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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary
Leviticus 17

 

 

Verses 1-16

Sacredness of blood (17:1-16)

The blood ritual of the Day of Atonement shows the importance of animal blood in God's sight. The blood of the animal signified the death of the animal. Therefore, when Israelites wanted to kill animals from their flocks or herds to obtain meat, they were not to slaughter the animals thoughtlessly, but bring them to the tabernacle altar and kill them as peace offering. Thus, besides getting their meat, they acknowledged God in an act of worship. An additional benefit of this regulation was that it prevented the killing of animals in the open fields, where the Israelites might be tempted to follow the Egyptian custom of offering animals to satyrs (goat-like demons) (17:1-7).

When Israelites killed animals not for meat but solely as religious sacrifices, they could carry out the killing only at the tabernacle altar (8-9). Later, when they settled in Canaan, the laws concerning killing animals for meat were adjusted to suit the new circumstances (see notes on Deuteronomy 12:15-28).

God gave animal flesh to humankind as food, but in taking animal life people had to acknowledge God as the rightful owner of that life. Because an animal's shed blood represented its life that had been taken, people were not to eat or drink it (cf. Genesis 9:3-4). They were to pour the blood out either at the altar (in the case of animals suitable for sacrifice) or on the ground (in the case of animals not suitable for sacrifice). This was an act of sacrificial thanks to God for the benefit he allowed at the cost of the animal's life. Yet so amazing is the grace of God that, having forbidden people to use the shed blood of animals in any way for their own benefit, God gave that blood to them as a means of making atonement for their sins (10-14).

On occasions people may have eaten, perhaps unknowingly, of flesh from which the blood had not been properly drained. In such cases they were considered unclean for the rest of the day, but they suffered no other penalty, provided they carried out the required cleansing ritual (15-16).

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Leviticus 17:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/leviticus-17.html. 2005.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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