That killeth, not for common use or eating, for such beasts might be killed by any person or in any place, but for sacrifice, as manifestly appears both from Leviticus 17:4, where that is expressed, and from the reason of this law, which is peculiar to sacrifices, Leviticus 17:5, and from Deuteronomy 12:5,15,21. in the camp, or out of the camp: in Canaan, the city answered to the camp, and so it forbids any man doing this either in the city or in the country.
This was appointed, partly, in opposition to the heathens, who sacrificed in all places; partly, to cut off occasions of idolatry; partly, to prevent the people’s usurpation of the priest’s office; and partly, to signify that God would accept of no sacrifices but through Christ and in the church, (of both which the tabernacle was a type: see Hebrews 9:11) and according to his own prescript. But though men were tied to this law, God was free to dispense with his own law, which he did sometimes to the prophets, as 1 Samuel 7:9 11:15; &c., and afterwards more fully and generally in the days of the Messiah, Malachi 1:11 John 4:21,24.
Blood shall be imputed unto that man; he shall be esteemed and punished as a murderer both by God and by men. See Isaiah 66:3. The reason is, because he shed that blood, which, though not man’s blood, yet was as precious, being sacred and appropriated to God, and typically the price by which men’s lives were ransomed.
He shall be cut off by death, either by the hand of God, in case men do not know it or neglect to punish it, or by men, if the fact was public and evident.
Which they offer; either,
1. The Egyptians and other idolatrous nations, which commonly sacrificed to idols or devils in fields or any places; who are not here named, but may be designed by the particle they, in way of contempt, as if they were not worthy to be named, as that particle is used, Luke 14:24 19:27 John 7:11 8:10. Or rather,
2. The Israelites now mentioned, and plainly understood in the following they, who, before the building of the tabernacle, took the same liberty herein which the Gentiles did, from which they are now restrained.
He nameth not peace-offerings exclusively to others, as appears from the reason of the law, and from Leviticus 17:8,9, but especially, because in these the temptation was more common in regard of their frequency, and more powerful, because part of these belonged to the offerer, and the pretence was more plausible, because their sanctity was something of a lower degree than others, these being only called holy, and allowed in part to the people, when the other are called most holy, and were wholly appropriated either to God or to the priests.
This verse contains a reason of the foregoing law, because of God’s propriety in the blood and fat, wherewith also God was well pleased, and the people reconciled. And these two parts only are mentioned, as the most eminent, and peculiar, though other parts also were reserved for God.
Unto devils; so they did, not directly or intentionally, but by construction and consequence, because the devil is the author of idolatry, and is eminently served, pleased, and honoured by it. And as the Egyptians were notorious for their idolatry, as appears by the testimony of Scripture, and of all ancient writers, so the Israelites were infected with their leaven, Joshua 24:14 Ezekiel 20:7 23:2,3. And the name of devils is commonly given in Scripture to idols, yea, even to those which seemed most innocent, as to Jeroboam’s calves, 2 Chronicles 11:15, by which he and the people designed and professed to worship the true God, as is manifest from the nature of the thing, and from many places of Scripture; and the worshippers of idols are esteemed and called worshippers of devils. See Deuteronomy 32:17 Psalms 106:37 1 Corinthians 10:20 Revelation 9:20. The Hebrew word rendered devils signifies goats, either because goats were eminently worshipped by the Egyptians, as Herodotus, Strabo, and others note, and divers of the idols of the heathens were of that or a like form; or because the devil did oft appear to the heathens in that shape, as their own authors note.
After whom they have gone a whoring; for idolatry, especially in God’s people, is commonly called whoredom, as Ezekiel 16:16,26 23:8,19,21, &c., and that justly, because it is a violation of that covenant by which they were peculiarly betrothed or married to God. See Hosea 2:18-20.
i.e. I will be an enemy to him, and execute vengeance upon him immediately; because such persons probably would do this in private, so as the magistrate could not know nor punish it. See this or the like phrase Leviticus 20:3 26:17 Jeremiah 3:12 Ezekiel 14:8.
Of the flesh, i.e. of living creatures.
Is in the blood, i.e. it depends upon the blood, is preserved and nourished by it, and is extinguished when the blood is gone. And this law was given to the Jews, and hard-hearted people, as they are oft said to be, that by this restraint from the blood of brute creatures they might be wrought to the greater abhorrency of taking away the life of a man.
It is the blood that maketh an atonement; typically, and in respect of the blood of Christ, which it represented, by which the atonement is really made, Hebrews 9:12. So the reason is double:
1. Because this was the eating up of the price or ransom of their own lives, which in construction was the destroying of themselves.
2. Because this was ingratitude and irreverence towards that sacred blood of Christ which they ought to have in continual veneration.
Any beast; he instanceth in this kind, either because persons much given to that exercise are commonly too licentious, and being in haste might easily transgress; or because some might think the former prohibition did reach only to the blood of such creatures as were offered to God in sacrifice. Cover it with dust; partly, to beget an honourable respect unto the blood even of beasts, and much more of men; partly, lest the beasts should lick it up, and by tasting the sweetness of it be made more fierce and cruel to devour and destroy others; and partly, as a license from God upon this condition giving them a right to kill and eat such creatures, without any fear of the blood being imputed to them; for as the not covering of the blood portends the punishment which the sin of bloodshedding calls for, Job 16:18 Ezekiel 24:7,8, so covering it notes impunity.
Every soul that eateth, to wit, through ignorance or inadvertency, as appears by the slightness of the punishment; for if it was done knowingly, it was a presumptuous sin against an express law here, and Deuteronomy 14:21, and therefore more severely punished. Or a stranger; understand of the proselytes; either of the proselytes of the gate, who were obliged to observe the precepts of Noah, whereof this was one; or of the proselytes of righteousness, or converts to the Jewish religion; for other strangers were allowed to eat such things, Deuteronomy 14:21.
i.e. The punishment of it, and therefore must offer a sacrifice for it. Leviticus 5:1,2 7:18
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Leviticus 17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany