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To begin in the opening chapter of this week’s portions out of many other options it is apropos that G-d commands that the jubilee year is consecrated on the Day of Atonement.

“Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.” Leviticus 25:9-10

This beseeches the question “why?”, because a day to begin a year of liberty, elation, and agrarian rest seems unrelated to a day on which we afflict our souls. (Lev. 23:32) An important commonality between both days is the requirement for selfless reliance on G-d.  During the jubilee year sowing, reaping, and gathering are forbidden. One must place his trust in G-d for provision and sustenance. The same helpless dependency is our only response to obtain atonement as well. We are unable to provide atonement for ourselves whether temporal or eternal. In addition, G-d demands our obedience in both cases. Adherence to the commandments is an expected response to the abundant endowment of sustenance during the jubilee year (among the other cyclical Sabbath rests for the land) as well as our rebirth as new creatures in Messiah Yeshua. Upon receiving G-d’s loving and gracious largesse we are obligated to obey Him. Not because our obedience induces salvation or provision but because it confirms submission to His perfect will and demonstrates our love for Him.

To conclude, the “valuation of persons” in Leviticus 27 was intriguing and puzzling.

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the L-RD involving the valuation of persons,” Leviticus 27:2

It is intriguing because the passage lacks further explanation and puzzling because I do not understand when we would value a person in regard to a vow. Is it a vow to protect them and if they should die we would pay the appropriate price? Is this the price to make a vow to dedicate someone or to dedicate one’s self? If one were to make a vow and break it would this be a list of the prices they must pay? Oddly enough there is a passage in Acts that describes a group of new believers by their value.

“And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.” Act 19:19

If the redeemed sorcerers were all men between twenty and sixty year’s old then 1000 men were reckoned. Perhaps instead of recording the number of people the passage in Acts deliberately states the value to evince a connection with the explanation of Leviticus 27 and what occurred to the new believers. However I did discover, possibly an unrelated, correlation between the redemption price of a male firstborn who is one month old and the valuation price for a one month old male.

“Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the L-rd, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem.  And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.” Numbers 18:15-16

“If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be three shekels of silver.”  Leviticus 27:6

Nevertheless it is likely the valuation of persons is listed so that we may know the standard redemption price for a general person (possibly even one’s self). Although it does not seem as if Leviticus 27 is referring to redeeming a brother because that price “shall vary with the number of years” (Lev. 25:50) Otherwise I intend to study this further and I welcome your comments.

For fear of over-spiritualization I leave this verse without explanation and personally use this as an opportunity to reflect on our Blessed Messiah who paid the ultimate price.

“You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23

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At times it is easy to inadvertently evade the literal interpretation of priestly regulations in favor of simile. In some cases people deliberately obviate literal interpretation based on its societal relevance taking a “that was then, this is now” approach to Scripture. I seek to do neither and if I have written about parallels in the past it was because the plain interpretation was obvious while the supporting Apostolic Scripture reference was less so. This week, it is interesting to note the almost identical list of blemishes for both the Kohen and an offering.

“For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.” Leviticus 21:18-20

“Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the L-RD or give them to the L-RD as a food offering on the altar. You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted.  Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the L-RD; you shall not do it within your land,” Leviticus 22:22-24

The similarity should come as no surprise because both the Kohen and the offering were presented before HaShem Himself. Therefore both would have equal holiness standards so as not to profane the sanctuary. (Lev. 21:23) Additionally, the Kohen’s service was, in a sense, a sacrifice. The priests had stricter standards and more limiting commandments bestowed upon them. The chief priest could not even go out of the sanctuary. (Lev. 21:12) This was indeed a selfless and sacrificial life in service to HaShem. Just as the priest selected the offering to be presented, so too did HaShem select the Levites to serve before Him.

“For the L-rd your G-d has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the L-rd, him and his sons for all time.” Deuteronomy 18:5

It is important to note as well that our Messiah was a perfect and acceptable sacrifice before the Father. As Peter so elegantly describes Him, He was and is “like that of a lamb without spot or blemish.” (1 Pet. 1:19)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:14-19

Is it not convenient that the Torah generously contains the arrangement of the festivals and set times in exclusive sections? (Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29) Focusing this week on Leviticus 23 it is subtle yet characteristic that Yom Kippur is the only festival without “Speak to the Children of Israel.” The description of Pesach does not include this phrase right before the entry but it is amalgamated together with the Sabbath details, which does carry the phrase. The omission demonstrates, not that the information was inapplicable to the Children of Israel, but that Yom Kippur constitutes personal reflection and an individual affliction of the soul. There is no celebration, no festival, and no mention of congregating with others. This is a “Sabbath of solemn rest.” (Lev. 23:32) Yet another illustration of G-d’s grace is placing such a pensive time between two “holy convocations”, Rosh HaShanah and Sukkot. Both set times are jovial, celebratory, and communal. Reading through the spectacular festivals that are soon approaching augments my anticipation and excitement! The next set time is Shavu’ot! The counting is coming to an end and the opportunity to lovingly keep several of G-d’s commandments is close at hand.

“And you shall make proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:21

It is fascinating to read footnotes such as the following: “The meaning of Azazel is uncertain; possibly the name of a place or a demon, traditionally a scapegoat; also verses 10, 26.” Uncertain? Mystery impetrates curiosity. Well, what do the Sages suggest?

1“Ibn Ezra and Naḥmanides both interpret Azazel as the name of the goat and this view is also found in the Talmud: “The school of Rabbi Ishmael explained it is called Azazel because it atones for the acts of the fallen *angels *Uzza and Azael” (Yoma 67b, cf. Targ. Jon., Gen. 6:1; Deut. R. 11:10).”

2“According to the sages and Rashi it meant “a steep, rocky or hard place,” in other words a description of its destination. According to Ibn Ezra (cryptically) and Nahmanides (explicitly), Azazel was the name of a spirit or demon, one of the fallen angels referred to in Genesis 6:2, similar to the goat-spirit called Pan in Greek mythology, Faunus in Latin. The third interpretation is that the word simply means “the goat [ez] that was sent away [azal].” Hence the English word “(e)scapegoat” coined by William Tyndale in his 1530 English translation of the Bible.”

Regardless of which interpretation suits your preference the Bible deliberately provides no explanation. During the service in which the goat for azazel is used an additional verse incited my curiosity.

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.” Leviticus 16:21

The last phrase is particularly puzzling. “By the hand of a man who is in readiness.” Further more the word for “readiness” in Hebrew is itti (עִתִּי) and this is the only time it is used in the whole Tanach. Here, I believe is a parallel to Yeshua. All of the people’s sins were affixed to the goat which meant there was need to expel the goat and thereby remove the sin. One of the most significant responsibilities rested on the man willing to contaminate himself to send the goat away into the wilderness. This action was the final step in removal of sin. Our Messiah Yeshua was also willing to bear the sin of the world, contaminate himself, and become the final step in removal of sin. He was a man who was in readiness. Gesenius’s lexicon suggests “opportune, at hand” as a suitable translation for itti. The following verse occurred right before Yeshua’s capture and contains Yeshua’s declaration that His time was at hand.

He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’ Matthew 26:18

To follow the previous rumination and conclude with an additional parallel to Yeshua the following verse demonstrates why Yeshua had to suffer and die for our sins.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Leviticus 17:11

Ultimately it is the life that substantiates the blood to be sufficient for atonement. The animals that were sacrificed to atone for ritual impurity must die for the blood to function. Messiah Yeshua died for us so that by His life His blood would provide atonement. He taught His disciples this truth:

“for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.’” Mark 9:31

For such incredible grace and such humble sacrifice we should have His salvation on our lips daily. (1 Chr. 16:23) Praise the L-RD that this was His will that we might be saved!

“Yet it was the will of the L-RD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the L-RD shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10


1 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0002_0_01741.html

2 http://www.chiefrabbi.org/author/ben/#.T6MsSo7GU3g

Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant and it is by His blood alone that we are saved. (Hb 9:15) This week’s portions contain hints to this truth, which should come as no surprise to us. Let’s begin with an interesting excerpt from Leviticus 14.

“He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field.”  Leviticus 14:6-7

Now read Hebrews 9.

“18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that G-d commanded for you.’ 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of G-d on our behalf.” Hebrews 9:18-24

Here are the symbolic parallels I found:

Torah

Apostolic Scriptures

…blood of the bird that was killed… (Lev. 14) …but G-d shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of G-d…(Rom. 5)
…scarlet yarn…(Lev. 14) And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,…(Mat. 27)
…and the hyssop…(Lev. 14) so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.(Jn. 19)
…with the cedarwood…(Lev. 14) They put him to death by hanging him on a tree…(Acts 10)
…over fresh water…(Lev. 14) and since we have a great priest over the house of G-d, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10)
…sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed…(Lev. 14) … sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,…(Heb. 9)

 

Parallels and comparisons are not meant to distract us from the plain reading and understanding of the Torah portion, but serve the purpose to display revelation and enrich our study. Yeshua and the disciples would draw attention during their expositions to whole sections of Scripture by mentioning key words and phrases. Further your study this week and discover the many other parallels throughout these portions. The verses I listed above describe the ritual to cleanse a person or a house from tzarat. Also, the same items were thrown into the fire with the red heifer whose ashes were used to cleanse one who touched a dead body. (Num. 19:6) As the Book of Hebrews so eloquently elucidates the lengthy descriptions of priestly rituals foreshadow our blessed Savior and His gracious sacrifice. Therefore we read the Book of Leviticus with earnest to learn more of G-d, to understand the Levitical system, to keep the non-temple related commandments contained within, and to discover Messiah Yeshua on every page. Be encouraged and speak of His salvation daily! (1 Chr 16:23)

Leviticus 11 has become such an important chapter in my defense of the applicability of the Bible. So often has this chapter been a shield from the assaults on the obligation of eating kosher. Within this wonderful chapter it is easy to see the meticulous nature of the commands regarding food. G-d wants us to eat some things and He does not allow us to eat other things. His commands reflect His Will and His Will is perfect. Therefore use Leviticus 11 as a rulebook for what to eat and direct skeptics to this convicting chapter.

Let’s dive deeper into this week’s portion. There are statements that appear close to one another that are identical in Hebrew and reflect two opposite outcomes. Notice Leviticus 9:24 and Leviticus 10:2. The phrase, “And fire came out from before the L-RD and consumed” is identical in the Hebrew and the ESV. Below I have listed each verse and an additional reference to describe the outcome.

“And fire came out from before the L-RD and consumed them, and they died before the L-RD.” Leviticus 10:2

“Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The L-rd will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.” Psalm 21:8-10

Leviticus 10:6 follows the destruction of Nadab and Abihu after they brought zur (strange, unauthorized) fire before the L-RD. Both men were destroyed by fire because of their disobedience. Psalm 21 describes a similar destruction by the Just Judge from Whom nothing is hidden. He discerns the heart (1 Kn 8:39) and gives according to our deeds. (Jer. 17:10)

But praise be to G-d for there is Good News! Note the outcome of Leviticus 9:24.

“And fire came out from before the L-RD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:24

“Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.”  Psalm 132:16

Those who are saved will not be consumed by the fire. Those who are saved will shout for joy at His mighty salvation and His awesome power! The following verse beautifully describes the abundance of G-d’s grace and the source of our salvation, Messiah Yeshua.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of G-d. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to G-d by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:9-10

Right here in this week’s portion are the two outcomes of life. We will either be saved by G-d or destroyed. For those that are saved I imagine we will have a similar reaction. We will shout songs of praise and fall on our faces in reverence of the Holy One, Blessed is He. Though we were deserving of G-d’s wrath He saved us by the blood of His Son Yeshua.

To conclude, I have been puzzling over the follow passage:

“And Aaron said to Moses, “Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the L-RD, and yet such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the L-RD have approved?” And when Moses heard that, he approved.” Levitcus 10:19-20

Before this verse Moses seems to be upset at the disobedience of Eleazar and Ithamar. Although, after a somewhat vague explanation from Aaron he seems content and “approves.” It seems that because of what happened to his children Aaron did not think it was proper to have eaten the sin offering. Is this the case? Do you know of a verse or commandment that exempts eating the sin offering due to a tragedy or loss?

I only found this verse:

“But no sin offering shall be eaten from which any blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place; it shall be burned up with fire.” Leviticus 6:30

Many questions arise. Why did Aaron respond when Moses was apparently angry at Eleazar and Ithamar? Did Aaron do anything wrong? Or was it Eleazar and Ithamar? If Aaron couldn’t eat the sin offering for whatever reason then why didn’t Eleazar and Ithamar?

In Leviticus 10:8 G-d spoke to Aaron and gave several commandments. I wonder if one of the things G-d mentioned revealed a sin in Aaron life for which he wanted to bring an additional sin offering or guilt offering as described in Leviticus 4. Aaron was only reluctant to eat the sin offering on that day. Maybe he wanted to wait until after atoning for his own sin before partaking in a more general sin offering? If you have any thoughts please leave a comment on this post. Thank you!

In the first sentence of this parasha there is a textual anomaly. The alef in vayikra is small. (וַיִּקְרָא) Abnormal letters are rare but they should draw our attention to the word or verse.

“The L-RD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying..” Leviticus 1:1

Vayikra means to call and daber means to speak. It seems redundant “to call” and then “to speak” to Moses but I believe this is teaching an important lesson. Vayikra is first used in the creation description in Genesis where G-d calls the light day and the darkness night. Once G-d calls it can never be undone. First we are called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9) and then He speaks and we obey. Every word He speaks is a treasure, which we cherish. One reason Leviticus, the book detailing about 247 commandments, begins with the word vayikra may be to emphasize that the commandments demonstrate that we are called out. How else would anyone know you are called out and set apart if not by your deeds? With this in mind the pictograph of an alef is an ox, which represents strength and its gematria is 1 representing the one and only G-d. Buried within the details and laws surrounding the sacrifices, temple, and priesthood is revelation about the one and only G-d. And it is G-d Who is our refuge and strength. (Ps. 46:1) I believe this is what the small alef represents. Before we read another word in Leviticus we have a reminder in the text that G-d is the center of everything we are about to read and from Him we have strength to keep His commandments. The small size of the letter suggests that these themes are subtle but they are certainly present.

Throughout this portion there are several animals that qualify for a sacrifice. Previously in Genesis 22 when G-d commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son a ram is what Abraham found caught in the thicket. Although Isaac asked about a lamb and Abraham responded, “G-d will seek out for Himself a lamb for the offering my son.” (Gen. 22:8) Why then was a ram provided instead of a lamb? This portion may provide one answer.

“And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the L-RD a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering.” Leviticus 6:6

This portion describes a ram being used for a guilt offering. In other portions a ram is used for a burnt offering (Lev. 16:3) and a peace offering (Num. 6:14) but never a sin offering. It was as if G-d was assuring Abraham that he did not commit any sin. Even further, G-d provides a ram, which may be used for a guilt offering to alleviate any feelings of guilt Abraham may have had after performing such a traumatic act. What a gracious and loving G-d! His will is perfect!

Finally, in the end of the parasha the Art Scroll Stone Chumash contains the following commentary:

“This Masoretic note means: There are 111 verses in the Sidrah, numerically corresponding to the mnemonic, know G-d. This alludes to man’s striving to know his Creator and come closer to Him, a goal that is achieved by means of the offerings. Another mnemonic is, He commanded. This alludes to an essential facet of the Sidrah, which repeats several times that offerings are, a satisfying aroma, because, G-d says, ‘I have commanded and My will has been done’ (Rashi 1:9; R’ David Feinstein)”

This struck me particularly because G-d blessed my wife and I with our first child last week and Vayikra is her portion. My prayer for her and my responsibility as a father is to help her “know G-d” and obey what “He commanded” just like her amazing mother. My wife is an excellent example for her and I am excited about teaching my daughter about our G-d, our Savior, and His Word. She is such a wonderful gift and we are very excited about our new journey together as a family. Thank you for your prayers!

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