Leviticus 23–25: Holy Days and Events

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 61–62

Leviticus 23 tells how the Lord established five holy times when all Israel was to make a special effort to be holy and draw closer to him. These times were on the Sabbath (see vv. 1–3); at the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, or Passover (see vv. 4–14); at the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (see vv. 15–23); on the Day of Atonement (see vv. 26–32); and at the Feast of the Tabernacles (see vv. 33–44). For more information about these times, see “feasts” in the Bible Dictionary (pp. 672–74).Leviticus 25 is related to chapter 23 in theme. In Leviticus 25 we read that the Lord commanded the Israelites to not only have a Sabbath every seventh day but to declare every seventh year a Sabbath year. In this Sabbath year they were not to grow crops but were to let the land rest. Furthermore, after seven times seven years (forty-nine years), the fiftieth year was to be a special Sabbath year, called the jubilee year. Not only were the Israelites not to plant or harvest during the jubilee, but they were to forgive all debts and free all slaves. Jubilee helped remind Israel that since God was merciful to them, they were to be merciful to others and the land.Leviticus 24 contains some instructions for using the candlestick and the table of shewbread in the tabernacle. Chapter 24 then relates the story of an individual who blasphemed the name of God and was put to death, since blasphemy was specifically prohibited in the commandments God gave the children of Israel. Part of the explanation for his punishment includes the famous phrase “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (v. 20).