Tzav, Tsav, Zav, Sav, or in Biblical Hebrew Ṣaw (צַו — Hebrew for "command,” the sixth word, and the first distinctive word, in the parashah) is the 25th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the second in the book of Leviticus. It constitutes Leviticus 6:1–8:36. The parashah is made up of 5,096 Hebrew letters, 1,353 Hebrew words, and 97 verses, and can occupy about 170 lines in a Torah scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).
- 1 Readings
- 1.1 First reading — Leviticus 6:1–11
- 1.2 Second reading — Leviticus 6:12–7:10
- 1.3 Third reading — Leviticus 7:11–38
- 1.4 Fourth reading — Leviticus 8:1–13
- 1.5 Fifth reading — Leviticus 8:14–21
- 1.6 Sixth reading — Leviticus 8:22–29
- 1.7 Seventh reading — Leviticus 8:30–36
- 1.8 Readings according to the triennial cycle
- 2 In inner-Biblical interpretation
- 3 In early nonrabbinic interpretation
- 4 In classical rabbinic interpretation
- 5 In medieval rabbinic interpretation
- 6 In modern interpretation
- 7 Commandments
- 8 In the liturgy
- 9 Haftarah
- 10 Further reading
- 11 References
- 12 External links
First reading — Leviticus 6:1–11
The burnt offering (עֹלָה, olah) was to burn on the altar until morning, when the priest was to clear the ashes to a place outside the camp. The priests were to keep the fire burning, every morning feeding it wood.
Second reading — Leviticus 6:12–7:10
The sin offering (חַטָּאת, chatat) was to be slaughtered at the same place as the burnt offering, and the priest who offered it was to eat it in the Tent of Meeting. If the sin offering was cooked in an earthen vessel, that vessel was to be broken afterward. A copper vessel could be rinsed with water and reused. If blood of the sin offering was brought into the Tent of Meeting for expiation, the entire offering was to be burned on the altar.
The guilt offering (אָשָׁם, asham) was to be slaughtered at the same place as the burnt offering, the priest was to dash its blood on the altar, burn its fat, broad tail, kidneys, and protuberance on the liver on the altar, and the priest who offered it was to eat the balance of its meat in the Tent of Meeting.
The priest who offered a burnt offering kept the skin. The priest who offered it was to eat any baked or grilled meal offering, but every other meal offering was to be shared among all the priests.
Third reading — Leviticus 7:11–38
In the third reading (עליה, aliyah), the peace offering (שְׁלָמִים, shelamim), if offered for thanksgiving, was to be offered with unleavened cakes or wafers with oil, which would go to the priest who dashed the blood of the peace offering. All the meat of the peace offering had to be eaten on the day that it was offered. If offered as a votive or a freewill offering, it could be eaten for two days, and what was then left on the third day was to be burned.
Meat that touched anything unclean could not be eaten; it had to be burned. And only a person who was unclean could not eat meat from peace offerings, at pain of exile. One could eat no fat or blood, at pain of exile.
The person offering the peace offering had to present the offering and its fat himself, the priest would burn the fat on the altar, the breast would go to the priests, and the right thigh would go to the priest who offered the sacrifice.
Fourth reading — Leviticus 8:1–13
In the fourth reading (עליה, aliyah), God instructed Moses to assemble the whole community at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for the priests’ ordination. Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward, washed them, and dressed Aaron in his vestments. Moses anointed and consecrated the Tabernacle and all that was in it, and then anointed and consecrated Aaron and his sons.
Fifth reading — Leviticus 8:14–21
In the fifth reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses led forward a bull for a sin offering, Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the bull’s head, and it was slaughtered. Moses put the bull’s blood on the horns and the base of the altar, burned the fat, the protuberance of the liver, and the kidneys on the altar, and burned the rest of the bull outside the camp. Moses then brought forward a ram for a burnt offering, Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and it was slaughtered. Moses dashed the blood against the altar and burned all of the ram on the altar.
Sixth reading — Leviticus 8:22–29
In the sixth reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses then brought forward a second ram for ordination, Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and it was slaughtered. Moses put some of its blood on Aaron and his sons, on the ridges of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Moses then burned the animal's fat, broad tail, protuberance of the liver, kidneys, and right thigh on the altar with a cake of unleavened bread, a cake of oil bread, and a wafer as an ordination offering. Moses raised the breast before God and then took it as his portion.
Seventh reading — Leviticus 8:30–36
In the seventh reading (עליה, aliyah), Moses sprinkled oil and blood on Aaron and his sons and their vestments. And Moses told Aaron and his sons to boil the meat at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and eat it there, and remain at the Tent of Meeting for seven days to complete their ordination, and they did all the things that God had commanded through Moses.
Readings according to the triennial cycle
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|2013–2014, 2016–2017, 2019–2020 . . .||2014–2015, 2017–2018, 2020–2021 . . .||2015–2016, 2018–2019, 2021–2022 . . .|
In inner-Biblical interpretation
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these Biblical sources:
Leviticus chapter 1–7
In Psalm 50, God clarifies the purpose of sacrifices. God states that correct sacrifice was not the taking of a bull out of the sacrificer’s house, nor the taking of a goat out of the sacrificer’s fold, to convey to God, for every animal was already God’s possession. The sacrificer was not to think of the sacrifice as food for God, for God neither hungers nor eats. Rather, the worshiper was to offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon God in times of trouble, and thus God would deliver the worshiper and the worshiper would honor God.
And Psalm 107 enumerates four occasions on which a thank-offering (זִבְחֵי תוֹדָה, zivchei todah), as described in Leviticus 7:12–15 (referring to a זֶבַח תּוֹדַת, zevach todah) would be appropriate: (1) passage through the desert, (2) release from prison, (3) recovery from serious disease, and (4) surviving a storm at sea.
The Hebrew Bible reports several instances of sacrifices before God explicitly called for them in Leviticus 1–7. While Leviticus 1:3–17 and Leviticus 6:1–6 set out the procedure for the burnt offering (עֹלָה, olah), before then, Genesis 8:20 reports that Noah offered burnt-offerings (עֹלֹת, olot) of every clean beast and bird on an altar after the waters of the Flood subsided. The story of the Binding of Isaac includes three references to the burnt offering (עֹלָה, olah). In Genesis 22:2, God told Abraham to take Isaac and offer him as a burnt-offering (עֹלָה, olah). Genesis 22:3 then reports that Abraham rose early in the morning and split the wood for the burnt-offering (עֹלָה, olah). And after the angel of the Lord averted Isaac’s sacrifice, Genesis 22:13 reports that Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a ram caught in a thicket, and Abraham then offered the ram as a burnt-offering (עֹלָה, olah) instead of his son. Exodus 10:25 reports that Moses pressed Pharaoh for Pharaoh to give the Israelites “sacrifices and burnt-offerings” (זְבָחִים וְעֹלֹת, zevachim v’olot) to offer to God. And Exodus 18:12 reports that after Jethro heard all that God did to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, Jethro offered a burnt-offering and sacrifices (עֹלָה וּזְבָחִים, olah uzevachim) to God.
While Leviticus 2 and Leviticus 6:7–16 set out the procedure for the meal-offering (מִנְחָה, minchah), before then, in Genesis 4:3, Cain brought an offering (מִנְחָה, minchah) of the fruit of the ground. And then Genesis 4:4–5 reports that God had respect for Abel and his offering (מִנְחָתוֹ, minchato), but for Cain and his offering (מִנְחָתוֹ, minchato), God had no respect.
And while Numbers 15:4–9 indicates that one bringing an animal sacrifice needed also to bring a drink-offering (נֶּסֶךְ, nesech), before then, in Genesis 35:14, Jacob poured out a drink-offering (נֶּסֶךְ, nesech) at Bethel.
More generally, the Hebrew Bible addressed “sacrifices” (זְבָחִים, zevachim) generically in connection with Jacob and Moses. After Jacob and Laban reconciled, Genesis 31:54 reports that Jacob offered a sacrifice (זֶבַח, zevach) on the mountain and shared a meal with his kinsmen. And after Jacob learned that Joseph was still alive in Egypt, Genesis 46:1 reports that Jacob journeyed to Beersheba and offered sacrifices (זְבָחִים, zevachim) to the God of his father Isaac. And Moses and Aaron argued repeatedly with Pharaoh over their request to go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice (וְנִזְבְּחָה, venizbechah) to God.
The Hebrew Bible also includes several ambiguous reports in which Abraham or Isaac built or returned to an altar and “called upon the name of the Lord.” In these cases, the text implies but does not explicitly state that the Patriarch offered a sacrifice. And at God’s request, Abraham conducted an unusual sacrifice at the Covenant between the Pieces (ברית בין הבתרים) in Genesis 15:9–21.
Leviticus chapter 8
This is the pattern of instruction and construction of the Tabernacle and its furnishings:
|The Sabbath||16||Exodus 31:12–17||1||Exodus 35:1–3|
|Contributions||1||Exodus 25:1–9||2||Exodus 35:4–29|
|Craftspeople||15||Exodus 31:1–11||3||Exodus 35:30–36:7|
|Tabernacle||5||Exodus 26:1–37||4||Exodus 36:8–38|
|Ark||2||Exodus 25:10–22||5||Exodus 37:1–9|
|Table||3||Exodus 25:23–30||6||Exodus 37:10–16|
|Menorah||4||Exodus 25:31–40||7||Exodus 37:17–24|
|Altar of Incense||11||Exodus 30:1–10||8||Exodus 37:25–28|
|Anointing Oil||13||Exodus 30:22–33||9||Exodus 37:29|
|Incense||14||Exodus 30:34–38||10||Exodus 37:29|
|Altar of Sacrifice||6||Exodus 27:1–8||11||Exodus 38:1–7|
|Laver||12||Exodus 30:17–21||12||Exodus 38:8|
|Tabernacle Court||7||Exodus 27:9–19||13||Exodus 38:9–20|
|Priestly Garments||9||Exodus 28:1–43||14||Exodus 39:1–31|
|Ordination Ritual||10||Exodus 29:1–46||15||Leviticus 8:1–9:24|
|Lamp||8||Exodus 27:20–21||16||Numbers 8:1–4|
The Hebrew Bible refers to the Urim and Thummim in Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; 1 Samuel 14:41 (“Thammim”) and 28:6; Ezra 2:63; and Nehemiah 7:65; and may refer to them in references to “sacred utensils” in Numbers 31:6 and the Ephod in 1 Samuel 14:3 and 19; 23:6 and 9; and 30:7–8; and Hosea 3:4.
The Torah mentions the combination of ear, thumb, and toe in three places. In Exodus 29:20, God instructed Moses how to initiate the priests, telling him to kill a ram, take some of its blood, and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and his sons, on the thumb of their right hand, and on the great toe of their right foot, and dash the remaining blood against the altar round about. And then Leviticus 8:23–24 reports that Moses followed God’s instructions to initiate Aaron and his sons. Then, Leviticus 14:14, 17, 25, and 28 set forth a similar procedure for the cleansing of a person with skin disease (צָּרַעַת, tzara’at). In Leviticus 14:14, God instructed the priest on the day of the person’s cleansing to take some of the blood of a guilt-offering and put it upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot of the one to be cleansed. And then in Leviticus 14:17, God instructed the priest to put oil on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot of the one to be cleansed, on top of the blood of the guilt-offering. And finally, in Leviticus 14:25 and 28, God instructed the priest to repeat the procedure on the eighth day to complete the person’s cleansing.
In early nonrabbinic interpretation
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these early nonrabbinic sources:
Leviticus chapter 8
Reading Leviticus 8:23–24, Philo noted that Moses took part of the blood, holding a vial under it to catch it, and with it he anointed three parts of the body of the initiated priests — the tip of the ear, the extremity of the hand, and the extremity of the foot, all on the right side. Philo taught that this signified that the perfect person must be pure in every word and action, and in all of life, for it is the hearing that judges a person’s words, and the hand is the symbol of action, and the foot of the way in which a person walks in life. Philo taught that since each of these parts is an extremity of the body, and is likewise on the right side, this indicated that improvement in everything is to be arrived at by dexterity, being a portion of felicity, and being the true aim in life, which a person must necessarily labor to attain, and to which a person ought to refer all actions, aiming at them in life as an archer aims at a target.
In classical rabbinic interpretation
Leviticus chapter 6
Rabbi Simeon taught that, generally speaking, the Torah required a burnt offering only as expiation for sinful meditation of the heart. A Midrash taught that if people repent, it is accounted as if they had gone up to Jerusalem, built the Temple and the altars, and offered all the sacrifices ordained in the Torah. And Rabbi Aha said in the name of Rabbi Hanina ben Pappa that God accounts studying the sacrifices as equal to offering them.
The Mishnah taught that the intention of the priest conducting the sacrifice determined whether the offering would prove valid.
Rabbi Mani of Sheab and Rabbi Joshua of Siknin in the name of Rabbi Levi explained the origin of Leviticus 6:1. Moses prayed on Aaron’s behalf, noting that the beginning of Leviticus repeatedly referred to Aaron’s sons, barely mentioning Aaron himself. Moses asked whether God could love well water but hate the well. Moses noted that God honored the olive tree and the vine for the sake of their offspring, teaching that the priests could use all trees’ wood for the altar fire except that of the olive and vine. Moses thus asked God whether God might honor Aaron for the sake of his sons, and God replied that God would reinstate Aaron and honor him above his sons. And thus God said to Moses the words of Leviticus 6:1, “Command Aaron and his sons.”
The School of Rabbi Ishmael taught that whenever Scripture uses the word “command” (צַו, tzav) (as Leviticus 6:2 does), it denotes exhortation to obedience immediately and for all time. A Baraita deduced exhortation to immediate obedience from the use of the word “command” in Deuteronomy 3:28, which says, “charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him.” And the Baraita deduced exhortation to obedience for all time from the use of the word “command” in Numbers 15:23, which says, “even all that the Lord has commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord gave the commandment, and onward throughout your generations.”
Rabbi Joshua of Siknin said in Rabbi Levi's name that the wording of Leviticus 6:2 supports the argument of Rabbi Jose bar Hanina (on which he differed with Rabbi Eleazar) that the descendants of Noah offered only burnt-offerings (and not peace-offerings, as before the Revelation at Mount Sinai, people were unworthy to consume any part of an animal consecrated to God). Rabbi Joshua of Siknin noted that Leviticus 6:2 says, “This is the law of the burnt-offering: that is the burnt-offering,” which Rabbi Joshua of Siknin read to mean “that is the burnt-offering” that the Noahides used to offer. But when Leviticus 7:11 addresses peace-offerings, it says, “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings,” and does not say, “that they offered” (which would indicate that they offered it in the past, before Revelation). Rabbi Joshua of Siknin thus read Leviticus 7:11 to teach that they would offer the peace-offering only after the events of Leviticus 7:11.
The Gemara interpreted the words in Leviticus 6:2, “This is the law of the burnt-offering: It is that which goes up on its firewood upon the altar all night into the morning.” From the passage, “which goes up on its firewood upon the altar all night,” the Rabbis deduced that once a thing had been placed upon the altar, it could not be taken down all night. Rabbi Judah taught that the words “This . . . goes up on . . . the altar all night” exclude three things. According to Rabbi Judah, they exclude (1) an animal slaughtered at night, (2) an animal whose blood was spilled, and (3) an animal whose blood was carried out beyond the curtains. Rabbi Judah taught that if any of these things had been placed on the altar, it was brought down. Rabbi Simeon noted that Leviticus 6:2 says “burnt-offering.” From this, Rabbi Simeon taught that one can only know that a fit burnt-offering remained on the altar. But Rabbi Simeon taught that the phrase “the law of the burnt-offering” intimates one law for all burnt-offerings, namely, that if they were placed on the altar, they were not removed. Rabbi Simeon taught that this law applied to animals that were slaughtered at night, or whose blood was spilt, or whose blood passed out of the curtains, or whose flesh spent the night away from the altar, or whose flesh went out, or were unclean, or were slaughtered with the intention of burning its flesh after time or out of bounds, or whose blood was received and sprinkled by unfit priests, or whose blood was applied below the scarlet line when it should have been applied above, or whose blood was applied above when it should have been applied below, or whose blood was applied outside when it should have been applied within, or whose blood was applied within when it should have been applied outside, or a Passover-offering or a sin-offering that one slaughtered for a different purpose. Rabbi Simeon suggested that one might think that law would also include an animal used for bestiality, set aside for an idolatrous sacrifice or worshipped, a harlot's hire or the price of a dog (as referred to in Deuteronomy 23:19), or a mixed breed, or a trefah (a torn or otherwise disqualified animal), or an animal calved through a cesarean section. But Rabbi Simeon taught that the word “This” serves to exclude these. Rabbi Simeon explained that he included the former in the general rule because their disqualification arose in the sanctuary, while he excluded the latter because their disqualification did not arise in the sanctuary.
The Gemara taught that it is from the words of Leviticus 6:2, “upon the altar all night into the morning,” that the Mishnah concludes that “the whole of the night is proper time for . . . burning fat and limbs (on the altar).” And the Mishnah then set forth as a general rule: “Any commandment which is to be performed by night may be performed during the whole of the night.”
The Rabbis taught a story reflecting the importance of the regular offering required by Leviticus 6:2: When the Hasmonean brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus were contending with one another, and one was within Jerusalem’s city wall and the other was outside, those within would let down a basket of money to their besiegers every day, and in return the besiegers would send up kosher animals for the regular sacrifices. But an old man among the besiegers argued that as long as those within were allowed to continue to perform sacrifices, they could not be defeated. So on the next day, when those inside sent down the basket of money, the besiegers sent up a pig. When the pig reached the center of the wall, it stuck its hooves into the wall, and an earthquake shook the entire Land of Israel. On that occasion, the Rabbis proclaimed a curse on those who bred pigs.
It was taught in the name of Rabbi Nehemiah that in obedience to Leviticus 6:2, the Israelites kept the fire burning in the altar for about 116 years, yet the wood of the altar did not burn, and the brass of the altar did not melt, even though it was taught in the name of Rabbi Hoshaiah that the metal was only as thick as a coin.
Rabbi Levi read Leviticus 6:2 homiletically to mean: “This is the law regarding a person striving to be high: It is that it goes up on its burning-place.” Thus Rabbi Levi read the verse to teach that a person who behaves boastfully should be punished by fire.
A Midrash deduced the importance of peace from the way that the listing of the individual sacrifices in Leviticus 6–7 concludes with the peace offering. Leviticus 6:2–6 gives “the law of the burnt-offering,” Leviticus 6:7–11 gives “the law of the meal-offering,” Leviticus 6:18–23 gives “the law of the sin-offering,” Leviticus 7:1–7 gives “the law of the guilt-offering,” and Leviticus 7:11–21 gives “the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings.” Similarly, the Midrash found evidence for the importance of peace in the summary of Leviticus 7:37, which concludes with “the sacrifice of the peace-offering.”
A Baraita interpreted the term “his fitted linen garment” (מִדּוֹ, mido) in Leviticus 6:3 to teach that the each priestly garment in Exodus 28 had to be fitted to the particular priest, and had to be neither too short nor too long.
The Rabbis taught that through the word “this,” Aaron became degraded, as it is said in Exodus 32:22–24, “And Aaron said: ‘. . . I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf,’” and through the word “this,” Aaron was also elevated, as it is said in Leviticus 6:13, “This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer to the Lord on the day when he is anointed” to become High Priest.
And noting the similarity of language between “This is the sacrifice of Aaron” in Leviticus 6:13 and “This is the sacrifice of Nahshon the son of Amminadab” and each of the other princes of the 12 tribes in Numbers 7:17–83, the Rabbis concluded that Aaron’s sacrifice was as beloved to God as the sacrifices of the princes of the 12 tribes.
A Midrash noted that the commandment of Leviticus 6:13 that Aaron offer sacrifices paralleled Samson’s riddle “out of the eater came forth food”, for Aaron was to eat the sacrifices, and by virtue of Leviticus 6:13, a sacrifice was to come from him.
Leviticus chapter 7
A Midrash read Psalm 50:23 to teach that the thanksgiving offerings of Leviticus 7:12 honored God more than sin offerings or guilt offerings. Similarly, Rabbi Phinehas compared the thanksgiving offerings of Leviticus 7:12 to the case of a king whose tenants and intimates came to pay him honor. From his tenants and entourage, the king merely collected their tribute. But when another who was neither a tenant nor a member of the king’s entourage came to offer him homage, the king offered him a seat. Thus Rabbi Phinehas read Leviticus 7:12 homiletically to mean: “If it be for a thanks giving, He [God] will bring him [the offerer] near [to God].” Rabbi Phinehas and Rabbi Levi and Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Menahem of Gallia that in the Time to Come, all sacrifices will be annulled, but the thanksgiving sacrifice of Leviticus 7:12 will not be annulled, and all prayers will be annulled, but the Thanksgiving (מוֹדִים, Modim) prayer will not be annulled.
In reading the requirement of Leviticus 7:12 for the loaves of the thanksgiving sacrifice, the Mishnah interpreted that if one made them for oneself, then they were exempt from the requirement to separate challah, but if one made them to sell in the market, then they were subject to the requirement to separate challah.
The Mishnah taught that a vow-offering, as in Leviticus 7:16, was when one said, “It is incumbent upon me to bring a burnt-offering” (without specifying a particular animal). And a freewill-offering was when one said, “This animal shall serve as a burnt-offering” (specifying a particular animal). In the case of vow offerings, one was responsible for replacement of the animal if the animal died or was stolen; but in the case of freewill obligations, one was not held responsible for the animal’s replacement if the specified animal died or was stolen.
Rabbi Eliezer taught that the prohibition of eating the meat of a peace-offering on the third day in Leviticus 7:18 also applied to invalidate the sacrifice of one who merely intended to eat sacrificial meat on the third day.
Rabbi Berekiah said in the name of Rabbi Isaac that in the Time to Come, God will make a banquet for God’s righteous servants, and whoever had not eaten meat from an animal that died other than through ritual slaughtering (נְבֵלָה, neveilah, prohibited by Leviticus 17:1–4) in this world will have the privilege of enjoying it in the World to Come. This is indicated by Leviticus 7:24, which says, “And the fat of that which dies of itself (נְבֵלָה, neveilah) and the fat of that which is torn by beasts (טְרֵפָה, tereifah), may be used for any other service, but you shall not eat it,” so that one might eat it in the Time to Come. (By one’s present self-restraint one might merit to partake of the banquet in the Hereafter.) For this reason Moses admonished the Israelites in Leviticus 11:2, “This is the animal that you shall eat.”
A Baraita explained how the priests performed the waiving. A priest placed the sacrificial portions on the palm of his hand, the breast and thigh on top of the sacrificial portions, and whenever there was a bread offering, the bread on top of the breast and thigh. Rav Papa found authority for the Baraita’s teaching in Leviticus 8:26–27, which states that they placed the bread on top of the thigh. And the Gemara noted that Leviticus 10:15 implies that the breast and thigh were on top of the offerings of fat. But the Gemara noted that Leviticus 7:30 says that the priest “shall bring the fat upon the breast.” Abaye reconciled the verses by explaining that Leviticus 7:30 refers to the way that the priest brought the parts from the slaughtering place. The priest then turned them over and placed them into the hands of a second priest, who waived them. Noting further that Leviticus 9:20 says that “they put the fat upon the breasts,” the Gemara deduced that this second priest then handed the parts over to a third priest, who burned them. The Gemara thus concluded that these verses taught that three priests were required for this part of the service, giving effect to the teaching of Proverbs 14:28, “In the multitude of people is the king’s glory.”
Rabbi Aha compared the listing of Leviticus 7:37 to a ruler who entered a province escorting many bands of robbers as captives. Upon seeing the scene, one citizen expressed his fear of the ruler. A second citizen answered that as long as their conduct was good, they had no reason to fear. Similarly, when the Israelites heard the section of the Torah dealing with sacrifices, they became afraid. But Moses told them not to be afraid; if they occupied themselves with the Torah, they would have no reason to fear.
A Midrash asked why Leviticus 7:37 mentions peace-offerings last in its list of sacrifices, and suggested that it was because there are many kinds of peace-offerings. Rabbi Simon said that assorted desserts always come last, because they consist of many kinds of things.
Noting that Leviticus 7:37–38 says that “This is the law . . . that the Lord commanded Moses in mount Sinai,” Rabbi Judah ben Bathyra counted Leviticus 7:38 among 13 limiting phrases recorded in the Torah to inform us that God spoke not to Aaron but to Moses with instruction that he should tell Aaron. Rabbi Judah ben Bathyra taught that these 13 limiting phrases correspond to and limit 13 Divine communications recorded in the Torah as having been made to both Moses and Aaron.
Leviticus chapter 8
Rabbi Jose noted that even though Exodus 27:18 reported that the Tabernacle’s courtyard was just 100 cubits by 50 cubits (about 150 feet by 75 feet), a little space held a lot, as Leviticus 8:3 implied that the space miraculously held the entire Israelite people.
A Baraita explained why the Urim and Thummim noted in Exodus 28:30 were called by those names: The term “Urim” is like the Hebrew word for “lights,” and thus it was called “Urim” because it enlightened. The term “Thummim” is like the Hebrew word tam meaning “to be complete,” and thus it was called “Thummim” because its predictions were fulfilled. The Gemara discussed how they used the Urim and Thummim: Rabbi Johanan said that the letters of the stones in the breastplate stood out to spell out the answer. Resh Lakish said that the letters joined each other to spell words. But the Gemara noted that the Hebrew letter צ, tsade, was missing from the list of the 12 tribes of Israel. Rabbi Samuel bar Isaac said that the stones of the breastplate also contained the names of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But the Gemara noted that the Hebrew letter ט, teth, was also missing. Rav Aha bar Jacob said that they also contained the words: “The tribes of Jeshurun.” The Gemara taught that although the decree of a prophet could be revoked, the decree of the Urim and Thummim could not be revoked, as Numbers 27:21 says, “By the judgment of the Urim.”
The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer taught that when Israel sinned in the matter of the devoted things, as reported in Joshua 7:11, Joshua looked at the 12 stones corresponding to the 12 tribes that were upon the High Priest’s breastplate. For every tribe that had sinned, the light of its stone became dim, and Joshua saw that the light of the stone for the tribe of Judah had become dim. So Joshua knew that the tribe of Judah had transgressed in the matter of the devoted things. Similarly, the Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer taught that Saul saw the Philistines turning against Israel, and he knew that Israel had sinned in the matter of the ban. Saul looked at the 12 stones, and for each tribe that had followed the law, its stone (on the High Priest’s breastplate) shined with its light, and for each tribe that had transgressed, the light of its stone was dim. So Saul knew that the tribe of Benjamin had trespassed in the matter of the ban.
The Mishnah reported that with the death of the former prophets, the Urim and Thummim ceased. In this connection, the Gemara reported differing views of who the former prophets were. Rav Huna said they were David, Samuel, and Solomon. Rav Nachman said that during the days of David, they were sometimes successful and sometimes not (getting an answer from the Urim and Thummim), for Zadok consulted it and succeeded, while Abiathar consulted it and was not successful, as 2 Samuel 15:24 reports, “And Abiathar went up.” (He retired from the priesthood because the Urim and Thummim gave him no reply.) Rabbah bar Samuel asked whether the report of 2 Chronicles 26:5, “And he (King Uzziah of Judah) set himself to seek God all the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the vision of God,” did not refer to the Urim and Thummim. But the Gemara answered that Uzziah did so through Zechariah’s prophecy. A Baraita told that when the first Temple was destroyed, the Urim and Thummim ceased, and explained Ezra 2:63 (reporting events after the Jews returned from the Babylonian Captivity), “And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim,” as a reference to the remote future, as when one speaks of the time of the Messiah. Rav Nachman concluded that the term “former prophets” referred to a period before Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who were latter prophets. And the Jerusalem Talmud taught that the “former prophets” referred to Samuel and David, and thus the Urim and Thummim did not function in the period of the First Temple, either.
The Gemara taught that the early scholars were called soferim (related to the original sense of its root safar, “to count”) because they used to count all the letters of the Torah (to ensure the correctness of the text). They used to say the vav (ו) in גָּחוֹן, gachon (“belly”), in Leviticus 11:42 marks the half-way point of the letters in the Torah. (And in a Torah Scroll, scribes write that vav (ו) larger than the surrounding letters.) They used to say the words דָּרֹשׁ דָּרַשׁ, darosh darash (“diligently inquired”), in Leviticus 10:16 mark the half-way point of the words in the Torah. And they used to say Leviticus 13:33 marks the half-way point of the verses in the Torah. Rav Joseph asked whether the vav (ו) in גָּחוֹן, gachon (“belly”), in Leviticus 11:42 belonged to the first half or the second half of the Torah. (Rav Joseph presumed that the Torah contains an even number of letters.) The scholars replied that they could bring a Torah Scroll and count, for Rabbah bar bar Hanah said on a similar occasion that they did not stir from where they were until a Torah Scroll was brought and they counted. Rav Joseph replied that they (in Rabbah bar bar Hanah’s time) were thoroughly versed in the proper defective and full spellings of words (that could be spelled in variant ways), but they (in Rav Joseph’s time) were not. Similarly, Rav Joseph asked whether Leviticus 13:33 belongs to the first half or the second half of verses. Abaye replied that for verses, at least, we can bring a Scroll and count them. But Rav Joseph replied that even with verses, they could no longer be certain. For when Rav Aha bar Adda came (from the Land of Israel to Babylon), he said that in the West (in the Land of Israel), they divided Exodus 19:9 into three verses. Nonetheless, the Rabbis taught in a Baraita that there are 5,888 verses in the Torah. (Note that others say the middle letter in our current Torah text is the aleph (א) in הוּא, hu (“he”) in Leviticus 8:28; the middle two words are אֶל-יְסוֹד, el yesod (“at the base of”) in Leviticus 8:15; the half-way point of the verses in the Torah is Leviticus 8:7; and there are 5,846 verses in the Torah text we have today.)
The Sifra taught that the words “and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear” in Leviticus 8:23 refer to the middle ridge of the ear. And the Sifra taught that the words “and upon the thumb of his right hand” in Leviticus 8:23 refer to the middle knuckle.
Rabbi Jacob bar Acha taught in the name of Rabbi Zorah that the command to Aaron in Leviticus 8:35, “at the door of the tent of meeting shall you abide day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord,” served as a source for the law of seven days of mourning for the death of a relative (שִׁבְעָה, shivah). Rabbi Jacob bar Acha interpreted Moses to tell Aaron that just as God observed seven days of mourning for the then-upcoming destruction of the world at the time of the Flood of Noah, so too Aaron would observe seven days of mourning for the upcoming death of his sons Nadab and Abihu. And we know that God observed seven days of mourning for the destruction of the world by the Flood from Genesis 7:10, which says, “And it came to pass after the seven days, that the waters of the Flood were upon the earth.” The Gemara asked whether one mourns before a death, as Jacob bar Acha appears to argue happened in these two cases. In reply, the Gemara distinguished between the mourning of God and people: People, who do not know what will happen until it happens, do not mourn until the deceased dies. But God, who knows what will happen in the future, mourned for the world before its destruction. The Gemara noted, however, that there are those who say that the seven days before the Flood were days of mourning for Methuselah (who died just before the Flood).
Similarly, reading in Leviticus 9:1 that “it came to pass on the eighth day,” a Midrash recounted how Moses told Aaron in Leviticus 8:33, “you shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting seven days.” The Midrash interpreted this to mean that Moses thereby told Aaron and his sons to observe the laws of mourning for seven days, before those laws would affect them. Moses told them in Leviticus 8:35 that they were to “keep the charge of the Lord,” for so God had kept seven days of mourning before God brought the Flood, as Genesis 7:10 reports, “And it came to pass after the seven days, that the waters of the Flood were upon the earth.” The Midrash deduced that God was mourning by noting that Genesis 6:6 reports, “And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him (וַיִּתְעַצֵּב, vayitatzeiv) at His heart.” And 2 Samuel 19:3 uses the same word to express mourning when it says, “The king grieves (נֶעֱצַב, ne’etzav) for his son.” After God told Moses in Exodus 29:43, “And there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Tabernacle] shall be sanctified by My glory,” Moses administered the service for seven days in fear, fearing that God would strike him down. And it was for that reason that Moses told Aaron to observe the laws of mourning. When Aaron asked Moses why, Moses replied (in the words of Leviticus 8:35) “so I am commanded.” Then, as reported in Leviticus 10:2, God struck Nadab and Abihu instead. And thus in Leviticus 10:3, Moses told Aaron that he finally understood, “This is what the Lord meant when He said: ‘Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, and gain glory before all the people.’”
In medieval rabbinic interpretation
Leviticus chapters 1–7
The parashah is discussed in these medieval rabbinic sources:
Maimonides and Nachmanides differed about the reason for the sacrificial system. Maimonides wrote that the reason for the offerings was because when the Israelites lived in Egypt and Chaldea, the Egyptians worshipped sheep and the Chaldeans worshipped demons in the form of goats. And people in India never slaughter cattle. Thus God commanded the Israelites to slaughter cattle, sheep, and goats to God, so that worshipers of the other lands would know that God required the very act that they considered to be the utmost sin, and through that act God would forgive Israel’s sins. God thus intended to cure the people of the other nations of false beliefs, which Maimonides characterized as diseases of the soul, for diseases are healed by medicines that are antithetical to the diseases.
Nachmanides noted that Leviticus 3:16 mentioned a reason for the offerings — that they are “a fire-offering, of a pleasing odor to the Eternal.” Nachmanides rejected the argument that the offerings were meant to eliminate the foreigners’ foolish ideas, for the sacrifices would not have that effect, as the foreigners’ intention was to worship the constellations of the sheep and the ox, and if Jews slaughtered sheep and oxen to God, it would show respect and honor to those constellations. Nachmanides further noted that when Noah came out of the ark, there were as yet no Chaldeans or Egyptians in the world, yet Noah brought an offering that pleased God so much that Genesis 8:21 reports that on its account God said, “I will not again curse the ground anymore for man’s sake.” Similarly, Abel brought of the first-born of his flock and Genesis 4:4 reports that “the Eternal had regard to Abel and to his offering,” but there had not yet been a trace of idol worship in the world. In Numbers 23:4, Balaam said, “I have prepared the seven altars, and I have offered up a bullock and a ram on every altar,” but his intent was not to eradicate evil beliefs from Balak’s mind, but rather to approach God so that God’s communication would reach Balaam. Nachmanides argued that the reason for the offerings was more likely that since people’s deeds are accomplished through thought, speech, and action, therefore God commanded that when people sin and bring an offering, they should lay their hands on it in contrast to the evil deed that they committed. Offerers would confess their sin verbally to contrast with their evil speech. They would burn parts of the animal in fire that were seen as the instruments of thought and desire in human beings. The offerers would burn the legs of the animal because they corresponded to the limbs with which the offerer acted. The offerer sprinkled blood on the altar, which is analogous to the blood in the offerer’s body. Nachmanides argued that offerers performed these acts so that the offerers should realize that the offerers had sinned against God with their bodies. And the offerer’s soul and blood should have been spilled and the offerer’s body burned, were it not for God’s loving-kindness in taking a substitute and a ransom — the offering — so that the offering’s blood should be in place of the offerer’s blood, its life in place of the offerer’s life, and that the limbs of the offering in place of the parts of the offerer’s body.
In modern interpretation
Leviticus chapter 8
Reading Leviticus 8:23, Professor Jacob Milgrom, formerly of the University of California, Berkeley, noted that abundant attestation exists of ritual daubing in the ancient Near East. The incantations recited during the ritual smearing of persons, gods’ statues, and buildings testify to a purificatory and apotropaic purpose — to wipe off and ward off menacing demonic forces. These ancient Near East applications always smear the vulnerable parts of bodies (extremities) and structures (corners, entrances) with magical substances. Milgrom concluded that the blood daubing of the altar’s extremities — its horns — closely resembles the blood daubing of the extremities of the priests in Leviticus 8:23–24. Milgrom also noted the correspondence of the dedicatory rite of Ezekiel’s altar to the daubing of the priests, for in Ezekiel 43:20, the purificatory blood is daubed not only on the altar’s horns but also on the corners of its two gutters, located at its middle and bottom. Milgrom argued that these points correspond to a person’s earlobe, thumb, and big toe. Milgrom concluded that these two rites shared the same purpose, which in the case of Ezekiel's altar Ezekiel 43:20 made explicit: “And you shall decontaminate it and thus purge it.” Similarly, Ezekiel 43:26 says that through it “they shall purge the altar and thus purify it.” Therefore, Milgrom concluded that the daubing of the priest at points of his body and the daubing of comparable points on the altar possessed a similar goal of purging.
- To remove the ashes from the altar every day
- To light a fire on the altar every day
- Not to extinguish this fire
- The priests must eat the remains of the meal offerings.
- Not to bake a meal offering as leavened bread
- The High Priest must bring a meal offering every day.
- Not to eat the meal offering of the High Priest
- To carry out the procedure of the sin offering
- Not to eat the meat of the inner sin offering
- To carry out the procedure of the guilt offering
- To follow the procedure of the peace offering
- Not to allow any of the thanksgiving offering to remain until the morning
- To burn the leftover korbanot
- Not to eat from korbanot offered with improper intentions
- Not to eat from korbanot that became impure
- To burn all impure korbanot
- Not to eat fat
- Not to eat blood
In the liturgy
Many Jews read excerpts from and allusions to the instructions in the parashah as part of the readings on the offerings after the Sabbath morning blessings. Specifically, Jews read the instructions for the taking of the ashes in Leviticus 6:1–6, read the instructions for the offerings in Leviticus 6:5, and allude to the thanksgiving offerings of Leviticus 7:12.
The prohibition in Leviticus 7:19–20 of eating of sacrificial meat by anyone ritually contaminated provides an application of the eighth of the Thirteen Rules for interpreting the Torah in the Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael that many Jews read as part of the readings before the Pesukei d’Zimrah prayer service. The rule provides that an item included in a generalization that is then singled out to teach something is singled out not to teach only about that particular item but about the generalization in its entirety. Leviticus 7:19 prohibits the eating of sacrificial meat by anyone ritually contaminated, and Leviticus 7:20 then singles out the peace offering and states that a contaminated person who eats the peace offering is subject to excision (כָּרֵת, kareit). Applying the eighth rule teaches that the punishment of excision applies to a contaminated person who eats any of the offerings.
Connection to the Parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah refer to the burnt offering (עֹלָה, olah) and sacrifice (זֶבַח, zevach). In the haftarah, Jeremiah spoke of the priority of obedience to God’s law over ritual sacrifice alone.
On Shabbat HaGadol
When the parashah coincides with Shabbat HaGadol (the special Sabbath immediately before Passover — as it does in 2013, 2015, and 2017), the haftarah is Malachi 3:4–24. Shabbat HaGadol means “the Great Sabbath,” and the haftarah for the special Sabbath refers to a great day that God is preparing.
On Shabbat Zachor
When the parashah coincides with Shabbat Zachor (the special Sabbath immediately preceding Purim — as it does in 2014), the haftarah is:
Connection to the Special Sabbath
On Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath just before Purim, Jews read Deuteronomy 25:17–19, which instructs Jews: “Remember (zachor) what Amalek did” in attacking the Israelites. The haftarah for Shabbat Zachor, 1 Samuel 15:2–34 or 1–34, describes Saul’s encounter with Amalek and Saul’s and Samuel’s treatment of the Amalekite king Agag. Purim, in turn, commemorates the story of Esther and the Jewish people’s victory over Haman’s plan to kill the Jews, told in the Book of Esther. Esther 3:1 identifies Haman as an Agagite, and thus a descendant of Amalek. Numbers 24:7 identifies the Agagites with the Amalekites. Alternatively, a Midrash tells the story that between King Agag’s capture by Saul and his killing by Samuel, Agag fathered a child, from whom Haman in turn descended.
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:
- Leviticus 14:14 (right ear, thumb of right hand, and great toe of right foot).
- Jeremiah 7:22–23 (preferring obedience to sacrifices).
- Hosea 14:3 (the offering of our lips instead of bulls).
- Psalm 20:4 (burnt offerings); 26:6 (washing before the altar); 40:7 (sacrifices); 50:3–23 (sacrifices of thanksgiving); 51:16–19 (sacrifices); 66:13–15 (burnt offerings); 93:5 (God’s holy place); 107:22 (sacrifices of thanksgiving); 116:17 (sacrifices of thanksgiving); 133:2 (anointing Aaron).
- Philo. Allegorical Interpretation 3:45:129, 46:133, 50:147; On the Migration of Abraham 12:67; Who Is the Heir of Divine Things? 36:174; On the Life of Moses 2:29:150; The Special Laws 1:41:225, 43:240, 46:254, 52:285. Alexandria, Egypt, early 1st Century C.E.. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge, pages 65, 67, 259, 290, 504, 555, 557–58, 561. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0-943575-93-1.
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 3:9:1–4, 11:2; 4:8:9, 11:1; 8:8:4. Circa 93–94. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by William Whiston, pages 94–95. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987. ISBN 0-913573-86-8.
- Mishnah: Challah 1:6; Orlah 2:16–17; Bikkurim 2:7–10; Shekalim 1:4, 7:6; Yoma 7:5; Megillah 2:6; Sotah 9:12; Zevachim 1:1–14:10; Menachot 1:1–13:11; Chullin 7:1, 10:1; Keritot 1:1; Tamid 2:3; Kinnim 1:1. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 149, 164, 171, 252, 263, 277, 320, 464, 699–765, 779, 784, 836, 864–65. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
- Tosefta: Demai 2:7–8; Challah 2:7–8; Pisha (Pesachim) 8:9; Megillah 3:21; Sotah 13:7; Bava Kamma 10:13; Shevuot 2:10; 3:1, 6; Zevachim 1:1–13:20; Menachot 1:1–13:23; Oktzin 3:3. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, pages 85–86, 339, 511, 650, 886; volume 2, pages 1012, 1227, 1229, 1231, 1307–70, 1407–68, 1925. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
- Sifra 70:1–98:9. Land of Israel, 4th Century C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifra: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 2, pages 1–119. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-206-2.
- Jerusalem Talmud: Orlah 33b, 34b; Bikkurim 12b, 25a; Shabbat 18b; Pesachim 13a–14a, 36b–37a, 44a, 56b–57a, 63b, 64b, 78a; Yoma 1a, 2a, 3a–b, 6a, 11a–b, 12a, 21b, 30b–31a, 32a, 39a, 49b; Sukkah 14a; Megillah 16a–b, 18b, 26a; Moed Katan 17a; Sotah 24b. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, volumes 12–13, 18–19, 21–22, 26, 28. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2007–2013.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:1–10:9. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 89–134. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 111a, 114a, 132a; Pesachim 3a, 16a–b, 19a, 23a–24b, 26a, 27b, 35a, 37a, 38b, 43b, 45a, 58a–59b, 63b, 65b, 71b, 79a, 82a–83a, 95b–96a; Yoma 2a–b, 4a, 5a–b, 7a, 12b, 20a, 21a, 23b–24a, 25a, 28a, 33a–34a, 45a–b, 46b–47a, 59b–60a, 74a–b; Sukkah 43a, 47b, 55b–56a; Beitzah 19b, 21a; Rosh Hashanah 5b–6a; Taanit 11b; Megillah 9b, 20b, 23b; Moed Katan 9a, 15b; Chagigah 7b, 10b, 24a, 26b; Yevamot 7a, 39b–40a, 68b, 72b, 74b, 81a, 82a, 87a, 100a; Ketubot 5b, 25a, 106b; Nedarim 10b, 12a–b, 25a, 36a; Nazir 37b–38a; Sotah 14b–15a, 19a, 23a–b, 29a–b; Kiddushin 29a, 30a, 36b, 51a, 53a, 55b; Bava Kamma 5a, 13a, 41a, 82b, 110b, 111a; Bava Metzia 3b, 55a; Bava Batra 106b; Sanhedrin 34a, 42b, 61b; Makkot 13a, 14b, 17a–b, 18b; Shevuot 6b–7a, 11a, 15a–b, 29a, 38a; Avodah Zarah 34a–b, 76a; Horayot 3a, 9a, 11b–12a; Zevachim 2a–120b; Menachot 2a–110a; Chullin 22a, 23b, 36b–37a, 39a, 45a, 74b–75a, 81b, 99a, 101a, 117a–b, 120a, 130a, 131b, 132b–33b, 134b; Bekhorot 15a, 30b, 33b, 39a; Arakhin 3b–4a; Temurah 14a, 18a–b, 23a, 32b; Keritot 2a, 4a–b, 5a–6a, 20b–21b, 22b, 23b, 27a; Meilah 2a, 5a–6b, 9a, 10a, 11b–12a; Tamid 28a–29a, 30a; Niddah 6b, 40a–41a. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 volumes. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
- Rashi. Commentary. Leviticus 6–8. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, volume 3, pages 59–92. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-89906-028-5.
- Rashbam. Commentary on the Torah. Troyes, early 12th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashbam’s Commentary on Leviticus and Numbers: An Annotated Translation. Edited and translated by Martin I. Lockshin, pages 35–46. Providence: Brown Judaic Studies, 2001. ISBN 1-930675-07-0.
- Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 2:80. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Introduction by Henry Slonimsky, page 133. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
- Hezekiah ben Manoah. Hizkuni. France, circa 1240. Reprinted in, e.g., Chizkiyahu ben Manoach. Chizkuni: Torah Commentary. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 3, pages 679–93. Jerusalem: Ktav Publishers, 2013. ISBN 978-1-60280-261-2.
- Nachmanides. Commentary on the Torah. Jerusalem, circa 1270. Reprinted in, e.g., Ramban (Nachmanides): Commentary on the Torah. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, volume 3, pages 59–101. New York: Shilo Publishing House, 1974. ISBN 0-88328-007-8.
- Zohar 2:236b, 238b; 3:27a–35b, 37a, 87a, 107b, 213a. Spain, late 13th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 volumes. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
- Isaac ben Moses Arama. Akedat Yizhak (The Binding of Isaac). Late 15th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Yitzchak Arama. Akeydat Yitzchak: Commentary of Rabbi Yitzchak Arama on the Torah. Translated and condensed by Eliyahu Munk, volume 2, pages 558–67. New York, Lambda Publishers, 2001. ISBN 965-7108-30-6.
- Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno. Commentary on the Torah. Venice, 1567. Reprinted in, e.g., Sforno: Commentary on the Torah. Translation and explanatory notes by Raphael Pelcovitz, pages 514–25. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-268-7.
- Moshe Alshich. Commentary on the Torah. Safed, circa 1593. Reprinted in, e.g., Moshe Alshich. Midrash of Rabbi Moshe Alshich on the Torah. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 2, pages 634–43. New York, Lambda Publishers, 2000. ISBN 965-7108-13-6.
- Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 3:40, 42. England, 1651. Reprint edited by C. B. Macpherson, pages 503–04, 572. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1982. ISBN 0-14-043195-0.
- Chaim ibn Attar. Ohr ha-Chaim. Venice, 1742. Reprinted in Chayim ben Attar. Or Hachayim: Commentary on the Torah. Translated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 3, pages 986–1019. Brooklyn: Lambda Publishers, 1999. ISBN 965-7108-12-8.
- Samuel David Luzzatto (Shadal). Commentary on the Torah. Padua, 1871. Reprinted in, e.g., Samuel David Luzzatto. Torah Commentary. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 3, pages 916–23. New York: Lambda Publishers, 2012. ISBN 978-965-524-067-2.
- Louis Ginzberg. Legends of the Jews, volume 3, pages 179–81. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1911.
- George Buchanan Gray. Sacrifice in the Old Testament: Its Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1925. Reprinted by Ktav Publishing House, 1971.
- Isaac Mendelsohn. “Urim and Thummim.” In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, volume 4, pages 739–40. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1962. ISBN 0-687-19273-0.
- Roland De Vaux. Studies in Old Testament Sacrifice. University of Wales Press, 1964. ISBN 0-7083-0346-3.
- Moshe Greenberg. “Urim and Thummim.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, volume 16, pages 8–9. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972. LCCN 72-90254.
- Jacob Milgrom. “Sacrifices and Offerings, OT,” and “Wave offering.” In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Supp. volume, pages 763–71, 944–46. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1976. ISBN 0-687-19269-2.
- David P. Wright. “The Disposal of Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature.” Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Studies. Volume 101 (1987): pages 34–36.
- Judith S. Antonelli. “The Priesthood.” In In the Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on the Torah, pages 247–56. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1995. ISBN 1-56821-438-3.
- Cornelis Van Dam. The Urim and Thummin: A Means of Revelation in Ancient Israel. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 1997. ISBN 0-931464-83-8.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus 1–16, volume 3, pages 378–569. New York: Anchor Bible, 1998. ISBN 0-385-11434-6.
- Mary Douglas. Leviticus as Literature, pages 20, 71, 76–77, 83–84, 113, 120, 123, 125–26, 128, 134, 150, 166, 187, 199, 203, 224, 231, 239, 244, 249–51. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-924419-7.
- Claire Magidovitch Green. “Message and Messenger.” In The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions. Edited by Elyse Goldstein, pages 191–95. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-58023-076-8.
- Baruch J. Schwartz. “Leviticus.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 217–24. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
- W. Gunther Plaut. The Torah: A Modern Commentary: Revised Edition. Revised edition edited by David E.S. Stern, pages 686–703. New York: Union for Reform Judaism, 2006. ISBN 0-8074-0883-2.
- Suzanne A. Brody. “A Woman’s Portion.” In Dancing in the White Spaces: The Yearly Torah Cycle and More Poems, page 86. Shelbyville, Kentucky: Wasteland Press, 2007. ISBN 1-60047-112-9.
- The Torah: A Women's Commentary. Edited by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Andrea L. Weiss, pages 593–614. New York: URJ Press, 2008. ISBN 0-8074-1081-0.
- "Torah Stats — VaYikra". Akhlah Inc. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Vayikra/Leviticus. Edited by Menachem Davis, 30–51. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2008. ISBN 1-4226-0206-0.
- Leviticus 6:1.
- Leviticus 6:2–4.
- Leviticus 6:5–6.
- Leviticus 6:7–11.
- Leviticus 6:12–16.
- Leviticus 6:17–22.
- Leviticus 6:21.
- Leviticus 6:23.
- Leviticus 7:1–7.
- Leviticus 7:8.
- Leviticus 7:9–10.
- Leviticus 7:11–14.
- Leviticus 7:15.
- Leviticus 7:16–18.
- Leviticus 7:19.
- Leviticus 7:20–21.
- Leviticus 7:22–27.
- Leviticus 7:28–34.
- Leviticus 8:1–5.
- Leviticus 8:6–9.
- Leviticus 8:10–13.
- Leviticus 8:14–15.
- Leviticus 8:15–17.
- Leviticus 8:18–19.
- Leviticus 8:19–21.
- Leviticus 8:22–23.
- Leviticus 8:23–24.
- Leviticus 8:25–28.
- Leviticus 8:29.
- Leviticus 8:30.
- Leviticus 8:31–36.
- See, e.g., "A Complete Triennial Cycle for Reading the Torah". The Jewish Theological Seminary. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- For more on inner-Biblical interpretation, see, e.g., Benjamin D. Sommer. “Inner-biblical Interpretation.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 1829–35. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
- Psalm 50:9–11.
- Psalm 50:12–13.
- Psalm 50:14–15.
- Psalm 107:22.
- Psalm 107:4–9.
- Psalm 107:10–16.
- Psalm 107:17–22.
- Psalm 107:23–32.
- See Exodus 5:3 (וְנִזְבְּחָה, venizbechah); 5:8 (נִזְבְּחָה, nizbechah); 5:17 (נִזְבְּחָה, nizbechah); 8:4 (וְיִזְבְּחוּ, veyizbechu); 8:22 (נִזְבַּח, nizbach (twice)); 8:23 (וְזָבַחְנוּ, vezavachnu); 8:24 (וּזְבַחְתֶּם, uzvachtem); 8:25 (לִזְבֹּחַ, lizboach); 10:25 (זְבָחִים, zevachim); 12:27 (זֶבַח, zevach); 13:15 (זֹבֵחַ, zoveiach).
- See Genesis 12:8; 13:3–4; 26:25. See also Exodus 17:15, in which Moses built an altar in thanksgiving.
- See Anson Rainey. “Sacrifice.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, volume 14, pages 599, 606. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972. LCCN 72-90254.
- Philo. On the Life of Moses 2:29:150. Alexandria, Egypt, early 1st century CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge, page 504. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0-943575-93-1.
- Mishnah Zevachim 1:1–14:10. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 699–732. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4. Tosefta Zevachim 1:1–13:20. Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 2a–120b.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:3. Land of Israel, 5th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, page 93. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:2. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 91–92.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:3. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 93–94.
- Mishnah Zevachim 1:1–2:5. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 699–703.
- See Leviticus 1:5, 7, 8, 11; 2:2; 3:2, 5, 8, 13.
- See Mishnah Tamid 2:3. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 864–65. Babylonian Talmud Tamid 29a.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 89–90.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:4. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 95–96.
- Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 29a.
- Genesis Rabbah 22:5. Land of Israel, 5th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 1, pages 182–84. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2. See also Genesis Rabbah 34:9. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 1, pages 272–73.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 27b.
- Mishnah Megillah 2:6. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 320. Babylonian Talmud Megillah 20b.
- Babylonian Talmud Megillah 21a.
- Babylonian Talmud Bava Kamma 82b.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:5. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 96–97.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:6. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 97–98.
- Leviticus Rabbah 9:9. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 115, 119–20.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 35a.
- Mishnah Menachot 1:1–13:11. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 732–65. Tosefta Menachot 1:1–13:23. Babylonian Talmud Menachot 2a–110a.
- Leviticus Rabbah 8:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 100–01.
- Leviticus Rabbah 8:3. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 103–04.
- Judges 14:14
- Leviticus Rabbah 8:2. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 102–03.
- Leviticus Rabbah 9:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, page 106.
- Leviticus Rabbah 9:4. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, page 110.
- Leviticus Rabbah 9:7. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, page 114.
- Mishnah Challah 1:6. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 149.
- Mishnah Kinnim 1:1. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 883.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 29a.
- Mishnah Chullin 7:1. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 778–79. Babylonian Talmud Chullin 89b.
- Leviticus Rabbah 13:3. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 166–68.
- Babylonian Talmud Menachot 62a.
- Leviticus Rabbah 9:8. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 4, pages 114–15.
- Numbers Rabbah 14:19.
- Genesis Rabbah 5:7. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 1, pages 37–38.
- Tosefta Megillah 3:21.
- Mishnah Yoma 7:5. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 277. Babylonian Talmud Yoma 71b.
- Babylonian Talmud Yoma 73b.
- Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 38. Early 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer. Translated and annotated by Gerald Friedlander, pages 295, 297–98. London, 1916. Reprinted New York: Hermon Press, 1970. ISBN 0-87203-183-7.
- Mishnah Sotah 9:12. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 464. Babylonian Talmud Sotah 48a. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Eliezer Herzka, Moshe Zev Einhorn, Michoel Weiner, Dovid Kamenetsky, and Reuvein Dowek; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 33b, page 48a3. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2000. ISBN 1-57819-673-6.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 48b. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Eliezer Herzka, Moshe Zev Einhorn, Michoel Weiner, Dovid Kamenetsky, and Reuvein Dowek; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 33b, pages 48b1–2.
- Jerusalem Talmud Sotah 24b.
- Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 30a.
- E.g., Michael Pitkowsky, “The Middle Verse of the Torah” and the response of Reuven Wolfeld there.
- Sifra Sav Mekhilta DeMiluim 98:8:5. Land of Israel, 4th century CE. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifra: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 2, page 115. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-206-2.
- Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 5b. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Abba Zvi Naiman and Mendy Wachsman; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 26, page 5b1. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1999. ISBN 1-57819-625-6.
- Jerusalem Talmud Moed Katan 17a. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Elucidated by Chaim Ochs, Avrohom Neuberger, Mordechai Smilowitz, and Mendy Wachsman; edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, volume 28, page 17a3–4. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2012. ISBN 1-4226-0255-9
- Midrash Tanhuma Shemini 1.
- Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed, part 3, chapter 46. Cairo, Egypt, 1190. Reprinted in, e.g., Moses Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer, page 359. New York: Dover Publications, 1956. ISBN 0-486-20351-4.
- Nachmanides. Commentary on the Torah. Jerusalem, circa 1270. Reprinted in, e.g., Ramban (Nachmanides): Commentary on the Torah. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, pages 19–21. New York: Shilo Publishing House, 1971. ISBN 0-88328-006-X.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, page 85 and note 26. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8006-9514-3. (citing, e.g., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Edited by James B. Pritchard, page 338. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969. ISBN 0-691-03503-2. David P. Wright. “The Disposal of Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature.” Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Studies. 101 (1987):34–36.).
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, pages 85–86.
- Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 2:73–131. Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers, 1984. ISBN 0-87306-296-5.
- Leviticus 6:3.
- Leviticus 6:6.
- Leviticus 6:9.
- Leviticus 6:10.
- Leviticus 6:13.
- Leviticus 6:16.
- Leviticus 6:18.
- Leviticus 7:1.
- Leviticus 7:11.
- Leviticus 7:17.
- Leviticus 7:18.
- Leviticus 7:23.
- Leviticus 7:26.
- Menachem Davis. The Schottenstein Edition Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals with an Interlinear Translation, 217–19. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-697-3.
- Davis, at 231.
- Davis, at 240.
- Davis. Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals, at 244–45.
- Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 19. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0-916219-20-8.
- Leviticus 6:1–6; 7:11–18; Jeremiah 7:21.
- Jeremiah 7:22–23.
- Malachi 3:17–23.
- Deuteronomy 25:17.
- Esther 1:1–10:3.
- Seder Eliyahu Rabbah ch. 20. Targum Sheni to Esther 4:13.