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lḗ - vit´i - kus :


1. Name

2. Character of Book

3. Unity of Book: Law of Holiness

Examination of Critical Theory


1. Modern Analyses

(1) Theories of Disintegration

(2) Reasons for Dismemberment

(3) Insufficiency of These Reasons

2. Structure of the Biblical Text

(1) Structure in General

(2) Structure of the Individual Pericopes


1. Against the Wellhausen Hypothesis

(1) The Argument from Silence

(2) Attitude of Prophets toward Sacrificial System

(3) The People's Disobedience

(4) Indiscriminate Sacrificing

(5) Deuteronomy and Priestly Code

2. Connection with Mosaic Period

(1) Priestly Code and Desert Conditions

(2) Unity and Construction Point to Mosaic Origin


1. Positive

(1) The Law Contains God's Will

(2) The Law Prepares for the Understanding of Christianity

(3) The Law as a Tutor unto Christ

2. Negative


I. General Data.

1. Name:

The third book of the Pentateuch is generally named by the Jews according to the first word, ויּקרא , wayyiḳrā' (Origen Ούικρά , Ouikrá , by the Septuagint called according to its contents Λευιτικόν , Leuitikón , or Λευειτικόν , Leueitikón , by the Vulgate, accordingly, "Leviticus" (i.e. Liber ), sometimes "Leviticum"). The Jews have also another name taken from its contents, namely, כּהנים תּורת , tōrath kōhănı̄m , "Law of the Priests."

2. Character of Book:

As a matter of fact ordinances pertaining to the priesthood, to the Levitical system, and to the cults constitute a most important part of this book; but specifically religious and ethical commands, as we find them, e.g. in Leviticus 18 through 20, are not wanting; and there are also some historical sections, which, however, are again connected with the matter referring to the cults, namely the consecration of the priests in Leviticus 8,9 , the sin and the punishment of two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1 ff), and the account of the stoning of a blasphemer ( Leviticus 24:10 ff). Of the Levites, on the other hand, the book does not treat at all. They are mentioned only once and that incidentally in Leviticus 25:32 ff. The laws are stated to have been given behar ṣı̄nay (Leviticus 7:38; Leviticus 25:1; Leviticus 26:46; Leviticus 27:34 ), which expression, on account of Lev 11, in which Yahweh is described as speaking to Moses out of the tent of meeting, is not to be translated "upon" but "at" Mt. Sinai. The connection of this book with the preceding and following books, i.e. Exodus and Numbers, which is commonly acknowledged as being the case, at least in some sense, leaves for the contents of Leviticus exactly the period of a single month, since the last chronological statement of Exodus 40:17 as the time of the erection of the tabernacle mentions the 1st day of the 1st month of the 2nd year of the Exodus, and Numbers 1:1 takes us to the 1st day of the 2nd month of the same year. Within this time of one month the consecration of the priests fills out 8 days ( Leviticus 8:33; Leviticus 9:1 ). A sequence in time is indicated only by Leviticus 16:1 , which directly connects with what is reported in Lev 10 concerning Nadab and Abihu. In the same way the ordinances given in Leviticus 10:6 ff are connected with the events described in 8:1 through 10:5. The laws are described as being revelations of Yahweh, generally given to Moses (compare Leviticus 1:1; Leviticus 4:1; Leviticus 5:14; Leviticus 6:19 , Leviticus 6:24 (Hebrew 12, 17); Leviticus 7:22 , Leviticus 7:28 , etc.); sometimes to Moses and Aaron (compare Leviticus 11:1; Leviticus 13:1; Leviticus 14:33; Leviticus 15:1 , etc.), and, rarely, to Aaron alone (Leviticus 10:8 ). In Leviticus 10:12 ff, Moses gives some directions to the priests, which are based on a former revelation (compare Leviticus 6:16 (Hebrew 9) ff; Leviticus 7:37 ff). In Leviticus 10:16 ff, we have a difference of opinion between Moses and Aaron, or rather his sons, which was decided on the basis of an independent application of principles given in Leviticus. Most of these commands are to be announced to Israel ( Leviticus 1:2; Leviticus 4:2; Leviticus 7:23 , Leviticus 7:19; Leviticus 9:3 ff; Leviticus 11:2; Leviticus 12:2; Leviticus 15:2; Leviticus 18:2 , etc.); others to the priests (Leviticus 6:9 , Leviticus 6:25 (Hebrew 2, 18); Leviticus 21:2; Leviticus 22:2 , etc.); or to the priests and the Israelites (Leviticus 17:2; Leviticus 22:18 ), while the directions in reference to the Day of Atonement, with which Aaron was primarily concerned (Leviticus 16:2 ), beginning with Leviticus 16:29 , without a special superscription, are undeniably changed into injunctions addressed to all Israel; compare also Leviticus 21:24 and Leviticus 21:2 . As the Book of Exodus treats of the communion which God offers on His part to Israel and which culminates at last in His dwelling in the tent of meeting (Exodus 40:34 ff; compare under EXODUS , I., 2.), the Book of Leviticus contains the ordinances which were to be carried out by the Israelites in religious, ethical and cultural matters, in order to restore and maintain this communion with God, notwithstanding the imperfections and the guilt of the Israelites. And as this book thus with good reason occupies its well established place in the story of the founding and in the earliest history of theocracy, so too even a casual survey and intelligent glance at the contents of the book will show that we have here a well-arranged and organic unity, a conviction which is only confirmed and strengthened by the presentation of the structure of the book in detail (see under II., below).

3. Unity of Book: Law of Holiness:

As a rule, critics are accustomed first of all to regard Leviticus 17 through 25 or 26 as an independent section, and find in these chapters a legal code that is considered to have existed at one time as a group by itself, before it was united with the other parts.

It is indeed true that a series of peculiarities have been found in these chapters of Leviticus. To these peculiarities belongs the frequent repetition of the formula: "I am Yahweh your God" (Leviticus 18:2 , Leviticus 18:4; Leviticus 19:2 , Leviticus 19:4 , etc.); or "I am Yahweh" (Leviticus 18:5 , Leviticus 18:6 , Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 19:14 , Leviticus 19:16 , etc.), or "I am Yahweh ... who hath separated you" (Leviticus 20:24 ), or "who sanctifieth you" (Leviticus 20:8; Leviticus 21:8 , Leviticus 21:15 , Leviticus 21:23 , etc.). To these peculiarities belong the references in words, or, in fact, to the land of Canaan, into which Israel is to be led (Leviticus 18:3 , Leviticus 18:14 ff; Leviticus 19:23 ff, 29; Leviticus 20:22 ff; 23; 25), and also to Egypt, out of which He has led the people ( Leviticus 18:3; Leviticus 19:34; Leviticus 22:33; Leviticus 26:13 , Leviticus 26:15 , etc.); as, further, the demand for sanctification (Leviticus 19:2 ), or the warning against desecration (Leviticus 19:12; Leviticus 21:23 , etc.), both based on the holiness of Yahweh. In addition, a number of peculiar expressions are repeatedly found in these chapters. Because of their contents these chapters have, since Klostermann, generally been designated by the letter H (i.e. Law of Holiness); or, according to the suggestion of Dillmann, by the letter S (i.e. Sinaitic Law), because, according to Leviticus 25:1; Leviticus 26:46 , they are said to have been given at Mt. Sinai, and because in certain critical circles it was at one time claimed that these chapters contain old laws from the Mosaic period, although these had been changed in form. These earlier views have apparently now been discarded by the critics entirely.

Examination of Critical Theory.

We, however, do not believe that it is at all justifiable to separate these laws as a special legal code from the other chapters. In the first place, these peculiarities, even if such are found here more frequently than elsewhere, are not restricted to these chapters exclusively. The Decalogue (Exodus 20:2 ) begins with the words, "I am Yahweh thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Exodus 22:31 contains the demand, "Ye shall be holy men unto me." Exodus 29:44 , Exodus 29:45 contains a promise that God will dwell in the midst of the Israelites, so that they shall learn that He is Yahweh, their God, who has brought them out of Egypt in order to dwell in their midst as Yahweh, their God (compare, further, Exodus 6:6-8; Exodus 31:13 f; Leviticus 10:10 , Leviticus 10:11; Leviticus 11:44; Numbers 15:37-41; Numbers 33:52 f, 55 f; Deuteronomy 14:2 , Deuteronomy 14:21 ). It is a more than risky undertaking to find in these and in other sections scattered remnants of H, especially if these are seen to be indispensable in the connection in which they are found, and when no reason can be given why they should be separated from this collection of laws. Then, too, the differences of opinion on the part of the critics in assigning these different parts to H, do not make us favorably inclined to the whole hypothesis. Hoffmann, especially ( Die wichtigsten Instanzen gegen die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese , 16 ff), has shown how impossible it is to separate H from the other ordinances of the Priestly Code in so radical a manner. In saying this we do not at all wish to deny the peculiar character of these chapters, only we do not believe that Lev 17 can be added or Lev 26 can be taken away from this section; for in Lev 17 all the characteristic peculiarities of the Holiness Law are lacking; and, on the other hand, in Lev 26 the expression "I am Yahweh your God," or a similar one in Leviticus 26:12 , Leviticus 26:13 , Leviticus 26:14 f, is found. The subscription in Leviticus 26:46 connects Lev 26 with the preceding; and, further, the reference to the Sabbatical year as described in Lev 25, found in Leviticus 26:34 f, 43, is not to be overlooked. Finally, also, other legal codes, such as that in the first Book of the Covenant ( Exodus 23:20-33 ) and that of Dt (27:11-28:68) close with the offer of a blessing or a curse.

The chapters under consideration (Leviticus 18 through 26) are most closely connected with each other solely through their contents, which have found expression in a particular form, without these facts being sufficient to justify the claim of their being a separate legal code. For since in Leviticus 1 through 17 all those things which separate the Israelites from their God have been considered and bridged over (compare Leviticus 1 through 7, the laws concerning sacrifices; Leviticus 8 through 10, the mediatorship of the priests; Leviticus 11 through 15, the unclean things; Leviticus 16 , the Day of Atonement; Leviticus 17 , the use made of blood), we find in Leviticus 18 through 26 an account of the God-pleasing conduct, which admits of nothing that desecrates; namely, Leviticus 18 through 20 contain laws dealing with marriage and chastity and other matters of a religious, ethical or cultural kind, together with the punishments that follow their transgression; Leviticus 21 f determine the true character of the priests and of the sacred oblations; Leviticus 23 f, the consecration of the seasons, of life and death, etc.; Leviticus 25 , the Sabbath and the Jubilee year; Leviticus 26 contains the offer of a blessing or a curse. Leviticus 1 through 17 have, as it were, a negative character; Leviticus 18 through 26 a positive character. In Leviticus 1 through 17 the consciousness of what is unclean, imperfect and guilty is awakened and the possibility of their removal demonstrated; while in Leviticus 18 through 26 the norm of a holy life is set forth. Even if these two parts at certain places show so great a likeness that the occurrence of an interchange of ordinances could be regarded as possible, nevertheless the peculiar character of each part is plainly recognized; and this is also a very essential argument for the view that both parts have one and the same author, who intentionally brought the two parts into closer connection and yet separated the one from the other. On this supposition the peculiarities of Leviticus 18 through 26 are sufficiently explained, and also the positive contents of these chapters and the fact that just these chapters are referred to in pre-exilic literature oftener than is the case with Leviticus 1 through 17, and particularly the close connection between Ezekiel and H is to be regarded as a consequence of the common tendency of both authors and not as the result of their having used a common source (see EZEKIEL , II, 2). In Leviticus 26:46 we have what is clearly a conclusion, which corresponds to Leviticus 25:1; Leviticus 7:37 f; Leviticus 1:1 , and accordingly regards Lev 1 through 26 as a unity; while Lev 27, which treats of vows and of tithes, with its separate subscription in Leviticus 27:34 , shows that it is an appendix or a supplement, which is, however, in many ways connected with the rest of the book, so that this addition cannot, without further grounds, be regarded as pointing to another author.

II. Structure.

1. Modern Analyses:

Modern criticism ascribes the entire Book of Leviticus, being a special legal code, to the Priestly Code (P). The questions which arise in connection with this claim will be discussed under III, below. At this point we must first try to awaken a consciousness of the fact, that in this special particular, too, the documentary theory has entered upon the stage of total disintegration; that the reasons assigned for the separation of the sources are constantly becoming more arbitrary and subjective; and that the absurd consequences to which they consistently lead from the very outset arouse distrust as to the correctness of the process. Just as in the historical parts the critics have for long been no longer content with J (Jahwist) and E (Elohist), but have added a J1 and Later additions to J, an E1 and Later additions to E, and as Sievers and Gunkel have gone farther, and in detail have completely shattered both J and E into entirely separate fragments (see GENESIS ), So the Priestly Code (P), too, is beginning to experience the same fate. It is high time that, for both the historical and the legal sections, the opposite course be taken, and that we turn from the dismemberment to the combination of these documents; that we seek out and emphasize those features which, in form and content, unite the text into a clear unity. For this reason we lay the greatest stress on these in this section, which deals with the structure of the book, and which treats of the matter (1) negatively and (2) positively (see also EXODUS , II.).

(1) Theories of Disintegration.

We have already seen in the article DAY OF ATONEMENT in connection with Leviticus 16 an example of these attempts at dissection, and here still add several examples in order to strengthen the impression on this subject.

(a) General Considerations:

If we for the present disregard the details, then, according to Bertholet ( Kurzer Hand-Kommentar zum Alten Testament ), not only Leviticus 17 through 26 (see, above, under I.) at one time existed as a separate legal corpus, but also the sacrificial legislation in Leviticus 1 through 7, and also the laws concerning the clean and the unclean in Leviticus 11 through 15. Concerning Leviticus 16 see above. Then, too, Leviticus 27 is regarded as a supplement and is ascribed to a different author. Finally, the so-called "fundamental document" of P (marked Pg) contained only parts from Leviticus 9 f (also a few matters from Leviticus 8 ), as also one of the three threads of Leviticus 16 , for Leviticus 8 through 10, it is said, described the consecration of the priests demanded in Exodus 25 ff, which also are regarded as a part of Pg, and Leviticus 16:1 is claimed to connect again with Lev 10 (compare on this point DAY OF ATONEMENT ). All these separate parts of Leviticus (i.e. Lev 1 through 7; 8 through 10; 11 through 15; 16; 17 through 26; 27) are further divided into a number of more or less independent subparts; thus, e.g., Lev 1 through 7, containing the sacrificial laws, are made to consist of two parts, namely, Lev 1 through 5 and Lev 6 through 7; or the laws concerning the clean and the unclean in Lev 11 through 15 are divided into the separate pieces, Lev 11; Leviticus 12:1-8; 13:1 through 46; and these are regarded as having existed at one time and in a certain manner independently and separated from each other. But how complicated in detail the composition is considered to be, we can see from Lev 17 through 26.

(b) Leviticus 17:1 Considered in Detail:

While Baentsch ( Hand-Kommentar zum Alten Testament ) accepts, to begin with, three fundamental strata (H1 = Leviticus 18 through 20 and certain portions from Leviticus 23 through 25; H2 = Leviticus 21 f; H3 = Leviticus 17 ), Bertholet, too (op. cit., x), regards the development of these chapters as follows: "In detail we feel justified in separating the following pieces: (i) Leviticus 17:3 , Leviticus 17:4 (5, 7a), 8, 9, 10-14; (ii) Leviticus 18:7-10 , Leviticus 18:12-20 , Leviticus 18:22 f; and this united with (iii) Leviticus 19:3 f, 11 f, 27 f, 30, 31, 35, 36, which was probably done by the author of (iii). The following were inserted by the person who united these parts, namely, Leviticus 18:6 , Leviticus 18:27 , Leviticus 18:25 , Leviticus 18:26 , Leviticus 18:28 , Leviticus 18:30; (iv) Leviticus 19:9 , Leviticus 19:10 , Leviticus 19:13-18 , Leviticus 19:19 , Leviticus 19:29 , Leviticus 19:32; (v) Leviticus 19:5-8 , Leviticus 19:23-26; (vi) Leviticus 20:2 (3), 6(27); (vii) Leviticus 20:9 , Leviticus 20:10-21; Leviticus 19:20; (viii) Leviticus 21:1-5 , Leviticus 21:7 , Leviticus 21:9-15 , Leviticus 21:17-24; Leviticus 22:3 , Leviticus 22:8 , Leviticus 22:10-14 , Leviticus 22:18-25 , Leviticus 22:27-30; (ix) Leviticus 23:10-20 , Leviticus 23:39-43; (x) Leviticus 24:15-22 , except verses 16aβ b; (xi) Leviticus 25:2-7 (4), 18-22, 35-38, 39, 40a, 42 f, 47, 53, 15; (xii) Leviticus 25:8 , Leviticus 25:9 , Leviticus 25:10 , Leviticus 25:13 , Leviticus 25:14-16 , Leviticus 25:17 , Leviticus 25:24 f. In uniting these pieces Rh (the Redactor of the Law of Holiness) seems to have added de suo the following: Leviticus 17:5 (beginning); Leviticus 18:2-5 , Leviticus 18:21 , Leviticus 18:24 , ρ Ο2 Leviticus 18:26 π ,Leviticus 18:29; Leviticus 19:33 f, 37; Leviticus 20:4 f, 7 f, 22-26; Leviticus 21:6 , Leviticus 21:8; Leviticus 22:2 , Leviticus 22:9 , Leviticus 22:15 f, 31-33; Leviticus 23:22; Leviticus 25:11 f; Leviticus 26:1 f. At the same time he united with these an older parenetic section, 26:3-45, which, by inserting Leviticus 26:10 , Leviticus 26:34 f, 39-43, he changed into a concluding address of this small legal code. All the rest that is found in Lev 17 through 26 seems to be the result of a revision in the spirit of the Priestly Code (P), not, however, as though originally it all came from the hand of Rp (Redactor P). That he rather added and worked together older pieces from P (which did not belong to Pg) is seen from an analysis of Lev 23... As far as the time when these parts were worked together is concerned, we have a reliable terminus ad quem in a comparison of Nehemiah 8:14-18 with Leviticus 23:36 (P), 39 ff (H). Only we must from the outset remember, that still, after the uniting of these different parts, the marks of the editorial pen are to be noticed in the following Lev 17 through 26, i.e. that after this union a number of additions were yet made to the text. This is sure as far as Leviticus 23:26-32 is concerned, and is probable as to Leviticus 24:1-9 , Leviticus 24:10-14 , Leviticus 24:23; Leviticus 25:32-34; and that this editorial work even went so far as to put sections from P in the place of parts of H can possibly be concluded from Leviticus 24:1-9 ."

(c) Extravagance of Critical Treatment:

This is also true of all the other sections, as can be seen by a reference to the books of Bertholet and Baentsch. What should surprise us most, the complicated and external manner in which our Biblical text, which has such a wonderful history back of it, is declared by the critics to have originated, or the keenness of the critics, who, with the ease of child's play, are able to detect and trace out this growth and development of the text, and can do more than hear the grass grow? But this amazement is thrust into the ackground when we contemplate what becomes of the Bible text under the manipulations of the critics. The compass of this article makes it impossible to give even as much as a general survey of the often totally divergent and contradictory schemes of Baentsch and Bertholet and others on the distribution of this book among different sources; and still less possible is it to give a criticism of these in detail. But this critical method really condemns itself more thoroughly than any examination of its claims would. All who are not yet entirely hypnotized by the spell of the documentary hypothesis will feel that by this method all genuine scientific research is brought to an end. If the way in which this book originated had been so complicated, it certainly could never have been again reconstructed.

(2) Reasons for Dismemberment.

We must at this place confine ourselves to mentioning and discussing several typical reasons which are urged in favor of a distribution among different authors.

(a) Alleged Repetitions:

We find in the parts belonging to P a number of so-called repetitions. In Leviticus 1 through 7 we find a twofold discussion of the five kinds of sacrifices (1-5; Leviticus 6:1 ff); in Lev 20 punitive measures are enacted for deeds which had been described already in Lev 18; in Leviticus 19:3 , Leviticus 19:10; Leviticus 23:3; Leviticus 26:2 the Sabbath command is intensified; in Leviticus 19:5 ff; Leviticus 22:29 f, we find commands which had been touched upon already in Leviticus 7:15 ff; Leviticus 19:9 f we find almost verbally repeated in Leviticus 23:22; Leviticus 24:2 ff repeats ordinances concerning the golden candlestick from Exodus 27:20 ff, etc. The existence of these repetitions cannot be denied; but is the conclusion drawn from this fact correct? It certainly is possible that one and the same author could have handled the same materials at different places and from different viewpoints, as is the case in Lev 1 through 7 in regard to the sacrifices. Lev 18 and 20 (misdeeds and punishments) are even necessarily and mutually supplementary. Specially important laws can have been repeated, in order to emphasize and impress them all the more; or they are placed in peculiar relations or in a unique light (compare, e.g., Leviticus 24:1 ff, the command in reference to the golden candlestick in the pericope Lev 23 through 24; see below). Accordingly, as soon as we can furnish a reason for the repetition, it becomes unobjectionable; and often, when this is not the case, the objections are unremoved if we ascribe the repetitions to a new author, who made the repetition by way of an explanation (see EXODUS , II., 2., (5)).

(b) Separation of Materials:

Other reasons will probably be found in uniting or separating materials that are related. That Leviticus 16 is connected with Leviticus 8 through 10, and these connect with Exodus 25 ff, is said to prove that this had been the original order in these sections. But why should materials that are clearly connected be without any reason torn asunder by the insertion of foreign data? Or has the interpolator perhaps had reasons of his own for doing this? Why are not these breaks ascribed to the original author? The sacrificial laws in Leviticus 1 through 7 are properly placed before Leviticus 8 through 10, because in these latter chapters the sacrifices are described as already being made ( Leviticus 9:7 , Leviticus 9:15 , the sin offering; Leviticus 9:7 , Leviticus 9:12 , Leviticus 9:16 , the burnt offering; Leviticus 9:17; Leviticus 10:12 , the meal offering; Leviticus 9:18 , the peace offering; Leviticus 9:3 f, all kinds). In the same way Lev 11 through 15, through Leviticus 15:31 , are inwardly connected with Lev 16, since these chapters speak of the defiling of the dwelling-place of Yahweh, from which the Day of Atonement delivers (Leviticus 16:16 f, 33). As a matter of course, the original writer as well as a later redactor could have at times also connected parts in a looser or more external manner. In this way, in Leviticus 7:22 ff, the command not to eat of the fats or of the blood has been joined to the ordinances with reference to the use of the peace offerings in Leviticus 7:19 ff. This again is the case when, in Lev 2, Leviticus 2:11-13 have been inserted in the list of the different kinds of meal offering; when after the general scheme of sin offerings, according to the hierarchical order and rank in Lev 4, a number of special cases are mentioned in Leviticus 5:1 ff; and when in Leviticus 5:7 ff commands are given to prevent too great poverty; or when in Leviticus 6:19 ff the priestly meal offerings are found connected with other ordinances with references to the meat offerings in general ( Leviticus 6:14 ff); or when the share that belongs to the priest ( Leviticus 7:8 ff) is found connected with his claim to the guilt offering ( Leviticus 7:1 ff); or the touching of the meat offering by something unclean ( Leviticus 7:19 ff) is found connected with the ordinances concerning the peace offerings; or when in Lev 11 the ordinances dealing with the unclean animals gradually pass over into ordinances concerning the touching of these animals, as is already indicated by the subscription Leviticus 11:4 , Leviticus 11:6 f (compare with Leviticus 11:2 ). Still more would it be natural to unite different parts in other ways also. In this way the ordinances dealing with the character of the sacrifices in Leviticus 22:17-30 could, regarded by themselves, be placed also in Lev 1 through 7. But in Lev 22 they are also well placed. On the other hand, the character of Lev 1 through 7 would have become too complicated if they were inserted here. In such matters the author must have freedom of action.

(c) Change of Singular and Plural:

Further, the frequent change between the singular and the plural in the addresses found in the laws which are given to a body of persons is without further thought used by the critics as a proof of a diversity of authors in the section under consideration (compare Leviticus 10:12 ff; Leviticus 19:9 , Leviticus 19:11 ff, 15 ff, etc.). But how easily this change in numbers can be explained! In case the plural is used, the body of the people are regarded as having been distributed into individuals; and in the case of a more stringent application the plural can at once be converted into the singular, since the author is thinking now only of separate individuals. Naturally, too, the singular is used as soon as the author thinks again rather of the people as a whole. Sometimes the change is made suddenly within one and the same verse or run of thought; and this in itself ought to have banished the thought of a difference of authors in such cases. In the case of an interpolator or redactor, it is from the outset all the more probable that he would have paid more attention to the person used in the addresses than that this would have been done by the original writer, who was completely absorbed by the subject-matter. Besides, such a change in number is frequently found in other connections also; compare in the Book of the Covenant ( Exodus 22:20-25 , Exodus 22:29 f; Exodus 23:9 ff; compare Deuteronomy 12:2 ff, 13 ff). In regard to these passages, also, the modern critics are accustomed to draw the same conclusion; and in these cases, too, this is hasty. In the same way the change in the laws from the 3rd to the 2nd person can best be explained as the work of the lawgiver himself, before whose mind the persons addressed are more vividly present and who, when speaking in the 2nd person, becomes personal (compare Leviticus 2:4 ff with Leviticus 2:1-3 , and also Leviticus 1:2; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 6:18 , Leviticus 6:21 , Leviticus 6:25 ff).

(d) Proofs of Religious Development:

A greater importance seemingly must be attributed to the reasons based on a difference in the terminology or on contradictions in the laws, as these appear to lead to a religio-historical development. But the following examples are intended to show how all important it is to be slow in the acceptance of the materials which the critics offer in this connection.

(3) Insufficiency of These Reasons.

(a) In Leviticus 5:1-7 , in the section treating of the sin offering (4:1 through 5:13), we find the word 'āshām , which also signifies "guilt offering" (compare Leviticus 5:14 ff; Leviticus 7:1 ff). Accordingly, it is claimed, the author of Leviticus 5:1-7 was not yet acquainted with the difference between the two kinds of offerings, and that this part is older than that in Leviticus 4:1 ff; Leviticus 5:14 ff. However, in Leviticus 5:1 ff the word 'āshām is evidently used in the sense of "repentance," and does not signify "sin offering" at all; at any rate, already in Leviticus 5:6 f we find the characteristic term ḥaṭṭā'th to designate the latter, and thus this section appears as entirely in harmony with the connection.

(b) Critics find a contradiction in Leviticus 6:26; Leviticus 7:33 , Leviticus 7:37 , and in Leviticus 6:29; Leviticus 7:31 , Leviticus 7:36 , since in the first case the officiating priest and in the other case the entire college of priests is described as participating in the sacrifice. In reply it is to be said that the first set of passages treat of the individual concrete cases, while the second set speak of the general principle. In Leviticus 7:8 f, however, where the individual officiating priest is actually put in express contrast with all the sons of Aaron, the matter under consideration is a difference in the meal offerings, which, beginning with Lev 2, could be regarded as known. Why this difference is made in the use of this sacrifice is no longer intelligible to us, as we no longer retain these sacrifices, nor are we in possession of the oral instruction which possibly accompanied the written formulation of these laws; but this is a matter entirely independent of the question as to the author.

(c) According to Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 4:3 , Leviticus 4:5 , Leviticus 4:16; Leviticus 6:20 , Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 8:12; Leviticus 16:32; Leviticus 21:10 , Leviticus 21:12 , the high priest is the only one who is anointed; while, on the other hand, in Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:21; Exodus 30:30; Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 7:36; Leviticus 10:7 , all the priests are anointed. But the text as it reads does not make it impossible that there was a double anointing. According to the first set of passages, Aaron is anointed in such a manner that the anointing oil is poured out upon his head (compare especially Exodus 29:7 and Leviticus 8:12 ). Then, too, he and all his sons are anointed in such a way that a mixture of the oil and of the blood is sprinkled upon them and on their garments (compare especially Exodus 29:21 and Leviticus 8:30 ). Were we here dealing with a difference in reference to theory and the ranks of the priesthood, as these discussions were current at the time of the exile (see III., below), then surely the victorious party would have seen to it that their views alone would have been reproduced in these laws, and the opposing views would have been suppressed. But now both anointings are found side by side, and even in one and the same chapter!

(d) The different punishments prescribed for carnal intercourse with a woman during her periods in Leviticus 15:24 and Leviticus 20:18 are easily explained by the fact that, in the first passage, the periods are spoken of which only set in during the act, and in the second passage, those which had already set in before.

(e) As far as the difference in terminology is concerned, it must be remembered that in their claims the critics either overlook that intentional differences may decide the preference for certain words or expressions; or else they ignore the fact that it is possible in almost every section of a writer's work to find some expressions which are always, or at least often, peculiar to him; or finally, they in an inexcusable way ignore the freedom of selection which a writer has between different synonyms or his choice in using these.

All in all, it must be said that however much we acknowledge the keenness and the industry of the modern critics in clearing up many difficulties, and the fact that they bring up many questions that demand answers, it nevertheless is the fact that they take the matter of solving these problems entirely too easily, by arbitrarily claiming different authors, without taking note of the fact that by doing this the real difficulty is not removed, but is only transferred to another place. What could possibly be accepted as satisfactory in one single instance, namely that through the thoughtlessness of an editor discrepancies in form or matter had found their way into the text, is at once claimed to be the regular mode of solving these difficulties - a procedure that is itself thoughtlessness. On the other hand, the critics overlook the fact that it makes little difference for the religious and the ethical value of these commands, whether logical, systematic, linguistic or aesthetic correctness in all their parts has been attained or not; to which must yet be added, that a failure in the one particular may at the same time be an advantage in the other. In this respect we need recall only the anacoluths of the apostle Paul.

2. Structure of the Biblical Text:

(1) Structure in General.

The most effective antidote against the craze to split up the text in the manner described above will be found in the exposition of all those features which unite this text into one inseparable whole. What we have tried to demonstrate in the arts GENESIS; EXODUS , II.; DAY OF ATONEMENT (compare also EZEKIEL , I, 2, (2)) can be repeated at this point. The Book of Leviticus shows all the marks of being a well-constructed and organic literary product, which in its fundamental characteristics has already been outlined under I above. And as this was done in the several articles just cited, we can here add further, as a corroborative factor in favor of the acceptance of an inner literary unity of the book, that the division of the book into its logical parts, even down to minute details, is here, as is so often the case elsewhere, not only virtually self-evident in many particulars, but that the use made of typical numbers in many passages in this adjustment of the parts almost forces itself upon our recognition. In other places the same is at least suggested, and can be traced throughout the book without the least violence to the text. The system need not be forced upon the materials. We often find sections but loosely connected with the preceding parts (compare under 1 above) and not united in a strictly logical manner, but which are nevertheless related in thought and association of ideas. In harmony with the division of the Book of Gen we find at once that the general contents, as mentioned under I above, easily fall into 10 pericopes, and it is seen that these consist of 2 sets each of 5 pericopes together with an appendix.

(a) Ten Pericopes in Two Parts:

Part I, the separation from God and the removal of this separation: (i) Leviticus 1 through 7; (ii) Leviticus 8 through 10; (iii) Leviticus 11 through 15; (iv) Leviticus 16; (v) Leviticus 17 .

Part II, the normal conduct of the people of God: (i) Leviticus 18 through 20; (ii) Leviticus 21 through 22; (iii) Leviticus 23 through 24; (iv) Leviticus 25; (v) Leviticus 26 .

Appendix, Leviticus 27; compare for the number 10 the division of Exodus 1:8 through 7:7; 7:8 through 13:16; 13:17 through 18:27; also the Decalogue, Exodus 20:1 ff; 21:1 through 23:19; 32:1 through 35:1; and see EXODUS , II., 2.; and in Lev probably Leviticus 18:6-18; Leviticus 19:9-18 , and with considerable certainty 19:1-37 (see below).

(b) Correspondence and Connections:

I leave out of consideration in this case the question whether an intentional correspondence among the different parts be traced or not, even in their details. Thus, e.g.; when the 2nd pericope (Leviticus 8 through 10,21 f) treats particularly of the order of the priests, or when the 4th pericope of the 2nd set ( Leviticus 25 ) states that the beginning of the Year of Jubilee fell on the 10th day of the 7th month, i.e. on the Day of Atonement as described in Leviticus 16 , in the 4th pericope of the 1st set (compare Leviticus 25:9 with Leviticus 16:29 ); or when both sets close with two shorter pericopes, which evidently express high stages of development (Lev 16 and 17, respectively, Lev 25 and 26 treating of the Day of Atonement, of the use made of blood and the purposes of blood for the altar or the Jubilee Year, of the blessing and the curse).

And, as far as the order in other respects is concerned, it is throughout to be regarded as founded in the subject-matter itself that Leviticus 1 through 17 must precede Leviticus 18 through 26. First that which separates the people from God must be removed, and then only is a God-pleasing conduct possible. Just as easily, and in agreement with the context, it is possible that the consecration of the priests in Leviticus 8 through 10 presupposes the sacrificial tōrāh ( Leviticus 1 through 7; compare under 1 above) and follows the latter, and is immediately introduced by the mention made of the installation sacrifices for which otherwise there are no reasons assigned in the concluding formula in Leviticus 7:37 (compare Leviticus 8:22-32 ). The Day of Atonement (Lev 16), which in Leviticus 16:16 f and Leviticus 16:33 is spoken of in connection with the purification of the sanctuary, is in turn introduced by Lev 11 through 15, or more particularly by the remark in Copyright Statement
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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Leviticus'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​isb/​l/leviticus.html. 1915.
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