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Leviticus

Leviticus (lĭvĭtˈəkəs) [key], book of the Bible, 3d of the five books of the Law (the Pentateuch or Torah) ascribed by tradition to Moses. It is in essence a collection of liturgical legislation with special reference to regulations for the levitical priests, introduced in the canonical sequence immediately after the institution of public worship at the end of Exodus. All of Leviticus is ascribed to the so-called Priestly Source (P) of the Pentateuch. There are laws on various types of sacrifice; on the installation of the priests; on purity and impurity, including the dietary law. Also included are regulations on the jubilee year and on vows, as well as ritual and ethical codes—often termed the "Holiness Code"—not contained in Exodus. The only narrative incident of the book is the destruction of Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu. Leviticus probably reached its final canonical shape by about the year 400 B.C. The later religious establishment of the post-exilic Temple is read back into the Mosaic era. The book makes the point that God's demands extend into every facet of the life of the Israelites. He has graciously consented to dwell amongst his people and has provided the levitical priests as mediators.

See J. Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16 (1991).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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