Book summary

Leviticus continues where Exodus left off. It contains God’s instructions to Moses after they’ve completed the tabernacle but before they leave Mount Sinai to continue their journey to the Promised Land.

The two main themes are atonement and holy living. God provides instructions on how the Israelites and their priests should conduct themselves, and the laws they must abide by.

The word Holy is used more times in this book than in any other book of the Bible.

Chapters 1-16 — Atonement

Ch 1-7 — Atonement through offerings

Ch 1 — The burnt offering
  • The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. (Lev. 1:1-4)

Ch 2 — The grain offering
  • “When anyone brings a grain offering to the Lord, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” (Lev. 2:1-2)

Ch 3 — The fellowship offering
  • “If your offering is a fellowship offering, and you offer an animal from the herd, whether male or female, you are to present before the Lord an animal without defect.” (Lev. 3:1)

Ch 4:1 to 5:13 — The sin offering
  • “If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.” (Lev. 4:3)

Ch 5:14 to 6:7 — The guilt offering
  • “When anyone is unfaithful to the Lord by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, they are to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering.” (Lev. 5:15)

Ch 6:8 to 7:38 — Additional regulations for the offerings
  • These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering, which the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai in the Desert of Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the Lord. (Lev. 7:37-38)

Ch 8-10 — Atonement through priestly intercession

Ch 8 — The ordination of Aaron and his sons
  • Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them… He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. Then he brought Aaron’s sons forward, put tunics on them, tied sashes around them and fastened caps on them, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Lev. 8:10,12-13)

Ch 9 — Aaron and the priests begin making offerings
  • Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. (Lev. 9:22)

Ch 10 — The Lord judges two of Aaron’s sons
  • Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. (Lev. 10:1-2)

Ch 11-15 — Atonement through purification

Ch 11 — Clean and unclean food
  • The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: …’” (Lev. 11:1-2)

Ch 12 — Purification after childbirth
  • “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.’” (Lev. 12:2-4)

Ch 13-14 — Unclean diseases and molds
  • “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” (Lev. 13:45-46)

  • “The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days.” (Lev. 14:8)

Ch 15 — Unclean discharges
  • These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen, for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or a woman with a discharge, and for a man who has sexual relations with a woman who is ceremonially unclean. (Lev. 15:32-33)

Ch 16 — The Day of Atonement

  • “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. (Lev. 16:6-10)

  • “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” (Lev. 16:34)

Chapters 17-27 — Holy living

Ch 17 — Eating blood forbidden

  • ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”’ (Lev. 17:13-14)

Ch 18 — Unlawful sexual relations

  • “Everyone who does any of these detestable things — such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 18:29-30)

Ch 19 — Various laws

  • “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19:33-34)

Ch 20 — Punishments for sin

  • “‘You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’” (Lev. 20:27)

Ch 21 — Rules for priests

  • “Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies. They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the food offerings to the Lord, the food of their God, they are to be holy.” (Lev. 21:5-6)

Ch 22 — Rules about sacrificed animals

  • “No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offering, nor may the guest of a priest or his hired worker eat it.” (Lev. 22:10)

Ch 23 — Festivals

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.’” (Lev. 23:1-2)
  • [The Sabbath]

  • [The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread]

  • [Offering the Firstfruits]

  • [The Festival of Weeks]

  • [The Festival of Trumpets]

  • [The Day of Atonement]

  • [The Festival of Tabernacles]

Ch 24 — The tabernacle and blasphemy

  • Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. (Lev. 24:3)

Ch 25 — The Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee

  • “Count off seven sabbath years — seven times seven years — so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.” (Lev. 25:8-10)

Ch 26 — Covenant blessings and curses

  • “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.” (Lev. 26:3-4)

  • “… if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength.” (Lev. 26:15-16)

Ch 27 — Redeeming what is God’s

  • “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (Lev. 27:30)