The Book of Leviticus
The third among the 24 books comprising the Hebrew Bible Tanakh, the book of Leviticus is about the Levites tribe. The word Leviticus is derived from the Greek word, “Leuitikos” which means related to the Levites. The Levites are believed to be the direct descendants of the Tribe of the Levi or the sons of the Levi. It is said that they were elevated to perform the holy service. The name Levi is derived from the words “he shall accompany”. As per Genesis, Levi was the 3rd son of Leah and Jacob who was to strengthen the relationship between his parents, for now with three children, Jacob would need to be present with his wife.
The primary task of the Levite was to accompany the Divine Presence and serve in the Temple. His job as educator and devout model is to guide and, in that way, go together with others back to their spiritual purpose. The Midrash relates that in the future, Levites would lead the people of Israel back to their Father in Heaven.
The book of Leviticus covers two main beliefs of which the first, that the world was created good and retains the capacity to achieve that state although it is always vulnerable to sin. Additionally that ritual makes God present while ignoring the fact that it compromises the relationship between world and God. Many believe that Moses compiled Leviticus although according to many this book Leviticus evolved out of a long time.The book belongs to Priestly literature and it lays down the Priestly code and Holiness code.The book has a total of 26 chapters.The source of the ritual instructions in the Priestly code apparently came from the instructions and answers given by priests about ritual matters while the Holiness code is a part of a separate document which was later incorporated into the main book of Leviticus.
Among the major themes explored in this book, “The rituals of Leviticus” deserves mention. It deals with Israel’s personal relationship with its God.It revolves around the theological significance of the Divine, mankind’s relation with the Divine and world on a whole. The other major theme is religious sacrifice which tells that before man could consume animal meat it is imperative that the animal is first sacrificed to God so that is a pure or sanctified meal.There is a widespread scholarly view that the sacrificial rules of Leviticus 1–16 were introduced after the Babylonian exile. The other recurring themes are the relationship between cleanliness and purity with religious practices.
Leviticus mentions that it is important to maintain purity in terms of a holistic approach to life if man is seeking for the Divine presence. A book mostly dealing with religious practices, beliefs and rules, Leviticus is an important and one of the oldest books of Jewish Law.