Leviticus

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Leviticus (Greek: Λευιτικός, "relating to the Levites") or Wayiqra (Hebrew: ויקרא‎, literally "and He read", Modern Hebrew: Vayikra) is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah (or Pentateuch).

Leviticus contains laws and priestly rituals, but in a wider sense is about the working out of God's covenant with Israel set out in Genesis and Exodus—what is seen in the Torah as the consequences of entering into a special relationship with God (specifically, Yahweh). These consequences are set out in terms of community relationships and behaviour.

The first 16 chapters and the last chapter make up the Priestly Code, with rules for ritual cleanliness, sin-offerings, and the Day of Atonement, including Chapter 12, which mandates male circumcision. Chapters 17–26 contain the Holiness Code, including the injunction in chapter 19 to "love one's neighbor as oneself" (the Great Commandment). The book is largely concerned with "abominations", largely dietary and sexual restrictions. The rules are generally addressed to the Israelites, except for several prohibitions applied equally to "the strangers that sojourn in Israel."

According to Jewish and Christian tradition, God dictated the Book of Leviticus to Moses as He did the other books of the Bible.[1] Modern scholarship is divided on the issue of authorship.[2]

Contents

Title

In Hebrew the book is called Vayikra (Hebrew: ויקרא) literally "and He called",[3] from the first word of the Hebrew text, in line with the other four books of the Greek in the 3rd century BCE to produce the Septuagint, the name given was biblion to Levitikon (Greek: βιβλίον το Λευιτικόν), meaning "book of the Levites". This was in line with the Septuagint use of subject themes as book names. The Latin name became Liber Leviticus, from which the English name is derived. These names are somewhat misleading, as the book is in fact concerned mostly with the priesthood, descended from Aaron, mentioning mere Levites only once, in Lev. 25:32-33.

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