corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.17
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Leviticus 17

 

 

Verses 1-16

BOOK II

OF CONTINUANCE IN COMMUNION WITH GOD

Leviticus 17-26

_______________________________

“The keeping holy of the consecrated relations of the life of Israel, of the whole round of sacrifice, and of the round of typical holiness, by the putting aside of the sins of obduracy (Cherem). Chaps17–27”—Lange.

PART I. HOLINESS ON THE PART OF THE PEOPLE

Leviticus 17-20

______________

FIRST SECTION

“The keeping holy of all animal slaughter as the basis of all sacrifice, of the blood as the soul of all sacrifice, and of animal food as the foundation of all food, of all feasting.”—Lange.

Holiness in Regard to Food

Leviticus 17:1-16

1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them: This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, saying, 3What man soever there be of the house of Israel[FN1] that killeth an ox, or lamb [sheep[FN2]], or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, 4and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the [om. the] congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle [the dwelling place[FN3]] of the Lord;[FN4] blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: 5to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer [sacrifice[FN5]] in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the [om. the] congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the Lord 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the [om. the] congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the Lord 7 And they shall no more offer [sacrifice5] their sacrifices unto devils [demons[FN6]], after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.

8And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the [om. the] congregation to offer it unto the Lord; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

10And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people 11 For the life [soul[FN7]] of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for [by means of[FN8]] the soul 12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

13And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast[FN9] or foul that may be 14 eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life [of it is the soul8] of all flesh: the blood of it is for the life [soul7] thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life [soul[FN10]] of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

15And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean 16 But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Leviticus 17:3. The LXX. here, as in the text in Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 17:10, inserts the clause or of the strangers which sojourn among you.

Leviticus 17:3. כֶּשֶׂב. See Textual Note5 on Leviticus 3:7.

Leviticus 17:4. מִשְׁכַּן. See Textual Note8 on Leviticus 15:31. There is especial reason for a change in the rendering here as the אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד has just occurred in the previous clause.

Leviticus 17:4. This ver. is largely interpolated in the Sam. and LXX. “to offer a burnt offering or a peace offering [for your atonement Sam.] acceptable unto the Lord for an odor of a sweet savor. And whosoever shall kill without, and shall not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of testimony, that he may offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be,” etc. The purpose of this interpolation is supposed to be to bring this passage into harmony with Deuteronomy 12:25; but the difficulty, if any can be considered to exist, is not avoided by this repetition.

Leviticus 17:5. זִבְחֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר הִם זֹבְחִים. The same word occurring twice in the same clause should surely have the same translation. זָבַח is the technical word for killing in sacrifice, and although in the later books it is rarely used for slaughtering in the more general sense, it is never applied in the Pentateuch to anything else than sacrifice. See preliminary note on sacrifice. It cannot, therefore (with Clark) be here taken of simply slaughtering for food.

Leviticus 17:7. לַשְּׂעִירִם lit. to buck-goats. See Exeg. The A. V. has, however, undoubtedly expressed the sense, except that here, as frequently in the New Testament and sometimes in the Old (as in the translation of the same word in 2 Chronicles 11:15). it uses the plural devils; but one διάβολος is recognized in Scripture, and evil spirits in the plural are expressed by δαιμονες or δαιμόνια. It is better therefore to substitute demons. Vulg. dæmones, LXX. ματαίοι. In the A. V. in Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14 it is rendered Satyrs.

Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14. נֶפֶשׁ is here equivalent to ψυχή and is so rendered in the LXX. In English the life of the A. V. may be understood in the same way, but so also may soul, and it is better in this very important passage to keep a uniform rendering of the Heb. word. All the ancient versions retain the same rendering throughout, so do several modern versions and almost all recent expositors.

Leviticus 17:11. בַּנֶּפֶשׁ יְכַפֵר = maketh an atonement by means of the soul. “בְּ with כִּפֶּר has only a local or instrumental signification ( Leviticus 6:23; Leviticus 16:17; Leviticus 16:27; also Leviticus 7:7; Exodus 29:33; Numbers 5:8). Accordingly, it was not the blood as such, but the blood as the vehicle of the soul, which possessed expiatory virtue.” Keil, following Knobel. Similarly Bähr, Kurtz, and others. So also Von Gerlach and Clark. The A. V. is singularly infelicitous in that it refers the final נֶפֶשׁ to the soul of Prayer of Manasseh, instead of to the soul of the victim; nevertheless, it follows the LXX, the Targums, and the Vulg.; and so also Luther.

Lev 17:13. See note 1 on Lev 11:2.

Leviticus 17:14. Comp. Leviticus 17:11. נֶפֶשׁ occurs three times in this verse, each time rendered in the A. V. life, but the uniform translation soul is better. In the expression the blood of it is the soul thereof, “בְּנַפשׁוֹ is to be taken as a predicate in its meaning, introduced with beth essentiale. It is only as so understood that the clause supplies a reason at all in harmony with the context.” Keil. With this most modern commentators concur, as well as the ancient and several recent versions.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The whole of Lange’s “Exegetical” is here given. “1. With our chapter begins the second half of the Book of Leviticus. The book as a whole treats of the priestly presentation of the typical holiness of Israel, of the people of the holy Jehovah. In the first part, Leviticus 1-16, the various forms of the purification or sanctification of the impure and unholy people are set forth; in the second part, from Leviticus 17 to the end, the various ways of keeping holy the people and their common life are now prescribed, and that too by the punishment of Cherem, as far as the profanations are wittingly committed (with uplifted hand). Profanations from impulse on the other hand, must place the backsliding Israelite under the law of purification, which has found its culmination in the holiness of Israel through the great sacrifice of atonement.

“How much this organic completeness of the whole book can be mistaken, Knobel shows most remarkably when he says: ‘The section has, in its expression, much in common with the Elohist, but yet it cannot have come from him, since (a) he would have attached it to Leviticus 1-7, where it fits best (!); or, on account of Leviticus 17:15, at least to Leviticus 11-15; but would not have placed it here, beyond the law of the Day of Atonement, etc.’ ”

[This chapter, like all the Divine communications in the remainder of Leviticus, is addressed to Moses; indeed this is the case throughout the whole book, except when Moses and Aaron are addressed together in regard to acts which depended upon an exercise of priestly judgment, and also except the single instance ( Leviticus 10:8-11) in which the prohibition of the priestly use of strong drink is addressed to Aaron alone. Still, several of these communications to Moses are to be immediate y communicated by him, as in the present chapter, unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, as alike binding upon them all. A slight difference in the arrangement of this portion of Leviticus is occasioned by treating the concluding chapter (27) as an appendix, which seems to be required by the formula of conclusion at the end of Leviticus 26. The other ten chapters are arranged as follows: 17–20, holiness in matters which concern the people generally, the last chapter (20) being occupied chiefly with the punishments for the violation of this holiness; 21, 22, holiness in matters concerning the priests and offerings; 23–25, sanctification of the various feasts, including also that of the holy lamps and shew-bread ( Leviticus 24:1-9), and a short historical section giving the account of the punishment of a blasphemer ( Leviticus 24:10-23); 26 forms the conclusion of the whole book, consisting of promises and threats; and to this is added an appendix (27) on vows. This portion of the law of Leviticus is arranged, therefore, in the same systematic way as the former portion, and the two parts stand also in systematic relation to one another. “As the former part relates to the birth of the nation as a spiritual commonwealth, so the present part relates to the progress of their social life as the people of God.” Murphy. Necessarily there are details common to both portions, and this sometimes occasions certain slight repetitions; but such repetitions were unavoidable if the systematic character of the legislation above pointed out was to be preserved. Thus the present chapter, on a superficial view, might seem as Knobel has suggested, to be connected with the law of sacrifice; but on examination it will be at once seen that the subject here is the sanctification of animal food, and to this sacrifice, although generally necessary, is only incidental. Or, as Knobel also suggests, it might seem to be connected with the laws of clean and unclean food of Leviticus 11; but the purpose is wholly different,—there the question is what may be eaten; here, how it shall be eaten. In both cases, the former chapters have for their main point, the laying down of the conditions under which Israel may enter into communion with God; these that follow deal with the conduct of the daily life, by means of which they may continue in that communion. The eating of animal food naturally comes first into consideration, as the act which must be continually repeated and continually thrust upon the attention.—F. G.].

“2. Our section begins with the most intimately connected ways of preserving holiness: (a) of the slaying, (b) of the blood, (c) of the use of the flesh.

“3. Every slaying of a clean animal designed for food must take place before the door of the tabernacle of congregation quite without exception, whether the slayer was within or without the camp. That is every slaying of an animal was put in relation with the peace offering, and thus also was a sort of sacrifice.” [It does not appear from the text that the slaying itself took place at the door of the tabernacle, but only the offering, as in the case of all other sacrifices. The animal was probably slain where the other victims were slain, this being passed over in the text as already provided for in the law of sacrifice. These slayings for food were in every particular, not merely like, but actual peace offerings, unless a distinction should be sought in the fact that there is here no especial provision forgiving a portion to the priests; but that, like the place of slaying, has already been provided for in the law of sacrifice. That the meaning of this passage Isaiah, that all sacrificial animals killed for food must first be offered as victims in sacrifice, is plain from the removal of the restriction in Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:20-21. It is also shown by the use of שָׁחַט instead of זָבַח in Leviticus 17:3, a distinction carefully observed in the killeth of the A. V. From S. Augustine and Theodoret down, however, there has always been a difference of opinion upon this point among interpreters; most modern commentators, however (as Rosenmüller, Knobel, Keil, Kalisch, Clark, etc.) agree that the law must relate to all killing of animals for food. Not much animal food was used in the wilderness, as is evidenced by the various murmurings of the people, the manna forming their chief support. It is to be remembered that this part of the law, as far as Leviticus 17:7, is made obligatory only upon the Israelites, and even for them was in force only during the life in the wilderness; while the rest of the chapter includes also “the stranger” in its requirements.—F. G.]. “The offering, indeed, consisted in this, that the animal was brought to the Tabernacle of congregation, and placed before the priest, and that the priest sprinkled the blood of the same on the altar, and burned the fat for a sweet savour. The same rule was obligatory for the strangers not of Israel, if they wished not only to slay, but with their slaying to bring also a burnt or peace offering—they might offer only before the door of the tabernacle of congregation; for the public worship of false gods was forbidden in Israel ( Exodus 23:32-33).” [This law, in regard to sacrificing, is made obligatory upon the strangers, as well as upon the house of Israel in Leviticus 17:8-9; but the previous part of the law ( Leviticus 17:1-7) applies only to the Israelites. Both were restrained from offering sacrifices elsewhere; but only the latter were obliged to make offerings of all animals slain for food.—F. G.]. “The opposite, which was at the same time to be avoided by the Israelites, reads thus: they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to the Hebrews -goats (Luther: the field-devils), as to those which they who are in the snare whore after. Thus we understand the expression in reference to this, not as a reproach: which they whore after hitherto, or are inclined to whore after.” [The Heb. is אֲשֶׁר הֵם זֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם, which seems sufficiently well expressed in the A. V, and this is sustained (either in the present or the past tense) by all the ancient versions.—F. G.]. “Rightly the Egyptian worship of the he goat was remembered, which was a deification of the generative desire, and consequently of sensuality, and the biblical expression to whore after applies in this connection with double force. It can thus be perceived that the offering of the slain flesh, besides the religious idea, had also the moral purpose of hindering unrestrained luxury. But with the sacrifice of the slain animal, the fact was at the same time declared, that in truth every animal enjoyed in the fear of God was offered to the Lord; that the man who must offer himself to Jehovah must also place his slaying of an animal under the aspect of giving it up to Jehovah, if he wished to keep it holy. Therefore also the transgression is treated as a blood-guiltiness, and would be visited upon them by Jehovah as a murder. Since man has the right to shed the blood of an animal only from Jehovah, and in relation to Jehovah (to whom everything, with this, must revert as a sacrifice), a reckless slaying of an animal appears in the text as the beginning of a criminal blood-shedding, which on a descending path, may end in the murder of man.” [ Leviticus 17:1-7. Leviticus 17:4. Blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood. This does not mean that murder is to be imputed to the offender, but that the blood of the animal which he has actually shed is to be reckoned to his charge. The reason of both this precept and that against the eating of blood is given in Leviticus 17:11 : Blood had been divinely appointed as a means of atonement. If now the animal slain was one allowable for sacrifice, and its blood was not used for atonement, the offender was guilty of a misuse of that which God had appointed for this purpose, and he must be held responsible for the wasted blood. By analogy, the blood of animals that were not sacrificial ( Leviticus 17:13-14) must also be treated with respect. It is important to note this meaning of the passage, for nowhere in Scripture is anything ever said to be imputed to a man by God which does not really belong to him.—That man shall be cut off from among his people.—The slighting of the Divinely appointed means of atonement was a sin which struck so deeply at the root of the theocratic and typical law that it was inconsistent with membership among the holy people. The offender must be excommunicated. Leviticus 17:5. A further reason is here given for the law of Leviticus 17:4. It is only applied to peace offerings, for this was the only kind of sacrifice that could be used by the people for food, the subject of this paragraph. This reason is further developed in Leviticus 17:7. It would seem that the Israelites, very lately come out of Egypt, were more or less in the habit, so common among all nations of antiquity (comp 1 Corinthians8; 1 Corinthians 10:25-28), of consecrating all animal food by first offering the animal to the Deity; and this custom, if allowed to be carried out by the people at their own pleasure, would become, and indeed had already become ( Leviticus 17:7) a fruitful source of idolatry. Entirely to cut off this, it is provided that all such offerings must be brought first unto the door of the tabernacle, the place of the sole worship of Jehovah; and second, unto the priest, as His representative, and the mediator between Him and the people. The custom of sacrificing in the open field also prevailed among the nations of classic antiquity, and was so inveterate among the Israelites as to be spoken of by both Hosea ( Hosea 12:11) and Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 13:27). Jeremiah 17:7. Unto demons.—The Hebrew word, as noted under Textual, is the same as that for Hebrews -goats,שְׁעירִים. Onkelos has שֵׁידִין, the same word as is used in Deuteronomy 32:17, meaning demons. It is doubtful whether the word is used of an actual worship of a false god under the form of a goat, or only figuratively. Certainly at a later date there was in Thmuis, the capital of the Mendesian nome in lower Egypt, and therefore near the residence of the Israelites, a horrible and licentious worship of the fertilizing principle in nature, represented by a Hebrews -goat (Joseph. c. Ap. ii7; Herod. ii42, 46; Diod. Sic. i18; Strabo, lib. xvii. c19, 802; c40, 813); it may be doubted whether this, in its full development, existed as early as the time of Moses; but very likely it may have already been known in its germ, and have been communicated to the Israelites (comp. Hengstenberg Eg. and the Books of Moses, Am. Ed, p216). The strong tendency of the Israelites to adopt idolatrous forms of worship borrowed from Egypt had already been shown in the instance of the golden calf; and we find again ( 2 Chronicles 11:15) this very worship of the Hebrews -goat (A. V. devils) mentioned along with the calves of Jeroboam, who had sojourned so long in Egypt before ascending his throne.—This shall be a statute forever does not refer to the sacrificing of animals designed for food, which was revoked with the termination of the life in the wilderness; but to the worship of demons, which is the immediate subject.—F. G.]

“Knobel thinks this statute forever was abolished later, when the animals were no longer brought to the Tabernacle or to the Temple; but the principal thought is the consecration to Jehovah, the religious slaying, and in this the statute (the husk of an idea) remains among the Jews continually, even to this day. But the idea itself remains continually in the Christian community. From this type it follows also that that use of animal food was sacrilegious in which the distinction between the nature of man and of animals was obliterated.”

“4. Most solemnly is the use of blood forbidden. There follows immediately the menace of punishment in the strongest terms for the stranger as well as for the Israelite: I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people [ Leviticus 17:10]. The reason is this: the soul or life of the flesh, its soul-like life-principle, is in the blood. But the blood belongs, as does all life, to Jehovah, and He has given it to the Israelites only for a definite purpose, that they may with it atone for, or cover, their souls. The blood is the atonement for the life, since in the blood the life is given over to the judgment of Jehovah for deliverance and for pardon. Therefore the prohibition is here repeated, as it has also been already expressed. Even to the blood of beasts that man slays in the chase, to the very birds, this prohibition applies, although this blood was not offered; it was to be poured out and covered with earth—it was to be buried. The burial is generally analogous to the sprinkling of the blood upon the altar, as the earth is an altar in the widest sense—it is a symbol of the atonement of the life, which lies in the resignation of the life. As physiology confirms the proposition that the blood is the especial source of life in living creatures, so do justice and the philosophy of religion confirm the proposition that death atones for the guilt of life—so far as it is on this side of death ( Romans 6:7). And the use of blood must appear wicked as long as blood was the means of atonement. But the analogue for this guilt, for all times, is the making common of life, of death, of blood, the self-willed invasion of the destiny of man.” [ Leviticus 17:10-14. Lange has not here called attention especially to Leviticus 17:8-9, which show that the stranger was allowed to offer both the burnt offering and the sacrifice (i.e. the peace offering); only in so doing he must conform to the law in offering it at the door of the tabernacle. This command is given here because the previous statute being only applicable to the Israelite, and the stranger not being required to offer as sacrifices the animals he might kill for food, he might have claimed the liberty also of offering sacrifices at his own pleasure. The penalty of Leviticus 17:9, since it applies equally to the stranger, cannot be restricted to excommunication, but must be understood either of banishment from the land or else of the punishment of death. The object, as already noticed, and as is evident from the amplification of the law in Deuteronomy 12, was at once to prevent idolatrous sacrifices, and also to keep up the idea of the sacrifice as having only a typical and not an intrinsic efficacy, since it could only be allowed at all when its blood was sprinkled on the altar by the appointed priest. The other injunctions that follow in this chapter, equally with the present one, are applicable to strangers as well as Israelites. In Leviticus 17:10 the expression set my face against means that God will take the punishment of the offence into His own hands; He will oppose and reject the offender. In Leviticus 17:11 the vicarious character of the atonement effected by means of the sacrifices is very clearly brought out; the soul, the ψυχή, the principle of animal life, is in the blood, and for that reason the “soul” of animals was given to man to make an atonement for his own “soul;” by the giving up of the life of the animal the life of man was spared. Nothing is said here of the higher spiritual principle in Prayer of Manasseh, because—even if the people could have understood such a distinction—there was nothing answering to this in the brute. Nothing in the victim could be a vicarious substitute for this; that want could be met only by the sacrifice of Calvary. Meantime, however, this was symbolized and set forth, as far as the nature of the case allowed, by the substitution of the animal life of the victim for the animal life of man. The blood, therefore, maketh an atonement by means of the soul which is in it. See Textual note8. The statement is not here, that the blood makes atonement for the soul, as in the A. V.; this idea has already been expressed in the previous clause, and now is added the statement of how this is effected, lest there should seem to be a virtue in the mere blood itself as such. With this exposition of the meaning of the passage itself must be connected the whole typical significance of sacrifice; and in view of this there is truth in the explanation of Theodoret, of the Jewish expositors, and of the great mass of commentators, that the animal life of the victims was accepted in place of the rational soul of man; the former died that the latter might live. But that this sense can only be held in view of the connection of the type with the Antitype was long ago seen by St. Augustine (Quæst57 in Hept.). In Leviticus 17:13 the particular is put for the general; as during the life of the wilderness most animals used for food which were not sacrificial were taken in the chase, this stands for all such animals. But afterward ( Deuteronomy 12:15-16; Deuteronomy 12:22-24) the same direction of pouring out the blood upon the earth is applied to all animals slain for food. The object of the command to cover the blood was probably double; first, simply to prevent the desecration of the blood as the vehicle of the animal soul; second, to avoid any abuse of it to superstitious and idolatrous uses. Leviticus 17:14 once more repeats with emphasis the prohibition of the eating of the blood, and for the same reason—because the blood is the soul, i.e., the vehicle of the animal life.—F. G.]

5. “The use of unclean flesh ( Leviticus 17:15) could not be placed on an equality with the foregoing sins, since it might take place through many forms of thoughtlessness; but nevertheless it was prevented through the natural loathing. Hence the offender, in the first instance, fell only into the first grade of the law of purification; but if he neglected this, he had to make expiation for his misdeed.

“Keil (following Baumgarten) entitles the section chap17–20 the holiness of the daily life of the Israelites, and chap17 particularly the holiness of food. Certainly the sanctification of the eating of flesh leads to the sanctification of food generally. On ‘the oneness of soul and blood,’ see Keil, p126.” [Trans. pp409–10. See also Clark’s note II. at the end of this chapter. The prohibition of flesh that had not been properly slaughtered evidently rests on the fact that its blood had not been poured out. Still, as even in this case most of the blood would be collected in the larger vessels of the body, and would not appear as blood in the flesh that was eaten, there is less stringency in the prohibition. The defilement, however, was still considerable, and involved alike for the Israelite and the stranger, the washing of the clothes and the bathing of the person, and remaining unclean until the evening ( Leviticus 17:15). That which died of itself, or that which was torn, are here classed together, as also in Leviticus 22:8. In Exodus 22:31 the latter is commanded to be given to the dogs, and in Deuteronomy 14:21 the former is allowed to be given to the stranger, or sold to an alien. There appears to have been a certain degree of distinction between the two, although both are forbidden to the Israelite. That which died of itself was also forbidden to the stranger during the intimate association of Israelite and stranger in the camp life of the wilderness, but this law was relaxed in Deuteronomy in view of the better separated life in the land of Canaan. Such food, however, was always considered polluting to the Israelite ( Ezekiel 4:14; Ezekiel 44:31), and its touch, as has already been seen ( Leviticus 11:39) communicated defilement. At the council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15:29) the prohibition of “things strangled” is still continued in connection with the prohibition of blood.—F. G.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

I. The command that all sacrifices should be offered in one place was plainly a part of that educational law which had been added because of transgressions. There had been no such restriction laid upon the patriarchs; and under the law itself, it was often dispensed with by Divine command, or with the Divine approval, as in the case of Samuel, of David, of Song of Solomon, an 1 of Elijah. Its purpose was to teach symbolically the Divine unity, and to prevent the worship of false gods. When this lesson had been sufficiently taught came the hour “when neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,” men should “worship the Father” ( John 4:21).

II. When the Israelites sacrificed otherwise than at the tabernacle, though the idols to which they professed to offer might be nothing yet really they sacrificed to demons. So St. Paul teaches it was with the sacrifices of the heathen in his time ( 1 Corinthians 10:19-20), and he warns Christians that by partaking of those sacrifices they came into fellowship with demons, and this was incompatible with partaking of “the cup of the Lord.” The same consequences must in all ages attend the offering of the homage of the heart elsewhere than to God.

III. This unfaithfulness to God is represented here, as so constantly in the later Scriptures, by conjugal infidelity. As husband and wife are no longer twain, but one flesh, so are the faithful united to their Head in one body, and any giving of superior allegiance to another is as the sin of marriage unfaithfulness.

IV. The blood and the soul, or animal life (נֶפֶשׁ), are here connected together, and the same word is used of the sacrifice of Christ, Isaiah 53:10, and the corresponding Greek word (ψυχή) repeatedly by our Lord Himself ( Matthew 20:28; John 10:11, etc.). He gave His life (ψυχή) for us. In view of the connection established in this chapter between this and the blood, a fresh significance attaches to His words of institution of the Lord’s Supper ( Matthew 26:27-28). The drinking of the cup which He gave, is the communion in His sacrifice for the remission of sins.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Lange: “That animal food as used by Prayer of Manasseh, was to be kept holy by a religious consecration and slaying, excludes the use of flesh that is unhallowed or has been offered to demons. Man was to have a feeling for the suffering of the animal, for the sacrificial particular of the act of slaying, for the religio-moral duty of thankful and moderate use of flesh. Hence there is an element of truth also in the dogma of the vegetarians. But all blood must be reserved as an offering to Jehovah; for Jehovah alone is the Author of life, the God of all souls, and it is a crime to encroach greedily upon His domain. But how does the eating of blood in Christendom agree with this, as the council of the Apostles ( Acts 15) have forbidden it, and as it is still forbidden in the Oriental Church? The New Testament thought is the holiness and inviolability of everything living in itself, since a creative breath of life dwells in it. If Prayer of Manasseh, without an object, sheds blood or destroys life, he destroys the sanctuary of Divine goodness. The outline of the legal prescription disappears behind these thoughts. Men may be very careful, as in Byzantium and in Russia, to avoid the eating of blood, and still be in many ways criminally careless with life, even with the life of man. Connected with the eating of flesh, the eating of the flesh of an animal that has died of itself, or been torn by wild beasts, is also forbidden, even if in a slighter degree. In the fact that such a use of flesh has in itself something savage, and is a source of many sicknesses, lies the permanent thought of this legal command.”

Calvin notes that the command to sacrifice in one place was to avoid corruption of the sacrifices, and the direction to bring the offering to the priest was to direct the people to the One Mediator to come. Thus everywhere the law is our school-master to point us to Christ. No offering acceptable to God can be offered except through Him, and all enjoyment of daily life must be made holy through His mediation.

God does not impute to man the fault which is not his; but the fault which is really his may be far more serious than he supposes. The killing of an animal otherwise than God allowed, was the shedding of blood—of blood which had been given for man’s atonement; and so now, many sins which seem upon the surface mere sins of frivolity and thoughtlessness, will prove on closer examination to be deep offences against the love of Him who shed His blood for us on the cross.

Any offering of sacrifice otherwise than in the way of God’s appointment, became to the Israelites a sacrificing to demons; so any giving to other objects of the supreme affection He requires for Himself, becomes to us idolatry. Comp. Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5.

Strangers must in many respects come under the laws given to the people of God. Men do not escape the responsibility of obedience by refusing to acknowledge allegiance, and to be numbered with His people.

In the treatment of the blood of the wild animal is taught the general principle of congruity in matters which are not the subject of direct precepts. Man should order all his ways in harmony with the conduct which in certain things is directly commanded. Especially under the Christian dispensation is this principle of wide application. Here principles are given rather than detailed precepts, to guide our conduct, and we must largely be governed by the congruity and fitness of things, and their harmony with what which is commanded.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Leviticus 17:3. The LXX. here, as in the text in Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 17:10, inserts the clause or of the strangers which sojourn among you.

FN#2 - Leviticus 17:3. כֶּשֶׂב. See Textual Note5 on Leviticus 3:7.

FN#3 - Leviticus 17:4. מִשְׁכַּן. See Textual Note8 on Leviticus 15:31. There is especial reason for a change in the rendering here as the אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד has just occurred in the previous clause.

FN#4 - Leviticus 17:4. This ver. is largely interpolated in the Sam. and LXX. “to offer a burnt offering or a peace offering [for your atonement Sam.] acceptable unto the Lord for an odor of a sweet savor. And whosoever shall kill without, and shall not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of testimony, that he may offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be,” etc. The purpose of this interpolation is supposed to be to bring this passage into harmony with Deuteronomy 12:25; but the difficulty, if any can be considered to exist, is not avoided by this repetition.

FN#5 - Leviticus 17:5. זִבְחֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר הִם זֹבְחִים. The same word occurring twice in the same clause should surely have the same translation. זָבַח is the technical word for killing in sacrifice, and although in the later books it is rarely used for slaughtering in the more general sense, it is never applied in the Pentateuch to anything else than sacrifice. See preliminary note on sacrifice. It cannot, therefore (with Clark) be here taken of simply slaughtering for food.

FN#6 - Leviticus 17:7. לַשְּׂעִירִם lit. to buck-goats. See Exeg. The A. V. has, however, undoubtedly expressed the sense, except that here, as frequently in the New Testament and sometimes in the Old (as in the translation of the same word in 2 Chronicles 11:15). it uses the plural devils; but one διάβολος is recognized in Scripture, and evil spirits in the plural are expressed by δαιμονες or δαιμόνια. It is better therefore to substitute demons. Vulg. dæmones, LXX. ματαίοι. In the A. V. in Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14 it is rendered Satyrs.

FN#7 - Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14. נֶפֶשׁ is here equivalent to ψυχή and is so rendered in the LXX. In English the life of the A. V. may be understood in the same way, but so also may soul, and it is better in this very important passage to keep a uniform rendering of the Heb. word. All the ancient versions retain the same rendering throughout, so do several modern versions and almost all recent expositors.

FN#8 - Leviticus 17:11. בַּנֶּפֶשׁ יְכַפֵר = maketh an atonement by means of the soul. “בְּ with כִּפֶּר has only a local or instrumental signification ( Leviticus 6:23; Leviticus 16:17; Leviticus 16:27; also Leviticus 7:7; Exodus 29:33; Numbers 5:8). Accordingly, it was not the blood as such, but the blood as the vehicle of the soul, which possessed expiatory virtue.” Keil, following Knobel. Similarly Bähr, Kurtz, and others. So also Von Gerlach and Clark. The A. V. is singularly infelicitous in that it refers the final נֶפֶשׁ to the soul of Prayer of Manasseh, instead of to the soul of the victim; nevertheless, it follows the LXX, the Targums, and the Vulg.; and so also Luther.

FN#9 - Leviticus 17:13. See note 1 on Leviticus 11:2.

FN#10 - Leviticus 17:14. Comp. Leviticus 17:11. נֶפֶשׁ occurs three times in this verse, each time rendered in the A. V. life, but the uniform translation soul is better. In the expression the blood of it is the soul thereof, “בְּנַפשׁוֹ is to be taken as a predicate in its meaning, introduced with beth essentiale. It is only as so understood that the clause supplies a reason at all in harmony with the context.” Keil. With this most modern commentators concur, as well as the ancient and several recent versions.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 17:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/leviticus-17.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology