Book of Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is so called because it contains the laws of the Levites or tribe of Levi, who were the appointed priestly caste among the Hebrews. Moses was himself a Levite, and it was probably for this reason that he received his strongest support from this tribe. In Exodus we are told that when the Israelites worshipped the golden calf, the tribe of Levi were not only the first to rejoin Moses, but they drew sword at his command and slew even their own brethren. It was after this event that they were chosen as the priesthood.
The name Leviticus was first used in the Greek bible. It is appropriate, for the book consists almost entirely of the laws established to guide the Jewish priesthood or Levites. The five chief themes of priestly instruction are: 1) the directions relating to sacrifice both for worshippers and priests; 2) the details of the priestly consecration; 3) the law of the clean and unclean; 4) the law of the Day of Atonement; and 5) the law of holiness. There is also an appendix on vows and tithes. The law of holiness is of a broader character than the other parts and applied not merely to the Levites, but to Israel in general.
All of the directions in the Book of Leviticus are so carefully formulated and so exact in detail that in its present state the book is generally regarded as being of later date than the bulk of the material in Genesis and Exodus. The elaborately described ritual of the ceremonials causes Leviticus to become of small interest to general readers, though all who are interested in the meaning of the durties of the priestly office must read each of its parts with special care.
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