Leviticus

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Leviticus (from Greek Λευιτικός, "relating to the Levites"). It is third book of the Pentauch, which is the five books of Moses, its transliteration is 'Vayikra'.

The Book of Leviticus is often described as a set of legal rules, and priestly rituals, but it is also seen as the central core of a larger narrative - the Torah or Pentateuch. In this view, Leviticus is about the outworking 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. These consequences are spelt out in terms of community relationships and behaviour.

The first 16 chapters and the last chapter of the book describe the Priestly Code, detailing ritual cleanliness, sin-offerings, and the Day of Atonement, including Chapter 12 which mandates male circumcision. Chapters 17-26 describe the holiness code, including the injunction in chapter 19 to "love one's neighbor as oneself" (the Great Commandment). Among its many prohibitions, the book uses the word "abomination" 16 times, including dietary restrictions prohibiting shellfish, certain fowl, and "Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination"(chapter 11); and sexual restrictions, prohibiting adultery, incest, and lying "with mankind, as with womankind" (chapter 18, see also chapter 20); the book similarly prohibits eating pork and rabbits because they are "unclean animals." The rules in Leviticus are generally addressed to the descendants of Israel, except for example the prohibition in chapter 20 against sacrificing children to rival god Molech, which applies equally to "the strangers that sojourn in Israel", see also proselytes.

According to tradition, Moses authored Leviticus as well as the other four books of the Torah.

The book's title

The English name is derived from the Latin Liber Leviticus, which is derived in turn from the Greek βιβλίον το Λευιτικόν, (biblion to Levitikon), meaning "book of the Levites".


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