Leviticus 16-17: Atonement and Sacrifice

Part four of Leviticus is a little short. The first chapter covered discusses the Day of Atonement and the second one is about making sacrifices. I felt like these went well together but the rest of the book starts to get into the specifics of the laws and I wanted to keep them separate.

Chapter sixteen

This chapter talks about the Day of Atonement and sets the rules that become Yom Kippur. It is an interesting ceremony where all of the sins of the Israelite people are put onto the head of one “scapegoat” that is sent out to the wilderness.

The term “scapegoat” is used in some translations, mine had “Azazel”, which prompted me to look it up. It was the capitalization that made me think it was a person or entity maybe, but no, it was not. Interestingly, the definition given for “scapegoat” was “entire removal”. It doesn’t mention what’s to come of the goat afterward. I supposed we aren’t supposed to be concerned, but it seems like all those sins are still out there somewhere.

The other interesting thing to note in this is that this is how the Holy Places are made clean again from having been used by the people.

Chapter seventeen

Here, God makes sure that it’s known that the tent of meeting is the only place where sacrifices are to be taken and honored. He will not tolerate them making sacrifices to other deities whether they are in the camp or not. It sounds pretty understandable to me, He is the only one that brought them out of Egypt and did all this other stuff. Why would He stand for them to pray and sacrifice to someone else after that? He also stipulates that no one that stays with them, local or not, is allowed to sacrifice to anyone else any place else either.

But then there’s some stuff about blood. It seems like it shouldn’t be that hard to avoid eating blood until you remember just how many people love a rare steak.

So there are my feelings and impressions on chapters 16-17 of Leviticus. Have you read it? What do you think?

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at Biblehub.com but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.


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