Highlights of Leviticus

Highlights of the Bible in Leviticus - texts explained and practical lessons

Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Leviticus

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Leviticus ‒ Historical context


LEVITICUS

The third book of the Pentateuch, containing laws from God on sacrifices, purity, and other matters connected with Jehovah’s worship. The Levitical priesthood, carrying out its instructions, rendered sacred service in “a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things.”—Heb 8:3-5; 10:1.
Period Covered. Not more than a month is covered by the events given in the book. Most of Leviticus is devoted to listing Jehovah’s ordinances rather than recounting various happenings over an extended period of time. The tabernacle’s erection on the first day of the first month in the second year of Israel’s departure from Egypt is mentioned in the final chapter of Exodus, the book preceding Leviticus. (Ex 40:17) Then, the book of Numbers (immediately following the Leviticus account) in its first verses (1:1-3) begins with God’s command to take a census, stated to Moses “on the first day of the second month in the second year of their coming out of the land of Egypt.”
When and Where Written. The logical time for the writing of the book would be 1512 B.C.E., at Sinai in the wilderness. Testifying that Leviticus was indeed written in the wilderness are its references that reflect camp life.—Le 4:21; 10:4, 5; 14:8; 17:1-5.
Writer. All the foregoing evidence likewise helps to identify the writer as Moses. He received the information from Jehovah (Le 26:46), and the book’s closing words are: “These are the commandments that Jehovah gave Moses as commands to the sons of Israel in Mount Sinai.” (27:34) Besides, Leviticus is a part of the Pentateuch, the writer of which is generally acknowledged to be Moses. Not only does the opening “And . . . ” of Leviticus indicate its connection with Exodus, and therefore with the rest of the Pentateuch, but the way in which Jesus Christ and the writers of the Christian Scriptures refer to it shows that they knew it to be the writing of Moses and an unquestionable part of the Pentateuch. For example, see Christ’s reference to Leviticus 14:1-32 (Mt 8:2-4), Luke’s reference to Leviticus 12:2-4, 8 (Lu 2:22-24), and Paul’s paraphrasing of Leviticus 18:5 (Ro 10:5).
Dead Sea Leviticus Scrolls. Among the manuscripts found at the Dead Sea, nine contain fragments of the book of Leviticus. Four of them, believed to date from 125 to 75 B.C.E., were written in ancient Hebrew characters that were in use before the Babylonian exile.
Value of the Book. God promised Israel that if they obeyed his voice they would become to him “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex 19:6) The book of Leviticus contains a record of God’s installing a priesthood for his nation and giving them the statutes that would enable them to maintain holiness in his eyes. Even though Israel was only God’s typical “holy nation,” whose priests were “rendering sacred service in a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb 8:4, 5), God’s law, if obeyed, would have kept them clean and in line for filling the membership of his spiritual “royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (1Pe 2:9) But the disobedience of the majority deprived Israel of filling exclusively the place of membership in the Kingdom of God, as Jesus told the Jews. (Mt 21:43) Nevertheless, the laws set down in the book of Leviticus were of inestimable value to those heeding them.
Through the sanitary and dietary laws, as well as the regulations on sexual morality, they were provided with safeguards against disease and depravity. (Le chaps 11-15, 18) Especially, however, did these laws benefit them spiritually, because they enabled them to get acquainted with Jehovah’s holy and righteous ways and they helped them to conform to His ways. (11:44) Furthermore, the regulations set out in this portion of the Bible, as part of the Law, served as a tutor leading believing ones to Jesus Christ, God’s great High Priest and the one foreshadowed by the countless sacrifices offered in accord with the Law.—Ga 3:19, 24; Heb 7:26-28; 9:11-14; 10:1-10.
The book of Leviticus continues to be of great value to all today who desire to serve Jehovah acceptably. A study of the fulfillment of its various features in connection with Jesus Christ, the ransom sacrifice, and the Christian congregation is indeed faith strengthening. While it is true that Christians are not under the Law covenant (Heb 7:11, 12, 19; 8:13; 10:1), the regulations set out in the book of Leviticus give them insight into God’s viewpoint on matters. The book is, therefore, not a mere recounting of dry, inapplicable details, but a live source of information. By getting a knowledge of how God views various matters, some of which are not specifically covered in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Christian can be helped to avoid what displeases God and to do what pleases him.

Leviticus ‒ Overview and structure

HIGHLIGHTS OF LEVITICUS

God’s laws, especially concerning the service of the priests in Israel, with emphasis, for the benefit of the nation as a whole, on the seriousness of sin and the importance of being holy because Jehovah is holy
Written by Moses in 1512 B.C.E., while Israel was camped at Mount Sinai
Aaronic priesthood is installed and begins to function
Moses carries out the seven-day installation procedure (8:1-36)
On the eighth day, the priesthood begins to function; Jehovah manifests his approval by displaying his glory and consuming the offering on the altar (9:1-24)
Jehovah strikes down Nadab and Abihu for offering illegitimate fire; subsequently the use of alcoholic drinks when one is serving at the sanctuary is forbidden (10:1-11)
Requirements are outlined for those who will serve as priests; regulations are laid down about eating what is holy (21:1–22:16)
Use of sacrifices in maintaining an approved relationship with God
Laws are given regarding animals acceptable as burnt offerings and how they should be prepared for presentation (1:1-17; 6:8-13; 7:8)
Kinds of grain offerings are stipulated as well as how they are to be presented to Jehovah (2:1-16; 6:14-18; 7:9, 10)
Procedure is laid down for handling communion sacrifices; the eating of blood and fat is forbidden (3:1-17; 7:11-36)
Animals are specified for sin offering in the case of a priest, the assembly of Israel, a chieftain, or one of the people; procedure for handling this offering is outlined (4:1-35; 6:24-30)
Laws are given on situations requiring guilt offerings (5:1–6:7; 7:1-7)
Instructions are handed down regarding the offering to be made on the day of the priest’s being anointed (6:19-23)
All offerings must be sound; defects making an animal unfit for sacrifice are listed (22:17-33)
Atonement Day procedures are outlined involving the sacrifice of a bull and two goats—one goat for Jehovah and the other for Azazel (16:2-34)
Detailed regulations to safeguard against uncleanness and to maintain holiness
Certain animals are acceptable as clean for food and others are prohibited as unclean; uncleanness results from contact with dead bodies (11:1-47)
A woman should be purified from her uncleanness after giving birth (12:1-8)
Procedures for handling cases of leprosy are detailed (13:1–14:57)
Uncleanness results from sexual discharges, and purification is required (15:1-33)
Holiness must be maintained by respecting sanctity of blood and by shunning incest, sodomy, bestiality, slander, spiritism, and other detestable practices (17:1–20:27)
Sabbaths and seasonal festivals to Jehovah
Sabbath days and years as well as regulations and principles touching the Jubilee are laid down (23:1-3; 25:1-55)
The manner of observing the annual Festival of Unfermented Cakes (following Passover) and the Festival of Weeks (later called Pentecost) is detailed (23:4-21)
The procedure for observing the Day of Atonement and the Festival of Booths is outlined (23:26-44)
Blessings for obedience, maledictions for disobedience
Blessings for obedience will include bountiful harvests, peace, and security (26:3-13)
Maledictions because of disobedience will include disease, defeat by enemies, famine, destruction of cities, desolation of land, and exile (26:14-45)

Highlights of Leviticus

Leviticus—A Call to Holy Worship of Jehovah

JEHOVAH’S worshipers must be holy. This the Bible book of Leviticus repeatedly makes very clear. For instance, in it we read: “I am Jehovah your God; and you must sanctify yourselves and you must prove yourselves holy, because I am holy.”—Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26.
Leviticus was written by the prophet Moses at Sinai, apparently in 1512 B.C.E. It covers no more than one month—from the tabernacle’s erection on the first day of the first month in the second year of the Israelites’ release from Egyptian bondage until Jehovah’s census command to Moses “on the first day of the second month in the second year of their coming out of the land of Egypt.” (Numbers 1:1-3; Exodus 40:17) The contents of the book reflect camp life, thus pointing to its composition in the wilderness.—Leviticus 4:21; 10:4, 5; 14:8; 17:1-5.
Witnesses of Jehovah today are not under the Law given by God through Moses, for Jesus Christ’s death did away with that law. (Romans 6:14; Ephesians 2:11-16) Therefore, can the regulations found in Leviticus benefit Christians? If so, in what ways? From this book, what can we learn about our worship of Jehovah?
Contents Emphasize Holiness
Offerings and sacrifices are dealt with in Leviticus chapters 1 through 7. The voluntary burnt offering was presented to God in its entirety, even as Jesus Christ gave himself wholly. Part of the voluntary communion sacrifice was presented to God on the altar, whereas another portion was eaten by the priest and still another by the offerer. Comparably, for anointed Christians the Memorial of Christ’s death is a communion meal.—Leviticus 1:1-17; 3:1-17; 7:11-36; 1 Corinthians 10:16-22.
Sin offerings and guilt offerings were compulsory. The first was to atone for sins committed by mistake or unintentionally, whereas the second apparently was to satisfy God on a right violated and/or to restore certain rights for the repentant wrongdoer. (Leviticus 4:1-35; 5:1–6:7; 6:24-30; 7:1-7) It is noteworthy that more than once the Israelites were reminded not to eat blood. (Leviticus 3:17; 7:26, 27) There were also bloodless grain offerings made in recognition of Jehovah’s bounty. (Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-23; 7:9, 10) Christians today consider all these matters with keen interest, for the sacrifices commanded under the Law covenant all pointed to Jesus Christ and his sacrifice or to benefits flowing therefrom.—Hebrews 8:3-6; 9:9-14; 10:5-10.
Priestly regulations are next set forth. As directed by God, Moses conducted an installation ceremony for Aaron, the high priest, and his four sons as underpriests. The priesthood then began functioning.—Leviticus 8:1–10:20.
Laws governing things clean and unclean are given next. Regulations concerning animals clean or unclean as food protected the Israelites from being infected by harmful organisms and also strengthened the barrier between them and the people of the surrounding nations. Other regulations dealt with uncleanness from dead bodies, the purification of women upon giving birth, procedures involving leprosy, and uncleanness resulting from male and female sexual discharges. The consideration of such laws should impress us with the need to maintain holiness as Jehovah’s worshipers.—Leviticus 11:1–15:33.
The most important sacrifices for sins were offered on the annual day of atonement. Among other things, a bull was offered for the priests and the rest of the tribe of Levi. One goat was sacrificed for Israel’s nonpriestly tribes, and there was the pronouncing of the people’s sins over a live goat that was sent away into the wilderness. Both goats were regarded as one sin offering (16:5), tending to indicate that together they formed one symbol. Accordingly, Jesus Christ not only was sacrificed but also carries away the sins of those for whom he died sacrificially.—Leviticus 16:1-34.
Regulations about the eating of meat and concerning offerings are presented next. Especially noteworthy was the divine prohibition against eating blood. Abstinence from blood remains the standard for those worshiping Jehovah in holiness.—Leviticus 17:1-16; Acts 15:28, 29.
The judicial decisions next set forth concerning incest, sexual perversions and various detestable practices, including idolatry, spiritism, slander, and so forth, should also impress us with the need for holiness in worshiping Jehovah. Appropriately, the priests were to keep themselves holy. Among other things, regulations were set forth regarding the marriage of priests, priestly uncleanness and the eating of holy things.—Leviticus 18:1–22:33.
Mentioned thereafter are the three annual festivals—the Passover in early spring, Pentecost in late spring, and the Festival of Booths, or Ingathering, in the fall. Following this there are regulations involving abuse of Jehovah’s holy name, the observance of Sabbaths (weekly, monthly and every seventh year) and of the Jubilee, conduct toward poor Israelites and the treatment of slaves.—Leviticus 23:1–25:55.
The blessings that would result from obeying God are next contrasted with the maledictions to be experienced for disobedience. There are also regulations about vow offerings and valuations, the firstborn of animals and the giving of every tenth part as “something holy to Jehovah.” These bring to a conclusion “the commandments that Jehovah gave Moses as commands to the sons of Israel in Mount Sinai.”—Leviticus 26:1–27:34.
A careful reading of Leviticus undoubtedly will impress you with its emphasis on holy worship to Jehovah. But you may also encounter some problems. Therefore, the following questions and answers may be of interest.

Holy Offerings and Priestly Service

• 2:11—Why were offerings of honey unacceptable to Jehovah?
Evidently, the honey meant here was not that of bees but the syrup of fruits. Otherwise, it could not have been included among “firstfruits.” (Leviticus 2:12; 2 Chronicles 31:5) Since fruit honey could ferment, it was unacceptable as an offering upon the altar.
• 3:17—Why was the eating of fat forbidden?
The fat was regarded as the best or richest part, as indicated by such a figurative expression as “the fat part of the land.” (Genesis 45:18) Hence, the prohibition against eating fat evidently impressed upon the Israelites the fact that the best parts belonged to Jehovah. Although Christians are not under this restriction of the Law, it may well remind Jehovah’s present-day servants that they should continually give their very best to him.—Proverbs 3:9, 10; Colossians 3:23, 24.
• 10:1, 2—What may have been involved in this sin?
When Nadab and Abihu took these undue liberties, they may have been under the influence of alcohol. This is likely, since soon thereafter Jehovah forbade priests to use wine or intoxicating liquor while serving at the tabernacle. However, the actual reason for the death of Nadab and Abihu was their offering “illegitimate fire, which [Jehovah] had not prescribed for them.” (Leviticus 10:1-11) This incident shows that responsible servants of Jehovah today must comply with divine requirements and that they cannot do justice to God-given duties while under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

Holy Worship Demands Cleanness

• 11:40—How can this regulation be harmonized with Deuteronomy 14:21, which says: “You must not eat any body already dead”?
Actually, there is no disharmony between these texts. Deuteronomy 14:21 forbade the eating of an animal that died of itself or was found dead. But Leviticus 11:40 specified what was required if an Israelite violated this prohibition. Similarly, the Law prohibited such acts as stealing, but some people did steal. Penalties that were imposed upon wrongdoers gave force to the Law’s prohibitions.
• 12:2, 5—Why did childbirth make a woman “unclean”?
The reproductive organs were made to pass on perfect human life. However, because of the inherited effects of sin, imperfect and sinful life was thus passed on to offspring. The temporary periods of ‘uncleanness’ associated with childbirth, menstruation and seminal emissions called this hereditary sinfulness to mind. (Leviticus 15:16-24; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12) Especially was this true with childbirth, for a sin offering was required in connection with it. Interestingly, out of consideration, Jehovah, in this case, allowed the poor to offer birds instead of a more costly sheep. (Leviticus 12:8) Such purification regulations would help the Israelites to appreciate the need for a ransom sacrifice to cover mankind’s sinfulness and restore human perfection. Of course, the animal sacrifices that they offered could not accomplish this. The Law, therefore, was to lead them to Christ and help them appreciate the fact that only his sacrifice could result in true forgiveness and eventual restoration to human perfection.—Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 9:13, 14; 10:3, 4.

Holiness Must Be Maintained

• 16:29—What was meant by ‘afflicting the soul’?
Most likely, ‘afflicting the soul’ here referred to fasting. Among other things, on the day of atonement there was the sacrificing of animals for the sins of the Levites and the rest of the nation. After the high priest confessed the people’s sins of the previous year over a live goat, it was sent away, carrying their sins into the wilderness. In view of the procedure followed on Atonement Day, therefore, fasting at that time evidently was associated with the acknowledgment of sins.—Leviticus 16:5-10, 15, 20-22.
• 20:9—Why was capital punishment prescribed for anyone ‘calling down evil’ on his parents?
A person who cursed his parents and wanted some dire calamity to befall them would have a hateful, murderous disposition. Although he did not use a weapon to kill them, at heart he desired their death. Since such a vicious spirit constitutes murder in Jehovah’s sight, the Law prescribed the same penalty for thus reviling one’s parents as for actually murdering them. This should prompt a Christian to show love, not hatred, for fellow believers.—1 John 3:14, 15.
• 25:35-37—Is it always wrong to charge a brother interest?
If one brother lends money to another for business purposes, the lender may expect a return of the principal and may also charge interest. The borrower is using the money to work for him and make more, and the lender can rightfully share in the productiveness of that money by charging suitable interest. (Compare Matthew 25:27.) However, the Law forbade the charging of interest on loans made to relieve poverty. The lender could expect to get back the principal, but it was considered wrong to profit from a destitute neighbor’s reverses.—Exodus 22:25.
• 26:26—What is meant by ‘ten women baking bread in one oven’?
Normally, each woman would need a separate oven for all the baking she had to do. But these words pointed to such scarcity of food that one oven would be sufficient to handle all the baking done by ten women. This was one of the foretold consequences of ‘walking in opposition’ to Jehovah and thus failing to maintain holiness in his service.—Leviticus 26:23-25.

How Leviticus Can Affect Our Worship

Present-day witnesses of Jehovah are not living under the Law. (Galatians 3:23-25) But since what is said in Leviticus gives us insight into Jehovah’s viewpoint on various matters, it can affect our worship. Note a few ways in which this proves true.
Jehovah, the Sovereign Lord, deserves holy worship. He brooks no rivalry, is holy and demands holiness of those rendering sacred service to him. (Leviticus 11:45; 19:2) This standard also applies to Christian worship, as the apostle Peter made clear when he wrote: “As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accord with the Holy One who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’”—1 Peter 1:14-16.
Jehovah’s name must be kept holy. Jehovah’s Witnesses dare not bring reproach on the divine name, even as the Israelites of old were to guard against this. (Leviticus 22:32; 24:10-16, 23) As those set apart, or sanctified, for Jehovah’s holy service, we rightly must praise his name and pray for its sanctification.—Psalm 7:17; Matthew 6:9.
Jehovah requires that we strive against sin. Forgiveness of sin requires not only an atoning sacrifice but also a confession, repentance and the making of amends to the extent possible. And if we know that another member of the congregation has committed a gross sin but will not confess it, we should bring it to the attention of the appointed elders. (Compare Leviticus 4:2; 5:1, 5, 6.) Of course, for certain sins there is no forgiveness. (Leviticus 20:2, 10; Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29) But if we strive against sin, always endeavoring to do things our heavenly Father’s way and availing ourselves of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can have a proper standing with the holy God, Jehovah.—1 John 2:1, 2.
Clearly, then, Leviticus should affect our worship as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses. It should impress us with the fact that our God demands holiness of his servants. We must, therefore, keep his name holy and constantly strive against sin. Moreover, this Bible book should move us to give the Most High our very best, always maintaining cleanness and holiness in sacred service to the praise of our holy God, Jehovah.


Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Book of Leviticus

A YEAR has not yet passed since the Israelites were liberated from Egyptian bondage. Now organized into a new nation, they are on their way to the land of Canaan. Jehovah’s purpose is to have a holy nation dwell there. However, the way of life and the religious practices of the Canaanites are very degraded. So the true God gives the congregation of Israel regulations that will set it apart for his service. These are recorded in the Bible book of Leviticus. Written by the prophet Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, apparently in 1512 B.C.E., the book covers no more than one lunar month. (Exodus 40:17; Numbers 1:1-3) Jehovah repeatedly urges his worshipers to be holy.—Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26.
Witnesses of Jehovah today are not under the Law given by God through Moses. The death of Jesus Christ did away with that Law. (Romans 6:14; Ephesians 2:11-16) However, the regulations found in Leviticus can benefit us, teaching us much about the worship of our God, Jehovah.

HOLY OFFERINGS—VOLUNTARY AND COMPULSORY

(Leviticus 1:1–7:38)
Some of the offerings and sacrifices of the Law were voluntary, whereas others were compulsory. The burnt offering, for example, was voluntary. It was presented to God in its entirety, even as Jesus Christ willingly and wholly gave his life as a ransom sacrifice. The voluntary communion sacrifice was shared. One part of it was presented to God on the altar, another portion was eaten by the priest, and still another by the offerer. Comparably, for anointed Christians, the Memorial of Christ’s death is a communion meal.—1 Corinthians 10:16-22.
Sin offerings and guilt offerings were compulsory. The first atoned for sins committed by mistake, or unintentionally. The second satisfied God when a right was violated, or it restored certain rights for the repentant wrongdoer—or both. There were also grain offerings made in recognition of Jehovah’s bounty. All these matters are of interest to us because the sacrifices commanded under the Law covenant pointed to Jesus Christ and his sacrifice or to benefits flowing therefrom.—Hebrews 8:3-6; 9:9-14; 10:5-10.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:11, 12—Why was honey “as an offering made by fire” unacceptable to Jehovah? The honey meant here could not refer to that of bees. Though not allowed “as an offering made by fire,” it was included among “the firstfruits of . . . the produce of the field.” (2 Chronicles 31:5) This honey was evidently the juice, or syrup, of fruits. Since it could ferment, it was unacceptable as an offering upon the altar.
2:13—Why did salt have to be presented “with every offering”? This was not done to enhance the flavor of the sacrifices. Around the world, salt is used as a preservative. It was likely presented with offerings because it represents freedom from corruption and decay.

Lessons for Us:

3:17. Since the fat was regarded as the best or the richest part, the prohibition against eating it evidently impressed upon the Israelites that the best part belonged to Jehovah. (Genesis 45:18) This reminds us that we should give our very best to Jehovah.—Proverbs 3:9, 10; Colossians 3:23, 24.
7:26, 27. The Israelites were not to eat blood. In God’s view, blood represents life. “The soul [life] of the flesh is in the blood,” states Leviticus 17:11. Abstinence from blood remains the standard for true worshipers today.—Acts 15:28, 29.
HOLY PRIESTHOOD IS SET FORTH
(Leviticus 8:1–10:20)
Who were given the responsibility of caring for duties involving sacrifices and offerings? That was entrusted to the priests. As directed by God, Moses conducted an installation ceremony for Aaron, the high priest, and for his four sons, who were to be underpriests. The ceremony apparently occupied a seven-day period, and the priesthood began functioning on the following day.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

9:9—What is significant about the pouring of blood at the base of the altar and the placing of it on various items? This demonstrated that Jehovah accepted blood for atonement purposes. The whole atonement arrangement was based on blood. “Nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law,” wrote the apostle Paul, “and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.”—Hebrews 9:22.
10:1, 2—What may have been involved in the sin of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu? Soon after Nadab and Abihu took liberties in performing their priestly duties, Jehovah forbade priests to use wine or intoxicating liquor while serving at the tabernacle. (Leviticus 10:9) This suggests that Aaron’s two sons may have been under the influence of alcohol on the occasion here under consideration. However, the actual reason for their death was their offering “illegitimate fire, which [Jehovah] had not prescribed for them.”

Lessons for Us:

10:1, 2. Responsible servants of Jehovah today must comply with divine requirements. Moreover, they must not be presumptuous as they care for their responsibilities.
10:9. We should not perform God-given duties while under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

HOLY WORSHIP DEMANDS CLEANNESS

(Leviticus 11:1–15:33)
Food regulations concerning clean and unclean animals benefited the Israelites in two ways. These regulations protected them from being infected by harmful organisms and strengthened the barrier between them and the people of the surrounding nations. Other regulations dealt with uncleanness from dead bodies, the purification of women upon giving birth, procedures involving leprosy, and uncleanness resulting from male and female sexual discharges. Priests were to take care of matters dealing with uncleanness contracted by individuals.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

12:2, 5—Why did childbirth make a woman “unclean”? The reproductive organs were made to pass on perfect human life. However, because of the inherited effects of sin, imperfect and sinful life was passed on to the offspring. The temporary periods of ‘uncleanness’ associated with childbirth, as well as other matters, such as menstruation and seminal emissions, called this hereditary sinfulness to mind. (Leviticus 15:16-24; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12) The required purification regulations would help the Israelites to appreciate the need for a ransom sacrifice to cover mankind’s sinfulness and restore human perfection. Thus the Law became their “tutor leading to Christ.”—Galatians 3:24.
15:16-18—What is the “emission of semen” mentioned in these verses? This apparently refers to a nocturnal emission as well as to marital sexual relations.

Lessons for Us:

11:45. Jehovah God is holy and demands that those who render him sacred service be holy. They must pursue holiness and remain physically and spiritually clean.—2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
12:8. Jehovah allowed the poor to offer birds instead of a more costly sheep as a sacrificial offering. He is considerate of the poor.

HOLINESS MUST BE MAINTAINED

(Leviticus 16:1–27:34)
The most important sacrifices for sins were offered on the annual Day of Atonement. A bull was offered for the priests and the tribe of Levi. A goat was sacrificed for Israel’s nonpriestly tribes. Another goat was sent away alive into the wilderness after the people’s sins had been pronounced over it. The two goats were regarded as one sin offering. All of this pointed to the fact that Jesus Christ would be sacrificed and would also carry away sins.
Regulations about the eating of meat and about other matters impress us with the need for holiness when we worship Jehovah. Appropriately, the priests were to keep themselves holy. The three annual festivals were occasions for great rejoicing and the giving of thanks to the Creator. Jehovah also gave his people regulations involving the abuse of his holy name, the observance of Sabbaths and of the Jubilee, conduct toward the poor, and the treatment of slaves. The blessings that would result from obedience to God are contrasted with the maledictions that would be experienced for disobedience. There are also regulations about offerings in connection with vows and valuations, the firstborn of animals, and the giving of every tenth part as “something holy to Jehovah.”

Scriptural Questions Answered:

16:29—In what way were the Israelites to ‘afflict their souls’? This procedure, followed on Atonement Day, revolved around seeking forgiveness for sins. Fasting at that time was evidently associated with the acknowledgment of sinfulness. Most likely, then, ‘afflicting the soul’ referred to fasting.
19:27—What is meant by the command not to “cut [the] sidelocks short around” or “destroy the extremity” of the beard? This law was evidently given to prevent the Jews from trimming their beards or hair in a way that would imitate certain pagan practices. (Jeremiah 9:25, 26; 25:23; 49:32) However, God’s command did not mean that the Jews could not trim their beards or facial hair at all.—2 Samuel 19:24.
25:35-37—Was it always wrong for the Israelites to charge interest? If the money was lent for business purposes, the lender could charge interest. However, the Law forbade the charging of interest on loans made to relieve poverty. Profiting from a destitute neighbor’s economic reversals was wrong.—Exodus 22:25.
26:19—How can ‘the heavens become like iron and the earth like copper’? Because of a lack of rain, the heavens over the land of Canaan would become in appearance like hard, nonporous iron. Without rain, the earth would have a copper-colored, metallic brightness.
26:26—What is meant by ‘ten women baking bread in one oven’? Normally, each woman would need a separate oven for all the baking she had to do. But these words pointed to such scarcity of food that one oven would be sufficient to handle all the baking done by ten women. This was one of the foretold consequences of failing to maintain holiness.

Lessons for Us:

20:9. A hateful and vicious spirit was as bad as murder in Jehovah’s sight. He therefore prescribed the same penalty for reviling one’s parents as for actually murdering them. Should this not prompt us to show love for fellow believers?—1 John 3:14, 15.
22:32; 24:10-16, 23. Jehovah’s name is not to be reproached. On the contrary, we must praise his name and pray for its sanctification.—Psalm 7:17; Matthew 6:9.

How Leviticus Affects Our Worship

Jehovah’s Witnesses today are not living under the Law. (Galatians 3:23-25) Since what is said in Leviticus gives us insight into Jehovah’s viewpoint on various matters, however, it can affect our worship.
As you do the weekly Bible reading in preparation for the Theocratic Ministry School, no doubt you will be impressed with the fact that our God requires holiness of his servants. This Bible book can also move you to give the Most High your very best, always maintaining holiness to his praise.

Leviticus ‒ Importance and benefits

WHY BENEFICIAL

28 As a part of the inspired Scriptures, the book of Leviticus is of great benefit to Christians today. It is of wonderful help in appreciating Jehovah, his attributes, and his ways of dealing with his creatures, as he so clearly demonstrated with Israel under the Law covenant. Leviticus states many basic principles that will always apply, and it contains many prophetic patterns, as well as prophecies, that are faith strengthening to consider. Many of its principles are restated in the Christian Greek Scriptures, some of them being directly quoted. Seven outstanding points are discussed below.
29 (1) Jehovah’s sovereignty. He is the Lawgiver, and we as his creatures are accountable to him. Rightly he commands us to be in fear of him. As the Universal Sovereign, he brooks no rivalry, be that in the form of idolatry, spiritism, or other aspects of demonism.—Lev. 18:4; 25:17; 26:1; Matt. 10:28; Acts 4:24.
30 (2) Jehovah’s name. His name is to be kept holy, and we dare not bring reproach upon it by words or by actions.—Lev. 22:32; 24:10-16; Matt. 6:9.
31 (3) Jehovah’s holiness. Because he is holy, his people must also be holy, that is, sanctified, or set apart for his service. This includes keeping separate from the godless world around us.—Lev. 11:44; 20:26; Jas. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16.
32 (4) The exceeding sinfulness of sin. It is God who determines what is sin, and we must strive against it. Sin always requires an atoning sacrifice. In addition, it also requires of us confession, repentance, and making amends to the extent possible. For certain sins there can be no forgiveness.—Lev. 4:2; 5:5; 20:2, 10; 1 John 1:9; Heb. 10:26-29.
33 (5) The sanctity of blood. Because blood is sacred, it may not be taken into the body in any form. The only use permitted for blood is as an atonement for sin.—Lev. 17:10-14; Acts 15:29; Heb. 9:22.
34 (6) Relativity in guilt and punishment. Not all sins and sinners were considered in the same light. The higher the office, the greater the responsibility and penalty for sin. Willful sin was punished more severely than unintentional sin. Penalties were often graded according to ability to pay. This principle of relativity also applied in fields other than sin and punishment, such as in ceremonial uncleanness.—Lev. 4:3, 22-28; 5:7-11; 6:2-7; 12:8; 21:1-15; Luke 12:47, 48; Jas. 3:1; 1 John 5:16.
35 (7) Justice and love. Summing up our duties toward our fellowman, Leviticus 19:18 says: “You must love your fellow as yourself.” This takes in everything. It precludes showing partiality, stealing, lying, or slandering, and it requires showing consideration to the handicapped, the poor, the blind, and the deaf.—Lev. 19:9-18; Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:8-13.
36 Also proving that Leviticus is outstandingly “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness” in the Christian congregation are the repeated references made to it by Jesus and his apostles, notably Paul and Peter. These called attention to the many prophetic patterns and shadows of things to come. As Paul noted, “the Law has a shadow of the good things to come.” It sets forth “a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things.”—2 Tim 3:16; Heb. 10:1; 8:5.
37 The tabernacle, the priesthood, the sacrifices, and especially the annual Atonement Day had typical significance. Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, helps us to identify the spiritual counterparts of these things in relation to “the true tent” of Jehovah’s worship. (Heb. 8:2) The chief priest Aaron typifies Christ Jesus “as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent.” (Heb. 9:11; Lev. 21:10) The blood of the animal sacrifices foreshadows the blood of Jesus, which obtains “everlasting deliverance for us.” (Heb. 9:12) The innermost compartment of the tabernacle, the Most Holy, into which the high priest entered only on the annual Day of Atonement to present the sacrificial blood, is “a copy of the reality,” “heaven itself,” to which Jesus ascended “to appear before the person of God for us.”—Heb. 9:24; Lev. 16:14, 15.
38 The actual sacrificial victims—sound, unblemished animals offered as burnt or sin offerings—represent the perfect unblemished sacrifice of the human body of Jesus Christ. (Heb. 9:13, 14; 10:1-10; Lev. 1:3) Interestingly, Paul also discusses the feature of the Atonement Day where the carcasses of animals for the sin offering were taken outside the camp and burned. (Lev. 16:27) “Hence Jesus also,” writes Paul, “suffered outside the gate. Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore.” (Heb. 13:12, 13) By such inspired interpretation, the ceremonial procedures outlined in Leviticus take on added significance, and we can indeed begin to comprehend how marvelously Jehovah there made awesome shadows pointing forward to realities that could be made plain only by the holy spirit. (Heb. 9:8) Such proper understanding is vital for those who are to benefit by the provision for life that Jehovah makes through Christ Jesus, the “great priest over the house of God.”—Heb. 10:19-25.
39 Like Aaron’s priestly household, Jesus Christ as High Priest has underpriests associated with him. These are spoken of as “a royal priesthood.” (1 Pet. 2:9) Leviticus clearly points to and explains the sin-atoning work of Jehovah’s great High Priest and King and the requirements laid upon the members of His household, who are spoken of as “happy and holy” and as being ‘priests of God and of the Christ and ruling as kings with him for the thousand years.’ What blessings that priestly work will accomplish in lifting obedient mankind up to perfection, and what happiness that heavenly Kingdom will bring by restoring peace and righteousness to the earth! Surely, we must all thank the holy God, Jehovah, for his arranging for a High Priest and King and a royal priesthood to declare abroad His excellencies in sanctification of His name! Truly, Leviticus blends in wonderfully with “all Scripture” in making known Jehovah’s Kingdom purposes.—Rev. 20:6.

Consult these references in the "Watchtower Online Library"
Highlights of Leviticus

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