Leviticus 16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Day of Atonement
16 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the Lord’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. 2 The Lord said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover.
3 “When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He must put on his linen tunic and the linen undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on. 5 Aaron must take from the community of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
6 “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord.[a] 7 Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[b] 8 He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. 9 Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. 10 The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord.[c]
11 “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord. After he has slaughtered the bull as a sin offering, 12 he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the Lord. Then he will take two handfuls of fragrant powdered incense and will carry the burner and the incense behind the inner curtain. 13 There in the Lord’s presence he will put the incense on the burning coals so that a cloud of incense will rise over the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that rests on the Ark of the Covenant.[d] If he follows these instructions, he will not die. 14 Then he must take some of the blood of the bull, dip his finger in it, and sprinkle it on the east side of the atonement cover. He must sprinkle blood seven times with his finger in front of the atonement cover.
15 “Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood. 16 Through this process, he will purify[e] the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. 17 No one else is allowed inside the Tabernacle when Aaron enters it for the purification ceremony in the Most Holy Place. No one may enter until he comes out again after purifying himself, his family, and all the congregation of Israel, making them right with the Lord.
18 “Then Aaron will come out to purify the altar that stands before the Lord. He will do this by taking some of the blood from the bull and the goat and putting it on each of the horns of the altar. 19 Then he must sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times over the altar. In this way, he will cleanse it from Israel’s defilement and make it holy.
20 “When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. 21 He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. 22 As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.
23 “When Aaron goes back into the Tabernacle, he must take off the linen garments he was wearing when he entered the Most Holy Place, and he must leave the garments there. 24 Then he must bathe himself with water in a sacred place, put on his regular garments, and go out to sacrifice a burnt offering for himself and a burnt offering for the people. Through this process, he will purify himself and the people, making them right with the Lord. 25 He must then burn all the fat of the sin offering on the altar.
26 “The man chosen to drive the scapegoat into the wilderness of Azazel must wash his clothes and bathe himself in water. Then he may return to the camp.
27 “The bull and the goat presented as sin offerings, whose blood Aaron takes into the Most Holy Place for the purification ceremony, will be carried outside the camp. The animals’ hides, internal organs, and dung are all to be burned. 28 The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself in water before returning to the camp.
29 “On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn,[f] you must deny yourselves.[g] Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. 30 On that day offerings of purification will be made for you,[h] and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins. 31 It will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. This is a permanent law for you. 32 In future generations, the purification[i] ceremony will be performed by the priest who has been anointed and ordained to serve as high priest in place of his ancestor Aaron. He will put on the holy linen garments 33 and purify the Most Holy Place, the Tabernacle, the altar, the priests, and the entire congregation. 34 This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the Lord once each year.”
Moses followed all these instructions exactly as the Lord had commanded him.
Prohibitions against Eating Blood
17 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel. This is what the Lord has commanded.
3 “If any native Israelite sacrifices a bull[j] or a lamb or a goat anywhere inside or outside the camp 4 instead of bringing it to the entrance of the Tabernacle[k] to present it as an offering to the Lord, that person will be as guilty as a murderer.[l] Such a person has shed blood and will be cut off from the community. 5 The purpose of this rule is to stop the Israelites from sacrificing animals in the open fields. It will ensure that they bring their sacrifices to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle, so he can present them to the Lord as peace offerings. 6 Then the priest will be able to splatter the blood against the Lord’s altar at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and he will burn the fat as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 7 The people must no longer be unfaithful to the Lord by offering sacrifices to the goat idols.[m] This is a permanent law for them, to be observed from generation to generation.
8 “Give them this command as well. If any native Israelite or foreigner living among you offers a burnt offering or a sacrifice 9 but does not bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle to offer it to the Lord, that person will be cut off from the community.
10 “And if any native Israelite or foreigner living among you eats or drinks blood in any form, I will turn against that person and cut him off from the community of your people, 11 for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord.[n] It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible. 12 That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood—neither you nor the foreigners living among you.’
13 “And if any native Israelite or foreigner living among you goes hunting and kills an animal or bird that is approved for eating, he must drain its blood and cover it with earth. 14 The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’ So whoever consumes blood will be cut off from the community.
15 “And if any native-born Israelites or foreigners eat the meat of an animal that died naturally or was torn up by wild animals, they must wash their clothes and bathe themselves in water. They will remain ceremonially unclean until evening, but then they will be clean. 16 But if they do not wash their clothes and bathe themselves, they will be punished for their sin.”
Forbidden Sexual Practices
18 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. 3 So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. 4 You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. 5 If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.
6 “You must never have sexual relations with a close relative, for I am the Lord.
7 “Do not violate your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; you must not have sexual relations with her.
8 “Do not have sexual relations with any of your father’s wives, for this would violate your father.
9 “Do not have sexual relations with your sister or half sister, whether she is your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born into your household or someone else’s.
10 “Do not have sexual relations with your granddaughter, whether she is your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, for this would violate yourself.
11 “Do not have sexual relations with your stepsister, the daughter of any of your father’s wives, for she is your sister.
12 “Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister, for she is your father’s close relative.
13 “Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s close relative.
14 “Do not violate your uncle, your father’s brother, by having sexual relations with his wife, for she is your aunt.
15 “Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, so you must not have sexual relations with her.
16 “Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife, for this would violate your brother.
17 “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. And do not take[o] her granddaughter, whether her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, and have sexual relations with her. They are close relatives, and this would be a wicked act.
18 “While your wife is living, do not marry her sister and have sexual relations with her, for they would be rivals.
19 “Do not have sexual relations with a woman during her period of menstrual impurity.
20 “Do not defile yourself by having sexual intercourse with your neighbor’s wife.
21 “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.
23 “A man must not defile himself by having sex with an animal. And a woman must not offer herself to a male animal to have intercourse with it. This is a perverse act.
24 “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for the people I am driving out before you have defiled themselves in all these ways. 25 Because the entire land has become defiled, I am punishing the people who live there. I will cause the land to vomit them out. 26 You must obey all my decrees and regulations. You must not commit any of these detestable sins. This applies both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.
27 “All these detestable activities are practiced by the people of the land where I am taking you, and this is how the land has become defiled. 28 So do not defile the land and give it a reason to vomit you out, as it will vomit out the people who live there now. 29 Whoever commits any of these detestable sins will be cut off from the community of Israel. 30 So obey my instructions, and do not defile yourselves by committing any of these detestable practices that were committed by the people who lived in the land before you. I am the Lord your God.”
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