“No longer will they offer sacrifices to the goat-demons, before whom they prostitute themselves! This is a permanent regulation for them through all their generations. Also tell them, ‘When someone from the community of Israel or one of the foreigners living with you offers a burnt offering or sacrifice without bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to Adonai, that person is to be cut off from his people.”-Leviticus 17:7-9
In verse 8 of Leviticus 17, there is an important point lost in translation if you’re not familiar with Hebrew.
Look at where it says “When someone from the community of Israel or one of the foreigners living with you offers a burnt offering or sacrifice“.
If we were to replace the English with the Hebrew, it would say the following:
When someone from the community of Israel or one of the foreigners living with you offers an OLAH or a ZEVAH“
OLAH is the Hebrew word for “Burnt Offering” and is the chief of all sacrifices which means that ALL of this sacrifice goes to God, it is COMPLETELY burned up, not even the priests receive any of the meat.
In addition, this is the most strictly required of all the sacrifices.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the ZEVAH.
In most cases, this sacrifices is purely voluntary, it can be offered up whenever the worshipper feels like it, and the worshipper gets to keep most of the meat.
So what’s being communicated here when the Lord says “from OLAH to ZEVAH” is a statement of all inclusiveness, like when we say “from A to Z”.
For example, “You’re going to be responsible for this project from A to Z?”, meaning you have to cover any and all duties connected with this project.
YHVH is making it crystal clear that the entire range of sacrifices from EVERY category must be done at the Tabernacle with no exceptions!
And I can’t help but point out it also says this is to apply to the community of Israel AND “the foreigners living with you”.
Next, in the previous verse 7, we’re presented with the following shocking statement:
“No longer will they offer sacrifices to the goat-demons”
Do you know what this tells us?
It tells us that during some point in their history, the Israelites were obviously doing this!
And I find it interesting that this command follows on the heels of the Scapegoat ritual we studied in the last chapter.
I do believe there is a link between AZAZEL to whom the scapegoat was sent and this verse here.
Recall that it was believed that AZAZEL and goat-demons inhabited the wilderness areas and possessed evil powers.
I do believe that such demons really do exist.
I don’t necessarily think they look like goats, but I would say they are spiritual powers and principalities that mainly dwelt in the barren wilderness regions.
The native Hebrews and the foreigners alike were sacrificing to these demons and the Lord said this HAD TO STOP, IMMEDIATELY!
Such actions were pure idolatry.
Again, understand that the scapegoat sent to AZAZEL was NOT a sacrificial offering to the “goat-demons”.
It was quite the opposite actually.
The scapegoat was loaded up with all the UNCLEANNESS and sins of Israel and returned back to the evil one and his domain.
The Lord was taking all of the evil Satan had brought to His people and throwing it back into his face.
This was an awesome demonstration of the Lord’s power over the kingdom of darkness.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“No, but the sacrifices of pagans
are offered to demons,
not to God,
and I do not want you
to be participants with demons.”
-1 Corinthians 10:20