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Leviticus: Chapter 17

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1The LORD spoke to Moses:

2Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them: This is what the LORD has commanded. 3If anyone of the house of Israel slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or slaughters it outside the camp, 4and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to present it as an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, he shall be held guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood, and he shall be cut off from the people. 5This is in order that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the LORD, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and offer them as sacrifices of well‐being to the LORD. 6The priest shall dash the blood against the altar of the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and turn the fat into smoke as a pleasing odor to the LORD, 7so that they may no longer offer their sacrifices for goat‐demons, to whom they prostitute themselves. This shall be a statute forever to them throughout their generations.

8And say to them further: Anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to sacrifice it to the LORD, shall be cut off from the people.

10If anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut that person off from the people. 11For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement. 12Therefore I have said to the people of Israel: No person among you shall eat blood, nor shall any alien who resides among you eat blood. 13And anyone of the people of Israel, or of the aliens who reside among them, who hunts down an animal or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.

14For the life of every creature…its blood is its life; therefore I have said to the people of Israel: You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off. 15All persons, citizens or aliens, who eat what dies of itself or what has been torn by wild animals, shall wash their clothes, and bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening; then they shall be clean. 16But if they do not wash themselves or bathe their body, they shall bear their guilt.

Text Commentary view alone

17.1–16 : Slaughter at the sanctuary.

Chs 1–16 in large part dealt with sacrificial matters. This chapter, which introduces the Holiness Collection (chs 17–26 ; see Introduction), augments these chapters by giving the requirement that sacrifices be offered only at the tent of meeting.

3–4 :

Slaughtering of all sacrificial animals is to be done at the sanctuary. Contrast Deut 12.15–28 , which allows for slaughter of these animals (not as sacrifices) outside the sanctuary (also Num 19.9n. ). If the chapter implicitly allows for the existence of multiple sanctuaries, or if the prescriptions are formulated with only the wilderness situation with a single central sanctuary in view, the apparent stricture of ch 17 may be avoided. The tenor of the chapter, however, suggests there is only one legitimate sanctuary.

4 :

The idea that illicit killing of animals brings blood guilt is used to enforce sanctuary slaughter. Cf. Gen 9.5–6 .

5 :

Sacrifices, i.e., well‐being sacrifices (ch 3; 7.11–36 ). The reason this offering, as opposed to other types from chs 1–7 , is singled out is probably because this sacrifice was used to allow meat to be eaten, so the individual might think it need not be brought to the sanctuary. The blood prohibitions in vv. 10–14 have well‐being offerings mainly in mind.

6 :

Pleasing odor, see 1.9n.

7 :

Goat‐demons, cf. 16.8n.; 2 Chr 11.15; Isa 13.21; 34.14 . Prostitution is a frequent metaphor for idolatry.

10–14 :

Blood is prohibited since it is seen as the animating force of the animals (vv. 11,14; cf. Gen 9.4; Deut 12.23 ). Once it is removed the flesh may be eaten.

11 :

Placing blood on the altar ransoms (Heb “kipper”) the offerer from shedding the animal's blood (cf. v. 4 ). Compare the payment of a ransom in Ex 30.11–16 and Num 31.48–50 to appease divine wrath. See also 16.6–19n.

13 :

Game animals may be eaten in nonsacrificial contexts; cf. Deut 12.16,24 .

15–16 :

The eating of these is not prohibited; cf. 11.39–40n.

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