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The name “Leviticus” was given to the third book of the Pentateuch by the ancient Greek translators because a good part of this book deals with concerns of the priests, who are of the tribe of Levi.

The book mainly treats cultic matters (i.e., sacrifices and offerings, purity and holiness, the priesthood, the operation of the sanctuary, and feast days) but is also interested in various behavioral, ethical, and economic issues (e.g., sexual practices, idolatrous worship, treatment of others, the sale of land, slavery). The goal of the laws is not merely legislative. For the most part they cohere as a system and attempt to inculcate a way of life in the book’s hearers and readers. In addition to these concerns, Leviticus, comprising as it does the center of the Pentateuch, carries forward the narrative of Exodus (cf. chaps. 1, 89, 10, 16, 24).

The book is part of the Priestly tradition (P) of the Pentateuch, to which belong various narratives and legal passages (e.g., Gn 1:12:4; 9:117; 17:127; Ex 12:120, 4050; 25:131:18; 35:140:38; Nm 1:110:28; 15:114; 17:119:22; 25:631:54). Within the Priestly material itself there are signs of variant traditions and development.

The main divisions of Leviticus are:

  1. Ritual of Sacrifices (1:17:38)
    1. Instructions for the Israelites (1:15:26)
    2. Instructions for the Priests (6:17:38)
  2. Ceremony of Ordination (8:110:20)
  3. Laws Regarding Ritual Purity (11:116:34)
  4. Holiness Laws (17:126:46)
  5. Redemption of Offerings (27:134)


A. Instructions for the Israelites

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