Leviticus 17 is all about blood. And if blood gets an entire chapter devoted to it, you know it must be important.
To The Tabernacle!
f you slaughter an animal in any kind of sacrifice, go to the tabernacle.
Go directly to the Tabernacle. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.
If it wasn’t clear already, the Tabernacle is now officially the center of Israelite life and culture. Every sacrifice must end up there so the priests can perform the necessary procedure.
It would seem that the main reason is to make sure the sacrifice is for YHWH and not some other “goat-demon” out in the desert. Yes, that is what my Bible said. Goat-Demon.
(Interesting that on the day of atonement, the priest sends a goat out into the wilderness carrying the sins of the people. Apparently, they also believed that goat-demons lived out there as well.)
Israelites and Aliens
“If anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them eats any blood . . .”
This phrase, or something like it, is repeated five times in Leviticus 17.
The blood laws apply to the Israelites. That makes sense. But if you are a foreigner living among them, regardless of what you think of YHWH, you must obey them as well.
Here is a case where what you believe about God has nothing to do with how you are required to act. God doesn’t require the aliens to worship him, but he does require them to obey him in this area.
Cleanliness laws affect everyone because hygiene affects everyone. One person walking around with a skin disease can infect the whole population. So in that case, asking a foreigner to obey your laws makes perfect sense.
The blood laws seem to be more about worship and idolatry. So why require foreigners to follow them?
Blood = Life + Atonement
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement.”
“. . . It is the blood the makes atonement.”
Blood isn’t neutral.It has inherent meaning for YHWH and his people.
God has given life and atonement to his people. Both of those things are incredibly important and both of them come from blood.
Which means blood is not a thing to be taken lightly.