Authorship & Date of Writing: Probably by Moses (during the 11 month sojourn in Sinai after the Exodus).
Theme of Book: A manual on holiness, designed to instruct the Hebrews in holy worship and holy living, in order that they “may be holy as the Lord their God is holy” (Lev. 11:44-45)
Important Historical/Cultural Background:
Comparison with early and nearby societies suggest that the ceremonies in Leviticus are much simpler than those of other A.N.E. peoples/religions. The Biblical approach appears to take sacrificial forms that would have been familiar to the Israelites and simplify them, in order to demonstrate the distinctive relationship between the (one) God of Israel and His people.
Summary: The book contains instructions on different types of sacrifices, the consecration of priests, rules for holy living and ends with blessings and curses.
The order of the sacrifices, and their purpose, flows in the direction of closer intimacy with God [repentance & forgiveness -> (re-)dedication -> fellowship]
Not all sacrifices were for forgiveness of sin; the purpose of the fellowship offering was to enjoy God’s presence and worship Him.
The day of atonement (Ch. 16) is the only sacrifice that can deal with intentional sins—all other sacrifices are only for unintentional sin.
God may have had the priests eat the meat of the sacrifices in order to eliminate any mystical/magical element associated with sacrifice and make it clear that the meat of the sacrifice did not contain the sins of the offender.
There are various levels of holiness addressed in the book. The higher levels represent being closer to God—but also require more rules/laws and are restricted to fewer people. (i.e., the holy of holies is “closest” to God’s presence, but has the most regulations around it, and only the high priest can enter there once a year—and only after offering specific sacrifices)
Connection to Christ & N.T.:
Christ is the...