Contemporary English Version
Don’t Mourn like Other Nations
14 People of Israel, you are the Lord’s children, so when you mourn for the dead, you must not cut yourselves or shave your forehead.[a] 2 Out of all the nations on this earth, the Lord your God chose you to be his own. You belong to the Lord, so don’t behave like those who worship other gods.
Animals That Can Be Eaten
3 Don’t eat any disgusting animals.
4-5 You may eat the meat of cattle, sheep, and goats; wild sheep and goats; and gazelles, antelopes, and all kinds of deer. 6 It is all right to eat meat from any animals that have divided hoofs and also chew the cud.[b]
7 But don’t eat camels, rabbits, and rock badgers. These animals chew the cud but do not have divided hoofs. You must treat them as unclean. 8 And don’t eat pork, since pigs have divided hoofs, but they do not chew their cud. Don’t even touch a dead pig!
9 You can eat any fish that has fins and scales. But there are other creatures that live in the water, 10 and if they do not have fins and scales, you must not eat them. Treat them as unclean.
11 You can eat any clean bird. 12-18 But don’t eat the meat of any of the following birds: eagles, vultures, falcons, kites, ravens, ostriches, owls, sea gulls, hawks, pelicans, ospreys, cormorants, storks, herons, and hoopoes.[c] You must not eat bats. 19 Swarming insects are unclean, so don’t eat them. 20 However, you are allowed to eat certain kinds of winged insects.[d]
21 You belong to the Lord your God, so if you happen to find a dead animal, don’t eat its meat. You may give it to foreigners who live in your town or sell it to foreigners who are visiting your town.
Don’t boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Give the Lord Ten Percent of Your Harvest
22 People of Israel, every year you must set aside ten percent of your grain harvest. 23 Also set aside ten percent of your wine and olive oil, and the first-born of every cow, sheep, and goat. Take these to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped, and eat them there. This will teach you to always respect the Lord your God.
24 But suppose you can’t carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped. If you live too far away, or if the Lord gives you a big harvest, 25 then sell this part and take the money there instead. 26 When you and your family arrive, spend the money on food for a big celebration. Buy cattle, sheep, goats, wine, beer, and if there are any other kinds of food that you want, buy those too. 27 And since people of the Levi tribe won’t own any land for growing crops, remember to ask the Levites to celebrate with you.
28 Every third year, instead of using the ten percent of your harvest for a big celebration, bring it into town and put it in a community storehouse. 29 The Levites have no land of their own, so you must give them food from the storehouse. You must also give food to the poor who live in your town, including orphans, widows, and foreigners. If they have enough to eat, then the Lord your God will be pleased and make you successful in everything you do.
15 1-2 Every seven years you must announce, “The Lord says loans do not need to be paid back.” Then if you have loaned money to another Israelite, you can no longer ask for payment.[e] 3 This law applies only to loans you have made to other Israelites. Foreigners will still have to pay back what you have loaned them.
4-6 No one in Israel should ever be poor. The Lord your God is giving you this land, and he has promised to make you very successful, if you obey his laws and teachings that I’m giving you today. You will lend money to many nations, but you won’t have to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they won’t rule you.
7 After the Lord your God gives land to each of you, there may be poor Israelites in the town where you live. If there are, then don’t be mean and selfish with your money. 8 Instead, be kind and lend them what they need. 9 Be careful! Don’t say to yourself, “Soon it will be the seventh year, and then I won’t be able to get my money back.” It would be horrible for you to think that way and to be so selfish that you refuse to help the poor. They are your relatives, and if you don’t help them, they may ask the Lord to decide whether you have done wrong. And he will say that you are guilty. 10 You should be happy to give the poor what they need, because then the Lord will make you successful in everything you do.
11 There will always be some Israelites who are poor and needy. That’s why I am commanding you to be generous with them.
Setting Slaves Free
Moses said to Israel:
12 If any of you buy Israelites as slaves, you must set them free after six years. 13 And don’t just tell them they are free to leave— 14 give them sheep and goats and a good supply of grain and wine. The more the Lord has given you, the more you should give them. 15 I am commanding you to obey the Lord as a reminder that you were slaves in Egypt before he set you free. 16 But one of your slaves may say, “I love you and your family, and I would be better off staying with you, so please don’t make me leave.” 17 Take the slave to the door of your house and push a sharp metal rod through one earlobe and into the door. Such slaves will belong to you for life, whether they are men or women.
18 Don’t complain when you have to set a slave free. After all, you got six years of service at half the cost of hiring someone to do the work.[f]
Moses said to Israel:
19 If the first-born animal of a cow or sheep or goat is a male, it must be given to the Lord. Don’t put first-born cattle to work or cut wool from first-born sheep. 20 Instead, each year you must take the first-born of these animals to the place where the Lord your God chooses to be worshiped. You and your family will sacrifice them to the Lord and then eat them as part of a sacred meal.
21 But if the animal is lame or blind or has something else wrong with it, you must not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 You can butcher it where you live, and eat it just like the meat of a deer or gazelle that you kill while hunting. Even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some. 23 But you must never eat the blood of an animal—let it drain out on the ground.
16 People of Israel, you must celebrate Passover in the month of Abib,[g] because one night in that month years ago, the Lord your God rescued you from Egypt. 2 The Passover sacrifice must be a cow, a sheep, or a goat, and you must offer it at the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped. 3-4 Eat all of the meat of the Passover sacrifice that same night. But don’t serve bread made with yeast at the Passover meal. Serve the same kind of thin bread that you ate when you were slaves suffering in Egypt[h] and when you had to leave Egypt quickly. As long as you live, this thin bread will remind you of the day you left Egypt.
For seven days following Passover,[i] don’t make any bread with yeast. In fact, there should be no yeast anywhere in Israel.
5 Don’t offer the Passover sacrifice in just any town where you happen to live. 6 It must be offered at the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped. Kill the sacrifice at sunset, the time of day when you left Egypt.[j] 7 Then cook it and eat it there at the place of worship, returning to your tents the next morning.
8 Eat thin bread for the next six days. Then on the seventh day, don’t do any work. Instead, come together and worship the Lord.
The Harvest Festival
Moses said to Israel:
9 Seven weeks after you start your grain harvest, 10-11 go to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped and celebrate the Harvest Festival[k] in honor of the Lord your God. Bring him an offering as large as you can afford, depending on how big a harvest he has given you. Be sure to take along your sons and daughters and all your servants. Also invite the poor, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. 12 Remember that you used to be slaves in Egypt, so obey these laws.
The Festival of Shelters
Moses said to Israel:
13-15 After you have finished the grain harvest and the grape harvest,[l] take your sons and daughters and all your servants to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped. Celebrate the Festival of Shelters for seven days. Also invite the poor, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows.
The Lord will give you big harvests and make you successful in everything you do. You will be completely happy, so celebrate this festival in honor of the Lord your God.
Three Festivals at the Place of Worship
16 Each year there are three festivals when all Israelite men must go to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped. These are the Festival of Thin Bread, the Harvest Festival,[m] and the Festival of Shelters. And don’t forget to take along a gift for the Lord. 17 The bigger the harvest the Lord gives you, the bigger your gift should be.
Treat Everyone with Justice
Moses said to Israel:
18-19 After you are settled in the towns that you will receive from the Lord your God, the people in each town must appoint judges and other officers. Those of you that become judges must be completely fair when you make legal decisions, even if someone important is involved. Don’t take bribes to give unfair decisions. Bribes keep people who are wise from seeing the truth and turn honest people into liars.[n]
20 People of Israel, if you want to enjoy a long and successful life, make sure that everyone is treated with justice in the land the Lord is giving you.
Don’t Set Up Sacred Poles or Stones
Moses said to Israel:
21 When you build the altar for offering sacrifices to the Lord your God, don’t set up a sacred pole[o] for the worship of the goddess Asherah. 22 And don’t set up a sacred stone! The Lord hates these things.
- 14.1 when you mourn. . . forehead: Or “you must not worship Baal, cutting yourselves and shaving your forehead.”
- 14.6 chew the cud: Some animals that eat grass and leaves have more than one stomach, and they chew their food a second time, after it has been partly digested in the first stomach. This partly digested food is called “cud.”
- 14.12-18 eagles. . . hoopoes: Some of the birds in this list are difficult to identify.
- 14.20 certain kinds of winged insects: These were locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers; see Leviticus 11.21,22.
- 15.1,2 The Lord says. . . no longer ask for payment: Or “<The Lord says loans do not need to be paid back this year.’ Then if you have loaned money to another Israelite, you cannot ask for payment until the next year.”
- 15.18 six years. . . work: Or “six years of service, and it cost you no more than if you had hired someone to do the work” ; or “six years of service, for what you would have had to pay a worker for two years.”
- 16.1 in the month of Abib: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April. Passover was celebrated on the evening of the fourteenth of Abib (see Exodus 12.6; Leviticus 23.4,5).
- 16.3,4 the same kind. . . in Egypt: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 16.3,4 seven days following Passover: This period was called the Festival of Thin Bread (see also verse 16).
- 16.6 sunset, the time of day when you left Egypt: Or “sunset on the same date as when you left Egypt.”
- 16.10,11 Harvest Festival: Traditionally called the “Festival of Weeks,” and known in New Testament times as “Pentecost.”
- 16.13-15 After you. . . harvest: Leviticus 23.34 gives the exact date as the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which would be early in October.
- 16.16 Harvest Festival: See the note at 16.10,11.
- 16.18,19 turn. . . liars: Or “keep innocent people from getting justice.”
- 16.21 sacred pole: See the note at 12.3.