The Bible Book by Book

By J. B. Tidell, A.M., D. D.

Chapter B3 - Leviticus

Name. By the rabbis, it was called "The Law of the Priest" and "The Law of Offerings," but from the time of the Vulgate it has been called Leviticus, because it deals with the services of the sanctuary as administered by the Levites.

Connection with Former Books. In Genesis, man is left outside of the Garden and the remedy for his ruin is seen in the promised seed. In Exodus, man is not only outside of Eden, but is in bondage to an evil enemy and his escape from his bondage is shown to be in the blood of the lamb, which is shown to be sufficient to satisfy man's need and God's justice. In Leviticus there is given the place of sacrifice, as an atonement for sin, and it is shown that God accepted the sacrifice of the victim instead of the death of the sinner. It is a continuation of Exodus, containing the Sinaitic legislation from the time of the completion of the Tabernacle.

Contents. Except the brief historical sections found in chapters 8-10 and 24:10-14, it contains a system of laws, which may be divided into (1) Civil, (2) Sanitary, (3) Ceremonial, (4) Moral and (5) Religious laws, emphasis being placed on moral and religious duties.

Purpose. (1) To show that God is holy and man is sinful. (2) To show how God can maintain his holiness and expose the sinfulness of man. (3) To show how a sinful people may approach a Holy God. (4) To provide a manual of law and worship for Israel. (5) To make Israel a holy nation.

Key-Word. The key-word then is Holiness, which is found 87 times in the book, while in contrast with it, the words sin and uncleanliness (in various forms) occur 194 times, showing the need of cleansing. On the other hand, blood, as a means of cleansing, occurs 89 times. The key verse is, I think, 19:2, though some prefer 10:10 as the best verse.

The Sacrifices, or Offerings. They may be divided in several ways, among which the most instructive is as follows: (1) National Sacrifices, which include (a) Serial, such as daily, weekly, and monthly offerings, (b) Festal, as the Passover, Cycle of Months, etc., (c) for the service of the Holy Place, as holy oil, precious incense, twelve loaves, etc. (2) Official Sacrifices, which include (a) those for the priests, (b) those for princes and rulers, and (c) those for the holy women, Ex. 38:8; 1 Sam. 2:22. (3) Personal Sacrifices, including (a) the blood offering-peace offering, sin offering and trespass offering, (b) the bloodless offerings-the meat, or meal, offering.

Besides this general division, the offerings are divided into two kinds, as follows: (1) _Sweet-savor Offerings_. These are atoning in nature and show that Jesus is acceptable to God because he not only does no sin, but does all good, upon which the sinner is presented to God in all the acceptableness of Christ. These offerings are (a) the burnt offering, in which Christ willingly offers himself without spot to God for our sins, (b) the meal offering, in which Christ's perfect humanity, tested and tried, becomes the bread of His people, (c) the peace offering representing Christ as our peace, giving us communion with God, and thanks. (2) _Non-Sweet-Savor Offerings_. These are perfect offerings, overlaid with human guilt. They are (a) the sin offering, which is expiatory, substitutional and efficacious, referring more to sins against God, with little consideration of injury to man, (b) the trespass offering, which refers particularly to sins against man, which are also sins against God.


I. Law of Sacrifices, Chs. 1-7.

1. Burnt offering, Ch. 1.

2. Meal offering, Ch. 2.

3. Peace offering, Ch. 3.

4. Sin offering, Ch. 4.

5. Trespass (or guilt) offering, 5:1-6:7.

6. Instructions to priests concerning the offerings, 6:8-7 end.

II. Law of Purity. Chs. 11-22.

1. Pure food, animals to be eaten, Ch. II.

2. Pure body and house, rules for cleansing, Chs. 12-13.

3. Pure nation, offering for sin on the day of atonement, Chs. 16-17.

4. Marriages, Ch. 18.

5. Pure morals, Chs. 19-20.

6. Pure priests, Chs. 21-22.

IV. Law of Feasts, Chs. 23-25.

1. Sacred feasts, Ch. 23.

2. Parenthesis, or interpolation, lamps of the Tabernacle, shew-bread, the blasphemer, Ch. 24.

3. Sacred years, Ch. 25.

V. Special Laws, Chs, 26-27.

1. Blessing and cursing, Ch. 26.

2. Vows and tithes, Ch. 27.

For Study and Discussion. (1) Make a list of the several offerings and become familiar with what is offered, how it is offered, the result to be attained in each case. (2) The laws (a) for the consecration and purity of the priests (Chs. 8-10 and 21-22), (b) governing marriages (Ch. 18), (c) concerning clean animals and what may be used for food (Ch, 11), (d) governing vows and tithes (Ch. 37). (3) The sacrifice of the two goats and two birds, (a) the details of what is done with each goat and each bird, (b) the lessons or truths typified by each goat and bird. (4) The name, occasion, purpose, time and manner of observing each of the feasts. (5) Redemption as seen in Leviticus, (a) the place of the priest, (b) of substitution, (c) of imputation, (d) of sacrifice and blood in redemption. (5) The nature of sin as seen in Leviticus, (a) its effect on man's nature, (b) its effect on his relation to God.