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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 22

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch

Verses 1-16

Reverence for Things Sanctified. - The law on this matter was, (1) that no priest who had become unclean was to touch or eat them (Leviticus 22:2-9), and (2) that no one was to eat them who was not a member of a priestly family (Leviticus 22:10-16).

Leviticus 22:2-3

Aaron and his sons were to keep away from the holy gifts of the children of Israel, which they consecrated to Jehovah, that they might not profane the holy name of Jehovah by defiling them הנּזר with מן to keep away, separate one's self from anything, i.e., not to regard or treat them as on a par with unconsecrated things. The words, “ which they sanctify to Me, ” are a supplementary apposition, added as a more precise definition of the “holy things of the children of Israel;” as the expression “holy things” was applied to the holy objects universally, including the furniture of the tabernacle. Here, however, the reference is solely to the holy offerings or gifts, which were not placed upon the altar, but presented to the Lord as heave-offerings and wave-offerings, and assigned by Him to the priests as the servants of His house, for their maintenance (Numbers 18:11-19, Numbers 18:26-29). None of the descendants of Aaron were to approach these gifts, which were set apart for them, - i.e., to touch them either for the purpose of eating, or making them ready for eating, - whilst any uncleanness was upon them, on pain of extermination.

Leviticus 22:4-5

No leper was to touch them (see Leviticus 13:2), or person with gonorrhaea (Leviticus 15:2), until he was clean; no one who had touched a person defiled by a corpse (Leviticus 19:28; Numbers 19:22), or whose seed had gone from him (Leviticus 15:16, Leviticus 15:18); and no one who had touched an unclean creeping animal, or an unclean man. טמאתו לכל , as in Leviticus 5:3, a closer definition of לו יטמא אשׁר , “who is unclean to him with regard to (on account of) any uncleanness which he may have.”

Leviticus 22:6-7

A soul which touches it, ” i.e., any son of Aaron, who had touched either an unclean person or thing, was to be unclean till the evening, and then bathe his body; after sunset, i.e., when the day was over, he became clean, and could eat of the sanctified things, for they were his food.

Leviticus 22:8-9

In this connection the command given to all the Israelites, not to eat anything that had fallen down dead or been torn in pieces (Leviticus 17:15-16), is repeated with special reference to the priests. (On. Leviticus 22:9, see Leviticus 8:35; Leviticus 18:30, and Leviticus 19:17). יחלּלהוּ , “because they have defiled it (the sanctified thing).”

Leviticus 22:10-16

No stranger was to eat a sanctified thing. זר is in general the non-priest, then any person who was not fully incorporated into a priestly family, e.g., a visitor or day-labourer (cf. Exodus 12:49), who were neither of them members of his family.

Leviticus 22:11

On the other hand, slaves bought for money, or born in the house, became members of his family and lived upon his bread; they were therefore allowed to eat of that which was sanctified along with him, since the slaves were, in fact, formally incorporated into the nation by circumcision (Genesis 17:12-13).

Leviticus 22:12-13

So again the daughter of a priest, if she became a widow, or was put away by her husband, and returned childless to her father's house, and became a member of his family again, just as in the days of her youth, might eat of the holy things. But if she had any children, then after the death of her husband, or after her divorce, she formed with them a family of her own, which could not be incorporated into the priesthood, of course always supposing that her husband was not a priest.

Leviticus 22:14-16

But if any one (i.e., a layman) should eat unawares of that which was sanctified, he was to bring it, i.e., an equivalent for it, with the addition of a fifth as a compensation for the priest; like a man who had sinned by unfaithfulness in relation to that which was sanctified (Leviticus 5:16). - In the concluding exhortation in Leviticus 22:15 and Leviticus 22:16, the subject to יחלּלוּ (profane) and השּׂאוּ (bear) is indefinite, and the passage to be rendered thus: “ They are not to profane the sanctified gifts of the children of Israel, what they heave for the Lord (namely, by letting laymen eat of them), and are to cause them ( the laymen) who do this unawares to bear a trespass-sin (by imposing the compensation mentioned in Leviticus 22:14), if they eat their (the priests') sanctified gifts.” Understood in this way, both verses furnish a fitting conclusion to the section Leviticus 22:10-14. On the other hand, according to the traditional interpretation of these verses, the priesthood is regarded as the subject of the first verb, and a negative supplied before the second. Both of these are arbitrary and quite indefensible, because Leviticus 22:10-14 do not refer to the priests but to laymen, and in the latter case we should expect אליהם ישׂאוּ רלא (cf. Leviticus 22:9) instead of the unusual אותם השּׂאוּ .

Verses 17-20

Acceptable Sacrifices. - Leviticus 22:18-20. Every sacrifice offered to the Lord by an Israelite or foreigner, in consequence of a vow or as a freewill-offering (cf. Leviticus 7:16), was to be faultless and male, “for good pleasure to the offerer” (cf. Leviticus 1:3), i.e., to secure for him the good pleasure of God. An animal with a fault would not be acceptable.

Verses 21-22

Every peace-offering was also to be faultless, whether brought “to fulfil a special (important) vow” (cf. Numbers 15:3, Numbers 15:8: פּלּא , from פּלא to be great, distinguished, wonderful), or as a freewill gift; that is to say, it was to be free from such faults as blindness, or a broken limb (from lameness therefore: Deuteronomy 15:21), or cutting (i.e., mutilation, answering to חרוּם Leviticus 21:18), or an abscess ( יבּלת , from יבל to flow, probably a flowing suppurating abscess).

Verse 23

As a voluntary peace-offering they might indeed offer an ox or sheep that was רקלוּט שׂרוּע , “stretched out and drawn together,” i.e., with the whole body or certain limbs either too large or too small;

(Note: In explanation of these words Knobel very properly remarks, that with the Greeks the sacrificial animal was required to be ἀφελής ( Pollux i. 1, 26), upon which Hesychius observes, μήτε πλεονάζων μήτε δέων τι τοῦ σώματος .)

but such an animal could not be acceptable as a votive offering.

Verse 24

Castrated animals were not to be sacrificed, nor in fact to be kept in the land at all. מעוּך compressus , θλιβίας , an animal with the stones crushed; כּתוּת contusus , θλασίας , with them beaten to pieces; נתוּק avulsus , σπάδων , with them twisted off; כּרוּי excisus , τομίας or ἐκτομίας , with them cut off. In all these different ways was the operation performed among the ancients (cf . Aristot. hist. an. ix. 37, 3; Colum. vi. 26, vii. 11; Pallad. vi. 7). “And in your land ye shall not make,” sc., וגו מעוּך , i.e., castrated animals, that is to say, “not castrate animals.” This explanation, which is the one given by Josephus ( Ant. iv. 8, 40) and all the Rabbins, is required by the expression “in your land,” which does not at all suit the interpretation adopted by Clericus and Knobel, who understand by עשׂה the preparation of sacrifices, for sacrifices were never prepared outside the land. The castration of animals is a mutilation of God's creation, and the prohibition of it was based upon the same principle as that of mixing heterogeneous things in Leviticus 19:19.

Verses 25-26

Again, the Israelites were not to accept any one of all these, i.e., the faulty animals described, as sacrifice from a foreigner. “ For their corruption is in them, ” i.e., something corrupt, a fault, adheres to them; so that such offerings could not procure good pleasure towards them. - In Leviticus 22:26-30 three laws are given of a similar character.

Verse 27

A young ox, sheep, or goat was to be seven days under its mother, and could only be sacrificed from the eighth day onwards, according to the rule laid down in Exodus 22:29 with regard to the first-born. The reason for this was, that the young animal had not attained to a mature and self-sustained life during the first week of its existence.

(Note: For this reason the following rule was also laid down by the Romans: Suis faetus sacrificio die quinto purus est, pecoris die octavo, bovis tricesimo (Plin. h. n. 8, 51).)

This maturity was not reached till after the lapse of a week, that period of time sanctified by the creation. There is no rule laid down in the law respecting the age up to which an animal was admissible in sacrifice. Bullocks, i.e., steers or young oxen of more than a year old, are frequently mentioned and prescribed for the festal sacrifices (for the young ox of less than a year old is called עגל ; Leviticus 9:3), viz., as burnt-offerings in Leviticus 23:18; Numbers 7:15, Numbers 7:21, Numbers 7:27, Numbers 7:33, Numbers 7:39.; Numbers 8:8; Numbers 15:24; Numbers 28:11, Numbers 28:19, Numbers 28:27; Numbers 29:2, Numbers 29:8, and as sin-offerings in Leviticus 4:3, Leviticus 4:14; Leviticus 16:3; - sheep (lambs) of one year old are also prescribed as burnt-offerings in Leviticus 9:3; Leviticus 12:6; Leviticus 23:12; Exodus 29:38; Numbers 6:14; Numbers 7:17, Numbers 7:21, Numbers 7:27, Numbers 7:33, Numbers 7:39., Numbers 28:3, Numbers 28:9, Numbers 28:19, Numbers 28:27; Numbers 29:2, Numbers 29:8, Numbers 29:13, Numbers 29:17., as peace-offerings in Numbers 7:17, Numbers 7:23; Numbers 29:35., and as trespass-offerings in Numbers 6:12; also a yearling ewe as a sin-offering in Leviticus 14:10 and Numbers 6:14, and a yearling goat in Numbers 15:27. They generally brought older oxen or bullocks for peace-offerings (Numbers 7:17; Numbers 23:29.), and sometimes as burnt-offerings. In Judges 6:25 an ox of seven years old is said to have been brought as a burnt-offering; and there can be no doubt that the goats and rams presented as sin-offerings and trespass-offerings were more than a year old.

Verses 28-30

The command not to kill an ox or sheep at the same time as its young is related to the law in Exodus 23:19 and Deuteronomy 22:6-7, and was intended to lay it down as a duty on the part of the Israelites to keep sacred the relation which God had established between parent and offspring. - In Leviticus 22:29, Leviticus 22:30, the command to eat the flesh of the animal on the day on which it was offered (Leviticus 7:15; Leviticus 19:5-6) is repeated with special reference to the praise-offering.

Verses 31-33

Concluding exhortation, as in Leviticus 18:29; Leviticus 19:37. (On Leviticus 22:32, cf. Leviticus 18:21 and Leviticus 11:44-45.)

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Leviticus 22". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/leviticus-22.html. 1854-1889.
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