Leviticus 17

Blood for Atonement

1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, 'This is what * the LORD has commanded, saying,
3 "Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside * the camp,
4 and 1has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people.
5 "The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to the LORD, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the LORD.
6 "The priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and 2offer up the fat in smoke as a soothing aroma to the LORD.
7 "3They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations."'
8 "Then you shall say to them, 'Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,
9 and 4does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to offer it to the LORD, that man also shall be cut off from his people.
10 '5And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, 6I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.
11 'For 7the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for 8it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.'
12 "Therefore * I said to the sons of Israel, 'No * person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.'
13 "So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, 9he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.
14 "10For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, 'You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.'
15 "11When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean.
16 "But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then 12he shall bear his guilt."

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.

Cross References 12

  • 1. Deuteronomy 12:5-21
  • 2. Numbers 18:17
  • 3. Exodus 22:20; Exodus 32:8; Exodus 34:15; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Psalms 106:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20
  • 4. Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:4
  • 5. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26, 27; Deut 12:16, 23-25; 1 Samuel 14:33
  • 6. Leviticus 20:3, 6; Jeremiah 44:11
  • 7. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14
  • 8. Hebrews 9:22
  • 9. Deuteronomy 12:16
  • 10. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11
  • 11. Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 7:24; Leviticus 22:8; Deuteronomy 14:21
  • 12. Numbers 19:20

Footnotes 11

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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