Dividing the Book of Leviticus

In this post, we will continue to look at the different divisions within the book of Leviticus. This will describe my viewpoints as to why book can be divided into the various sections. This will make more sense when I post the full synthetic chart in the next post. This post is to provide reasoning and research as to why I have divided the book as such and what other commentators or authors have said.

The reasoning for dividing the third section entitled, “Laws of Purity”, between chapters eleven and fifteen are because this section mainly focuses on what God describes as clean and unclean. This is God’s call for the Israelites to be pure before Him with God detailing the cleanliness of creatures, purification after childbirth and skin infections.

The fourth section details the “Day of Atonement”, following the NAC and NBD, I choose to not include the Day of Atonement in the “Law of Purity” section because it seems to require its own section based on the information.[1] While it does talk about purity and cleanliness from sin in the atonement sacrifices, the chapter that is rich with information differs just enough from the previous section that it did not fit. At the same time, I did not feel it belonged in the next section because that focuses on holiness and the Holiness Code that it appeared to have a more singular focus on just the Day of Atonement.

The Laws of Holiness,” which is the fifth section, covers the chapters from the Holiness Code (17) to the Sabbath year and Year of Jubilee (25). The main sources I relied on for this section break was the NAC and the Holman Concise Bible Commentary which did not include chapter 26 in this section.[2] This division occurs mainly because the theme of this section is for the people of Israel to be holy just as God is holy.

The sixth section, “Blessing and Curse,” focuses mainly on obedience and the consequences of Israel’s actions. Commentaries seem to be split on whether this section stands alone or is part of the previous section. I choose to separate it as its own division since its main focus is obedience and the blessings or curses the people will receive for their disobedience. That is not to say that obedience is not part of holy living, but to include it in the previous section does not appear to do this chapter justice.

Similarly to the previous section, the final section, “The Law of vows and Tithes,” does not fit with the previous chapter. This section mainly focuses on the vows and tithes that the people do in regards a variety of different objects. This section introduces regulations that were not previously mentioned or suggested in Leviticus. “It is a simple fact that the laws in Lev. 27 are fundamentally different from the subject matter in the chapters that precede it, for these laws cover voluntary things.”[3] Since this section is so different from the previous and the rest of the book, I kept it separate.

The book of Leviticus can be divided up into different ways with some differing over the divisions of chapters 16 and 26, but overall Leviticus speaks to the reader to follow the Lord and be holy. While some may agree or disagree with these divisions, from my research, it appears to me that this is a logical way of outlining the book of Leviticus.

[1] Rooker,  Leviticus 79. Gispen, “Leviticus, Book of” 683.

[2] Merrill, The Pentateuch 37.

[3] Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) 487.

Bibliography

Gispen, W. H. “Leviticus, Book Of.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1982.

Ross, Allen P. Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002.

Merrill, Eugene H. “The Pentateuch.” In Holman Concise Bible Commentary, edited by David S. Dockery. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.

Rooker, Mark F. Leviticus. Vol. 3A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

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