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Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year. On this day the high priest enters into the holiest chamber of the congregation tent, the place where the covenant chest resides. Here, in God’s immediate earthly presence, he makes reparations for the sins of the people.

Chapters 17–26 are often referred to as the “Holiness Code.” The words “holy” and “sacred” are repeated over and over again throughout these chapters. God reminds His people to be different from the rest of the nations for He chose and set them apart for a special purpose. They are to be holy for He is holy.

17 The Eternal One spoke to Moses.

Eternal One: Go, say to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites: Here is what the Eternal has commanded: If an Israelite slaughters an ox, lamb, or goat inside or outside the camp and does not present it at the entrance of the congregation tent as an offering to Me in front of My sanctuary, then he is to be considered guilty of murder. He has spilled blood and is to be cut off from the community. I want the Israelites to stop sacrificing to Me in the open field and do it only at the entrance of the congregation tent. They must present their sacrifices to the priest and sacrifice them as peace offerings to Me. The priest will splatter the blood on My altar at the entrance of the congregation tent and offer the fat on the altar; and the smoke of the sacrifice will rise and become a pleasant aroma to Me. They must not offer any more sacrifices to the goat demons, the pagan gods with whom they’ve been unfaithful to Me until now. This directive stands for all time throughout their generations.

Then warn them that if any Israelite or outsider living among you presents a burnt offering or other sacrifice and fails to present it to Me at the entrance of the congregation tent, then he will be cut off from the community.

10 If anyone from the community of Israel or an outsider living among you consumes any blood, I will be at odds with him and cut him off from the community of Israel. 11 You see, the life of the body is in the blood, and I have directed that you are to take blood and offer it on the altar to atone for your lives and cover your sins. It is the life flowing in the blood that atones for you and covers you. 12 This is why I told the people of Israel, “No one of you or any outsider living among you is allowed to eat blood.”

13 Now if any Israelite or outsider living among you hunts and kills an animal or a bird that is acceptable and may be eaten, then that person must drain its blood from it and cover it up with the soil of the earth.

14 You see, the life of every creature is its blood; blood represents life. Blood is life. This is why I told the people of Israel, “Do not eat the blood of any living creature; for the life of any creature is its blood.” Anyone who consumes blood will be cut off from the community. 15 Any time a person eats an animal that has died of natural causes or has been killed by another animal—regardless of whether that person is native-born or an outsider living among you—he is to wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be regarded as impure until dusk; afterward, he will be ritually pure again. 16 But if the person does not wash his clothes or bathe his body, then he carries his guilt and will suffer the consequences.

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