Introduction to Leviticus

Leviticus is the central book of the Pentateuch and, like the others, was written by Moses. It continues the narrative of the book of Exodus, where the glory of God is upon the tabernacle at the end of Exodus. Leviticus begins as God is speaking to Moses out of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:38; Leviticus 1:1).

As with the other books of the Pentateuch, liberal critics allege that Leviticus was written long after Moses, probably after the return of the Israelites from their Babylonian exile. However, the book itself frequently claims that the Lord spoke all these things directly to Moses (Leviticus 1:1; 4:1; 5:14; etc.). The entire outlook and all the incidental references in the book (the sacrifices in the tabernacle, allusions to the wilderness, references to the camp, etc.) speak only of the exodus period, never of the later temple worship.

A remarkable phenomenon in Leviticus is the large percentage of the book that consists of verbatim quotations from God Himself. All the Bible is divinely inspired, but the particular method of inspiration varied widely from book to book. In this particular case, these portions of the book have actually been divinely dictated!

Major emphases in Leviticus include the various types of offerings ordained by God along with repeated affirmations of the holiness of God. The consecration and duties of the priests are described, as well as the various ritual laws. The dietary laws for God’s covenant people are found in the eleventh chapter, and the provision for the great day of atonement in the sixteenth. The feasts of the Lord are described in chapter 23. There is a remarkable prophetic sequence in the 26th chapter. Leviticus closes with the following summary: “These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai” (Leviticus 27:34).

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