The Walk with God…Sanctification Leviticus 11-27, cont’d.
Leviticus 21-22:16 Laws concerning Standards of Behavior for the Priests, cont’d.
Leviticus 22:1-9-If a Priest is ritually unclean he may not participate in service of the Tabernacle.
For an explanation of the meaning of “clean, unclean”, “pure, “impure” see:
This brings us to the subject of "tahor" and "tameh". Translating them as "clean" and "unclean" (or "pure" and "impure") is erroneous. These terms actually have nothing to do with physical cleanliness. Rather, they describe a state of ritual applicability in regards to fulfilling certain mitzvot, such as those associated with the Temple in Jerusalem, the cultic function of Kohanim (priests), or sexual relations within in a Jewish marriage. Thus, Tahor and Taharah actually mean "ritually pure" and Tamae and Tumah mean "ritually impure".
Chassidic teaching explains that in essence, tum’ah, “spiritual impurity,” is definable as the “absence of holiness.” Holiness is called “life,” “vitality”; it is that which is united with and emanates from the source of all life, the Creator. Chassidic philosophy further elucidates that true union with G‑d, true holiness, means that one’s own independent existence is in a state of bittul, “nullification” to G‑d.2 On the other hand, that which is distant or separated from its source is called “death” and “impurity.” According to Torah law, death is the principal cause of all tum’ah; the highest magnitude of tum’ah comes from contact with a dead body.
The forces of evil are, in kabbalistic and chassidic terminology, the sitra achara, the “other side.” They are what is “outside,” what is far from G‑d’s presence and holiness. They flourish in the realm where He is most concealed and least felt, where there is least holiness. In a place where G‑d is least felt, there is naturally more room for “opposition” to Him. Spiritually speaking, what is most evil and most impure in a person is, above all, the assertion of self: one pushes G‑d’s presence away and creates a void, a vacuum where His presence should be.
That is the deeper meaning, according to chassidic teaching, of the phrase “to cause a chilul Hashem,” to desecrate G‑d’s name: it means to make a chalal (void), a place empty of His presence. Holiness is synonymous with bittul: it has no sense of any true existence independent of G‑d. That is why, our sages tell us, arrogance is equivalent to idolatry—for idolatry, in essence, means that something is regarded as independent of the Creator and asserts itself in place of Him.
Hence, if we strip the words “pure” and “impure” of their physical connotations, and perceive their true spiritual meaning, we see that what they really signify is the presence or absence of holiness…(cont’d)
For additional information specific to the work of the priests see:
Leviticus 22:10-16-Here is identified who may eat of the Priest's portion of a sacrifice.
Leviticus 22:17-33 Laws concerning Offerings
A sacrifice had to be free of any defect. These defects are described here. The reason is that the sacrifice had to be free of any defect was that it represents (1) the attitude toward God of the offerer (the quality of the sacrifice represented the good or bad quality of the offerer’s attitude), and (2) it was a reflection of the offerer’s concept of God (perfect versus imperfect qualities of the characteristics of His nature).
Leviticus 23 Laws Concerning Festivals (Holy Convocations, Festivals)
Paul said that the Festivals were “shadows of things to come” (Colossians 2:16-17).
- Festivals 1-4…primarily teach about the significance of Messiah’s first coming (they are in the Spring of the year)
- Festivals 5-7…primarily teach about the significance of the Messiah’s second coming (they are in the Fall of the year).
Leviticus 23:1-3-The Sabbath
- It is to be a day of worship & rest…every 7th day, all year long…celebrating God’s finished work of creation.
- Christians celebrate it on the first day of the week…the day our Lord rose from the grave and finished the work of redemption.
Leviticus 23:4-5-The Feast of Passover…in Spring (Nissan, 1st month of religious calendar)
- In OT times it was a memorial of what occurred after the Passover night, when all the Egyptian firstborn died and the death angel passed over the homes of the people of Israel. It began the day after Passover and lasted 7 days.
- It points to what Jesus would do for us in cleansing us of sin and helping us to live sin free lives (1 Corinthians 5:6-7)…to be spiritually “unleavened” before God.
Leviticus 23:6-8-The Feast of Unleavened Bread…in Spring (Nissan)
- When the people of Israel left Egypt they were instructed to make bread without leaven. Leaven is a symbol for sin. They were to eat this unleavened bread for seven days. Each year, when they celebrated this Feast it was to be a reminder that when they left Egypt behind they left sin behind. Formerly, they were obedient to their Egyptian masters (this represented a life of bondage to sin). The unleavened bread is sometimes called the “bread of affliction” because of the affliction they suffered in Egypt. Now, they have been set free from that life and are to be obedient to their new master, the Lord. Now that they belong to the Lord they are to live according to His nature and be holy, without sin.
Leviticus 23:9-14-The Feast of the First Fruits…in Spring (Nissan)
This feast symbolized the consecration of the entire harvest to God and represented a pledge of the full harvest that was yet to be gathered. A “sheaf” (about 2 quarts) of the barley harvest was presented on the second day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 16). This was accompanied by burnt, grain, and drink offerings. The “libation” was about 2 pints of unmixed wine that was poured on the grain offering as a symbol of joy.
- A sheaf (2 quarts) of the barley harvest was presented to the Lord…plus a burnt offering…on the 2nd day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It symbolized the consecration of the entire harvest to God and was an earnest, or pledge, of the entire harvest yet to be gathered.
- It typified Christ’s resurrection as a pledge of our resurrection.
Leviticus 23:15-22-Pentecost…(Sivan, 3rd month)
23:15-23 fifty days (the meaning of the Greek word “Pentecost”) after first fruits, two loaves of bread were offered for the people, along with burnt, grain, drink, sin, and peace offerings. The loaves, made with leaven, typified the formation of the Church on the day of Pentecost. The Church, the Body of Christ, is composed of sinners (leaven typifies sin…) who are saved by the grace of God…”
The Ryrie Study Bible, 23:15-23 footnote, p. 194
- It was celebrated 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits.
- Two loaves of bread with leaven were offered along with other offerings. They represent the formation of the church at Pentecost (made up of sinners) 50 days after Christ’s resurrection when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples (Luke 24:49; Acts 2).
Leviticus 23:23-44-Three Feasts occurred in the seventh month (Tishri, Sept.-Oct.)
Leviticus 23:23-25-The Feast of the Trumpets)…in Fall (Tishrei, 7th month, also the 1st month of the civil calendar)
The trumpet was the shofar, or ram’s horn. The blowing of the trumpet on the first day of the month signaled the beginning of the civil new year, called Rosh Hashanah.
- It was celebrated in the fall around October…it points forward to the future gathering of the dispersed people of Israel. It is a time of repentance in preparation for the Day of Atonement. “Since it is a time of repentance, the activities center around looking at our sins. It is customary to go down to the sea, filling one’s pockets with rocks along the way. Once there, the rocks are thrown as far as possible into the sea, identifying one area of sin with each rock. As they are thrown, it is a cleansing, representing God removing the sins to the bottom of the sea.”
- Trumpets are tied to Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Leviticus 23:26-32-The Feast of the Day of Atonement…in Fall (Tishrei)
- On this day the sins of the nation were confessed and atoned for. It is the only solemn festival…having a time of fasting. It was the only day of the year when the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. He would go in with an offering for atonement (cover) of sin. Then he would release the “scapegoat” far out in the wilderness. The idea being that the goat would never find its way back. This represented the fact that once sin is forgiven it is gone…and will never find its way back.
For a Jewish explanation of the Day of Atonement see:
For an explanation of the scapegoat see:
- Jesus fulfilled the role of the sacrifice slain for our sins (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 9:28; 13:11-12)
Leviticus 23:33-44-The Feast of the Tabernacles/Booths…in Fall (Tishrei)
This was to commemorate the time that they had spent in the wilderness and God’s provision for them. The sacrifices during this time amounted to 189 animals (cf. Numbers 29:12-38). It also celebrated the annual autumn harvest of fruits and olives. Zechariah (14:16) says that we will celebrate it during the Millennium.
- The last feast of the year lasted a week and was celebrated in the fall. The people lived in booths, tents…and heard the reading of the Law. The booths had to be flimsy, a temporary structure, that the whole family could sit in. One wall must be open, perhaps covered by a cloth, to act as a door. In addition, the roof must be of overlapping branches, with gaps to see the stars. It reminded the people (1) of their delivery from Egypt and the time when Israel lived in tents during their wilderness journey; and, (2) that we are only temporary travelers in this world. Our home is elsewhere.
- As part of the Feast…the people carried torches around the Temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would also come (be a light) for the Gentiles.
- The Priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the Temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar…demonstrating God’s provision of life-giving water to all who came to Him.
- Jesus attended this Feast and said, “If anyone is thirsty…” (John 7:37-38). The next morning, while the torches were still burning He said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12).
Prayer: Lord, let my life be a celebration of Your glory. Thank You for Your provision of everything that I will ever need. Please help my life to be a living example to those that I meet of Your perfect and complete provision.