Statutes Concerning Blood
Leviticus 17:1-16
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…

The sacredness of blood is everywhere marked in Scripture. The chapter before us contains some of the more important statutes concerning it.


1. It must be brought to the door of the tabernacle.

(1) This requisition does not apply to animals ordinarily killed for food (comp. Deuteronomy 12:15, 21).

(2) It applies to the blood of sacrifices.

(a) To the blood of those offered at the door of the tabernacle. As a matter of course, the bleed of such sacrifices would be sprinkled and poured out at the altar.

(b) To the blood of those also offered outside the camp (verses 3, 5). Sacrifices were formerly offered wherever the providence of God might indicate (Genesis 12:8; Job 1:5). God still reserved to himself the right to sanction the offering of sacrifices where he pleased (see Judges 6:26; Judges 13:19; 1 Samuel 7:9; 2 Samuel 24:18; 1 Kings 18:23). Without such sanction, the altar of the tabernacle is the one place appointed for the shedding of sacrificial blood.

(3) Public worship is encouraged by this law (Hebrews 10:25).

2. The penalty of disobedience is excision.

(1) The statute was enacted to prevent idolatry. Sacrificing elsewhere, they might be tempted to sacrifice to devils (verse 7). The heathen thought the spirit of their god resided in his idol; such spirits are here called "devils." All idolatry is from Satan, and is devilish (1 Corinthians 10:20). The word (לשעידים) here translated "devils" is elsewhere rendered "goats." Perhaps the idols in which these spirits of devils were supposed to reside were of the goat-like form. Goats were worshipped in Egypt, and probably also in Canaan.

(2) Blood is imputed to him that sheds blood in sacrifice elsewhere than at the altar of the tabernacle (verse 4). To bring the blood to the door of the tabernacle taught the worshipper to discern Christ, through whose blood we enter heaven. To miss this lesson was to degenerate into abominable and fatal idolatry (see Isaiah 66:3). This law applied to proselytes as well as to native Israelites (verses 8, 9). There is but one way to God for the Jew and Greek (Romans 3:30). "He that believeth not shall be damned" (see verse 4).


1. Blood as food is absolutely forbidden.

(1) The prohibition is among the Noachian precepts. He who reserved the tree of knowledge of good and evil in his grant of vegetables to man for food, reserved blood in his grant of animals (Genesis 9:4, 5). Being a Noachian precept, this law is obligatory upon the human family at large.

(2) The prohibition of blood was formally incorporated into the Levitical code (see verse 10; also Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Deuteronomy 12:25). The abrogation of the Levitical Law, however, does not repeal the Noachian precept. Unless, therefore, it can be shown that the Noachian precept is abrogated, it is still unlawful both to Jew and Gentile to eat blood.

(3) So far from being repealed, this precept is re-enforced under the gospel (Acts 15:28, 29). This "burden" our Lord still lays upon the Churches, even after the destruction of Jerusalem (see Revelation 2:14-24). The significance of this term "burden" must not be overlooked (comp. Acts 15:28 with Revelation 2:24).

2. Two reasons for the prohibition are assigned. These are:

(1) That "the life of the flesh is in the blood." This is philosophically true. Cut a nerve, you paralyze a member, but it lives; cut off the blood, the member mortifies. Blood flows to a wound, becomes vascular there, knits the living parts, and it heals. The vitality of the blood is seen in its power of maintaining its temperature against the extremes of heat and cold. The lesson of this reason is to teach us the value of life. Hence in connection with the Noachian precept prohibiting the eating of blood, we have also the law guarding the life of man by the penalty of death to the murderer.

(2) That "it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (verse 11). That should not be treated as a common thing which is the principle of atonement, and the type of the precious blood of Christ.

(3) For these reasons also things strangled are forbidden, things which died alone, or were torn; things not so killed as to let the blood properly flow from them. Thus the slaying of every animal used for food in the sacrificial way would remind the eater of the necessity of sacrifice for sin (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).

3. The penalty here also is excision

(1) If things strangled were eaten, the transgressor became unclean (see 1 Samuel 14:32, 33). He must wash his clothes, for his profession hath been polluted. He must wash his flesh, for his person is defiled. If he neglect this repentance and purification, he shall bear his iniquity; he is obnoxious to excision (verse 16; Leviticus 5:17; Numbers 9:13).

(2) What, then, can be said for a Church which professes literally to drink the blood of Christ in the cup of the Mass? Is not that Church thereby guilty of outraging the law of all the dispensations? It would evade this impeachment by impudently authorizing the eating of blood. But no impudence can evade the penalty: "But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require." Does not this plainly say that God will require the blood of the life of the blood-eater .9 David abhors the practice of the Syrians, who made libations of blood to their gods, and prophetically denounces and rejects our antichristian idolaters (see Psalm 16:4). Drunk as she is with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus, God will give her blood to drink, for she is worthy. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

WEB: Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

Sanctity of Animal Life
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