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Leviticus 1:1-2

Introduction to the Sacrificial Regulations

1:1 Then the Lord called to Moses and spoke to him 1  from the Meeting Tent: 2  1:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When 3  someone 4  among you presents an offering 5  to the Lord, 6  you 7  must present your offering from the domesticated animals, either from the herd or from the flock. 8 

1 tn Heb “And he (the Lord) called (וַיִּקְרָא, vayyiqra’) to Moses and the Lord spoke (וַיְדַבֵּר, vayÿdabber) to him from the tent of meeting.” The MT assumes “Lord” in the first clause but places it in the second clause (after “spoke”). This is somewhat awkward, especially in terms of English style; most English versions reverse this and place “Lord” in the first clause (right after “called”). The Syriac version does the same.

sn The best explanation for the MT of Lev 1:1 arises from its function as a transition from Exod 40 to Lev 1. The first clause, “And he (the Lord) called to Moses,” links v. 1 back to Exod 40:35, “But Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it and the glory of the Lord had filled the tabernacle” (cf. J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:134). Exod 40:36-38 is a parenthetical explanation of the ongoing function of the cloud in leading the people through the wilderness. Since Moses could not enter the tent of meeting, the Lord “called” to him “from” the tent of meeting.

2 sn The second clause of v. 1, “and the Lord spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying,” introduces the following discourse. This is a standard introductory formula (see, e.g., Exod 20:1; 25:1; 31:1; etc.). The combination of the first and second clauses is, therefore, “bulky” because of the way they happen to be juxtaposed in this transitional verse (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 8). The first clause of v. 1 connects the book back to the end of the Book of Exodus while the second looks forward the ritual legislation that follows in Lev 1:2ff. There are two “Tents of Meeting”: the one that stood outside the camp (see, e.g., Exod 33:7) and the one that stood in the midst of the camp (Exod 40:2; Num 2:2ff) and served as the Lord’s residence until the construction of the temple in the days of Solomon (Exod 27:21; 29:4; 1 Kgs 8:4; 2 Chr 5:5, etc.; cf. 2 Sam 7:6). Exod 40:35 uses both “tabernacle” and “tent of meeting” to refer to the same tent: “Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” It is clear that “tent of meeting” in Lev 1:1 refers to the “tabernacle.” The latter term refers to the tent as a “residence,” while the former refers to it as a divinely appointed place of “meeting” between God and man (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:873-77 and 2:1130-34). This corresponds to the change in terms in Exod 40:35, where “tent of meeting” is used when referring to Moses’ inability to enter the tent, but “tabernacle” when referring to the Lord taking up residence there in the form of the glory cloud. The quotation introduced here extends from Lev 1:2 through 3:17, and encompasses the burnt, grain, and peace offering regulations. Compare the notes on Lev 4:1; 5:14; and 6:1 [5:20 HT] below.

3 tn “When” here translates the MT’s כִּי (ki, “if, when”), which regularly introduces main clauses in legislative contexts (see, e.g., Lev 2:1, 4; 4:2, etc.) in contrast to אִם (’im, “if”), which usually introduces subordinate sections (see, e.g., Lev 1:3, 10, 14; 2:5, 7, 14; 4:3, 13, etc.; cf. כִּי in Exod 21:2 and 7 as opposed to אִם in vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11).

sn Lev 1:1-2 serves as a heading for Lev 1-3 (i.e., the basic regulations regarding the presentation of the burnt, grain, and peace offerings) and, at the same time, leads directly into the section on “burnt offerings” in Lev 1:3. In turn, Lev 1:3-17 divides into three subsections, all introduced by אִם “if” (Lev 1:3-9, 10-13, and 14-17, respectively). Similar patterns are discernible throughout Lev 1:2-6:7 [5:26 HT].

4 tn Heb “a man, human being” (אָדָם, ’adam), which in this case refers to any person among “mankind,” male or female, since women could also bring such offerings (see, e.g., Lev 12:6-8; 15:29-30; cf. HALOT 14 s.v. I אָדָם); cf. NIV “any of you.”

5 tn The verb “presents” is cognate to the noun “offering” in v. 2 and throughout the book of Leviticus (both from the root קרב [qrb]). One could translate the verb “offers,” but this becomes awkward and, in fact, inaccurate in some passages. For example, in Lev 9:9 this verb is used for the presenting or giving of the blood to Aaron so that he could offer it to the Lord. The blood is certainly not being “offered” as an offering to Aaron there.

6 tn The whole clause reads more literally, “A human being (אָדָם, ’adam), if he brings from among you an offering to the Lord.”

7 tn The shift to the second person plural verb here corresponds to the previous second person plural pronoun “among you.” It is distinct from the regular pattern of third person singular verbs throughout the rest of Lev 1-3. This too labels Lev 1:1-2 as an introduction to all of Lev 1-3, not just the burnt offering regulations in Lev 1 (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:146; cf. note 3 above).

8 tn Heb “from the domesticated animal, from the herd, and from the flock.” It is clear from the subsequent division between animals from the “herd” (בָּקָר, baqar, in Lev 1:3-9) and the “flock” (צֹאן, tson; see Lev 1:10-13) that the term for “domesticated animal” (בְּהֵמָה, bÿhemah) is a general term meant to introduce the category of pastoral quadrupeds. The stronger disjunctive accent over בְּהֵמָה in the MT as well as the lack of a vav (ו) between it and בָּקָר also suggest בְּהֵמָה is an overall category that includes both “herd” and “flock” quadrupeds.

sn The bird category (Lev 1:14-17) is not included in this introduction because bird offerings were, by and large, concessions to the poor (cf., e.g., Lev 5:7-10; 12:8; 14:21-32) and, therefore, not considered to be one of the primary categories of animal offerings.

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