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, 8–9, 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 1:1–2:4; 9:1–17; 17:1–27; Ex 12:1–20, 40–50; 25:1–31:18; 35:1–40:38; Nm 1:1–10:28; 15:1–14; 17:1–19:22; 25:6–31:54). Within the Priestly material itself there are signs of variant traditions and development.
The main divisions of Leviticus are:
Burnt Offerings. 1The LORD called Moses, and spoke to him from the tent of meeting:a 2Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any one of you* brings an offering of livestock to the LORD, you shall bring your offering from the herd or from the flock.b
3* c If a person’s offering is a burnt offering* from the herd, the offering must be a male without blemish.d The individual shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to find favor with the LORD, 4and shall lay a hand* on the heade of the burnt offering, so that it may be acceptablef to make atonementg for the one who offers it. 5The bull shall then be slaughtered* before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall offer its blood by splashing it on all the sides of the altar which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.h 6Then the burnt offering shall be flayed and cut into pieces. 7After Aaron’s sons, the priests, have put burning embers on the altar and laid wood on them, 8they shall lay the pieces of meat, together with the head and the suet, on top of the wood and the embers on the altar; 9but the inner organs and the shanks shall be washed with water. The priest shall then burn all of it on the altar as a burnt offering, a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.i
10If a person’s burnt offering is from the flock, that is, a sheep or a goat, the offering must be a male without blemish. 11It shall be slaughtered on the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall splash its blood on all the sides of the altar. 12When it has been cut into pieces, the priest shall lay these, together with the head and suet, on top of the wood and the embers on the altar; 13but the inner organs and the shanks shall be washed with water. The priest shall then offer all of it, burning it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.
14If a person offers a bird as a burnt offering to the LORD, the offering brought must be a turtledove or a pigeon.j 15Having brought it to the altar, the priest shall wring its head off and burn it on the altar. The blood shall be drained out against the side of the altar.k 16He shall remove its crissum* by means of its feathers and throw it on the ash heap at the east side of the altar. 17Then, having torn the bird open by its wings without separating the halves, the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood and the embers. It is a burnt offering, a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.
* [1:2] Any one of you: women as well as men bring sacrifices (see 12:6–8; 15:28–30) and are explicitly obligated in other ritual matters (e.g., 13:29, 38; Nm 5:6; 6:2; Lk 2:24). Thus, though the Hebrew formulates sacrificial and other law with male reference, the translation reflects the inclusion of women in ritual requirements. From the herd or from the flock: the only animals which could be used as sacrificial victims were domestic animals either of the bovine class (bulls, cows and calves) or the ovine class (sheep and lambs, goats and kids). Excluded, therefore, were not only all wild animals, but also such “unclean” domestic animals as the camel and the donkey (cf. 11:1–47; 27:26–27).
* [1:3–5] Entrance of the tent of meeting…before the LORD: probably the forecourt from the entrance of the court to the entrance of the tent (cf. Ex 27). Thus the altar in front of the tent was entirely accessible to the laity.
* [1:3] The burnt offering is used for regular daily (6:1–6) offerings, public festivals (Nm 28–29), purification rituals (Lv 12:6–8; 14:19–20; 15:15, 30), and individuals’ vows and voluntary offerings (22:18–20).
* [1:4] Lay a hand: the imposition of a single hand for the sacrifices in chaps. 1–5 may be a means of designating the animal as belonging to the offerer. See note on 16:21. Atonement: see note on 16:6.
* [1:5] Shall then be slaughtered: lit., “he shall slaughter the bull.” Slaughtering is not something the offerer must do (as opposed to, for example, hand placement [v. 4] or the presentation of sacrificial portions as an elevated offering [7:29–34]). Thus the verb is construed impersonally here.
* [1:16] Crissum: the area around the anus of the bird, lying beneath the bird’s tail.
a. [1:1] Ex 40.
b. [1:2] Lv 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6, 12.
c. [1:3] Lv 6:1–6; 22:18–19;
d. [1:3] Lv 22:17–25; Ex 12:5.
e. [1:4] Lv 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4, 15, 24, 29, 33; 8:14, 18, 22; Nm 8:12; 2 Chr 29:23; cf. Lv 16:21; 24:14; Nm 27:18, 23; Dt 34:9.
f. [1:4] Lv 19:5; 22:19–29; Gn 4:3–5; Mal 1:8–14.
g. [1:4] Lv 9:7; 14:20; Jb 1:5; 42:8; cf. Gn 32:21; Ex 29:36–37; 30:15; Lv 16:16–20; 17:11; Ez 43:20, 26.
h. [1:5] Lv 1:11, 15; 3:2, 8, 13; cf. Lv 4:5–7, 25.
i. [1:9] Lv 2:2; 3:5; 4:31; 26:31; Gn 8:20–21; Nm 28:2; cf. Lv 3:11; 21:6, 21; 22:25.
j. [1:14] Lv 5:7; 12:8; 15:14–15; Lk 2:24.
k. [1:15] Lv 5:8–9.
Grain Offerings. 1* a When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, the offering must consist of bran flour. The offerer shall pour oil on it and put frankincenseb over it, 2and bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. A priest shall take a handful of the bran flour and oil, together with all the frankincense, and shall burn it on the altar as a token of the offering,* a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.c 3The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons,d a most holye portion from the oblations to the LORD.
4When you offer a grain offering baked in an oven, it must be in the form of unleavened cakes made of bran flour mixed with oil, or of unleavened wafers spread with oil.f 5If your offering is a grain offering that is fried on a griddle,g it must be of bran flour mixed with oil and unleavened. 6Break it into pieces, and pour oil over it. It is a grain offering. 7If your offering is a grain offering that is prepared in a pan, it must be made of bran flour, fried in oil. 8A grain offering that is made in any of these ways you shall bring to the LORD. It shall be presented to the priest, who shall take it to the altar. 9The priest shall then remove from the grain offering a token and burn it on the altar as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD. 10The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons, a most holy portion from the oblations to the LORD.
11* Every grain offering that you present to the LORD shall be unleavened, for you shall not burn any leaven or honey as an oblation to the LORD.h 12Such you may present to the LORD in the offering of the first produce that is processed,i but they are not to be placed on the altar for a pleasing odor. 13You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not let the salt of the covenant with your God* be lacking from your grain offering. On every offering you shall offer salt.j
14If you offer a grain offering of first ripe fruits to the LORD, you shall offer it in the form of fresh early grain, roasted by fire and crushed as a grain offering of your first ripe fruits. 15You shall put oil on it and set frankincense on it. It is a grain offering. 16The priest shall then burn some of the groats and oil, together with all the frankincense, as a token of the offering, an oblation to the LORD.
* [2:1] Grain offerings are used as independent offerings (those in this chapter and cf. 6:12–16; 8:26–27; 23:10–11), as substitutes for other offerings in a case of poverty (5:11–13), and as accompaniments to animal offerings (cf. Nm 15:1–12; 28:1–29:39; Lv 14:20; 23:12, 18, 37). Chapter 2 describes two basic types of grain offering: uncooked (vv. 1–3) and cooked (vv. 4–10). The flour (sōlet) used was made of wheat (Ex 29:2) and Jewish tradition and Semitic cognates indicate that it is a coarse rather than a fine flour.
* [2:2] Token of the offering: lit., “reminder.” Instead of burning the whole grain offering, only this part is burned on the altar.
* [2:11–12] No grain offering that is leavened can be offered on the altar. Those in 7:13 and 23:17 are leavened but not offered on the altar. The Hebrew word for “honey” may refer to fruit syrup as well as to bee honey.
* [2:13] The salt of the covenant with your God: partaking of salt in common was an ancient symbol of friendship and alliance. Cf. Mark 9:49–50 and Col 4:6.
a. [2:1] Lv 5:11–13; 6:7–16; 7:9–14; 24:5–9; Nm 15:1–21; cf. Gn 4:3–5.
b. [2:1] Cf. Ex 30:1–10; Lv 16:11–13; Prv 27:9.
c. [2:2] Lv 1:9.
d. [2:3] Lv 6:9; 7:9–10.
e. [2:3] Lv 6:10, 18, 22; 10:12, 17; 24:9.
f. [2:4] 1 Chr 23:29.
g. [2:5] Lv 6:14.
h. [2:11] Mt 16:12; Mk 8:15; Lk 12:1; 1 Cor 5:7; Gal 5:9.
i. [2:12] Nm 18:12–13, 27; 15:20–21.
j. [2:13] Nm 18:19; Ezr 6:9; 7:22; Ez 43:24.
Communion Sacrifices. 1* a If a person’s offering is a communion sacrifice, if it is brought from the herd, be it a male or a female animal, it must be presented without blemishb before the LORD. 2The one offering it shall lay a hand on the headc of the offering. It shall then be slaughtered at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall splash its blood on all the sides of the altar. 3d From the communion sacrifice the individual shall offer as an oblation to the LORD the fat* that covers the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, 4as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which is removed with the kidneys. 5Aaron’s sons shall burn this on the altar with the burnt offering that is on the wood and the embers, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.e
6If the communion sacrifice one offers to the LORD is from the flock, be it a male or a female animal, it must be presented without blemish. 7If one presents a lamb as an offering, that person shall bring it before the LORD, 8and after laying a hand on the head of the offering, it shall then be slaughtered before the tent of meeting. Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood on all the sides of the altar. 9From the communion sacrifice the individual shall present as an oblation to the LORD its fat: the whole fatty tail, which is removed close to the spine, the fat that covers the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, 10as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which is removed with the kidneys. 11The priest shall burn this on the altar as food,f an oblation to the LORD.
12If a person’s offering is a goat, the individual shall bring it before the LORD, 13and after laying a hand on its head, it shall then be slaughtered before the tent of meeting. Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood on all the sides of the altar. 14From this the one sacrificing shall present an offering as an oblation to the LORD: the fat that covers the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, 15as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which is removed with the kidneys. 16The priest shall burn these on the altar as food, a sweet-smelling oblation.
All the fat belongs to the LORD. 17This shall be a perpetual ordinance for your descendants wherever they may dwell. You shall not eat any fat or any blood.* g
* [3:1] The exact meaning of Hebrew shelamim, “communion sacrifice,” is not clear. It has also been rendered “gift,” “(re)payment,” “peace,” “well-being,” or “covenant” offering. This offering may be brought for a vow or voluntary offering (cf. 22:21). A distinct version of the communion sacrifice is the thanksgiving offering (7:11–15 vis-à-vis vv. 16–18).
* [3:3–5] Fat: only part of the offering is devoted to God, as opposed to the burnt offering (chap. 1), which is wholly burnt (except for the skin). The meat is distributed among the offerer (and the offerer’s party) and the priests (cf. 7:11–36).
* [3:17] Any fat or any blood: this prohibition is mentioned here because portions of this offering could be eaten by lay Israelites, who may not be entirely familiar with the prohibition (cf. 7:22–27; 19:26). The fat prohibited is only the visceral fat mentioned in 3:9–10, 14–15, not muscular fat.
a. [3:1] Lv 7:11–36.
b. [3:1] Lv 22:21.
c. [3:2] Lv 1:4.
d. [3:3–5] Lv 3:9–10, 14–16; 4:8–9, 31, 35; 6:5; 7:3–4, 30–31; 8:16, 25; 16:25; 17:6; Ex 29:13, 22; cf. Ez 44:15.
e. [3:5] Lv 1:9.
f. [3:11] Lv 9:19.
g. [3:17] Lv 17:10.
Purification Offerings. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2a Tell the Israelites: When a person inadvertently* does wrong by violating any one of the LORD’s prohibitions—
For the Anointed Priest. 3If it is the anointed priest* who thus does wrong and thereby makes the people guilty, he shall offer to the LORD an unblemished bull of the herd as a purification offering for the wrong he committed. 4Bringing the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting, before the LORD, he shall lay his hand on its headb and slaughter it before the LORD. 5* The anointed priest shall then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6where, dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD, toward the veil of the sanctuary.c 7The priest shall also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense which stands before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar for burnt offerings which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8He shall remove all the fat of the bull of the purification offering: the fat that covers the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, 9as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which is removed with the kidneys, 10just as the fat pieces are removed from the ox of the communion sacrifice.d The priest shall burn these on the altar for burnt offerings. 11* But the hide of the bull and its meat, with its head, shanks, inner organs and dung, 12that is, the whole bull, shall be brought outside the camp to a clean place* where the ashes are deposited and there be burned in a wood fire. At the place of the ash heap, there it must be burned.e
For the Community. 13If the whole community of Israel errs* inadvertently and without even being aware of it violates any of the LORD’s prohibitions, and thus are guilty, 14when the wrong that was committed becomes known, the community shall offer a bull of the herd as a purification offering. They shall bring it before the tent of meeting. 15The elders of the community shall lay their hands on the bull’s head before the LORD. When the bull has been slaughtered before the LORD, 16the anointed priest shall bring some of its blood into the tent of meeting, 17and dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, toward the veil. 18He shall also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar for burnt offerings which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 19He shall remove all of its fat and burn it on the altar, 20doing with this bull just as he did with the other bull of the purification offering; he will do the same thing. Thus the priest shall make atonementf on their behalf, that they may be forgiven. 21This bull shall also be brought outside the camp and burned,g just as the first bull. It is a purification offering for the assembly.
For the Tribal Leader. 22Should a tribal leaderh do wrong inadvertently by violating any one of the prohibitions of the LORD his God, and thus be guilty, 23when he learns of the wrong he committed, he shall bring as his offering an unblemished male goat. 24He shall lay his hand on its head and it shall be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, before the LORD. It is a purification offering. 25The priest shall then take some of the blood of the purification offering on his finger and put it on the hornsi of the altar for burnt offerings. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 26All of its fat he shall burn on the altar like the fat of the communion sacrifice. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the tribal leader’s behalf for his wrong, that he may be forgiven.
For the General Populace. 27If anyone of the general populace does wrong inadvertently by violating one of the LORD’s prohibitions, and thus is guilty, 28upon learning of the wrong committed, that person shall bring an unblemished she-goat as the offering for the wrong committed. 29The wrongdoer shall lay a hand on the head of the purification offering, and the purification offering shall be slaughtered at the place of the burnt offerings. 30The priest shall then take some of its blood on his finger and put it on the horns of the altar for burnt offerings. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 31He shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the communion sacrifice. The priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet odor to the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement, so that the individual may be forgiven.
32If, however, a person brings a lamb as a purification offering, that person shall bring an unblemished female, and 33lay a hand on its head. It shall be slaughtered as a purification offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34The priest shall then take some of the blood of the purification offering on his finger and put it on the horns of the altar for burnt offerings. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 35He shall remove all its fat just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the communion sacrifice. The priest shall burn these on the altar with the other oblations for the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf for the wrong committed, that the individual may be forgiven.
* [4:2] Inadvertently: the concern in this chapter, and much of chap. 5, is wrongs done unintentionally. Intentional (“high-handed”) sins are punished with being “cut off” from the people (Nm 15:30–31). See note on Lv 7:20. LORD’s prohibitions: not included in the faults figured here is failure to perform positive commandments. Failing to perform positive commands, however, still renders the individual liable to other punishment (e.g., failing to observe the Passover, Nm 9:13). Cf. Nm 15:22–31.
* [4:3] The anointed priest: the chapter presents four cases of inadvertent wrong, arranged in descending order according to the status of the wrongdoer: high priest (vv. 3–12), entire community (vv. 13–21), tribal leader (vv. 22–26), and general populace (vv. 27–35). The higher one’s position, the more deeply the sin affects the sanctuary (vv. 5–7, 17–18 versus vv. 25, 29, 34). See note on 16:6. Purification offering: the Hebrew verb ḥiṭṭē’ means “remove sin, purify” (Lv 8:15; Ez 43:20–23; 45:18–19; cf. Ex 29:36). The offering cleansed the various places to which the blood was applied or the rooms in which it was sprinkled.
* [4:5–7] On the structure of the sanctuary, see Ex 26–27.
* [4:11–12] See note on 6:17–23.
* [4:12] Clean place: i.e., ritually “clean” or pure. It has nothing to do with the presence of dirt or waste. See 6:4.
* [4:13] Whole community…errs: this case probably complements that of vv. 3–12. There the high priest sins so that the people become guilty. Those verses deal with his requirements for atonement; vv. 13–21 deal with the people’s requirements.
a. [4:2] Lv 6:17–23; Nm 15:22–31.
b. [4:4] Lv 1:4.
c. [4:6–7] Lv 4:17–18; 16:16; cf. 4:25.
d. [4:10] Lv 3:3.
e. [4:12] Lv 6:23.
f. [4:20] Lv 1:4.
g. [4:21] Lv 6:23.
h. [4:22] Nm 10:4; 25:14.
i. [4:25] Lv 4:30, 34; 8:15; 9:9; 16:18; Ex 29:12; Ez 43:20; cf. Lv 4:7.
Special Cases for Purification Offerings.* 1If a person, either having seen or come to know something, does wrong by refusing as a witness under oath to give information,a that individual shall bear the penalty; 2or if someone, without being aware of it, touches any unclean thing, such as the carcass of an unclean wild animal, or an unclean domestic animal, or an unclean swarming creature,* and thus is unclean and guilty;b 3or if someone, without being aware of it, touches some human uncleanness,c whatever kind of uncleanness this may be, and then subsequently becomes aware of guilt; 4or if someone, without being aware of it, rashly utters an oath with bad or good intent,d whatever kind of oath this may be, and then subsequently becomes aware of guilt in regard to any of these matters— 5when someone is guilty in regard to any of these matters, that person shall confess the wrong committed, 6and make reparation to the LORD for the wrong committed: a female animal from the flock, a ewe lamb or a she-goat, as a purification offering. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the individual’s behalf for the wrong.
7If, however, the person cannot afford an animal of the flock,e that person shall bring to the LORD as reparation for the wrong committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a purification offering and the other for a burnt offering. 8The guilty party shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer the one for the purification offering first.f Wringing its head at the neck, yet without breaking it off, 9he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the purification offering against the side of the altar. The rest of the blood shall be drained out against the base of the altar. It is a purification offering. 10The other bird he shall offer as a burnt offering according to procedure. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf for the wrong committed, so that the individual may be forgiven.
11If the person is unable to afford even two turtledoves or two pigeons, that person shall bring as an offering for the wrong committed one tenth of an ephah* of bran flour for a purification offering. The guilty party shall not put oil or place frankincense on it, because it is a purification offering.g 12The individual shall bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful as a token of the offering and burn it on the altar with the other oblations for the LORD. It is a purification offering. 13Thus the priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf for the wrong committed in any of the above cases, so that the individual may be forgiven. The rest of the offering, like the grain offering, shall belong to the priest.
Reparation Offerings.* 14The LORD said to Moses: 15h When a person commits sacrilege by inadvertently misusing any of the LORD’s sacred objects,i the wrongdoer shall bring to the LORD as reparation an unblemished ram from the flock, at the established value* in silver shekels according to the sanctuary shekel, as a reparation offering. 16The wrongdoer shall also restore what has been misused of the sacred objects, adding a fifth of its value,j and give this to the priest. Thus the priest shall make atonement for the person with the ram of the reparation offering, so that the individual may be forgiven.
17If someone does wrong and violates one of the LORD’s prohibitions without realizing it, that person is guiltyk and shall bear the penalty. 18The individual shall bring to the priest an unblemished ram of the flock, at the established value, for a reparation offering. The priest shall then make atonement on the offerer’s behalf for the error inadvertently and unknowingly committed so that the individual may be forgiven. 19It is a reparation offering. The individual must make reparation to the LORD.
20The LORD said to Moses: 21When someone does wrong and commits sacrilege against the LORD by deceivingl a neighbor about a deposit or a pledge or a stolen article, or by otherwise retaining a neighbor’s goods unjustly;m 22or if, having found a lost article, the person lies about it, swearing falsely about any of the things that a person may do wrong— 23when someone has thus done wrong and is guilty, that person shall restore the thing that was stolen, the item unjustly retained, the item left as deposit, or the lost article that was found 24or whatever else the individual swore falsely about. That person shall make full restitution of the thing itself, and add one fifth of its value to it, giving it to its owner at the time of reparation. 25Then that person shall bring to the priest as reparation to the LORD an unblemished ram of the flock, at the established value, as a reparation offering. 26The priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf before the LORD, so that the individual may be forgiven for whatever was done to incur guilt.
* [5:1–13] This differs from the prescriptions for purification offerings in chap. 4 by listing four specific wrongs for which a purification offering is brought and allowing the substitution of birds and grain offerings in the case of poverty.
* [5:2] Swarming creature: a rather imprecise categorization that includes various small creatures in the seas, such as fish that go about in large groups or swarms (Gn 1:20; Lv 11:10); or, similarly, various winged insects that mass in the skies (Lv 11:20; Dt 14:19); and, finally, various small creatures that move in swarms on land, whether crawlers, quadrupeds, or of the multilegged variety (Lv 11:41–42). According to 11:29–30, even various rodents and lizards can be included in this category.
* [5:11] Ephah: see note on Is 5:10.
* [5:14–26] This last half of the chapter deals with a distinct sacrifice, the reparation offering (Heb. ’asham). The Hebrew root for this term has a basic meaning of “be guilty.” The noun can have a consequential sense of “that which is due from guilt,” i.e., “compensation, indemnification, reparation”; hence the translation “reparation offering,” rather than the alternatives “guilt offering” or “trespass offering.” This offering is brought most often in cases of sacrilege.
* [5:15] At the established value: the Hebrew term ‘erkĕkā, which in context means “(established) value,” may indicate that a person could bring the monetary equivalent of a ram instead of an actual animal. See vv. 18, 25.
a. [5:1] Jgs 17:2–3; Prv 29:24.
b. [5:2] Lv 11:1–45; 15:31; 17:15–16.
c. [5:3] Lv 12:4; 13:35–36; 15:2–12, 19–27; Nm 19:14–22.
d. [5:4] Nm 30:3; Jgs 11:30–36; 1 Sm 14:24–30; Mk 6:23–26; Acts 23:12.
e. [5:7] Cf. Lv 5:11; 12:8; 14:21.
f. [5:8] Lv 1:14–17.
g. [5:11] Lv 2:1–3; Nm 5:15.
h. [5:15] Lv 7:1–6; Nm 5:5–8.
i. [5:15] Lv 22:14.
j. [5:16] Lv 22:14; 27:13, 15, 19, 27.
k. [5:17] Ps 19:13; Jb 1:5.
l. [5:21] Ps 59:13; Hos 4:2.
m. [5:21] Ex 22:6–12.
The Daily Burnt Offering. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2* a Give Aaron and his sons the following command: This is the ritual* for the burnt offering—the burnt offering that is to remain on the hearth of the altar all night until the next morning, while the fire is kept burning on the altar. 3The priest, clothed in his linen robe and wearing linen pants underneath, shall take away the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar, and lay them at the side of the altar. 4Then, having taken off these garments and put on other garments, he shall carry the ashes to a clean place outside the camp. 5The fire on the altar is to be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest shall put firewood on it. On this he shall lay out the burnt offeringb and burn the fat of the communion offering. 6The fire is to be kept burning continuously on the altar; it must not go out.
The Grain Offering.* 7This is the ritual of the grain offering. Aaron’s sons shall offer it before the LORD, in front of the altar. 8A priest shall then take from the grain offering a handful of bran flour and oil, together with all the frankincense that is on it,c and this he shall burn on the altar as a token of the offering, a sweet aroma to the LORD. 9The rest of it Aaron and his sons may eat; but it must be eaten unleavened in a sacred place:d in the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 10It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it to them as their portion from the oblations for the LORD; it is most holy,e like the purification offering and the reparation offering. 11Every male of Aaron’s descendants may eat of it perpetually throughout your generations as their rightful due from the oblations for the LORD. Whatever touches the oblations becomes holy.
High Priest’s Daily Grain Offering.* 12The LORD said to Moses: 13This is the offering that Aaron and his sons shall present to the LORD on the day he is anointed: one tenth of an ephah of bran flour for the regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening. 14You shall bring it well kneaded and fried in oil on a griddle.f Having broken the offering into pieces, you shall present it as a sweet aroma to the LORD. 15The anointed priest descended from Aaron who succeeds him shall do likewise. This is the LORD’s due forever. The offering shall be wholly burned.g 16Every grain offering of a priest shall be a whole offering; it may not be eaten.
Purification Offerings.* 17The LORD said to Moses: 18h Tell Aaron and his sons: This is the ritual for the purification offering. At the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, there also, before the LORD, shall the purification offering be slaughtered. It is most holy.i 19The priest who offers the purification offering shall eat of it; it shall be eaten in a sacred place,j in the court of the tent of meeting. 20Whatever touches its flesh becomes holy. If any of its blood spatters on a garment, the stained part must be washed in a sacred place. 21A clay vessel in which it has been boiled shall be broken; if it is boiled in a copper vessel, this shall be scoured afterward and rinsed with water.k 22Every male of the priestly line may eat it. It is most holy. 23But no purification offering of which some blood has been brought into the tent of meetingl to make atonement in the sanctuary shall be eaten; it must be burned with fire.m
* [6:2–6] This passage may have reference to the burnt offering that is offered in the morning and late afternoon each day (cf. Ex 29:38–42; Nm 28:3–8).
* [6:2] Ritual: Hebrew torah, which also has the broader meaning of “instruction.” The treatment of sacrifices in chaps. 6–7 recapitulates the offerings treated in 1–5 but now with more emphasis on priestly duties and prerogatives.
* [6:7–11] The passage is apparently concerned with the raw grain offering of 2:1–3.
* [6:12–16] This seems to refer to a grain offering offered twice daily by the high priest, perhaps identical to the regular grain offering in Nm 4:16 (cf. Neh 10:34). This offering is distinct from the grain offering that accompanies the daily burnt offering.
* [6:17–23] There are two types of purification offering: one whose blood is used inside the tent sanctuary (4:1–12, 13–21) and another whose blood was only used at the outer sacrificial altar (4:22–26, 27–31, 32–35). The carcasses of the former, as well as of purification offerings brought by the priests themselves (cf. 8:14–17; 9:8–11), are not eaten by priests but disposed of at the ash heap outside the camp, which itself is set up around the sanctuary (Ex 29:14; Lv 4:11–12, 21; 6:23; 8:17; 9:11; 16:27). The Letter to the Hebrews compares Jesus’ suffering “outside the gate” to the disposal of purification offering carcasses outside the camp (Heb 13:11–13).
a. [6:2] Lv 1.
b. [6:5] Lv 9:17.
c. [6:8] Lv 2:1–3.
d. [6:9] Lv 6:19; 7:6; 10:13, 17; 24:9.
e. [6:10] Lv 2:3.
f. [6:14] Lv 2:5.
g. [6:15] Lv 2:9.
h. [6:18] Lv 4:1–5:13.
i. [6:18] Lv 2:3.
j. [6:19] Lv 6:9.
k. [6:21] Lv 11:32–33; 15:12.
l. [6:23] Lv 4:5; Heb 13:11.
m. [6:23] Lv 4:11–12, 21; 8:17; 9:11; 16:27.
Reparation Offerings. 1*a This is the ritual for the reparation offering. It is most holy. 2At the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, the reparation offering shall also be slaughtered.b Its blood shall be splashed on all the sides of the altar. 3c All of its fat shall be offered: the fatty tail, the fat that covers the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, 4as well as the two kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which is removed with the kidneys. 5The priest shall burn these on the altar as an oblation to the LORD. It is a reparation offering. 6Every male of the priestly line may eat of it; but it must be eaten in a sacred place.d It is most holy.e
7Because the purification offering and the reparation offering are alike, both have the same ritual. The reparation offering belongs to the priest who makes atonement with it. 8As for the priest who offers someone’s burnt offering, to him belongs the hide of the burnt offering that is offered. 9* f Also, every grain offering that is baked in an oven or made in a pan or on a griddle shall belong to the priest who offers it, 10whereas all grain offeringsg that are mixed with oil or are dry shall belong to all of Aaron’s sons without distinction.
Communion Sacrifices.* 11h This is the ritual for the communion sacrifice that is offered to the LORD. 12* If someone offers it for thanksgiving, that person shall offer it with unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes made of bran flour mixed with oil and well kneaded. 13One shall present this offering together with loaves of leavened bread along with the thanksgiving communion sacrifice. 14From this the individual shall offer one bread of each type of offering as a contribution* to the LORD; this shall belong to the priest who splashes the blood of the communion offering.
15* i The meat of the thanksgiving communion sacrifice shall be eaten on the day it is offered; none of it may be kept till the next morning.j 16However, if the sacrifice offered is a votive or a voluntary offering,* it shall be eaten on the day the sacrifice is offered, and on the next day what is left over may be eaten.k 17But what is left over of the meat of the sacrifice on the third day must be burned in the fire. 18If indeed any of the flesh of the communion sacrifice is eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted; it will not be reckoned to the credit of the one offering it. Rather it becomes a desecrated meat. Anyone who eats of it shall bear the penalty.*
19* Should the meat touch anything unclean, it may not be eaten, but shall be burned in the fire.l As for other meat, all who are clean may eat of it. 20If, however, someone in a state of uncleanness eats the meat of a communion sacrifice belonging to the LORD, that person shall be cut off* m from the people. 21Likewise, if someone touches anything unclean, whether it be human uncleanness or an unclean animal or an unclean loathsome creature, and then eats the meat of the communion sacrifice belonging to the LORD, that person, too, shall be cut off from the people.
Prohibition Against Blood and Fat. 22The LORD said to Moses: 23Tell the Israelites: You shall not eat the fat of any ox or sheep or goat.n 24Although the fat of an animal that has died a natural death or has been killed by wild beasts may be put to any other use, you may not eat it.o 25If anyone eats the fat of an animal from which an oblation is made to the LORD, that person shall be cut off from the people. 26p Wherever you dwell, you shall not eat any blood, whether of bird or of animal. 27Every person who eats any blood shall be cut off from the people.
Portions from the Communion Sacrifice for Priests. 28The LORD said to Moses: 29Tell the Israelites: The person who offers a communion sacrifice to the LORD shall be the one to bring from it the offering to the LORD. 30The offerer’s own hands shall carry the oblations for the LORD: the person shall bring the fat together with the brisket, which is to be raised as an elevatedq offering* before the LORD. 31The priest shall burn the fat on the altar,r but the brisket belongs to Aaron and his sons. 32Moreover, from your communion sacrifices you shall give to the priest the right leg as a contribution. 33The one among Aaron’s sons who offers the blood and the fat of the communion offering shall have the right leg as his portion, 34for from the communion sacrifices of the Israelites I have taken the brisket that is elevated and the leg that is a contribution, and I have given them to Aaron, the priest, and to his sons as their due from the Israelites forever.s
35This is the priestly share from the oblations for the LORD, allotted to Aaron and his sons on the day they were brought forth to be the priests of the LORD, 36which the LORD ordered to be given them from the Israelites on the day they were anointed, as their due throughout their generations forever.
Summary. 37This is the ritual for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the purification offering, the reparation offering, the ordination offering,t and the communion sacrifice, 38which the LORD enjoined on Moses at Mount Sinai at the time when he commanded the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai to bring their offerings to the LORD.u
* [7:1–6] These prescriptions may appear here rather than in 5:14–26 where this offering is first treated because the monetary equivalent of the offering might have been brought instead of an actual animal. See note on 5:15.
* [7:9–10] For the distinction between uncooked and cooked grain offerings, see 2:1–10 and note on 2:1. The contradiction between v. 9 and 2:10 may reflect a development in custom, with the distribution in v. 9 coming from earlier times, when sanctuary personnel was more limited.
* [7:11–36] This section discusses three types of communion sacrifice: the thanksgiving offering (vv. 12–15), a votive offering, and a voluntary offering (vv. 16–18). The latter two are similar and are thus mentioned together. Verses 19–36 apply to all types of communion sacrifice.
* [7:12–13] Four types of breads accompany the thanksgiving offering. Three types are cooked grain offerings comparable to those in 2:4–10. Also required are loaves of leavened bread (see 2:11).
* [7:14] Contribution: Hebrew terumah. This does not indicate a particular ritual action. The word simply means “gift, something set apart.”
* [7:15–18] Sacrifices must be properly consumed for them to be effective (cf. also 19:5–8; 22:30). Similar rules obtain for the Passover offering (Ex 12:10; Nm 9:12; cf. Ex 23:18; 34:25; Dt 16:4) and the ordination offering (Ex 29:34; Lv 8:32).
* [7:16] Votive or a voluntary offering: these are not specific types of offerings but rather motivations for bringing the communion sacrifice (cf. 22:18). A votive offering is brought as the consequence of a promise (vow) made to God. A voluntary offering is a spontaneous gift to God independent of a prior promise. See note on 27:2–13.
* [7:18] Bear the penalty: this refers in many cases to punishment by God (cf. 17:16; 19:8; 20:17, 19; Nm 18:1, 23; 30:16).
* [7:19–21] For ritual impurity, see note on 11:1–15:33.
* [7:20] Cut off: a common term in the Priestly source that cannot always be reduced to a simple English equivalent, since its usage appears to involve a number of associated punishments, some or all of which may come into play in any one instance (see Ex 12:15 and note). All the same, as a punishment from God, to be “cut off” (from one’s people) frequently appears to refer to termination of the offender’s family line (and perhaps in some cases an early death); see Lv 20:2–3, 20–21; Ru 4:10; Ps 109:13; Mal 2:12.
* [7:30] Raised as an elevated offering: these portions of the sacrifices were specially dedicated by lifting them in presentation before God’s abode. The sanctifying effect of this action is clearly seen in 23:17–20; Nm 6:19–20.
a. [7:1] Lv 5:14–26.
b. [7:2] Lv 6:18.
c. [7:3] Lv 3:4.
d. [7:6] Lv 6:9.
e. [7:6] Lv 2:3.
f. [7:9] Lv 2:3–10; Nm 18:9; Ez 44:29.
g. [7:10] Lv 2:14–15.
h. [7:11] Lv 3.
i. [7:15] Lv 19:6–7.
j. [7:15] Lv 22:29–30.
k. [7:16] Lv 19:5–8.
l. [7:19] Lv 12:4.
m. [7:20] Lv 17:4, 9–10, 14; 18:29; 20:3, 5–6, 17–18; Gn 17:14; Ex 30:33; Nm 15:31; Ps 37:9, 28, 34; 109:13.
n. [7:23] Lv 3:17.
o. [7:24] Lv 22:8.
p. [7:26] Lv 17:10.
q. [7:30] Lv 8:27, 29; 9:21; 10:15; 14:12, 21, 24; 23:17, 20; Nm 6:20; 8:13; 18:18.
r. [7:31] Lv 3:11, 16.
s. [7:34] Ex 29:27–28.
t. [7:37] Lv 8:22.
u. [7:38] Lv 26:46; 27:34.
Ordination of Aaron and His Sons.* 1a The LORD said to Moses: 2Take Aaron along with his sons, the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull for a purification offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread, 3then assemble the whole community* at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 4Moses did as the LORD had commanded. When the communityb had assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 5Moses told them: “This is what the LORD has ordered to be done.” 6Bringing forward Aaron and his sons, Moses first washed them with water. 7* Then he put the tunic on Aaron,c girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, placed the ephod on him, and girded him with the ephod’s embroidered belt, fastening the ephod on him with it. 8He then set the breastpiece on him, putting the Urim and Thummim* in it. 9He put the turban on his head, attaching the gold medallion, the sacred headband,* on the front of the turban, as the LORD had commanded Moses to do.
10* Taking the anointing oil, Moses anointed and consecrated the tabernacle and all that was in it.d 11Then he sprinkled some of the oil seven times on the altar, and anointed the altar, with all its utensils, and the laver, with its base, to consecrate them. 12He also poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.e 13Moses likewise brought forward Aaron’s sons, clothed them with tunics, girded them with sashes, and put skullcaps on them, as the LORD had commanded him to do.
Ordination Sacrifices. 14He brought forward the bull for a purification offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 15When it was slaughtered, Moses took the blood* and with his finger he put it on the horns around the altar, thus purifying the altar.f He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Thus he consecrated it so that atonement could be made on it. 16Taking all the fat that was over the inner organs, as well as the lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat,g Moses burned them on the altar. 17The bull, however, with its hide and flesh and dung he burned in the fire outside the camp, as the LORD had commanded Moses to do.h
18He next brought forward the ram of the burnt offering,i and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 19When it was slaughtered, Moses splashed the blood on all sides of the altar. 20After the ram was cut up into pieces, Moses burned the head, the cut-up pieces and the suet. 21After the inner organs and the shanks were washed with water, Moses burned these remaining parts of the ram on the altar. It was a burnt offering for a sweet aroma, an oblation to the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
22* Then he brought forward the second ram, the ordination ram,j and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 23When it was slaughtered, Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe* of his right foot.k 24Moses had the sons of Aaron also come forward, and he put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. The rest of the blood he splashed on all the sides of the altar. 25He then took the fat: the fatty tail and all the fat over the inner organs, the lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat, and likewise the right thigh; 26from the basket of unleavened bread that was set before the LORD he took one unleavened cake, one loaf of bread made with oil, and one wafer; these he placed on top of the portions of fat and the right thigh. 27He then put all these things upon the palms of Aaron and his sons, whom he had raise them as an elevated offering before the LORD.l 28When Moses had removed them from their palms, he burned them on the altar with the burnt offering. They were an ordination offering for a sweet aroma, an oblation to the LORD. 29He then took the brisket and raised it as an elevated offering before the LORD; this was Moses’ own portion of the ordination ram, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 30Taking some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar, Moses sprinkled it upon Aaron and his vestments, as well as his sons and their vestments, thus consecrating both Aaron and his vestments and his sons and their vestments.m
31Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the meat at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of the ordination offering, in keeping with the command I have received: ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat of it.’ 32What is left over of the meat and the bread you shall burn in the fire. 33Moreover, you are not to depart* from the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed; for your ordination is to last for seven days. 34What has been done today the LORD has commanded be done, to make atonement for you. 35You must remain at the entrance of the tent of meeting day and night for seven days, carrying out the prescriptions of the LORD, so that you do not die, for this is the command I have received.”n 36So Aaron and his sons did all that the LORD had commanded through Moses.
* [8:1–2] This chapter presents the fulfillment of the commands in Ex 28–29; 30:26–30; and 40:9–15.
* [8:3–4] Community: this word (Heb. ‘edah) may refer to tribal leaders, all adult males, or the entire nation. The last is probably intended here.
* [8:7–9, 13] On the priestly clothing, see Ex 28–29. Ephod: according to Ex 28:6–14, the term for one of Aaron’s special vestments made of gold thread, with multicolored woolen thread woven into it as well as fine linen. In appearance it resembled a kind of apron, hung on the priest by shoulder straps and secured by an embroidered belt. A somewhat simpler “apron” was presumably worn by other priests (1 Sm 22:18).
* [8:8] The Urim and Thummim: see Ex 28:30 and note there. Although these terms and the object(s) they refer to are still unexplained, they appear to be small objects that functioned like dice or lots to render a decision for those making an inquiry of God, perhaps originally in legal cases where the guilt of the accused could not otherwise be determined (cf. Ex 28:30; Nm 27:21; Dt 33:8; 1 Sm 28:6; Ezr 2:63; Neh 7:65).
* [8:9] Headband: see Ex 39:30–31. The gold medallion, together with its cords, comprises the sacred headband.
* [8:10–12] Anointing with the specially prepared oil (cf. Ex 30:22–33) is one of the means of making objects and persons holy by setting them apart for a special function or purpose.
* [8:15] Moses took the blood: Moses is acting as a priest in this chapter.
* [8:22–32] The priestly ordination offering is a unique type of sacrifice but similar in many respects to the communion sacrifice (chap. 3; 7:11–34).
* [8:23–24] Lobe…thumb…toe: these parts of the body are meant to represent the body as a whole. The application of the blood symbolizes the priests’ passing from a profane to a holy state. Cf. 14:14–17.
* [8:33–35] You are not to depart: the tenor and context of this requirement in vv. 33 and 35 seem to indicate that the priests are not to leave the sanctuary precincts for any reason. Your ordination is to last for seven days…what has been done today…be done: the consecration rites in Exodus are to be performed every day for seven days (cf. Ex 29:30, 35–37).
a. [8:1] Cf. Ex 28–29; 39; 40:12–15.
b. [8:4] Nm 27:19.
c. [8:7–9] Sir 45:8–13; Heb 5:1–4; 7:1–28.
d. [8:10] Ex 30:26.
e. [8:12] Sir 45:15.
f. [8:15] Heb 9:22.
g. [8:16–17] Lv 3:4–5; 4:8–11.
h. [8:17] Lv 6:23.
i. [8:18] Lv 1:10–13.
j. [8:22] Lv 7:37.
k. [8:23] Lv 14:14, 17.
l. [8:27] Lv 7:30.
m. [8:30] Ex 40:15.
n. [8:35] Lv 10:7.
Octave of the Ordination. 1On the eighth day* a Moses summoned Aaron and his sons, together with the elders of Israel, 2and said to Aaron, “Take a calf of the herd for a purification offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3* Tell the Israelites, too: Take a he-goat for a purification offering, a calf and a lamb, both unblemished yearlings, for a burnt offering, 4and an ox and a ram for a communion sacrifice, to sacrifice before the LORD, along with a grain offering mixed with oil; for today the LORD will appear to you.” 5So they brought what Moses had ordered before the tent of meeting. When the whole community had come forward and stood before the LORD, 6* Moses said, “This is what the LORD orders you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you. 7Approach the altar,” Moses then told Aaron, “and make your purification offering and your burnt offering in atonement for yourself and for your household;* then make the offering of the people in atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded.”b
8Approaching the altar, Aaron first slaughtered the calf of the purification offering that was his own offering. 9When his sons presented the blood to him, he dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar.c The rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar. 10He then burned on the altar the fat, the kidneys and the lobe of the liver from the purification offering, as the LORD had commanded Moses; 11but the flesh and the hide he burned in the fire outside the camp.d 12Then Aaron slaughtered the burnt offering. When his sons brought him the blood, he splashed it on all sides of the altar. 13They then brought him the pieces and the head of the burnt offering, and he burned them on the altar. 14Having washed the inner organs and the shanks, he burned these also with the burnt offering on the altar.e
15Then he had the people’s offering brought. Taking the goat that was for the people’s purification offering, he slaughtered it and offered it as a purification offering as before. 16Then he brought forward the burnt offering and offered it according to procedure. 17He then presented the grain offering; taking a handful of it, he burned it on the altar, in addition to the morning burnt offering.f 18Finally he slaughtered the ox and the ram, the communion sacrifice of the people. When his sons brought him the blood, Aaron splashed it on all sides of the altar.g 19The portions of fat from the ox and from the ram, the fatty tail, the covering fat, the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver 20they placed on top of the briskets. Aaron burned the fat pieces on the altar, 21but the briskets and the right thigh he raised as an elevated offeringh before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Revelation of the Lord’s Glory. 22* Aaron then raised his hands over the people and blessedi them. When he came down from offering the purification offering, the burnt offering, and the communion offering, 23Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. On coming out they blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24* Fire came forth from the LORD’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.j Seeing this, all the people shouted with joy and fell prostrate.
* [9:1] Eighth day: this is the conclusion of the priestly initiation ceremony.
* [9:3–4] The seven-day consecration of the priests in chap. 8 did not require sacrifices from the community. Now communal sacrifices as well as priestly sacrifices are required.
* [9:6–21] Aaron and his sons now perform the offerings, instead of Moses (see note on 8:15).
* [9:7] For your household: unlike the Septuagint, the Hebrew reads be‘ad ha‘am, “for the people.”
* [9:22–23] The people are blessed twice. For the possible content of the blessing, compare the priestly blessing in Nm 6:22–27. Solomon offers a double blessing at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kgs 8:14–21, 55–61).
* [9:24] The theophany consists of a fire that apparently comes from the tent of meeting. God’s fiery glory is also manifested in the pillar of cloud and fire that led the Israelites and rested over the tent of meeting (Ex 13:21; 40:38; Nm 9:15–23; 10:11). On God’s fiery glory, see also Ex 24:17; Ez 1:27–28.
a. [9:1] Lv 8:33.
b. [9:7] Lv 16:3–5.
c. [9:9] Lv 4:25, 30, 34.
d. [9:11] Lv 6:23.
e. [9:14] Lv 1:5–9.
f. [9:17] Nm 28:23; 2 Kgs 16:15; Ez 46:13–15.
g. [9:18] Lv 3:2.
h. [9:21] Lv 7:30–34.
i. [9:22] Nm 6:22–27.
j. [9:24] 1 Kgs 18:38; 2 Chr 7:1; 2 Mc 2:10; cf. Ex 24:16–17.
Nadab and Abihu. 1* Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers and, putting incense on the fire they had set in them,a they offered before the LORD unauthorized fire, such as he had not commanded. 2Fire therefore came forth from the LORD’s presence and consumed them,b so that they died in the LORD’s presence. 3Moses then said to Aaron, “This is as the LORD said:
Through those near to me I will be sanctified;
in the sight of all the people I will obtain glory.”* c
But Aaron said nothing. 4* Then Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, with the order, “Come, carry your kinsmen from before the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5So they drew near and carried them by means of their tunics outside the camp, as Moses had commanded.
Conduct of the Priests. 6Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not dishevel your haird or tear your garments,e lest you die and bring God’s wrath also on the whole community. While your kindred, the rest of the house of Israel, may mourn for those whom the LORD’s fire has burned up, 7you shall not go beyond the entrance of the tent of meeting,f else you shall die; for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.” So they did as Moses told them.
8The LORD said to Aaron: 9When you are to go to the tent of meeting, you and your sons are forbidden, by a perpetual statute throughout your generations, to drink any wine or strong drink, lest you die.g 10You must be able to distinguish between what is sacred and what is profane, and between what is clean and what is unclean;* h 11and you must be able to teach the Israelites all the statutes that the LORD has given them through Moses.
The Eating of the Priestly Portions. 12Moses said to Aaron and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering* left over from the oblations to the LORD, and eat it beside the altar in the form of unleavened cakes, since it is most holy. 13You must eat it in a sacred place because it is your and your sons’ due from the oblations to the LORD; such is the command I have received. 14i The brisket of the elevated offering and the leg* of the contribution, however, you and your sons and daughters may eat, in a clean place; for these have been assigned to you and your children as your due from the communion sacrifices of the Israelites. 15The leg of the contribution and the brisket of the elevated offering shall be brought in with the oblations of fat to be raised as an elevated offering before the LORD. They shall belong to you and your children as your due forever, as the LORD has commanded.”
16Moses inquired closely about the goat of the purification offering* and discovered that it had all been burned. So he was angry with the surviving sons of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, and said, 17j “Why did you not eat the purification offering in the sacred place, since it is most holy? It has been given to you that you might remove the guilt of the community and make atonement for them before the LORD. 18Since its blood was not brought inside the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten the offering in the sanctuary, as I was commanded.” 19Aaron answered Moses, “Even though they presented their purification offering and burnt offering before the LORD today, still this misfortune has befallen me. Had I then eaten of the purification offering today, would it have been pleasing to the LORD?” 20On hearing this, Moses was satisfied.
* [10:1–2] Nadab and Abihu are the older sons of Aaron (Ex 6:23–24). Their sin apparently involves using embers from an unapproved source instead of the altar (cf. 16:12). The fire that destroys them is the same type found in 9:24.
* [10:3] The explanation for the divine reaction indicates that improper cultic actions desecrate God and compromise God’s glory. Desecration evokes divine punishment (cf. Ex 28:43; Nm 4:15, 19–20). Those near to me: i.e., cultic officials.
* [10:4–5] Moses has lay people remove the bodies so that the priests can continue their cultic activities free of contamination by a corpse (cf. Nm 19).
* [10:10] Sacred and…profane…clean and…unclean: something or someone may be either sacred or profane (i.e., ordinary, not set apart), and at the same time clean or unclean. Priests would be particularly concerned about keeping what is unclean away from the sacred.
* [10:12–13] Grain offering: this is the grain offering of the people of 9:4, 17. Only the token offering had been offered; the rest was for the priests’ consumption.
* [10:14] Brisket…leg: these are from the Israelites’ communion sacrifices in 9:4, 18–21.
* [10:16–20] Goat of the purification offering: this is the people’s purification offering of 9:3, 15. Since its blood is not brought into the sanctuary, then, according to 6:17–23, this is the type of purification offering which is to be eaten by the priests in a holy place. Eleazar and Ithamar: they burned the entire goat of the people’s purification offering (9:15) instead of eating it in a sacred place (6:19) to remove ritually the sin of the community by the ingestion of the meat of the offering. Aaron’s defense of this action of his sons is somewhat vague: he merely alludes to the loss suffered in the death of Nadab and Abihu, without giving an explicit reason for Eleazar and Ithamar’s not eating the people’s purification offering, as required.
a. [10:1] Lv 16:1; Nm 3:4; 26:61; 1 Chr 24:2.
b. [10:2] Nm 16:35; cf. Lv 9:24.
c. [10:3] Lv 21:17, 21; Nm 20:12.
d. [10:6] Lv 13:45.
e. [10:6] Lv 21:5–6, 10–12.
f. [10:7] Lv 8:33–35; 21:12.
g. [10:9] Ez 44:21.
h. [10:10] Lv 11:47; 20:25; Ez 22:26; 44:23.
i. [10:14] Lv 7:34.
j. [10:17] Lv 6:18–19.
Clean and Unclean Meats.* 1a The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2Speak to the Israelites and tell them: Of all land animals these are the ones you may eat: 3Any animal that has hoofs you may eat, provided it is cloven-footed and chews the cud. 4But you shall not eatb any of the following from among those that only chew the cud or only have hoofs: the camel, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 5the rock hyrax,* which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 6the hare, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 7and the pig,c which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you. 8You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
9Of the various creatures that live in the water, you may eat the following: whatever in the seas or in river waters that has both fins and scales you may eat.d 10But of the creatures that swarm in the water or of animals that otherwise live in the water, whether in the sea or in the rivers, all those that lack either fins or scales are loathsome for you, 11and shall always be loathsome to you. Their meat you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall loathe. 12Every water creature that lacks fins or scales is loathsome for you.
13Of the birds,* these you shall loathe; they shall not be eaten, they are loathsome: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14the kite, the various species of falcons, 15the various species of crows, 16the eagle owl, the kestrel, the long-eared owl, the various species of hawks, 17the little owl, the cormorant, the screech owl, 18the barn owl, the horned owl, the osprey, 19the stork, the various species of herons, the hoopoe, and the bat.
20The various winged insects that walk on all fours are loathsome for you. 21But of the various winged insects that walk on all fours you may eat those that have legs jointed above their feet for leaping on the ground; 22hence of these you may eat the following: the various kinds of locusts, the various kinds of bald locusts, the various kinds of crickets, and the various kinds of grasshoppers.e 23All other winged insects that have four legs are loathsome for you.
24You become unclean by the following—anyone who touches their carcasses shall be unclean until evening,f 25and anyone who carries any part of their carcasses shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening— 26by all hoofed animals that are not cloven-footed or do not chew the cud; they are unclean for you; anyone who touches them becomes unclean. 27Also by the various quadrupeds that walk on paws; they are unclean for you; anyone who touches their carcasses shall be unclean until evening, 28and anyone who carries their carcasses shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening. They are unclean for you.
29Of the creatures that swarm on the ground, the following are unclean for you: the rat, the mouse, the various kinds of lizards, 30the gecko, the spotted lizard, the agama, the skink, and the chameleon. 31Among the various swarming creatures, these are unclean for you. Everyone who touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. 32Everything on which one of them falls when dead becomes unclean, including any article of wood, cloth, leather or goat hair—any article of which use can be made. It must be immersed in water and remain unclean until evening, when it again becomes clean. 33Should any of these creatures fall into a clay vessel, everything in it becomes unclean, and the vessel itself you must break. 34Any food that can be eaten which makes contact with water, and any liquid that may be drunk, in any such vessel become unclean. 35Any object on which any part of their carcasses falls becomes unclean; if it is an oven or stove, this must be broken to pieces; they are unclean and shall always be unclean to you. 36However, a spring or a cistern for collecting water remains clean; but whoever touches such an animal’s carcass becomes unclean. 37If any part of their carcasses falls on any sort of grain that is to be sown, it remains clean; 38but if the grain has become moistened, it becomes unclean to you when any part of their carcasses falls on it.
39* g When one of the animals that you could otherwise eat dies of itself, anyone who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening; 40and anyone who eats any part of its carcass shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening;h so also, anyone who carries its carcass shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening.
41All the creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten. 42Whether it crawls on its belly, goes on all fours, or has many legs—any creature that swarms on the earth—you shall not eat them; they are loathsome. 43Do not make yourselves loathsome by any swarming creature nor defile yourselves with them and so become unclean by them.i 44For I, the LORD, am your God. You shall make and keep yourselves holy,* because I am holy.j You shall not make yourselves unclean, then, by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. 45Since I, the LORD, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt that I might be your God, you shall be holy, because I am holy.
46This is the instruction for land animals, birds, and all the creatures that move about in the water, as well as any animal that swarms on the ground, 47that you may distinguish between the clean and the unclean, and between creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.k
* [11:1–15:33] Priestly legislation manifests two types of impurity or uncleanness: tolerated and prohibited. Prohibited impurity arises from various sins (e.g., 4:1–5; 5:2–3; 18:6–23; 20:2–5; Nm 5:13–14; 6:6–7). Tolerated impurity has three main sources: certain dead bodies (animal and human; cf. Lv 11 and Nm 19), various regular and abnormal genital discharges (Lv 12; 15), and diseases (specifically “scaly infection,” chaps. 13–14). An additional tolerated impurity is that generated by the cult in order to rectify the effect of these impurities or sins (cf. chap. 4; 16:26, 28).
* [11:1–47] Apart from the introduction and conclusion (vv. 1–2a, 46–47), this chapter has three sections: (1) prohibitions against eating certain land, water, and air animals (vv. 2b–23); (2) consequences of contact with various animals (vv. 24–41); (3) a prohibition against eating small land animals, which is motivated by the requirement that Israel be holy as God is holy (vv. 41–45). These animals are impure only when dead. Cf. Dt 14:3–21.
* [11:5–6] According to modern zoology, the rock hyrax (hyrax Syriacus) is classified as an ungulate, and the hare as a rodent; neither is a ruminant. They appear to chew their food as the true ruminants do, and it is upon this appearance that the classification in the text is based.
* [11:13–23, 30] Birds: the term is broader, including all animals that fly (including bats, v. 19, and flying insects, vv. 20–23). The identification of the various Hebrew names for these birds and reptiles is in many cases uncertain.
* [11:39–40] These animals create uncleanness, but are not prohibited as food (cf. 17:15–16). Priests who have a higher degree of holiness than other Israelites may not eat these animals (22:8; cf. Ez 44:31). Cf. Ex 22:30; Dt 14:21.
* [11:44–45] Keep yourselves holy…you shall be holy: a similar idea is expressed in 20:25–26. There, distinguishing between the animals is compared to God’s distinguishing between the peoples and choosing Israel.
a. [11:1] Lv 27:11, 27; Gn 7:2–3, 8–9; Dt 14:3–21.
b. [11:4] Jgs 13:4, 7; Is 66:17; Ez 4:12–14.
c. [11:7] Prv 11:22; Is 65:4; 66:17; Mt 7:6; 8:30–32; Mk 5:11–16; Lk 8:32–33; 15:15–16.
d. [11:9] Jn 21:9–13.
e. [11:22] Mt 3:4; Mk 1:6.
f. [11:24] Lv 5:2; 7:21.
g. [11:39] Lv 17:15–16; 22:8; Ex 22:30; Ez 4:12–14; 44:31.
h. [11:40] Lv 17:15; 22:8.
i. [11:43–44] Lv 20:25–26.
j. [11:44] Lv 19:2; 20:7, 26; Mt 5:48; 1 Pt 1:16.
k. [11:47] Lv 10:10.
Uncleanness of Childbirth. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites: When a woman has a child, giving birth to a boy, she shall be unclean* for seven days, with the same uncleanness as during her menstrual period.a 3On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised,* b 4and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in a state of blood purity; she shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled. 5If she gives birth to a girl, for fourteen days she shall be as unclean as during her menstrual period, after which she shall spend sixty-six days* in a state of blood purity.
6* When the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter are fulfilled,c she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a yearling lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a purification offering. 7The priest shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and thus she will be clean again after her flow of blood. Such is the ritual for the woman who gives birth to a child, male or female. 8If, however, she cannot afford a lamb,d she may take two turtledoves or two pigeons,e the one for a burnt offering and the other for a purification offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she will again be clean.
* [12:2–5] The mother has two stages of uncleanness or impurity: the first where her uncleanness is as severe as during her menstrual period and is contagious to profane persons and objects (cf. 15:19–24), and the second where she does not contaminate persons and objects but is still impure to what is holy, such as the sanctuary (12:4) or sacrifices. The implication is that in the second stage she may resume sexual relations with her husband (which would be prohibited in the first stage according to 18:19).
* [12:3] Circumcision is the sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Gn 17:1–27) and allows full participation in the religious community (Ex 12:43–49; Jos 5:2–10). This command was fulfilled after Jesus’ birth (Lk 2:21).
* [12:5] If she gives birth to a girl…sixty-six days: while the longer period of uncleanness following the birth of a girl, compared to that following the birth of a boy, might reflect the relative disparity in social status between men and women in ancient Israel (and attested in other cultures), this is by no means certain. There is no simple correlation in the Bible between the worth of something and the degree of impurity it can occasion.
* [12:6–8] Certain tolerated impurities (see note on 11:1–15:33) are strong enough to pollute the sanctuary and require purification offerings, including the parturient (see also 14:10–32; 15:13–15, 28–30). Cf. note on 4:3. Mary fulfilled the command of bringing sacrifices after the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:22–24).
a. [12:2] Lv 15:19.
b. [12:3] Gn 17:12; Jn 7:22.
c. [12:6] Lk 2:22–24.
d. [12:8] Lv 14:21–22.
e. [12:8] Lv 1:14; Lk 2:24.
Scaly Infection.* 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2a When someone has on the skin a mark, lesion, or blotch which appears to develop into a scaly infection, the person shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his sons. 3If the priest, upon examination of the skin’s infection, finds that the hair on the infection has turned white and the infection itself appears to be deeper than the skin,* it is indeed a scaly infection; the priest, on seeing this, shall declare the person unclean. 4* If, however, the blotch on the skin is white, but does not seem to be deeper than the skin, nor has the hair turned white, the priest shall quarantine the afflicted person for seven days.* 5Should the priest, upon examination on the seventh day, find that the infection has remained unchanged in color and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall quarantine the person for another seven days. 6Should the priest, upon examination again on the seventh day, find that the infection is now faded and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall declare the person clean; it was merely a scab. The person shall wash his garments* and so become clean. 7But if, after the person was examined by the priest and declared clean, the scab spreads at all on the skin, the person shall once more be examined by the priest. 8Should the priest, upon examination, find that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection.
9When someone is afflicted with a scaly infection, that person shall be brought to the priest. 10Should the priest, upon examination, find that there is a white mark on the skin which has turned the hair white and that there is raw flesh in it, 11it is a chronic scaly infection on the skin. The priest shall declare the person unclean without quarantine, since the individual is certainly unclean. 12* If the scaly infection breaks out on the skin and, as far as the priest can see, covers all the skin of the afflicted person from head to foot, 13should the priest then, upon examination, find that the scaly infection does cover the whole body, he shall declare the afflicted person clean; since the person has turned completely white; that individual is clean. 14But as soon as raw flesh appears, the individual is unclean; 15on observing the raw flesh, the priest shall declare the person unclean, because raw flesh is unclean; it is a scaly infection. 16If, however, the raw flesh again turns white, the person shall return to the priest; 17should the latter, upon examination, find that the infection has indeed turned white, he shall declare the afflicted person clean; the individual is clean.
18If a boil appeared on a person’s skin which later healed, 19should now in the place of the boil a white mark or a reddish white blotch develop, the person shall be examined by the priest. 20If the latter, upon examination, finds that it is deeper than the skin and that the hair has turned white, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection that has broken out in the boil. 21But if the priest, upon examination, finds that there is no white hair in it and that it is not deeper than the skin and is faded, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days. 22If it has then spread on the skin, the priest shall declare the person unclean; it is an infection. 23But if the blotch remains the same without spreading, it is merely the scar of the boil; the priest shall therefore declare the person clean.
24If there was a burn on a person’s skin, and the burned area now becomes a reddish white or a white blotch, 25when the priest, upon examination, finds that the hair has turned white in the blotch and this seems to be deeper than the skin, it is a scaly infection that has broken out in the burn; the priest shall therefore declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection. 26But if the priest, upon examination, finds that there is no white hair in the blotch and that this is not deeper than the skin and is faded, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days. 27Should the priest, upon examination on the seventh day, find that it has spread at all on the skin, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection. 28But if the blotch remains the same without spreading on the skin and is faded, it is merely the spot of the burn; the priest shall therefore declare the person clean, since it is only the scar of the burn.
29* When a man or a woman has an infection on the head or in the beard, 30should the priest, upon examination, find that the infection appears to be deeper than the skin and that there is fine yellow hair in it, the priest shall declare the person unclean; it is a scall. It is a scaly infection of the head or beard. 31But if the priest, upon examining the scall infection, finds that it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, though the hair in it may not be black, the priest shall quarantine the scall-stricken person for seven days. 32Should the priest, upon examining the infection on the seventh day find that the scall has not spread and has no yellow hair in it and does not seem to be deeper than the skin, 33the person shall shave, but not the scall spot. Then the priest shall quarantine the scall-diseased person for another seven days. 34If the priest, upon examining the scall on the seventh day, finds that it has not spread on the skin and that it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, he shall declare the person clean; the latter shall wash his garments, and will thus be clean. 35But if the scall spreads at all on the skin after the person has been declared clean— 36should the priest, upon examination, find that the scall has indeed spread on the skin, he need not look for yellow hair; the individual is unclean. 37If, however, the scall has remained unchanged in color and black hair has grown in it, the disease has been healed; the person is clean, and the priest shall declare the individual clean.
38* When the skin of a man or a woman is spotted with several white blotches, 39if the priest, upon examination, finds that the blotches on the skin are pale white, it is only tetter that has broken out on the skin, and the person therefore is clean.
40When a man loses the hair of his head, he is simply bald on the crown and not unclean.b 41So too, if he loses the hair on the front of his head, he is simply bald on the forehead and not unclean. 42But when there is a reddish white infection on his bald crown or bald forehead, it is a scaly infection that is breaking out there. 43If the priest, upon examination, finds that the infection spot on the bald area on the crown or forehead has the same reddish white appearance as that of a scaly infection of the skin, 44the man has a scaly infection and is unclean. The priest shall declare him unclean; his infection is on his head.
45* The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled,c and the mustache covered.d The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” 46As long as the infection is present, the person shall be unclean. Being unclean, that individual shall dwell apart, taking up residence outside the camp.e
Fungal Infection of Fabrics and Leather. 47When a fungal infection is on a garment of wool or of linen, 48or on the warp and woof* of linen or wool, or on a hide or anything made of leather, 49if the infection on the garment or hide, or on the warp or woof, or on any leather article is greenish or reddish, the thing is indeed a fungal infection and must be examined by the priest. 50Having examined the infection, the priest shall quarantine the infected article for seven days. 51If the priest, upon inspecting the infection on the seventh day, finds that it has spread on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather, whatever be its use, the infection is a harmful fungus; the article is unclean. 52He shall therefore burn up the garment, or the warp or woof, be it of wool or linen, or any leather article which is infected; since it is a harmful fungus, it must be destroyed by fire. 53But if the priest, upon examination, finds that it has not spread on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather article, 54he shall give orders to have the infected article washed and then quarantined for another seven days. 55If the priest, upon examination after the infection was washed, finds that it has not changed its color, even though it may not have spread, the article is unclean. You shall burn it with fire. It is a fray, be it on its inner or outer side. 56But if the priest, upon examination, finds that the infection has faded after the washing, he shall cut it out of the garment, or the leather, or the warp or woof. 57If, however, the infection again appears on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather article, it is still virulent and you shall burn the thing infected with fire. 58But if, after the washing, the infection has disappeared from the garment, or the warp or woof, or the leather article, the thing shall be washed a second time, and thus it will be clean. 59This is the instruction for a fungalf infection on a garment of wool or linen, or on a warp or woof, or on any leather article, to determine whether it is clean or unclean.
* [13:1–14:57] These chapters deal with scaly or fungal infections (Hebrew ṣāra‘at). The older translation “leprosy” is misleading because ṣāra‘at refers to not just one but several chronic and enduring skin diseases in human beings. The disease known as “leprosy” (Hansen’s disease) is probably not included among the conditions described in the chapter. Also the term ṣāra‘at refers to fungal growths in fabrics and on the walls of houses. The reason why these conditions, and not other diseases, were considered unclean may be that they were quite visible, associated with death (cf. Nm 12:9–12), and traditionally connected with punishment by the deity (Lv 14:34; Dt 28:27, 35; 2 Sm 3:29; 2 Kgs 5:26–27; 2 Chr 26:16–21).
* [13:3] The symptoms of white hair and depth (perhaps a subcutaneous lesion) do not clearly correlate with known skin diseases or lesions. It may be that the symptoms are a hybrid ideal that do not reflect reality and are the result of priestly systematization. The same judgment applies to the conditions in vv. 10–11, 20, 25; cf. note on vv. 12–17.
* [13:4–8] The symptoms here involve a flaky patch of skin that spreads after one week or stays the same after two. This correlates with many skin diseases, such as psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, certain mycotic infections, patchy eczema, and pityriasis rosea.
* [13:4] Quarantine…seven days: unless lesions have unmistakable symptoms of scaly infection, time is needed to distinguish disease from a condition which is following the natural course of healing and remission. Cf. vv. 5, 21, 26, 27, 31, 33, 50, 54; 14:38.
* [13:6] Wash his garments: even suspected scaly infections create some impurity, not just diagnosed infections (vv. 45–46).
* [13:12–17] This is not a paradox, namely where a limited lesion is impure but one that covers the whole body is pure. Rather, a white lesion that lacks ulcerated skin (“raw flesh”) is pure, even if it covers the whole body. This formulation reflects priestly interest in systematization.
* [13:29–37] The symptoms in this unit may include either favus (a mycotic infection) or a protein deficiency syndrome (Kwashiorkor) where the hair may be fine and copper-red to yellow.
* [13:38–39] This may refer to vitiligo, where patches of the skin and hair lose pigmentation.
* [13:45–46] The symbolic association with death is found in the mourning activities in which those diagnosed with these afflictions engage: rending clothes, disheveling the hair, and covering the mouth. They are also excluded from the camp. Cf. examples of exclusion in Nm 5:1–4; 12:14–15; 2 Kgs 7:3–10; 15:5; 2 Chr 26:21. Persons with scaly infections must have been able to pollute others in the priestly system, though this is not stated. Hence, they must cry out “Unclean, unclean!” to warn others of their presence.
* [13:48] Warp and woof: it is possible that the nature of the weave allowed fungus to grow separately along warp or woof. Otherwise, this may refer to the yarns before they are woven together.
a. [13:2] Lv 22:4; Ex 4:6; Nm 5:2–3; Dt 24:8; 2 Sm 3:29; 2 Kgs 5:1, 3–7, 11, 27; Mk 1:40–45.
b. [13:40] 2 Kgs 2:23.
c. [13:45] Lv 10:6.
d. [13:45] Mi 3:7.
e. [13:46] Lv 14:3; Nm 5:2; 12:14–15; 2 Kgs 7:3–10; 15:5; 2 Chr 26:21; Mt 26:6; Mk 14:3; Lk 17:11–19.
f. [13:59] Lv 14:54–57.
Purification After Scaly Infection. 1* The LORD said to Moses: 2a This is the ritual for someone that had a scaly infection at the time of that person’s purification.b The individual shall be brought to the priest, 3who is to go outside the camp.c If the priest, upon inspection, finds that the scaly infection has healed in the afflicted person, 4he shall order that two live, clean birds,* as well as some cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop be obtained for the one who is to be purified.d 5* The priest shall then order that one of the birds be slaughtered over an earthen vessel with fresh water in it. 6Taking the living bird with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, the priest shall dip them, including the live bird, in the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the fresh water, 7and then sprinkle seven times on the person to be purified from the scaly infection. When he has thus purified that person, he shall let the living bird fly away over the countryside.e 8The person being purified shall then wash his garments, shave off all hair, and bathe in water,* and so become clean. After this the person may come inside the camp, but shall still remain outside his or her tent for seven days.f 9On the seventh day this individual shall again shave off all hair, of the head, beard, and eyebrows—all hair must be shaved—and also wash his garments and bathe the body in water, and so become clean.
10On the eighth day the individual shall take two unblemished male lambs, one unblemished yearling ewe lamb, three tenths of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log* of oil. 11The priest who performs the purification ceremony shall place the person who is being purified, as well as all these offerings, before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12Taking one of the male lambs, the priest shall present it as a reparation offering,g along with the log of oil, raising them as an elevatedh offering before the LORD. 13This lamb shall be slaughtered in the sacred place where the purification offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered, because the reparation offering is like the purification offering; it belongs to the priest and is most holy. 14* i Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the reparation offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. 15The priest shall also take the log of oil and pour some of it into the palm of his own left hand; 16then, dipping his right finger in the oil on his left palm, he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the LORD. 17Of the oil left in his hand the priest shall put some on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified, over the blood of the reparation offering. 18The rest of the oil in his hand the priest shall put on the headj of the one being purified. Thus shall the priest make atonement for the individual before the LORD. 19The priest shall next offer the purification offering,k thus making atonement on behalf of the one being purified from the uncleanness. After this the burnt offering shall be slaughtered. 20The priest shall offer the burnt offeringl and the grain offering on the altar before the LORD. Thus shall the priest make atonement for the person, and the individual will become clean.
Poor Person’s Sacrifices. 21If a person is poor and cannot afford so much,m that person shall take one male lamb for a reparation offering, to be used as an elevated offering in atonement, one tenth of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, 22and two turtledoves or pigeons, which the individual can more easily afford, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. 23On the eighth day of purification the person shall bring them to the priest, at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD. 24Taking the lamb of the reparation offering, along with the log of oil, the priest shall raise them as an elevated offering before the LORD. 25When the lamb of the reparation offering has been slaughtered, the priest shall take some of its blood, and put it on the lobe of the right ear, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. 26The priest shall then pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand 27and with his right finger sprinkle some of the oil in his left palm seven times before the LORD. 28Some of the oil in his hand the priest shall also put on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified, where he had sprinkled the blood of the reparation offering. 29The rest of the oil in his hand the priest shall put on the head of the one being purified. Thus shall he make atonement for the individual before the LORD. 30Then, of the turtledoves or pigeons, such as the person can afford, 31the priest shall offer one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering,n along with the grain offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for the person who is being purified. 32This is the ritual for one afflicted with a scaly infection who has insufficient means for purification.
Fungal Infection of Houses. 33* The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 34When you come into the land of Canaan, which I am giving you to possess, if I puto a fungal infection in any house of the land you occupy, 35the owner of the house shall come and report to the priest, “Something like an infection has appeared in my house.” 36The priest shall then order the house to be cleared out before he goes in to examine the infection, lest everything in the house become unclean. Only after this is he to go in to examine the house. 37If the priest, upon inspection, finds that the infection on the walls of the house consists of greenish or reddish spotsp which seem to go deeper than the surface of the wall, 38he shall go out of the house to the doorway and quarantine the house for seven days. 39On the seventh day the priest shall return. If, upon inspection, he finds that the infection has spread on the walls, 40he shall order the infected stones to be pulled out and cast in an unclean place outside the city. 41The whole inside of the house shall then be scraped, and the mortar that has been scraped off shall be dumped in an unclean place outside the city. 42Then other stones shall be brought and put in the place of the old stones, and new mortar obtained and plastered on the house. 43If the infection breaks out once more in the house after the stones have been pulled out and the house has been scraped and replastered, 44the priest shall come; and if, upon inspection, he finds that the infection has spread in the house, it is a corrosive fungus in the house, and it is unclean. 45It shall be pulled down, and all its stones, beams and mortar shall be hauled away to an unclean place outside the city. 46q Whoever enters a house while it is quarantined shall be unclean until evening. 47Whoever sleeps or eats in such a house shall also wash his garments.
48r If the priest finds, when he comes to the house, that the infection has in fact not spread in the house after the plastering, he shall declare the house clean, since the infection has been healed. 49To purify the house, he shall take two birds, as well as cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop. 50One of the birds he shall slaughter over an earthen vessel with fresh water in it. 51Then, taking the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn, together with the living bird, he shall dip them all in the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52Thus he shall purify the house with the bird’s blood and the fresh water, along with the living bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet yarn. 53He shall then let the living bird fly away over the countryside outside the city. Thus he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.
54This is the ritual for every kind of human scaly infection and scall, 55and for fungus diseases in garments and houses— 56for marks, lesions and blotches— 57to give direction when there is a state of uncleanness and when a state of cleanness. This is the ritual for scaly infection.
* [14:1–32] The rites here are for purification from human scaly infections after recovery, not for healing (but cf. 2 Kgs 5:10–14).
* [14:4–7] The bird rite is also found for purifying a house from a fungus (vv. 49–53). The rite apparently removes impurity from the individual and, by means of the live bird, sends it away to unpopulated areas (v. 7). This is similar to the dispatch of a goat laden with sins on the Day of Atonement (16:21–22).
* [14:5–7] The blood from the bird serves as a ritual detergent, much like the blood from the purification offering (see notes on 4:3). It is not a sacrifice, however, since it is not performed at the sanctuary. Fresh water: lit., “living water,” taken from some source of running water, not from a cistern.
* [14:8] Bathe in water: This phrase occurs frequently in Lv 14–16 and is imprecise. It can refer to both ordinary and cultic washing. The context will determine the meaning. At this early period in Israel’s history it is probably not a reference to cultic immersion in a Mikveh—a Second Temple period ritual.
* [14:10] Log: a liquid measure of capacity attested in the Bible only here. It is apparently equal in capacity to one-half liter.
* [14:14–17] The application of blood and oil here facilitates the movement of the person from the severely impure to the pure profane sphere; it reintegrates him or her into the community. Cf. 8:23–24.
* [14:33–53] Discussion of fungi in houses is probably delayed until here because it deals with a case pertaining to living in the land (v. 34) as opposed to the foregoing cases which apply even in the wilderness. The rules on fabrics (13:47–58) apply to the tent dwellings in the wilderness.
a. [14:2] 2 Kgs 5:10, 14; Mt 8:4; 10:8; Mk 1:44; Lk 4:27; 5:14.
b. [14:2] Lv 14:48–53.
c. [14:3] Lv 13:46.
d. [14:4] Nm 19:6.
e. [14:7] Lv 16:21–22.
f. [14:8] Lv 15:13, 28.
g. [14:12] Lv 7:1–10.
h. [14:12] Lv 7:30.
i. [14:14] Lv 8:23–24.
j. [14:18] Lv 8:12, 30.
k. [14:19] Lv 4.
l. [14:20] Lv 1.
m. [14:21] Lv 5:7, 11; 12:8.
n. [14:31] Lv 1:14–17; 5:7–10.
o. [14:34] Nm 12:9–15; 2 Kgs 15:4–5; 2 Chr 26:16–21.
p. [14:37] Lv 13:49.
q. [14:46–47] cf. Lv 15:10.
r. [14:48] Lv 14:2–9.
Sexual Uncleanness.* 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2* Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any man has a genital discharge, he is thereby unclean.a 3Such is his uncleanness from this discharge, whether his body* drains freely with the discharge or is blocked up from the discharge. His uncleanness is on him all the days that his body discharges or is blocked up from his discharge; this is his uncleanness. 4Any bed on which the man with the discharge lies is unclean, and any article on which he sits is unclean. 5Anyone who touches his bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 6Whoever sits on an article on which the man with the discharge was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 7Whoever touches the body of the man with the discharge shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 8If the man with the discharge spits on a clean person, the latter shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 9Any saddle on which the man with the discharge rides is unclean. 10Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening; whoever carries any such thing shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.b 11Anyone whom the man with the discharge touches with his unrinsed hands shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 12Earthenware touched by the man with the discharge shall be broken; and every wooden article shall be rinsed with water.
13When a man with a discharge becomes clean* of his discharge, he shall count seven daysc for his purification. Then he shall wash his garments and bathe his body in fresh water, and so he will be clean. 14On the eighth day he shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,d and going before the LORD, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, he shall give them to the priest, 15who shall offer them up, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for the man because of his discharge.
16* When a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until evening.e 17Any piece of cloth or leather with semen on it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.
18If a man has sexual relations with a woman, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
19* When a woman has a flow of blood from her body, she shall be in a state of menstrual uncleanness for seven days. Anyone who touches her shall be unclean until evening.f 20Anything on which she lies or sits during her menstrual period shall be unclean. 21Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 22Whoever touches any article on which she was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 23Whether an object* is on the bed or on something she sat upon, when the person touches it, that person shall be unclean until evening. 24If a man lies with her, he contracts her menstrual uncleanness and shall be unclean for seven days;g every bed on which he then lies also becomes unclean.
25* When a woman has a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period.h 26Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstrual period, and any article on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstrual period. 27Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; that person shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
28i When she becomes clean from her flow, she shall count seven days; after this she becomes clean. 29On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 30The priest shall offer one of them as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for her because of her unclean flow.
31You shall warn the Israelites of their uncleanness, lest they die through their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle,j which is in their midst.
32This is the ritual for the man with a discharge, or who has an emission of semen, and thereby becomes unclean; 33as well as for the woman who has her menstrual period; or one who has a discharge, male or female; and also for the man who lies with an unclean woman.
* [15:1–33] Sexual discharges may be unclean partly because they involve the loss of life fluids or are otherwise involved with phenomena at the margins of life and death.
* [15:2–3] The uncleanness here is perhaps a discharge of pus because of urethritis (often but not solely associated with gonorrhea).
* [15:3] Body: here a euphemism in the Hebrew for “penis.”
* [15:13] Becomes clean: i.e., when his discharge ceases. The rite that follows is for purification, not a cure; see note on 14:1–32.
* [15:16–18] Menstrual blood, semen, and other impurities in Lv 11–15 are considered “impure” either because they are force of life whose “loss” represents death or because, as uniquely human conditions, they are symbolically incompatible with the deity and the divine abode, the sanctuary. Lv 15:16 refers to a spontaneous nocturnal emission, and either because this marks life and death boundaries or because of its uniquely human (versus divine) character, any contact with it renders the object or person ritually unclean. Thus, in 15:18 it is not the marital act itself that is polluting, but only semen.
* [15:19–24] This is normal menstruation.
* [15:23] An object: the Hebrew is unclear. This translation means that even an object on the woman’s unclean bed or chair can mediate uncleanness to another, but only if all the object touched is still on the bed or article sat upon, thus forming a chain of simultaneous contact.
* [15:25–30] This is menstruation outside the normal cycle or for periods longer than normal. A woman with a chronic blood flow was healed by touching the tassel of Jesus’ cloak (Mt 9:20–22; Mk 5:25–34; Lk 8:43–48).
a. [15:2] Nm 5:2.
b. [15:10] Lv 11:24–25, 27–28, 39–40; 14:46–47.
c. [15:13] Lv 14:8.
d. [15:14] Lv 12:8; 14:22.
e. [15:16] Ex 19:15; Dt 23:11–12; 1 Sm 21:6.
f. [15:19] Lv 12:2, 5; 2 Sm 11:4; Ez 36:17.
g. [15:24] Lv 18:19; 20:18; Ez 18:6.
h. [15:25] Mt 9:20–22; Mk 5:25–34; Lk 8:43–48.
i. [15:28] Lv 15:13–15.
j. [15:31] Lv 5:2–3; 22:9; Nm 19:13, 20.
The Day of Atonement. 1* After the death of Aaron’s two sons,a who died when they encroached on the LORD’s presence, the LORD spoke to Moses 2and said to him: Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he pleases* into the inner sanctuary, inside the veil,b in front of the cover on the ark, lest he die, for I reveal myself in a cloud above the ark’s cover. 3Only in this way may Aaron enter the inner sanctuary. He shall bring a bull of the herd for a purification offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4He shall wear the sacred linen tunic, with the linen pants underneath, gird himself with the linen sash and put on the linen turban.c But since these vestments are sacred, he shall not put them on until he has first bathed his body in water.d 5From the Israelite community he shall receive two male goats for a purification offering and one ram for a burnt offering.
6Aaron shall offer the bull, his purification offering, to make atonement* for himself and for his household. 7Taking the two male goats and setting them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 8he shall cast lotse to determine which one is for the LORD and which for Azazel.* f 9The goat that is determined by lot for the LORD, Aaron shall present and offer up as a purification offering. 10But the goat determined by lot for Azazel he shall place before the LORD alive, so that with it he may make atonement by sending it off to Azazel in the desert.
11Thus shall Aaron offer his bull for the purification offering, to make atonement for himself and for his family. When he has slaughtered it, 12he shall take a censer full of glowing embers from the altar before the LORD, as well as a double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, and bringing them inside the veil, 13there before the LORD he shall put incense on the fire, so that a cloud of incense may shield the cover that is over the covenant, else he will die. 14Taking some of the bull’s blood, he shall sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the ark’s cover and likewise sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times in front of the cover.
15Then he shall slaughter the goat of the people’s purification offering, and bringing its blood inside the veil, he shall do with it as he did with the bull’s blood, sprinkling it on the ark’s cover and in front of it. 16Thus he shall purge the inner sanctuary* of all the Israelites’ impurities and trespasses, including all their sins. He shall do the same for the tent of meeting,g which is set up among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17No one else may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters the inner sanctuary to make atonement until he departs. When he has made atonement for himself and his household, as well as for the whole Israelite assembly, 18* he shall come out to the altar before the LORD and purge it also. Taking some of the bull’s and the goat’s blood, he shall put it on the horns around the altar, 19and with his finger sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times.h Thus he shall purify it and sanctify it from the impurities of the Israelites.
The Scapegoat. 20When he has finished purging the inner sanctuary, the tent of meeting and the altar, Aaron shall bring forward the live goat. 21Laying both hands* on its head, he shall confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and their trespasses, including all their sins, and so put them on the goat’s head.i He shall then have it led into the wilderness by an attendant. 22The goat will carry off all their iniquities to an isolated region.j
When the goat is dispatched into the wilderness, 23Aaron shall go into the tent of meeting, strip off the linen vestments he had put on when he entered the inner sanctuary, and leave them in the tent of meeting. 24After bathing his body with water in a sacred place, he shall put on his regular vestments, and then come out and offer his own and the people’s burnt offering, in atonement for himself and for the people, 25and also burn the fat of the purification offering on the altar.
26The man who led away the goat for Azazel shall wash his garments and bathe his body in water; only then may he enter the camp. 27The bull and the goat of the purification offering whose blood was brought to make atonement in the inner sanctuary, shall be taken outside the camp,k where their hides and flesh and dung shall be burned in the fire. 28The one who burns them shall wash his garments and bathe his body in water; only then may he enter the camp.
The Fast. 29l This shall be an everlasting statute for you: on the tenth day of the seventh month every one of you, whether a native or a resident alien, shall humble yourselves* and shall do no work. 30For on this day atonement is made for you to make you clean; of all your sins you will be cleansed before the LORD. 31It shall be a sabbath of complete rest for you, on which you must humble yourselves—an everlasting statute.
32This atonement is to be made by the priest who has been anointed and ordained to the priesthood in succession to his father. He shall wear the linen garments, the sacred vestments, 33and purge the most sacred part of the sanctuary, as well as the tent of meeting, and the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and all the people of the assembly. 34This, then, shall be an everlasting statute for you: once a year atonement shall be made on behalf of the Israelites for all their sins. And Moses did as the LORD had commanded him.
* [16:1–34] This is the narrative sequel of the story in chap. 10. The ritual in chapter 16 originally may have been an emergency rite in response to unexpected pollution of the sanctuary.
* [16:2] Not to come whenever he pleases: access to the various parts of the sanctuary is strictly controlled. Only the high priest can enter the most holy place, and only once a year. The veil: the Letter to the Hebrews makes use of the imagery of the Day of Atonement (in Hebrew Yom Kippur) to explain Jesus’ sacrifice (Heb 9:1–14, 23–28). Ark’s cover: the meaning of kappōret is not certain. It may be connected with the verb kipper “to atone, purge” (see note on v. 6) and thus refer to this part of the ark as a focus of atonement or purification.
* [16:6] Make atonement: the Hebrew verb kipper refers specifically to the removal of sin and impurity (cf. Ex 30:10; Lv 6:23; 8:15; 16:16, 18, 20, 27, 33; Ez 43:20, 26; 45:20), thus “to purge” in vv. 16, 18, 20, and 33, and more generally to the consequence of the sacrificial procedure, which is atonement (cf. Lv 17:11). “Atonement” is preeminently a function of the purification sacrifice, but other sacrifices, except apparently for the communion sacrifice, achieve this as well.
* [16:8] Azazel: a name for a demon (meaning something like “angry/fierce god”). See note on 17:7.
* [16:16] Inner sanctuary: this refers to the most holy room (vv. 2, 11–15). Trespasses, including all their sins: the term for “trespasses” (Heb. pesha‘im), which has overtones of rebellion, and the phrase “all their sins” indicate that even sins committed intentionally are included (such as when the sinner “acts defiantly,” as in Nm 15:30–31). This complements the scheme found in Lv 4 (see note on 4:3): intentional sins pollute the sanctuary more and penetrate even further than inadvertent sins, namely to the most holy place. The same for the tent of meeting: this rite may be that found in 4:5–7, 16–18 where blood is sprinkled in the anterior room and blood is placed on the horns of the incense altar there. Cf. Ex 30:10.
* [16:18–19] Thus a third locale in the sanctuary complex, the open-air altar, is purified. See the summaries in 16:20, 33.
* [16:21] Both hands: this gesture is for transferring sins to the head of the goat and is apparently different in meaning from the one-handed gesture that precedes the slaughtering of sacrificial animals (1:4; 3:2; 4:4; see note on 1:4).
* [16:29] Humble yourselves: also v. 31. The idiom used here (Heb. ’innâ nephesh) involves mainly fasting (Ps 35:13), but probably prohibits other activities such as anointing (Dn 10:3) and sexual intercourse (2 Sm 12:15–24). Such acts of self-denial display the need for divine favor. Fasting is often undertaken in times of emergency and mourning (cf. 1 Sm 14:24; 2 Sm 1:12; 3:35; cf. Mk 2:18–22).
a. [16:1] Lv 10:1–5.
b. [16:2] Lv 23:26–32; Nm 29:7–11; Heb 9:6–28.
c. [16:4] Lv 8:7; Ex 28:1–40.
d. [16:4] Lv 8:6.
e. [16:8] Jos 7:14–20; Acts 1:26.
f. [16:8] Lv 17:7.
g. [16:16] Lv 4:5–7, 16–18.
h. [16:19] Lv 4:25, 30, 34.
i. [16:21] Is 53:6; 2 Cor 5:21.
j. [16:22] Lv 14:7, 53; Is 53:11–12; Jn 1:29; 1 Pt 2:24.
k. [16:27] Lv 4:11–12; 6:23; Heb 13:11–13.
l. [16:29] Lv 23:27, 32; Nm 29:7.
Sacredness of Blood. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to Aaron and his sons, as well as to all the Israelites, and tell them: This is what the LORD has commanded: 3* Any Israelite who slaughters an ox or a sheep or a goat, whether in the camp or outside of it, 4without first bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD in front of the LORD’s tabernacle, shall be judged guilty of bloodshed* a—that individual has shed blood, and shall be cut offb from the people. 5This is so that such sacrifices as they used to offer in the open field the Israelites shall henceforth bring to the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the priest, and sacrifice them there as communion sacrifices to the LORD.c 6The priest will splash the blood on the altar of the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for an odor pleasing to the LORD. 7No longer shall they offer their sacrifices to the demons* with whom they prostituted themselves.d This shall be an everlasting statute for them and their descendants.
8Tell them, therefore: Anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice 9without bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it to the LORD, shall be cut off from the people. 10e As for anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, who consumes any blood, I will set myself against that individual and will cut that person off from among the people, 11since the life of the flesh is in the blood,f and I have given it to you to make atonement* on the altar for yourselves, because it is the blood as life that makes atonement. 12That is why I have told the Israelites: No one among you, not even a resident alien, may consume blood.
13Anyone hunting,* whether of the Israelites or of the aliens residing among them, who catches an animal or a bird that may be eaten, shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth,g 14since the life of all flesh is its blood. I have told the Israelites: You shall not consume the blood of any flesh. Since the life of all flesh is its blood, anyone who consumes it shall be cut off.
15Everyone, whether a native or an alien, who eats of an animal that died of itself or was killed by a wild beast, shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening, and then become clean.h 16If one does not wash his garments and bathe, that person shall bear the penalty.
* [17:3–4] Any animal slaughtered must be brought to the tent of meeting as an offering. This differs from Dt 12:15–28, which allows those living too far from the temple to slaughter an animal for food at home without offering it as a sacrifice.
* [17:4] Guilty of bloodshed: human beings and animals can incur blood guilt for killing human beings (cf. Gn 9:5–6); human beings can incur blood guilt for killing animals (see note on Lv 24:17–22).
* [17:7] Demons: for Hebrew śe‘îrîm, lit., “goats.” Like the demon Azazel (cf. 16:8, 10, 21–22), they dwell in the open country (17:5). Cf. Is 13:21; 34:14.
* [17:11] To make atonement: this is probably to be understood in the context of liability for shedding animal blood (cf. v. 4). Placing the blood on the altar exonerates the slaughterer from guilt for the killing. See note on 16:6.
* [17:13] Hunting: game animals are not permitted as offerings. One nonetheless has to treat the blood of these animals carefully by covering it with earth. Cf. Dt 12:16, 24.
a. [17:4] Lv 24:18.
b. [17:4] Lv 7:20.
c. [17:5] Lv 3:1–2, 7–8, 13.
d. [17:7] Ex 34:15; Dt 32:17; 2 Chr 11:15; 1 Cor 10:20.
e. [17:10–14] Lv 3:17; 7:26–27; Gn 9:4; Dt 12:16, 23–24.
f. [17:11] Gn 9:4.
g. [17:13] Dt 12:15–16.
h. [17:15] Lv 11:39–40; 22:8.
Laws Concerning Sexual Behavior. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to the Israelites and tell them: I, the LORD, am your God.* 3You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you once lived, nor shall you do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you; do not conform to their customs.a 4My decrees you shall carry out, and my statutes you shall take care to follow. I, the LORD, am your God. 5Keep, then, my statutes and decrees, for the person who carries them out will find life* through them. I am the LORD.b
6* None of you shall approach a close relative* to have sexual intercourse. I am the LORD. 7* You shall not disgrace your father by having intercourse with your mother.c She is your own mother; you shall not have intercourse with her. 8You shall not have intercourse with your father’s wife, for that would be a disgrace to your father. 9You shall not have intercourse with your sister,* d your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in your own household or born elsewhere. 10You shall not have intercourse with your son’s daughter or with your daughter’s daughter,* for that would be a disgrace to you. 11You shall not have intercourse with the daughter whom your father’s wife bore to him in his household,e since she, too, is your sister. 12You shall not have intercourse with your father’s sister,f since she is your father’s relative. 13You shall not have intercourse with your mother’s sister, since she is your mother’s relative. 14You shall not disgrace your father’s brother by having sexual relations with his wife,g since she, too, is your aunt. 15You shall not have intercourse with your daughter-in-law;* h she is your son’s wife; you shall not have intercourse with her. 16You shall not have intercourse with your brother’s wife;* i that would be a disgrace to your brother. 17You shall not have intercourse with a woman and also with her daughter, nor shall you marry and have intercourse with her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter;j they are related to her. This would be shameful. 18While your wife is still living you shall not marry her sister as her rival and have intercourse with her.k
19You shall not approach a woman to have intercourse with her while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.l 20You shall not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife,* m defiling yourself with her. 21n You shall not offer any of your offspring for immolation to Molech,* thus profaning the name of your God. I am the LORD. 22You shall not lie with a male as with a woman;o such a thing is an abomination. 23You shall not have sexual relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; that is perverse.p
24Do not defile yourselves by any of these things, because by them the nations whom I am driving out of your way have defiled themselves. 25And so the land has become defiled, and I have punished it for its wickedness, and the land has vomited out its inhabitants.q 26You, however, must keep my statutes and decrees, avoiding all these abominations, both the natives and the aliens resident among you— 27because the previous inhabitants did all these abominations and the land became defiled; 28otherwise the land will vomit you out also for having defiled it, just as it vomited out the nations before you. 29For whoever does any of these abominations shall be cut off from the people. 30Heed my charge, then, not to observe the abominable customs that have been observed before your time, and thus become impure by them.r I, the LORD, am your God.
* [18:2] I, the LORD, am your God: this declaration appears frequently elsewhere throughout chaps. 17–26, sometimes with a statement of God’s holiness or his sanctifying activity. It emphasizes the importance of the laws and the relationship of the divine lawgiver to the people.
* [18:5] Find life: in Dt 30:15–20 Moses sets before the people life and death. The alternatives are set out in detail in Lv 26 and Dt 28. Cf. Ez 20:11, 13, 21.
* [18:6–23] These laws deal with illicit sexual behavior. Lv 20:10–21 reiterates most of these cases, with penalties. Cf. also Dt 27:15–26; Ez 22:7–12. The ordering of the cases in Lv 18 seems to be: blood relatives (vv. 6–13), those related by marriage (vv. 14–18), then other cases (vv. 19–23).
* [18:6] Close relative: this refers to a blood relative and includes those not specifically mentioned in the list, such as one’s own daughter and a full sister. Have sexual intercourse: lit., “to uncover nakedness.”
* [18:7–8] Cf. the story of Reuben lying with Bilhah, his father’s concubine and Rachel’s maid (Gn 35:22; 49:4).
* [18:9, 11] Cf. actual or possible marriage to a half sister in Gn 20:12 and 2 Sm 13:13.
* [18:10] Daughter incest is found in the story of Lot (Gn 19:30–38).
* [18:15] Judah had intercourse with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Gn 38), but did not know her true identity until her pregnancy was discovered.
* [18:16] This refers to cohabiting with one’s sister-in-law not only while the brother is alive, but also after he is dead. Dt 25:5–10 allows for the marriage to the wife of a brother when that brother died without a male heir. Cf. Gn 38:6–14. It was the violation of this law of Leviticus which aroused the wrath of John the Baptist against Herod Antipas (Mt 14:4; Mk 6:18).
* [18:20] Adultery in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East is intercourse between a married or betrothed woman and any male. In the Bible it is generally punishable by the death of both individuals (20:10; cf. Dt 22:22–27). Intercourse with an unmarried or unbetrothed woman is not prohibited but carries responsibilities and fines (cf. Ex 22:15–16; Dt 22:28–29). Cf. Lv 19:20–22.
* [18:21] Immolation to Molech: the reference is to the custom of sacrificing children to the god Molech. Cf. Ez 16:20–21; 20:26, 31; 23:37. See note on Lv 20:1–5.
a. [18:3] Lv 20:22–23.
b. [18:5] Ez 20:11, 13, 21; Gal 3:12.
c. [18:7] Lv 20:11; Dt 23:1; 27:20; 1 Cor 5:1.
d. [18:9] Lv 20:17; Dt 27:22.
e. [18:11] Lv 20:17.
f. [18:12] Lv 20:19.
g. [18:14] Lv 20:20.
h. [18:15] Lv 20:12.
i. [18:16] Lv 20:21; Dt 25:5–10; Mt 14:3–4; Mk 6:18.
j. [18:17] Lv 20:14; Dt 27:23.
k. [18:18] Gn 29:27–28.
l. [18:19] Lv 15:24, 33; 20:18; Ez 18:6; 22:10.
m. [18:20] Lv 20:10; Ex 20:14; Dt 5:18; 22:22; Mt 5:27–30; Jn 8:4–5.
n. [18:21] Lv 20:2–5; Dt 18:10; 1 Kgs 11:7; 2 Kgs 16:3.
o. [18:22] Lv 20:13; Gn 19:4–11; Jgs 19:22–30; Rom 1:27; 1 Cor 6:9.
p. [18:23] Lv 20:15–16; Ex 22:18; Dt 27:21.
q. [18:25] Lv 20:22.
r. [18:30] Lv 20:23; Dt 18:9.
Various Rules of Conduct. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.* a 3* Each of you revere your mother and father,b and keep my sabbaths.c I, the LORD, am your God.
4Do not turn aside to idols, nor make molten gods for yourselves.d I, the LORD, am your God.
5When you sacrifice your communion sacrifice to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that it is acceptable on your behalf. 6It must be eaten on the day of your sacrifice or on the following day. Whatever is left over until the third day shall be burned in fire. 7If any of it is eaten on the third day, it will be a desecrated offering and not be accepted;e 8whoever eats of it then shall bear the penalty for having profaned what is sacred to the LORD. Such a one shall be cut offf from the people.
9* When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.g 10Likewise, you shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather up the grapes that have fallen. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. I, the LORD, am your God.
11* You shall not steal. You shall not deceive or speak falsely to one another.h 12You shall not swear falsely by my name, thus profaning the name of your God.i I am the LORD.
13You shall not exploit your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your laborer.j 14* You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God. I am the LORD.
15You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your neighbor justly.k 16You shall not go about spreading slander among your people; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the LORD.
17* You shall not hate any of your kindred in your heart. Reprove your neighbor openly so that you do not incur sin because of that person.l 18Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.m
19* Keep my statutes: do not breed any of your domestic animals with others of a different species; do not sow a field of yours with two different kinds of seed; and do not put on a garment woven with two different kinds of thread.n
20* o If a man has sexual relations with a female slave who has been acquired by another man but has not yet been redeemed or given her freedom, an investigation shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she has not been freed. 21The man shall bring to the entrance of the tent of meeting as his reparation to the LORD a ram as a reparation offering.p 22With the ram of the reparation offering the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the wrong the man has committed, so that he will be forgiven for the wrong he has committed.
23When you come into the land and plant any fruit tree there,q first look upon its fruit as if it were uncircumcised. For three years, it shall be uncircumcised for you; it may not be eaten. 24In the fourth year, however, all of its fruit shall be dedicated to the LORD in joyous celebration. 25Not until the fifth year may you eat its fruit, to increase the yield for you. I, the LORD, am your God.
26Do not eat anything with the blood still in it.r Do not recite charms or practice soothsaying.* s 27Do not clip your hair at the temples, nor spoil the edges of your beard. 28Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves.* t I am the LORD.
29You shall not degrade your daughter by making a prostitute of her;u otherwise the land will prostitute itself and become full of lewdness. 30Keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary.v I am the LORD.
31Do not turn to ghosts or consult spirits, by which you will be defiled.w I, the LORD, am your God.
32Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the old, and fear your God. I am the LORD.
33When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one.x 34You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt.y I, the LORD, am your God.
35Do not act dishonestly in using measures of length or weight or capacity. 36You shall have a true scale and true weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin.* z I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37Be careful, then, to observe all my statutes and decrees. I am the LORD.
* [19:2] Be holy, for I…am holy: in the writings commonly attributed to the Priestly collection, Israel is called to be holy through obeying God’s precepts (11:44–45; 20:7–8, 24–26; Nm 15:40–41). Cf. Dt 14:2, 21; 26:19; and Ex 19:6.
* [19:3–4] Cf. the Decalogue laws on revering parents (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16), keeping sabbaths (Ex 20:8–11; Dt 5:12–15), and not making or worshiping idols (Ex 20:2–6; Dt 5:7–10).
* [19:9–10] The Israelites maintain the poor in part by letting them gather unharvested portions of fields and vineyards. Cf. 23:22; Ru 2:1–10.
* [19:11–13] Cf. the Decalogue commandments against stealing (Ex 20:15; Dt 5:19), wrongly using God’s name (Ex 20:7; Dt 5:11), and swearing falsely against another (Ex 20:16; Dt 5:20).
* [19:14] In Dt 27:18 a curse falls on the head of the one who misleads the blind.
* [19:17–18] These verses form a unit and describe different attitudes and actions towards one’s fellow Israelites. A separate passage is necessary to advise a similar attitude toward aliens (vv. 33–34). Cf. 25:39–46. The admonition at the end of v. 18 came to be viewed in Judaism and Christianity as one of the central commandments. (See Mt 22:34–40; Mk 12:28–34; Lk 10:25–28; cf. Mt 19:19; Rom 13:8–10; Gal 5:14). The New Testament urges love for enemies as well as neighbors (Mt 5:43–48; Lk 6:27–36; cf. Prv 25:21–22).
* [19:19] One reason why mixtures are prohibited seems to be that they are holy (see Dt 22:9, 10–11). Israelites are allowed mixtures in the wearing of fringes on the edges or corners of their clothing (Nm 15:37–41; Dt 22:12). Some mixtures are considered abominations (cf. Lv 18:23; Dt 22:5).
* [19:20–22] On adultery, see note on 18:20. Here it is not adultery in the technical sense since the woman is not free. A reparation offering is required as a penalty (see 5:14–26).
* [19:26] Recite charms…soothsaying: methods of divination (cf. Gn 44:5, 15; Is 2:6; Ez 21:26–28). Legitimate means of learning the future or God’s will were through the Urim and Thummim stones (see Lv 8:8), lots (see Lv 16:8) and prophets (cf. Dt 18:9–22; 1 Sm 28:6–7).
* [19:28] Do not tattoo yourselves: see note on Gn 4:15. This prohibition probably refers only to the common ancient Near Eastern practice of branding a slave with its owner’s name as well as branding the devotees of a god with its name.
* [19:36] Ephah: see note on Is 5:10; hin: see note on Ez 45:24.
a. [19:2] Lv 11:44.
b. [19:3] Lv 20:9; Ex 20:12.
c. [19:3] Lv 23:3.
d. [19:4] Lv 26:1; Ex 20:3–5; 34:17; Dt 5:8; 27:15.
e. [19:7] Lv 7:15–18.
f. [19:8] Lv 7:20.
g. [19:9] Lv 23:22; Dt 24:19–22.
h. [19:11] Ex 20:15–16.
i. [19:12] Ex 20:7; Mt 5:33–37.
j. [19:13] Dt 24:14–15.
k. [19:15] Ex 23:2–3; Dt 1:17; 16:19; Ps 82:2; Prv 24:23.
l. [19:17] Mt 18:15; Lk 17:3; Gal 6:1.
m. [19:18] Mt 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8; 1 Jn 3:14.
n. [19:19] Dt 22:9–12.
o. [19:20] Dt 22:22–29.
p. [19:21] Lv 5:14–26.
q. [19:23] Dt 20:19–20.
r. [19:26] Lv 17:10.
s. [19:26] Dt 18:10; 2 Kgs 17:17; 21:6; 2 Chr 33:6.
t. [19:28] Lv 21:5.
u. [19:29] Lv 21:7, 14.
v. [19:30] Lv 19:3.
w. [19:31] Lv 20:6, 27; Dt 18:11; Is 8:19.
x. [19:33] Ex 22:20; 23:9; Jer 22:3; Mal 3:5.
y. [19:34] Dt 10:19.
z. [19:36] Dt 25:13–16; Prv 16:11; Am 8:5; Mi 6:10–11.
Penalties for Various Sins. 1* The LORD said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites: Anyone, whether an Israelite or an alien residing in Israel, who gives offspring to Molech shall be put to death.a The people of the land shall stone that person. 3b I myself will turn against and cut offc that individual from among the people; for in the giving of offspring to Molech, my sanctuary was defiledd and my holy name was profaned. 4If the people of the land condone the giving of offspring to Molech, by failing to put the wrongdoer to death, 5I myself will turn against that individual and his or her family, and I will cut off from their people both the wrongdoer and all who follow this person by prostituting themselves with Molech.
6Should anyone turn to ghosts and spirits and prostitute oneself with them,e I will turn against that person and cut such a one off from among the people. 7Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy; for I, the LORD, your God,f am holy. 8Be careful, therefore, to observe my statutes. I, the LORD, make you holy.
9Anyone who curses father or mother shall be put to death;* g and having cursed father or mother, such a one will bear the bloodguilt.* 10* If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife,h both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. 11If a man disgraces his father by lying with his father’s wife,i the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them. 12If a man lies with his daughter-in-law,j both of them shall be put to death; they have done what is perverse; their bloodguilt is upon them. 13If a man lies with a male as with a woman,k they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them. 14If a man marries a woman and her mother also,l that is shameful conduct; the man and the two women as well shall be burned to death, so that shamefulness may not be found among you. 15If a man has sexual relations with an animal,m the man shall be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16If a woman goes up to any animal to mate with it,n you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall both be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them. 17If a man marries his sister,o his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, and they have intercourse with each other, that is disgraceful; they shall be publicly cut off* from the people; the man shall bear the penalty of having had intercourse with his own sister. 18If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and has intercourse with her, he has laid bare the source of her flow and she has uncovered it.p The two of them shall be cut off from the people. 19You shall not have intercourse with your mother’s sister or your father’s sister,q because that dishonors one’s own flesh; they shall bear their penalty. 20If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he disgraces his uncle;r they shall bear the penalty; they shall die childless. 21If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is severe defilement and he has disgraced his brother;s they shall be childless.
22Be careful to observe all my statutes and all my decrees; otherwise the land where I am bringing you to dwell will vomit you out.t 23Do not conform, therefore, to the customs of the nationsu whom I am driving out of your way, because all these things that they have done have filled me with disgust for them. 24But to you I have said:v You shall take possession of their land. I am giving it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I, the LORD, am your God, who have set you apart from other peoples. 25w You, too, must set apart, then, the clean animals from the unclean, and the clean birds from the unclean, so that you do not make yourselves detestable through any beast or bird or any creature which creeps on the ground that I have set apart for you as unclean. 26To me, therefore, you shall be holy; for I, the LORD, am holy,x and I have set you apart from other peoples to be my own.
27A man or a woman who acts as a medium or clairvoyanty shall be put to death. They shall be stoned to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.
* [20:1–5] The term Molech may refer to a deity, perhaps with an underworld association, and the activity forbidden here may be connected with divination. Cf. Dt 18:10; 2 Kgs 17:17; 21:6. In the kingdom of Judah the cult appears to have been practiced in the Valley of Hinnom, just outside Jerusalem on the west and south (2 Kgs 23:10; Jer 32:35).
* [20:9] Curses father or mother…put to death: This is more than a simple expletive uttered in anger against one’s parents. See note on Ex 21:17.
* [20:9–21] Bloodguilt: These penalties, beginning with cursing one’s parents, reflect the concerns of a patriarchal society that the breakdown of one’s relations with one’s parents can lead to the breakdown of all other familial relationships, resulting in the breakdown of society.
* [20:10–21] See 18:6–23 and notes there. It appears that the inclusion of various penalties in 20:10–21 accounts for the different order of the cases here compared to the order found in 18:6–23. The reason why the offenses in 20:10–21 carry different penalties, however, is not clear. Perhaps the cases in vv. 17–21 were considered slightly less serious, being condemned but not criminally prosecuted.
* [20:17] Cut off: see note on 7:20.
a. [20:2] Lv 18:21; Dt 12:31; 18:10; 2 Kgs 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; Jer 32:35.
b. [20:3] Ez 23:39.
c. [20:3] Lv 7:20.
d. [20:3] Lv 15:31.
e. [20:6] Lv 19:31.
f. [20:7] Lv 11:44.
g. [20:9] Lv 19:3; Ex 21:17; Dt 21:18–21; Prv 20:20; Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10.
h. [20:10] Lv 18:20.
i. [20:11] Lv 18:8.
j. [20:12] Lv 18:15.
k. [20:13] Lv 18:22.
l. [20:14] Lv 18:17.
m. [20:15] Lv 18:23.
n. [20:16] Lv 18:23.
o. [20:17] Lv 18:9.
p. [20:18] Lv 18:19.
q. [20:19] Lv 18:12–13.
r. [20:20] Lv 18:14.
s. [20:21] Lv 18:16.
t. [20:22] Lv 18:25, 28.
u. [20:23] Lv 18:30.
v. [20:24] Ex 3:8, 17.
w. [20:25] Lv 11:2–47; Dt 14:4–20.
x. [20:26] Lv 11:44.
y. [20:27] Lv 19:31; Ex 22:17; Dt 18:11.
Sanctity of the Priesthood. 1* The LORD said to Moses: Speak to the priests, Aaron’s sons, and tell them: None of you shall make himself unclean for any dead person among his kindred,a 2except for his nearest relatives, his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brotherb 3or his unmarried sister, who is of his own family while she remains single; for these he may make himself unclean. 4But as a husband among his kindred* he shall not make himself unclean and thus profane himself.
5The priests shall not make bald the crown of their head, nor shave the edges of their beard, nor lacerate their body.c 6They shall be holy to their God, and shall not profane their God’s name, since they offer the oblations of the LORD, the food of their God; so they must be holy.
7* A priest shall not marry a woman debased by prostitution, nor a woman who has been divorced by her husband; for the priest is holy to his God.d 8Honor him as holy for he offers the foode of your God; he shall be holy to you, because I, the LORD, am holy who make you holy.
9If a priest’s daughter debases herself by prostitution, she thereby debases her father; she shall be burned with fire.f
10The most exalted of the priests, upon whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been ordained to wear the special vestments, shall not dishevel his hair or rend his garments, 11nor shall he go near any dead person.g Not even for his father or mother may he thus become unclean; 12nor shall he leave the sanctuary and profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him.h I am the LORD.
13He shall marry only a woman who is a virgin. 14He shall not marry a widow or a woman who has been divorced or one who has been debased by prostitution, but only a virgin, taken from his kindred, he shall marry,i 15so that he not profane his offspring among his kindred. I, the LORD, make him holy.
Priestly Blemishes.* 16The LORD said to Moses: 17Say to Aaron: None of your descendants, throughout their generations, who has any blemish shall come forward to offer the food of his God. 18Anyone who has any of the following blemishes may not come forward:j he who is blind, or lame, or who has a split lip, or a limb too long, 19or a broken leg or arm, 20or who is a hunchback or dwarf or has a growth in the eye, or who is afflicted with sores, scabs, or crushed testicles. 21No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any such blemish may draw near to offer the oblations of the LORD; on account of his blemish he may not draw near to offer the food of his God. 22He may, however, eat the food of his God: of the most sacred as well as sacred offerings.k 23Only, he may not enter through the veil nor draw near to the altar on account of his blemish; he shall not profane my sacred precincts, for it is I, the LORD, who make them holy.
24Moses, therefore, told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.
* [21:1–12] While off duty the regular priests are not to become corpse-contaminated except for the close relatives listed in vv. 2–3. While on duty they presumably could not become impure at all. The high priest is restricted from all corpse contamination, on or off duty (vv. 11–12). Lay Israelites are not restricted from corpse contamination, except when in contact with what is holy (cf. Dt 26:14). See note on Lv 11:39–40. Israelites who undertake a nazirite vow enter into a sanctified state and cannot contact corpses (Nm 6:6–12). Cf. Ez 44:25–27.
* [21:4] Husband among his kindred: this probably refers to relatives by marriage and may even include his wife.
* [21:7] The ideal seems to be that a priest marry a virgin. This is explicitly stated for the high priest (cf. vv. 13–14; so also Ez 44:22, except there priests may marry widows of priests). The high priest has the added limitation that his wife must come from his kindred, i.e., the priestly family (cf. Ez 44:22).
* [21:16–23] Though priests with certain bodily imperfections cannot serve at the altar (vv. 18–20), they are not impure, since they may still eat of the offerings, which are holy, and do so within the sanctuary precincts since it is there the most holy offerings are to be eaten (v. 22).
a. [21:1] Ez 44:25–27.
b. [21:2] Lv 10:6–7.
c. [21:5] Lv 19:27–28; Ez 44:20.
d. [21:7] Lv 19:29; Ez 44:22.
e. [21:8] Lv 1:9.
f. [21:9] Gn 38:24.
g. [21:11] Lv 10:4–7.
h. [21:12] Lv 10:7.
i. [21:14] Ez 44:22.
j. [21:18] Lv 22:19–25; Dt 23:2–9.
k. [21:22] Lv 2:3, 10; 6:29; 7:6, 34.
Priestly Purity.* 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Tell Aaron and his sons to treat with respect the sacred offerings which the Israelites consecrate to me; otherwise they will profane my holy name. I am the LORD.
3* Tell them: If any one of you, or of your descendants in any future generation, dares, while he is in a state of uncleanness, to draw near the sacred offerings which the Israelites consecrate to the LORD, such a one shall be cut off from my presence.a I am the LORD.
4No descendant of Aaron who is stricken with a scaly infection,b or who suffers from a genital discharge,c may eat of the sacred offerings, until he again becomes clean. Moreover, if anyone touches a person who has become unclean by contact with a corpse,d or if anyone has had an emission of semen,e 5or if anyone touches any swarming creaturef whose uncleanness is contagious or any person whose uncleanness, of whatever kind it may be, is contagious—g 6the one who touches such as these shall be unclean until evening and may not eat of the sacred portions until he has first bathed his body in water.h 7Then, when the sun sets, he shall be clean.i Only then may he eat of the sacred offerings, for they are his food. 8* He shall not make himself unclean by eating of any animal that has died of itself or has been killed by wild beasts.j I am the LORD.
9They shall keep my charge so that they will not bear the punishment in this matter and diek for their profanation. I am the LORD who makes them holy.
10Neither an unauthorized person nor a priest’s tenant or laborer may eat of any sacred offering.l 11But a slave* whom a priest acquires by purchase or who is born in his house may eat of his food. 12* A priest’s daughter who is married to an unauthorized person may not eat of the sacred contributions. 13But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and, having no children, returns to her father’s house, she may then eat of her father’s food as in her youth. No unauthorized person, however, may eat of it. 14m If such a one eats of a sacred offering through inadvertence, that person shall make restitution to the priest for the sacred offering, with an increment of one fifth of the amount. 15The priests shall not allow the sacred offerings which the Israelites contribute to the LORD to be profanedn 16nor make them incur a penalty when they eat their sacred offerings. For I, the LORD, make them holy.
Unacceptable Victims. 17* The LORD said to Moses: 18Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites, and tell them: When anyone of the house of Israel, or any alien residing in Israel, who presents an offering, brings a burnt offeringo as a votive offering or as a voluntary offering to the LORD, 19if it is to be acceptable for you, it must be an unblemished male of the herd, of the sheep or of the goats.p 20You shall not offer one that has any blemish, for such a one would not be acceptable on your behalf.q 21When anyone presents a communion sacrificer to the LORD from the herd or the flock in fulfillment of a vow, or as a voluntary offering, if it is to find acceptance, it must be unblemished; it shall not have any blemish. 22One that is blind or lame or maimed, or one that has running lesions or sores or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD; do not put such an animal on the altar as an oblation to the LORD. 23* An ox or a sheep that has a leg that is too long or is stunted you may indeed present as a voluntary offering, but it will not be acceptable as a votive offering. 24One that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn out or cut off you shall not offer to the LORD. You shall neither do this in your own land 25nor receive from a foreigner any such animals to offer up as the food of your God; since they are deformed or blemished, they will not be acceptable on your behalf.
26* The LORD said to Moses: 27When an ox or a lamb or a goat is born, it shall remain with its mother for seven days; only from the eighth day onward will it be acceptable, to be offered as an oblation to the LORD.s 28You shall not slaughter an ox or a sheep on one and the same day with its young. 29Whenever you offer a thanksgiving sacrifice to the LORD, so offer it that it may be acceptable on your behalf; 30it must be eaten on the same day; none of it shall be left over until morning.t I am the LORD.
31Be careful to observe my commandments. I am the LORD. 32Do not profane my holy name, that in the midst of the Israelites I may be hallowed. I, the LORD, make you holy, 33who led you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD.
* [22:1–16] While priests with bodily imperfections may eat the holy sacrifices (21:16–23), those impure and those not of the priestly household may not.
* [22:3–8] On uncleanness, see chaps. 11–15 and notes there.
* [22:8] See note on 11:39–40.
* [22:11] Slave: in contrast to the tenant or hired worker of v. 10, the slave, who is by definition a foreigner, is part of the priest’s household and therefore may eat of sacrifices.
* [22:12–13] A priest’s daughter, when a dependent of her father, may eat of the lesser holy offerings.
* [22:17–25] This passage complements the section on the bodily imperfections of priests in 21:16–23. The laws taken together indicate that whoever and whatever approaches and contacts the altar needs to be physically unimpaired.
* [22:23] Burnt offerings and communion sacrifices brought as voluntary offerings may have slight defects, probably because they are freely given and do not depend upon a prior promise as do votive offerings.
* [22:26–30] Other activities and procedures that would impair sacrifice are appended here. The rules in vv. 27–28 are reminiscent of the rule not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk (Ex 23:19; 34:26; Dt 14:21) and not to take a bird and its eggs (Dt 22:6–7), all of which have a humanitarian tenor.
a. [22:3] Lv 7:20–21.
b. [22:4] Lv 13–14.
c. [22:4] Lv 15:2–18.
d. [22:4] Nm 19:14–22.
e. [22:4] Lv 15:16.
f. [22:5] Lv 11:29–31.
g. [22:5] Lv 15:2–12, 18–27.
h. [22:6] Lv 17:15; Nm 19:7–8, 19; Heb 10:22.
i. [22:7] Dt 23:12.
j. [22:8] Lv 11:39–40; Ez 44:31.
k. [22:9] Lv 15:31.
l. [22:10] Mt 12:4.
m. [22:14] Lv 5:15–16.
n. [22:15] Lv 19:8; Nm 18:32.
o. [22:18] Lv 1:3.
p. [22:19] Lv 21:16–23.
q. [22:20] Dt 15:21; 17:1; Mal 1:7–14.
r. [22:21] Lv 3:1; 7:11.
s. [22:27] Ex 22:29; 23:19.
t. [22:30] Lv 7:15.
Holy Days.* 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to the Israelites and tell them: The following are the festivalsa of the LORD, which you shall declare holy days. These are my festivals:
3For six days work may be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest,* a declared holy day; you shall do no work. It is the LORD’s sabbath wherever you dwell.b
Passover. 4These are the festivals of the LORD, holy days which you shall declare at their proper time.c 5The Passover of the LORD* falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight.d 6The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD’s feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.e 7On the first of these days you will have a declared holy day; you shall do no heavy work. 8On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD. Then on the seventh day you will have a declared holy day; you shall do no heavy work.
9* The LORD said to Moses: 10Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you come into the land which I am giving you, and reap its harvest, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest, 11who shall elevatef the sheaf before the LORD that it may be acceptable on your behalf.g On the day after the sabbath* the priest shall do this. 12On this day, when your sheaf is elevated, you shall offer to the LORD for a burnt offering an unblemished yearling lamb. 13Its grain offering shall be two tenths of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD; and its libation shall be a fourth of a hin of wine. 14You shall not eat any bread or roasted grain or fresh kernels until this day, when you bring the offering for your God. This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations wherever you dwell.
Pentecost. 15Beginning with the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the sheaf for elevation, you shall count seven full weeks;h 16you shall count to the day after the seventh week, fifty days.* i Then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17For the elevated offering of your first-ripened fruits to the LORD, you shall bring with you from wherever you live two loaves of bread made of two tenths of an ephah of bran flour and baked with leaven. 18Besides the bread, you shall offer to the LORD a burnt offering of seven unblemished yearling lambs, one bull of the herd, and two rams, along with their grain offering and libations, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD. 19One male goat shall be sacrificed as a purification offering, and two yearling lambs as a communion sacrifice. 20The priest shall elevate them—that is, the two lambs—with the bread of the first-ripened fruits as an elevated offering before the LORD; these shall be sacred to the LORD and belong to the priest. 21On this same day you shall make a proclamation: there shall be a declared holy day for you; no heavy work may be done. This shall be a perpetual statute through all your generations wherever you dwell.
22j When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. I, the LORD, am your God.
New Year’s Day. 23The LORD said to Moses: 24Tell the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month* k you will have a sabbath rest, with trumpet blasts as a reminder, a declared holy day; 25you shall do no heavy work, and you shall offer an oblation to the LORD.
The Day of Atonement. 26The LORD said to Moses: 27Now the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement.* l You will have a declared holy day. You shall humble yourselves and offer an oblation to the LORD. 28On this day you shall not do any work, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD, your God. 29Those who do not humble themselves on this day shall be cut off from the people. 30If anyone does any work on this day, I will remove that person from the midst of the people. 31You shall do no work; this is a perpetual statute throughout your generations wherever you dwell; 32it is a sabbath of complete rest for you. You shall humble yourselves. Beginning on the evening of the ninth of the month, you shall keep your sabbath from evening to evening.
The Feast of Booths. 33The LORD said to Moses: 34Tell the Israelites: The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD’s feast of Booths,* m which shall continue for seven days. 35On the first day, a declared holy day, you shall do no heavy work. 36For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD, and on the eighth day you will have a declared holy day. You shall offer an oblation to the LORD. It is the festival closing. You shall do no heavy work.
37* These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD which you shall declare holy days, in order to offer as an oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day, 38in addition to the LORD’s sabbaths, your donations, your various votive offerings, and the voluntary offerings that you present to the LORD.
39On the fifteenth day, then, of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD* for a whole week. The first and the eighth day shall be days of rest. 40On the first day you shall gather fruit of majestic trees, branches of palms, and boughs* of leafy trees and valley willows. Then for a week you shall make merry before the LORD, your God. 41You shall keep this feast of the LORD for one whole week in the year. By perpetual statute throughout your generations in the seventh month of the year, you shall keep it. 42You shall dwell in booths for seven days; every native-born Israelite shall dwell in booths, 43that your descendants may realize that, when I led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, I made them dwell in booths. I, the LORD, am your God.
44Thus did Moses announce to the Israelites the festivals of the LORD.
* [23:1–44] This is paralleled by another calendar from the Priestly tradition, in Nm 28–29. Non-Priestly resumes of festal and holy observances are found in Ex 23:10–17; 34:18–24 and Dt 16:1–17.
* [23:3] Sabbath of complete rest: the sabbath and the Day of Atonement are called “sabbaths of complete rest” (Ex 16:23; 31:15; 35:2; Lv 16:31; 23:32). Work of any sort is prohibited on these days (Lv 23:3, 28; Nm 29:7) as opposed to other holy days where only laborious work is prohibited but light work, such as preparing food, is allowed (Ex 12:16; cf. Lv 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 35, 36; Nm 28:18, 25, 26; 29:1, 12, 35).
* [23:5–6] The Passover of the LORD…feast of Unleavened Bread: the two occasions were probably separate originally. Combined they celebrate the exodus from Egypt. Cf. Ex 12:1–20, 43–49; Nm 28:16–25.
* [23:9–14] Around Passover a first fruits offering is to be brought (see 2:14), consisting of a sheaf of barley, the crop that matures at this time of year.
* [23:11] Day after the sabbath: the singular term shabbat “sabbath” may mean “week” here and refer to the seven-day period of the feast of Unleavened Bread. According to this interpretation, the barley sheaf is offered the day after the week of Unleavened Bread. Others understand it as referring to the first or last day of Unleavened Bread.
* [23:16–21] Fifty days: Pentecost. This festival occurs on a single day, fifty days after the feast of Unleavened Bread, elsewhere called the “feast of the Harvest” (Ex 23:16), “Day of First Fruits” (Nm 28:26), and “feast of Weeks” (Ex 34:22; Dt 16:10, 16). The name Pentecost comes from the later Greek term for the holy day (cf. Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor 16:8), referring to the fiftieth day. This is the occasion for bringing the first fruits of the wheat harvest.
* [23:24] First day of the seventh month: the seventh new moon is counted from a new year beginning in the spring (cf. v. 5). Like the seventh day in the week, it is preeminent among the new moon days (cf. Nm 28:11–15; 29:1–6).
* [23:27] Day of Atonement: see chap. 16 and notes there.
* [23:34] Feast of Booths: this is the final harvest festival of the year celebrating the remaining harvest. It is called the “feast of Ingathering” (Ex 23:16; 34:22), the “feast of Booths” (Lv 23:34; Dt 16:13), or simply the “feast” (1 Kgs 8:65). It is a seven-day festival with an eighth closing day. The first and eighth days are rest days (see note on v. 3).
* [23:37–38] This appears to be the original conclusion of the chapter.
* [23:39–43] The feast of the LORD: the feast of Booths, the preeminent festival. This section supplements vv. 33–36 by prescribing the popular activities for the festival.
* [23:40–43] Fruit…branches…boughs: the fruit and/or foliage from these trees is to be gathered, but it is not said how they are used. The command to make merry suggests they may have been used in a procession or even circumambulation of the altar (cf. Ps 26:6). Later tradition understood these prescriptions as referring to making the booths out of the foliage (Neh 8:15).
a. [23:2] Nm 28–29; Dt 16:1–17.
b. [23:3] Lv 19:3; 26:2; Ex 20:8–11; 23:12; 31:14–15; 34:21; Nm 28:9–10; Dt 5:12–15; Lk 13:14.
c. [23:4] Ex 23:14–19.
d. [23:5] Ex 12:1–51; Nm 9:1–8; 28:16–25; Dt 16:1–8.
e. [23:6] Ex 12:18; 13:3–10; 23:15; 34:18.
f. [23:11] Lv 7:30.
g. [23:11] Dt 26:2.
h. [23:15] Ex 23:16; 34:22; Nm 28:26–31; Dt 16:9–12.
i. [23:16] Acts 2:1.
j. [23:22] Lv 19:9–10.
k. [23:24] Nm 29:1–6.
l. [23:27] Lv 16:1–34; 25:9; Nm 29:7–11.
m. [23:34] Ex 23:16; 34:22; Dt 16:13–15; 31:10; 2 Mc 1:9, 18; Jn 7:2.
The Sanctuary Light.* 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Order the Israelites to bring you clear oil of crushed olives for the light, so that you may keep the lamp burning regularly.a 3In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that hangs in front of the covenant, Aaron shall set up the lamp to burn before the LORD regularly, from evening till morning, by a perpetual statute throughout your generations. 4He shall set up the lamps on the pure gold menorah to burn regularly before the LORD.
The Showbread.* 5You shall take bran flour and bake it into twelve cakes,b using two tenths of an ephah of flour for each cake. 6These you shall place in two piles, six in each pile, on the pure gold table before the LORD. 7With each pile put some pure frankincense, which shall serve as an oblation to the LORD, a token of the bread offering. 8Regularly on each sabbath day the breadc shall be set out before the LORD on behalf of the Israelites by an everlasting covenant. 9It shall belong to Aaron and his sons, who must eat it in a sacred place, since it is most sacred,d his as a perpetual due from the oblations to the LORD.
Punishment of Blasphemy.* 10A man born of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and in the camp a fight broke out between the son of the Israelite woman and an Israelite man. 11The son of the Israelite woman uttered the LORD’s name in a curse and blasphemed. So he was brought to Moses—now his mother’s name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan— 12and he was kept in custody till a decision from the LORD should settle the case for them.e 13The LORD then said to Moses: 14Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and when all who heard him have laid their hands* on his head,f let the whole community stone him. 15Tell the Israelites: Anyone who blasphemes God shall bear the penalty; 16whoever utters the name of the LORD in a curse shall be put to death.g The whole community shall stone that person; alien and native-born alike must be put to death for uttering the LORD’s name in a curse.
17* Whoever takes the life of any human being shall be put to death;h 18whoever takes the life of an animal shall make restitution of another animal, life for a life.i 19* Anyone who inflicts a permanent injury on his or her neighbor shall receive the same in return: 20fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The same injury that one gives another shall be inflicted in return.j 21Whoever takes the life of an animal shall make restitution, but whoever takes a human life shall be put to death. 22You shall have but one rule, for alien and native-born alike.k I, the LORD, am your God.
23When Moses told this to the Israelites, they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him;l they did just as the LORD commanded Moses.
* [24:1–4] On the lamp, see Ex 25:31–40; 26:35; 27:20–21; 37:17–24; 40:24–25; Nm 8:1–4. It occupies the south side of the anterior room of the sanctuary tent and provides light for that room.
* [24:5–9] On the bread table, see Ex 25:23–29; 26:35; 37:10–16; 40:22–23. It occupies the north side of the anterior room of the sanctuary tent. The bread is a type of grain offering (see note on 2:1).
* [24:10–22] This is a narrative where an offense leads to clarifying revelation similar to the cases in Lv 10:1–7 and 16:1–34; Nm 9:6–14 and 15:32–36.
* [24:14] Laid their hands: see notes on 1:4 and 16:21. It may be that blasphemy generated a type of pollution which the hearers return to the culprit by this gesture.
* [24:17–22] A digression dealing with bodily injury follows the blasphemy rules. It may have been appended since the first case is another example of the death penalty. But the section develops according to its own logic. All legal traditions require death for homicide: Gn 9:5–6; Ex 21:12–14; Nm 35:9–34; Dt 19:1–13; cf. Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17.
* [24:19–20] The phrase “life for a life” in v. 18 leads to introducing the law of talion in vv. 19–20. Some have interpreted the law here and the similar expressions in Ex 21:23–25 and Dt 19:21 to mean that monetary compensation equal to the injury is to be paid, though the wording of the law here and the context of Dt 19:21 indicate an injury is to be inflicted upon the injurer.
a. [24:2] Ex 25:31–40; 27:20–21.
b. [24:5] Ex 25:23–30; 1 Kgs 7:48; 2 Chr 13:11; Heb 9:2.
c. [24:8] 1 Chr 9:32.
d. [24:9] 1 Sm 21:5.
e. [24:12] Nm 15:34.
f. [24:14] Lv 16:21.
g. [24:16] Ex 22:27; 1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Mt 26:65–66; Jn 10:33.
h. [24:17] Gn 9:5–6; Ex 21:12–14; Nm 35:9–34; Dt 19:11–13.
i. [24:18] Ex 21:33–34; cf. Lv 17:4.
j. [24:20] Ex 21:23–25; Dt 19:21; Mt 5:38.
k. [24:22] Lv 19:34; Ex 12:49; Nm 15:16.
l. [24:23] Acts 7:57–58.
The Sabbatical Year. 1The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2* Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, let the land, too, keep a sabbath for the LORD. 3For six years you may sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyard, gathering in their produce.a 4But during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath for the LORD,b when you may neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5The aftergrowth of your harvest you shall not reap, nor shall you pick the grapes of your untrimmed vines. It shall be a year of rest for the land. 6While the land has its sabbath, all its produce will be food to eat for you yourself and for your male and female slave, for your laborer and the tenant who live with you, 7and likewise for your livestock and for the wild animals on your land.
The Jubilee Year. 8* You shall count seven weeks of years—seven times seven years—such that the seven weeks of years amount to forty-nine years. 9Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month* let the ram’s horn resound; on this, the Day of Atonement,c the ram’s horn blast shall resound throughout your land. 10You shall treat this fiftieth year as sacred. You shall proclaim liberty in the land for all its inhabitants.d It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to your own property, each of you to your own family. 11This fiftieth year is your year of jubilee; you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth or pick the untrimmed vines, 12since this is the jubilee. It shall be sacred for you. You may only eat what the field yields of itself.
13In this year of jubilee, then, each of you shall return to your own property. 14Therefore, when you sell any land to your neighbor or buy any from your neighbor, do not deal unfairly with one another. 15On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee you shall purchase the land from your neighbor;e and so also, on the basis of the number of years of harvest, that person shall sell it to you. 16When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more; when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less. For it is really the number of harvests that the person sells you. 17Do not deal unfairly with one another, then; but stand in fear of your God. I, the LORD, am your God.
18Observe my statutes and be careful to keep my ordinances, so that you will dwell securely in the land. 19The land will yield its fruit and you will eat your fill, and live there securely.f 20And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we do not sow or reap our crop?”g 21I will command such a blessing for you in the sixth year that there will be crop enough for three years, 22and when you sow in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the old crop; even into the ninth year, until the crop comes in, you will still be eating from the old crop.h
Redemption of Property.* 23The land shall not be sold irrevocably; for the land is mine, and you are but resident aliens and under my authority. 24Therefore, in every part of the country that you occupy, you must permit the land to be redeemed. 25When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and has to sell some property, that person’s closest relative,* who has the duty to redeem it, shall come and redeem what the relative has sold.i 26If, however, the person has no relative to redeem it, but later on acquires sufficient means to redeem it, 27the person shall calculate the years since the sale, return the balance to the one to whom it was sold, and thus regain the property.j 28But if the person does not acquire sufficient means to buy back the land, what was sold shall remain in the possession of the purchaser until the year of the jubilee, when it must be released and returned to the original owner.k
29* When someone sells a dwelling in a walled town, it can be redeemed up to a full year after its sale—the redemption period is one year. 30But if such a house in a walled town has not been redeemed at the end of a full year, it shall belong irrevocably to the purchaser throughout the generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31However, houses in villages that are not encircled by walls shall be reckoned as part of the surrounding farm land; they may be redeemed, and in the jubilee they must be released.
32* In levitical citiesl the Levites shall always have the right to redeem the houses in the cities that are in their possession. 33As for levitical property that goes unredeemed—houses sold in cities of their possession shall be released in the jubilee; for the houses in levitical cities are their possession in the midst of the Israelites. 34Moreover, the pasture landm belonging to their cities shall not be sold at all; it must always remain their possession.
35When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and becomes indebted to you, you shall support that person like a resident alien; let your kindred live with you. 36Do not exact interest in advance or accrued interest,* but out of fear of God let your kindred live with you. 37n Do not give your money at interest or your food at a profit. 38I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39* When your kindred with you, having been so reduced to poverty, sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves.o 40Rather, let them be like laborers or like your tenants, working with you until the jubilee year, 41when, together with any children, they shall be released from your service and return to their family and to their ancestral property. 42Since they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, they shall not sell themselves as slaves are sold. 43Do not lord it over them harshly, but stand in fear of your God.
44* The male and female slaves that you possess—these you shall acquire from the nations round about you.p 45You may also acquire them from among the resident aliens who reside with you, and from their families who are with you, those whom they bore in your land. These you may possess, 46and bequeath to your children as their hereditary possession forever. You may treat them as slaves. But none of you shall lord it harshly over any of your fellow Israelites.q
47When your kindred, having been so reduced to poverty, sell themselves to a resident alien who has become wealthy or to descendants of a resident alien’s family, 48even after having sold themselves, they still may be redeemed by one of their kindred, 49by an uncle or cousin, or by some other relative from their family; or, having acquired the means, they may pay the redemption price themselves. 50With the purchaser they shall compute the years from the sale to the jubilee, distributing the sale price over these years as though they had been hired as laborers. 51The more years there are, the more of the sale price they shall pay back as the redemption price; 52the fewer years there are before the jubilee year, the more they have as credit; in proportion to the years of service they shall pay the redemption price. 53The tenant alien shall treat those who sold themselves as laborers hired on an annual basis, and the alien shall not lord it over them harshly before your very eyes. 54And if they are not redeemed by these means, they shall nevertheless be released, together with any children, in the jubilee year. 55For the Israelites belong to me as servants; they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, I, the LORD, your God.
* [25:2–7] As every seventh day is to be a day of rest (cf. 23:3), so every seventh year is a year of rest (cf. 26:34–35, 43). The rest consists in not doing agricultural work. The people are to live off what grows naturally in the fields (vv. 6–7). Verses 19–22 add insurance by saying that God will make the sixth-year crop abundant such that its excess will stretch over the seventh sabbatical year as well as the eighth year when new crops are not yet harvested (cf. 26:10). Cf. Ex 23:10–11.
* [25:8–17] The fiftieth year is the jubilee, determined by counting off “seven weeks of years.” It is sacred, like the sabbath day. Specifically, in it indentured Israelites return to their own households and land that has been sold returns to its original owner. Different laws are found in Ex 21:1–6; Dt 15:1–3, 12–18 (cf. Jer 34:8–22).
* [25:9] Seventh month: the priestly laws reflect the use of two calendars, one starting in the spring (cf. chap. 23) and one in the fall. The jubilee is calculated on the basis of the latter. Ram’s horn: Hebrew shophar. The name for the year, jubilee (Heb. yobel), also means “ram’s horn” and comes from the horn blown to announce the occasion.
* [25:23–55] This is a series of laws dealing mainly with situations of poverty in which one has to sell land, obtain a loan, or become indentured. Many of the laws are connected with the release of debts in the jubilee year.
* [25:25] A close family member is responsible for redemption. Some of these are specified in v. 49.
* [25:29–31] Not being able to redeem a house in a walled city after one year is probably due to the demographic and economic situation of large towns as opposed to small villages and open agricultural areas. The agricultural lands associated with the latter were the foundation for the economic viability of the Israelite family, and as such, God—who is the ultimate owner of the land (25:23)—has assigned them to the Israelites as permanent holdings.
* [25:32–34] An exception to the rule in vv. 29–31 is made for levitical cities (Nm 35:1–8), since the Levites have no broad land holdings. Their houses can be redeemed and are to be released in the jubilee year.
* [25:36] Interest in advance or accrued interest: two types of interest are mentioned here. The former may refer to interest subtracted from the loaned amount in advance, and the latter, to interest or a payment in addition to the loaned amount.
* [25:39–43] Here the individual Israelite has no assets and must become indentured to another Israelite for economic survival. No provision is given for redemption before the jubilee year, though such is probably allowed.
* [25:44–46] While Israelites may not be held as permanent slaves (vv. 39–43, 47–55), foreigners may be. They are not released in the jubilee, but may be bequeathed to one’s children. They may be treated as “slaves,” i.e., harshly (cf. Ex 21:20–21).
a. [25:3] Ex 23:10–11.
b. [25:4] Lv 26:34; 1 Mc 6:49, 53.
c. [25:9] Lv 16:29.
d. [25:10] Nm 36:4; Is 61:2; Jer 34:8–22; Ez 46:17; Lk 4:19.
e. [25:15] Lv 27:18, 23.
f. [25:19] Lv 26:5–6.
g. [25:20] Mt 6:25, 31–34; Lk 12:22, 29.
h. [25:22] Lv 26:10.
i. [25:25] Ru 2:20; 4:4, 6; Jer 32:7–8.
j. [25:27] Lv 27:18, 23.
k. [25:28] Lv 27:24.
l. [25:32] Nm 35:1–8.
m. [25:34] Nm 35:3.
n. [25:37] Ex 22:24; Dt 23:20.
o. [25:39] Ex 21:2–11; Dt 15:12–18; 1 Kgs 9:22; Jer 34:8–22.
p. [25:44] Dt 21:10–14.
q. [25:46] Is 14:1–2.
The Reward of Obedience. 1* Do not make idols for yourselves. You shall not erect a carved image or a sacred stone for yourselves, nor shall you set up a carved stone for worship in your land;a for I, the LORD, am your God. 2Keep my sabbaths,b and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD.
3* c If you live in accordance with my statutes and are careful to observe my commandments, 4I will give you your rains in due season, so that the land will yield its crops, and the trees their fruit;d 5your threshing will last till vintage time, and your vintage till the time for sowing, and you will eat your fill of food, and live securely in your land.e 6I will establish peace in the land, and you will lie down to rest with no one to cause you anxiety. I will rid the country of ravenous beasts, and no sword shall sweep across your land. 7You will rout your enemies, and they shall fall before your sword. 8Five of you will put a hundred of your foes to flight, and a hundred of you will put to flight ten thousand, till your enemies fall before your sword.f 9I will look with favor upon you, and make you fruitful and numerous,g as I carry out my covenant with you. 10You shall eat the oldest stored harvest, and have to discard it to make room for the new.h 11i I will set my tabernacle in your midst, and will not loathe you. 12Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people; 13I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be their slaves no more, breaking the bars of your yoke and making you walk erect.j
The Punishment of Disobedience.* 14k But if you do not heed me and do not keep all these commandments, 15if you reject my statutes and loathe my decrees, refusing to obey all my commandments and breaking my covenant, 16then I, in turn, will do this to you: I will bring terror upon you—with consumption and fever to dim the eyes and sap the life. You will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will consume the crop. 17I will turn against you, and you will be beaten down before your enemiesl and your foes will lord it over you. You will flee though no one pursues you.
18If even after this you do not obey me, I will increase the chastisement for your sins sevenfold,m 19to break your proud strength. I will make the sky above you as hard as iron, and your soil as hard as bronze, 20so that your strength will be spent in vain; your land will bear no crops, and its trees no fruit.
21If then you continue hostile, unwilling to obey me, I will multiply my blows sevenfold, as your sins deserve. 22I will unleash wild beasts against you, to rob you of your children and wipe out your livestock, till your population dwindles away and your roads become deserted.
23If, with all this, you still do not accept my discipline and continue hostile to me, 24n I, too, will continue to be hostile to you and I, for my part, will smite you for your sins sevenfold. 25I will bring against you the sword, the avenger of my covenant. Though you then huddle together in your cities, I will send pestilence among you, till you are delivered to the enemy. 26When I break your staff of bread, ten women will need but one oven for baking your bread, and they shall dole it out to you by weight;o and though you eat, you shall not be satisfied.
27If, despite all this, you disobey and continue hostile to me, 28I will continue in my hostile rage toward you, and I myself will discipline you for your sins sevenfold, 29till you begin to eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters.p 30I will demolish your high places, overthrow your incense stands, and cast your corpses upon the corpses of your idols.q In my loathing of you, 31I will lay waste your cities and desolate your sanctuaries, refusing your sweet-smelling offerings. 32So devastated will I leave the land that your enemies who come to live there will stand aghast at the sight of it.r 33And you I will scatter among the nationss at the point of my drawn sword, leaving your countryside desolate and your cities deserted. 34Then shall the land, during the time it lies waste, make up its lost sabbaths, while you are in the land of your enemies; then shall the land have rest and make up for its sabbathst 35during all the time that it lies desolate, enjoying the rest that you would not let it have on your sabbaths when you lived there.
36Those of you who survive in the lands of their enemies, I will make so fainthearted that the sound of a driven leaf will pursue them, and they shall run as if from the sword, and fall though no one pursues them; 37stumbling over one another as if to escape a sword, while no one is after them—so helpless will you be to take a stand against your foes! 38You shall perish among the nations, swallowed up in your enemies’ country. 39Those of you who survive will waste away in the lands of their enemies, for their own and their ancestors’ guilt.u
40* They will confessv their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors in their treachery against me and in their continued hostility toward me, 41so that I, too, had to be hostile to them and bring them into their enemies’ land. Then, when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac; and also my covenant with Abraham I will remember.w The land, too, I will remember. 43The land will be forsaken by them, that in its desolation without them, it may make up its sabbaths, and that they, too, may make good the debt of their guilt for having spurned my decrees and loathed my statutes. 44Yet even so, even while they are in their enemies’ land, I will not reject or loathe them to the point of wiping them out, thus making void my covenant with them; for I, the LORD, am their God. 45I will remember for them the covenant I made with their forebears, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations,x that I might be their God. I am the LORD.
46These are the statutes, decrees and laws which the LORD established between himself and the Israelites through Moses on Mount Sinai.y
* [26:1–46] This chapter concludes the revelation of laws at Mount Sinai (cf. v. 46). Blessings and curses are also found at the end of Deuteronomy’s law collection (Dt 28). Similar lists of blessings and curses appear in the conclusions of ancient Near Eastern treaties.
* [26:3–13] The blessings are concerned with the well-being of the nation and its land and involve agricultural bounty, national security, military success and population growth.
* [26:14–46] To encourage obedience, the list of punishments is longer than the blessings (cf. a similar proportion in Dt 28). The punishments are presented in waves (vv. 14–17, 18–20, 21–22, 23–26, 27–39), one group following another if the people do not return to obedience. Punishments involve sickness, pestilence, agricultural failure and famine, attack of wild animals, death of the people’s children, destruction of illicit and even licit cults, military defeat, panic, and exile.
* [26:40–45] Even though the people may be severely punished, God will remember the covenant when the people repent.
a. [26:1] Lv 19:4; Nm 33:52.
b. [26:2] Lv 23:3.
c. [26:3] Dt 28:1–69.
d. [26:4] Dt 11:14; Ps 85:13; Ez 34:26–27.
e. [26:5] Lv 25:18–19; Dt 12:10.
f. [26:8] Dt 32:30; Jos 23:10.
g. [26:9] Gn 1:28; Ex 1:7.
h. [26:10] Lv 25:22.
i. [26:11–12] Ex 29:45; Ez 37:26–28; 2 Cor 6:16.
j. [26:13] Ez 34:27; Na 1:13.
k. [26:14] Dt 28:15–69.
l. [26:17] 2 Kgs 8:33–34.
m. [26:18] Ps 79:12; Prv 6:31.
n. [26:24–25] Jer 2:30; Ez 5:17; 14:17.
o. [26:26] Is 9:19; Ez 4:16; 5:16; 14:13; Mi 6:14.
p. [26:29] Lam 2:20.
q. [26:30] 2 Chr 14:5; 34:3–4, 7; Ez 6:3–6.
r. [26:32] 1 Kgs 9:8; Jer 9:11; 18:16; 19:8; 25:18.
s. [26:33] Ps 44:12; Jer 15:7; Ez 6:8.
t. [26:34] Lv 25:2; 2 Chr 36:21.
u. [26:39] Ez 4:17; 24:23; 33:10.
v. [26:40] Lv 16:21; Nm 5:7; Neh 1:6.
w. [26:42] Ex 6:5; 2 Kgs 13:23; Ps 106:45; Ez 16:60.
x. [26:45] Ex 12:51.
y. [26:46] Lv 7:38; Nm 36:13.
Votive Offerings and Dedications. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2* Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When anyone makes a vow to the LORDa with respect to the value of a human being, 3the value for males between the ages of twenty and sixty shall be fifty silver shekels, by the sanctuary shekel; 4and for a female, the value shall be thirty shekels. 5For persons between the ages of five and twenty, the value for a male shall be twenty shekels, and for a female, ten shekels. 6For persons between the ages of one month and five years, the value for a male shall be five silver shekels, and for a female, three shekels. 7For persons of sixty or more, for a male the value shall be fifteen shekels, and ten shekels for a female. 8However, if the one who made the vow is too poor to meet the sum,b the person must be set before the priest, who shall determine a value; the priest will do this in keeping with the means of the one who made the vow.
9If the offering vowed to the LORD is an animal that may be sacrificed, every such animal given to the LORD becomes sacred.c 10The offerer shall not substitute or exchange another for it, either a worse or a better one. If the offerer exchanges one animal in place of another, both the original and its substitute shall become sacred. 11If any unclean animal which is unfit for sacrificed to the LORD is vowed, it must be set before the priest, 12who shall determine its value* in keeping with its good or bad qualities, and the value set by the priest shall stand. 13If the offerer wishes to redeem the animal, the person shall pay one fifth more than this valuation.e
14* When someone dedicates a house as sacred to the LORD,* the priest shall determine its value in keeping with its good or bad qualities, and the value set by the priest shall stand. 15A person dedicating a house who then wishes to redeem it shall pay one fifth more than the price thus established, and then it will again belong to that individual.f
16If someone dedicates to the LORD a portion of hereditary land, its valuation shall be made according to the amount of seed required to sow it, the acreage sown with a homer* of barley seed being valued at fifty silver shekels. 17If the dedication of a field is made at the beginning of a jubilee period, the full valuation shall hold; 18but if it is some time after this, the priest shall estimate its money value according to the number of years left until the next jubilee year, with a corresponding reduction on the valuation.g 19A person dedicating a field who then wishes to redeem* h it shall pay one fifth more than the price thus established, and so reclaim it. 20If, instead of redeeming such a field, one sells it* to another, it may no longer be redeemed; 21but at the jubilee it shall be releasedi as sacred* to the LORD; like a field that is put under the ban, it shall become priestly property.
22If someone dedicates to the LORD a field that was purchased and was not part of hereditary property, 23the priest shall compute its value in proportion to the number of years until the next jubilee, and on the same day the person shall pay the price thus established, a sacred donation to the LORD; 24at the jubilee the field shall revert to the hereditary owner of this land from whom it had been purchased.*
25Every valuation shall be made according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel. There are twenty gerahs to the shekel.
Irredeemable Offerings. 26* Note that a firstborn animal,j which as such already belongs to the LORD, may not be dedicated. Whether an ox or a sheep, it is the LORD’s. 27But if it is an unclean animal,* it may be redeemed by paying one fifth more than its value. If it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at its value.
28Note, also, that any possession which someone puts under the ban* for the LORD, whether it is a human being, an animal, or a hereditary field, shall be neither sold nor redeemed; everything that is put under the ban becomes most holy to the LORD.k 29All human beings that are put under the ban cannot be redeemed; they must be put to death.l
30* All tithes of the land, whether in grain from the fields or in fruit from the trees, belong to the LORD; they are sacred to the LORD.m 31If someone wishes to redeem any of the tithes, the person shall pay one fifth more than their value. 32The tithes of the herd and the flock, every tenth animal that passes under the herdsman’s rod, shall be sacred to the LORD. 33It shall not matter whether good ones or bad ones are thus chosen, and no exchange may be made. If any exchange is made, both the original animal and its substitute become sacred and cannot be redeemed.
34These are the commandments which the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites.n
* [27:2–13] Vows are conditional promissory oaths. One covenants to do something for the benefit of God, usually to make a dedication, if God fulfills the individual’s accompanying request (cf. Gn 28:20–21; Jgs 11:30–31; 1 Sm 1:11; 2 Sm 15:7–8; Ps 56:13–14). Vows must be fulfilled (Nm 30:3; Dt 23:22; cf. Ps 66:13–15). Verses 2–8 deal with votive offerings involving human beings. Actual dedication of human beings (cf. Jgs 11:30–31, 34–40; 1 Sm 1:11, 24–28) is obviated by payment of the person’s value (mentioned in the temple income in 2 Kgs 12:5). The values reflect the different economic and administrative roles of people in different age and gender groups within ancient Israelite society. Verses 9–13 concern the bringing of animals for a vow.
* [27:12] Determine its value: in contrast to human beings (vv. 3–7) there are no set values for unclean animals, and the condition of the animal is taken into consideration (cf. vv. 14, 27).
* [27:14–24] These verses deal with dedications. They take effect when uttered and, unlike vows, they are not conditional. They are related to the jubilee year laws in 25:23–31.
* [27:14] House as sacred to the LORD: the house becomes sanctuary property and presumably may be sold to another if the owner does not redeem it (cf. notes on vv. 20 and 21). While 25:31 requires that unredeemed houses in unwalled towns be returned to the original owners at the jubilee, in the laws here such houses apparently become the property of the sanctuary (cf. v. 21). It is likely that dedicated houses in a walled city needed to be redeemed within one year, following 25:29–30.
* [27:16] Homer: see note on Is 5:10.
* [27:19] Redeem: the person apparently can redeem the land up to the jubilee year, following 25:23–28. See note on v. 21.
* [27:20] If…one sells it: the verse is difficult since the person should not be able to sell the land after it is dedicated. The verb “sells” may be construed impersonally here: “If…it is sold,” i.e., by the sanctuary.
* [27:21] Released as sacred: the dedication changes the ownership of the land. It now belongs to the sanctuary. It returns to the sanctuary’s possession after leasing it out (v. 20). Presumably if the land remained in the sanctuary’s possession until the jubilee, and it was not redeemed, the land would belong permanently to the sanctuary and priests.
* [27:24] In contrast to the cases in vv. 14–15 and 16–21, this land returns to the original owner since that individual did not personally make the dedication. The principle is that one cannot permanently dedicate what one does not own. Cf. 2 Sm 24:22–25.
* [27:26] Firstborn animals and human beings already belong to God (cf. Ex 13:1–2, 12; 34:19); they cannot be vowed or dedicated. Cf. Nm 18:15–18; Dt 15:19–23.
* [27:27] An unclean animal: such as the firstborn of a donkey, which was unfit for sacrifice. According to Ex 13:13; 34:20, a firstborn donkey was to be redeemed by offering a sheep in its stead, or was to have its neck broken.
* [27:28] Puts under the ban: this is a higher form of dedication to God than that found in vv. 14–24. Anything so dedicated is beyond redemption and cannot be sold by the sanctuary and priests (contrast vv. 15, 19, 20). This type of dedication is found mostly in contexts of war (e.g., Jos 6:17–21; 8:26; 10:1, 28). Lv 27:28 shows that the ban can apply to one’s own property.
* [27:30–33] On the regulation concerning the tithes see Dt 14:22–29.
a. [27:2] Dt 23:22–24; Jgs 11:30–31; Eccl 5:3–4.
b. [27:8] Lv 5:7, 11.
c. [27:9] Lv 27:11, 27.
d. [27:11] Lv 11:2–8; Ex 13:13; 34:20.
e. [27:13] Lv 5:16, 24.
f. [27:15] Lv 22:14.
g. [27:18] Lv 25:15–16, 26–27, 50–52.
h. [27:19] Lv 25:25.
i. [27:21] Lv 25:28, 31.
j. [27:26] Ex 13:2.
k. [27:28] Nm 18:14; Dt 7:26; Jos 7:1; 1 Sm 15:21; Ez 44:29.
l. [27:29] 1 Kgs 20:42.
m. [27:30] Nm 18:25–32; Dt 14:22–24; Mal 3:8, 10.
n. [27:34] Lv 7:38.