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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 17

 

 

Verses 1-16


Rule of Sacrifice. Prohibition against eating Blood

1-9. The first part of this Law prescribes that all oxen, sheep, and goats, slaughtered for food, must first be presented to Jehovah at the sanctuary. This seems to presuppose a time when the Israelites used but little flesh food, and were not widely scattered, which must have been either during the wanderings in the desert, or immediately after the return from exile, when there was only a small community in the vicinity of Jerusalem. This raises the question of the date of the composition of the Law of Holiness, and scholars are still divided upon it. The law is repealed in Deuteronomy 12:15, where it is implied that different conditions of life prevail.

7. The object of this enactment was to counteract the tendency to offer sacrifice to those demons of the wilderness which were worshipped in the form of he-goats, for so the RV renders the word here translated devils: see note on Azazel in Leviticus 16:8. Gone a whoring] see on Exodus 34:10.

10-16. Prohibition against eating blood or fallen carcases. The law against eating blood agrees with natural instincts and is here connected with a religious idea: see on Leviticus 3:3.

15. The law against eating what dies of itself is a corollary of the former. The flesh of such an animal cannot be thoroughly drained of blood: cp. Exodus 22:31; Deuteronomy 14:21. Bear his iniquity] bear the penalty of his transgression.


Verses 1-46


(Chs. 17-26) The Law of Holiness

This section of Leviticus occupies a position by itself, being distinguished from the rest of the book both by style and contents. A few only of its main characteristics may be noticed here. (1) Among a large number of phrases almost, if not entirely, peculiar to this part of the Pentateuch is the constantly recurring expression 'I am Jehovah,' or 'I am Jehovah your God,' or 'I your God am holy.' This 'divine I,' as it has been called, occurs forty-seven times is these chapters, and only six times elsewhere from Genesis to Joshua, but is found again seventy-eight times in Ezekiel. See Intro. § 2. (2) A second distinguishing feature of this section is its more rhetorical style and the comparatively large number of hortatory passages, somewhat in the manner of Deuteronomy: see e.g. Leviticus 26. (3) A third characteristic is the high spiritual tone of these chapters. Compared with the rest of the book we find here less ritual and more religion, morality, and humanity. The duly of holiness is repeatedly emphasised and grounded on the holiness of God Himself. The oft-recurring key note of the whole is 'Ye shall be holy, for the Lord your God am holy.' It is for this reason that the title 'Law of Holiness' has been applied to this part of Leviticus. Some other fragments bearing a similar character outside these chapters have been assigned to the same collection, e.g. Exodus 31:13.; Leviticus 11 (especially Leviticus 11:43-45) Numbers 15:37-41.

It has long been observed that there is a considerable resemblance both in leading ideas and phraseology between this 'Law of Holiness' and the book of Ezekiel. That Ezekiel knew and used this Law Book seems beyond dispute, but that he is also its author is not made out.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 17:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/leviticus-17.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, August 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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