New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

 

Lev 22:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

Lev 22:2 Tell Aaron and his sons to separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, which they make holy to Me, and that they don’t profane My holy name. I am Yahweh.
Lev 22:3 Tell them, ‘If anyone of all your descendants throughout your generations approaches the holy things, which the children of Israel make holy to Yahweh, having his uncleanness on him, that soul shall be cut off from before Me. I am Yahweh.
Lev 22:4 Whoever of the seed of Aaron is a leper or has an issue shall not eat of the holy things, until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goes from him;
Lev 22:5 or whoever touches any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean; or a man from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever uncleanness he has;
Lev 22:6 the person that touches any such shall be unclean until the evening, and shall not eat of the holy things, until he bathe his body in water-

As we as the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5) read of these requirements not to eat the holy things whilst unclean, we may wonder how we as sinners can ever eat the bread and drink the wine as required to remember Christ’s death. But the fact is, we have been washed and sanctified for service by baptism into the Name of Christ (1 Cor. 6:11 alludes here). This is a status we are continually in- for this is the wonder of the concept of our being “in Christ”.


Lev 22:7 When the sun is down, he shall be clean; and afterward he shall eat of the holy things, because it is his food.
Lev 22:8 That which dies of itself, or is torn by animals, he shall not eat, defiling himself by it. I am Yahweh.
Lev 22:9 They shall therefore follow My requirements, lest they bear sin for it, and die therein, if they profane it. I am Yahweh who sanctifies them.
Lev 22:10 No foreigner shall eat of the holy thing: a foreigner living with the priests, or a hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing-

The Law has a lot to say about welcoming foreigners and being hospitable to them. We as the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16) should likewise be open rather than closed to the people of the world around us, even though we are in another sense separated from them and unto the things of our God.


Lev 22:11 But if a priest buys a slave, purchased by his money, he shall eat of it; and such as are born in his house, they shall eat of his bread-

Gentiles who had been bought for a price by a priest to be his servants were treated as Israelites. This looked forward to Christ, the final Priest, buying us with His own blood that we might be His servants, and thereby we are fully part of His family and the people of God (1 Cor. 7:23).


Lev 22:12 If a priest’s daughter is married to an outsider, she shall not eat of the heave offering of the holy things.
Lev 22:13 But if a priest’s daughter is a widow, or divorced, and has no child, and has returned to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s bread-

Divorce was clearly possible under the Mosaic system. If a man's wife committed adultery he could have her killed; or he could put her through the trial of jealousy of Num. 5, with the result that she would become barren; or he could divorce her (Dt. 22:19; 24:1 RV; Lev. 21:14; 22:13). Within a Law that was holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12), unsurpassed in it's righteousness (Dt. 4:8; and let us not overlook these estimations), there were these different levels of response possible. But there was a higher level: he could simply forgive her. This was what God did with His fickle Israel, time and again (Hos. 3:1-3). And so the Israelite faced with an unfaithful wife could respond on at least four levels. This view would explain how divorce seems outlawed in passages like Dt. 22:19,29, and yet there are other parts of the OT which seem to imply that it was permitted. It should be noted that there were some concessions to weakness under the Law which the Lord was not so willing to make to His followers (e.g., outside the marriage context, Dt. 20:5-8 cp. Lk. 9:59-62; 14:18,19). He ever held before us the Biblical ideal of marriage.

But no stranger shall eat any of it-
But if the stranger had been bought by the Priest, he or she was no longer a stranger (:11). Paul has this passage in mind when he rejoices that those baptized into Christ are no longer strangers and foreigners but members of God’s family and fellow citizens with “the saints”, a term which he may well have understood in this context as referring to the community of Israel (Eph. 2:19).

 


Lev 22:14 If a man eats something holy unwittingly, then he shall add the fifth part of its value to it, and shall give the holy thing to the priest.
Lev 22:15 The priests shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer to Yahweh,
Lev 22:16 and so cause them to bear the iniquity that brings guilt, when they eat their holy things; for I am Yahweh who sanctifies them’.

Lev 22:17 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 22:18 Speak to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘Whoever is of the house of Israel, or of the foreigners in Israel, who offers his offering, whether it be any of their vows, or any of their freewill offerings, which they offer to Yahweh for a burnt offering;
Lev 22:19 that you may be accepted, you shall offer a male without blemish, of the bulls, of the sheep, or of the goats-

No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).

This looked ahead to the unblemished character of the Lord Jesus. The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.


Lev 22:20 But whatever has a blemish, that you shall not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
Lev 22:21 Whoever offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh to accomplish a vow, or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it shall be perfect to be accepted: no blemish shall be therein.
Lev 22:22 Blind, injured, maimed, having a wart, festering, or having a running sore, you shall not offer these to Yahweh, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to Yahweh.
Lev 22:23 A bull or a lamb that has any deformity or is lacking in his parts, that you may offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted-

For a freewill offering, God would accept a deformed animal (Lev. 22:23), even though this was against His preferred principle of absolute perfection in offerings. There was no atonement without the shedding of blood; and yet for the very poor, God would accept a non-blood sacrifice. This all reflected the zeal of God to accept fallen men.


Lev 22:24 That which has its testicles bruised, crushed, broken, or cut, you shall not offer to Yahweh; neither shall you do thus in your land-

Animals weren’t to be castrated. We see in this not only a reflection of the huge value God places upon life in general, but also His sensitivity to animals. Verses 27 and 28 may reflect the same.


Lev 22:25 Neither shall you offer any of these as the food of your God from the hand of a foreigner; because their corruption is in them. There is a blemish in them. They shall not be accepted for you’.
Lev 22:26 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 22:27 When a bull, or a sheep, or a goat, is born, then it shall remain seven days with its mother; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for the offering of an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
Animals often died after birth, and it was only by the eighth day that it was apparent whether or not it was deformed. This was to remind them that they were to offer the best to God, and not to offer that which cost them nothing (2 Sam. 24:24).


Lev 22:28 Whether it is a cow or ewe, you shall not kill it and its young both in one day-
The Mosaic law sought to inculcate a culture of kindness and extreme sensitivity to all, even animals. Read like this, the law about not boiling a kid in its mother's milk is similar to the prohibitions of killing on the same a cow and a calf, or a ewe and her lamb (Lev. 22:28). It is likely that this was also related to a paganic fertility ritual, performed at harvest time ; and God didn't want His people to even remotely be associated with that. For He alone was the source of all fertility.

The peoples' behaviour in 1 Sam. 14:32 is portrayed as breaking every principle of the commands about eating blood in Lev. 17:10-14. They ate blood, and also killed calves and mothers on the same day (disobeying Lev. 22:28). All because they were more obedient to their oath to Saul not to eat anything until sundown, rather than to God's covenant. For all this, they were to have God against them and be cut off from God's people. The essence of this has been seen so many times in church history. An insistence upon petty legalism leads people to commit major sin. They are more obedient to the party line and the barked orders of their leadership, than to God. And the legalistic demands of their elders lead them to make utter shipwreck of their faith, breaking the most elemental principles of their covenant with God. Once sundown came and they were free from the oath to Saul, the people were totally disobedient to the covenant.


Lev 22:29 When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Yahweh, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.
Lev 22:30 It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until the morning. I am Yahweh.
Lev 22:31 Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and do them. I am Yahweh.
Lev 22:32 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be made holy among the children of Israel. I am Yahweh Who makes you holy-

They as us were to live out in practice the status which God had given them. He had made them holy and acceptable in His sight, and they were therefore to live in a holy manner.


Lev 22:33 Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. I am Yahweh.