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Bible Commentaries

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

- Leviticus

by B.H. Carroll




1. What is the theme of this chapter?

Ans. – The covenant at Sinai. (A connective chapter preparatory to the study of Leviticus.)

2. What is a covenant?

Ans. – A voluntary agreement between two parties, under stipulations binding either party, having been duly ratified.

3. In general, how many and what covenants are there?

Ans. – Two: the Old and the New.

4. Where is the Sinaitic covenant found?

Ans. – Exodus 19:1-24:11.

5. What is this part of Exodus called?

Ans. – The book of the covenant.

6. What kind of a covenant was the Sinaitic covenant?

Ans. – National.

7. Who were the two parties in it?

Ans. – God and national Israel.

8. What further may be said as to the kind of covenant it was?

Ans. – A theocratic covenant, or a covenant of which God, the party of the first part, fixed the terms and national Israel, the party of the second part, accepted them.

9. This covenant was a development of what?

Ang. – One of the two covenants made with Abraham.

10. What were the two covenants made with Abraham?

Ans. – The grace covenant and the earth or temporal covenant.

11. Where are these two covenants found?

Ans. – The grace covenant is found in Genesis 12; Genesis 22; the earth or temporal covenant, in Genesis 15; Genesis 17.

12. What three New Testament books expound the difference between them?

Ans. – Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews.

13. What is the difference in the time of each of the covenants with Abraham and the covenant at Sinai?

Ans. – The Sinaitic covenant was 430 years after the grace covenant and 401 years after the temporal or circumcision covenant.

14. Of which covenant is the covenant at Sinai a developments?

Ans. – Of the earth or temporal covenant.

15. What were the purposes of the Sinaitic covenant?

Ans. – (1) Negatively: Not to justify or give life. (2) Positively: (a) A schoolmaster unto Christ; (b) To discover sin, as a mirror, (c) To provoke to sin, i.e., to reveal a deprived nature by provoking to sin in the spirit of disobedience, (d) Tutor till Christ, the object of faith, came. (e) In its ceremonial part to typify the new covenant in Christ.

16. When was the ceremonial part abrogated?

Ans. – See Colossians 2:14.

17. Where was the Sinaitic covenant given?

Ans. – At Sinai in Arabia.

18. Of what did the giving of this covenant consist?

Ans. – (1) God’s proposition and their acceptance of it; (2) The preparation for it; (3) The signal by which they were assembled; (4) The covenant itself; (5) The stipulations of the covenant; (6) The covenant accepted; (7) The covenant ratified; (8) The feast of the covenant.

19. What are the three constituent parts of this covenant?

Ans. – (1) The moral law, or God and the normal man Exodus 22:1-7; (2) The law of the altar, or God and the sinner, Exodus 20:24-26; (3) The civil code, or God and the state, Exodus 22:11-23:33.

20. Leviticus, and much of Numbers are a development of what part of the covenant at Sinai?

Ans. – The altar.

21. What does this part of the covenant foreshadow?

Ans. – The new covenant in Christ.

22. What are the essentials of approach to God?

Ans. – (1) A place; (2) A sacrifice; (3) A mediator; (4) Times to approach God; (5) A ritual prescribing everything; (6) A provision for the priesthood.

23. Where do we find the account of the writing, reading, accepting, and ratifying of this covenant?

Ans. – Exodus 24:1-8.

24. What was the feast of the covenant?

Ans. – This was the feast which was celebrated by Moses, Joshua, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel as representatives of Israel on the one part and God on the other. Exodus 24:9-11.

25. What was the witness of the covenant?

Ans. – God’s copy which was kept in the ark.



This chapter commences with the book of Leviticus. In commencing the Old Testament there were three chapters given as an introduction, one on an Introduction to an "Interpretation of the English Bible," one on the whole Old Testament and one on the historical introduction to the Pentateuch, considered as one book, and indeed it is but one book with five parts; hence the name, Pentateuch, a fivefold book. And yet when we commence each particular book, we devote some time to the historical introduction answering such questions as these: Who wrote this book? Where did he write it? Under what circumstances? To whom and for whom did he write? and matters of that kind. So the chapter commences with this question:

Who wrote the book of Leviticus? And the answer is, God is the author of this book, through Moses. More than any other book in the Bible it consists of the words of God, and in almost every instance, as in beginning certain parts of every section, it says, "And God spake to Moses." Then follows that section giving the words of God. Fifty-six times in the twenty-seven chapters is that declaration made, "And God said to Moses." Not only this but the Old Testament references to this book after we get out of the Pentateuch ascribe it to God through Moses, just as this book itself ascribes it to God through Moses. I could take a great deal of space citing passages to show this but will give only two well-known passages illustrating and establishing the divine and at the same time the Mosaic authorship. The first passage of the Old Testaments is in 1 Samuel 21:6. There we find an account of David, in violation of the law of Moses, eating the shewbread, but

that law of Moses concerning the shewbread is found only in the book of Leviticus. The second reference is to the land sabbath, including those passages in the prophets. The law of the land sabbath was, that every seven years the land should lie idle. No man should plant a crop and God would make the crop of the sixth year twofold, and the land sabbath came on the year following. The Israelites did not obey this law and in consequence the prophets tell us that they had to go into bondage long enough for the land that had not been allowed to rest to have time to rest. When we come to the New Testament references, which are very numerous, I shall ask you to read in Matthew 8 where our Lord says to the leper he had just cleansed, "Go and shew thyself to the priest and offer according to Moses’ law, etc." But that law of Moses concerning the leper is found only in the book of Leviticus, yet Jesus calls it the law of Moses. Then in the Matthew 14 our Lord speaks of the curse of the law of Moses that rests on the child for cursing his parent. That law is to be found in Leviticus, yet Jesus calls it the law of Moses. It is also to be found in Exodus. Finally, in the New Testament almost the whole of the letter to the Hebrews is devoted to the exposition of the book of Leviticus and in every case it ascribes the authorship to God through Moses. Now, you may wonder why I should be so particular to establish a point that seems to be so thoroughly evident. My reason is that modern historical criticism disputes the authorship and date of all that part of the Pentateuch contained in Exodus about the setting up of the tabernacle and all the Levitical references to it in the book of Numbers. They affirm loudly and blatantly that all that part of the Pentateuch was written after the return of the Babylonian exile and by some nameless person. If you were in the Divinity School in Chicago, they would teach you that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses. Even when Christ says it is the law of Moses they say Christ is simply mistaken.

The next question is, Where was this book written? And here again we have clearer testimony on the "where" than on the "place" of any other book in the Bible. It expressly says these words, "God spake to Moses at the door of the tabernacle in Mount Sinai." Everything that the book says with reference to that point is just as clear as to the authorship, and an utter disproof that the entire book of Leviticus was written by one who returned from exile after the Babylonian captivity. To my mind, it is a most amazing thing in modern days that men can assume that in teaching such a thing they are not harming the Bible. They say the man that wrote all these parts of the Pentateuch ascribe it to God through Moses in order to give it credibility. Then that man must have knowingly lied, and the book of Leviticus is from its first sentence a fraud, and if that does not destroy the integrity and its authority, I am no judge. I have not a particle of respect for those who say these things. They do not bring up one iota of historical proof.

Dr. Harper, when president of the University of Chicago, denied that Moses wrote anything, saying that he was too busy a man to be writing books. He himself claimed to be a pretty busy man and he wrote some, but Moses was so much inferior to him that he could not do that. The poison of this criticism has crept into nearly all the commentaries of the present time. It is my business to caution you, book by book, as we go on, as to what commentaries are not safe. Many were written by semi-infidels. Take such a commentary as "The Expositors’ Commentary" and only two or three volumes in it ought to be put into the students’ hands. The volume on Leviticus is a good commentary. I wouldn’t say that about Exodus, or Numbers, or about Deuteronomy, but I do say that in "The Expositors’ Commentary" you may safely study the volume on Leviticus. Most of the volumes reek with the poison of this historical criticism. You may then ask how they are able to pick up the Pentateuch and cut it up and say that one part of it was written about the time of Josiah, the King of Judah, and another part was written at a later date and a greater part written by somebody at the return of the exiles; where they find in history, either sacred or profane, any authority for which they may have a better way of finding out, is the question. "We judge from the book and from the style of the book," they say. Now, some sort of respect might be had for their contentions if but two of them out of their consciousness evolved the same thing, but no two agree. If there were any sound principle underlying the contention, then the body of them would agree.

One of the objects of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is to raise a breakwater that shall hurl back the tide of this teaching that is already creeping down into our Southland which destroys the faith of the people in the Word of God. I hope no reader will ever inflict upon himself the painstaking examination of all of their foolishness as I have done.

Now we have answered two questions: Who wrote this book, and where he wrote it? Now I give an outline of the book: Section 1. Chapters 1-7 is a discussion of the offerings or sacrifices. In the approach to God, first, there must be a place to meet God; second, there must be a means of coming before God, the offering or sacrifice; third, there must be mediators who represent and stand between the offerer and God, and those are the priests; then there must be a time when the offerings are to be made. The covenant at Sinai consists, first, of the moral code, or God and the normal man; second, all of Leviticus is based on the law of the altar, or God and the sinner, and the third division is God and the state, or the civil code. Leviticus has very little to say about that; it has something to say, but not just now. We are on the first section of the book, offerings or sacrifices. Where must the sinner come? What must he bring in his hand? With what offering did the Israelite come?

Section 2. Leviticus 8-10 are devoted to an account of how Aaron and his sons were consecrated and set apart for their offices. So you see that tells one how to approach God. The sinner cannot come directly to God. Now, if he must not come directly to God he must have representatives and they must be set apart to do this representative work. So three chapters are devoted to an account of how Aaron and his sons were consecrated, or set apart for their offices.

Section 3. You will wonder why I take Leviticus 16 now, but I do it for a chronological reason. I am intensely desirous that you should be great in your service of our Master, and if I had to put my finger upon that part of Leviticus upon which you must make no mistake, it would be chapter 16. Why? Because that tells you what takes place on the Great Day of Atonement. When we get to it, I will try to fix it so nobody can ever fool you about the day of atonement.

Section 4. We go back and take some chapters we passed over, Leviticus 11-15. Now, of what does this section consist? It is the section which makes the distinction between clean and unclean meats of every kind. That is brought in there because the author has previously considered the offerings. If the offering is to be made in order that it may be made by authority, somebody must describe that offering. One cannot bring the meat of a dog and offer it to God; he cannot bring the meat of a buzzard to God. There were certain beasts that were called clean beasts and certain fowls that were called clean fowls. Now, this section tells about those clean and unclean meats. A person likes to allegorize and it is a great faculty to have the power to discuss things allegorically, if he does not do it as I heard a preacher once, who was very ignorant but one of the greatest pulpit men I ever knew. He says, "My brethren, the animal that you offer must divide the hoof and must chew the cud; the rabbit chews the cud but it has not a hoof; the hog has a hoof but it does not chew the cud. To illustrate, in spiritual things, the difference between Campbellites and Baptists, I will tell you what I saw. I was walking through a field one day and saw tracks; all these tracks were made by divided hoofs, and I followed these tracks until they all came to the water and there noticed the difference, for some of the tracks went into the water where the animals wallowed in the mud but some of them did not. Then I followed them until they came up to a tree; one was sheep and they were standing there in the shade chewing their cud, and the others were hogs, and the hogs were looking at the sheep and they tried to do that but they couldn’t do it, and I says, ’Why didn’t they chew the cud?’ Why, they didn’t have any to chew. Now, that is the way it is about the Christian experience. The Campbellites and Baptists make tracks very much alike, but when it comes to the Christian experience, the Campbellite does not tell it because he does not have any to tell." He was an uneducated man but his talking told; it cut.

Section 5. This consists of chapter 17, and contains two leading thoughts. It tells where the sacrifices must be brought, and then it has a prohibition against blood, that is, a prohibition against eating the blood of the sacrifice.

Section 6. We start with chapter 18 and go to Leviticus 21:15. This is a group of special laws and is a repetition of the law that we have already had in Exodus. In this section, or a good part of it, is a discussion of God and the state.

Section 7. This commences with Leviticus 21:16 and ends with chapter 22. There are two thoughts in it. One is concerning the priests and their qualifications, and the other is concerning priests and the sacrifices, or what the priests shall eat.

Section 8. This consists of chapter 23, and this is the second most important chapter in Leviticus. It treats of the great annual feasts with which we have so much to do. When we come to the New Testament, as the opening of Acts commences with Pentecost, so we have Pentecost and all others here, including the Passover feast and the Tabernacles.

Section 9. This is the smallest in the book, Leviticus 24:1-9. It has simply some details with reference to the lampstand and the shewbread that we learn about in the book of Exodus.

Section 10. This is the rest of chapter 24, and here we come upon a piece of history – an account of a terrible tragedy; how the man that blasphemed was put to death and how that touches God.

Section 11. This consists of chapters 25-26 and its subject is, first, the land sabbath and, second, the Jubilee sabbath. I have been accustomed to rate it at about the fourth most important part of Leviticus. The land sabbath and the Jubilee sabbath are important because of the deep spiritual significance of them. The greatest tragedy that ever came upon a nation came upon the Jews for neglecting their land sabbath.

Section 12. This embraces chapters 27-28, and is devoted to vows and tithes.

That is an analysis of the book. You must get the analytical method. You ought to be able to take the Bible book by book and mentally reduce it to an analysis and show the relation of each part to the other. By this method it is more easily remembered and more easily discussed. I was challenged once at an institute to give in ten minutes an intelligent and interesting account of the book of Leviticus, and I gave it in less than ten minutes.

It is intensely important for you to understand this book. It gives in object lessons how a sinner had to come before God by means of ceremony and ritual. The New Testament will tell you the significance of all this, that is, that they were under tutors; "this is allegorical," says Paul. Before Christ came, they observed these Levitical laws, but after Christ, the object of faith, came, they were done away, nailed to the cross and we need not get back into the shadowy types of things. You will also understand the case of the people with whom Moses had to do. They came out of Egypt from two hundred and ten years’ servitude as slaves, with their spirits broken, and to take hold of them was just like it would be to take hold of the children of savages. They had to be taught by object lessons. By object lessons they could be made strong. You put a child in a kindergarten that you may teach him by object lessons. God wanted to impress upon their minds some great lessons, so he used these object lessons. What are the two kinds of offerings? Those that are bloody and those that are not bloody? When Abel came before God he offered the bloody. Cain did not offer the bloody offering. Cain’s offering would have done very well if it had been preceded by the bloody offering. This classification gives a general distinction. Now, I will give you these offerings in another way. First, the most important are what are called the burnt offerings, that is, the clean burnt offerings. They were to be consumed by fire, either in whole or in part, and these burnt offerings are spoken of in the Bible with great specializing as to whether the whole or a part of them should be burned. The next come what are called meat offerings; third, peace offerings, then (fourth) sin offerings. The sin offerings were burnt offerings, but all burnt offerings were not sin offerings.

Note particularly certain things that must always take place in presenting some of these offerings, and most of them in every one of the offerings. I will recite them: (1) Where must they be brought to make the offering? The answer is, To the door of the tabernacle. Now, in Exodus we have it mapped out clearly for us. At the east door of the tabernacle, into the enclosure; there is where they brought the offerings. You ought to carry the picture in your mind of the whole tabernacle structure. So the question is, Where must these offerings be brought? They must be brought to the door of the court of the tabernacle. (2) The one who brings it presents it and reaches out and puts his hand on it, or the laying on of hands. That laying on of hands indicates the transfer. Particularly is that the case in a sin offering, as the offering is to die for the offerer and directly for his sins. Now, we have found two things: first, it must be brought to the door of the tabernacle; second, the offerer must lay his hands on it; then, third, the killing of the offering by the offerer follows. These things take place in most of the cases, but not in all of them. But man himself must do the killing, just as our sins killed Jesus. Our sins nailed him to the cross. Next, is the burning of that offering, either in whole or in part. Finally, comes the sacrificial meal. Sometimes the priests partook of the sacrificial meal; sometimes the people who brought the offering, in which it was a kind of fellowship meal. Now, I say that those things are generally done in burning the offerings, but not every one in every case. And you will find the distinction set forth where there is an exception.

Now, it is of deep spiritual significance to find out just where to stop in bringing an offering. It is well to remember that in the New Testament. I used to practice archery when I was a boy and the competitors would draw the bow and let the arrows go, and if we saw the arrow going crooked, we would lean over as if our leaning would cause the arrow to come nearer the mark. Every one can shoot the arrow, but after it is shot, we cannot change its course by anything we do. So we cannot come before God except we start right and then follow God’s plan. This is clearly outlined in the book of Leviticus.

Now we will bring out another point, viz.: this Levitical law says that you can’t send your offering; you must bring it in person. The father cannot bring the son’s offering; the wife, oh, how often, wishes to bring the offering for her wicked husband! but she cannot. This one fundamental doctrine shows that every step is individual. You repent for yourself, and you must believe for yourself; you turn right about-face for yourself and you are baptized for yourself. I say to you that you have made a great beginning when you study and fix in your mind where you are to stop when making an offering.


1. Who is the author of Leviticus?

2. Of what does the book consist?

3. What can you say of the Old Testament references to the book?

4. Give two of these references and their bearing on the authorship of the book.

5. What can you say of the New Testament references to the book?

6. Give three examples.

7. Why emphasize this question?

8. Where was the book written?

9. What do the higher critics say about it?

10. How do they assume to find out?

11. Do they agree among themselves?

12. What does this show?

13. What commentary commended?

14. Give outline of the book.

15. Give a general classification of offerings. Give example of each.

16. Give a more specific classification.

17. What in general are essential in making offerings?

18. What is the signification of laying the hands on the head of the offering?

19. What is the signification of the offerer’s killing the offering?

20. What is very important to learn in connection with the subject of


21. What one thing is absolutely necessary in every offering?

(The Leviticus Book comments contain the first two introductory sections of Leviticus)

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