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Leviticus 22

Leviticus 22:1-9 . THE PRIESTS IN THEIR UNCLEANNESS.

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

14. if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly--A common Israelite might unconsciously partake of what had been offered as tithes, first-fruits, &c. 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 priests to carry into the sanctuary.

15, 16. they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel--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 then 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].

Leviticus 22:17-33 . THE SACRIFICES MUST BE WITHOUT BLEMISH.

19. 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, which required the greatest care to be taken in the selection of animals for sacrifice. The reason for this extreme caution is found in the fact that sacrifices are either an expression of praise to God for His goodness, or else they are the designed means of conciliating or retaining His favor. No victim that was not perfect in its kind could be deemed a fitting instrument for such purposes if we assume that the significance of sacrifices is derived entirely from their relation to Jehovah. Sacrifices may be likened to gifts made to a king by his subjects, and hence the reasonableness of God's strong remonstrance with the worldly-minded Jews ( Malachi 1:8 ). If the tabernacle, and subsequently the temple, were considered the palace of the great King, then the sacrifices would answer to presents as offered to a monarch on various occasions by his subjects; and in this light they would be the appropriate expressions of their feelings towards their sovereign. When a subject wished to do honor to his sovereign, to acknowledge allegiance, to appease his anger, to supplicate forgiveness, or to intercede for another, he brought a present; and all the ideas involved in sacrifices correspond to these sentiments--those of gratitude, of worship, of prayer, of confession and atonement [BIB. SAC.].

23. that mayest thou offer, &c.--The passage should be rendered thus: "if thou offer it either for a freewill offering, or for a vow, it shall not be accepted." This sacrifice being required to be "without blemish" [ Leviticus 22:19 ], symbolically implied that the people of God were to dedicate themselves wholly with sincere purposes of heart, and its being required to be "perfect to be accepted" [ Leviticus 22:21 ], led them typically to Him without whom no sacrifice could be offered acceptable to God.

27, 28. it shall be seven days under the dam--Animals were not considered perfect nor good for food till the eighth day. As 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 Leviticus 22:28 , inculcated a lesson of humanity or tenderness to the dam, as well as secured the sacrifices from all appearance of unfeeling cruelty.

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