LEVITICUS CHAPTER 17.
Warning against Desecration of Sacrifices.
ANIMALS TO BE SLAIN BY PRIESTS. - V.1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, v.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, v.3. What man soever there be of the house of Israel that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, the most common sacrificial animals, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, even if the underlying thought be merely that of slaughtering the animal for food, v.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, in some form of peace-offering, blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood, he would be considered guilty of slaughtering an animal without authorization; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, expelled from the congregation of the Lord; v.5. to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, all the clean animals slaughtered for food, 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. As a voluntary sacrifice the flesh of these animals could then be eaten on the same day or on the nest, chap. 7, 1 6. 17. V.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 savor unto the Lord. By this provision both the eating of blood and of the loose fat of the abdominal cavity, which was expressly forbidden, chap. 7, 23-26, was made practically impossible. V.7. And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a-whoring. The idols referred to are demons commonly pictured as he-goats, of which the Egyptians especially believed that they lived in the wilderness. By slaughtering animals in their honor superstitious people thought they could prevent evil influences. It seems that the Egyptian custom had found lodgment among the children of Israel, at least to some extent, and the Lord wanted this form of idolatry eradicated. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. V.8. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsover man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, in the foolish or insolent presumption that he had the right to worship the Lord anywhere, v.9. and bringeth it not unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to offer it unto the Lord, in line with the ordinances which he had set forth, even that man shall be cut off from among his people. This command was to quench all tendencies of the people to choose their own places of worship, as was later done so widely. Israel had its law of sacrifices, and the Lord wanted this law to be observed in all its details. It is true for all times that not only gross idolatry, but also all self-chosen Worship is an abomination unto the Lord and cuts off the willful transgressor from fellowship with the Lord.
EATING OF BLOOD FORBIDDEN. - V.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. Cp. 7, 27. The Lord Himself threatens to be the executor in this case, for the transgression of this law was inconsistent with membership among the holy people of God. V.11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, is carried by 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. Since the blood was the bearer of the soul of the sacrificial animal, therefore the Lord had ordered it to be used as the means of expiation for the souls of men and had forbidden its use for food. V.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. V.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, those that had been declared unclean being, of course, excepted, chap. 11, he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust, to prevent any desecration of the blood as the means of the expiation and atonement for sins. V.14. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is 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. He that ate blood or permitted dogs or other animals to eat blood which he had shed, desecrated that which the Lord had set apart as consecrated to Himself, and thus became guilty. V.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. Cp. chap. 22. 8; Ex. 22, 31. V.16. But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh, then he shall bear his iniquity. He that ate of such food was polluted, and he that touched it was defiled. The Lordís intention was to have the inner purity of the heart symbolized by a strict outward Levitical cleanness, just as He expects the Christians to give evidence of their regenerated hearts in the sanctity of their lives.