When someone from the community of Israel or one of the foreigners living with you hunts and catches game, whether animal or bird that may be eaten, he is to pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature — its blood is its life. Therefore I said to the people of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it will be cut off.-Leviticus 17:13-14
From verse 13, we are dealing with a new type of instruction talking about the killing of wild or non-domestic animals that are okay for food.
This is entirely different than the first twelve verses of Leviticus 17 which focused on domestic CLEAN animals that had to be slaughtered at the Tabernacle.
The idea being brought forth here is that when man goes hunting after wild animals like deer, antelope and birds, etcetera, he doesn’t have to somehow drive his prey towards the sanctuary and kill them there (pretty darn difficult to do with wild animals I would think).
Nevertheless the prohibition against drinking the animal’s blood stands!
The Lord’s blood provisions apply to ALL meat whether domestic or feral.
Since the blood of a wild animal is not suitable for sacrifice, its blood must be drained and returned to the dust of the ground which is how it is returned to God.
Remember, life is in the blood!
Thus it must be used for God’s purposes or disposed of.
Man does NOT exercise any prerogative on this matter.
The consequences for misusing the blood of a wild animal are the same as for domestic animals: the perpetrator is to be KARET or cut-off.
Let’s move on to the last verses of this chapter.
“Anyone eating an animal that dies naturally or is torn to death by wild animals, whether he is a citizen or a foreigner, is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening; then he will be clean. But if he doesn’t wash them or bathe his body, he will bear the consequences of his wrongdoing.”-Leviticus 17:15-16
These verses are dealing with a situation these ragtag Israelite wanderers must have encountered often in the wilderness and even after they entered the Promised Land.
What is one to do if one comes across the corpse of a wild animal that died naturally or was killed by another animal?
In those days, meat was an expensive and rare commodity, so they weren’t going to let such a valuable find go to waste.
Interestingly, the Lord doesn’t prohibit the person from eating the dead (and clean) wild animal.
Yet if he does, that person will be UNCLEAN until sundown and in order to restore purity, the person will have to take a ritual bath and wash his clothes.
If this is done, all is well.
But if he doesn’t, were told “he will bear his guilt”.
Let’s explore the meaning of this phrase a little bit because it appears quite often in the Scriptures.
Here’s the deal.
If a person chooses to eat the meat of an animal that has expired due to natural causes, slaughter by another animal, or accidental death like falling off of a steep cliff, the person has NOT sinned; he has NOT transgressed against the Lord.
However, although the Lord allows it, there is a mild repercussion for eating such meat.
And that mild repercussion is that the person in question becomes UNCLEAN for a few hours.
He becomes ritually impure until sundown and has to take a bath and wash his garments.
Again, there is no sin being committed against God here.
The Lord isn’t even implying that He would rather you not eat the meat or that it’s best not to eat the meat if it can be avoided.
All He’s saying is that if you do eat the meat, there are conditions attached.
Here again, we come across another good example of when becoming UNCLEAN and sinning are NOT connected.
It’s the same as a woman on her monthly cycle.
The person becomes UNCLEAN for a short period of time, but hasn’t committed a sin.
So if you follow God’s conditions on the matter, there isn’t a problem.
BUT, if you do eat the meat and do NOT follow the proper purification procedures, now we have a problem.
In that case, by not following the proper purification procedures, you HAVE committed a transgression against the Almighty and there will be consequences to pay.
This is what to “bear one’s guilt” means.
It’s referring to the failure to follow the Lord’s ordained purification procedures after eating the meat and as a result there will be judgement and may be a punishment of some sort.
The exact nature, time and place of the punishment will be at the Lord’s discretion.
In addition, since you now “bear the guilt” for not properly following the purification procedures, you will have to offer an atoning sacrifice.
This is something that would not have been required had you properly followed the Lord’s purity procedures in the first place.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN LEVITICUS CHAPTER 18