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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 22

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.

Separate themselves from the holy things. 'To separate' means, in the language of the Mosaic ritual, 'to abstain;' and therefore the import of this injunction is, that the priests should abstain from eating that part of the sacrifices which, though belonging to their order, was to be partaken of only by such of them as were free from legal impurities.

That they profane not my holy name ... - i:e., let them not, by their want of due reverence, give occasion to profane my holy name. A careless or irreverent use of things consecrated to God tends to dishonour the name and bring disrespect on the worship of God.

Verse 3

Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.

Whosoever he be ... that goeth unto the holy things. The multitude of minute restrictions to which the priests, from accidental defilement, were subjected, by keeping them constantly on their guard, lest they should be unfit for the sacred service, tended to preserve in full exercise the feeling of awe and submission to the authority of God. The ideas of sin and duty were awakened in their breasts by every case to which either an interdict or an injunction was applied.

But why enact an express statute for priests disqualified by the leprosy or polluting touch of a carcass, when a general law was already in force which excluded from society all persons in that condition? Because priests might be apt, from familiarity, to trifle with religion, and in committing irregularities or sins, to shelter themselves under the cloak of the sacred office. This law, therefore, was passed, specifying the chief forms of temporary defilement which excluded from the sanctuary, that priests might not deem themselves entitled to greater license than the rest of the people; and that, so far from being in any degree exempted from the sanctions of the law, they were under greater obligations, by their priestly station, to observe it in its strict letter and its smallest enactments.

Verses 4-5

What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 6

The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.

Shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water. The ablution did not restore him to privileges, but it was an indispensable preliminary to restoration, and an evidence that the ceremonial disqualification was removed, (see the notes at Leviticus 11:27-28; Leviticus 11:43-44; Leviticus 12:1-8; Leviticus 13:1-59; Leviticus 14:1-57.)

Verses 7-9

And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 10

There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.

There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing. The portion of the sacrifices assigned for the support of the officiating priest was restricted to the exclusive use of his own family. They were a provision for the ministers and servants of the king, whom he maintained in and about his palace. A temporary guest or a hired servant was not at liberty to eat of them; but an exception was made in favour of a bought or home-born slave, because such was a stated member of his household. On the same principle, his own daughter, who married a husband not a priest, could not eat of them, though, if a widow and childless, she was reinstated in the privileges of her father's house, as before her marriage. But if she had become a mother, as her children had no right to the privileges of the priesthood, she was under a necessity of finding support for them elsewhere than under her father's roof.

Verses 11-12

But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 13

But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.

There shall no stranger eat thereof. The interdict recorded, Leviticus 22:10, is repeated, to show its stringency. All the Hebrews, even the nearest neighbours of the priest, the members of his family excepted, were considered strangers in this respect, that they had no right to eat of things offered at the altar.

Verse 14

And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.

Eat of the holy thing unwittingly. A common Israelite might unconsciously partake of what had been offered as tithes, first-fruits, etc.; and on discovering his unintentional error, he was not only to restore as much as he had used, but be fined in a fifth part more for the priest to carry into the sanctuary.

Verses 15-16

And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;

They shall not profane. There is some difficulty felt in determining to whom "they" refers. The subject of the preceding context being occupied about the priests, it is supposed by some that this relates to them also; and the meaning is, that the whole people would incur guilt through the fault of the priests, if they should defile the sacred offerings, which they would have done, had they presented them while under any defilement (Calvin). According to others, "the children of Israel" is the nominative in the sentence; which thus signifies-The children of Israel shall not profane or defile their offerings, by touching them or reserving any part of them, lest they incur the guilt of eating what is divinely appointed to the priests alone (Calmet).

Verses 17-18

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.

Ye shall offer at your own will - rather, to your being accepted.

A male without blemish. This law (Leviticus 1:3) is founded on a sense of natural propriety; and hence, the reasonableness of God's strong remonstrance with the worldly-minded Jews (Malachi 1:8).

23. That mayest thou offer ... The passage should be rendered thus. 'If thou offer it either for a free-will offering or for a vow, it shall not be accepted.' This sacrifice being required to be "without blemish," symbolically implied that the people of God were to dedicate themselves wholly, with sincere purpose of heart; and its being required to be 'perfect to be accepted,' led them typically to Him without whom fie sacrifice could be offered acceptable to God.

Verses 20-26

But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verses 27-28

When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

It shall be seven days under the dam. Animals were not considered perfect nor good for food until the eighth day. Since sacrifices are called the bread or food of God (Leviticus 22:25), to offer them immediately after birth, when they were unfit to be eaten, would have indicated a contempt of religion; and, besides, this prohibition, as well as that contained in the following verse, inculcated a lesson of humanity or tenderness to the dam, as well as secured the sacrifices from all appearance of unfeeling cruelty.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Leviticus 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/leviticus-22.html. 1871-8.
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