BIBLE COMMENTARY - LEVITICUS 13 THRU LEVITICUS 27
Leviticus Chapter 13
Jehovah now gives Moses and Aaron instructions for detecting, in the early stages, leprosy or any other infectious disease and how the persons who have them are to be dealt with in the community. Leprosy was a dreaded disease that had terrible results. When Jehovah struck Miriam with leprosy, Aaron, when pleading for her, said this: “Let her not be as a stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother’s womb” (Numbers 12:12, NRSV)
Any member of the community who had any swelling, rash or bright spot on the skin was responsible to have the priests examine it. The priest had the responsibility of determining whether this skin problem was leprosy or another infectious disease. He sometimes needed to quarantine a person before he could determine if the person would develop an infectious disease or he may have been able to tell immediately and he would declare that person unclean. When a person had to be quarantined he was to go outside the camp, he could not be quarantined within his home as he might be a danger to other family members. (See Numbers 5:1-4) A person who has been declared unclean must wear torn clothes, allow his hair to be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and say ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ before all who approach him. He has to live outside the camp as long as he has this disease.
Such like conditions as described above, conditions of leprosy would prophetically become the actual spiritual state of affairs for the "woman" organization of God's Name People, Jehovah's Witnesses, when they are sent reeling to the "wilderness" by God's Own Mighty Hand as bonifide apostates before Him. Therefore, at this time, they would become officially declared, an "apostate nation" before Him. (Isaiah 10:6) Thus, while in this state of spiritual "leprosy," all Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide, both former or current, would be as it were, "disfellowshipped" before Almighty Jehovah. This "disfellowshipping" action taken by God Almighty against all Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide was foretold in bible prophecy. (Isaiah 30:26; Micah 7:7-10; Revelation 12:1, 6, 14)
When the priest examined a person to determine if he has leprosy, he would check to see if the hair in the sore had turned white and the sore was more than skin deep. If these conditions were met the person is declared unclean. He has an infectious leprosy. But if it is a sore that has turned white and is not more than skin deep and the hair in it is not white, the priest will put him in isolation for seven days. On the seventh day he will examine him and if there is no change, he will keep him in isolation for another seven days. On the second seventh day the priest examines him and if the sore has not spread or has faded, then the priest will declare him clean. He does not have infectious leprosy. He must wash his clothes and he will be clean. But if the sore spreads after he has been pronounced clean, then the priest must reexamine him and if he determines that it is infectious leprosy, he must pronounce the person unclean.
If the priest sees raw flesh in a sore when he examines it, that person is declared unclean, he has a chronic skin disease. If the disease breaks out all over the person’s body and all of his skin has turned white, the priest will declare him clean. However if he sees raw flesh in the skin, this person has an infectious disease and he will be declared unclean. If the raw flesh in the sore later turns white he will have the priest examine it and the priest will declare him clean as the sore has healed.
This same procedure is to be followed by the priest when he examines a person who had a boil on his skin that healed but later a white swelling or a reddish white spot appears on that same spot, or if these conditions appear in a burn on the skin.
If a person has a sore on his head or in his beard, the priest examines it and he sees that the sore is more that skin deep and the hair in it is yellow and thin, that person is declared unclean. He has an itch, an infectious disease of the head or chin. If the sore is not more than skin deep and there is no black hair in it, the priest then quarantines this person for seven days. When he examines the person again and there is no observable changes in the sore, then the person would be shaved except for the diseased area and be kept in isolation for another seven days. If after this seven day period is over, the itch has not spread in the skin and is not more than skin deep, the person is declared clean and he must wash his clothes. But if it does spread in the skin after he has been declared clean, the priest does not need to look for yellow hair in it, he is unclean.
If a person has white spots on his skin and the priest examines them and they are a dull white, he will declare him clean as he only has a rash.
A person who looses his hair is considered clean as long as there are no sores on his head. If he does develop sores, the priest is to examine them to determine if he has an infectious disease. If the sores are a reddish-white as with sores that develop on other parts of the body, the man is diseased and is pronounced unclean.
When linen, wool, or leather have greenish or reddish spots on them, it is a leprous infection and must be shown to the priest. The priest will examine it and let is sit for seven days. He will reexamine it on the seventh day. If the disease has spread in this material, it will be declared unclean. It must be burned. If upon examination the disease has not spread, the article will be washed and sat aside for another seven days. If the disease is still evident in the article though it has not spread, it is still unclean and it must be burned. However, if the disease has abated after being washed, the priest will tear the diseased spot out of the article. But if after doing this and the disease returns, the article will be burned with fire. If the spot disappears completely, the article is then washed a second time and it will be declared clean.
This special "seven day" period provided to lepers under God's Mosaic Law actually foreshadows the special 7-year period allotted God's Name People, while being abandoned in the "wilderness" away from God's Face of Favor and Approval, for disciplinary purposes.
Leviticus Chapter 14:1-32
Jehovah now gives Moses the procedure that a person must follow after he has been healed from his disease so that he will be cleansed and allowed to return to his home.
The priest shall command that two live clean birds along with cedar wood, crimson yarn and hyssop be brought to him on behalf of the person to be cleansed. One of the birds is to be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. The second bird along with the cedar wood, crimson yarn and hyssop are dipped in the blood of the first bird. The priest then sprinkles the blood of the killed bird seven times on the person who is to be cleansed. He is then pronounced clean. The second bird is released into the open fields. The person must then wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water. Although he is ceremonially clean, he must stay outside his tent for seven days. On the seventh day, he must again shave all the hair off his body, wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, then he will be declared clean.
The procedure described above for cleansing is similar to that described in chapter 16 where two goats are used in the atonement process. Both cleansing procedures require two separate sacrifices, a dead one and a live one. In this case the live bird is dipped in the blood of the dead bird before it is sent into the open field.
In both cases, the "killed" or sacrificed "bird" of Leviticus chapter 14 or the killed "goat" of Leviticus chapter 16, would aptly picture Jesus Christ, whose sacred blood made the Scapegoat Arrangement valid in God's sight. It was the spilled, precious blood of Jesus Christ being applied to the "live bird" or "live goat" which was later sent to the "wilderness" in the Spring of the year of 1991, that actually made the Scapegoat Arrangement a truly "atoning" sacrifice, where true forgiveness for the nation of Jehovah's Witnesses' heinous NGO-UN Sin could be made possible. (Lev. 14:7; Lev. 14:49-53; Lev. 16:7-22)
What a glorious arrangement by God, where a sinner, a descendant of the rebel "Eve," could be "declared righteous", yes "justified" before God's sight and rendered sinless, "guiltless" by the blood of Jesus to be used for a sacrificial purpose for Jehovah! (Matthew 12:7; Acts 13:38, 39; Romans 3:30; Romans 4:6, 7; Romans 5:8)
On the eighth day, after being declared ceremonially "clean" by the priest, the former leper must now bring two male lambs and one female lamb for the guilt offering, the burnt offering and the sin offering. He must also bring three-tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering and a log of oil. The priest takes one male lamb along with the log of oil and waves them before Jehovah as a wave offering. He then slaughters the lamb for the guilt offering. Some of the blood of the guilt offering is put on the lobe of the right ear, on the right thumb and on the big toe of the right foot. He then pours some of the oil into his left hand and sprinkles it seven times before Jehovah with his right forefinger. He then takes some of the remaining oil in his palm and puts some of it on the right ear lobe, right thumb and right big toe on top of the blood. He then pours the rest of the oil in his palm over the head of the one to be cleansed. The guilt offering is holy and belongs to the priest officiating.
The placing of blood and oil upon (a) the right ear lobe (b) the right thumb, as well as on (c) the big toe on the right foot of the cleansed "leper" reminds us of the installation procedure for priests, which follows the exact same procedure. (Lev. 8:23, 24) Thus, in the larger sense, all Israelites were viewed as "priests" before Jehovah, as the entire nation of Israel was to become a "kingdom of priests" for all other nations as promised by Jehovah, and would one day become "anointed" as a nation because of this. (Exodus 19:5, 6; Joel 2:28, 29) Therefore, it would not surprise us to know that all in the nation of Israel were thus commanded to "stay on the watch" as faithful priests before their God, in imitation of the priests. (Lev. 8:35; Mark 13:33-37; Revelation 16:15)
Therefore in the grander sense, the "woman" of Revelation chapter 12, namely Jehovah's Witnesses as a nation, would appropriately be struck down by God, as a unclean "leper" because of the practice of "lawlessness" and sinning against God's Covenant, and would have to remain outside the camp of Israel until the foretold "8th day" [an unspecified amount of time] when she would be free to return to the camp of Israel. It would be after this time that she could, for the first time, experience her foretold "anointing" from God, as foretold prophetically at Joel 2:28, 29. At this time, she would be fully accepted by God to become a "priestly" nation before him, but only after she had suffered tremendously as a "leper" who had been abandoned by God. (Micah 7:7-10; Isaiah 60:10, 15; Exodus 19:5, 6; Rev. 1:5, 6; Rev. 5:9, 10)
The priest then makes the sin offering on behalf of the person so that he will be cleansed. Then the burnt offering is slaughtered and offered on the altar along with the grain offering and atonement is made for the person and he is cleansed.
If a person is poor and cannot bring the regular animal offering, he is allowed to substitute two doves or two pigeons for the sin and burnt offering. He must however bring one male lamb for the guilt offering.
Leviticus Chapter 14:33-57
Moses and Aaron are now given the procedure for cleansing a house that has a spreading mildew. When an individual believes that he has mildew in his home, he is to tell the priest. The priest will then order the house to be emptied before he inspects it. This will keep the owner from having all of his possession declared unclean when and if the priest declares the house to be unclean. When the priest inspects the house and observes greenish or reddish depressions in the wall, he will close the house up for seven days. On the seventh day when he reexamines the house and he finds that the mildew has spread, he will order that the contaminated stones be pulled out and replaced. The plaster will also be scraped from all the surrounding walls and new plaster applied to the walls. If the mildew reappears after this, the priest will declare that the mildew is destructive and the house must be completely torn down and its material taken to an unclean place outside the town.
However, if the priest examines the house and there is no additional mildew on the walls after it has been re-plastered, then he will declare it clean. Two birds along with cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop will be used to purify the house as with the cleansing of a person who has had an infectious disease.
Leviticus Chapter 15
Laws concerning men and women who have a bodily discharge are now given to Moses and Aaron. Any bodily discharge makes that person unclean, anything he sits on, anyone who touches him at this time and anything or anyone that he touches will be unclean. If he touches a clay pot, it must be broken. Anything wooden can be rinsed with water and it will be clean. If a person touches this person or anything that he sits on he must wash his clothes and he must wash himself with water and wait until evening before he is clean.
From the time that the discharge ceases, the person must count off seven days for his ceremonial cleansing. On the seventh day, he will then wash himself and his clothes with fresh water and he is clean. On the eighth day he will bring two doves or two young pigeons to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and give them to the priest who will offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way, atonement is made to Jehovah for him because of his discharge.
Whenever a man and a woman had sexual intercourse both had to bathe with water afterward and they would remain unclean until the evening.
When a woman had her monthly period she would be ceremonially unclean for seven days. Anyone touching her during this time would be unclean and anything that she sat on or lay on would be unclean. If a man lies with her during this time he will be unclean for seven days. If she has a discharge or flow of blood beyond her regular monthly period, she is unclean for as long as this discharge continues. Anything that she sits on or lies on will be unclean and anyone touching these will be unclean and must wash his garments and bathe with water and he will be unclean until evening.
When the discharge ceases, she is to count off seven days and she will be ceremonially clean at the end of this period. On the eighth day, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the priest who will offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering that she may be atoned for before Jehovah due to her discharge.
Leviticus 15:31 says:
"Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them." (NASV)
This proved to be an important point because Israel must remain clean before Jehovah since His "Tabernacle" was dwelling among them. If they failed to do this, and would defile God's Tabernacle, then they would have to die in their uncleanness. Again, we can see the correspondency with the nation of Jehovah's Witnesses in their "defiling" of God's Tabernacle among them. Again, they face the same identical punishment that ancient Israel faced, if not completely repentant.
Leviticus Chapter 16
This chapter is closely associated with chapter 10 because of the statement made at the beginning of it. Jehovah spoke these words to Moses after the two sons of Aaron died while approaching Jehovah inappropriately. Since the information given to Moses has to do with the procedure for the Day of Atonement when the high priest entered the Most Holy, it is believed that Aaron’s sons may have attempted to enter the Most Holy without being given permission to do so. Since they had not been given any instruction directing them on the proper procedure for entering the Most Holy, they should have waited for such from Moses. Jehovah now clearly delineates these instructions for Aaron. The outlined procedure is to be followed on the Day of Atonement only. Aaron is not to enter the Most Holy whenever he chooses because Jehovah appears there in the cloud over the atonement cover.
Many today mistakenly believe that Jehovah’s presence was represented in the Most Holy by the Ark of the Covenant with its atonement cover. But verse 2 of this chapter shows that to be incorrect.
On Atonement day, Aaron is to enter the courtyard with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering for himself and his household and two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering for the people. He is to bathe in water from the basin and then put on the sacred garments. No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting while Aaron is in the Most Holy. (Exodus 28:31-35)
He slaughters the bull, then takes a censer full of burning coals from the altar and two handfuls of the incense that was kept by the altar of incense. He is to put the incense on the burning coals to create a smoke screen in front of the ark with its atonement cover to conceal it so that he will not die. He would then sprinkle some of the blood of the bull on the front of the atonement cover and some of it he would sprinkle seven times in front of the cover.
Aaron then presents the two goats before Jehovah and he cast lots for them. One is the goat for Jehovah and the other for the escape goat. The goat for Jehovah is then slaughtered as a sin offering and the live goat is presented before the slaughtered goat to be atoned for.
Aaron then takes some of the blood of the slaughtered goat inside the curtain and sprinkles some of the blood on and in front of the atonement cover. In this way he is to make atonement for the Most Holy Place. He will do the same for the Tent of Meeting to make atonement for it because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the nation.
After leaving the Most Holy, Aaron is then to make atonement for the altar of burnt offering. He puts some of the blood of the bull and the goat on the horns of the altar. He then sprinkles some of this blood seven times on the altar to cleanse it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.
He then brings forward the live goat, lays both his hands on it and confesses all the sins of the Israelites essentially putting these sins upon the head of this goat. A man appointed beforehand then takes this goat into the wilderness carrying all the sins of the nation and releases it there. He must then wash his clothes and bathe himself before he can come back into the camp.
Then Aaron goes into the Tent of Meeting and removes his sacred garments and leaves them there. He then goes outside bathes in water and puts his regular garments on. He then offers the burnt offerings for himself and for the people and also burns the fat of the sin offering on top of the burnt offering. The carcasses of the bull and the goat that were offered as a sin offering must be taken outside the camp and burned up. The man who does this must wash his clothes and bathe himself before he can come back into the camp.
The Day of Atonement is to be celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month each year and at this time only. This day was to be a sacred day no work was to be done. It was also to be a day of fasting. All were required to observe it whether native born or an alien living in the land as it was the day when the nation would be cleansed from all their sin in Jehovah’s eyes. The anointed high priest is the only one who will make atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting, the altar of burnt offering, the priests and all the people.
For a discussion of the modern day application of these things, see the article “God’s Sacred Secret Revealed in the Scapegoat Covenant”.
Leviticus Chapter 17
Moses is told to remind the people that they are not to offer animal sacrifices anywhere other than at the Tent of Meeting. This reminder would keep the people from sacrificing to other gods because they would die for doing this. The prohibition is given again regarding the sanctity of blood. Verse 11 tells us this: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement.” Eating blood brings the death penalty. No native or alien living among them should eat an animal that had died of natural causes or had been killed by a wild animal. If anyone did, they were to wash their clothes, bathe their bodies and they would be considered unclean until the evening. If they did not follow this procedure, they would be guilty before Jehovah.
Leviticus Chapter 18
Strict warnings are given here that the Israelites were not to imitate the worship of any other nation, they were strictly to obey the statutes and ordinances of their God, Jehovah. Up to this point the laws given have mainly been concerned with the relationship of humans to Jehovah. Beginning with verse six of this chapter, the laws given will be concerned with man’s relationship with his fellow humans.
Since incest was widely practiced by the pagan inhabitants of the land of Canaan, Jehovah gave Moses laws that set limits on the boundaries of what is permissible within the family circle.
Sexual relations were forbidden between a parent and his child, between sister and brother, with one’s half-sister, granddaughter, aunt or uncle, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law. A man was not to have relations with a mother and her daughter or her granddaughter nor should he take two sisters as wives at the same time. A man was not to have sexual intercourse with his wife during her monthly period. A man was not to have sexual relations with another man’s wife.
No one was to sacrifice his children to Molech, one of the gods that the Canaanites worshipped, as this would profane the name of Jehovah. Homosexual acts were prohibited. A person having sexual relations with an animal was a perversion.
These acts would serve to defile the people. The nations already living in Canaan had defiled the land by these acts and Jehovah was evicting them because they had defiled the land. Israel, if they practiced such defiling acts, would also be evicted from the land.
Leviticus Chapter 19
“You must be holy, for I the LORD [Jehovah] am holy.” This statement sums up the purpose of the laws given to the nation. Obedience then is obligatory to such laws as honoring or revering parents, honoring the sabbaths which would include all of them not just the weekly sabbath, and abhorring idolatry and other laws already presented.
The communion sacrifice must be observed as prescribed (see discussion on Leviticus 7:15-18). Anyone eating the meat on the third day has profaned what is holy to Jehovah. This offering has lost its value to Jehovah, no atonement will be granted to the one presenting it. Anyone eating this meat on the third day will be cut off from the people.
Israel was to provide for the poor in the land. They were not to reap the edges of the field during harvest or return to pick up what was dropped nor were they to strip their vines bare or pick up grapes that were on the ground. These were to be left for the poor and the alien. Ruth being sent by Naomi to Boaz’s field is probably the most familiar example of the poor gleaning in another’s field. (See Ruth chapter 2)
Everyone was to be treated with justice. No one was to swear falsely using God’s name. Wages were to be paid on time. The deaf and blind were to be treated with respect. Slander was prohibited. There should be no partiality shown when dealing with the poor and the rich. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This statement was given as second of the two greatest commandments by Jesus. (See Matthew 22:36-39) All of one's duty to his fellow man is summed up in these words.
An Israelite was not to interbreed animals of different kinds nor sow two different kind of seed in the same field or wear garments made of two different kinds of materials.
A man who has sexual relations with a woman who is still a slave but has been promised in marriage to another will be required to bring a guilt offering to atone for his sin. They were not to be put to death as would be the case had she been a free person.
After Israel was settled in the land of Canaan and they planted fruit trees, they were forbidden to eat the fruit from these trees in the first three years. The fruit borne on these trees in the fourth year would belong to Jehovah. But they would be allowed to partake of this fruit in the fifth year. Jesus alluded to this practice in a parable recorded at Luke 13:6-9 when speaking about the work he and John had been doing among the nation.
Other practices that were prevalent among the pagan inhabitants that were to be avoided were: eating meat along with its blood, cutting themselves in rituals for the dead, making their daughters prostitutes, turning to spirit mediums or practicing witchcraft.
Respect for the elderly was required; the alien resident was not to be oppressed, he was to be treated as a native born. They were to have accurate weights and measures.
Leviticus Chapter 20
The penalties for ignoring the prohibitions given in chapter 18 are stated in this chapter. In verses 1-5, prostituting oneself to the god Molech by offering a child to this god is punishable with death. If the community does not act against this person by putting him to death, Jehovah says that He, himself, will ‘set his face against them and against their family and will cut them off from among the people.’ The death penalty is required for anyone who consults a spirit medium or curses his parents. If a man commits adultery with the wife of his fellowman, has sexual relations with his father’s wife or with his daughter in law, or if a man lies with a man as he would with a woman then in these cases, both are to die. If a man marries a woman and her daughter all three are to be burned to death. Bestiality is punishable by death.
Offenses such as a man marrying his sister, a man having relations with his wife during her monthly cycle (see Leviticus 15:24), a man having sexual relations with his aunt, or with his brother’s wife are punishable by cutting them off from the community as well as their being childless. An Israelite who becomes a spiritist or a medium is to be stoned. This was still being done in the time of Saul, king of Israel. (See 1 Samuel 28:8-10)
The nation is admonished again to keep all of Jehovah’s ordinances and statutes so that they may continue in the land. They are a nation separated from all other nations. They must make a distinction between what is clean and unclean. They must be a holy people.
Leviticus Chapter 21
These regulations concern the priests maintaining their holy standing before Jehovah. A priest could not defile himself with the dead except for someone of close kin. He could defile himself if his mother, father, son, daughter, brother or his unmarried sister died, but not for anyone else. He could not mar his body in any way as in pagan death rituals as this would make him unfit to serve before Jehovah. They were forbidden to marry prostitutes, divorced women or a woman who had been defiled. If the daughter of a priest became a prostitute, she would be burned to death.
The high priest could not defile himself for anyone because of his having the anointed oil upon him. He could not go anywhere near a dead body. He was not allowed to leave the sanctuary area to attend a funeral. He could only marry a virgin from his own family.
No offspring of Aaron who had any physical defects could serve at the altar or go into the Holy Place. This included anyone who was blind, lame, had a mutilated face, uneven limbs, a crippled foot or hand, was a hunchback or a dwarf, or had a deformed testicle. He could, however, eat the food that belonged to the priests, the most holy as well as the holy food.
Leviticus Chapter 22
Any priest who was unclean could not eat the sacred food. If he had an infectious disease, or a discharge, or if he had touched anything made unclean by a corpse or a man who is unclean or if he touched any swarming thing, he could not partake of the holy food until he was clean.
Not everyone living in the priest’s household could partake of the holy food. Those persons that he purchased or those who were born in his house may eat it. If his daughter marries outside her family, she cannot eat the sacred food. If she is divorced or widowed and is childless and she returns to her father’s house, she may eat the sacred food.
Any non-priestly person who eats the sacred food unintentionally must bring a guilt offering and he must replace the food and add one-fifth of its value to it. The sacred donations are not to be profaned by anyone eating of them thereby bringing guilt upon himself.
Any animal presented as an offering to Jehovah must be without blemish or defect. Any animal that had a limb that was too long or too short could be offered as a freewill offering but not as a vow offering. A mother and its young could not be offered to Jehovah on the same day. A young animal was to remain with its mother for seven days before it would be acceptable to offer to Jehovah.
Again, the nation is warned that they must not profane Jehovah’s holy name by failing to keep his commandments.
Leviticus Chapter 23
Jehovah now delineates the festivals or holy convocations that the nation is to observe at their scheduled times. He begins with a reminder about the sabbath as it is a holy observance for them. It was a sign between Israel and Jehovah to time indefinite. They would rest from all of their labors on this seventh day just as Jehovah had done. Anyone not observing it would be put to death. (See Numbers 15:32-36)
In the first month, Abib or Nisan, on the fourteenth day at twilight, they were to observe the passover. The next day, the fifteenth day of this month, the Festival of Unleavened Bread would begin. It would last for seven days. Nothing with leaven in it was to be eaten during this festival. On the first and the last day of the festival a holy convocation was to be held, no work was to be done. See Exodus 12:14-20 for a more detailed discussion of this festival.
The Festival of Firstfruits would commence after the Israel had settled in the land, planted their first crop and had harvested this crop. They were to bring a sheaf of the first grain that was harvested, which was barley as it was the first grain to ripen, to the priest and he would wave it before Jehovah on their behalf. This would take place the day after the sabbath. They were bring a burnt offering, a year-old lamb, along with its grain offering and drink offering as an offering made to Jehovah by fire. Nothing was to be eaten from the harvested crop until this offering had been made to Jehovah.
The Israelite would count seven full weeks to the seventh sabbath and add one day after the sabbath, fifty days in all, then they would observe the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost. This festival was held at the time that the wheat was harvested. They were to bring an offering of new grain that would consist of two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, to be a wave offering of the firstfruits to Jehovah. They were also to bring a burnt offering of seven male lambs, each a year old, a young bull and two rams, along with their grain and drink offerings. They were also to bring a male goat for a sin offering and two year-old lambs for the fellowship offering. The priest would wave the two lambs along with the bread of the firstfruits. This would be the officiating priest’s portion of the sacred offering. A sacred assembly was to be held on this day and no regular work was to be done. The Israelites are given a reminder that they are to remember the poor by not gleaning the edges of their fields and by not returning to pick up anything they missed during the initial harvest.
Jehovah now describes the festivals to be held in the seventh month that would mark the end of the agricultural year. On the first day of this month a sacred assembly was to be held. It would be commemorated by trumpet blasts. This day was to be a day of rest in which no regular work was to be done. An offering by fire was to be presented to Jehovah.
The tenth day of this seventh month was designated as the Day of Atonement when the high priest went into the Most Holy to carry out the atonement for the nation and the Tent of Meeting. This day was to be a holy day, a sabbath of rest for the people beginning on the evening of the 9th day until the evening of the 10th day. A sacred assembly was to be held on this day and it was to be a day of fasting. They were to present an offering made to Jehovah by fire. See Leviticus chapter 16 for a detailed discussion of the high priest’s duties on this day.
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the Festival of Ingathering (Tabernacles, Booths) begins. It would last for seven days. On the first and the eighth day, sacred assemblies were held, no regular work was to be done. The Israelites were to bring offerings made by fire, the burnt offering, grain offering, sacrifices and drink offerings in addition to the regular requirements for the sabbath. They would also bring their gifts, whatever they had vowed and all their freewill offerings. On the first day of this festival, the people were to gather fruit from the trees, palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars to build booths that they would dwell in for seven days. These booths would remind them of the ones they lived in when they came out of Egypt.
Leviticus Chapter 24
The lights on the lampstand were to be kept burning ‘from evening to morning.’ Clear oil of pressed olives supplied by the people was used to keep the lights burning. The meaning of the term ‘continually’ is uncertain. It could refer to the lights being kept burning continually, day and night, or continually burning each day from evening to morning.
A comment from The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume I, page 159, has this to say: "The fire on the altar was never to go out. But it seems from the phrase "from evening to morning" and the similar one in Ex 27:21 that the lamps were to burn every night but not through the day. This arrangememt may explain the statement in 1 Sa 3:3: "The lamp of God had not yet gone out," i.e., it was toward morning but still dark."
The bread of Presence consisted of twelve loaves that were put on the golden table in the Holy Place. Each loaf was made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour (about 4 quarts as an ephah is about twenty quarts) probably mixed with olive oil. They were arranged on the table in two rows of six loaves each. Along each row the priest was to put some incense. The bread was to be removed on the sabbath and replaced with fresh baked bread. The incense was burned on the altar of burnt offering as an offering made to Jehovah by fire when the old bread was removed. This bread was the priest’s regular share of the most holy offering to be eaten in a holy place. It was not to eaten by just anyone although there is an account of David being given some of this bread when he was fleeing from Saul. (1 Samuel 21:5, 6; Matthew 12:3, 4)
The seriousness of blaspheming God’s name is related here. An Israelite man and a man of a mixed marriage, between an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man, engaged in a fight and the son of the Egyptian blasphemed God’s name with a curse. Moses had him put in custody until it could be determined what to do with him. Jehovah told Moses to take him outside the camp and anyone who heard him was to put their hand on his head, and the entire assembly would stone him. The Israelites were then given a law regarding blaspheming God’s name. Jehovah said: “If anyone curses God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD [Jehovah] must be put to death.” This law applied to both those native born and to the alien resident.
Additionally, Jehovah told Moses that anyone taking the life of another human must himself be put to death. If a person kills an animal that belongs to someone else, he must replace that animal with another just like it. They must give like for like, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The punishment would be in accord with the offense.
Leviticus Chapter 25
In addition to the weekly sabbath, the nation would observe a sabbath year, the seventh year of the agricultural years. They were to sow their fields, prune their vines and harvest them for six years. In the seventh year, the land was to rest from sowing and harvesting. Whatever the land produced of its own accord would serve as food for them. In fact, Jehovah told the people that as long as they obeyed him unconditionally, they would not need to worry about what they would eat in that seventh year. In verses 20-22 this is what they were told. “You may ask, what will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops? I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.”
There was also to be a fiftieth-year sabbath. This was called the Jubilee Year. It was to be announced in the forty-ninth year on the Day of Atonement by the sounding of trumpets throughout the land. It was to be a sabbath year as no sowing or reaping was to be done. It was to be a year to proclaim liberty throughout the land. Anyone who had lost or had to sell his land inheritance was to have it returned to him. Anyone who had become poor and had had to sell himself to a fellow Israelite would be given his freedom along with any children that he had during this period. His land inheritance would be returned to him. No Israelite was to treat his fellowman as a slave that he could buy and sell as he would a foreigner. They must remember that they themselves were once slaves in Egypt.
Jehovah also specified that none of the land could be sold permanently. The land belonged to Jehovah. He provided a means for the land to be redeemed. A near relative could redeem the land for a person. (Ruth 4:1-4; Jeremiah 32:7-12) If he had no one to redeem it for him, it would be returned to him in the Jubilee Year. If he himself prospered before the Jubilee year, he could redeem it himself. The value of the land is to be determined based on the number of years that had elapsed since he had sold it. He would refund some of the price paid for the land based on the number of crops that would have been harvested had the land remained in the hands of the buyer until the Jubilee Year.
Houses could be sold permanently. If a person sells a house in a walled city, he retains the right to redeem it for one full year. If he is unable to redeem it, the house will become the property of the buyer. It will not be returned in the Jubilee Year. Houses that are considered to be in open country can be redeemed at any time and are returned during the Jubilee Year.
Property belonging to a Levite could be redeemed at any time and would be returned to them in the Jubilee Year if not redeemed before then. They, however, were forbidden to sell the pastureland that belonged to their towns. This was their permanent possession.
If an Israelite becomes poor and has to sell himself to an alien or temporary resident, he retains the right of redemption. Any blood relative may redeem him or he may prosper and can redeem himself. The redemption price will be based on the number of years counting from the time that he sold himself and the next Jubilee Year. The rate per year to be paid will be based on that paid to a hired man. If he is not redeemed, he and his family will be released in the Jubilee Year.
Leviticus Chapter 26
The blessings and the maledictions or curses are stated in this chapter, blessings for obedience, maledictions for disobedience.
Obedience to Jehovah would mean:
1. There would be rain in its season, the ground yields its crop, the trees their fruit (Isaiah 30:23; Psalms 85:12)
2. Threshing continues until grape harvest which continues until planting
3. They would live in safety in the land, no one will make them afraid (Micah 4:4)
4. Their would be peace in the land (Psalms 29:11)
5. No savage beast will wander in the land
6. No sword will pass through the land, they would pursue their enemies
7. Jehovah would increase their numbers (Psalms 107:38)
8. Jehovah will honor his covenant
9. Food would be so plentiful that they would not have consumed last year’s produce when they are ready to store the current year’s produce (Psalms 72:16)
10. Jehovah will dwell among them
11. He will not abhor them
12. Jehovah will be their God, they will be his people as He is their Savior. (Revelation 21:3)
The following is from Deuteronomy 7:15.
13. Jehovah would heal them of all of their sicknesses (Isaiah 33:24)
14. They would be the most blessed people among all the peoples.
Jehovah was offering them paradisiacal conditions.
Disobedience to Jehovah would mean:
1. They will have wasting diseases, fever that will destroy their sight and their lives
2. Sudden terror will strike them
3. Their enemies will eat what they plant
4. They will be defeated in war
5. They will be ruled over by those who hate them
6. No rain will fall, the land will not yield crops nor will the trees bear fruit
7. Wild animals will be sent against them to kill their children and cattle
8. The sword will come against them because of their breaking the covenant
9. A plague will come after them until they are given into the hand of their enemy
10. Bread will be so scarce that ten women will bake bread in one oven
11. They will eat the flesh of their own children
12. Jehovah will abhor them
13. Jehovah will lay waste the land so that even their enemies will be appalled
14. They will be scattered among the nations and His sword will pursue them
15. Their cities will lie in ruins, the land will lay desolate until it has fulfilled its sabbaths
16. Those left in the land will be terrorized at the sound of a blowing leaf
17. They will flee even though no one is chasing them.
These maledictions would be brought upon them in stages. After each one they are given the opportunity to repent. If they choose not to repent then Jehovah states that the next punishment will be seven times more severe relative to their sins. As long as they remain in disobedience, the punishment will increase until the land vomits them out of it.
Even after they have been deported from the land, Jehovah will still show them mercy. He will allow them to repent even then. They must confess their sins and their treachery and hostility they have shown towards him. They must humble their hearts and they must pay for their sins. Then he will remember the covenant he made with their ancestors. He will remember the land. But Jehovah will not punish them to the point of their being completely destroyed. King Solomon, in prayer to Jehovah, at the dedication of the temple made a request that Jehovah would show this kind of mercy to this nation of people. (See 1 Kings 8:46-53)
In the last verse of this chapter, Moses is identified as the mediator between Jehovah and the nation of Israel.
Leviticus Chapter 27
A person may make a vow to Jehovah to dedicate another person to Jehovah by giving the equivalent value of that person in terms of the sanctuary shekel. The value of a person between twenty and sixty years of age was fifty shekels of silver for a male and thirty shekels of silver for a female. The value of a person between the ages of five and twenty was twenty shekels for a male and ten shekels for a female. The value of a person between one month and five years of age is five shekels for a male and three for a female. A male over sixty was valued at fifteen shekels and a female at ten shekels. If the person who made the vow is too poor to pay these valuations, the priest would determine a price that would be affordable for him.
A clean animal that is dedicated to Jehovah as a vow becomes holy and cannot be exchanged or substituted for another animal. If this is done both animals become holy. If it is an unclean animal, the priest will determine its value. If the person chooses to redeem the animal, he must pay the valued amount plus he must add one-fifth of its value.
A person may vow to dedicate his house to Jehovah. The priest will determine the value of the house. If the person wants to redeem the house, he must pay the valued amount plus an additional one-fifth of its value and the house will belong to him again.
If a person vows to dedicate a portion of his family land to Jehovah, the priest would have to determine its value on the basis of the amount of seed required for planting until the next Jubilee Year. A homer of barley seed was worth fifty shekels of silver. The amount will be determined by the number of years remaining until the Jubilee Year. The right to redeem will be his as long as he does not sell it to someone else. If he sells it then he cannot redeem it. It will belong to the priest when it is released in the Jubilee Year. If he dedicates a field that he has purchased that does not belong to his family land, its value is determined as stated above. In the Jubilee Year, the land will revert to its original owner.
No one could make a vow to dedicate any firstborn to Jehovah as it already belongs to him. Any unclean animal that is not redeemed could be sold for its set valuation. Anything irrevocably devoted to Jehovah becomes holy and cannot be sold or redeemed. If the thing devoted was a person, he had to be killed. This type of vow was usually associated with a national vow made during times of war, rather than an individual one. (See Numbers 21:2; Deuteronomy 7:2; Joshua 6:17)
Tithes of the fruit of the land could be redeemed but tithes of the herd and flock could not be redeemed nor any substitution made.
Verse 34 reminds us that “these are the commands the LORD [Jehovah] gave to Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites.”
NOTE: Most quotations used in this commentary are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise stated.
NASV - New American Standard Version
NRSV - New Revised Standard Version
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