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(MT versing)
Sundry Rules for Priests Regulations for Conduct of Priests
Instructions to the Priests
The Holiness of the Offerings Holiness in Consuming Sacred Food
a. the priests
22:1-9 22:1-9 22:1-9 22:1-3 22:1-3a
22:4-8 22:4-7
22:9 22:9
b. lay people
22:10-16 22:10-13 22:10-16 22:10-13 22:10-11
22:14-16 22:14-16
Flawless Animals for Sacrifice Offerings Accepted and Not Accepted c. sacrificial animals
22:17-25 22:17-25 22:17-20 22:17-24 22:17
22:21-25 22:21-25
22:26-31 22:26-30 22:26-30 22:26-30 22:26
d. concluding exhortation
22:31-33 22:31-33 22:31-33 22:31-33

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


  1. Brief outline
    1. Be careful about the "cleanness" of
      1. the priests, Lev. 22:3-9
      2. who can eat the sacrifices, Lev. 22:10-16h
      3. acceptable sacrifices, Lev. 22:17-25,26-30
    2. Concluding statement, Lev. 22:2 and 30-33

  2. Notice that the defects in priests mentioned in chapter 21 are matched in chapter 22 by defects in animals (Lev. 22:17-25).

  3. This ceremonial defilement seems so strange to moderns but remember, this is the ANE and "holiness" is the key theological issue of the book.

  4. Only priests in the Tabernacle could eat that which is "most holy" but the priest and his family (cf. Leviticus 7) could eat some sacrifices (cf. Leviticus 6-7).
    1. grain offerings (except for the small part offered on the altar)
    2. tithes
    3. right thighs
    4. peace offerings
    5. firstlings

    Also, the person of the tribe of Levi who could not function as a priest because of the deformities or accidents listed in Leviticus 21, could still eat of the holy gifts.

  5. Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, p. 417, suggests that there were three kinds of communal sacrifices.
    1. the sacrifice of praise (todah, cf. Lev. 7:12-15; 22:29-30)
    2. the voluntary sacrifice from one's devotion (nedabah, cf. Lev. 7:16-17; 22:18-23)
    3. the votive sacrifice (nedar, cf. Lev. 7:16-17; 22:18-23)

    All of these are addressed in Leviticus 3.


1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2"Tell Aaron and his sons to be careful with the holy gifts of the sons of Israel, which they dedicate to Me, so as not to profane My holy name; I am the Lord. 3Say to them, 'If any man among all your descendants throughout your generations approaches the holy gifts which the sons of Israel dedicate to the LordLord. 4No man of the descendants of Aaron, who is a leper or who has a discharge, may eat of the holy gifts until he is clean. And if one touches anything made unclean by a corpse or if a man has a seminal emission, 5or if a man touches any teeming things by which he is made unclean, or any man by whom he is made unclean, whatever his uncleanness; 6a person who touches any such shall be unclean until evening, and shall not eat of the holy gifts unless he has bathed his body in water. 7But when the sun sets, he will be clean, and afterward he shall eat of the holy gifts, for it is his food. 8He shall not eat an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, becoming unclean by it; I am the Lord. 9They shall therefore keep My charge, so that they will not bear sin because of it and die thereby because they profane it; I am the Lord who sanctifies them."

22:2 "be careful with the holy gifts" The subject of ceremonial purity continues. The priest must maintain purity because

  1. if not he profanes YHWH's name, Lev. 22:2 (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 145-150; cf. Lev. 18:21; 19:12; 20:3; 21:6); see SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" OF YHWH (OT)
  2. if not he will be "cut off," Lev. 22:3; see full note at Lev. 7:20

The MT has "hold yourself away from the holy things." This VERB (BDB 634, KB 684, Niphal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) means "to separate something/someone in a ceremonial sense." The priests were to be very careful about how they handled sacrifices.

  1. right animal
  2. right place
  3. right person
  4. right time
  5. who at what, where, and when
  6. how to specifically handle the blood
  7. how to specifically dispose of the remains

These procedures were crucial to maintain "holiness."

NASB, NRSV, TEV, LXX  "dedicate"
NKJV, NJB  "sanctify"
JPSOA  "consecrate"
REV, Peshitta (Lamsa)  "hallow"

This is the VERB form (Niphal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) of the root "holy," "sacred," "apartness," "separated to" (BDB 871-3, KB 1073). It is used six times in this chapter. The NASB translates it in two ways.

  1. "dedicate" ‒ Lev. 22:2,3
  2. "sanctify" ‒ Lev. 22:10,16,32 (twice)


▣ "so as not to profane" This VERB (BDB 320, KB 319, Piel IMPERFECT, possibly another IMPERFECT, like "dedicate," used in a JUSSIVE sense). This word for "pollute," "defile," or "profane" occurs several times in Leviticus (cf. Lev. 18:21; 19:8,12,29; 20:3; 21:4,6,9,12,15,23; 22:2,9,15,32). It is the opposite of "holy."

▣ "My holy name" See SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" OF YHWH (OT).

22:3 "I am the Lord" This is Israel's God covenant title ‒ YHWH. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, D. It is repeated in Lev. 22:2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 30, 31,3 2, 33. YHWH's covenant people must keep His commandments (cf. Lev. 22:31; see SPECIAL TOPIC: KEEP and SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT.

▣ "uncleanness" This NOUN (BDB 380) is the focus of the chapter. As chapter 21 dealt with the priest's family, this chapter deals with necessity of the "cleanness" of the priest (Lev. 22:4-7) and sacrifices (Lev. 22:8) that are eaten.

22:4-9 Here is a list of what defiles a priest from eating sacrifices.

  1. leprosy (cf. Lev. 21:20; and chapter 13)
  2. a discharge
  3. one who touches something unclean
    1. a corpse
    2. seminal emission (cf. Lev. 15:1-18)
    3. teeming things (cf. Lev. 11:29-31)

The unclean priest must remain defiled until

  1. evening
  2. a bath (i.e., cleaned by water, cf. Lev. 11:24-25,28,32,40)

but then he may eat.

22:4 "No man" This is a Hebrew idiom, literally, "man, man" (cf. Lev. 15:2; 17:3; 22:18; and several more).

NASB  "teeming things"
NKJV, LXX, Peshitta  "creeping things"
NRSV, JPSOA  "swarming things"
TEV  "unclean animal"
NJB  "reptile"
REB  "creature"

The root (BDB 1056) denotes that which swarms in great numbers (i.e., Gen. 7:21; 8:17). In Leviticus they are all classified as "unclean" (cf. Lev. 11:29-31,41-45,46-47).

All of these cause "uncleanness" (BDB 379, KB 375, cf. Lev. 22:5,6,8) by either

  1. touching them (Lev. 22:5-6)
  2. touching their dead bodies (cf. Lev. 5:2)
  3. eating them (cf. Deut. 14:19)

22:8 As Lev. 22:4-7 defined the priest who may eat, 22:8 puts a restriction on the type of sacrifice that may be eaten by priests (i.e., no animal that has died naturally or has been torn by other animals, cf. Lev. 11:39-40; 17:15).

22:9 "keep My charge" This VERB (BDB 1036, KB 1581) and NOUN (BDB 1038) often appear together (cf. Lev. 18:30; Deut. 11:1; Josh. 22:3; Mal. 3:14). YHWH expects obedience!

▣ "die" The VERB "cut off" (BDB 503, KB 500) in Lev. 22:3 is defined as death in 22:9. See full note at Lev. 7:30.

10"'No layman, however, is to eat the holy gift; a sojourner with the priest or a hired man shall not eat of the holy gift. 11But if a priest buys a slave as his property with his money, that one may eat of it, and those who are born in his house may eat of his food. 12If a priest's daughter is married to a layman, she shall not eat of the offering of the gifts. 13But if a priest's daughter becomes a widow or divorced, and has no child and returns to her father's house as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's food; but no layman shall eat of it. 14But if a man eats a holy gift unintentionally, then he shall add to it a fifth of it and shall give the holy gift to the priest. 15They shall not profane the holy gifts of the sons of Israel which they offer to the Lord, 16and so cause them to bear punishment for guilt by eating their holy gifts; for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.'"

22:10-13 This paragraph delineates those people so closely connected to a priest's family that they can also eat of the holy sacrifices.

  1. a sojourner living with a priest (see note at Lev. 22:10)
  2. a hired person of a priest (possibly non-Israelite)
  3. a slave of a priest
  4. the slave's children
  5. the priest's daughter who has been widowed or divorced (but not if she is married to a non-priest or has children of a non-priest); for a good brief discussion of the place of the widow in ancient Israel, see NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 413-414
NASB  "layman"
NKJV  "outsider"
NRSV, NJB, JPSOA, REB  "lay person"
TEV  "only a member of a priestly family"
LXX, Peshitta  "alien"

This PARTICIPLE (BDB 266, KB 267) denotes someone not of the tribe of Levi, nor someone of the tribe of Levi but not a priest (cf. Exod. 29:33; 30:33; Lev. 22:10,12,13; Num. 1:51; 3:10; 18:7). It could denote an Israelite of another tribe (cf. Lev. 22:12).

22:14 "unintentionally" See SPECIAL TOPIC: UNINTENTIONAL SINS. Here, it denotes "by accident" (cf. Lev. 5:14-16). But even so, he must add a fifth more and give it back to a priest. This is part of the "guilt offerings" (cf. Lev. 5:16).

This verse is also addressing the "layman" or "sojourner."

22:15 "them" In context this must refer to "the priests" (i.e., who offered the sacrifices to YHWH), not the "layman" of 22:14.

22:16 The PRONOUNS of Lev. 22:16 are ambiguous. The context has been addressing two people.

  1. priests
  2. non-priest Israelites

▣ "I am the Lord who sanctifies them" This is recurrent theme. Israel is holy because their God is holy (cf. Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7,26). These guidelines in Leviticus are meant to maintain that holiness.

17Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 18"Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, 'Any man of the house of Israel or of the aliens in Israel who presents his offering, whether it is any of their votive or any of their freewill offerings, which they present to the Lord for a burnt offering—19for you to be accepted—it must be a male without defect from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats. 20Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you. 21When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. 22Those that are blind or fractured or maimed or having a running sore or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor make of them an offering by fire on the altar to the Lord. 23In respect to an ox or a lamb which has an overgrown or stunted member, you may present it for a freewill offering, but for a vow it will not be accepted. 24Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord, or sacrifice in your land, 25nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you.'"

22:17-25 This deals with freewill/peace offerings connected to the fulfillment of a vow (cf. Leviticus 3).

22:18 Notice two distinct groups are addressed.

  1. Israelites
  2. non-Israelites living among them (i.e., sojourners, aliens, cf. Lev. 16:29)

22:19 "for you to be accepted" This has no VERB. With the NOUN (BDB 953; NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 1186-1188), it is often hard to know when YHWH

  1. accepts a sacrifice on behalf of a person (cf. Lev. 19:5)
  2. accepts the person into fellowship (i.e., Lev. 1:4; 7:18)

The root is repeated several times in this chapter.

  1. the NOUN (cf. Lev. 22:19,20,21,29)
  2. the VERB (BDB 953, KB 1980, Niphal IMPERFECT, cf. Lev. 22:23,25,27)

22:22-25 This lists the defects that are not acceptable. They are like the defects that eliminate Levites from being a functioning priest (cf. Lev. 21:16-20). The offering and the offerer, as well as the ones who eat it, are to be "clean," without defect. It was a visible sign of the perfection of YHWH.

For the lexical aspect of these defects, see Leviticus 21.

22:23 Notice the exception related to freewill offerings. This shows there were "levels" of "cleanness" or "holiness."

The PASSIVE PARTICIPLE, "too long" (BDB 976, KB 1358), occurs only here and in Lev. 21:18. The PASSIVE PARTICIPLE, "too short" (BDB 886, KB 2102), occurs only here.

22:24 This has been understood as outlawing the castration of animals (Targums, Josephus, Antiq. 4.8.40) in Israel. This may be another distinction between Israel and her pagan neighbors.

22:25 "the food of your God" See note at Lev. 21:22.

26Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27"When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be accepted as a sacrifice of an offering by fire to the Lord. 28But, whether it is an ox or a sheep, you shall not kill both it and its young in one day. 29When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 30It shall be eaten on the same day, you shall leave none of it until morning; I am the Lord. 31So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the Lord."

22:26-28 These are further restrictions on acceptable sacrifice.

  1. age of young animal, Lev. 22:27
  2. time of death of the sacrifice, Lev. 22:28

There are other texts which call for compassion to animals (i.e., Exod. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21; and 22:6-7). It may refer to pagan practices.

22:29-30 These are further guidelines on the peace or thanksgiving sacrifice.

  1. it must be eaten on the same day
  2. none must be left until morning (see Lev. 3:1-17; 7:11-34)

This is a change from Lev. 7:17. Again, it seems to denote a further restriction on the priests because they had a greater love of "holiness" than the average Israelite.


This is parallel to Lev. 22:9. See notes there.

▣ "keep. . .do" Obedience is important to YHWH.

  1. admonition (cf. Gen. 17:9; 18:19; Exod. 20:6; Lev. 18:26; Deut. 4:2,40; 6:2; 10:12; 26:17; Josh. 22:5)
  2. curses and blessing for obedience (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-28)

32"You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the Lord who sanctifies you, 33who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord."

22:32 "sanctified. . .sanctifies" This is the root kadosh (BDB 872, KB 1073; see SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY). It is used several times in Leviticus 21-22 as a NOUN, an ADJECTIVE, and a VERB. Here are some of the different ways it is translated.

  1. holy, most holy
  2. sacred
  3. sanctify
  4. dedicate
  5. consecrate
  6. hallowed

Holiness is "the" key theological concept in Leviticus. Remember, it is the "how to" manual for the Tabernacle. It gives the guidelines on how a holy God can fellowship with an unholy people. Their holiness is mandated and facilitates the fellowship with YHWH.

22:33 This is an allusion to YHWH's great act of promise (cf. Gen. 15:12-22) and mercy (i.e., the exodus). This is covenant language (cf. Lev. 11:45; 19:36; 22:33; 25:38; 26:45). The Feast of Passover was a way to remind and educate future Israelites of YHWH's great act of deliverance!


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Why was holiness so important to YHWH?
  2. Why is the phrase "I am the Lord" repeated so often?
  3. Who can eat "holy" sacrifices?
  4. How did physical defects affect holiness?
  5. Why is Lev. 22:31 so theologically significant? How does it relate to Ezek. 36:22-36?
  6. Explain the significance of the exodus (Lev. 22:33).

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