Leviticus 17:3
What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that kills an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that kills it out of the camp,
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(3) That killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat.—The law which is thus solemnly laid down is that when one of the three kinds of the sacrificial quadrupeds (see Leviticus 7:23) are intended for private use, they must not be slaughtered within or outside the camp. That the injunction here refers to the domestic animals in question, and not to the ordinary sacrifices, is not only evident from the expression “killeth,” instead of “sacrificeth,” but more especially from a comparison of Leviticus 17:3-4 with Leviticus 17:8-9.

Leviticus 17:3. That killeth — Not for common use, for such beasts might be killed by any person or in any place, (Deuteronomy 12:5-14; Deuteronomy 12:26-27,) but for sacrifice, as the sense is limited, Leviticus 17:5, where the reason of the injunction is given. It is true, some suppose that the Israelites were forbidden by this law, while they were in the wilderness, to kill, even for food, any of the animals that were wont to be sacrificed, elsewhere than in the door of the tabernacle, where the blood and the fat were to be offered to God upon the altar, and the flesh returned to the offerer to be eaten as a peace-offering according to the law. And the statute is so worded in Leviticus 17:3-4, as to favour this opinion. The learned Dr. Cudworth understands if in this sense, and thinks that while they had their tabernacle so near them, in the midst of their camp, they ate no flesh but what had first been offered to God; but that when they were about to enter Canaan, this constitution was altered, and they were allowed to kill their beasts of the flock and herd at home, as well as the roe-buck and the hart, (Deuteronomy 12:21,) only that thrice a year they were to see God at his tabernacle, and to eat and drink before him. It is indeed probable, that in the wilderness they did not eat much flesh but that of their peace- offerings, preserving what cattle they had for breed, against they came to Canaan. And yet it is hard to construe into a mere temporary law, what is expressly said to be a statute for ever, Leviticus 17:7. And, therefore, it seems rather to forbid only the killing beasts for sacrifice anywhere but at God’s altar. They must not offer a sacrifice as they had done in the open field, (Leviticus 17:5,) no, not to the true God; but their sacrifices must be brought to the priest, to be offered on the altar of the Lord. And the mighty solemnity they had lately seen of consecrating both the priests and the altar, would serve for a good reason why they should confine themselves to both these which God had so signally appointed and owned.17:1-9 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.Every domesticated animal that was slain for food was a sort of peace-offering Leviticus 17:5. This law could only be kept as long as the children of Israel dwelt in their camp in the wilderness. The restriction was removed before they settled in the holy land, where their numbers and diffusion over the country would have rendered its strict observance impossible. See Deuteronomy 12:15-16, Deuteronomy 12:20-24.3, 4. What man … killeth an ox—The Israelites, like other people living in the desert, would not make much use of animal food; and when they did kill a lamb or a kid for food, it would almost always be, as in Abraham's entertainment of the angels [Ge 18:7], an occasion of a feast, to be eaten in company. This was what was done with the peace offerings, and accordingly it is here enacted, that the same course shall be followed in slaughtering the animals as in the case of those offerings, namely, that they should be killed publicly, and after being devoted to God, partaken of by the offerers. This law, it is obvious, could only be observable in the wilderness while the people were encamped within an accessible distance from the tabernacle. The reason for it is to be found in the strong addictedness of the Israelites to idolatry at the time of their departure from Egypt; and as it would have been easy for any by killing an animal to sacrifice privately to a favorite object of worship, a strict prohibition was made against their slaughtering at home. (See on [43]De 12:15). That killeth, not for common use or eating, for such beasts might be killed by any person or in any place, but for sacrifice, as manifestly appears both from Leviticus 17:4, where that is expressed, and from the reason of this law, which is peculiar to sacrifices, Leviticus 17:5, and from Deu 12:5,15,21. in the camp, or out of the camp: in Canaan, the city answered to the camp, and so it forbids any man doing this either in the city or in the country. What man soever there be of the house of Israel,.... Whether high or low, rich or poor:

that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat in the camp; which are particularly mentioned, as Gersom observes, because of these the offerings were; for the law respects the killing of them not for common food, but for sacrifice, as appears from the following verses; for this law was to be a statute for ever, whereas in that sense it was not, and could not be observed, especially when they were come into the land of Canaan; nor would it have been decent or convenient to have brought such vast numbers of cattle every day to be killed at the door of the tabernacle, and must have made the service of the priests extremely laborious to kill them, or even to see that they were killed aright:

or that killeth it out of the camp; which furnishes out another reason against the same notion, since it was not usual to kill for common food without the camp, but in their own tents within it; whereas to sacrifice without the camp was commonly done.

What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that {b} killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,

(b) To make a sacrifice of offering of it.

3. killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat] The animals mentioned are those which are suitable for sacrifice, ‘of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord’ (Leviticus 7:25), and the verb, though used of sacrificial slaughter (Leviticus 1:5, Leviticus 9:8, etc.), also has the sense of ordinary killing for food. This is its meaning here. The act of killing a beast included in the category of those admissible for sacrifice must be accompanied by certain other religious rites, viz. (1) bringing it before the Lord, (2) bringing it to one special place.Verse 3. - What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat. The use of the word killeth, instead of sacrificeth, is one of the chief causes of the error referred to above, which represents this command as applying to the slaughter of domestic animals. But it is always permissible to use a generic in place of a specific term, and its use proves nothing. Probably the sacred writer uses it as a less sacred term, and therefore more suitable to sacrifices offered to the spirits of the fields and woods. If ordinary slaughtering were meant, there is no reason why pigeons and turtle-doves should not be added to the ox, or lamb, or goat. That every ox, or lamb, or goat, to be killed in the camp, or... out of the camp, for the food of more than 600,000 men, should be brought to so confined a space as the court of the tabernacle for slaughter, where the animals for the daily, weekly, annual, and innumerable private sacrifices were also killed, appears almost credible in itself. How would the drivers have made their way into it? and what would have soon been the state of the court? It is true that animal food was not the staple sustenance of the Israelites in the wilderness; but not unfrequently, after a successful war or raid, there must have been a vast number of cattle killed for feasting or reserved for subsequent eating. General directions for the yearly celebration of the day of atonement. - It was to be kept on the tenth day of the seventh month, as an "everlasting statute" (see at Exodus 12:14). On that day the Israelites were to "afflict their souls," i.e., to fast, according to Leviticus 23:32, from the evening of the 9th till the evening of the 10th day. Every kind of work was to be suspended as on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10), by both natives and foreigners (see Exodus 12:49), because this day was a high Sabbath (Exodus 31:15). Both fasting and sabbatical rest are enjoined again in Leviticus 23:27. and Numbers 29:7, on pain of death. The fasting commanded for this day, the only fasting prescribed in the law, is most intimately connected with the signification of the feast of atonement. If the general atonement made on this day was not to pass into a dead formal service, the people must necessarily enter in spirit into the signification of the act of expiation, prepare their souls for it with penitential feelings, and manifest this penitential state by abstinence from the ordinary enjoyments of life. To "afflict (bow, humble) the soul," by restraining the earthly appetites, which have their seat in the soul, is the early Mosaic expression for fasting (צוּם). The latter word came first of all into use in the time of the Judges (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; cf. Psalm 35:13 : "I afflicted my soul with fasting"). "By bowing his soul the Israelite was to place himself in an inward relation to the sacrifice, whose soul was given for his soul; and by this state of mind, answering to the outward proceedings of the day, he was to appropriate the fruit of it to himself, namely, the reconciliation of his soul, which passed through the animal's death" (Baumgarten).
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