This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Leviticus 17:1-9 - Blood (Part 1).

"1 And the LORD spake unto 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 the LORD hath commanded, saying, 3 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, 4 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed 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 may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD. 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD. 7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. 8 And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people."  Leviticus 17:1-9 KJV. 


Since blood is the only means of atonement, it becomes important to impress upon the Hebrew mind not only the sacredness of the blood of the victims slain in sacrifice, but of the shed blood of all beasts and birds. Hence, when the sacrificial animals are slain for food, they must be killed at the door of the tabernacle, (1-6.) Sacrifices to demons are forbidden, (7-9,) and all blood eating, (10-16.)


3. In the camp — In addition to the ceremonial, there were doubtless sanitary grounds for the requirement that all slaughter in the camp be in one place, where there was doubtless some way of disposing of the blood without endangering the public health. See The Ceremonial Function of the Blood. The private slaughter of domestic animals was doubtless forbidden as a safeguard against the propensity to idol offerings, which the people brought with them out of Egypt. The suggestion has weight, that since the herds were scanty, the requirement to bring animals for slaughter to the tabernacle was also designed to act as a check against too great a reduction of their number. Only the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half of Manasseh seem to have had what might be called large herds. Numbers 32. There can be little doubt, that during the forty years in the wilderness oxen and sheep were rarely used as food, whence it was flesh that Israel so greatly lusted after. Out of the camp — The inconvenience of this requirement, when Israel was widely scattered in the wilderness for pasturage, is greatly mitigated by the fact that they were miraculously fed with manna. Their disgust for this, and clamour for animal food, (Numbers 11:6,) indicates that they rarely slew any animal of their flocks for food. But when the manna had ceased, and the tabernacle was fixed in one place, this prohibition was repealed in advance by Moses, (Deuteronomy 12:13-15,) so far as animals intended for food are concerned, and the people were permitted to kill and eat in all their gates.

4. An offering unto the Lord — The blood and fat were sacrificially treated, but nothing is said respecting the priest’s portion which was allotted in peace offerings. There was also the same priestly inspection. Modern Jews eat no meat which has not the seal of the rabbi certifying that the animal was without blemish. Herein again is a sanitary safeguard. Blood shall be imputed — This is explained by the following words: He hath shed blood. He is classified with those who have wickedly shed human blood, and are guilty of murder. Cut off — He shall be punished with death, without defining the manner. Thus the Seventy and the Vulgate. The punishment is never exile, as is supposed by J.D. Michaelis.

5. Sacrifices which they offer —
Animals which Israel would have slain for food in the open field, that is, outside the enclosed space of the court of the tabernacle, are required to be slain as peace offerings, in the manner prescribed in Leviticus 3, and 7:11-34, though the limitation of the time of eating was probably removed, nor is it certain that the priest’s portion, the heave offering, was demanded.

6. Burn the fat — See Leviticus 3:3, 17; 7:23, 25, notes. Sweet savour — Leviticus 1:9, note.

7. Devils — The Hebrew שְּׂעִירִ֕ם (seirim), literally, the shaggy ones, or goats, has a wonderful variety of renderings in the Authorized Version. See Leviticus 23:19, note. The Vulgate renders it daemones, and Luther “field devils;” the Seventy, τοῖς ματαίοις,, usually translated idols; but Schleusner here renders it demons, the Revised Version, “devils.” These were supposed by the Egyptians to inhabit the desert. The Israelites had brought this superstition out of Egypt, where goats were worshipped as gods, particularly Pan, the impersonation of the male principle in nature, under the name of Mendes. From these arose the innumerable herd of satyrs, fauns, and dryads which figure so largely in Grecian and Roman mythology. Gone a whoring — This strong metaphor for the practice of idolatry expresses Jehovah’s abhorrence of polytheistic rites celebrated by his people. As Jehovah by his covenant had married Israel, their worship of other gods was like the infidelities of a wife. Jeremiah 3:1, 14; James 4:4, 5, R.V. But since most of the ancient idolatries were grossly licentious, the term whoring may be used in a sense not altogether figurative. See Numbers 14:33, note. A statute forever — Since there was a repeal of the laws relating to the place of killing animals for food, (see verse 4, note,) the unchangeable statute must relate to the worship of demons and false gods. No command is more scrupulously kept by the Jews of to-day. The first sentence taught to every Hebrew child is the Shema Israel, “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah thy God is one God.” This safeguard against polytheism rings out in all their synagogues whenever the scroll of the law is taken from its sacred depository, every reading being prefaced by this loud proclamation.

8. Strangers… sacrifice — For the religious privileges and obligations of strangers, see Leviticus 1:2; 23:22, notes. The Israelites were expressly forbidden to offer burnt offerings in every place, but only “in the place which the Lord shall choose,” in order to preserve the unity of the ritual and of the nation, and to exclude idolatry. To build a rival altar was to erect a rival throne. See Joshua 22:10-12. It was reasonable that resident strangers should be subjected to a law which concerned the life of the state. No sacrifice can be offered except at the door of the tabernacle, and this can be erected only in the place selected by Jehovah; (Deuteronomy 12:5-14;) it follows that, since Mount Moriah was the last place chosen for the “house of sacrifice,” (2 Chronicles 7:12,) the Jews, ever since their exclusion from this sacred spot, have been destitute of all lawful burnt offerings, sin offerings, and days of atonement. This wretched disability has induced a few of them to bow to Jesus Christ. To the sin-burdened Jew this is the weakest point in his religion.

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