Highlights of Leviticus 1-5

Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Leviticus 1-5

*** w04 5/15 p. 21 par. 1-p. 22 par. 2 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.


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.

*** w11 2/15 p. 15 par. 11 Gaining God’s Approval Leads to Everlasting Life ***
11 Under the Law covenant, God’s people offered acceptable sacrifices to gain his favor. “In case you should sacrifice a communion sacrifice to Jehovah,” says Leviticus 19:5, “you should sacrifice it to gain approval for yourselves.” In the same Bible book, we read: “In case you should sacrifice a thanksgiving sacrifice to Jehovah, you should sacrifice it to gain approval for you.” (Lev. 22:29) When the Israelites offered up proper animal sacrifices on Jehovah’s altar, the smoke that drifted up was like “a restful odor” to the true God. (Lev. 1:9, 13) He felt soothed and refreshed by those expressions of love from his people. (Gen. 8:21, ftn.) In these features of the Law, we find a principle that applies today. Those offering acceptable sacrifices to Jehovah receive his approval. What sacrifices does he accept? Consider two areas of life: our conduct and our speech.

*** w00 8/15 pp. 15-16 pars. 14-15 Sacrifices That Pleased God ***
14 The grain offering is described in Leviticus chapter 2. It was a voluntary offering consisting of fine flour, usually moistened with oil, with frankincense added. “The priest must grasp from it his handful of its fine flour and its oil along with all its frankincense; and he must make it smoke as a remembrancer of it upon the altar, as an offering made by fire of a restful odor to Jehovah.” (Leviticus 2:2) Frankincense was one of the ingredients of the holy incense burned on the incense altar in the tabernacle and temple. (Exodus 30:34-36) King David evidently had this in mind when he said: “May my prayer be prepared as incense before you, the raising up of my palms as the evening grain offering.”—Psalm 141:2.
15 Another voluntary offering was the communion sacrifice, described in Leviticus chapter 3. The name can also be translated “a sacrifice of peace offerings.” In Hebrew, the word “peace” denotes much more tan simply being free from war or disturbance. “In the Bible, it denotes this, and also the state or relation of peace with God, prosperity, joy, and happiness,” says the book Studies in the Mosaic Institutions. Thus, communion sacrifices were offered, not to secure peace with God, as if to appease him, but to express gratitude for or to celebrate the blessed condition of peace with God enjoyed by those who are approved by him. The priests and the offerer partook of the sacrifice after the blood and fat were offered to Jehovah. (Leviticus 3:17; 7:16-21; 19:5-8) In a beautiful and symbolic way, the offerer, the priests, and Jehovah God were sharing in a meal, signifying the peaceful relationship that existed among them.

*** w12 1/15 p. 19 pars. 11-12 Learn From ‘the Framework of Truth’ ***
11 Certain sacrifices stipulated by the Mosaic Law were considered communion offerings. These signified peace with Jehovah. The person making such an offering and his family would eat the meat of the sacrificed animal, perhaps in one of the temple’s dining rooms. The officiating priest received a portion of the meat, as did the other priests serving at the temple. (Lev. 3:1, ftn.; 7:31-33) The worshipper made his sacrifice purely out of the desire to enjoy a good relationship with God. It was as though the worshipper, his family, the priests, and Jehovah himself were joyfully partaking of a meal together, in peace.
12 What greater privilege could there be than, in a symbolic way, to invite Jehovah to such a meal and for him to accept? Naturally, the host would want to offer his very best to such an honored guest. The provision of communion sacrifices, part of the Law’s framework of truth, pointed to the fact that by means of Jesus’ greater sacrifice, all those of mankind who desire to attain an intimate, peaceful relationship with their Creator can do so. Today, we can enjoy Jehovah’s friendship and company as we voluntarily sacrifice our resources and energies in his service.

Lev 3:9 - *** it-1 p. 813 Fat ***
(Leviticus 3:9) 9 He will present the fat from the communion sacrifice as an offering made by fire to Jehovah. He will remove the entire fat tail near the backbone, the fat that covers the intestines, all the fat that surrounds the intestines,
The Law Regarding Fat. In the third chapter of Leviticus, Jehovah gave the Israelites instructions concerning the use of fat in communion sacrifices. When offering cattle or goats, they were to make the fat around the loins and intestines and that over the kidneys, as well as the fatty appendage upon the liver, smoke upon the altar. In the case of sheep, the entire fatty tail likewise was to be offered. (The sheep of Syria, Palestine, Arabia, and Egypt have fat tails, often weighing 5 kg [11 lbs] or more.) The Law specifically said, “All the fat belongs to Jehovah . . . You must not eat any fat or any blood at all.”—Le 3:3-17.
Fat would burn fiercely and would be quite thoroughly consumed upon the altar. Any fat offered on the altar was not to be left over until the next morning; it was likely to corrupt and become offensive, something very unseemly for any part of the sacred offerings.—Ex 23:18.

Lev 3:11 - *** it-1 p. 813 Fat ***
(Leviticus 3:11) 11 And the priest will make it smoke on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to Jehovah.
The fat was viewed as the richest part of the flesh of the animal. The offering of the fat of the animal would evidently be in recognition of the fact that the best parts belong to Jehovah, who provides abundantly, and it would demonstrate the desire of the worshiper to offer the best to God. Because it was symbolic of the Israelites’ devotion of their best to Jehovah, it was said to smoke upon the altar as “food” and for “a restful odor” to him. (Le 3:11, 16)

Lev 3:17 - *** w08 12/15 p. 32 Questions From Readers
At Nehemiah 8:10, the Jews were told to “eat the fatty things,” even though the Law at Leviticus 3:17 said: “You must not eat any fat.” How can these statements be harmonized?
In the original language, the words translated “the fatty things” at Nehemiah 8:10 and “fat” at Leviticus 3:17 are different. The Hebrew word che′lev, translated “fat” at Leviticus 3:17, refers to the fat either of animals or of men. (Lev. 3:3; Judg. 3:22) The context of verse 17 shows that the Israelites were not to eat the layers of fat found around the intestines and the kidneys of sacrificial animals nor the fat upon the loins because “all the fat belongs to Jehovah.” (Lev. 3:14-16) So the fat in the body of animals to be offered to Jehovah was not to be consumed.
On the other hand, the word translated “the fatty things” at Nehemiah 8:10 is mash•man•nim′, and this is the only occurrence of this word in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is derived from the verb sha•men′, which means “be fat, grow fat.” The basic concept of the group of words related to this verb seems to be prosperity and well-being. (Compare Isaiah 25:6.) One of the words most commonly derived from this verb is the noun she′men, which is often translated “oil,” including in the expression “olive oil.” (Deut. 8:8; Lev. 24:2) As used at Nehemiah 8:10, mash•man•nim′ seems to refer to food prepared with a large quantity of oil and may even have included meat with some traces of fat but not layers of pure animal fat.
Although the Israelites were forbidden to consume the layers of animal fat, they could eat rich, tasty food. Some things, such as cakes made from grain, were cooked, not in animal fat, but in vegetable oil, often olive oil. (Lev. 2:7) Thus, Insight on the Scriptures explains that “the fatty things” here “refers to rich portions, things not skinny or dry, but luscious, including tasty items prepared with vegetable oils.”
Christians, of course, bear in mind that the prohibition against eating fat was part of the Law. They are not under the Law, including its requirements related to animal sacrifices.—Rom. 3:20; 7:4, 6; 10:4; Col. 2:16, 17.

Lev 4:22 - *** it-1 p. 433 Chieftain ***
(Leviticus 4:22) 22 “‘When a chieftain unintentionally sins by doing one of all the things that Jehovah his God commands should not be done and has become guilty,
Although chieftains were to be respected, they were not above obedience to the law of God. When they sinned against the Law, they were required to meet its regulations regarding such sins. Because of their responsible position and the effect their conduct, example, and influence would have on others, a distinction was made in the individual sin offerings made by them for unintentionally violating a command of God. The high priest was required to offer a young bull, a chieftain was to offer a male goat, and anyone of the rest of the people, either a female goat or a female lamb.—Le 4:3, 22, 23, 27, 28, 32.

*** w12 1/15 p. 18 pars. 9-10 Learn From ‘the Framework of Truth’ ***
9 What can be said, though, of a situation in which the Mosaic Law required a sin offering or a guilt offering from an individual because of some shortcoming on his part? Do you think that the obligatory nature of the sacrifice would have made a difference to a person’s willingness and attitude in offering it? Might such sacrifices have been offered begrudgingly? (Lev. 4:27, 28) They would not have been if the person involved was sincere in wanting to maintain a good relationship with Jehovah.
10 Similarly today, you may realize that thoughtlessly, unwittingly, or carelessly, you may have offended a brother. Your conscience may tell you that you have fallen short in your conduct. Anyone who is serious about serving Jehovah would do all in his power to rectify the shortcoming, would he not? That could mean apologizing sincerely to the person offended or, in the case of serious wrongdoing, seeking the spiritual assistance of loving Christian overseers. (Matt. 5:23, 24; Jas. 5:14, 15) So it costs us something to rectify a sin committed against a fellow man or against God himself. Even so, when we make such “sacrifices,” we restore our relationship with Jehovah and our brother and we gain a clean conscience. This, in turn, reassures us that Jehovah’s way is the best way.

Lev 5:1 - *** w97 8/15 p. 27 Why Report What Is Bad? ***
Handling the Matter
First of all, it is important that there is valid reason to believe that serious wrongdoing has really occurred. “Do not become a witness against your fellowman without grounds,” stated the wise man. “Then you would have to be foolish with your lips.”—Proverbs 24:28.
You may decide to go directly to the elders. It is not wrong to do so. Usually, however, the most loving course is to approach the person involved. Perhaps the facts are not as they appear to be. Or perhaps the situation is already being handled by the elders. Calmly discuss the matter with the person. If there remains reason to believe that a serious wrong has been committed, encourage him or her to approach the elders for help, and explain the wisdom of doing so. Do not talk to others about the matter, for that would be gossip.
If the person does not report to the elders within a reasonable period of time, then you should. One or two elders will then discuss the matter with the accused. The elders need to “search and investigate and inquire thoroughly” to see if wrong has been done. If it has, they will handle the case according to Scriptural guidelines.—Deuteronomy 13:12-14.

*** w12 2/15 p. 22 par. 15 Preserve the Positive Spirit of the Congregation ***
15 As was previously mentioned, it is important to maintain confidentiality in certain matters, especially when others share with us their feelings and thoughts. How wrong and hurtful it is to spread confidential information about someone! Even so, when serious sin has been committed, those Scripturally obligated to handle the matter—the elders in the congregation—should be informed. (Read Leviticus 5:1.) So if we know that a brother or a sister has fallen into such wrongdoing, we should encourage that one to approach the elders and seek their help. (Jas. 5:13-15) If he or she does not do so within a reasonable period of time, though, we should report the wrongdoing.

*** lv chap. 14 pp. 164-165 Be Honest in All Things *** [Box on page 164, 165]
“You protect a friend by helping him to conceal his sins.” The truth is, we would do a sinner great harm by helping to conceal his sins. Serious sins are signs of real spiritual illness; concealing them is like hiding serious symptoms from a qualified doctor. (James 5:14, 15) The sinner may fear the possibility of discipline; but discipline is an expression of Jehovah’s love, and it may well save the sinner’s life. (Proverbs 3:12; 4:13) Furthermore, the persistent sinner likely presents a real danger to others in the congregation. Would you want to assist in the spread of his wrong attitudes that led him into sin? (Leviticus 5:1; 1 Timothy 5:22) By all means, then, make sure that the erring one brings the matter to the attention of the congregation elders.

w09 6/1 p. 26 He Is Considerate of Our Limitations
Leviticus 5:2-11
He Is Considerate of Our Limitations
“I TRIED really hard, but I never felt that it was enough.” So said one woman about her efforts to please God. Does Jehovah God accept the best efforts of his worshippers? Does he take into account their abilities and circumstances? To answer these questions, it is helpful to consider what is said in the Mosaic Law about certain offerings, as found at Leviticus 5:2-11.
Under the Law, God required various sacrifices, or offerings, to atone for sins. In the cases mentioned in this passage, the individual had sinned unintentionally or thoughtlessly. (Verses 2-4) When the matter came to his attention, he was to confess his sin and present a guilt offering—“a female lamb or a female kid of the goats.” (Verses 5, 6) But what if he was poor and did not have a lamb or a goat to offer? Did the Law demand that he borrow such an animal, thus falling into debt? Did he have to work until he could afford one, thereby delaying atonement for his sins?
Reflecting Jehovah’s tender consideration, the Law said: “If, though, he cannot afford enough for a sheep, then he must bring as his guilt offering for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two young pigeons to Jehovah.” (Verse 7) The phrase “if . . . he cannot afford” may also be rendered “if . . . his hand cannot reach.” If an Israelite was too poor to afford a sheep, then God was pleased to accept something that was within the offerer’s reach—two turtledoves or two pigeons.
What if the individual did not have the means even for the two birds? “Then he must bring as his offering for the sin he has committed the tenth of an ephah [eight or nine cups] of fine flour for a sin offering,” the Law stated. (Verse 11) For the very poor, Jehovah chose to make an exception and allow a sin offering without blood. In Israel, poverty denied no one the blessing of atonement or the privilege of making peace with God.
What do we learn about Jehovah from the law regarding guilt offerings? He is a compassionate, understanding God who takes into account the limitations of his worshippers. (Psalm 103:14) He wants us to draw close to him and cultivate a good relationship with him even if we have challenging circumstances, such as advancing age, poor health, family or other obligations. We can find comfort in knowing that Jehovah God is pleased when we do all that is within our reach.

*** w13 6/15 pp. 15-16 pars. 15-16 Appreciate Jehovah’s Generosity and Reasonableness ***
15 Consider another example of Jehovah’s reasonableness as manifested in the Mosaic Law. If an Israelite was too poor to offer a lamb or a goat as a sacrifice, he could offer instead two turtledoves or two pigeons. But what if an Israelite was so poor that he could not even afford two pigeons? In that case, Jehovah allowed the needy Israelite to offer a little flour. However, note this important detail: It had to be, not just any flour, but “fine flour,” the kind used for honored guests. (Gen. 18:6) Why is that significant?—Read Leviticus 5:7, 11.
16 Well, imagine that you are an Israelite and quite poor. As you arrive at the tabernacle with a little flour to offer as a sacrifice, you notice wealthier Israelites bringing livestock. You might feel embarrassed about your seemingly insignificant sacrifice of flour. Then you remember that in Jehovah’s eyes, your offering is significant. Why? For one thing, Jehovah required that the flour be of high quality. In effect, Jehovah was saying to poorer Israelites: ‘I realize that you cannot offer as much as others can, but I also know that what you are giving me is your best.’ Truly, Jehovah displays reasonableness by taking into account his servants’ limitations and their circumstances.—Ps. 103:14.

Lev 5:15 - *** it-1 p. 1130 Holiness ***
(Leviticus 5:15) 15 “If someone behaves unfaithfully by unintentionally sinning against the holy things of Jehovah, he is to bring to Jehovah a sound ram from the flock as a guilt offering; its value in silver shekels is set according to the standard shekel of the holy place.
All things holy to Jehovah were sacred and could not be considered lightly or used in a common, or profane, way. An example is the law regarding the tithe. If a man set aside the portion to be tithed, say, of his wheat crop, and then he or one of his household unintentionally took some of it for home use, such as cooking, the man was guilty of violating God’s law respecting holy things. The Law required that he make compensation to the sanctuary of an equal amount plus 20 percent, besides offering up a sound ram of the flock as a sacrifice. Thus, great respect was engendered for the holy things belonging to Jehovah.—Le 5:14-16.

References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD-ROM

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