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Sacrifices and the Levitical Law


SeattleGhostWriter

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Today, I have found myself pondering the following question:

When Lehi departed into the wilderness with his family, and they came and settled the New World, how were they able to keep the Levitical law when Lehi was not descended from Aaron? Particularly, how were they able to perform the necessary Day of Atonement Sacrifice?

1 Nephi 5:9 describes that when Nephi and his brothers returned from acquiring the plates of brass, that Lehi "...offered burnt offerings unto the Lord...".

I ask this because we do know that when the Law was given, those who were to officiate and administer in the actual ritual of sacrifice were the Sons of Levi and Aaron. Even the High Priest were to even have only one go into the Holy of Holies of the Lord to present the Day of Atonement Sacrifice.

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Zadokite/Mechizedek/Kingly Priesthood. Whatever you want to call it, that's the authority they operated under.

The first account in the BoM is Lehi's Ascent experience to the presence of God. In apocalyptic Temple tradition, this type of experience is usually associated with kingship and/or priesthood.

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Today, I have found myself pondering the following question:

When Lehi departed into the wilderness with his family, and they came and settled the New World, how were they able to keep the Levitical law when Lehi was not descended from Aaron? Particularly, how were they able to perform the necessary Day of Atonement Sacrifice?

1 Nephi 5:9 describes that when Nephi and his brothers returned from acquiring the plates of brass, that Lehi "...offered burnt offerings unto the Lord...".

I ask this because we do know that when the Law was given, those who were to officiate and administer in the actual ritual of sacrifice were the Sons of Levi and Aaron. Even the High Priest were to even have only one go into the Holy of Holies of the Lord to present the Day of Atonement Sacrifice.

Abraham offered "burnt offerings" unto the Lord too. There obviously was some authority to do so that preceded and was separate from the Levites. When the law was given to Moses, it was determined that the descendants of Levi would do these things and that is why the Levites were interspersed throughout all the tribes. However, there were no Levites among the Lehites and so it seems logical that they did the offerings with the authority that existed prior to this law. That makes more sense to me than to believe that they should not have done them at all. We need to remember that the Israelites were making offerings for hundreds of years before the temple was even built. At some point, they came to believe that offerings could only be made in conjunction with temple worship. To the Lehites, the knowledge of the Savior was revealed in quite a bit of detail so their perception of burn offerings would have been very different and they would have realized that these offerings were done as a symbol of God offering His only begotten son, not just out of obedience to a law that they didn't really understand. Also consider Job, Eliija, Gideon and Jethro.

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I ask this because we do know that when the Law was given, those who were to officiate and administer in the actual ritual of sacrifice were the Sons of Levi and Aaron. Even the High Priest were to even have only one go into the Holy of Holies of the Lord to present the Day of Atonement Sacrifice.
This isn't exactly the case. Most acts of sacrifice (at least early on) had no involvement of an official priesthood, and weren't even performed at the temple. Lehi's note that he left Jerusalem and went into the wilderness three days is an interesting indicator for this discussion.

Ben M.

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