiritual defects, which break spiritual wholeness. The person with visible skin disease must be banished from the camp, the place of God's special presence, just as Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. Such people can return to the camp (and therefore to God's presence) when they are pronounced whole again by the examining priests. Before they can reenter the camp, however, they must offer the prescribed, perfect sacrifices (symbolizing the perfect, whole sacrifice of Christ). 

    After the covenant at Sinai, Israel was the earthly representation of God's kingdom (the theocracy), and, as its King, the Lord established his administration over all of Israel's life.lsra. ?I's religious, communal and personal life was so regulated as to establish them as God's holy people and to instruct them in holiness. Special attention was given to Israel's religious ritual. 

    The sacrifices were to be offered at an approved sanctuary, which would symbolize both God's holiness and his compassion. They were to be controlled by the priests, who by care and instruction would preserve them in purity and carefully teach their meaning to the people. Each particular sacrifice was to have meaning for the people of Israel but would also have spiritual and symbolic import. 

    For more information on the meaning of sacrifice in general see the solemn ritual of the Day of Atonement (ch. 16; see note on 16:1-34). For the meaning of the blood of the offering see 17:11; Ge 9:4 and notes. For the emphasis on substitution see 16:21. Some suppose that the OT sacrifices were remains of old agricultural offerings—a human desire to offer part of one's possessions as a love gift to the deity. But the CT sacrifices were specifically prescribed by God and received their meaning from the Lord's covenant relationship with Israel—whatever their superficial resemblances to pagan sacrifices may have been. They indeed include the idea of a gift, but this is accompanied by such other values as dedication, communion, propitiation (appeasing God's judicial wrath against sin) and restitution. The various offerings have differing functions, the primary ones being atonement (see note on Ex 25:17) and worship. 

 


Leviticus Interpretive Challenges


Leviticus is both a manual for the worship of GOd in Israel and a theology of Old Covenant ritual. Comprehensive understanding of the ceremonies, laws, and ritual details prescribed in the book is difficult today because Moses assumed a certain context of historical understanding. Once the challenge of understanding the detailed prescriptions has been met, the question arises as to how believers in the church should respond to them, since the NT clearly abrogates OT ceremonial law (c.f. Ac 10:1-16; Col 2:16, 17), the levitical priesthood (c.f. 1Pe 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), and the sanctuary (c.f. Mt 27:51), as well as instituting the New Covenant (c.f. Mt 26:28; 2Co 3:6-18; Heb 7:10). Rather than try to practice the old ceremonies or look for some deeper spiritual significance in them, the focus should be on the holy and divine character behind them.


This may partly be the reason that explanations which Moses often gave in the prescriptions for cleanness offer greater insight into the mind of God than do the ceremonies themselves. The spiritual principles in which the rituals were rooted are timeless because they are embedded in the nature of God. The NT makes it clear that from Pentecost forward (c.f. Ac 2), the church is under the authority of the New Covenant, not the Old (c.f. Heb 7-10).


The interpreter is challenged to compare features of this book with NT writes who present types or analogies based on the tabernacle and the ceremonial aspects of the law, so as to teach valuable lessons about Christ and New Covenant reality. Though the ceremonial law served only as a shadow of the reality of Christ and His redemptive work (Heb 10:1), excessive typology is to be rejected. Only that which NT writers identify as types of Christ should be so designated (c.f. 1Co 5:7, “Christ, our Passover lamb”).


The most profitable study in Leviticus is that which yields truth in the understanding of sin, guilty, substitutionary death, and atonement by focusing on features which are not explained or illustrated elsewhere in OT Scripture. Later OT authors, and especially NT writers, build on the basic  understanding of these matters provided in Leviticus. The sacrificial features of Leviticus point to their ultimate, one-time fulfillment in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ (Heb 9:11-22).


 

Outline


I. The Five Main Offerings (chs.1-7)

A. The Burnt Offering (ch.1)

B. The Grain Offering (ch.2)

C. The Fellowship Offering (ch.3)

D. The Sin Offering (4:1-5:13)

E. The Guilt Offering (5:14-6:7)

F. Additional REgulations for the Offerings (6:8-7:38)

II. The Installation and Ministry of Aaron and His Sons (chs.8-10)

A. The Ordination of Aaron and His SOns (ch.8)

B. The Ministry of the Priests (ch.9)

C. The Death of Nadab and Abihu and Attendant Regulations (ch.10)

III. The Distinction Between Clean and Unclean (chs.11-15)

A. Clean and Unclean Food (ch.11)

B. Purification After Childbirth (ch.12)

C. Regulations for Skin Diseases (13:1-46)

D. Regulations for Mildes (13:47-59)

E. Cleansing from Skin Diseases (14:1-32)

F. Cleansing from Mildew (14:33-57)

G. Discharges That Cause Uncleanness (ch.15)

IV. The Annual Day of Atonement (ch.16)


V. Holy Livings (chs.17-26)

A. Eating Blood Prohibited (ch.17)

B. Unlawful Sexueal Relations (ch.18)

C. Various Laws for Holy Living (ch.19)

D. Punishments for Sin (ch.20)

E. Regulations for Priests (21:1-22:16)

F. Acceptable and Unacceptable Sacrifices (22:17-33)

G. The Annual Feasts (ch.23)

H. Rules for Oil and Bread in the Tabernacle (24:1-9)

I.   Punishment for Blasphemy (24:10-23)

J.  The Sabbath and Jubilee Years (ch.25)

K. Covenant Blessings and Curses (ch.26)

VI. Regulations for Offerings Vowed to the Lord (ch.27)





Leviticus Horizontal



1:1 - Burnt Offering



2:1 - Cereal Offering

Laws


3:1- Peace Offering

Concerning


4:1 - Sin Offering

Offerings


5:14 - Guilt Offering



6:1 - Laws of Offerings


The

8:1 - Consecration of Priest

Laws Concerning

Ways of

9:1 - Aaron offers sacrifices

Priests and

Approach

10:1 - Laws of eating sacrifices

Sacrifices

To a

11:1 - Clean & Unclean


Holy God

12:1 - Purifying women

Laws Concerning


13:1 - Laws concerning leprosy

Purification


15:1 Unclean discharge



16:1 - Making atonement

Day of


17:1 - Regarding Blood

Atonement


18:1 - Sexual Laws

Laws


19:1 - Love your neighbor

Concerning


20:1 - Punishment for moral disobedience

Moral Values

Maintaining

21:1 - Keep Priests and sacrifices holy

Fellowship

23:1 - Concerning appointed feasts

Showing Devotion

With God by

24:1 - Punishment for blasphemy

by being

Being Holy

25:1 - Sabbath and Jubilee years

Holy


26:1 - Punishment for disobedience



27:1 - Dedication laws

Laws of Vows






God's Character in Leviticus

  1. God is accessible -- 16:12-15
  2. God is glorious -- 9:6, 23
  3. God is holy -- 11:44, 45
  4. God is wrathful -- 10:2 

    Christ in Leviticus

    God's explicit instructions about offerings within Leviticus point towards the final substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. Because the sacrifices of the people represented only temporary removal of Israel's sins, they needed to be repeated continually. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth and presented Himself as the final sacrifice for all humankind. In contrast to the OT Passover feast celebrated annually, believers constantly celebrate the "feast" of the new Passover-- Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).




Notes



 Introduction Jesus Christ in the SacrificesLeviticus readingAtonement Foreshadow
 Leviticus Horizontal