Niv Application Commentary Leviticus Numbers

Overview

insight into how the Israelite’s story of covenant experience with God becomes our story today

Leviticus and Numbers tell of an epic journey to freedom, while illuminating and challenging modern conceptions of God. Vivid imagery of rituals, laws addressing tough issues, and narratives ranging from exultant to gut-wrenching show what it means to interact with the Lord and how to live according to his holy principles as part of a redeemed ...

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Leviticus, Numbers

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Overview

insight into how the Israelite’s story of covenant experience with God becomes our story today

Leviticus and Numbers tell of an epic journey to freedom, while illuminating and challenging modern conceptions of God. Vivid imagery of rituals, laws addressing tough issues, and narratives ranging from exultant to gut-wrenching show what it means to interact with the Lord and how to live according to his holy principles as part of a redeemed community of faith.

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Meet the Author

Roy Gane (Ph D, University of California, Berkeley) is professor of Hebrew Bible and ancient near eastern languages at the Theological Seminary of Andrews University. He is author of a number of scholarly articles and several books including God's Faulty Heroes (Review Herald, 1996-on the biblical book of Judges), Altar Call (Diadem, 1999-on the Israelite sanctuary services and their meaning for Christians), Ritual Dynamic Structure (Gorgias Press, 2004), Leviticus, Numbers (NIV Application Commentary; Zondervan, 2004), and Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy (Eisenbrauns, 2005), as well as the Leviticus portion of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the Old Testament (forthcoming). Dr. Gane and his wife, Connie Clark Gane, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Mesopotamian archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, have one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth.
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Read an Excerpt

Books by Adrian Plass

A Year at St Yorick's
Adrian Plass Classics
An Alien at St Wilfred's
Clearing Away the Rubbish
Colours of Survival (with Bridget Plass)
From Growing Up Pains to the Sacred Diary
Ghosts
Never Mind the Reversing Ducks
Nothing but the Truth
The Sacred Diaries of Adrian, Andromeda and Leonard
Stress Family Robinson
Stress Family Robinson 2: The Birthday Party
The Visit
Why I Follow Jesus
You Say Tomato (with Paul McCusker)




GhostsCopyright © 2001 by Adrian Plass
This title also available as a Zondervan audio product.
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
'The Road Not Taken' and 'Birches' are from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Latham, published by Jonathan Cape.
Reprinted by permission of The Random House Group Ltd.
Adrian Plass asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 0 551 03110 7
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means- electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other- except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Printed and bound in the United Kingdom
02030405060708/vCLY/10987654321
This book is dedicated to
Kate, with all my love
'Ghosts do fear no laws,
Nor do they care for popular applause.'
Anon, c. 1600

I seem to wake.
My bedroom is in darkness, the rectangle of my curtainless window less blackonly by a margin of the deepest shade of grey. I am lying on my back, and remain in that position as if paralysed, my eyes wide open, flicking from side to side as I listen intently. My anxiety is to establish urgently the absence of sounds that would be out of place in a safe, secure house at night. In fact, the loudest sound is my own panic-stricken breathing. I fancy, in addition, that I can hear my heart throbbing and hammering against the wall of my chest. It is as though, in that crucial instant before waking, I have received an overwhelming, crushing shock.
I remember! Of course I remember.
The noise that destroyed my sleep was a thunderous knocking and crashing on the top and bottom of my bedroom door, a veritable rain of blows, catapulting me into consciousness with brutal, wrenching abruptness.
But - and here is the crucial question - this wild knocking, did it happen in my sleep? Was it the final instant or climax of a dream? That is possible. I have known such things before.
Or not?
Could there actually be, at this very moment, a person or persons standing outside my door, waiting for me to climb from the shelter of my bed to discover the cause of such inexplicable urgency?
No, that idea is foolish and illogical. If there is a man or men who have somehow forced the locks of a door in my house and made their way up my stairs, why should they take the time and trouble to hammer on my unlocked bedroom door with such grotesque violence?
If their intention was originally robbery or murder, am I seriously to believe that, in the course of a short journey from the top of the stairs to this side of the landing, they have, by some obscure process, been so infected with courtesy that they now feel obliged to warn me of their presence?
On the other hand, if, unfathomably, their motive is an innocent one, why do they not simply come into my room and disclose the nature of the emergency that has made it necessary for them to break into my home and disturb my sleep?
No, no, the outrageous knocking was a dream. It was the end of a nightmare. I know it was. In the past I have safely woken from so many nightmares. Actually, I have woken from every single nightmare that I have ever endured. For all my life.
Not all.
All but one.
But I have certainly woken from this nightmare of meaningless knocking, and now I shall go back to sleep. In fact, that is my plan for dealing with the situation. I shall go back to sleep. I shall close my eyes and simply drift back into sleep. Suddenly it will be morning.
I close my eyes and wait for sleep to come.
I wait.
I cannot sleep until I have opened that door. The mindless battering and kicking on the wooden panels that woke me just now was certainly nothing more than a nightmare. However, the fact remains that I cannot sleep until I have opened that door. There will be no one there, of course. There is never anyone there. But it is necessary for the sake of my peace that I should pull that door open, look carefully round it and see with my own two eyes that the landing is empty and clear of intruders. After that sleep will come. Yes, after that sleep will come easily.
I push back my bedclothes. I swing my feet to the floor. I stand and begin to feel my way carefully through the pitch darkness towards the door. I am halfway there when a cold shiver of realization passes through me. What can I have been thinking of? My bedroom at night is never this dark. The world outside my window is never as opaque as it appears now. The window is, in any case, in the wrong place. I was mistaken. This is not my bedroom. I am not awake. I never did wake. I dreamed that I slept. I dreamed that I woke. Dear God! I thought that I was awake, but I am in a nightmare. And now I am to be driven onward by that nightmare. There is no longer a choice between continuing across this alien room and returning to the bed that I naively believed to be mine. Opening that door and confronting whatever may lie behind it is my inescapable assignment. I am close to tears at the prospect of some shrieking abyss of insanity on the other side, and I am right to be petrified. The logic of nightmare interlocks as tightly as the logic of the waking world, but the one is as far removed from the other as hope is removed from despair.
I am at the door. There will be nothing. I place my hand on the handle. There will be nothing. I push the handle down. There will be nothing. I pull open the door. Oh! A scream rises in my throat like vomit, but does not emerge. It is like choking on terror. There is something. Two figures are silhouetted within the frame of the door, nearly filling the space. One is large and shambling, slightly bent over, the other smaller. I peer at them but cannot make out the features of either. They do not speak. They do not move. Why, in God's name, do they say and do nothing? It is as if they know that by remaining silent and motionless they will bring me to the sharpest, uppermost pinnacle of this shrieking spiral of fear.
I say, my voice contained within a thin, parchment-like skin of self-control, 'Yes, can I help you? Did you want something?'
I cannot see their mouths, but I know that they are grinning horribly in the darkness now. They are amused by the groveling terror that makes me say stupid, polite things to people who have callously broken into my house and smashed their fists and feet against my door. They have won. Again. Yet again I perceive that I am what I am. I am so full of trembling hysteria that I fear my spirit will unravel or disintegrate.
My sole advantage is the certain knowledge that this is a dream. I may have learned the truth in time. I am not awake. This is a dream. I can escape. There is a way of escape. Surely nightmare is not permitted to break its own rules.
As the larger figure makes a sudden slight movement in my direction, I close my eyes and allow everything that I am to fall back on to the smooth, yielding darkness behind me. Releasing body and mind, I slide at ever-increasing speed down the long, steep slopes of a strangely exhilarating descent into abandonment.
In a final rush of excitement and dread I collide soundlessly with the real world, perspiring and trembling, awake in my own bed, my heart filled with a dark emotion that is much less and much more than the fear of nightmare.

There is an old schoolboy joke that goes, 'How do you know when an elephant's been in your fridge?' The answer is, 'You can tell by the footprints in the butter.'
Losing someone you have loved and lived with carries echoes of that silly joke. The one who was half of your existence is gone, but, between them, the vastness of her life, and the elephantine, Jurassic creature called death, leave paradoxically tiny marks or footprints all over your house, your heart and your life. For a long time these marks of passing are to be found everywhere, every day. Each new discovery is likely to trigger a fresh outburst of grief.
Some of them really are in the fridge. On the bottom shelf stands a carton of skimmed milk, a small aspect of the scheme that she devised to make sure of losing a few pounds before going on our planned sunshine holiday in late summer. She bought it on the morning of the day before she was taken ill. The carton should have been thrown out a long time ago, but the dustbin outside my back door is somehow not large or appropriate enough to contain the implications of such an action.
Upstairs, on the table next to her side of the bed sprawls an untidy pile of books that she has been devouring, dipping into, hoping to read. One of them was about pregnancy and childbirth. This was to have been the year . . .
Beside the books stands a tumbler, nearly filled with water.
The books should be returned to the bookcase, but the exact order and positioning of them on the bedside table, the sheer disarray of them, is a unique product of her hands, of her attention and her inattention, and will be lost for ever as soon as they are moved or removed.
Her lips were still warm when they touched the cold, hard smoothness of that glass as she sipped from it. The amount of water that remains was precisely determined by the extent of her thirst.
She has no choice now but to give up exactness and inexactness.
These tiny museums of personal randomness are all that is left to me.
How many times and in how many ways is it expected that one should have to say goodbye? I assent and assent and assent and assent to the death of the person I love, yet still she phantoms to life and fades once more to her death in the sad ordinariness of an unfinished packet of cereal, a tube of the wrong-coloured shoe polish, a spare pair of one-armed reading glasses in a drawer, CDs I never would have learned to enjoy, the Bible that is not mine, its thousand pages thickly cropped with markers that were sown over a decade, but have yielded their harvest in another place, her sewing-box filled with 'bits and bobs that might be useful one day', familiar doodles on a pad beside the phone, and, buried behind coats hanging in the hall, a wide, dark-blue woollen scarf that, when I bury my face in it, still smells of her.

***
I disposed of such items as the milk carton eventually. Of course I did. There was never any serious danger that I would descend into some kind of Dickensian preservation mania. The books were returned to their correct position on the shelves. I tipped away the water and washed the invisible prints of Jessica's lips and fingers from the tumbler. It took about half a minute and meant nothing immediately afterwards. I noted how the glass shone and sparkled as I replaced it with its fellows on the top shelf of the cupboard above the draining board. It was, after all, only a glass. Tomorrow I would be unable to identify which one of that set of six had contained the last drink that my wife had enjoyed in her own home.
In fact, after the very early and most intensely anguished days I became reasonably good at clearing and sorting and dealing with things of this kind as soon as they appeared, albeit sometimes by gritting my teeth or through little bursts of sobbing, conduits carrying away the overflow of continual grief.
The problem was that it never seemed quite to end. Months after Jessica's death I was still having to cope with less frequent but no less unexpected reminders of her life and her death. Some of them came from outside the house, brought by the regular postman, a young man with shiny spiked hair and a brick-red complexion who continued to whistle his way up our front path every morning as if, in some strange way, the world had not stopped turning. He brought letters addressed to Jessica that had important things to say about her mobile phone, or her library books, or which bulbs she might like to order for planting in the autumn, or the amount of credit she had on her British Home Stores card, or the fact that she had come so close to winning eighty thousand pounds in some magazine draw that the act of returning the enclosed slip and ordering a year's subscription to the magazine in question was little more than a tedious formality. I answered the ones I needed to and binned the rest.
One or two were innocently cheerful communications from friends or acquaintances from the past who knew nothing of what had happened to Jessica. I replied with as much brevity as politeness would allow, and tried to spend as little time as possible looking at the letters of condolence that followed.
One summer morning, six months to the day after I had leaned down to kiss my wife's cold lips for the last time, a letter with a Gloucester postmark dropped on to the front mat. It turned out to be from one of Jessica's oldest friends, but it was not for her. It was addressed to me.

Dear David,
I do hope you remember who I am, now that so many people in the church know who you are, and I hope you won't mind ploughing through what is probably going to be quite a long letter. My married name (I'm separated from my husband now) is Angela Steadman, but when we knew each other it was Angela Brook. That's what I've gone back to calling myself now that I'm on my own again.
I was in the same youth group as you many years ago when we were all going to St Mark's, so I'm in my latish-thirties now, as I suppose you must be. I used to go around with your Jessica, who was my closest friend all through school, and a biggish girl with frizzy hair called Laura Pavey. I was sort of blonde with high cheekbones and a goofy smile and enjoyed wearing bright jumpers in the winter and was a bit bossy and talked too much. Is that enough for you to identify me by? It's enough for most people. The bossy bit usually rings a bell!
We only knew each other for a relatively short time after you started going out with Jessica, but we actually did quite a few things together. Decent coffee at Laura's parents' lovely house round the corner in Clifton Road after the group to get rid of the taste of that thin, rank church coffee, quite a lot of Saturday mornings at Wilson's, the café at the top of the steps opposite the station where everyone got together to find out if there were going to be any parties they could crash. Two coffees between five or six of us - if we were lucky! It's just come to me that we all went on a church weekend together once as well, some school or something down in the south I think it was. Coming back now? All very happy memories for me.
Anyway, as you know, apart from Christmas cards Jessica and I pretty well lost touch with each other over the years, but I was very fond of my friend and I never forgot her. I always told myself that one day I'd make the effort to meet up with her again, and with you, of course, so that we could chew over old times. Yes, well, we should just go ahead and do these things and not talk about them, shouldn't we? I know it's nothing compared to how you must be feeling, but I am filled with a terrible, desolate sadness when I think that it's too late now. Having said that, there is one last thing I can do for Jessica, and that's why I'm writing to you.
David, I think you might be very surprised to hear what I'm going to tell you now. You see, Jessica wrote me quite a long letter only a day or two before she died. In it she talked about what had happened to her, how sudden it had been and how serious it was. She obviously knew perfectly well that she had a very short time left to live. People usually do, in my experience. Of course, as soon as I read this I was on the point of jumping in the car and driving for however long it took to get to her bedside, and that's exactly what I would have done, except that she specifically asked me not to. She wanted me to wait until a few months had gone by and then write to you. I'm doing what she asked.
Jessica sent me something to give to you, David, and when I managed to talk to her for a very short time on the phone at the hospital she was very insistent that I must take responsibility for deciding how and when that should happen. I was a bit taken aback, as you can imagine. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before or to anyone else I know. But one thing's for sure. I'm not going to let anyone or anything stop me from getting it right - for Jessica's sake.
Before I tell you what I've decided to do I think I'd better just fill you in briefly on what's been happening to me over the years since we last met. We all know what's been going on in your life, of course. I've never actually been to one of your meetings, but I gather they're pretty powerful and helpful and that sort of thing. I, on the other hand, have remained happily obscure - well, obscure, anyway.
As I think you probably know, or knew, but I don't blame you in the slightest for forgetting, I went off and did Art and History at Bristol - absolutely loved it, then I poodled around for a bit before getting a really nice, really badly paid job at a gallery in Cambridge. That's where I first met my husband, Alan. He was up in Cambridge on business one day and he'd ducked into our gallery to get out of the rain. Blinking rain! Bringing the good news and the bad news all in one package. To cut a long story short, this Alan being a nice-looking, independent-minded, charming sort of chap, we got on very well, exchanged phone numbers, kept in touch after that first encounter and began meeting on a regular basis. And, to cap it all, he was a Christian! Amazing! I couldn't believe my luck. About six months later we got engaged, and the autumn after that we were married in York, which is where my dad had moved to after my mum's death. It all felt so perfect. We prayed together, we laughed together about the same things, we shared dreams about what we might do in the future.
One of our commonest dreams was to find some kind of big old ramshackle property in the country, do it up and somehow make money out of it. A few years later, after both our parents had gone, there was enough money to think seriously about doing it. Well, to cut an even longer story short, after a lot of very enjoyable searching all over the country - marvellous times - we found somewhere. It was an ancient place, and when I say ancient I mean it. There were stones in the cellar dating from Roman times, and in just about every century since then someone seemed to have added something to the building. And just to add a little spice to the whole thing, the place had a well-documented reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in England! And is it haunted, I hear you ask? I'll tell you more about that when/if I see you.
We bought it. It was a mess, but we bought it. We figured that once it was cleaned up and we'd gone round the sales and bought some authentic stuff to put in the rooms, we'd be able to charge the public to come in and look round the place. It was so exciting and such fun. We had this dynamic girl called Karen who came in every day from the village to help, and within two or three months the thing was up and running. Seeing the very first paying customers walk through the door was an amazing experience. There was still an enormous amount to be done to the house, but we reckoned we could do that as we went along and according to how the money was going. It was marvellous having Karen to help. She was practical, versatile, quick, and all the other things you need someone to be when you've taken on a venture that every now and then seems just too big to handle. And I got on really well with her. We were great buddies, Karen and I, we really were. Like sisters. And all that good stuff lasted right up to the point when she and my husband stood side by side like discontented servants at the kitchen table one cold morning when I was bleary-eyed and barely awake, and announced that they'd fallen in love and were going to go away together. Alan was good enough to explain that he needed someone 'more feminine and adaptive', someone who didn't feel the need to dominate him all the time.
I don't want to say any more about that now. It puts my whole being out of joint. I can hardly write the words down without smashing something.
I'm still at the house, and still trying to run it as a business.
Right! That's me in a rather crushed nutshell, and here's my suggestion. I'd like to have a bit of a weekend reunion down here at the house, and I really want you to be part of it. It would probably run from Friday evening to Sunday morning or afternoon. I've still got some addresses and numbers from the old days, but you know how it is. People selfishly get married and move and emigrate and things, without any regard for people who are trying to organize reunions. I'm going to try for seven or eight of the folks you and I might remember best, and we'll see how we go. I gather that these things can turn out pretty dire if they're handled badly, so I want to plan at least a rough agenda that gives the weekend half a chance of being useful in some way, or at the very least enjoyable, for everyone who comes. I hope the idea of the ghosts won't put them off. I suspect the fact that we'll have to share expenses a bit will probably put them off a lot more!
There you are, then. I've enclosed a list of some possible dates. I assume your diary gets filled up pretty quickly - I suppose you're back on the speaking trail by now - so the sooner you reply the sooner I can fix it with the others. If you can't or won't come on any of those dates, and you don't come up with any alternatives either, then I won't do it at all. In which case you won't be getting what I was given to pass on to you. That would not be good, because we are both going to have to face Jessica again some day. She was very sweet, but what a temper! Seriously, this may be the last thing you want to do, but please do it. Ring, write, ask any questions you like, but just do it!
More details when you reply
Love and blessings (if there are some about)
Angela (Brook)
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Table of Contents

Contents 9 Series Introduction
13 General Editor’s Preface
15 Author’s Preface
17 Abbreviations
23 Introduction to Leviticus
37 Outline of Leviticus
43 Select Bibliography on Leviticus
51 Text and Commentary on Leviticus
471 Introduction to Numbers
481 Outline of Numbers
487 Select Bibliography on Numbers
491 Text and Commentary on Numbers
807 Scripture Index
830 Subject Index
841 Author Index
846 Ancient Literature Index
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First Chapter

Leviticus 1:1
THE LORD CALLED to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. He said,
ORIGINAL MEANING
LEVITICUS CONTINUES THE STORY of Israel's epic journey to freedom in the Promised Land of Canaan. It may be regarded as a literary unit that comprises a book, but it belongs to the larger whole of the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy). While most of Leviticus consists of laws, beginning with instructions for sacrificial rituals to be performed at the sanctuary, this legislation is placed within a narrative framework that picks up where the story of Exodus ends.
According to Exodus 19:1, the Israelites came to the Sinai Desert in the third month after they left Egypt. At the end of this book the tabernacle was set up 'on the first day of the first month in the second year' (40:17; emphasis supplied; cf. v. 2), that is, the second year after the Israelites had left Egypt. Numbers 1:1 begins exactly one month later—'on the first day of the second month of the second year' (emphasis supplied)—with the Israelites still in the Sinai Desert. So the basic chronological framework of the book of Leviticus, sandwiched between Exodus and Numbers, occupies only one month in the Sinai Desert.
We must allow for the possibility that some earlier and later materials may have been incorporated into Leviticus for topical reasons. Some instructions were delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai (7:38; 25:1; 26:46; 27:34), perhaps before the tabernacle was set up. Notice that Moses' last recorded trip up Mount Sinai was in Exodus 34. The blasphemer narrative, with its accompanying law-giving (Lev. 24:10—23), could have occurred at any time while the Israelites were camping in the desert. Even so, after the multi-millennial scope of Genesis and Exodus covering most of a century, Leviticus presents a mighty concentrated dose of divine revelation!
Confirming that Leviticus is intended as the next volume in a series, its first verse is a grammatical and structural continuation of the last few verses of Exodus. In Hebrew its first word is a waw consecutive form in which waw ('and') is prefixed to a verb meaning 'call.' So we can render literally: 'And he called....' It is true that an initial waw can simply be stylistic, without indicating that anything has gone before. However, real continuity in this case is confirmed by the fact that 1:1 completes a literary structure that begins in Exodus.
We discover the structure that binds Exodus and Leviticus together by looking for a parallel to the first three words of Leviticus: wayyiqra, ,el Mosheh ('And he called to Moses'). This search is easy to execute with a Bible software program. The only other verse in the Hebrew Bible containing exactly the same words, including the same verb form, is Exodus 24:16: 'and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD5 called to Moses [wayyiqra, ,el Mosheh] from within the cloud.' Here 'the LORD' (yhwh, the personal name of Israel's God) calls to Moses from his glory cloud at the summit of Mount Sinai in order to give him directions for constructing the tabernacle and instituting its priesthood (Ex. 25—31). Similarly, in Leviticus 1:1 the Lord calls to Moses from the 'Tent of Meeting' (i.e., the tabernacle) to communicate instructions for ritual activities to be performed at the tabernacle (Lev. 1—7). The parallel is striking.
The parallel becomes more striking if we take into account the verses immediately before Leviticus 1:1 (i.e., Ex. 40:34—38). At the very end of Exodus, after the tabernacle has been built according to plan and Moses has finished setting it up (chs. 35—40), the Lord's cloud covers it and his glory fills it. So the divine cloud and glory have moved from 'settling' (shkn) on Mount Sinai (Ex. 24:16) to 'settling' (40:35, also shkn) over God's 'tabernacle' (mishkan, 'place of settling/dwelling'), in which the ark of the covenant contains a copy of the law proclaimed on Mount Sinai (25:16, 21; 40:20). This climactic moment signals a transition from one phase of Israel's story to the next.
Now the sanctuary, rather than Mount Sinai, is the place of theophany and therefore the legislative capitol of the nation, from where the Lord calls to Moses. Because it is there, over the ark and between its two cherubim in the Most Holy Place, that the Lord promises to meet (Niphal of y<d) with Moses and give him commands for the Israelites (Ex. 25:22; cf. Num. 7:89), the sanctuary is called the 'Tent of Meeting [mo<ed, also from root y<d]' (Ex. 40:34—35; Lev. 1:1).
Now notice the way in which the section Exodus 40:34—Leviticus 1:1 parallels the order in Exodus 24:16:
The cloud covered [ksh] Mount Sinai (Ex. 24:16a)
And he [the LORD] called (qr,) to Moses (Ex. 24:16b)
The cloud covered [ksh] the 'Tent of Meeting' (Ex. 40:34—38)
And he [the LORD] called [qr,] to Moses (Lev. 1:1)
This literary parallel is tight in that it involves repetition of specific Hebrew words (ksh, 'cover'; qr,, 'call') and a unique combination of words (wayyiqra, ,el Mosheh, 'And he called to Moses'). So Exodus 40:34—Leviticus 1:1 is clearly a structural unit that is meant to be read in light of Exodus 24:16. Now here is the punch line: the Exodus 40:34—Leviticus 1:1 unit crosses the boundary between the two books and thus structurally binds them together. It is obvious that the rituals prescribed in Leviticus require the sanctuary that is described and set up in Exodus. However, the parallel that we have found between the introductions to instructions for (1) setting up the sanctuary and its priesthood (Ex. 25—31) and (2) performing sanctuary rituals (Lev. 1—7) shows that these two major bodies of legislation, seven chapters each, are placed in literary parallel to each other. This fact underlines the essential way in which their respective contents complement each other.
BRIDGING CONTEXTS
TRANSFORMATION. ISRAEL'S TRANSFORMATION from slaves to God's holy people is part of a larger saga that begins in Genesis with the stories of creation, the Flood, and God's promise to make of Abraham a great nation of countless descendants through whom he will reveal himself to the world as the Source of all blessing (Gen. 12:1—2; 15:5; 17:5—6; 22:17—18; 28:14). Where Leviticus ends, the book of Numbers carries on. So while the whole of Leviticus constitutes a book, it has an inter- dependent relationship with the preceding and following books of the Pentateuch.
In spite of the many obstacles recounted in Genesis and Exodus, Abraham's descendants did multiply and the Lord brought their multitudes from slavery as he had promised (Ex. 12—15; cf. Gen. 15:13—16). God had promised them the land of Canaan (Gen. 15:18—21; 17:7—8), but it was at Mount Sinai that he made a nation out of this motley crew. There he gave them a national constitution (his law) and a portable capitol (the tabernacle). He taught them how to live as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. This was not legalism or ritualism. It was survival as a people, and only as one people could they survive. Without the God of Abraham to hold them together, they would splinter, scatter, be vanquished, and vanish.
The laws given in Exodus (esp. chs. 20—23) were important, but it was the sanctuary that was to be the 'nuclear power plant,' energizing the Israelites' faith and thereby transforming them into a potent, unified channel of divine revelation. While the physical structure of the sanctuary was crucial (chs. 25— 31; 35—40), it was the resident Presence of God that made the place powerful, and it was through dynamic interaction with him in worship that the Israelites accessed his holy power.
This is where Leviticus comes in.

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