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(MT versing)
The Lamp and the Bread of the Sanctuary Care of the Temple Lamps Various Priestly Laws Taking Care of the Lamps Complementary Ritual Prescriptions
a. the perpetual flame
24:1-4 24:1-4 24:1-4 24:1-4 24:1-4
The Bread of the Tabernacle The Bread Offered to God b. the loaves of permanent offering on the golden table
24:5-9 24:5-9 24:5-9 24:5-9 24:5-9
The Penalty for Blasphemy An Example of Just and Fair Punishment A Case of Blasphemy
24:10-12 24:10-12 24:10-12 24:10-12 24:10-12
24:13-16 24:13-16 24:13-23 24:13-16 24:13
An Eye for An Eye The Law of Retaliation
24:17-23 24:17-22 24:17-18 24:17
24:19-22 24:19-22
24:23 24:23 24:23

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. Care for the Menorah (Lev. 24:1-4)
    1. This information is also found in Exod. 27:20-21.
    2. This lampstand is described in Exod. 25:31-40. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE LAMPSTAND (Menorah).

  2. Care for the Table of Show Bread (Lev. 24:5-9)
    1. This information is also found in Exod. 25:23-30; 37:10-16; 40:22-23; see SPECIAL TOPIC: SHOW BREAD or BREAD OF THE PRESENCE.
    2. The bread had to be made of precise ingredients and was replaced every week.
    3. The old bread was to be eaten by the priests (Lev. 24:9).

  3. A case of blasphemy (Lev. 24:10-12) and how to handle it (Lev. 24:13-16). Punishment meted out in Lev. 24:23.

  4. Notice the "ifs" (Lev. 24:15,17,19). Specific acts require special punishments.
    1. cursing God ‒ stoning to death
    2. murder ‒ death penalty
    3. death of an animal ‒ restitution
    4. injury to a neighbor ‒ same to the offender (i.e., eye-for-eye, Lev. 24:20)
    5. one standard of justice shall apply to all levels of Israeli society (Lev. 24:22)


1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2"Command the sons of Israel that they bring to you clear oil from beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. 3Outside the veil of testimony in the tent of meeting, Aaron shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord continually; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations. 4He shall keep the lamps in order on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually."

24:2 "Command the sons of Israel" This IMPERATIVE (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel) is unusual in Leviticus. Many chapters are introduced by "speak" (BDB 180, KB 210, Piel IMPERATIVE) but only here, "command."

NASB, JPSOA, REB  "clear"
NKJV, NRSV, TEV, LXX, Peshitta  "pure"
NJB  "crushed"

The MT has the MASCULINE ADJECTIVE "pure" (BDB 269), the VERB form means "be bright," "clear," or "pure." The ADJECTIVE denotes that which is "free from foreign substances" (cf. Exod. 27:20-21; Lev. 24:7). The special olive oil (see James Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible, p. 74) was to be used in the inner shrine (holy place) and, therefore, must be uncontaminated.

The same ADJECTIVE (but FEMININE) is used in Lev. 24:4 to describe the metal of the lampstand (gold, cf. Exod. 25:31,39; 31:8; 37:17).

The same ADJECTIVE is used in Lev. 24:6 for the gold table on which the Show Bread rested in the Holy Place (cf. Exod. 25:23-30; 31:8; 37:11).

The same ADJECTIVE is used in Lev. 24:7 of the additive to the frankincense on the Show Bread (cf. Exod. 30:34).

▣ "the light" It is mentioned in Exod. 25:6; 27:20; 35:14,28; 39:37; Num. 4:9,16. See SPECIAL TOPIC: LAMPSTAND (Menorah).

There are several words in this context used to describe this lamp of the Holy Place.

  1. Lev. 24:2, "luminary" (BDB 22, cf. Exod. 35:14,28; 39:37)
  2. Lev. 24:2, "lamp" (BDB 632, cf. Lev. 24:4)
  3. Lev. 24:4, "lampstand" (BDB 633)

All three are mentioned in Exod. 39:37. It was one lampstand with seven flower shaped bowls on the top of branches.

▣ "burn continuously" This is a recurrent demand, cf. Lev. 24:3 (thrice), 4, 8 (twice). This means from evening to morning, not all day (cf. Exod. 27:20-21).

24:3 "the veil of testimony" This refers to the inner veil which divided the "holy of Holies" (where the ark was located) from the "holy place," where the special furniture was located (see SPECIAL TOPIC: TABERNACLE (chart), cf. Lev. 4:6).

The ark was known as the "ark of testimony" (cf. Exod. 25:22) so the veil before it took this designation.

▣ "it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations" This phrase is made up of three parallel parts.

  1. ADVERB, "continually" (BDB 556, i.e., in the night time, every night, cf. Exod. 30:7,8)
  2. NOUN, "'olam" (BDB 761, see SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER)
  3. phrase, "throughout your generations" (cf. Lev. 7:36; 10:P9; 23:41)

Remember, in the OT "forever" must be interpreted in context. Most of YHWH's covenant promises are conditional on obedience (see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 348-349). Also note that the OT was a "guardian" only for a period of time (i.e., cf. Acts 15; Galatians 3; Hebrews; and SPECIAL TOPIC: PAUL'S VIEWS OF THE MOSAIC LAW).

5"Then you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. 6You shall set them in two rows, six to a row, on the pure gold table before the Lord. 7You shall put pure frankincense on each row that it may be a memorial portion for the bread, even an offering by fire to the Lord. 8Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the Lord continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel. 9It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the Lord's offerings by fire, his portion forever."

24:5 "fine flour" This refers to wheat flour not barley flour.

▣ "twelve cakes" They may have symbolized

  1. a previous covenant (Noah, Abraham)
  2. an everlasting covenant
  3. the twelve tribes
  4. YHWH providing Israel's physical needs


▣ "ephah" This term is assumed. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ANE WEIGHTS AND VOLUMES.

24:6 "you shall set them in rows" These were large loaves (Lev. 24:5, about 3.5 lbs.) and they were arranged on a small table. Josephus (Antiq. 3.6.6) says they were piled up on top of each other.

▣ "the pure gold table before the Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SHOW BREAD OF THE PRESENCE.

The phrase "before the Lord" denoted in the Tabernacle's holy shrine.

24:7 "frankincense" Apparently it was burned beside the bread. See SPECIAL TOPIC: FRANKINCENSE.

▣ "a memorial portion" This refers to part of the offering burned on the altar to YHWH (cf. Lev. 2:2,9,16).

Here it refers to the frankincense (cf. Lev. 2:1,2,14-16; 6:15).

24:8 See notes at Lev. 24:3. For "sabbath day" see SPECIAL TOPIC: SABBATH (OT) and SABBATH (NT). For "everlasting" see SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('olam). For "covenant" see SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT.

24:9 The priests were to eat the week old bread (i.e., a type of grain offering accompanied by an incense offering). It was "most holy" because part of it was offered by fire to YHWH on the altar of sacrifice and was then taken into the Tabernacle's "holy place."

Although the text does not specifically mention that it was made from unleavened bread, the time element involved in its consumption by the priests strongly implies this.

10Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman's son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp. 11The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.) 12They put him in custody so that the command of the Lord might be made clear to them.

24:10-23 This is a very detailed historical account, it is only one of two historical accounts in Leviticus; the other being Leviticus 10 (i.e., the death of Nadab and Abihu). Several items to notice:

  1. If the mother was Israeli the children were considered Israelite. There were many half Egyptians with Israel.
  2. Israelis still sinned
    1. the fight (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 137)
    2. the blasphemy (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 828-830)
  3. The tribe of Dan is always depicted as a problem because they left their tribal allotment (cf. Judges 18).

24:11 "blasphemed" This VERB (BDB 866 II, KB 1060, cf. Lev. 24:15) means "to utter a curse against someone," here using YHWH's holy name (see SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" OF YHWH).

▣ "cursed" This VERB (BDB 886, KB 1103, cf. Lev. 24:14,15; 19:14; 20:9; cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp.924-927 and 860) is parallel to "blasphemed."

NIV has "blasphemed with a curse," which expresses the thought well.

NJB has "blasphemed the name and cursed it," which is also possible. It was a spoken disrespect to YHWH (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 149-150).

24:12 The priests needed YHWH to make His will clearly known, possibly using

  1. Urim and Thummin (see SPECIAL TOPIC: URIM AND THUMMIM)
  2. dream (like Jacob)
  3. prophet (later way to know YHWH's will); see SPECIAL TOPIC: PROPHECY (OT)

13Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14"Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. 15You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin. 16Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.'"

24:14 Notice the procedure.

  1. Take the offender outside the camp (i.e., away from the holy Tabernacle and covenant people).
  2. All who heard lay their hands on his head. This was either
    1. a transfer of guilt (see SPECIAL TOPIC: LAYING ON OF HANDS)
    2. a gesture similar to court witnessing (i.e., identifying the offender, cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1016, #1)
  3. Let all the congregation stone him (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1050). This was a designated way to remove an offender from the covenant people (cf. Deut. 17:2-7; 21:18-21).

24:15 "then he will bear his sin" This is an idiom of death and guilt (cf. Lev. 5:1; 20:20; Num. 9:13; 18:22), whether by man or God is often not specified.

24:16 "shall surely be put to death" This is an intensified grammatical form (i.e., an INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and an IMPERFECT VERB of the same root; here BDB 559, KB 562, repeated in Lev. 24:17).

▣ "shall certainly stone him" This is the same kind of intensified form as above, here BDB 920, KB 1187.

Death was the mandated penalty and stoning by the whole community was the mandated form.

Note the penalty is carried out in Lev. 24:23.

17"'If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death. 18The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life. 19If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him. 21Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death. 22There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God.'" 23Then Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, and they brought the one who had cursed outside the camp and stoned him with stones. Thus the sons of Israel did, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

24:17 "If a man" The judgment of YHWH on this blasphemer was meant to set a precedent (see SPECIAL TOPIC: LAWS IN THE ANE, B. #1). Notice the "ifs" in Lev. 24:15,17,19.

NASB  "takes the life"
NKJV, NRSV, JPSOA, Peshitta  "kills"
TEV  "commit murder"
NJB  "strikes down"
REB, LXX  "strikes"

The MT has the VERB (BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil IMPERFECT) which can denote

  1. one fatal blow ‒ here
  2. one non-fatal blow ‒ Num. 22:23,25,27
  3. beat repeatedly ‒ Exod. 2:11,13; 5:10
  4. metaphor
    1. of sun ‒ Ps. 121:6; Isa. 49:10; Jonah 4:8
    2. of tongue ‒ Jer. 18:18

24:18 See notes at Lev. 5:16; 6:5; 22:14; 24:21.

▣ "life for life" This is the term nephesh, twice. See full note at Ezek. 18:4.

24:19-20 This was the Israeli's way (i.e., Lex Talionis, cf. Exod. 21:22-25; see Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 150-151) to limit violence and tribal warfare. The family had the right of limited retaliation (i.e., the kinsman avenger, cf. Joshua 20-21).

Later the rabbis allowed a price to be paid for some injuries which violated this text and Deut. 19:21.

According to Gordon Wenham, Leviticus, New International Commentary, p. 312, verses 16-22 form a chiasm, with vv. 19-20 being the main truth. Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 149-150, explains how the rabbis developed the idea of appropriate compensation. However, for premeditated murder there was no compensation (i.e., Num. 35:31; Deut. 19:11-12).

NASB, TEV, NJB  "injures"
NKJV  "causes disfigurement"
NRSV, JPSOA  "maims"
REB  "injures and disfigures"
LXX, Peshitta  "give a blemish"

The MT has BDB 548, which can refer to

  1. physical blemish or defect ‒ Lev. 21:17,18,21,23
  2. moral blemish ‒ Deut. 32:5

A general translation, REB, is able to cover the semantic range.

24:22 YHWH is no respecter of persons. There is one justice for all; men, women, Israelite, stranger (cf. Exod. 12:49; Num. 9:14;15:15,16,29; Deuteronomy especially mentions the widow, orphan, and alien; see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 588, #3, [b]).

Remember, a "mixed multitude" came out of Egypt (cf. Exod. 12:38). This would have included

  1. some other foreign slaves
  2. some half-Egyptian families
  3. some Israelite supporters who were expelled

▣ "I am the Lord your God" This is a recurrent covenant form used in Leviticus 18-26.


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 is the IMPERATIVE ("command") of Lev. 24:2 different from the normal introductory IMPERATIVE, "speak"?
  2. List the different names used for the light in the Holy Place.
  3. Explain the range of meaning of "perpetual."
  4. What did the twelve loaves of bread symbolize?
  5. How is Lev. 24:10-23 different from the rest of the surrounding material?
  6. Is there a distinction between "blaspheme" and "curse"?
  7. Why did the hearers of the cursing lay their hands on the head of the person to be stoned?
  8. How does this chapter express the differing consequences between the death of a human and an animal?
  9. Explain the significance of Lev. 24:22.

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