17:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 17:2 “Speak to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites, and tell them: ‘This is the word that the Lord has commanded: 17:3 “Blood guilt 1 will be accounted to any man 2 from the house of Israel 3 who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat inside the camp or outside the camp, 4 17:4 but has not brought it to the entrance of the Meeting Tent 5 to present it as 6 an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord. He has shed blood, so that man will be cut off from the midst of his people. 7 17:5 This is so that 8 the Israelites will bring their sacrifices that they are sacrificing in the open field 9 to the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent to the priest and sacrifice them there as peace offering sacrifices to the Lord. 17:6 The priest is to splash 10 the blood on the altar 11 of the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, and offer the fat up in smoke for a soothing aroma to the Lord. 17:7 So they must no longer offer 12 their sacrifices to the goat demons, 13 acting like prostitutes by going after them. 14 This is to be a perpetual statute for them throughout their generations. 15
17:8 “You are to say to them: ‘Any man 16 from the house of Israel or 17 from the foreigners who reside 18 in their 19 midst, who offers 20 a burnt offering or a sacrifice 17:9 but does not bring it to the entrance of the Meeting Tent to offer it 21 to the Lord – that person will be cut off from his people. 22
17:10 “‘Any man 23 from the house of Israel or from the foreigners who reside 24 in their 25 midst who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats the blood, and I will cut him off from the midst of his people, 26 17:11 for the life of every living thing 27 is in the blood. 28 So I myself have assigned it to you 29 on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life. 30 17:12 Therefore, I have said to the Israelites: No person among you is to eat blood, 31 and no resident foreigner who lives among you is to eat blood. 32
17:13 “‘Any man from the Israelites 33 or from the foreigners who reside 34 in their 35 midst who hunts a wild animal 36 or a bird that may be eaten 37 must pour out its blood and cover it with soil, 17:14 for the life of all flesh is its blood. 38 So I have said to the Israelites: You must not eat the blood of any living thing 39 because the life of every living thing is its blood – all who eat it will be cut off. 40
17:15 “‘Any person 41 who eats an animal that has died of natural causes 42 or an animal torn by beasts, whether a native citizen or a foreigner, 43 must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening; then he becomes clean. 17:16 But if he does not wash his clothes 44 and does not bathe his body, he will bear his punishment for iniquity.’” 45
[17:3] 1 tn The complex wording of vv. 3-4 requires stating “blood guilt” at the beginning of v. 3 even though it is not mentioned until the middle of v. 4. The Hebrew text has simply “blood,” but in this case it refers to the illegitimate shedding of animal blood, similar to the shedding of the blood of an innocent human being (Deut 19:10, etc.). In order for it to be legitimate the animal must be slaughtered at the tabernacle and its blood handled by the priests in the prescribed way (see, e.g., Lev 1:5; 3:2, 17; 4:5-7; 7:26-27, etc.; cf. vv. 10-16 below for more details).
[17:4] 5 tn Smr and LXX add after “tent of meeting” the following: “to make it a burnt offering or a peace offering to the
[17:4] 7 sn The exact meaning of this penalty clause is not certain. It could mean (1) that he will be executed, whether by God or by man, (2) that he will be excommunicated from sanctuary worship and/or community benefits, or (3) that his line will be terminated by God (i.e., extirpation). See also the note on Lev 7:20.
[17:10] 26 tn Heb “I will give my faces against [literally “in”] the soul/person/life [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh, feminine] who eats the blood and I will cut it [i.e., that נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh] off from the midst of its people.” The uses of נֶפֶשׁ in this and the following verse are most significant for the use of animal blood in Israel’s sacrificial system. Unfortunately, it is a most difficult word to translate accurately and consistently, and this presents a major problem for the rendering of these verses (see, e.g., G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 244-45). No matter which translation of נֶפֶשׁ one uses here, it is important to see that both man and animal have נֶפֶשׁ and that this נֶפֶשׁ is identified with the blood. See the further remarks on v. 11 below. On the “cutting off” penalty see the note on v. 4 above. In this instance, God takes it on himself to “cut off” the person (i.e., extirpation).
[17:11] 28 tn Heb “for the soul/life (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) of the flesh, it is in the blood” (cf. the note of v. 10 above and v. 14 below). Although most modern English versions begin a new sentence in v. 11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (see, e.g., NJPS, NASB, NIV, NRSV), the כִּי (ki, “for, because”) at the beginning of the verse suggests continuation from v. 10, as the rendering here indicates (see, e.g., NEB, NLT; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 261; and G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 239).
[17:11] sn This verse is a well-known crux interpretum for blood atonement in the Bible. The close association between the blood and “the soul/life [נֶפֶשׁ] of the flesh [בָּשָׂר, basar]” (v. 11a) begins in Gen 9:2-5 (if not Gen 4:10-11), where the
[17:11] 30 tn Heb “for the blood, it by (בְּ, bet preposition, “in”] the life makes atonement.” The interpretation of the preposition is pivotal here. Some scholars have argued that it is a bet of exchange; that is, “the blood makes atonement in exchange for the life [of the slaughtered animal]” (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:694-95, 697 for analysis and criticism of this view). It is more likely that, as in the previous clause (“your lives”), “life/soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) here refers to the person who makes the offering, not the animal offered. The blood of the animal makes atonement for the person who offers it either “by means of” (instrumental bet) the “life/soul” of the animal, which it symbolizes or embodies (the meaning of the translation given here); or perhaps the blood of the animal functions as “the price” (bet of price) for ransoming the “life/soul” of the person.
[17:14] 38 tn Heb “for the life/soul (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) of all flesh, its blood in its life/soul (נֶפֶשׁ) it is.” The LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate leave out “in its life/soul,” which would naturally yield “for the life of all flesh, its blood it is” (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 261, 263). The present translation is something of an oversimplification, but the meaning is basically the same in any case. Cf. NRSV “For the life of every creature – its blood is its life.”
[17:15] 42 tn Heb “carcass,” referring to the carcass of an animal that has died on its own, not the carcass of an animal slaughtered for sacrifice or killed by wild beasts. This has been clarified in the translation by supplying the phrase “of natural causes”; cf. NAB “that died of itself”; TEV “that has died a natural death.”
[17:16] 45 tn Heb “and he shall bear his iniquity.” The rendering “bear the punishment for the iniquity” reflects the use of the word “iniquity” to refer to the punishment for iniquity. This is sometimes referred to as the consequential use of the term (cf. Lev 5:17; 7:18; 10:17; etc.).