Chapter 22


Priests and Their Food

    • The Lord told Moses to tell Aaron and his sons to be very respectful of the offerings that the Israelites have set apart for Him, so that they don’t profane His name.

    • The Lord told Moses to give Aaron and his sons the following instructions:

      • In all future generations, if any of your descendants approaches the holy offerings that the Israelites have set apart for the Lord while in a state of uncleanliness, he will be cut off from the community- I am the Lord.”

      • If any of Aaron’s descendants have a skin disease (some translations say leprosy) or discharge, he cannot eat from the holy offerings until he is clean. Anyone who has touched anything that has been made unclean by a dead person, had an emission of semen, or touched any unclean small animal, or touched any person who makes him unclean- no matter what has made him unclean- he will be unclean until evening and cannot eat from the holy offerings until he has bathed with water. He can’t eat an animal that has died naturally or that was killed by wild animals because this would make him unclean. I am the Lord and they must obey My instructions or they will be punished and die for profaning My instructions.”

        • Guzik writes, “Violations of these examples would not ruin a man’s career as a priest. A violation would make the priest ceremonially unclean until evening. Once ceremonial cleanliness was restored, they could be restored to their priestly service as before…The Jews start their days at sundown, not sunrise or midnight. With this description, God indicates that one can start the new day clean and pure to the Lord. No matter how we might have failed the day before, we can begin each new day pure and close to the Lord. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).”

      • No one except for a priest’s family can eat from the holy offerings- not even guests or people they have hired to do work. However, if the priest buys a slave, then that slave can eat from the holy offerings and anyone born in his house can eat them. If a priest’s daughter marries a man outside of the priestly family (not a Levite) she can no longer eat from the priest’s portion. However, if she becomes widowed or divorced, doesn’t have any children to support her, and comes back to her father’s house, she can eat her father’s food again. No outsider can eat from the priest’s portion of food. If anyone eats from the priest’s share on accident, they must pay the priest back for what they have eaten plus an additional 20%. The priests cannot allow the Israelites offerings to become defiled by allowing unauthorized people to eat them. If the priest allow this to happen, they become guilty themselves and must pay the compensation.”

        • Guzik highlights the difference illustrated here in the Israelite view of slavery and the historical American view of slavery, “This means that a slave in the household of a priest could eat of the holy things, if the slave was purchased or born in his household. A hired servant (a temporary worker) was not considered part of the priest’s household and therefore could not eat of the sacred offering… Leviticus 22:11 shows that a slave was considered part of the priest’s household, and entitled to eat of the offerings. This shows us there was a different attitude towards slavery in Israel than in American history; slaves were considered – and largely treated as – part of the family.”

Acceptable Sacrifices

    • The Lord told Moses to give Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites the following instructions. These instructions apply to Israelites as well as the foreigners living among them:

      • If you present a burnt offering to the Lord, whether it is as payment for a vow or a voluntary offering, the male cattle, sheep, or goat must not have any blemishes in order to be accepted. If you present something that has a defect, it will not be accepted.”

        • Guzik writes, “Blemished or deformed animals were obviously unacceptable to the Lord, and the priests had a responsibility to make sure that the animals brought before them by the people were good enough to bring to the Lord. God didn’t want the cast-offs from the people; He had right to their best…Unfortunately, this practice was abused in the days of Jesus, where priests would disqualify an animal for an insignificant reason, and them require them to purchase an approved sacrificial animal at an exorbitant price (Matthew 21:12-13)…This also was a foreshadowing of Jesus, our perfect sacrifice. He was perfect in His nature as both God and man, perfect in His motive, perfect in His personality, perfect in His obedience, perfect in His sacrifice for sin on our behalf.”

      • If you present a peace offering to the Lord from either the herd or flock, whether it is as payment for a vow or voluntary, the animal must have no blemishes. The animal cannot be blind, crippled, injured, or have any warts, sores, or scabs, or have damaged testicles or have been castrated. Blemished animals can never be offered on the altar as a burnt offering to the Lord. If a bull or lamb has a leg that it either too long or too short, it can be offered as a voluntary offering, but not as payment for a vow. These animals will not be accepted because they are mutilated or defective.”

      • When an ox, sheep, or goat is born, it has to remain with its mother for 7 days. From the 8th day on it may be offered as a sacrifice. Do not slaughter a mother on the same day as you slaughter her offspring.”

      • When you offer an offering of thanksgiving, be sure you do it properly so that it will be accepted. Eat all of it on the same day that it is presented. None can be left over for the next day.”

      • Keep all My commandments. I am the Lord. Don’t profane My name. I display My holiness through the Israelite people. I am the Lord who rescued you from Egypt and I am the One who makes you holy.”