the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments Sutcliffe's Commentary
by Joseph Sutcliffe
THE THIRD BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED LEVITICUS.
The LEVITICUM, which is the proper name of this book, amply describes the ceremonial law. The Hebrews called it the law of priesthood. The seven first chapters treat of the quality and variety of the sacrifices; and to the twenty third chapter, of the priests and inferior levites, and of their consecration and offices. From thence to the end of the book, the times of sacrifice, and of the feasts, are particularly named. One great reason for this splendid ritual was to draw the people to internal devotion, by tracing as far as they were able, its mystical import, which was full of evangelical glory, as is shown by the apostle’s illustrations, in his epistle to the Hebrews. The levitical sacrifices had in themselves no merit, they were merely shadows of good things to come, and were on that account acceptable to the Lord. The sacrifices were indeed diversified, the principal ones consisting of sheep and oxen, though the Hebrew word for sheep included goats, doves, and other offerings; yet all of them when offered in sacrifice, had reference to the sacrifice of Christ. The distinction between clean and unclean beasts is primitive, as appears from the selection of the various animals which entered the Ark. St. Jerome regards every item of the jewish ritual as replete with evangelical significancy, and as shadowing forth the mediatorial glory of Christ.