Leviticus Chapter 17
Humans began as vegetarians, but also became meat eaters after The Flood. But that did not include any sort of unclean meat (see Clean and Unclean), or the blood: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of man; of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image." (Genesis 9:4-6 RSV)
The prohibition against consuming blood was repeated in Leviticus, long after it had been given to all humans in the time of Noah.
"If any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers that sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.
Any man also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust. "For the life of every creature is the blood of it [see the Fact Finder question below]; therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off." (Leviticus 17:10-14 RSV)
Leviticus Chapter 18
Marriage was created when humans were: "Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Genesis 2:23-24 RSV). After humans became more populous (see Cain's Wife), the rules for who could "become one flesh" were expanded accordingly. Examples:
"None of you shall approach any one near of kin to him to uncover nakedness. I am The Lord.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or born abroad.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son's daughter or of your daughter's daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife's daughter, begotten by your father, since she is your sister.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's sister; she is your father's near kinswoman.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, for she is your mother's near kinswoman.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother's wife; she is your brother's nakedness.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are your near kinswomen; it is wickedness." (Leviticus 18:6-17 RSV)
Leviticus Chapter 19
Any truly good law, ancient or modern, is based upon The Ten Commandments (see The Decalogue). Can you tell which Commandment each of these examples are based upon?
"Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep My Sabbaths: I am The Lord your God.
Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods: I am The Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:3-4 RSV)
"You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.
And you shall not swear by My Name falsely, and so profane The Name of your God: I am The Lord." (Leviticus 19:11-12 RSV)
"You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor: I am The Lord.
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am The Lord." (Leviticus 19:15-18 RSV)
Leviticus Chapter 20
With legal rights come legal responsibilities. Capital punishment was commanded by The Lord for a number of immoral offenses, as well as murder. Murderers were not, ironically, sentenced to life.
"For every one who curses his father or his mother shall be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his blood is upon him.
If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
The man who lies with his father's wife has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.
If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed incest, their blood is upon them.
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.
If a man takes a wife and her mother also, it is wickedness; they shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you.
If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast.
If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." (Leviticus 20:9-16 RSV)
Fact Finder: What was the significance of a blood sacrifice?
See Why Blood?