Lesson 2 of 4
In Progress

Background of Leviticus

Set in the time of Moses, as the Israelites are camped at Mount Sinai, the book of Leviticus purports to be written for the people of Israel on the verge of their wilderness wanderings. It is to be a guide for them during their time in the wilderness, and when they enter the promised land (“When you come into the land…” 19:23). While many of the traditions Leviticus describes are undoubtedly ancient, scholarly consensus places the date of its final editing in the Babylonian exile or soon after (late sixth to early fifth century B.C.E.). If this consensus is correct, the final editors of Leviticus drew on ancient traditions in order to provide a much needed theological foundation for their community. The priestly vision in Leviticus of a structured, ordered world and the promise of an enduring covenant (26:44-45) would have served as a powerful sustaining theology for a people caught up in the chaos of exile as well as for a people trying to rebuild a life in the land of promise.