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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the March 7 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: March 7
<< Lev 15

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Leviticus 16-18    Listen Podcast

 

The really big day in Israel, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died;
2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:
13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
20 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
23 And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there:
24 And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.
25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.
26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp.
27 And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.
28 And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

This chapter begins with a reminder regarding the loss of Aaron's two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, in Leviticus 10 (see notes). That certainly provided a wake-up call to Aaron here as to the seriousness with which he should execute the procedures outlined.

This is the special day of the year that practicing Jews call "Yom Kippur." It is said that this is the most celebrated day of the Jewish year by Jews today. "Yom Kippur" is the English transliteration of the Hebrew words for "Day of Atonement." On this day, the people of Israel fasted. This fast is prescribed in verses 29-31 where they are told to "afflict their souls." That phrase is used to indicate a fast in Isaiah 58 (see notes). They were also to refrain from work. Only the High Priest had responsibilities on that day - sacrificial responsibilities.

The ritual included the following:

First, there was the sacrifice of the bull as the priests' sin offering ("for himself, and for his house..." in verse 11) and the ram for a burnt offering. That was followed by the selection by lot (see note on casting lots) of one of the goats to be sacrificed as the people’s sin offering while the other was driven off into the wilderness. The one that was set free was called the "scapegoat." Interestingly enough, this is the source of our term "scapegoat." The other goat was sacrificed on the altar. Which goat would you rather be? Before you answer that, read verses 21-22. The High Priest would "confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat..." And then it says in verse 22, "...the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited:" So that's where the "scapegoat" phrase takes on contemporary usage. That's the goat that took on all the guilt of the whole nation...but he did go free.

This is the one day each year when the High Priest goes into the Most Holy Place (aka Holy of Holies). He sprinkled the blood of the bull upon the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. And why was this all done each year? Leviticus 16:30 says, "For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD." Leviticus 16:34 says, "And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year."

The Ark of the Covenant disappeared prior to Jerusalem's fall in 586 B.C. In Jesus' day, there was no mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. We're told by extra-biblical sources that there was just a big rock in there. Today's Jews don't even have a temple. All that remains of this special day today (Yom Kippur) is the fasting; no sacrificing of animals is done. It is still observed by most practicing Jews, but quite differently from the pattern of observance specified here in scripture.

It is interesting to note that on the one day of the year (Day of Atonement) when the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place, he wore different clothing which he changed into while still standing in the Holy Place (Leviticus 16:4, 23-24). The people never saw him in this special clothing on the Day of Atonement.

For a complete overview of all the Jewish Festivals, see Leviticus 23 (see notes). For more information on the activities of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on this special day, read the specifications found in Exodus 28 (see notes).

Incidentally, there is an oft-repeated, yet untrue addition to this procedure that a rope was tied to the high priest's ankle for the purpose of pulling the dead man out if the bells stopped ringing. Obviously it's an embellishment based upon Exodus 28:35 and verse 13 in this passage, but there is absolutely no Biblical record nor Jewish tradition that this ever took place. As a matter of fact, careful examination of the Biblical specifications here shows this notion to be impossible inasmuch as the priest shed the robe with the bells and changed into the special bell-less garment prior to entering the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:4, 23-24).

Why didn't they eat their cattle? (Leviticus 17)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak 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,
3 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,
4 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:
5 To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of 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 CONGREGATION, AND BURN THE FAT FOR A SWEET SAVOUR UNTO THE LORD.
7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.
8 And 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,
9 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.
10 And 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 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 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.
13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
15 And 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.

Now here's an interesting provision of their wilderness journey in verses 3-4, "What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:" Apparently if you wanted a nice meat dinner from your flock, those critters had to be offered at the Tabernacle "for peace offerings" (verse 5). It further appears that these restrictions applied during their wilderness excursion and were lifted upon their arrival in Canaan according to Deuteronomy 12:20-25 (see notes). Previous to their entry into Canaan, the Israelites were not permitted to eat their cattle in the wilderness without bringing them to the priests first as peace offerings. You will recall from Leviticus 7:11-36 (see notes) that this is the offering where everybody gets to eat up.

Many have questioned why the Israelites, who left with all their herds from Egypt, didn't just dip into the herd when they got hungry. Apparently our answer to that question is found here in this chapter. Look at Leviticus 17:7, "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring." Obviously the practice of slaying an animal from the herd had deep religious significance back in Egypt. Therefore, they didn't eat from the herd unless God said it was okay to do so. These animals were centerpieces of idolatry in Egypt. Perhaps in an attempt to prevent the Hebrews from slipping back into idolatry, every slain member of their flocks had to come through the Tabernacle under the priests' supervision. Remember what Aaron made from gold for idolatrous purposes back in Exodus 32 (see notes)? That's right...a calf. Likewise, after Solomon's death, the Northern Kingdom adopted two calves as the new symbol of their religion in I Kings 12:25-33 (see notes).

Verses 10-16 solidly establish a Jewish law - NO EATING BLOOD! If you're going to keep the Law of Moses, give up the rare/medium-rare steaks. Blood had a special purpose as we see in verse 11.

This phrase, "cut off from" is used frequently in the Torah (first five books of Old Testament) for various offenses; it's used three times in this chapter. No one can say for certain whether that means excommunicated from Israel or put to death. Sometimes the context seems to give a hint. Whether it means exile or death in these instances, these violators won't be permitted to hang with their Hebrew neighbors any longer after their offense.

Sexual taboos - not just for the Hebrews (Leviticus 18)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.
3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.
17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.
19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.
21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

To uncover another's nakedness in this chapter means to have sexual relations with that person. Verses 1-20 give the Hebrews restrictions regarding these actions of intimacy. This regulated who the Hebrews could and could not marry. Notice the Jacob-Leah clause in verse 18 - no marrying a second sister while the first lives. Where was this law when Laban flimflammed Jacob back in Haran in Genesis 29:21-30 (see notes)? He could have used such a law back then.

You will notice that most of the prohibitions of these verses have no punishment associated with them here. These are listed again in Leviticus 20 (see notes) where specific punishments ARE associated with most of these violations - in most cases, death. We see in verse 3 that these restrictions differentiated the Hebrews from the practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites.

The intimate relations forbidden in this chapter include:

Moreover, the following are absolutely forbidden:

How serious does God regard violations of these principles? There's a solemn warning that goes beyond the Law of Moses in Leviticus 18:27-28, "(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you." Those "nations that were before you" weren't under the Law of Moses, but God found these sexual practices so repulsive that he "spued out the nations." Some things are just wrong! wrong! wrong!

In verse 21 we see, what appears to be, a prohibition against human sacrifice. Molech was an old Canaanitish idol. Sometimes the pagan nations actually made human sacrifices to this pagan god.

Based upon these prohibitions for which the nations were held accountable who were not even under the Law of Moses, it would appear that God has deemed these practices as abominations for all mankind, and I would add...for all time.

Incidentally, these stipulations of the Law of Moses are so important, they are again strongly emphasized in Leviticus 20 (see notes). We further see in Leviticus 20:23, "And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them." These sexual practices were so repulsive to God, he drove the Canaanites out of their land because of them. As a matter of fact, Moses repeats this assertion 38+ years later in Deuteronomy 9:4 (see notes), "Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee."


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner