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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 22

 

 

Introduction

Leviticus 21, 22. Regulations for Priests and for Matters in which Priests are specially Responsible.—The chapters offer distinct points of comparison with P, and also with Ezek., which will be noticed below. All point to the superiority, in point of time, of H to P the relation to Ezekiel is dubious (see Introd.). They are best explained as rising, like Ezekiel's provisions, in a state of transition, when several minds, possessed by the same leading ideas, and probably in oral though not written communication with each other, were working independently towards what later became P.

Leviticus 21. Priests, their Mourning, Marriage, Consecration and Inabilities.—The special holiness of priests follows from the fact that they were in specially close contact with Yahweh. Holiness was at once negative—what was safe elsewhere would be dangerous in such close proximity to Yahweh; and positive—a special state of fitness was something inconvenient for ordinary laymen, though it might be conferred upon them (Ezekiel 44:19). Ritual taboos surround priests and kings (who regularly perform priestly functions) in ethnic religions. For the later law of consecration, see Leviticus 8 f. The distinction between priests and Levites is not here mentioned, nor are Levites referred to in H, save in Leviticus 25:32 ff. Ezekiel also speaks of the priests and Levites as if they were synonymous, while he emphasizes the distinction (absent from H) between the country and the Jerusalem (or Zadokite) priesthood (Ezekiel 44:10; Ezekiel 44:15). In P, the Levites are the subordinate clergy (Numbers 4:2 ff., etc.).


Verses 1-8

Leviticus 22:1-8. Further Restrictions as to the priests' use of holy things, i.e. objects sacrificed or vowed. Temporary uncleanness, touching a corpse (Numbers 5:2*) or an unclean object, as distinct from bodily defects, prevents priests from eating these things, while it lasts. This rule applies to leprosy, which is also (Leviticus 14) temporary. Animals which have died naturally or been killed by other animals are not to be eaten at all by the priests (cf. on Leviticus 17:15, also Leviticus 7:24). The rule is found also in Ezekiel 44:31.


Verses 9-16

Leviticus 22:9-16. Rules for Priests' Families, etc.—A priest's slave is a member of his family, and may eat of the dues; a hired servant or a guest is not. Nor is a married daughter, unless she returns, a childless widow, to her father's house. Infringement by a layman of the rules for holy things means a guilt offering (Leviticus 5:15), i.e. restoration of an equally valuable object plus one-fifth.


Verses 17-25

Leviticus 22:17-25. Conditions to be Satisfied by the Victims in the case of certain sacrifices. This set of rules is given to "Aaron and his sons" as containing guidance for the priests' examination of the animals. For vows and freewill offerings (Leviticus 1-3) the victim is to be a male, without blemish. In the case of a peace offering, which is to accomplish a vow or freewill offering (un-mentioned in Leviticus 3), the sex of the animal is not mentioned, but certain blemishes are specified. Malformations are allowed in the case of freewill offerings, but not of vows, which are of the nature of a debt. Castration renders an animal unfit for sacrifice, even if the operation had been performed before it came into Hebrew hands; it is a destruction (RV "corruption") of its true nature.


Verses 26-33

Leviticus 22:26-33. Concluding Rules for Sacrifice, not specially directed to Aaron, as they concern all persons intending to sacrifice. A calf or lamb or kid offered (as firstborn) is to be kept till the eighth day (cf. the rule of circumcision, Leviticus 22:12). The law is an ancient one; cf. Exodus 22:29 f. (Book of the Covenant), where it is joined with the law of the offering of the first-born which underlies the practice of circumcision. For the prohibition of the sacrifice of cow and calf on the same day, cf. Exodus 23:19; perhaps in certain forbidden rites the calf was treated as the kid evidently was. Or the motive may have been similar to that of Deuteronomy 22:6. Thank offerings, like peace offerings, are to be offered with a view to acceptance, i.e. with the observance of all the rules. Nothing must be left over to the next day; cf. Leviticus 7:15, and, for the Passover, Exodus 12:10; contrast Leviticus 7:16; Leviticus 19:6; also (a more general rule) Exodus 23:18, The final exhortation to this section is brief, but it lays its emphasis, now familiar, on the holiness of the whole people, and its connexion with that of Yahweh.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Leviticus 22:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/leviticus-22.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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