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Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics (Continental Commentary | CC)

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Values are what Leviticus is all about. They pervade every chapter and almost every verse. Underlying the rituals, careful readers will find an intricate web of values that purports to model how we should relate to God and to each other. Ritual is the poetry of religion that leads us to a moment of transcendence. When a ritual fails because it either lacks content, or is misleading, it loses its efficacy and purpose. A ritual must signify something beyond itself, whose attainment enhances the meaning and value of life. This is the achievement of Leviticus.

Building upon his life-long work on the book of Leviticus, Milgrom makes this book accessible to all readers. He demonstrates the logic of Israel's sacrificial system, the ethical dimensions of ancient worship, and the priestly forms of ritual.

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Top Highlights

“Thus the first principle: Blood is the ritual cleanser that purges the altar of impurities inflicted on it by the offerer.” (Page 31)

“R. Ishmael: ‘Generalizations were stated in Sinai, details were stated in the Tent of Meeting.’3 Indeed, a case can be mounted that all of the Torah’s codes are compilations of traditions comprising interpretations and applications of Mosaic principles.4 No wonder, then, that the rules stemming from different authors and at different times might vary from one another in form and content.” (Page 2)

“The sanctuary symbolized the presence of God; impurity represented the wrongdoing of persons. If persons unremittingly polluted the sanctuary, they forced God out of his sanctuary and out of their lives.” (Page 9)

“This graded impurity of the sanctuary and its purgation leads to the second principle: A sin committed anywhere will generate impurity that, becoming airborne, penetrates the sanctuary in proportion to its magnitude. Israel’s neighbors also believed that impurity polluted the sanctuary.” (Page 31)

“Instead of understanding the Torah’s ‘YHWH spoke to Moses’ as a claim that the laws that follow came from the mouth of Moses, we can understand the Torah as signaling that the principles underlying the laws are Mosaic principles, emanating from Moses himself.” (Page 3)

[This volume’s] clarity and accessibility make it a most valuable resource for anyone who wishes to engage with Jacob Milgrom’s important scholarly contributions.

—William K. Gilders, Emory University

  • Title: Continental Commentary Series: Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics
  • Author: Jacob Milgrom
  • Publisher: Fortress Press
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: 408

Jacob Milgrom is a scholar and professor emeritus in the field of Biblical Studies at the University of California. He is most known for his research on the book of Leviticus and the purity regulations of the Torah.

The Jewish Publication Society of America was founded in Philadelphia in 1888 to provide the children of Jewish immigrants to America with books about their heritage in the language of the New World. As the oldest publisher of Jewish titles in the English language, the mission of JPS is to enhance Jewish culture by promoting the dissemination of religious and secular works of exceptional quality, in the United States and abroad, to all individuals and institutions interested in past and contemporary Jewish life.

Over the years JPS has issued a body of works for all tastes and needs. Its many titles include biographies, histories, art books, holiday anthologies, books for young readers, religious and philosophical studies, and translations of scholarly and popular classics. It is perhaps known best for its famous JPS Tanakh, the translation of the Hebrew Bible in English from the original Hebrew.


12 ratings

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  1. Reuven Milles

    Reuven Milles


  2. Rick Johnson

    Rick Johnson


  3. Sean



    This is a condensation of the author's 3-volume Anchor Bible commentary, from a Jewish perspective but well versed in Christian thought and scholarship. It's a good intermediate commentary, not overly technical but also, as might be expected from any commentary on this difficult book, without a great deal of practical application. Still, it's a profitable read, though the author's contorted attempts to justify homosexuality as basically okay for most people in a commentary on LEVITICUS are sadly amusing.
  4. A. K. M. Adam

    A. K. M. Adam


  5. Ryan Smith

    Ryan Smith


  6. Lofi Digital Monk
  7. N/A



  8. Unix



  9. Ben Cordon

    Ben Cordon


  10. RichThay47




Digital list price: $28.99
Save $6.00 (20%)