Leviticus 17 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Leviticus 17)

Verse 3

[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,

That killeth-Not for common use, for such beasts might be killed by any person or in any place but for sacrifice.

In the camp, or out of the camp — That is, anywhere.

Verse 4

[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:

The tabernacle — This was appointed in opposition to the Heathens, who sacrificed in all places; to cut off occasions of idolatry; to prevent the people's usurpation of the priest's office, and to signify that God would accept of no sacrifices but through Christ and in the Church; (of both which the tabernacle was a type.) But though men were tied to this law, God was free to dispense with his own law, which he did sometimes to the prophets, as 1 Samuel 7:9; 11:15.

He hath shed blood — He shall be punished as a murderer. The reason is, because he shed that blood, which, though not man's blood, yet was precious, being sacred and appropriated to God, and typically the price by which men's lives were ransomed.

Verse 5

[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.

They offer — The Israelites, before the building of the tabernacle, did so, from which they are now restrained.

Peace-offerings — He nameth not these exclusively from others, as appears from the reason of the law, and from Leviticus 17:8,9, but because in these the temptation was more common in regard of their frequency, and more powerful, because part of these belonged to the offerer, and the pretence was more plausible, because their sanctity was of a lower degree than others, these being only called holy, and allowed in part to the people, whereas the others are called most holy, and were wholly appropriated either to God, or to the priests.

Verse 6

[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.

Upon the altar — This verse contains a reason of the foregoing law, because of God's propriety in the blood and fat, wherewith also God was well pleased, and the people reconciled. And these two parts only are mentioned, as the most eminent, and peculiar, though other parts also were reserved for God.

Verse 7

[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.

Unto devils — So they did, not directly or intentionally, but by construction and consequence, because the devil is the author of idolatry, and is eminently served, and honoured by it. And as the Egyptians were notorious for their idolatry, so the Israelites were infected with their leaven, Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7; 23:2,3.

A whoring — Idolatry, especially in God's people, is commonly called whoredom, because it is a violation of that covenant by which they were peculiarly betrothed or married to God.

Verse 10

[10] And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

I will set my face — I will be an enemy to him, and execute vengeance upon him immediately; because such persons probably would do this in private, so that the magistrate could not know nor punish it. Write that man undone, for ever undone, against whom God sets his face.

Verse 11

[11] For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Is in the blood — Depends upon the blood, is preserved and nourished by it.

The blood maketh atonement — Typically, and in respect of the blood of Christ which it represented, by which the atonement is really made. So the reason is double; 1. because this was eating up the ransom of their own lives, which in construction was the destroying of themselves. 2. because it was ingratitude and irreverence towards that sacred blood of Christ which they ought to have in continual veneration.

Verse 15

[15] And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.

That eateth — Through ignorance or inadvertency; for if it was done knowingly, it was more severely punished.

A stranger — Who is a proselyte to the Jewish religion: other strangers were allowed to eat such things, Deuteronomy 14:21, out of which the blood was either not drawn at all, or not regularly.

Verse 16

[16] But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.

His iniquity — The punishment of it, and therefore must offer a sacrifice for it.