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Lev, overview

Author: Moses (date of writing: c 1440-1400 BC).

Period: c 1440-1400 BC.

Title: "Leviticus" is the Latin form of the Greek word meaning "pertaining to the Levites". The Hebrew title is taken from the first word of the book: "vayyiqra' " ("And he [the LORD] called...").

Having brought His people out of bondage in Egypt, God gave them laws which had two functions: (1) to provide a code of behavior which would enable them to worship Him, and indeed, be His holy people (Lev 20:26), and (2) to enable them to have a practical law to assist in their daily living.

The Hebrew title ("and He called") may be said to apply to the whole of Israel: as a nation called by God for a special purpose (Exo 19:6). The words also apply to the specific priests, the sons of Levi, whose task it was to oversee the spiritual (and secular) life of the people.

Summary: The third book of the Pentateuch takes its name from one of the twelve sons of Jacob, Levi, whose family was ordained by God to minister to Him as priests. The book covers the laws of the Israelites regarding worship and religious activities, both personal and national, including the Day of Atonement and sacrificial offerings. It contains laws regarding cleanliness, morality, ethics and hygiene that pertained to the people of Israel on a day-to-day basis. Animal sacrifice was introduced as an atonement for the individual and national sins of the people.

In modern terms Leviticus is significant in that it shows the way in which followers of Christ should endeavor to live their lives. Leviticus contains details of the sacrifices and offerings, required to be made by the people in recognizing their complete dependence on God and the necessity always to honor Him. Lev describes sacrifices and offerings to be made for a wide variety of reasons: some as a recognition of sin; some as "free- will" offerings, of voluntary devotion.

The most important offering was made to honor the day of Atonement (Lev 16:1-34), when a lamb without any blemish was offered as a sacrifice to "atone" for the sins of the nation. This pointed forward to Jesus who, as the lamb without blemish, offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all, an atonement for the sins of many (Heb 9:28). Through identifying with Jesus we can obtain the forgiveness which is promised (Mat 26:28).

We are not required, under the new covenant, to offer sacrifices in the way the children of Israel were required. We do need to offer ourselves as a "living sacrifice" (Rom 12:1) to the service of God. Our whole life should the of continual service to Him.


Lev 1:1 - 7:38 Sacrifices and offerings

Lev 8:1 -- 10:20 Consecration of priests
Lev 11:1 -- 15:33 Laws discerning cleanness and uncleanness
Lev 16:1-34 The Day of Atonement
Lev 17:1 -- 20:27 Miscellaneous laws
Lev 21:1 -- 22:33 Responsibilities of the priests
Lev 23:1-44 The Feasts

Lev 24:1 -- 27:34 Further miscellaneous laws including reference to:
Lev 25:1-55 The year of the Sabbath and the year of Jubilee
Lev 26:1-13 Promise of blessing
Lev 26:14-46 Promise of punishment
Lev 27:1-34 Vows and tithes

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