Leviticus 17:10-16

Key Verse(s):

Leviticus 17:11 (HCSB)

11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement.


This pericope is primarily concerned with the consumption of blood. Since the life of a creature is in its blood, and that is what God has given man to use to make atonement, man is not to eat it. This should not surprise us, man, the creation, all along should be refraining from taking what is God’s, the Creator.

It is interesting that God basically repeats Himself in Leviticus 17:10-12 and 10:13-14. The principle is the same, just some differing detail. It would seem this is an important thing to note due to the repetition.

Also, it is worth noting that this prohibition extends to the “foreigner who lives among you.” So even if someone lives among the Israelites, but is not one of God’s people, they are expected to follow the same guidelines with respect to blood, and carcasses. Certainly it is no surprise that some of God’s law extends to all humanity, whether they follow God or not, but this seems to fall in a special category due to the condition of them living among the Israelites. Perhaps this is a safeguard so that the Israelites are not tempted to follow the example? Perhaps it is to ensure the special consideration of blood? Who knows, but again it would seem that this provision suggests a seriousness concerning this command.

Finally, to me, the last portion of the pericope, Leviticus 17:15-16, seems a bit disjointed from the rest. It is worth noting that consumption of a carcass is not prohibited necessarily, but it does result in uncleanliness that requires washing. And of course, if the person refuses to be cleansed, they “bear their punishment.”

Overall, I think the main function of the pericope is the reminder that some things (i.e. blood) are set apart for God, or special uses in relation to God, and we must not tread in places reserved for Him.


Lord, thank You for guidance, and for setting boundaries for us. If You didn’t, we would, due to our dark, sinful hearts, worship ourselves. Heck, we do it anyway! I pray for humbleness, and satisfaction with leaving to You what is Yours, and accepting gratefully what You have given. Amen.


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