Leviticus, the third book in the Bible, is named after the Levites, the tribe charged with priestly service in the Tabernacle. This title originates from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, using the term "Levitikon," meaning "pertaining to the Levites." The original Hebrew title, "Vayikra," comes from the book's opening phrase "And He called," referring to God's call to Moses.
The author of Leviticus is traditionally considered to be Moses, and it was likely written between 1440 and 1400 B.C., during the Israelites' Exodus journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was written for the Israelite community, particularly the priests and Levites, but also for all who wished to understand the expectations and guidelines for worship and life in their newly forming nation.
Leviticus is filled with complex ritual laws, moral codes, and guidelines for religious ceremonies, detailing how Israel should conduct themselves as God's chosen people. It emphasizes the absolute holiness of God and the need for His people to reflect that holiness in every aspect of their lives.
Leviticus is often interpreted typologically, with its various sacrifices and rituals pointing towards the redemptive work of Christ. From an eschatological perspective, the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in Leviticus 16 prefigures Christ's ultimate atoning work on the cross, and the Jubilee year in Leviticus 25 anticipates the final redemption and restoration of all things (Luke 4:16-21, Hebrews 9:11-14).
The hope that Leviticus brings is twofold. Firstly, it shows that God is not distant or detached but desires to dwell among His people (Leviticus 26:11-12). Secondly, it provides hope in the sacrificial system, which, although insufficient in itself, points towards the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In this, it paves the way for understanding the grace, forgiveness, and direct relationship with God available through the New Covenant, established by Christ's death and resurrection.