Common Laws and Ordinances
Leviticus 17 - 22


Sacrifices to be Brought to the Tabernacle Exclusively (17:1-9)

CHAPTER 17
And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, saying, 3 Every one of the house of Israel that slaughtereth an ox, or sheep, or goat, in the camp, or that slaughtereth it out of the camp, 4 and doth not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to Jehovah, before the tabernacle of Jehovah, blood shall be reckoned unto that man: he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, 5 to the end that the children of Israel bring their sacrifices, which they sacrifice in the open field, that they bring them to Jehovah, unto the entrance of the tent of meeting, unto the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace-offerings to Jehovah. 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of Jehovah, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet odour to Jehovah. 7 And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto demons, after whom they go a whoring. This shall be an everlasting statute unto them for their generations. 8 And thou shalt say unto them, Every one of the house of Israel, and of the strangers who sojourn among them, that offereth up a burnt-offering or sacrifice, 9 and bringeth it not to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to offer it up to Jehovah -- that man shall be cut off from his peoples. 


Laws Against Eating Blood (17:10-16)

10 And every one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, that eateth any manner of blood, -- I will set my face against the soul that hath eaten blood, and will cut him off from among his people; 11 for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul. 12 Therefore have I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall the stranger who sojourneth among you eat blood. 13 And every one of the children of Israel, and of the strangers who sojourn among them, that catcheth in the hunt a beast or fowl that may be eaten, he shall pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with earth; 14 for as to the life of all flesh, its blood is the life in it; and I have said unto the children of Israel, Of the blood of no manner of flesh shall ye eat, for the life of all flesh is its blood: whoever eateth it shall be cut off. 15 And every soul that eateth of a dead carcase, or of that which was torn, be it one home-born, or a stranger, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the even: then he shall be clean. 16 And if he wash them not nor bathe his flesh, then he shall bear his iniquity. 


Laws Against Unlawful marriages and lusts (Leviticus 18)

CHAPTER 18
And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am Jehovah your God. 3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their customs. 4 Mine ordinances shall ye do and my statutes shall ye observe to walk therein: I am Jehovah your God. 5 And ye shall observe my statutes and my judgments, by which the man that doeth them shall live: I am Jehovah. 6 No one shall approach to any that is his near relation, to uncover his nakedness: I am Jehovah. 7 The nakedness of thy father, and the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother: thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. 9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, born at home, or born abroad -- their nakedness shalt thou not uncover. 10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter -- their nakedness shalt thou not uncover; for theirs is thy nakedness. 11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father: she is thy sister: thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 12 The nakedness of thy father’s sister shalt thou not uncover: she is thy father’s near relation. 13 The nakedness of thy mother’s sister shalt thou not uncover; for she is thy mother’s near relation. 14 The nakedness of thy father’s brother shalt thou not uncover; thou shalt not approach his wife: she is thine aunt. 15 The nakedness of thy daughter-in-law shalt thou not uncover: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 16 The nakedness of thy brother’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy brother’s nakedness. 17 The nakedness of a woman and her daughter shalt thou not uncover; thou shalt not take her son’s daughter, nor her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness: they are her near relations: it is wickedness. 18 And thou shalt not take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness beside her, during her life. 19 And thou shalt not approach a woman in the separation of her uncleanness to uncover her nakedness. 20 And thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to become unclean with her. 21 And thou shalt not give of thy seed to let them pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah. 22 And thou shalt not lie with mankind as one lieth with a woman: it is an abomination. 23 And thou shalt lie with no beast to become unclean therewith; and a woman shall not stand before a beast to lie down with it: it is confusion. 24 Make not yourselves unclean in any of these things; for in all these have the nations which I am casting out before you made themselves unclean. 25 And the land hath become unclean; and I visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomiteth out its inhabitants. 26 But *ye* shall observe my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of all these abominations: the home-born, and the stranger that sojourneth among you; 27 (for all these abominations have the men of the land done, who were before you, and the land hath been made unclean); 28 that the land vomit you not out, when ye make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For whoever committeth any of these abominations, ... the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 And ye shall observe my charge, that ye commit not any of the abominable customs which were committed before you; and ye shall not make yourselves unclean therein: I am Jehovah your God. 


Laws Against Moral Uncleanness (Leviticus 19 - 20)

CHAPTER 19
And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto all the assembly of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Holy shall ye be, for I Jehovah your God am holy. 3 Ye shall reverence every man his mother, and his father, and my sabbaths shall ye keep: I am Jehovah your God. 4 Ye shall not turn unto idols, and ye shall not make to yourselves molten gods: I am Jehovah your God. 5 And if ye sacrifice a sacrifice of peace-offering to Jehovah, ye shall sacrifice it for your acceptance. 6 On the day when ye sacrifice it shall it be eaten, and on the morrow; and that which remaineth until the third day shall be burned with fire. 7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is an unclean thing: it shall not be accepted. 8 And he that eateth it shall bear his iniquity; for he hath profaned the hallowed thing of Jehovah; and that soul shall be cut off from among his peoples. 9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, and the gleaning of thy harvest thou shalt not gather. 10 And thy vineyard shalt thou not glean, neither shalt thou gather what hath been left of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am Jehovah your God. 11 Ye shall not steal, and ye shall not deal falsely, and ye shall not lie one to another. 12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah. 13 Thou shalt not oppress thy neighbour, neither rob him. The wages of the hired servant shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. 14 Thou shalt not revile a deaf person, and thou shalt not put a stumbling-block before a blind one; but thou shalt fear thy God: I am Jehovah. 15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the lowly, nor honour the person of the great; in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. 16 Thou shalt not go about as a talebearer among thy people; thou shalt not stand up against the life of thy neighbour: I am Jehovah. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt earnestly rebuke thy neighbour, lest thou bear sin on account of him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge thyself, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am Jehovah. 19 My statutes shall ye observe. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with another sort; thou shalt not sow thy field with seed of two sorts; and a garment woven of two materials shall not come upon thee. 20 And if a man lie with a woman for copulation, and she is a bondwoman betrothed to a husband, but not at all ransomed, nor hath freedom been given to her, there shall be a chastisement: they shall not be put to death, for she was not free. 21 And he shall bring his trespass-offering to Jehovah, unto the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram for a trespass-offering. 22 And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass-offering before Jehovah for his sin which he hath done; and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him. 23 And when ye come into the land and plant all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count its fruit as uncircumcised, three years shall it be uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of; 24 and in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy for praise to Jehovah; 25 and in the fifth year shall ye eat the fruit thereof, that it may increase unto you the produce thereof: I am Jehovah your God. 26 Ye shall eat nothing with the blood. -- Ye shall not practise enchantment, nor use auguries. 27 -- Ye shall not shave the corners of your head round, neither shalt thou mutilate the corners of thy beard. 28 And cuttings for a dead person shall ye not make in your flesh, nor put any tattoo writing upon you: I am Jehovah. 29 -- Do not profane thy daughter, to give her up to whoredom; lest the land practise whoredom, and the land become full of infamy. 30 -- My sabbaths shall ye keep, and my sanctuary shall ye reverence: I am Jehovah. 31 -- Turn not unto necromancers and unto soothsayers; seek not after them to make yourselves unclean: I am Jehovah your God. 32 Before the hoary head thou shalt rise up, and shalt honour the face of an old man; and thou shalt fear thy God: I am Jehovah. 33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not molest him. 34 As one born among you shall the stranger who sojourneth with you be unto you; and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Jehovah your God. 35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measure of length, in weight, and in measure of capacity: 36 just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin shall ye have: I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 And ye shall observe all my statutes, and all mine ordinances, and do them: I am Jehovah. 
 
CHAPTER 20
And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Thou shalt say also to the children of Israel, Every one of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, that giveth of his seed unto Molech, shall certainly be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3 And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, so as to make my sanctuary unclean, and to profane my holy name. 4 And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from that man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, that they kill him not, 5 then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. 6 -- And the soul that turneth unto necromancers and unto soothsayers, to go a whoring after them, I will set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. 7 Hallow yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am Jehovah your God. 8 And ye shall observe my statutes, and do them: I am Jehovah who hallow you. 9 Whatever man revileth his father and his mother shall certainly be put to death: he hath reviled his father and his mother; his blood is upon him. 10 And a man that committeth adultery with a man’s wife, who committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, -- the adulterer and the adulteress shall certainly be put to death. 11 And a man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall certainly be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12 And if a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall certainly be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood is upon them. 13 And if a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall certainly be put to death; their blood is upon them. 14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is infamy: they shall burn him and them with fire, that there be no infamy among you. 15 And if a man lie with a beast for copulation, he shall certainly be put to death; and ye shall kill the beast. 16 And if a woman approach unto any beast to gender therewith, thou shalt kill the woman and the beast: they shall certainly be put to death; their blood is upon them. 17 And if a man take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness, that is a disgrace; and they shall be cut off before the eyes of the children of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity. 18 And if a man shall lie with a woman in her infirmity, and uncover her nakedness, her flux doth he lay bare, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood; and both of them shall be cut off from among their people. 19 And the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, and of thy father’s sister shalt thou not uncover; for he hath laid naked his near relation: they shall bear their iniquity. 20 And if a man lie with his aunt, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: their sin shall they bear: they shall die childless. 21 And if a man take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness: they shall be childless. 22 And ye shall observe all my statutes, and all mine ordinances, and do them, that the land whither I bring you to dwell therein vomit you not out. 23 And ye shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you; for all these things have they done, and they became an abomination to me. 24 And I have said unto you, Ye shall possess their land, and I will give it unto you for a possession; a land flowing with milk and honey: I am Jehovah your God, who have separated you from the peoples. 25 And ye shall make a separation between the clean beast and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean, and ye shall not make yourselves an abomination by beast, or by fowl, or by anything that creepeth on the ground which I have separated for you, declaring it as unclean. 26 And ye shall be holy unto me; for I Jehovah am holy, and have separated you from the peoples to be mine. 27 And if there be a man or a woman in whom is a spirit of Python or of divination, they shall certainly be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood is upon them. 


Laws for the Priests (Leviticus 21:1 - 22:16)

Defilement for the Dead (vv.1-4)

CHAPTER 21
And Jehovah said to Moses, Speak unto the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none make himself unclean for a dead person among his peoples, 2 except for his immediate relation, who is near unto him -- for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother; 3 and for his sister, a virgin, that is near unto him, who hath had no husband, for her may he make himself unclean. 4 He shall not make himself unclean who is a chief among his peoples, to profane himself. 

Application to today. These verses give us a pattern that is helpful in the circumstances of Christian life. They teach that God takes defilement very seriously, and it was absolutely prohibited except in the cases of nearest relatives. The reason why defilement for the dead was allowed in these cases was because it is the responsibility of families to deal with the body. Disease, etc. would spread through the congregation if bodies were not buried. However, the family members who contacted the body would be unclean, and would need to follow Numbers 10:11-13, where they were in an unclean status for seven days. Some have thought that these verses give an exemption for what we have in 1 Cor. 5, where Christians are to put away from among themselves a wicked person. This is mistaken for several reasons:
  • It is externally incongruous. It goes directly against the teaching of 1 Cor. 5. God would not give an Old Testament type that directly contradicts a New Testament teaching. Furthermore, it confuses the typical meaning of death. In the New Testament, death is the condition of an unbeliever, one who does not know God or have divine life. To say a brother who is a wicked person is typically dead is quite unscriptural. The anti-type to a "wicked person" is probably leprosy (see Lev. 13-14). In those cases the leper was to dwell "alone", not even family members could come in contact with him (Lev. 13:46).
  • It is internally incongruous. Those who apply these verses see it as a "loophole" in the exhortations of 1 Cor. 5, where they can have fellowship with wicked persons so long as they are relatives. But if they were consistent, they would have to admit to being "unclean" as a result of that contact! In other words, if you want to take these verses that way, you ought to be ready to be out of fellowship during those times when you associate with wicked relatives.

Physical Modifications to the Body (vv.5-6)

5 They shall not make any baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corners of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh. 6 They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God; for they present Jehovah’s offerings by fire, the bread of their God; therefore shall they be holy. 

The Importance of Sexual Purity by Association (vv.7-9)

7 They shall not take as wife a whore, or a dishonoured woman; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband; for he is holy unto his God. 8 And thou shalt hallow him; for the bread of thy God doth he present: he shall be holy unto thee; for I, Jehovah, who hallow you am holy. 9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burned with fire. 

Special Carefulness needed by the High Priest (vv.10-12)

10 And the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured, and who is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his garments. 11 Neither shall he come near any person dead, nor make himself unclean for his father and for his mother; 12 neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am Jehovah. 

13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or a dishonoured one, a harlot, these shall he not take; but he shall take as wife a virgin from among his peoples. 15 And he shall not profane his seed among his peoples; for I am Jehovah who do hallow him. 

Prohibition of Defects (vv.16-24)

16 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 17 Speak unto Aaron, saying, Any of thy seed throughout their generations that hath any defect, shall not approach to present the bread of his God; 18 for whatever man hath a defect, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or one limb longer than the other, 19 or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed, 20 or hump-backed, or withered, or that hath a spot in his eye, or hath the itch, or scabs, or his testicles broken. 21 No man of the seed of Aaron the priest that hath defect shall come near to present Jehovah’s offerings by fire: he hath a defect; he shall not come near to present the bread of his God. 22 The bread of his God, of the most holy and of the holy, shall he eat; 23 only he shall not come in unto the veil, nor shall he draw near unto the altar; for he hath a defect: that he profane not my sanctuaries; for I am Jehovah who do hallow them. 24 And Moses told it to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel. 

Profaning the Holy Things through Association with Uncleanness (vv.1-16)

CHAPTER 22
And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 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 the things that they hallow unto me: I am Jehovah. 3 Say unto them, Every one of all your seed, throughout your generations, that approacheth the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from before me: I am Jehovah. 4 Whatsoever man of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a flux, he shall not eat of the holy things, until he is clean. And he that toucheth any one that is unclean by a dead person, or a man whose seed of copulation hath passed from him; 5 or a man that toucheth any crawling thing whereby he becometh unclean, or a man by whom he may become unclean, whatever may be his uncleanness, 6 -- a person that toucheth any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things; but he shall bathe his flesh with water, 7 and when the sun goeth down, he shall be clean, and may afterwards eat of the holy things; for it is his food. 8 Of a dead carcase and what is torn shall he not eat, to make himself unclean therewith: I am Jehovah. 9 And they shall keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it, and die by it, if they profane it: I am Jehovah who do hallow them. 10 And no stranger shall eat the holy thing; the sojourner with the priest, and the hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing. 11 But if a priest buy any one for money, he may eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they may eat of his food. 12 And a priest’s daughter who is married to a stranger may not eat of the heave-offering of the holy things. 13 But a priest’s daughter that becometh a widow, or is divorced, and hath no seed, and returneth unto her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food; but no stranger shall eat thereof. 14 And if a man eat of a holy thing through inadvertence, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing. 15 And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel which they offer unto Jehovah, 16 and cause them to bear the iniquity of trespass when they eat their holy things; for I am Jehovah who do hallow them. 


Laws Governing the Sanctity of Holy Things (22:17-33)

17 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 18 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the sojourners in Israel, that presenteth his offering for any of his vows, and for any of his voluntary offerings, which they present to Jehovah as a burnt-offering, 19 it shall be for your acceptance, without blemish, a male of the oxen, of the sheep, and of the goats. 20 Nothing that hath a defect shall ye present; for it shall not be acceptable for you. 21 And if any present a sacrifice of peace-offering to Jehovah to accomplish a vow, or a voluntary offering of oxen or small cattle, it shall be without blemish to be accepted: there shall be no defect therein. 22 Blind, or broken, or maimed, or ulcerous, or with itch, or scabbed -- ye shall not present these to Jehovah, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to Jehovah. 23 A bullock and a sheep that hath a member too long or too short, that mayest thou offer as a voluntary offering; but as a vow it shall not be accepted. 24 That which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut shall ye not present to Jehovah; neither in your land shall ye do the like25 Nor from the hand of the stranger shall ye present the bread of your God, of any of these; for their corruption is in them: a defect is in them; they shall not be accepted for you. 26 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 27 An ox, or a sheep, or a goat, when it is brought forth, shall be seven days under its dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering by fire to Jehovah. 28 A cow, or sheep -- it and its young shall ye not slaughter in one day. 29 And when ye sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Jehovah, ye shall sacrifice it for your acceptance. 30 On that day shall it be eaten: ye shall leave none of it until morning: I am Jehovah. 31 And ye shall observe my commandments and do them: I am Jehovah. 32 And ye shall not profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am Jehovah who do hallow you, 33 who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am Jehovah.