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תּוֹרָה Torah ; Five Books of Moses; Pentateuch
  • Hebrew בְּרֵאשִׁית Bereshit "In the Beginning"; genesis
  • שְׁמוֹת Schemot "names"; Exodus
  • וַיִּקְרָא Wajikra “And he called”; Leviticus
  • בְּמִדְבַּר Bemidbar "In the desert"; Numbers
  • דְּבָרִים Devarim "words"; Deuteronomy
The 24 books of the Tanach ( T a N a K h )
T ora (instruction, teaching)
N evi'im (prophets)
K etuvim (writings)
Indented: the five megillots .
Order according to BHS ; may differ depending on the edition.
Old Testament books
History books


"Little" ( Book of the Twelve Prophets )

The 3rd book of Moses , Hebrew וַיִּקְרָא Wajikra , ancient Greek Λευιτικόν (Leuitikón) called Leviticon and also known as Leviticus or Leviticus , is the third book of the Jewish Tanakh as well as of the Christian “First Testament” or the “Hebrew Bible” ( Old Testament ), and thus the third book of the various Forms of the Biblical Canon . The book contains the teaching of the Kohanim (priests) and their duties.


The book, usually called 3rd Book of Moses or Leviticus in German, is called in Hebrew after the first words of the book Wajikra (And he cried, ויקרא). The naming after direct or most significant initial words is linked to their use as Parascha or Sidra (“week segment”) for reading the Torah (“instruction, teaching”) in the synagogue in Judaism .

In Greek and Latin it is called Leviticon or Leviticus ((το) Λευιτικόν (βιβλίον), " Levite Book"). The name Leviticus is misleading in that the book deals primarily with the Kohanim , i.e. H. the priests and their tasks, while the Levites are only mentioned in one place ( Lev 25,32-34  EU ).

The German name of 3rd Book of Moses goes back primarily to Martin Luther's translation of the Bible and follows the other traditional Jewish and ecclesiastical usage, which names Moses as the author.

The third book of Moses is originally written in the Hebrew language and is part of the Torah , which is also called Chumash in Hebrew , or in Greek as Pentateuch in the Christian context . In German one speaks of the "Five Books of Moses". They form the first part of the Tanach ( Jewish Bible ) and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. In the cheder , the traditional training for Jewish boys up to the age of 13, the study of the Torah began with reading the beginning of the 3rd book of Moses.


The 3rd book of Moses is designed as a history and worship book and has been divided into 27 chapters since the Middle Ages . It is largely about priestly worship in Judaism. In Christianity, the book is rarely studied and sometimes interpreted symbolically.

The 3rd book of Moses is closely related to the other four books of Moses, the Torah or the Pentateuch . In terms of time it is subordinate to the 2nd book of Moses . The content of the 4th book of Moses follows on from the 3rd book of Moses . The fifth book of Moses is a summary of the 2nd-4th in some respects. Book, but goes beyond that in his teachings.


The 3rd book of Moses itself does not name an author. The German name follows the Jewish and Christian tradition of an authorship of Moses , who sees the entire Pentateuch (the "Five Books of Mose") as written by Moses. Today this view is only held by Orthodox Jews and some Christians, especially among the Evangelicals .

The question of authorship is discussed in more detail in the article on the Pentateuch .

Important statements and topics

Here the find sacrificial laws , the introduction of the priestly ministry , purity regulations , the Day of Atonement ( Yom Kippur ) and laws for everyday life and worship of Judaism .

The traditional Jewish perspective understands the entire book as a dictation of God on Mount Sinai to Moses. In the Talmud , the book is given a prominent role because of its emphasis on worship.

Well-known people are Moses , Aaron and his sons.

Content summary

Rough outline with emphasis on important points

Offerings (Chapters 1-7)

The book begins with regulations on the offering of various offerings (burnt offerings, food offerings, meal offerings, atonement, reparation offerings) which are carried out by the priests, Aaron and his descendants. The duties of the priests are also described. In the Hebrew original, the various types of sacrifice each have their own names, so they are not each called "... sacrifice". This is very difficult to reproduce when translating into modern languages, as our culture no longer knows such actions and the corresponding rich technical language.

Aaron's ordination (chapters 8-10)

With the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests, the priesthood of the Israelites is established. Nadab and Abihu , Aaron's two sons, commit a serious violation of the sacrifice rules and are killed by God.

Ritual Purity Laws (Chapters 11-15)

Regulations on the consumption of permitted animal species are given. This is followed by information about the ritual purity of people in different situations ( birth , menstruation , sexual intercourse , illness ).

Dealing with lepers is discussed in detail in Chapters 13 and 14. Even if the text does not explicitly state which disease (with Hebrew Zaraath / Ṣaarʿat "precipitation, rash", from zara'a "[be struck by God], become leper" - translated with leprosy in the Vulgate by Hieronymus - that German word "leprosy" is available as uzsatz only since the 13th century) is meant - the description could refer to different diseases with skin symptoms , may due to the ubiquity of - refer leprosy be at that time and the usual treatment of the lepers assumed that the rules also apply to dealing with lepers:

“And if the priest sees the area on the skin that the hair has turned white and the area is deeper than the rest of the skin, it is a leper area. If the priest sees this in him, he should speak to him unclean ... Now whoever is a leper should shout: 'Unclean! Unclean!' And as long as the leprosy is on him, he should be unclean, live alone and be his home outside the camp. "

The following statements explain exactly how the priest should observe the further course of the disease and assess which actions should be taken.

The New Testament tells that Jesus Christ healed a leper and sent him to the temple for a priest to perform the ritual of his re-entry into society.

Yom Kippur (Chapter 16)

The annual festival for the forgiveness of sins for all Israelites is instituted. The expulsion of the scapegoat is the origin of the Jewish Day of Atonement .

Law of Holiness (Chapters 17-26)

The sacred way of life is first achieved through the right use of the blood of food and sacrificial animals. This is fundamental because according to Jewish teaching, the blood is the soul ( Lev 17  EU ).

A second set of rules concerns marriage bans between relatives and regulations on sexual behavior . Incest ( Lev 18.6–18  EU ), sexual intercourse during the female rule , sexual intercourse between male participants ( Lev 18.22  EU ) and sexual intercourse between humans and animals ( Lev 18.23  EU ) are strictly prohibited. Penalties for breaking these rules are specified in Chapter 20 (usually the death penalty) ( Lev 20  EU ).

In chapter 19 it says with regard to social behavior and charity in line with the Ten Commandments, for example: Everyone should fear mother and father and respect the Sabbath ( Lev 19.3  EU ). One should get up in front of “gray hair” and honor the reputation of an old man ( Lev 19.32  EU ).

One should not steal, deceive and deceive one another ( Lev 19.11  EU ). This also applies in court and when using measuring devices and measuring methods ( Lev 19.13  EU ), ( Lev 19.36  EU ). In the case law one should not do injustice ( Lev 19,15  EU ), not slander fellow tribesmen and not demand the life of one's neighbor ( Lev 19,16  EU ). One should not hate one's neighbor ( Lev 19,17  EU ), not exploit him ( Lev 19,13  EU ), hold nothing against him or take revenge, but rather: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" ( Lev 19,18  EU ) - also foreigners, who by the way have to be treated like locals ( Lev 19.34  EU ) and may not be oppressed ( Lev 19.33  EU ). One should not curse the deaf and one should not put an obstacle in the way of a blind person ( Lev 19,14  EU ).

Chapter 19 also lists regulations on agriculture and animal husbandry that have an impact on Jewish dietary laws : Fields should not be harvested to the very edge and should not be looked up ( Lev 19.9  EU ). No gleanings should be carried out in the vineyard either, fallen berries should not be collected ( Lev 19.9  EU ). The fruits of fruit trees may only be consumed in the fifth year ( Lev 19.25  EU ). The prohibition to mix different things stems from the demand that animals of different kinds do not mate, fields are not sown with two kinds of species, but also that clothes may only consist of one type of yarn ( Lev 19.19  EU ).

Regulations on sexuality can also be found in chapter 19: If a woman, who is destined to be a concubine for a man as a slave, has sexual intercourse with another man, she must be punished, but - unlike free people - not with death ( Lev 19:20  EU ). The own daughter must not be exposed to fornication ( Lev 19.29  EU ).

Foreign cults are forbidden. So you are not allowed to eat anything bloody, neither practice nor seek fortune-telling or magic. The head hair must not be cut off all around, the beard not trimmed ( Lev 19,26–31  EU ).

Special rules apply to the behavior of priests, both in everyday life ( Lev 21  EU ) and in their religious role ( Lev 22  EU ) as well as for their daughters. The father's priesthood leads to the death penalty by cremation for any woman who works as a prostitute. ( Lev 21.9  EU ) There are also special religious holidays : The Sabbath as the last (seventh) day of each week, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles ( Lev 23  EU ). This is followed by regulations on the temple rite and punitive measures ( Lev 24  EU ) - from this also the determination of the death penalty by stoning for blasphemy , the implementation of which is described in one case ( Lev 24.16  EU ). The phrase " An eye for an eye , a tooth for a tooth" ( Lev 24.20  EU ) - as well as provisions on the sabbatical year , the jubilee year and the possibility of slavery ( Lev 25  EU ) can also be found in this book. A final promise and cursing of God ( Lev 26  EU ) - later often the basis for criminal sermons, hence the expression "read the riot act to someone" - is followed by a subsequent chapter on the provisions of the vows ( Lev 27  EU ).

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Stefan Winkle : Cultural history of epidemics. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf / Zurich 1997; Licensed edition for Komet, Frechen, ISBN 3-933366-54-2 , pp. 4–7, 15–17 and 21 f.
  2. Hanna Liss , Tanach. Jewish Bible textbook. 3rd, unchanged edition (Heidelberg 2011), p. 120; see. Wilhelm Gesenius, Hebrew and Aramaic concise dictionary on the Old Testament. 18th edition (Berlin - Heidelberg 2013) 302 sv זָכָר; Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint. Third Corrected Edition (Stuttgart 2015) 84 sv ἄρσην, ἄρσηνος / ἄρρην, ἄρρηνος.