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Tuesday, September 26th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 17

Calvin's Commentary on the BibleCalvin's Commentary

Verse 10

10.And whatsoever make there be of the house of Israel. God here not only condemns to death whosoever shall have polluted themselves by eating of blood, but declares that He will Himself take vengeance on them, though they may escape from the hands of the judges; for He not only prescribes to the judges what it is right for them to do, but asserts for Himself the office of inflicting the punishment. For, if we consider the intention of the Law, is there anything to surprise us in this; for although it be not consistent that the blood of a brute should be compensated for by the death of a man, still we must remember that this mode of instruction (22) was necessary for a rude people, lest they should speedily lapse into barbarism. But, lest they should complain that no use remained for the blood, He reminds them that since it was given for atonement, they would be very ungrateful if they were not content with so great a blessing; and surely, since it was the price they were to pay for appeasing God, this was an employment of it far to be preferred to food. If, then, they desired to exchange into ordinary food the blood, which was destined to the altar for the reconciliation of God, Moses indirectly reproves their ingratitude; for when God took away the right of eating it, He left them something better, which should have abundantly satisfied them. But we have elsewhere (23) seen in what manner blood atones for souls, i e. , in a sacramental manner, upon which it must be observed that what properly belongs to Christ is thus transferred by metonomy to figures and symbols, yet in such a way that the similitude should neither be empty nor inefficacious; for in so far as the fathers apprehended Christ in the external sacrifices, atonement was truly exhibited in them. In this passage also, I do not understand “the strangers” to be all such visitors as may have journeyed amongst them on matters of business, but those who had devoted themselves to the worship of God; for many foreigners, abandoning their superstitions, were circumcised, and it behooved that such as these should be expressly laid under the bonds of the Law, lest, if it had not referred to them, they should have withdrawn themselves from obeying it. This point must, therefore, be briefly adverted to, lest we should suppose that heathen sojourners were prohibited from the eating of blood, whereas they were allowed to buy for food (24) even flesh that had been torn by beasts.

Since, however, the Patriarchs before the Law had abstained from blood, and its prohibition had no reference to the First Table or the legal service, hence it came to pass that when the Apostles abrogated the ceremonial law, they did not dare to allow immediately the free eating of blood, lest great scandal should arise from this new and unwonted thing. (Acts 15:20.) Wherefore, lest so trifling a matter should cause deadly schisms in the Churches, they commanded the Gentiles not to eat of blood; adding as the reason, that those who were accustomed to read the writings of Moses, would be disturbed at this innovation; yet this was only observed for a short period, as we gather from Paul. (25) It was, not without superstition and misplaced zeal;. retained by some even to the days of Tertullian.

(22) “Hanc paedagogiam. ” — Lat. “Ceste doctrine puerile.” — Fr.

(23) See on Exodus 12:21, ante vol. 1 p. 221.

(24) See on Deuteronomy 14:21, ante vol. 2, p. 69.

(25) There is no reference here in the Latin, but the Fr. is, “comme il se peut recueillir par ce que Sainct Paul en escrit aux Corinthiens;” as may be gathered from what St. Paul writes respecting it to the Corinthians. In C. ’s Commentary on the Acts, 15:28, he says, “We know that this law was foredone by Paul, so soon as the tumult and contention was once ended, when he teacheth that nothing is unclean, (Romans 14:14,)and when he granteth liberty to eat all manner of meats, yea, even such as were sacrificed to idols. (1 Corinthians 10:25.)” — C. Societys edit. , vol. 2, p. 79. Tertullian, Apol. , cap. 9, speaks as follows; “Erubescat error vester Christianis, qui ne animalium quidem sanguinem in epulis esculentas habemus, qui propterea quoque suffocatis et morticinis abstinemus, ne quo modo sanguine contaminemur, vel intra viscera sepulto.” See Bingham, book 17 ch. 5 sec. 20 “But on the other hand, because it was the custom of the Catholic Church, almost to the time of St. Austin, to abstain from eating of blood, in compliance with the rule given by the Apostles to the Gentile converts; therefore, by the most ancient laws of the Church, all clergymen were obliged to abstain from it under pain of degradation. This is evident from the Apostolical Canons, and those of Gangra, and the second Council of Orleans, and the Council of Trullo. But as this was looked upon by some only as a temporary injunction, so it appears from St. Austin that it was of no force in the African Church. (Contra Faust., lib. 32, c. 13.) He that would see more about it may consult Curcellaeus, who has written a large dissertation upon the subject.”

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cal/leviticus-17.html. 1840-57.
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