The Priesthood

Holy Seasons

Various Laws

The word "Leviticus" means "pertaining to Levites"; that is, the book contains the System of Laws, administered by the Levitical Priesthood, under which the Hebrew nation lived. These laws were given mostly at Mt. Sinai, with additions, repetitions and explanations, throughout the Wilderness wanderings.

Levites, one tribe out of the Twelve, were set apart for the work of God. God took them, in lieu of First-Born sons. God claimed the First-Born, both of men and flocks. They were supported by Tithes; and had 48 cities (Numbers 35:7; Joshua 21:19).

One Family of Levites, Aaron and Sons, were set apart to be Priests. The Rest of the Levites were to be Assistants to the Priests. Their duties were the care of the Tabernacle, and, later, the care of the Temple; and to be Teachers, Scribes, Musicians, Officers and Judges. (See on 1 Chronicles 23.)

Chapters 1 to 5. Various Kinds of Offerings

  • Burnt-Offerings: of Bullocks, Rams, Goats, Doves, pigeons: were wholly burned, signifying entire Self-Dedication to God.

  • Meal-Offerings: of Grain, Flour or Cakes, without leaven: a handful was burned: the rest was for priests.

  • Peace-Offerings: of Cattle, Sheep or Goats: the far was burned: the rest, eaten, partly by priests, partly by offerers.

  • Sin-Offerings-and- Trespass-Offerings: different offerings for different sins: fat was burned: the rest, in some cases was burned without, the. camp, and in some cases eaten by the priests. Where wrong had been done to another, restitution, with a fifth added, had to be made before the offering.

Chapters 6,7. Further Directions about Offerings

Beside the offerings mentioned, there were Drink-Offerings. Wave-Offerings, Heave-Offerings: appendages to other Offerings.

Manner of Sacrifice: the animal was presented at the Tabernacle. The offerer laid his hands on it, making it his representative. Then it was slain. The blood was sprinkled on the Altar. Then the specified part was burned.

Frequency of Sacrifice: there were Daily Burnt-Offerings. On the first of each Month, additional Offerings; and at feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, and on Day of Atonement, and special offerings of various kinds.

Chapters 8, 9. Consecration of Aaron

And his Sons to the Priesthood. Previous to the time of Moses, sacrifices were offered by Heads of Families. But now, the nation organized, a place set part for sacrifice, and a ritual prescribed, a special Hereditary Order of men was created, in solemn ceremony,

for the service. Aaron, and his First-Born Son, in succession, were High-Priests. The priesthood was maintained by tithes of Levites' tithes, and parts of some sacrifices. 13 cities were given to them (Joshua 21: 13-19).

The High-Priest's Garments. Every detail was specified of God (Exodus 28). A Robe of blue, with bells at bottom.

An Ephod, which was a sort of cape, two pieces joined on the shoulders, hanging, one over front, one over back, with an onyx stone on each shoulder, each bearing six names of the tribes: made of gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen.

A Breastplate, about 10 inches square, of gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen, double, open at the top, fastened with gold chains to the Ephod, adorned with 12 precious stones, each stone bearing the name of a tribe; containing the Urim and Thummim, which were used to learn the will of God, but what they were is not known.

This Sacrificial System, of Divine Origin.

Was placed of God at the very center and heart of Jewish national life. Whatever its immediate applications and implications may have been to Jews, the unceasing sacrifice of animals, ind the never-ending glow of altar fires, beyond doubt, were designed of God, to burn into the consciousness of men e sense of their deep Sinfulness, and to be an agelong picture of the Coming Sacrifice of Christ, toward Whom they pointed and in Whom they were fulfilled.

The Levitical Priesthood

Was divinely ordained es mediator between God and the Hebrew nation in the ministry of Animal Sacrifices. Those sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ. Animal Sacrifices are No Longer Necessary. Christ Himself is the Great High-Priest for Man: the" Only Mediator between God and Man. Hebrews 8, 9, 10, makes this very clear.

Chapter 10. Nadab and Abihu

Their swift and terrible punishment was a warning against high-handed treatment of God's ordinances; even to Church Leaders who distort the Gospel of Christ with all kinds of Human Traditions.

Chapter 11. Clean and Unclean Animals

There was a distinction before the Flood between Clean and Unclean animals (Genesis 7:2). Moses enacted this distinction into law. It was based pertly, on their wholesomeness as food; and, partly, on religious considerations, designed to serve as one of the marks of Separation of Israel from other nations. Jesus abrogated the distinction (Mark 7:19), "making all meats clean."

Chapter 12. Purification of Mothers ofter Childbirth

The period of separation, in case of boy babies, was 40 days; and, in case of girl babies, 80 days. The purpose of this is thought to have been to help hold the Balance of Sexes, as Men, by exigencies of war, were subject to greater fatalities than Women.

Chapters 13,14. Test of Leprosy

These regulations were for the purpose of controlling the spread of one of the most loathesome and dreaded diseases.

Chapter 15. Uncleanness

The elaborate system of specifications as to how a person could become ceremonially "unclean," and the requirements Concerning it, were, it seems, designed to promote personal physical cleanliness, and continual Recognition of God in all the ways of life.

Chapter 16. Annual Atonement

This was on the 10th day of the 7th month. Most solemn day of the year. The removal of sin was only for a year (Hebrews 10:3), but it pointed forward to eternal removal (Zechariah 3:4, 8, 9; 13:1; Hebrews 10:14).

"Scapegoat" (8) is translated in RV, "Azazel," which is thought to have been a name for Satan. After the sacrificial goat had been offered, then the High-Priest laid his hands on the head of the goat for Azazel, and confessed over him the sins of the people. Then the

goat was led away into a solitary land, bearing away the sins of the people. This ceremony was one of God's historical fore-pictures of Coming Atonement for Human Sin by the Death of Christ. What else could it mean?

Chapter 17. Manner of Sacrifice

The law required Presentation of animals at the door of the Tabernacle. Eating of Blood was strictly forbidden -(3:17; 7:26, 27; 17:10-16; Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23-25); and still is (Acts 15:29).

Chapter 18. Canaanite Abominations

If we wonder that some of these things: Incest, Sodomy, Cohabitation with Animals: are even mentioned, it was because they were in common practice among Israel's neighbors.

Chapters 19, 20. Miscellaneous Laws

About the Sabbath. Idolatry. Peace-Offerings. Gleanings. Stealing. Swearing. Wages. Courts. Tale-Bearing. Brotherly Love. Diverse Breeding and Planting. Adultery. Orchards. Augury. Marred Beards and Flesh Cuttings. Harlotry. Respect for .the Aged. Kindness to

Strangers. Just Weights and Measures. Moloch Worship. Sorcery. Parents. Incest. Sodomy. Animals. Clean and Unclean.

Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself, 19:18

This was one of the highlights of Mosaic law. Great consideration was shown to the Poor. Wages were to be paid day by day. No usury was to be taken. Loans and gifts were to be made to the needy. Gleanings were to be left in harvest fields for the poor. All

though the Old Testament, unceasing emphasis is placed on Kindness to widows, orphans and strangers.

Concubinage, Polygamy, Divorce, Slavery

Were allowed, but greatly restricted (19:20; Deuteronomy 21:15; 4:1-4; Exodus 21:2-11). Moses law lifted Marriage to a far higher level than existed in surrounding nations. Slavery was hedged around with humane considerations; and it never existed on a large scale among the Jews, nor with such cruelties, as were prevalent in Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome and other nations.

Capital Punishment

Offenses punishable with Death were: Murder (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12; Deuteronomy 19:11-11), Kidnapping (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7), Death by Negligence (Exodus 21:28, 29), Smiting or Cursing a Parent (Exodus 21:15-17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18 21), Idolatry (Leviticus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 13; 17:2-5). Sorcery (Exodus 22:18), False Prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11, 20), Blasphemy, (Leviticus 24:15, 16), Sabbath Profaning (Exodus 31:14), Adultery (Leviticus 21:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), Rape (Deuteronomy 22 :23-27), Ante-Connubial immorality (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), Sodomy (Leviticus 20: 13), Animal Cohabitation (Leviticus

20:15, 16), Incestuous Marriages (Leviticus 20:11, 12, 14).

These Laws were the laws of God

Some of them are similar to the Laws of Hammurabi, with which Moses no doubt, was well-acquainted. And, though Moses may have been influenced by his Egyptian training, and by Babylonian tradition, yet over and over he repeats. "Thus Saith the Lord," indicating that these Laws were the direct Enactment of GOD HIMSELF.

Some of them may seem severe to us. But, if we could transport ourselves back to Moses' world, they probably would not seem severe enough. On the whole, Moses' Law, "in its insistence on Personal Morality, and Personal Equality, and its consideration for the Old and Young, for Slave and for Enemy, for Animals, and its Health and Food regulations, was far Purer, more Rational, Humane, and Democratic than, and showed a wisdom far in advance of, Anything in Ancient Legislation, Babylonian, Egyptian or any other." The "Moral Miracle" of the pre-Christian world.

Moses' Law w'as designed of God as a "schoolmaster to bring us to Christ" (Galatians 3 :24) . Some of its provisions were accommodations to their "hardness of heart" (Matthew 19:8).

Chapters 21 ,22, Priests and Sacrifices

An expansion of the provisions of chapters 1 to 9. Priests must be without physical blemish, and may marry only a virgin. Sacrificial animals must be without blemish, and at least 8 days old.

Chapters 23,24, Feasts, Lamp, Shewbread, Blasphemy

Feasts (see on Deuteronomy 16). The Candlestick to be kept burning continually. The Shewbread to be changed each Sabbath. Blasphemy to be punished with death. The "eye for eye" legislation (24:19-21), was part of civil law, perfectly just (see on Matthew

5:18 and Luke 6:27).

Chapter 25. Sabbatic Year. Year of Jubilee

Sabbatic. Year was every 7th year. The land was to lie fallow. No sowing. no reaping, no pruning of vineyards. Spontaneous produce was to be left for the poor and the sojourner. God promised enough in the 6th year to carry over. Debts of follow Jews were to be cancelled.

Jubilee Year was every 50th year' it .followed the 7th Sabbatic Year, making two rest years come together. It began on the Day of Atonement. All debs were cancelled, slaves set free, and lands that had been sold returned. Jesus seemed to regard it as a sort of picture of the Grand Jubilee which He come to proclaim (Leviticus 25:10; Luke 4:19).

Ownership of Land

The Land of Canaan was divided among the 12 tribes, and, in the tribes, among families. With certain exceptions, it could not be sold in perpetuity out of the families. A sale amounted to a Lease till Jubilee, when it would be returned to original family.

The Number SEVEN

    • Every 7th dav a Sabbath

    • Every 7th year a Sabbatic Year.

    • Every 7th Sabbatic year was followed by a Jubilee year.

    • Every 7 th month was especially holy, having 3 feasts.

    • There were 7 weeks between Passover and Pentecost.

    • Passover Feast lasted 7 days.

    • Tabernacles Feast lasted 7 days.

    • At Passover 14 lambs (twice 7) were offered daily.

    • At Tabernacles 14 lambs (twice 7), daily, and 70 bollocks.

    • At Pentecost 7 lambs were offered

Chapter 26. Obedience or Disobedience

This chapter, like Deuteronomy 28, of Magnificent Promises and Frightful Warnings, is one of the great chapters of the Bible.

Chapter 27. Vows and Tithes

Tithes (Genesis 14:20; 28:22; Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21-28; Deuteronomy 12:5, 6, 11, 17, 18; 14:23, 28, 29; 26:12). One-Tenth of the land and of the increase of flocks and herds was to be given to God.

Three Tithes are mentioned: Levitical, Festival and for the Poor every 3rd year. Some think there was only One Tithe, and that it was used partly for festivals, and every 3rd-year partly for the poor. Others think that the Festival Tithe was taken out of the 9/10 left after the Levitical Tithe had been paid.

The Tithe was in use long before the days of Moses. Abraham and Jacob paid Tithes. Among the Jews the Tithe was for the support of Levites; and Levites were used in civil government as well as in religious service (see on 1 Chronicles 23).

First-Fruits. God claimed as His Own, not only the Tithes. but also First-Born sons of all families (in lieu of whom he accepted the tribe of Levi), and First-Born of all Flocks and Herds, and First-Fruits of the field. The First-Fruits of the harvest were to be offered at Passover, and No Part of the New Crop could be used till this was done (Leviticus 23:14). The First Crop of a young orchard (the 4th year) was to be Given to God, and No Fruit of it could be used Till This Was Done. Lesson:Make God First in life.