And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 1-9. - In the previous chapter, the priests have been commanded to avoid occasions of ceremonial defilement, but there are times in which they must be unclean. At these times they are here instructed that they must abstain from their priestly functions, and not even eat of the priests' portions until they have been cleansed. The command to Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, in verse 2, must be read in the light of the following verses, and understood to mean that they are to separate themselves from the holy things when they are unclean. The different forms of uncleanness which are to produce this effect are enumerated in verses 4-6. In most cases the uncleanness would not last beyond sunset on the day on which it was incurred, but occasionally, as when a priest became a leper, a permanent disqualification would be caused, or one that lasted for a considerable length of time. The law with respect to abstaining from holy things while unclean is to be of permanent obligation. Whoever disobeys it is to be cut off from God's presence; that is, he is to be excluded from the sanctuary by being deprived of his priestly office. Verse 8 repeats the prohibition of eating flesh containing blood.
Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.
Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.
What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;
Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;
The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.
And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.
That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.
They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.
There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.
Verses 10-13. - The previous paragraph having forbidden the priests to eat of the holy things while in a state of ceremonial uncleanness, naturally leads to the question, who has the right of eating them? The answer is, the priest's family. The members of the priest's family here specified are those only about whom any question might have arisen, namely, the slaves, who, as bring incorporated into the priest's household, have a right of eating of the priestly food not enjoyed by lodgers in his house or by servants hired with his money; and married daughters who have returned to their father's roof in consequence of the death of their husband, or of being divorced, without any children of their own. Under these circumstances, it is ruled that they become once more a part of the priest's family, and able to exercise the privileges of that position. The priest's wife and sons and unmarried daughters are not here mentioned, as no question arose about them.
But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.
If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.
But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.
And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.
Verse 14. - As the sacrificial meals made a part of the stipends of the priestly body, any one who inadvertently took a share in them by eating of the holy thing unwittingly, when he had no right to do so, had to refund the value of the meat, with one fifth, that is, twenty percent, added to it. He thus acknowledged that he had "committed a trespass in the holy things of the Lord," the case falling under the rule given in chapter Leviticus 5:15, 16, "And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest." In the fifth chapter a trespass offering of a ram is also ordered, which, though not specified, is probably understood here also.
And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;
Verses 15, 16. - These verses present some difficulties of construction. The rendering of the Authorized Version is as follows: And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord; or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the Lord do sanctify them. If this rendering is accepted, it would mean that the priests are not to profane the holy things by any irregularity on their part as to the eating of them, nor to suffer laymen to incur the guilt of a trespass by eating them. The marginal rendering, which is to be preferred, gives the passage as follows: And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord; or lade themselves with the iniquity of trespass in their eating. According to this translation, the meaning would be that laymen (who had been spoken of in the previous verse) should not profane the holy things, or become guilty of a trespass (as defined in verse 15) by eating them. Technically and literally, David was guilty of this trespass in an aggravated form, when he and his followers ate the shewbread at Nob (1 Samuel 21:6), for the shewbread was not only holy, but most holy. But his act is excused by our Lord, on the plea of necessity (Matthew 12:3, 4), even though it was done on the sabbath day (1 Samuel 21:5, margin).
Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 17-25. - Just as the priests who offer to the Lord are to be ceremonially and morally holy, so the animals offered to him are to be physically perfect, in order
(1) to be types of a future perfect Victim,
(2) to symbolize the "perfect heart"which God requires to be given to him, and
(3) to teach the duty of offering to him of our best. Whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer. The list of blemishes and malformations which exclude from the altar is given; they are such as deform the animal, and make it less valuable: blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor any animal that is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut, that is, castrated in any manner. The clause following the mention of castration - neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land - literally translated, neither shall ye make in your land, probably forbids castration altogether, not merely the offering of castrated animals in sacrifice. The expression, Ye shall offer at your own will, should be understood, as before, for your acceptance (see note on Leviticus 2:1). Only one exception is made as to blemished offerings: an animal that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts may be offered for a freewill offering, but not for a vow (for the distinction of these offerings, see note on chapter Leviticus 2:1). These rules as to unblemished victims are to apply to the offerings of strangers as well as of Israelites.
Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering;
Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.
Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.
Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.
Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 26, 27. - Extreme youth is to be regarded as a blemish in an animal in the same way as other defects. During the young creature's first week of existence it is not considered as having arrived at the perfection of its individual and separate life, and therefore only from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the Lord. Up to what ago an animal might be offered is not stated. Gideon is narrated as offering a bullock of seven years old (Judges 6:25).
When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.
Verse 28. - A lesson of charity is added. A young animal and its mother are not to be killed (though reference is specially made to sacrifice, the general word, not the sacrificial term, for slaying is used) on the same day, just as the kid is not to be seethed in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19; Deuteronomy 14:21), nor the mother bird be taken from the nest with the young (Deuteronomy 22:6). Thus we see that the feelings of the human heart arc not to be rudely shocked by an act of apparent cruelty, even when no harm is thereby done to the object of that act. Mercy is to be taught by forbidding anything which may blunt the sentiment of mercy in the human heart.
And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
Verses 29, 30. - Two forms of peace offerings, the vowed and the voluntary offerings, having been mentioned in verse 21, the law as to the third form, thanksgiving offerings, is repeated from chapter Leviticus 7:15 (where see note).
On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.
Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.
Verses 31-33. - These verses form the conclusion of the Section and of the Part, enjoining obedience to God's commandments, reverence for his Name, and consequent holiness.
Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,
That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.