Sacredness of Blood. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to Aaron and his sons, as well as to all the Israelites, and tell them: This is what the LORD has commanded: 3* Any Israelite who slaughters an ox or a sheep or a goat, whether in the camp or outside of it, 4without first bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD in front of the LORD’s tabernacle, shall be judged guilty of bloodshed* a—that individual has shed blood, and shall be cut offb from the people. 5This is so that such sacrifices as they used to offer in the open field the Israelites shall henceforth bring to the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the priest, and sacrifice them there as communion sacrifices to the LORD.c 6The priest will splash the blood on the altar of the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for an odor pleasing to the LORD. 7No longer shall they offer their sacrifices to the demons* with whom they prostituted themselves.d This shall be an everlasting statute for them and their descendants.
8Tell them, therefore: Anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice 9without bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it to the LORD, shall be cut off from the people. 10e As for anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, who consumes any blood, I will set myself against that individual and will cut that person off from among the people, 11since the life of the flesh is in the blood,f and I have given it to you to make atonement* on the altar for yourselves, because it is the blood as life that makes atonement. 12That is why I have told the Israelites: No one among you, not even a resident alien, may consume blood.
13Anyone hunting,* whether of the Israelites or of the aliens residing among them, who catches an animal or a bird that may be eaten, shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth,g 14since the life of all flesh is its blood. I have told the Israelites: You shall not consume the blood of any flesh. Since the life of all flesh is its blood, anyone who consumes it shall be cut off.
15Everyone, whether a native or an alien, who eats of an animal that died of itself or was killed by a wild beast, shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening, and then become clean.h 16If one does not wash his garments and bathe, that person shall bear the penalty.
* [17:3–4] Any animal slaughtered must be brought to the tent of meeting as an offering. This differs from Dt 12:15–28, which allows those living too far from the temple to slaughter an animal for food at home without offering it as a sacrifice.
* [17:4] Guilty of bloodshed: human beings and animals can incur blood guilt for killing human beings (cf. Gn 9:5–6); human beings can incur blood guilt for killing animals (see note on Lv 24:17–22).
* [17:7] Demons: for Hebrew śe‘îrîm, lit., “goats.” Like the demon Azazel (cf. 16:8, 10, 21–22), they dwell in the open country (17:5). Cf. Is 13:21; 34:14.
* [17:11] To make atonement: this is probably to be understood in the context of liability for shedding animal blood (cf. v. 4). Placing the blood on the altar exonerates the slaughterer from guilt for the killing. See note on 16:6.
* [17:13] Hunting: game animals are not permitted as offerings. One nonetheless has to treat the blood of these animals carefully by covering it with earth. Cf. Dt 12:16, 24.
d. [17:7] Ex 34:15; Dt 32:17; 2 Chr 11:15; 1 Cor 10:20.
e. [17:10–14] Lv 3:17; 7:26–27; Gn 9:4; Dt 12:16, 23–24.