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Leviticus 1-17

Flight Plan:

In our fifth flight from 30,000 Feet, we fly over the first seventeen chapters of the book of Leviticus. This is a book on worship and describes the worship life of the nation of Israel. In this first tour of Leviticus, we'll see how the first part of the book focuses on the way to God through sacrifice and lays down the law - literally - on how man was designed to live and how man can be atoned for his sins. The key chapters to review in advance are: Leviticus: 1-5, 10, 16, 17.

Detailed Notes:

Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, also the third book in the Torah (five books of Moses). The English name is derived from the Latin Liber Leviticus which is from the Greek. In Jewish writings it is customary to cite the book by its first word, Vayikra, "and he called." Leviticus is a book on worship and describes the worship life of the nation of Israel. Leviticus was probably given in a one month period between God's entering to occupy the tabernacle (Exodus 40) and the taking of the census at Sinai (Numbers 1:1-3).


c. 1915 B.C.
Joseph is born to Jacob and Rachel

c. 1898 B.C.
Joseph is sold into slavery

c. 1876 B.C.
Jacob and his family move to Egypt

c. 1730 B.C.
The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt

c. 1527 B.C.
Moses is born

c. 1446 B.C.
Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt

c. 1445 B.C.
The Law is given on Mount Sinai

c. 1406 B.C.
Forty years of wilderness wandering end


The book of Leviticus can be divided into two sections. The first section focuses on the way to God through sacrifice and lays down the law - literally - on how man was designed to live and how man can be atoned for his sins.

1. Approaching God's Presence - Leviticus 1-7

2. Laws Of Priests - Leviticus 8-10

3. Laws Of Ritual Purity - Leviticus 11-15

4. Laws of National Atonement - Leviticus 16-17


The Tabernacle: The tabernacle is the central location for the book of Leviticus. The tabernacle was the place of worship in the nation of Israel and the nation of Israel was organized with the tabernacle at the physical center of the nation. It was the temporary representation of the temple that would be built in Jerusalem. There is a great deal of symbolic meaning in the construction, furniture and utensils used in the tabernacle.


Aaron: Aaron was the firstborn son of Amram and his wife Jochebed, who were Levites (Exodus 2:1; 6:20). He was born during Israel's time in Egypt, 83 years before the Exodus, 3 years before his brother Moses, and about 10 years after his sister Miriam (Exodus 2:1,4; 6:20; 7:7). Aaron was appointed directly by God to be the first high priest. He and his sons were consecrated to continue the priesthood through time (Leviticus 8 and 9).

Nadab and Abihu: Some brothers, like Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau, get each other in trouble. Nadab and Abihu got in trouble together. They were the two oldest sons of Aaron (Exodus 6:23) who served as priests along with their father at The Tabernacle during the Wilderness Journey. The Lord had clearly instructed them how they were to carry out their responsibilities, but Nadab and Abihu foolishly took it upon themselves to do it in a manner of their own choosing and were destroyed by fire.


Clean and Unclean Foods

"Clean" birds, animals and insects were generally those that were plant-eaters, while those "unclean" were meat or carrion eaters. For example, chickens, cattle and grasshoppers were clean, while vultures, weasels and flies were unclean. There were some exceptions that may have been due to their being common carriers of deadly bacterial, viral or parasitical infections like rats (bubonic plague), bats (rabies), and pigs (trichinosis). Clean sea creatures were apparently those that were found in fresh-flowing water (bass, trout), while those unclean tended to be bottom-dwellers (shellfish, catfish) where natural contaminants collected.


Deer, Antelope
Water creatures with fins & scales


Snakes, Lizards
Camels, Horses
Weasels, Rabbits
Vultures, Ravens, Owls, Crows
Bats, Rats and Flies
Water creatures with no fins and scales

Sacrificial Offerings

Burnt offering - it is a voluntary act of worship, atonement for unintentional sin. It is also an expression of devotion and surrender to God. SACRIFICAL ELEMENT: Bull, ram or a male bird for the poor.

Fellowship offering - Another voluntary offering that is also an act of worship. This offering shows our thanksgiving and fellowship with God. SACRIFICAL ELEMENT: Any animal without defect, from a flock or herd, and a variety of breads.

Grain offering - also a voluntary offering as an act of worship to recognize God's provision and goodness to us and our devotion to Him. SACRIFICAL ELEMENT: Grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, baked bread.

Sin offering - A mandatory offering for a specific unintentional sin. Also included were confession of sin, forgiveness of sin and cleansing from defilements. SACRIFICAL ELEMENT: Young bull for the high priest and congregation; male goat for the leader; female goat of a lamb for the common person; a dove or pigeon for the poor and a tenth of an ephah of flour for those who were very poor.

Trespass offering - Another mandatory offering to atone for an unintentional sin that requires restitution. SACRIFICAL ELEMENT: Ram or lamb.

Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) was regarded as the holiest day of the year. It occurs on the tenth day of the new year. It is a day of personal mourning for any unconfessed sin of the past year. The word atonement is used only in the Old Testament and it means "to cover."It is used 52 times in Leviticus.


Figure 1: Israelite Camp in relation to the Tabernacle
Figure 2: The Tabernacle