Leviticus 22

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD said, 2“Moses, tell Aaron and his sons to treat the offerings the people bring with respect. If they do not, they insult my name. I am the LORD. Tell him to tell his sons that if any of their descendants, while they are defiled, ever come near the sacred offerings the people bring to me, they will be banned from my presence. I am the LORD. 4None of Aaron’s descendants who has leprosy or suffers a bodily emission may eat any of the sacred offerings until he is recovered. Anyone who touches anything that has been in contact with a dead body, or a man who has an emission from his genitals, 5or touches anything – animal or human – that will render him unclean in any way, 6will be considered unfit until evening and may not eat of any sacred offering unless he first washes his body in water. 7When the sun sets, he may be restored and may eat of the sacred offerings, for they are his sustenance. 8But that which died or was mutilated by wild animals he must not eat because it will make him unfit to serve. I am the LORD. 9The priests must obey me so that they may not become guilty of staining the sanctuary and die there. I am the LORD. They are set apart for me.

10“No ordinary person is permitted to eat from the sacred offerings, including anyone hired by the priest. 11However, if a priest purchases someone, that person may eat from the sacrifices, including anyone born in his house. 12If a priest’s daughter marries someone outside the priesthood, she may not partake of the offerings, 13but if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and has no children and returns to her father’s house, she may eat the same food as her father. But no ordinary individual may eat of it. 14If an ordinary person unintentionally eats a sacred offering he will donate to the priests the value of the offering plus twenty percent. 15No one must be allowed to profane the sacred offerings the people bring to the LORD. 16If they do, they will be guilty and will have to bring a guilt offering, for I am the LORD, and I sanctify.”

17The Lord said to Moses, 18“Tell Aaron and his sons, and all the people, that when anyone, Israelite or resident foreigner, brings an offering to keep a promise or as a freewill gift to be burned to the LORD, 19it must be a male animal – cattle, sheep, or goat. 20And it must be without any blemish to be acceptable. 21The same applies for a peace offering to the LORD from the herd or flock, or to fulfill a promise, or simply as a gift. 22These animals must not be blind or maimed or injured or have oozing wounds or scabs– these must not be offered to the LORD or placed on the altar and burned. 23An ox or lamb that has disproportionate limbs may be presented as a freewill offering, but not as an offering to seal a promise. 24Any animal with damaged testicles must not be offered to the LORD, whether it is from one of you once you have settled the land, 25or from a foreigner who lives among you. Such animals are not acceptable as offerings.”

26The LORD told Moses, 27“Whenever an ox, sheep, or goat gives birth, the little one must remain with its mother for seven days; after that it is acceptable as an offering. 28Do not slaughter an animal with its young on the same day. 29Whenever an animal is slaughtered as a thanksgiving offering to the LORD, make sure it is done according to my instructions. 30You must eat it on the same day and hold none over for the next day. I am the LORD.

31“You must follow my instructions to the letter. I am the LORD. 32You must not cheapen my holy name. I must be held in honor among the people of Israel, for I am the LORD, and I hold you in honor. 33I brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD.”

Commentary

1-9: Animal and grain offerings that are returned to the donor or to the people to be eaten as part of the prescribed ritual must not be eaten by those who are “unclean” according to the earlier definitions of “clean” and “unclean.”

10-16: Other offerings, the so-called “sacred donations” that are reserved for the priests only, may not be partaken of by anyone but the priests and their immediate families. If this rule is violated accidentally, the guilty party has to pay a fine.

17-25: The rule about offering animals without blemish is repeated and specific examples are added.

26-30: More rules are repeated about the animals that can and cannot be used and when it is acceptable to eat the meat that remains from the sacrifice.

31-33: The importance of following the rules regarding sacrifices is emphasized: to disobey the rules is to dishonor God.

Takeaway

The reason for the rules about making sure animals brought for sacrifice have no blemish has nothing to do with God’s evaluation of the offering but has everything to do with the level of esteem with which the person making the offering holds God. If you truly revere and respect the LORD, you will make sure that any offering you bring is the best you have to give.