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Leviticus 17

Forbidden Sacrifices

1 The Lord spoke to Moses:
2 "Speak to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites and tell them: This is what the Lord has commanded:
3 Anyone from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox, sheep, or goat in the camp, or slaughters [it] outside the camp,
4 instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present [it] as an offering to the Lord before His tabernacle-that person will be charged with murder.[a] He has shed blood and must be cut off from his people.
5 This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they have been offering in the open country. They are to bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting and offer them as fellowship sacrifices to the Lord.[b]
6 The priest will then sprinkle the blood on the Lord's altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting and burn the fat as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
7 They must no longer offer their sacrifices to the goat-demons that they have prostituted themselves with.[c] This will be a permanent statute for them throughout their generations.
8 "Say to them: Anyone from the house of Israel or from the foreigners who live among them who offers a burnt offering or a sacrifice
9 but does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to the Lord, that person must be cut off from his people.

Eating Blood and Carcasses Prohibited

10 "Anyone from the house of Israel or from the foreigners who live among them who eats any blood, I will turn[d] against that person who eats blood and cut him off from his people.[e]
11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for[f] your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement.[g]
12 Therefore I say to the Israelites: None of you and no foreigner who lives among you may eat blood.
13 "Any Israelite or foreigner living among them, who hunts down a wild animal or bird that may be eaten must drain its blood[h] and cover it with dirt.
14 Since the life of every creature is its blood, I have told the Israelites: You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it must be cut off.
15 "Every person, whether the native or the foreigner, who eats an animal that died a natural death or was mauled by wild beasts[i] is to wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will remain unclean until evening; he will be clean.
16 But if he does not wash [his clothes] and bathe himself, he will bear his punishment."

Leviticus 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

All sacrifices to be offered at the tabernacle. (1-9) Eating of blood, or of animals which died a natural death, forbidden. (10-16)

Verses 1-9 All the cattle killed by the Israelites, while in the wilderness, were to be presented before the door of the tabernacle, and the flesh to be returned to the offerer, to be eaten as a peace-offering, according to the law. When they entered Canaan, this only continued in respect of sacrifices. The spiritual sacrifices we are now to offer, are not confined to any one place. We have now no temple or altar that sanctifies the gift; nor does the gospel unity rest only in one place, but in one heart, and the unity of the Spirit. Christ is our Altar, and the true Tabernacle; in him God dwells among men. It is in him that our sacrifices are acceptable to God, and in him only. To set up other mediators, or other altars, or other expiatory sacrifices, is, in effect, to set up other gods. And though God will graciously accept our family offerings, we must not therefore neglect attending at the tabernacle.

Verses 10-16 Here is a confirmation of the law against eating blood. They must eat no blood. But this law was ceremonial, and is now no longer in force; the coming of the substance does away the shadow. The blood of beasts is no longer the ransom, but Christ's blood only; therefore there is not now the reason for abstaining there then was. The blood is now allowed for the nourishment of our bodies; it is no longer appointed to make an atonement for the soul. Now the blood of Christ makes atonement really and effectually; to that, therefore, we must have regard, and not consider it as a common thing, or treat it with indifference.

Footnotes 9

  • [a]. Lit tabernacle-murder will be charged against that person
  • [b]. Lv 3:1-17; Ex 20:24; Dt 12:5-6,13-14
  • [c]. Ex 22:20; 34:15; Dt 32:17; 1 Co 10:20
  • [d]. Lit will set My face
  • [e]. Lv 3:17; 17:12-14; Dt 12:16,23,27
  • [f]. Or to ransom
  • [g]. Heb 9:22; 1 Pt 1:2,18-19; Rv 1:5
  • [h]. Lv 11:13-19; Dt 12:15-16,20-25
  • [i]. Lv 7:24; Ex 22:31; Dt 14:21

Chapter Summary


In this chapter a law is given, ordering all sorts of persons, Israelites and sojourners, to bring their sacrifices to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, on pain of being cut off, Le 17:1-9; and a special and particular prohibition of sacrificing to devils is delivered out, Le 17:7; and the eating of blood, and of everything that dies of itself, or is torn with beasts, is forbidden under the above penalty, Le 17:10-16.

Leviticus 17 Commentaries

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