Leviticus 17:11 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(11) For the life of the flesh is in the blood.—Better, for the soul of the flesh is in the blood. The word here rendered “life” in the Authorised Version occurs twice more in this very verse, and is in both instances properly translated soul. Though it is immaterial whether the word in question is translated life or soul, it is essential that it should be rendered uniformly throughout the passage. By translating it differently in the first clause, the Authorised Version has unnecessarily increased the difficulty of the verse. This clause assigns the reason why blood must not be eaten. It is the principle of vitality, it constitutes the soul of animal life. Hence blood and life are used interchangeably in the Scriptures. Thus, when the Psalmist exclaims, “what profit is there in my blood” (Psa. 30:9), he uses it for life.
I have given it to you upon the altar.—For the sake of emphasis, the words in the original denoting “upon the altar” are placed first in the Hebrew, and the Authorised Version follows this order. It is however better to translate this clause, For I have ordained it upon the altar to make atonement for your souls. Because it is the principle of life, therefore God has ordained it to be offered upon the altar as an expiation for the offerer’s life.
For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.—Better, for it is the blood that maketh atonement by means of the soul. As the blood of the victim is identical with its life, and represents the soul of the animal, hence God has appointed it as a substitute for the sinner’s life. Thus the life of the sacrifice atones for the life of the offerer. Hence the remark of the Apostle, “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).
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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Charles John Ellicott (1819 - 1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol.
His works include:
- An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1897. (Editor)
- A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.