LEVITICUS (lĕ-vĭt'ĭ-kŭs, Gr. Levitikon, relating to the Levites). The designation in the English Bible of the third book of the Pentateuch, derived from the Latin rendering (Liber Leviticus) of the Greek title Levitikon. The Hebrew title merely consists of the first word of the text (wayyiqrā’), “and he called.” The book is closely associated with Exodus and Numbers in historical continuity, but differs from them in that the purely historical element is subordinate to legal and ritual considerations. Although the emphasis in Leviticus is more on priests than on Levites, the English title is not inappropriate, since the Jewish priesthood was essentially Levitical (cf.
Leviticus enshrines the laws by which the religious and civil organization of the primitive theocracy in Canaan was to be regulated. At Sinai the Israelites had been incorporated into a special relationship with God, had been given the covenant laws, and had been provided with a tabernacle for worship. Leviticus contains much that is technical in nature and meant for the direction of the priesthood in the conduct of worship and the regulating of social life. Thus it is distinct from Deuteronomy, which is in effect a popular exposition of Levitical law.
The composition of the book was universally ascribed by ancient tradition, both Jewish and Gentile, to Moses the lawgiver of Israel. During thea number of writers denied certain aspects of Mosaic authorship to the Pentateuch, but it was only during the eighteenth century that literary criticism seriously challenged the traditional view. The movement grew in the following century and reached its classic formulation under Wellhausen in 1887. Using a background of Hegelian evolutionary philosophy, he reconstructed Israelite history, and on the basis of a documentary hypothesis for Pentateuchal origins he assigned Leviticus to a postexilic date along with other elements of the so-called priestly code.
This view has been widely espoused by liberal scholars, and in its developed forms holds that Leviticus was compiled by temple priests between 500 and 450 b.c., using earlier legislation such as the “holiness code” (
The literary criteria used in assigning a late date to the bulk of Leviticus have been criticized continuously since the time of Wellhausen, and the number of scholars who find them very difficult to sustain is increasing gradually. This arises in part from a wider knowledge of the media of communication in antiquity and also from historical and archaeological considerations. It is now known that if the techniques of compilation alleged by Wellhausen had actually been employed in the composition of Leviticus and the rest of the Pentateuch, it would have been unique in the literary annals of the ancient Near East. Archaeological discoveries have shown that in actual fact the Hebrews used much the same literary methods as their neighbors, and that significant areas of biblical literature are closely related in language and style to other writings of that day.
The historical evidence furnished by the canon of the
Analysis: The first seven chapters of Leviticus give the detailed sacrificial procedures showing how the various kinds of burnt offerings, the meal offering, the sin and guilt offerings, and other sacrifices avail for the removal of sin and defilement under the covenant. A subsequent liturgical section (
Bibliography: J. L. Mays, The Book of Leviticus, The(LBC), 1963; Martin Noth, Leviticus: A Commentary, 1977; G. J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus (NIC), 1979.——RKH
LEVITICUS lĭ vĭt’ ə kəs. The third book of the Bible. Its Heb. title is the first word, wăyyĭqrá', “and he called.” The Eng. title is derived from the Vul., an adjective meaning “The Levitical” which in turn is derived from the title prefixed to the LXX, Leueitikon or Leuikon, an adjective qualifying Biblion, despite the fact that the book nowhere refers to the special functions of the Levites. The designation given to it in the Mishnah, “priests’ law,” “priests’ book,” “law of offerings,” in the Talmud, “Law of the priests,” and in the Pesh., “the book of the priests,” better indicate its scope. But a study of the addressees shows that many of its regulations are addressed to the congregation of Israel as well as to Moses and Aaron.
Whether one is a literary critic, who regards the book as essentially the product of the so-called “priestly” writer, or a form critic or a tradition critic, both of whom see numerous sources in the code, all three schools of thought recognize
Arguments for recognition of H.
Arguments against the recognition of H.
These arguments are readily refuted and others can be advanced demonstrating that
Second, the concluding statement in
Third, there is no valid reason why the scope of legislation should not be expanded from legislation governing the cult to other rules regulating the social, moral and religious life of the people in whose midst Yahweh reigned.
Fourth, the change to sermonic style in
Fifth, regarding the connection with Ezekiel G. Henton Davies admitted that “it cannot be shown with certainty that H preceded Ezekiel or vice versa” (IDB, III, 119f.). Assuming that
Authorship and date
The question of the author and date of Leviticus is bound up with two prior considerations: (1) the attitude of the scholar to the nature of Holy Scriptures, and (2) the method employed by those with a “low view” of inspiration in deciding these issues. Because of these differences four distinct views can be presented.
The view of the literary critic.
The dominating view is that Leviticus is part of P (the Priestly Code). This opinion on the date and origin of P since the days of Wellhausen was well expressed by R. H. Pfeiffer: “The Priestly Code is a fifth century midrash, or historical commentary, on the embryonic Pentateuch (JED), including a series of narratives often illustrating legal precedents, and a codification of ritual laws based on earlier codes” (Introduction to the, 88). The conclusion that P was later than the other strands is ultimately based on a wish to view the history of OT religion and lit. in terms of the evolutionary philosophies of the age. For example, Wellhausen laid down the principle that the sense of sin in Israelite sacrifice was a decidedly late development (Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel , 81). His understanding was refuted by R. J. Thompson, Penitence and Sacrifice in Early Israel Outside Levitical Law (1963). Moreover, according to Wellhausen legal codes must be regarded as a late phenomenon in Israel’s history of religion. This view has been discredited by the discovery of several ancient collections of laws since the recovery of Hammurabi’s stele in 1901-1902. (For Ur-Nammu laws, cf. S. N. Kramer and A. Falkenstein, Orientalia, XXIII , 40-48; for those of Lipit-Ishtar, from Eshnunna, of Hammurabi, the Middle Assyrian and Hittite laws, see the translations with bibliographies in ANET, 159-198.) Significantly, the most striking parallels between the so-called P laws and these laws are found in the so-called H (cf. SOTI, 230).
The view of the form critic.
According to the form critic the book has come into existence in successive stages. For M. Noth only
Having settled upon the history of these units of laws, these critics then seek to identify the combinations of laws of like character or similar theme into larger collections.
This method is highly subjective and undisciplined. Significantly, after attempting to trace the history of the collections in Leviticus G. Henton Davies admitted: “But the arguments which prompt such divisions may be countered by other considerations, and this suggests that the precise analysis of these laws into intermediary sections is unwise” (IDB, III, 117). Moreover, the theory of oral tradition is contradictory to observed scribal practices in the ancient Near E. The religious rituals and incantations from the third millennium b.c. texts in the pyramids of Unis, Teti, and Pepi (fifth to sixth dynasties) at Saqqarah as well as the Sumer. religious texts, divine hymns, and mythological texts from Ur, Nippur, and elsewhere point to a custom of preserving at an early stage those sources of information or procedure that were of importance to a particular profession (cf. R. Harrison, Introduction to the OT , 592).
The view of the tradition critic.
Ivan Engnell in his introduction to the OT (Gamla Testamentet, I ), and in his articles in Svenskt Bibliskt Uppslagsverk did not regard “P” as the youngest of the “sources” of the Pentateuch, but as a complete work consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. This work is the product of the “P-circle.” In spite of the ancient traditions contained in P, Engnell found it necessary to date the work of the P-circle rather late, i.e. in the exilic or postexilic period, possible even in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
But A. Kapelrud, who also recognized only a “P-circle” and a “D-circle,” contradicted Engnell by concluding that the work of the P-circle must have been completed before 550 b.c. He reasoned that so-called Second Isaiah used the work (particularly
The view of the faithful.
Thehas convinced the faithful that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and Christ and that the Scriptures He revered are the Word of God. His faith rests on the Spirit’s convincing work; he rejoices in all truth; and he recognizes error by its inconsistency with Scripture.
Although the author of Leviticus is not named, a comparison of
The evidence suggests that their implied allegation is false. To this writer’s knowledge there is no hard evidence dictating either that the book is late or that these laws did not come to Moses, the founder of the theocratic state. On the contrary, much evidence supports the claim of Scripture.
It will do little good to point out isolated details in these laws that show their early origin because the form critic and the tradition critic can fit these details into their theories. But if one examines the book as a whole against a Late Bronze environment one finds that almost every major section of the book has analogues in the ancient Near Eastern lit. from this time and earlier.
Thus the sacrifices mentioned in
Even more compelling is the priestly nature of the material. In antiquity all forms of education were under the supervision of the priesthood, a tradition that was established by the Sumerians (J. Kaster, IDB, II, 27ff.). In this connection it is important to recall that this professional lit. was put into writing at an early date.
In addition, highly organized medical material of various kinds are known both in Babylonia and Egypt from at least the second millennium b.c. onward. On this basis Harrison concluded: “There is no a priori reason why the hygienic code of Leviticus [cf.
Also, it is important to recall that the legal codes with striking parallels to material in so-called H are found in writing from a time before Moses.
Furthermore, with regard to the firstfruits in
Finally, recall that the curses and blessings formulae of
Taking all this material into account one gains the impression that the content of Leviticus is very old. In short, in contrast to the speculative theories of the critics, the hard facts support the Scriptural claim for the book from its beginning to its end, throughout each of its major divisions.
The laws governing the sacrifices in chs. 1-7
The motive behind the “[whole] burnt offering” (
The cereal offering (ch. 2).
The motive behind this sacrifice is identical with the first as seen in the clause: “when a soul wishes to bring near a cereal gift” (
The peace offering (ch. 3).
The sin offering (ch. 4).
The sin offering (haṭṭa’t) offered in connection with the inadvertent transgression of some commandment (
The guilt offering (ch. 5).
The guilt offering made compensation for the damage done through sin. Eichrodt said: “A breach of trust between human beings involved the payment of compensation. The same obligation toward God was expressed in the guilt offering or the sacrifice of reparation (’ašam). Moreover, the proper legal compensation had to be made either directly to the injured fellowcitizen, or to the sanctuary at the same time as the sacrifice...” (Eichrodt, 161).
The laws of purification (chs. 11-15)
The categorizing of animal species into clean and unclean (
R. G. Cochrane, an authority on Hansen’s disease, as modern medical practitioners prefer to designate leprosy, argued convincingly that the disease diagnosed in
Regarding the description of diagnostic techniques and quarantine regulations derived from clinical procedure recorded in
The Day of Atonement (ch. 16).
A crucial word in Leviticus as a whole and foremost in
The law governing blood (ch. 17).
The significance of “blood” in the scriptural sacrifices has been understood in two ways. Some argue that by “the blood” life is meant rather than death so that the essential element in sacrifice is the presenting of life. Accepting this understanding G. Henton Davies said: “The blood is the life, and sacrifice is surrendered life, and so involves surrendered time, surrendered property, and surrendered self (laying on of hands)” (IDB, III, 120). This interpretation is based on the narrow base of
The Qumran fragment of Leviticus in paleo-Heb. script dated by S. Birnbaum to the 5th cent. b.c., and to the Maccabean era by F. M. Cross, Jr. (The Ancient Library of Qumran , 34) demonstrated the fidelity of the MT in Leviticus by its agreement with the traditional text.
Relationship to the NT
The apostles saw much in Leviticus as a type, a divinely inspired picture, of their doctrines; e.g., the priests and sacrifices connected with the Tabernacle shadowed the work of Christ in connection with heaven (cf.
The apostles also insisted that these enactments were not binding on the Church but had been superseded in Christ and through the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf.
In addition to the classics on the Pentateuch see W. Kornfeld, Studien zum Heiligkeitgesetz (1952) for an extensive bibliography up-to-date at the time of writing. L. Urie, “Sacrifice Among the West Semites,” PEQ, LXXXI (1949), 67-82; J. S. Wright, “Thoughts on Composition of the Pentateuch,” EQ, XXV (1953), 2-17; A. DeGuglielmo, “Sacrifice in the Ugaritic Texts,” CBQ, XVII (1955), 196-216; W. Eichrodt, Theology of the OT (1961); R. J. Thompson, Penitence and Sacrifice in Early Israel Outside Levitical Law (1963); N. C. Habel, Yahweh Versus Baal (1964); A. Kapelrud, “The Date of the Priestly Code,” Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute (1964), 58-64; M. Noth, Leviticus (1965); R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the OT (1969), 589-611.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
I. GENERAL DATA
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
IV. THE SIGNIFICANCE
(1) The Law Contains God’s Will
(2) The Law Prepares for the Understanding of Christianity
(3) The Law as a Tutor unto Christ
I. General Data.
The third book of the Pentateuch is generally named by the Jews according to the first word, wayyiqra’ (Origen Ouikra, by the Septuagint called according to its contents Leuitikon, or Leueitikon, by the Vulgate, accordingly, "Leviticus" (i.e. Liber), sometimes "Leviticum"). The Jews have also another name taken from its contents, namely, torath kohanim, "Law of the Priests."
2. Character of Book:
3. Unity of Book: Law of Holiness:
As a rule, critics are accustomed first of all to regard
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" (18:2,4; 19:2,4, etc.); or "I am Yahweh" (18:5,6,21; 19:14,16, etc.), or "I am Yahweh .... who hath separated you" (20:24), or "who sanctifieth you" (20:8; 21:8,15,23, etc.). To these peculiarities belong the references in words, or, in fact, to the land of Canaan, into which Israel is to be led (18:3,14 ff; 19:23 ff,29; 20:22 ff; 23; 25), and also to Egypt, out of which He has led the people (18:3; 19:34; 22:33; 26:13,15, etc.); as, further, the demand for sanctification (19:2), or the warning against desecration (19:12; 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 25:1; 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.
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 (I, 2, (2)) in connection with
(a) General Considerations:
(b) Leviticus 17-26 Considered in Detail:
(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
(b) Separation of Materials:
(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
(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.
(b) Critics find a contradiction in
(d) The different punishments prescribed for carnal intercourse with a woman during her periods in
(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, I, 2 (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 Ge 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)
Part II, the normal conduct of the people of God: (i) Le 18; 19; 20; (ii) Le 21; 22; (iii) Le 23; 24; (iv)
(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 (
Close connections: comparison with Exodus: And, further, the different pericopes are also so closely Connected among themselves and with the corresponding pericopes in the books of Ex and Nu, that many have thought it necessary to regard them as a special body of laws. But the connection is so close and involves all the details so thoroughly, that all efforts to divide and distribute them after the examples described under 1 above must fail absolutely. We shall now give the proofs for the different pericopes in Lev, but in such a manner as to take into consideration also
(iv) The laws in reference to the Day of Atonement found in
(v) Leviticus 17 is re-echoed in
The above, however, by no means exhausts this list of references and similar thoughts, and we have here given only some leading illustrations. What literary tricks must be resorted to when, over against this overwhelming mass of evidence, critics yet insist that the different parts of the book were originally independent writings, especially, too, when the entire tabernacle and utensils of the Aaronitic priesthood, the Day of Atonement, the Year of Jubilee, the whole sacrificial scheme and the laws dealing with the great festivals, the restriction of the slaying of the sacrificial animals to the central sanctuary, are regarded as the products of imagination alone, according to the Wellhausen hypothesis (compare III, below, and see also EXODUS, III, 5; DAY OF ATONEMENT, III, 1; EZEKIEL, II, 2). And how little is gained in addition when, as is sometimes done, in a most arbitrary manner, the statements found in
(2) Structure of the Individual Pericopes.
As the windows and the column capitals of a medieval cathedral are arranged according to different schemes and this divergence is regarded as an enrichment of the structure, thus, too, we find it to be in the structure of the various pericopes of the Book of Leviticus. These latter, too, possess a certain symphony of different tones, but all are rhythmically arranged, and only when united do they produce the entire symphony.
(a) The Laws Concerning the Sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7):
In the first place, the five different kinds of sacrifices in Israel are mentioned in succession twice, in
(i) 6:8-13, burnt offerings;
(ii) 6:14-23, meal offering;
(iii) 6:24-30, sin offering;
(iv) 7:1-7 with appendix, 7:8-10, dealing with that part of the sacrifices which belongs to the priest (see under 1, above), guilt offering;
(v) 7:11-21, peace offerings.
With this is found connected in 7:22-27 the prohibition of the use of the fat or the blood, and in 7:28-36, the laws concerning the wave-breast and the heave-thigh. We have accordingly at once twelve of these laws (compare on
That there is a difference between these two accounts is proved, not only by the fact that the first set of laws from
(b) Consecration of priests and related matters (
(i) Leviticus 8, treating of the first seven days of the consecration of the priests: The outline is found in 8:2, namely Aaron, the sacred garments, the anointing oil, the bullock of the sin offering, two rams, unleavened bread (compare 8:6,7 ff,10 ff,14 ff,18 ff,22 ff,26 ff).
(ii) Leviticus 9 the first sacrifices of Aaron and his sons on the 8th day (9:2-4 contain the outline, after the manner of 8:2; compare 9:7 ff,11 ff, the sin offering and the burnt offering of Aaron, with 9:2; also 9:15-18, treating of what the people brought for the sacrifices, with 9:3 f; but it is to be noticed that the meal offering and the peace offering (9:17,18) are given in inverted order from that found in 9:3 f). Here too we find the number seven, if we add the burnt offering for the morning (9:17).
(iii) 10:1-7, the sin of Nadab and Abihu and their punishment by death; (iv) 10:8-20, ordinances concerning the priests, occasioned by 8:1-10:7 and provided with a new superscription in 10:8, namely 10:8, dealing with the prohibition of the use of wine and intoxicants; 10:9 f, distinction between the holy and the unholy; 10:12-15, the eating of the sacred oblations; 10:16-20, the treatment of the goat for the sin offering.
(c) Laws Concerning the Clean and Unclean (
(ii) Leviticus 12 treats of women in confinement, also in four pieces (12:2-4, birth of a male child; 12:5, birth of a female child; 12:6 f, purification ceremony; 12:8, ordinances in case of extreme poverty). These parts are not joined logically, but in a rather external manner.
(iii) The passage 13:1-14:53, containing the laws of leprosy, with the subscription in 14:54 ff. (Because seven points are to be enumerated, 14:55 (garments and houses), this is not as in its further exposition separated from the other laws and is placed in their midst.) The exposition contains four pieces, namely, 13:1-44, leprosy on human beings (with concluding 13:45 f), with seven subdivisions, of which the first five longer ones are constructed along fairly parallel lines, and again can be divided into four sub-subdivisions, namely, 13:1-8; 1:9-17; 1:18-23; 1:24-28; 1:29-37; 1:38 f; 1:40-44. The significance of the number seven for the structure (see (2), (b), i, above) is akin to that found, e.g., in
(i) 14:2b-3a, the leper before the priest;
(ii) 14:3b-9, the purification ceremonies on the first seven days, again divided into 4 sub-subdivisions: 14:3b f; 14:5-7; 14:8; 14:9;
(iii) 14:10-20, the ceremony of the eighth day (4 sacrifices, namely 14:12-18, guilt offering; 14:19a, sin offering; 14:19b, burnt offering; 14:20, meal offering; in the 4 sacrifices (5:12-6:7) there are again 4 different actions: 14:14; 14:15 f; 14:17; 14:18;
(iv) 14:21-32 (in cases of poverty) 14:33-53, leprosy in houses, with four subdivisions: 14:33-35; 14:36-38; 14:39-42; 14:43-53.
(iv) Leviticus 15, sickness or natural issues, with 4 subdivisions, namely, 15:1-15, checked or running issues together with their purification (15:3-12 contain 12 laws: 15:3; 15:4a; 15:4b; 15:5; 15:6; 15:7; 15:8; 15:9; 15:10a; 15:10b; 15:11; 15:12); 15:16-18, issue of seed; 15:19-24, periods; 15:25-30, other flows of blood and their purification.
(d) The Day of Atonement (
See IV, 1, (2), 2, and under ATONEMENT, DAY OF.
(e) Uses and significance of the blood of sacrifices (
Here the form and the contents of the section have been brought into perfect harmony by the author.
(f) (g) (Le 18; 19; 20; 21): These naturally fall each into 2 parts. Leviticus 18-20 contain
The subdivision can perhaps be divided into 10 subordinate parts, if it is permitted to combine the different degrees of relationship mentioned in
(b) Leviticus 19: various commands of the deepest significance. In order to discover the divisions of this chapter we must note the characteristic formula, "I am Yahweh, your Gods" or a similar expression, which often appears at the beginning and at the end of certain divisions, e.g. in series (1) (9) and (10), but which in the middle series appears in each case only once, and which in all the series is found also at the conclusion.
In this way we can compute 10 tetralogues. Thus after the superscription in 19:2 containing a summary, we have
(i) 19:3,1 (19:3a,3b,4a,4b);
(ii) 19:5-10 (19:5 f,7 f,9,10);
(iii) 19:11 f (19:11a,11b(?),11b(?),12);
(iv) 19:13 f (19:13a,13b,14a,14b);
(v) 19:15 f (15a,15b,16a,16b);
(vi) 19:17 f (19:17a,17b,18a,18b);
(vii) 19:19-25 (19:19a,19b,20-22,23-25);
(viii) 19:26-28 (19:26a,26b,27,28),
(ix) 19:29-32 (19:29,30,31,32);
(x) 19:33-36 (19:33,14,35,36); 19:37 constitutes the conclusion of the whole.
(Note that the number ten here is certain in the conviction of the present writer; but he is not quite so sure of the number of subdivisions within the main divisions; we may have to do here with pentalogues and not with tetralogues. If this is the case, then the agreements with
Possibly groupings of two can yet form a closer union (compare on
(f ii) Laws dealing with punishments (
(i) 20:1-8, punishments for idolatry and witchcraft with a concluding formula, 20:7 f;
(ii) 20:9-18, punishment of death for ten crimes, all of which, with the exception of the first, are of a sexual nature (20:9-18). It is a question whether the first in the second group (20:14), i.e. the sixth in the whole series, was intended to be made prominent by the peculiar character of the punishment (burning to death);
(iii) 20:19-21, other sexual sins, with lighter punishments;
(iv) 20:22-27, with 4 subdivisions (warning, 20:22 f; promise, 20:24; emphatic repetitions of two commands already given, 20:25 ff; (compare with 11:44 ff, and in general with
(i) Laws concerning the quality of the priests (21:1-22,16); and (ii) concerning sacred oblations (22:17-30) with the subscription 22:31-33.
(g i) Qualities of priests:
(h) Consecration of seasons, etc. (
(ii) 24:1-4, treating of the sacred candlestick, which represents the moral conduct of the Israelites, and for this reason suits admirably in the connection; as this is true also of
(iii) 24:5-9, treating of the showbread, which represents the results of the labor of Israel;
(iv) 24:10-23, containing the report of the punishment of a blasphemer of God and of one who cursed.
Probably the example was made of a person who took the name of God in vain at the time which this chapter describes. But possibly there is a still closer connection to be found with that which precedes. The showbread and the candlestick were found in the holy place, which with its utensils pictured the relation of Israel’s character to their God; while the utensils in the Holy of Holies indicated God’s relation to His people (compare Hengstenberg, Beitrage, III, 644 ff). But since the holy place, in addition to the showbread and the candlestick, contained only the incense altar, which symbolized the prayers of Israel, and as the blasphemer represents the exact opposite of prayer, it is probable that in 24:10 ff prayer is indicated by its counterpart. This section consists of 4 parts, namely, 24:10-12; 24:13-14; 24:15-22 (giving a series of punishments for certain wrongdoings which are more or less closely connected with that found in the text); 24:23.
(i) Sabbatic and Jubilee years (
(j) Conclusion: Curse and blessing (
(i) 26:1-2, repetition of four important demands (26:1a,1b,2a,2b);
(ii) 26:3-13, the blessing, possibly to be divided into 7 stages, one more spiritual than the other;
(iii) 26:4-39, the curse, possibly to be divided into seven stages, one more intense than the other (compare also the play on words 7 times repeated, in reference to shabbath, possibly found in 26:34 f, and certainly found in 26:18,21,24,27 f);
(iv) 26:40-45, the mercy finally shown by Yahweh for His covenant’s sake.
(k) Appendix: Finally, the appendix in
1. Against the Wellhausen Hypothesis:
As in the article ATONEMENT, DAY OF, sec. I, 2, (2), we took a stand against the modern attempts at splitting up the text, and in III, 1 against theory of the late origin of the whole pericope, we must, after trying under II to prove the unity of the Book of Leviticus, yet examine the modern claim that the book as a whole is the product of later times. Since the entire book is ascribed to the Priestly Code (see II, 1 above), the answer to the question as to the time when it was written will depend on the attitude which we take toward the Wellhausen hypothesis, which insists that the Priestly Code was not published until the time of the exile in 444 BC (
(1) The Argument from Silence.
One of the most important proofs for this claim is the "argument from silence" (argumentum e silentio). How careful one must be in making use of this argument can be seen from the fact that, e.g., the high priest with his full title is mentioned but a single time in the entire Book of Leviticus, namely in 21:10; and that the Levites are not mentioned save once (25:32 ff), and then incidentally. As is well known, it is the adherents of the Wellhausen hypothesis themselves who now claim that the bulk of the entire literature of theoriginated in the post-exilic period and long after the year 444 BC. Leaving out of consideration for the present the , Ezra and Nehemiah, all of which describe the history of Israel from the standpoint of the Priestly Code (P), we note that this later literature is not any richer in its references to P than is the older literature; and that in those cases where such references are found in this literature assigned to a late period, it is just as difficult to decide whether these passages refer merely to a custom or to a codified set of laws.
(2) Attitude of Prophets toward Sacrificial System.
(4) Indiscriminate Sacrificing.
(5) Deuteronomy and Priestly Code.
It is not possible at this place to enter into further details; we accordingly refer only to EXODUS, III and IV; DAY OF ATONEMENT, III, and especially EZEKIEL, II, 2, where the proof has been furnished that this prophet belongs to a later period than Priestly Code as far as
2. Connection with Mosaic Period:
Even if the Book of Deuteronomy were the product of the 7th century BC, the facts that have been stated above would nevertheless disprove the claim of the Wellhausen hypothesis as to an exilic or post-exilic date for the Priestly Code. But if Deuteronomy, even in its essential and fundamental parts, merely, is Mosaic (compare Are the Critics Right? 1-55), then the Priestly Code which is still older than De must also belong to the Mosaic period.
(1) Priestly Code and Desert Conditions.
(2) Unity and Construction Point to Mosaic Origin.
Then, too, the decision whether this development took place as early as the time of Moses or not is not to be made dependent on the possibility of our being able to explain the reasons for such changes. We lack both the daily practice in these cultural ordinances, as also the oral instruction which makes these ordinances intelligible. The manner in which in
IV. The Significance.
(1) The Law Contains God’s Will.
Above all, there are four leading thoughts which are emphasized forcibly, particularly by the legal system of Priestly Code. In reality all times, all places, all property, all persons are sacred to God. But as it is impossible that this ideal should be realized in view of the imperfections and guilt of man, it was decided that certain particular seasons and places, gifts and persons should be separated from others, and that in these this sacredness should be realized as far as possible, and that these representatives should by their mere existence continually remind the people of God’s more comprehensive claims, and at the same time arouse and maintain the consciousness that their entire life was to be saturated by the thoughts of a holy God and His demands. From this point of view, none of the particular laws are worthless; and when they are once appreciated in this their central significance, we can understand that each law has its share in the eternal authority of the law (compare
(2) The Law Prepares for the Understanding of Christianity.
(3) The Law as a Tutor unto Christ.
Finally, the ceremonial law too has the purpose to protect Israel from the errors of the heathen, a thought that is especially emphasized in the Law of Holiness (compare
The law with its incomplete atonement and with its arousing of the consciousness of sin drives man to Jesus; and this is its negative significance. Jesus, however, who Himself has fulfilled the demands of the law, gives us through His spirit the power, that the law with its demands (1, (1) above) may no longer stand threateningly over against us, but is now written in our hearts. In this way the Old Testament law is fulfilled in its transitory form, and at the same time becomes superfluous, after its eternal contents have been recognized, maintained and surpassed.
Commentaries by Ryssel, Lange, Keil, Strack, Baentsch, Bertholet; especially for the Law of Holiness see Horst,