Leviticus: It has been said that it took Yahweh only one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took forty years to get Egypt out of Israel. In Exodus, Israel is redeemed and established as a kingdom of priests and a set-apart nation; and in Leviticus Israel is taught how to fulfill their priestly call. They have been led out from the land of bondage in Exodus and into the sanctuary of Yahweh in Leviticus. They move from redemption to service, from deliverance to dedication.

The Hebrew title of the book is wayyiqra, the first word of the text meaning "And He called." The Greek title appearing in the Septuagint is Leutikon (meaning "that which pertains to the priests"), from which the Latin Vulgate version derived the title Leviticus. The title is somewhat misleading, for although the book deals extensively with the priests and their various tasks, it must be remembered that all Israelites were to know and keep the Law.

Author: The kind of arguments used to confirm the Mosaic authorship of Genesis and Exodus also apply to Leviticus because the Pentateuch is a literary unit. The content of the book itself also points strongly to Moses as the human author. Fifty-six times in the twenty-seven chapters of Leviticus it is stated that Yahweh imparted these Instructions to Moses (see, e.g., Lev 1:1LEB; Lev 4:1LEB; Lev 6:1LEB; Lev 6:24LEB; Lev 8:1LEB).

Date: Moses probably wrote much of Leviticus during the latter part of the Israelite encampment at Sinai, though he may have put it in final form shortly before his death. The content of Leviticus covers a period of roughly a month between the erection of the tabernacle (Lev 40:17LEB) and the departure from Sinai (Lev 10:11LEB).

Themes and Literary Structure: Leviticus centers around the concept of the holiness of Yahweh, and how an unset-apart people can acceptably approach Him and then remain in continued fellowship. The way to Yahweh is only through blood sacrifice, and the walk with Yahweh is only through obedience to His Instructions. The word "set-apart" occurs ninety times in Leviticus, and the word "sanctify," seventeen times. The Hebrew root q-d-sh, "set-apart" (in adjective, noun, and verb forms) appears 152 times in Leviticus.

Leviticus falls into two major sections: the first dealing predominantly with the sacrificial system of worship (chs. 1-17), and the second dealing primarily with the sanctification of the people of Israel as a whole through ceremonial and moral holiness (chs. 18-27).