Here are all of the posts from Leviticus put together into a word-cloud. The bigger the word, the more times it showed up in the posts.
Tag Archives: Leviticus
After having gone through the book of Leviticus chapter by chapter, i see this book much as i did before. It is YHWH’s rules and regulation for the nation of Israel. It is a defining of His covenant with them. God both issues directives to obey the rules and promises to help and allow the people to obey and prosper.
Leviticus is an important book in that it sets the tone and direction for the expectations for the nation of Israel. It is the measuring rod by which the actions and motive of the nation are defined. Without Leviticus, there is no understanding of YHWH’s interactions with the nation of Israel. Without understanding that there are rules and what the rules are, we have no ground by which to judge the sin or righteousness of man. As such, we have no foundation for understanding sin and the need for salvation and a savior. While rules and laws may seem constricting and confining at times, they are actually more boundaries that when understood and followed allow us freedom to live happy, healthy, and satisfying lives without fear and stress of the aftereffects of our actions.
I really like C.S. Lewis’ quote from The Pilgrim’s Regress “When everything you eat is more or less poison, you need very strict rules to stay healthy” (rough quote). The point is that when sin abounds in the world, understanding where the rules and limitations are gives you the freedom to live life within those limitations and without fear of their destruction.
That is the beauty of Leviticus, or that should have been the beauty of Leviticus for the Israelite people.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
I was not expecting the last chapter of Leviticus (the book of the law) to be what it is. I don’t quite know what i was expecting. For some reason i figured it would be about some parting words the LORD had for Moses before leaving Mount Sinai, or that Moses and the sons of Israel packed up what they had and began to head out to Canaan.
Instead this last chapter is about value, ownership, dedication to the LORD, and tithe. It starts out placing a monetary value on people of different ages. Each has a different value depending on their age, sex, and the amount of time until the year of jubilee. What i think is interesting about this is that it pushes this concept that ownership of people, animals, homes, and land only truly belongs to the LORD / YHWH.
When most things of true value are sold or redeemed, they are done so with reference to the year of Jubilee. If a field is dedicated to the LORD, the priest places the value of that field at a certain price, related to how many years until the year of jubilee. After which the LORD reverts that land back to the family that He initially gave it to.
Thus it is not slavery, but servanthood. When a person is “sold”, they are done so in reference to the amount of labor that person would do between then and the year of jubilee. It is understood that the “Master” is not “buying” a person. They are simply paying for service from a person for a certain time period. This would be similar to a person signing a contract to work for a company for a certain number of years.
The other major theme is that of tithe. Of all of the animals that the people of Israel own, one out of every 10 must be returned to God. As they go through the gate, every 10th, whether male or female, the pick of the flock or a little sickly one, the 10th gets dedicated to Him. Also, the first that opens the womb is holy to YHWH. Thus the first lamb, the first goat, the first bull, etc. that are born; they must be dedicated to YHWH and returned to Him.
The emphasis here is ownership. Everything; the land, the people, the flocks, the fruit of the harvest, they all belong to YHWH. We are simply caretakers receiving back a part of the profits from our hard work. Do we view life and our work that way? Do we recognize that all that we “own” belongs not to us but to YHWH? Do we treat people and our things as if this is the case? Should we?
As we are closing up on the end of the book of Leviticus, God / YHWH paints a picture of what the rest of the Old Testament / Covenant will look like. It is a peek into the future of Israelite people, and a picture of both the good and the bad. I just wish that it wasn’t SO bad. Ultimately though, we begin to see the picture of the peoples relationship to God. We get a feel for just how much the people will turn away, and how that turning away will affect their relationship with YHWH and their own futures.
YHWH starts off with a command. “‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or… You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD (YHWH).” It’s simple really. Don’t worship idols / false gods, and keep His Sabbaths and reverence His sanctuary. How difficult can that be. Apparently that can be very difficult because it does not take long (a single generation after Joshua) for all of it to begin to fall apart.
Are we any different? Have we changed any from this in the thousands of years since it was written, or are we still going from generation to generation following the ways and directions of our culture over what God’s word says? This is the picture of the Old Testament, the entire 49 books. Yet, this is also the picture of today. Instead of pursuing God / YHWH, we are pursuing education and technology and financial stability and comfortable homes. Instead of keeping His Sabbaths and revering His sanctuary, we are keeping ourselves as busy as we possibly can with all of our “responsibilities”. We are too busy trying to stay busy, that we push away the very purpose of our lives. In the end, what does that bring us? …exhaustion, sickness, loss, anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, seeing the work that we have built coming to nothing?
Our pursuit needs to be not a pursuit of what’s the best, brightest, and shiniest. It needs to be a pursuit of YHWH first and foremost. We need to not make the same old mistakes that the Old Testament Israelites made. We must pursue YHWH.
John J. Camiolo Jr.
During this time that my hand has been in a cast, it has not been totally useless. As a result, i have been able to finally get chapter 25 finished.
As i am working through all of this, i’ve been starting to get a bigger / stronger picture. Leviticus 25 has been about ownership, and understanding our place in the bigger picture of it. The LORD promises to the people that He will give them the land of Canaan. Yet at the same time, even while He is giving it to them, it does not belong to them. The people of Israel are simply caring for the land and reaping of its harvest as a result. They do not have true ownership. God alone reserves that right.
Every seven years the people are to respect the land by letting it lie fallow / dormant for a year. This Sabbath rest allows the land to rest and heal from use and prevent abuse due to over-use. It is YHWH’s command to His people to not mistreat and abuse His land.
Then after every seven Sabbath’s is the year of Jubilee. In the year of Jubilee the land rests for a second year, all debts are released, and all land ownership goes back to the original caretakers. Anyone that has been paid for in slavery / servanthood is released and their freedom is returned to them.
It is a time of understanding that the land, the animals, the people; they do not belong to the people, they belong to YHWH. They are His and they must be returned to His plans for them. In the same sense, by understanding this concept, it means better understanding of and treatment towards others.
Outside of this project, i have also been reading about Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, and slavery. In processing through all of this information, i think that i understand slavery a little bit better. There will always be the wealthy and the poor. There will always be those with more than they need, and the ability to improve on their financial situation. There will also always be those who just can’t seem to break free of poverty. Whatever the reason is, there will always be those who struggle to get by.
When the basis of a person’s understanding is that no one and nothing is truly owned by another. That there is no one of more value than another. That YHWH owns all and demands respect for His creation… Then, those who have more and have the ability to continually manage well what has been given them, can care for his fellow man by providing for them. So the riches of the rich help to sustain the poor while the poor is having difficulty sustaining themselves. The wealthy provide for the poor, in the meantime the poor work for and learn to manage that which belongs to the rich. Thus slavery is not about abuse and mistreatment of man. In fact, it is just the opposite. Slavery / servanthood becomes about taking care of and providing for those who cannot care for themselves.
However, this concept ONLY works when the wealthy (and everyone else) truly understand ownership. When those who are prospering understand that all belongs to YHWH and not themselves, then respect of personhood prevails. As a result there is not abuse and maltreatment, there is love, caring, and provision for those in need. Slavery / servanthood becomes about love and compassion rather than abuse and maltreatment.
It all stems from understanding ownership… do we?
Whenever YHWH sets a leader over His people, He sets up some pretty high expectations. There are things that the people can do that the leaders must stay away from. Those who act as priests, prophets, and kings are expected to live at a higher standard than those who do not have a direct connection and responsibility to YHWH.
In this chapter those of the priestly line and especially the priests who serve the LORD are instructed that they may not defile themselves by a corpse unless it is a direct family member. Even then, the high priest may not even do that. They may not marry a woman who has been widowed or divorced, or who has slept with any other man at any time in her life. She must be a virgin or he may not marry her. Nor may a priest tear his clothes in mourning or uncover his head. If his daughter profanes herself in harlotry, it rests on him as well. Then finally, if there is any physical defect in a man, He may not serve as priest before the LORD. YHWH even goes so far as to say that if a man has a broken hand or foot, he may not serve the LORD.
Do we take our responsibility in representing the LORD seriously? Do we set ourselves apart from the world, or do we do what everyone else is doing? As people who pursue God and seek His work and will in our lives, we should be living examples of God and His work and will. We should be truly pursuing Him in all holiness.
Leviticus 20 parallel’s chapter 18 in most ways. They both deal with those things that profane the people and the land. They both respond to sexual sins and blatant ungodliness. Both refer to the corruption of the nation through the corruption of the people, and that the very land itself will spew them out when their actions come out this way.
All of this is important for all people. These are sins that cause the land to become unfertile and to reject its inhabitants, whether they be Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or Hindu’s, or Buddhists, or Atheists, or Animists, any others. When we pursue sexual immorality and spiritists, we will find time and time again that our nations will become more and more corrupt and that we will lose what we cherish most.
On a more positive note, in this chapter we come across a new name of God; YHWH Qadash. YHWH Qadash appears in verse 8, and it means the LORD (YHWH) who sanctifies you. It is a beautiful picture of how YHWH cherishes His people and sets them apart for Himself. Those who are His children are blessed and honored by His name and His work in and through us. We are pursued and set apart by the Most Holy God. It is both an honor and a responsibility, and it must not be taken lightly. It must not be profaned.
Leviticus 19 is a chapter of miscellaneous (sundry) laws and regulations. It starts out focusing on idolatry and that that is to be forbidden among the people of Israel. From there, the chapter focuses on various laws directly and indirectly related to the Ten Commandments, such as not stealing and dealing falsely with neighbors, and not swearing falsely in the name of YHWH. There are also other sundry laws. Some of those laws we will see again, and some don’t really reoccur in the Torah.
Here we see the command not to take vengeance on your neighbor because “I am the LORD (YHWH)” We also see commands about what to do with the fruit of your fruit bearing trees in the first five years after they are planted, as well as tattoos and self-cutting, and having respect for those with grey hair.
Overall, there are many interesting laws and regulations within this chapter, most of which i haven’t even hinted at. So i recommend that you take some time and look through and read the chapter for yourself.
“Then God (Elohim) spoke all these words, saying,
‘I am the LORD your God (YHWH Elohim), who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God (YHWH Elohim), am a jealous God (Elohim),’” Exodus 20:1-5a
Leviticus 17 expands on and deals with the particulars of this passage a little bit more. There are two connected issues here. First, no one may slaughter an ox, lamb, or goat within or outside of camp without bringing the body to the tabernacle to offer it as an offering to the LORD. This is to ensure that there is no other worship except the worship of YHWH in the Israelite camp. If a man or a woman sacrificed an animal to another god, that would have brought defilement upon the camp and people of Israel.
Reading that you could not slaughter an ox, sheep, or goat without offering it as a sacrifice to YHWH, i wonder how the Israelites could harvest their flocks and herds. If sheep, goats and oxen were the primary means of meat for the Israelites, and they could only be slaughtered to sacrifice them to God, where do they get the meat needed to live on? I don’t have the answer to that one, but knowing me, i’m probably just missing something simple.
The second part of this chapter deals with the command not to consume blood. Blood is the life of the creature. That’s been backed up by research for centuries. The essence of the creature, it’s life and support system, comes from the blood. As such, God requires that we do not consume of it. In fact, when we hunt or kill an animal, we are instructed to let the blood drain out and cover it with dirt.
Do we take Exodus 20:1-5a seriously? Have we made for ourselves gods other than YHWH? Obviously we don’t make idols. However, we have a tendency to worship, pursue, and trust in many things other than YHWH. Some worship the god of money, others the god of family, others the god of education, others of technology. Most American’s worship and bow down to the god of self. When we place any of these things before YHWH, we are making them gods in our eyes. What will it have to take to change our view and for us to start truly worshiping YHWH, the one true God, once again?
Most of the sacrifices previously mentioned have been for the individual. Whether it was a burnt offering, or a peace offering, or a wave offering, or a grain offering. Each person would bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle to cover their own sins or for themselves and their families. However, the day of atonement is different.
The day of atonement is very special in comparison to the other “daily” sacrifices. The day of atonement occurs once per year on the 10th day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. It is a time when all of the congregation of Israel was to get together at the tabernacle / temple for a special sacrifice for all. The day of atonement is about bringing cleansing to the high priest and his family; to the tabernacle, alter and tools of worship; and to the congregation of Israel as a whole. It’s about purifying and bringing all to right. It’s kind of like rebooting or restoring a computer. It cleans out the system and gives a fresh start.
This is very important over the succeeding centuries, and if it had been done and taken seriously as it should have been, it would have gone a long way to help prevent the corruption and downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah. Yet it didn’t.
This principle still applies today. While it is important for each individual to come to repentance before the LORD, and that seems to be a lost art. Even more so the repentance of the nation. How often do we take responsibility for the sins of the nation. How often do we come to YHWH in worship of Him and seeking not only forgiveness and healing for our own sins but for those of our nation. How often do we take responsibility for the decisions and direction of the nation. It is something that the leaders of the nation especially are to do, but that the people of the nation need to pursue and take accountability for as well. It is our nation and our responsibility.
Rev. John Camiolo