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Chapter 22

Priestly Purity.[a] The Lord said to Moses: Tell Aaron and his sons to treat with respect the sacred offerings which the Israelites consecrate to me; otherwise they will profane my holy name. I am the Lord.

[b]Tell them: If any one of you, or of your descendants in any future generation, dares, while he is in a state of uncleanness, to draw near the sacred offerings which the Israelites consecrate to the Lord, such a one shall be cut off from my presence.(A) I am the Lord.

No descendant of Aaron who is stricken with a scaly infection,(B) or who suffers from a genital discharge,(C) may eat of the sacred offerings, until he again becomes clean. Moreover, if anyone touches a person who has become unclean by contact with a corpse,(D) or if anyone has had an emission of semen,(E) or if anyone touches any swarming creature(F) whose uncleanness is contagious or any person whose uncleanness, of whatever kind it may be, is contagious—(G) the one who touches such as these shall be unclean until evening and may not eat of the sacred portions until he has first bathed his body in water.(H) Then, when the sun sets, he shall be clean.(I) Only then may he eat of the sacred offerings, for they are his food. [c]He shall not make himself unclean by eating of any animal that has died of itself or has been killed by wild beasts.(J) I am the Lord.

They shall keep my charge so that they will not bear the punishment in this matter and die(K) for their profanation. I am the Lord who makes them holy.

10 Neither an unauthorized person nor a priest’s tenant or laborer may eat of any sacred offering.(L) 11 But a slave[d] whom a priest acquires by purchase or who is born in his house may eat of his food. 12 [e]A priest’s daughter who is married to an unauthorized person may not eat of the sacred contributions. 13 But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and, having no children, returns to her father’s house, she may then eat of her father’s food as in her youth. No unauthorized person, however, may eat of it. 14 (M)If such a one eats of a sacred offering through inadvertence, that person shall make restitution to the priest for the sacred offering, with an increment of one fifth of the amount. 15 The priests shall not allow the sacred offerings which the Israelites contribute to the Lord to be profaned(N) 16 nor make them incur a penalty when they eat their sacred offerings. For I, the Lord, make them holy.

Unacceptable Victims. 17 [f]The Lord said to Moses: 18 Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites, and tell them: When anyone of the house of Israel, or any alien residing in Israel, who presents an offering, brings a burnt offering(O) as a votive offering or as a voluntary offering to the Lord, 19 if it is to be acceptable for you, it must be an unblemished male of the herd, of the sheep or of the goats.(P) 20 You shall not offer one that has any blemish, for such a one would not be acceptable on your behalf.(Q) 21 When anyone presents a communion sacrifice(R) to the Lord from the herd or the flock in fulfillment of a vow, or as a voluntary offering, if it is to find acceptance, it must be unblemished; it shall not have any blemish. 22 One that is blind or lame or maimed, or one that has running lesions or sores or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord; do not put such an animal on the altar as an oblation to the Lord. 23 [g]An ox or a sheep that has a leg that is too long or is stunted you may indeed present as a voluntary offering, but it will not be acceptable as a votive offering. 24 One that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn out or cut off you shall not offer to the Lord. You shall neither do this in your own land 25 nor receive from a foreigner any such animals to offer up as the food of your God; since they are deformed or blemished, they will not be acceptable on your behalf.

26 [h]The Lord said to Moses: 27 When an ox or a lamb or a goat is born, it shall remain with its mother for seven days; only from the eighth day onward will it be acceptable, to be offered as an oblation to the Lord.(S) 28 You shall not slaughter an ox or a sheep on one and the same day with its young. 29 Whenever you offer a thanksgiving sacrifice to the Lord, so offer it that it may be acceptable on your behalf; 30 it must be eaten on the same day; none of it shall be left over until morning.(T) I am the Lord.

31 Be careful to observe my commandments. I am the Lord. 32 Do not profane my holy name, that in the midst of the Israelites I may be hallowed. I, the Lord, make you holy, 33 who led you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.


  1. 22:1–16 While priests with bodily imperfections may eat the holy sacrifices (21:16–23), those impure and those not of the priestly household may not.
  2. 22:3–8 On uncleanness, see chaps. 11–15 and notes there.
  3. 22:8 See note on 11:39–40.
  4. 22:11 Slave: in contrast to the tenant or hired worker of v. 10, the slave, who is by definition a foreigner, is part of the priest’s household and therefore may eat of sacrifices.
  5. 22:12–13 A priest’s daughter, when a dependent of her father, may eat of the lesser holy offerings.
  6. 22:17–25 This passage complements the section on the bodily imperfections of priests in 21:16–23. The laws taken together indicate that whoever and whatever approaches and contacts the altar needs to be physically unimpaired.
  7. 22:23 Burnt offerings and communion sacrifices brought as voluntary offerings may have slight defects, probably because they are freely given and do not depend upon a prior promise as do votive offerings.
  8. 22:26–30 Other activities and procedures that would impair sacrifice are appended here. The rules in vv. 27–28 are reminiscent of the rule not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk (Ex 23:19; 34:26; Dt 14:21) and not to take a bird and its eggs (Dt 22:6–7), all of which have a humanitarian tenor.