Leviticus 23

Listen to Leviticus 23
1 The LORD said to Moses,
2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the LORD ’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.
3 “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the LORD ’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.
4 “In addition to the Sabbath, these are the LORD ’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year.
5 “The LORD ’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month.
6 On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the LORD continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast.
7 On the first day of the festival, all the people must stop their ordinary work and observe an official day for holy assembly.
8 For seven days you must present special gifts to the LORD . On the seventh day the people must again stop all their ordinary work to observe an official day for holy assembly.”
9 Then the LORD said to Moses,
10 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest.
11 On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the LORD so it may be accepted on your behalf.
12 On that same day you must sacrifice a one-year-old male lamb with no defects as a burnt offering to the LORD .
13 With it you must present a grain offering consisting of four quarts of choice flour moistened with olive oil. It will be a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD . You must also offer one quart of wine as a liquid offering.
14 Do not eat any bread or roasted grain or fresh kernels on that day until you bring this offering to your God. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.
15 “From the day after the Sabbath—the day you bring the bundle of grain to be lifted up as a special offering—count off seven full weeks.
16 Keep counting until the day after the seventh Sabbath, fifty days later. Then present an offering of new grain to the LORD .
17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves of bread to be lifted up before the LORD as a special offering. Make these loaves from four quarts of choice flour, and bake them with yeast. They will be an offering to the LORD from the first of your crops.
18 Along with the bread, present seven one-year-old male lambs with no defects, one young bull, and two rams as burnt offerings to the LORD . These burnt offerings, together with the grain offerings and liquid offerings, will be a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD .
19 Then you must offer one male goat as a sin offering and two one-year-old male lambs as a peace offering.
20 “The priest will lift up the two lambs as a special offering to the LORD, together with the loaves representing the first of your crops. These offerings, which are holy to the LORD, belong to the priests.
21 That same day will be proclaimed an official day for holy assembly, a day on which you do no ordinary work. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.
22 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.”
23 The LORD said to Moses,
24 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn, you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet.
25 You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the LORD .”
26 Then the LORD said to Moses,
27 “Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the LORD .
28 Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with the LORD your God.
29 All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people.
30 And I will destroy anyone among you who does any work on that day.
31 You must not do any work at all! This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.
32 This will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and on that day you must deny yourselves. This day of rest will begin at sundown on the ninth day of the month and extend until sundown on the tenth day.”
33 And the LORD said to Moses,
34 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. Begin celebrating the Festival of Shelters on the fifteenth day of the appointed month—five days after the Day of Atonement. This festival to the LORD will last for seven days.
35 On the first day of the festival you must proclaim an official day for holy assembly, when you do no ordinary work.
36 For seven days you must present special gifts to the LORD . The eighth day is another holy day on which you present your special gifts to the LORD . This will be a solemn occasion, and no ordinary work may be done that day.
37 (“These are the LORD ’s appointed festivals. Celebrate them each year as official days for holy assembly by presenting special gifts to the LORD —burnt offerings, grain offerings, sacrifices, and liquid offerings—each on its proper day.
38 These festivals must be observed in addition to the LORD ’s regular Sabbath days, and the offerings are in addition to your personal gifts, the offerings you give to fulfill your vows, and the voluntary offerings you present to the LORD .)
39 “Remember that this seven-day festival to the LORD —the Festival of Shelters—begins on the fifteenth day of the appointed month, after you have harvested all the produce of the land. The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest.
40 On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees —palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the LORD your God for seven days.
41 You must observe this festival to the LORD for seven days every year. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed in the appointed month from generation to generation.
42 For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native-born Israelites must live in shelters.
43 This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
44 So Moses gave the Israelites these instructions regarding the annual festivals of the LORD .

Leviticus 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

The feasts of the Lord, The Sabbath. (1-3) The Passover, The offering of first-fruits. (4-14) The feast of Pentecost. (15-22) The feast of Trumpets, The day of atonement. (23-32) The feast of Tabernacles. (33-44)

Verses 1-3 In this chapter we have the institution of holy times; many of which have been mentioned before. Though the yearly feasts were made more remarkable by general attendance at the sanctuary, yet these must not be observed more than the sabbath. On that day they must withdraw from all business of the world. It is a sabbath of rest, typifying spiritual rest from sin, and rest in God. God's sabbaths are to be religiously observed in every private house, by every family apart, as well as by families together, in holy assemblies. The sabbath of the Lord in our dwellings will be their beauty, strength, and safety; it will sanctify, build up, and glorify them.

Verses 4-14 The feast of the Passover was to continue seven days; not idle days, spent in sport, as many that are called Christians spend their holy-days. Offerings were made to the Lord at his altar; and the people were taught to employ their time in prayer, and praise, and godly meditation. The sheaf of first-fruits was typical of the Lord Jesus, who is risen from the dead as the First-fruits of them that slept. Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the very day that the first-fruits were offered. We are taught by this law to honour the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase, Pr. 3:9 . They were not to eat of their new corn, till God's part was offered to him out of it; and we must always begin with God: begin every day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every affair and business with him; seek first the kingdom of God.

Verses 15-22 The feast of Weeks was held in remembrance of the giving of the law, fifty days after the departure from Egypt; and looked forward to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, fifty days after Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. On that day the apostles presented the first-fruits of the Christian church to God. To the institution of the feast of Pentecost, is added a repetition of that law, by which they were required to leave the gleanings of their fields. Those who are truly sensible of the mercy they received from God, will show mercy to the poor without grudging.

Verses 23-32 the blowing of trumpets represented the preaching of the gospel, by which men are called to repent of sin, and to accept the salvation of Christ, which was signified by the day of atonement. Also it invited to rejoice in God, and become strangers and pilgrims on earth, which was denoted by the feast of Tabernacles, observed in the same month. At the beginning of the year, they were called by this sound of trumpet to shake off spiritual drowsiness, to search and try their ways, and to amend them. The day of atonement was the ninth day after this; thus they were awakened to prepare for that day, by sincere and serious repentance, that it might indeed be to them a day of atonement. The humbling of our souls for sin, and the making our peace with God, is work that requires the whole man, and the closest application of mind. On that day God spake peace to his people, and to his saints; therefore they must lay aside all their wordly business, that they might the more clearly hear that voice of joy and gladness.

Verses 33-44 In the feast of Tabernacles there was a remembrance of their dwelling in tents, or booths, in the wilderness, as well as their fathers dwelling in tents in Canaan; to remind them of their origin and their deliverance. Christ's tabernacling on earth in human nature, might also be prefigured. And it represents the believer's life on earth: a stranger and pilgrim here below, his home and heart are above with his Saviour. They would the more value the comforts and conveniences of their own houses, when they had been seven days dwelling in the booths. It is good for those who have ease and plenty, sometimes to learn what it is to endure hardness. The joy of harvest ought to be improved for the furtherance of our joy in God. The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; therefore whatever we have the comfort of, he must have the glory of, especially when any mercy is perfected. God appointed these feasts, "Beside the sabbaths and your free-will offerings." Calls to extraordinary services will not excuse from constant and stated ones.

Footnotes 13

  • [a]. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in late March, April, or early May.
  • [b]. Hebrew of an ephah [4.4 liters]; also in 23:17 .
  • [c]. Hebrew of a hin [1 liter].
  • [d]. This celebration, called the Festival of Harvest or the Festival of Weeks, was later called the Festival of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1 ). It is celebrated today as Shavuot (or Shabuoth).
  • [e]. Hebrew On the first day of the seventh month. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. This festival is celebrated today as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
  • [f]. Hebrew on the tenth day of the seventh month; see 23:24 and the note there. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. It is celebrated today as Yom Kippur.
  • [g]. Or to fast; similarly in 23:29, 32 .
  • [h]. Or when atonement is made for you before.
  • [i]. Or Festival of Booths, or Festival of Tabernacles. This was earlier called the Festival of the Final Harvest or Festival of Ingathering (see Exod 23:16b ). It is celebrated today as Sukkot (or Succoth).
  • [j]. Hebrew on the fifteenth day of the seventh month; see 23:27a and the note there.
  • [k]. Hebrew on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.
  • [l]. Or gather fruit from majestic trees.
  • [m]. Hebrew the seventh month.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO LEVITICUS 23

In this chapter an account is given of the several holy days, times, and seasons, appointed by God, under the general names of feasts and holy convocations; and first of the sabbath, Le 23:1-4; then of the passover and feast of unleavened bread, Le 23:5-8; to which is annexed the sheaf of the firstfruits, Le 23:9-14; after that of the feast of weeks or pentecost, Le 23:15-22; and of the feast of trumpets, Le 23:23-25; and of the day of atonement, Le 23:26-32; and of the feast of tabernacles, Le 23:33-44.

Leviticus 23 Commentaries