Published on
December 27, 2023

Leviticus 1

"Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying..."

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Leviticus 1
“Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.’” Leviticus 1:1-2 (NKJV)

The oldest name for the book of Leviticus is: “The Law of the Priests.”  Today, it is known in Judaism as the book of “Vayikra.”  In modern Judaism, the names of the books of the Bible are taken from their opening Hebrew words. Vayikra means: “and He called” (commanded).

The fundamental concepts of the book are pretty straightforward. Half of the book deals with sacrifice and the laws that safeguard the priestly character of Israel, and the other half with Holiness and the sanctification (setting apart) of human life unto the Lord.

In ancient times, every Jewish boy began his study of Scripture in Leviticus. The idea put forth by the rabbis was, “Because children are ‘pure’ and the sacrifices are pure, let those who are pure come and occupy themselves with pure things.” (midrash)

Now, we all know nobody is born “pure,” for we are all born into sin through Adam. It may take a few months to realize it, but all babies are born sinners who need atonement. Otherwise, why else would we need a book about how to sacrifice and atone for sin properly? Why else would it be so important for this particular book to be the first one taught to children?  

But there is One who knew no sin, original or otherwise. (2 Corinthians 5:21). And He, the Word made flesh (John 1:140, also would have been taught from the Torah as a young boy. Interestingly, the One who would grow up, and Himself be the sacrifice for all sin, would have been taught “how to sacrifice” as His first Biblical lesson.  

Chapters 1-7 define the laws of sacrifice for the individual, the congregation, and the priests. Chapters 8-10 describe the inauguration of worship in the completed Tabernacle. Chapters 11-17 deal with the laws of clean and unclean, purity, and purification, culminating in the institution of the Day of Atonement. (It also explains why you can’t order a cheeseburger or shrimp and lobster at most restaurants in Israel!) Chapters 18-26 legislate marriage, personal and social ethics (Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself), the Sacred Festivals, and land tenure. It concludes with a solemn exhortation on the connection between religion and national welfare, a subject that is probably on every believer’s mind at this season of American history!!

If you have never read Leviticus, you probably have an “Oy vey!” (Woe is me!) attitude about the endeavor. Stick with it because Leviticus is quite dynamic, and it is so easy that even a Jewish child could grasp it! Are you smarter than a Jewish 5th grader?

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