Don Isaac Abravanel, sometimes spelled Abarbanel (1437-1508) was a seminal Jewish thinker, penetrating scholar, and prolific Biblical
commentator. His lengthy introduction to Leviticus provides Bible students an excellent and thorough
overview of one of the Bible’s least understood and appreciated subjects: animal sacrifice. See
Abravanel’s World for the discourse in its entirety.

“And God called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the Tent of the
Meeting saying, speak unto the Children of Israel, and say unto them:
When any man of you brings an offering unto God, you shall bring your
offering of the cattle, even of the herd.”

Here we bring Abravanel’s opening remarks on that discussion, one that begins by showing how the
Book of Leviticus transitions easily from the books of Genesis and Exodus.

Genesis details the creation of the world – from nothing. Ensuing chapters chronicle early man’s
begetting and begetting and begetting. The narratives of the three patriarchs cover most of Genesis,
concluding with Jacob and family leaving famine-ridden Canaan for verdant Egypt.

Exodus records the Egyptian exile, marked by Jewish misery and enslavement. Divine redemption
studded with miracles broke the Hebrews’ bondage, Moses and Aaron leading the way. More wonders
met the Jews at the Red Sea, and along their desert trek. Then came Sinai, where each person
experienced prophecy. Directly from the Creator, they heard divine commandments.

Alas, trouble arrived. Hebrews built and prostrated themselves to a molten calf. Exodus also describes
how catharsis healed their egregious sin. The Maker issued instruction to build for Him a Tabernacle, a
sanctuary for His Shechinah. Subsequently, divine providence attached itself to the Chosen People. This
became evident to the encampment on the day when the Tabernacle had been erected (and thereafter),
as per the closing two verses in Exodus: “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of
God filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud
abode thereon, and the glory of God filled the Tabernacle.”

This, Abravanel says, sets the scene for the Torah’s third book, the Book of Leviticus. It pertains to the
service in the Tabernacle. Central to that holy service is animal sacrifice, performed by the priests for the
express purpose of aiding the Hebrews realign their religious priorities, and atone for transgression. In a
nutshell, we have laid out the opening remarks of Abravanel’s very lengthy prologue to Leviticus.