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Is Leviticus In The Old Testament?
Leviticus is one of the five books of the Pentateuch, or Torah, of the Hebrew Bible and is found within the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament. It is the third book of the Bible and is attributed to Moses, the leader of the Israelite people during the Exodus from Egypt. The book of Leviticus is the foundation for the Hebrew priesthood and the laws and regulations that govern Israel’s religious life.
The Hebrew word for Leviticus is Vayikra, which means “to call” or “to proclaim.” This title is appropriate given that the book is comprised of a series of divinely inspired codes and laws that were to be proclaimed and observed by the people of Israel. Following the form of the other four books of the Pentateuch, Leviticus begins with the words “And the Lord called unto Moses.” The contents of this book are focused on the holiness that God expects from his people, and clear instructions are given on how to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
Leviticus consists of three major sections. The first, chapters 1-16, is composed of sacrificial regulations. These regulations detail the offerings that are to be made to God, and the procedures for making them. The second section, chapters 17-27, focuses on the laws for holiness, a set of laws and regulations governing how the people of Israel are to live a holy life. This section includes laws related to worship, hygiene, dietary restrictions, and sexual relations. Finally, the third section, chapters 28-27, contains the laws and regulations regarding festivals, Sabbaths, and the inauguration of priests.
Approaching Leviticus from a contemporary perspective may be difficult. While society today is accustomed to the moral and ethical standards that are espoused in the New Testament, there are passages in the Old Testament, such as Leviticus, that can be seen as harsh and out of date. However, for the Original Hebraic audience, Leviticus was an essential source of guidance and direction. Far from being an antiquated set of laws and regulations, Leviticus was a source of hope, a reminder of Yahweh’s faithfulness and love for his people. In this way, and many others, Leviticus is a foundational text of the Old Testament.
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