Hebrew Title: way yiqra' = and he called
Among the Jews, it was also called
law of the priests and law-book of sacrificial offerings
Introduction and Overview
The following may serve as a useful outline of the whole book of Leviticus:
Chapters 1-16 - Reconciliation with God through Removal of Sin and Impurity
1-7 Laws of sacrifice
8-10 Consecration of Aaron and his sons
11-15 Clean vs. unclean, bodily impurities, removal of defilements
16 Day of Atonement
Chapters 17-25 - Duties and character of a Sanctified People
17-20 Sanctification in food, marriage and morals
21-22 Sanctification of priests and of the sacrifices
23-24 Sanctification of feasts and daily worship
25 Sanctification of the whole land in the sabbaths and jubilee
26 Blessings of obedience and cursings of disobedience
We can narrow down the occasion of the words and events in Leviticus to a short period of time. Because the book presupposes the existence of the tabernacle, not merely as something that will be built but as something already in use (Lev. 8:35-36, 9:5, 9:23, 10:1ff), we know that the beginning date of the period is subsequent to the setting up of the tabernacle. When did that take place according to Ex. 40:17?
Because Leviticus concludes with the statement, "These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the sons of Israel at Mount Sinai, we know that the latest possible date is the occasion of the Israelites' departure from Sinai. According to Numbers 10:11-12, when did the Isrealites depart the wilderness of Sinai?
How much time does that allow for the events described in the book of Leviticus?
A number of passages in the Bible are better understood if the reader is familiar with the various sacrifices prescribed in Leviticus and the manner in which they were offered. E.g.,
What was wrong with the practice of Eli's sons? (1 Samuel 2:12-17)
Why does Paul suggests that the priests ate of the things offered on the altar? (1 Cor. 9:13)
Why does Paul suggest that Israelites in general ate the sacrifices and had communion with the altar? (1 Cor. 10:18)
What is meant when it says in Heb. 9:21 that "all things are cleansed with blood"?
Did the priest make atonement for himself and for the people as is stated in Heb. 5:3?
The major sections of Leviticus 1-9 can be described as follows
- Burnt Offerings (Lev. 1:1-17)
- Grain Offerings (Lev. 2:1-15)
- Peace Offerings (Lev. 3:1-17)
- Sin Offerings (Lev. 4:1-35)
- Guilt Offerings (Lev. 5:1-6:7)
- Specific Instructions to Priests Concerning the Offerings (and also to the people) (Lev. 6:8-7:38)
- Consecration of Aaron and his sons (Lev. 8:1-10:20)
On the following pages, you will find a detailed outline of the first 9 chapters of Leviticus. It may help you as you try to digest what is being said concerning the various sacrifices. On the basis of the first nine chapters, answer the following questions:
- Read 1 Samuel 2:12-17. What was wrong with what Eli's sons were doing?
- Read 1 Cor. 9:13. What is it that Paul is demonstrating in this context? How do Lev. 6:16, 26 help to illustrate his point?
- Read 1 Cor. 10:18. What is Paul warning against in this context? How does Lev. 7:6, 15 serve to show the incongruity of Christians participating in idol feasts?
- In connection with the statement that all things are cleansed with blood in Heb. 9:21, see Lev. 8:15, 19
- It is said that the priest makes atonement for himself and for the people (Heb. 5:3). We will see this is true when we the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16), but on what particular occasion described in Lev. 9:6-7 do we see Aaron making atonement for himself as well as for the people?
- And finally, not to be overlooked is the emphasis on sacrifices without defect. In Malachi 1:6-14, the Lord shames his people for offering the "blind" and the "lame and sick." How many times in Leviticus 1-9 do we see it specified that the sacrifices should be animals "without defect" or "unblemished"?