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Leviticus

Name: Leviticus is the third book of the English Bible and it’s base Hebrew text corresponds to the third book of Torah called Vayikra וַיִּקְרָא . The first appearance of this Hebrew word is in Genesis 1.5. Vayikra can be spelled four different ways; (1) Vayikra (2) Va Yikra (3) Va-yika (4) Wayyiqra.

The first time “Leviticus” is used to refer to this text was by the seventy-two Jewish translators of the Greek Septuagint (LXX). Later Jerome, using the Septuagint, used this name in his Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale depended heavily upon the Latin Vulgate and Luther’s German translations; so continued the tradition of calling this text “Leviticus”. Vayikra is translated as “and called“.

The Rabbis refer to the third book of Torah as “Vayikra” וַיִּקְרָא because it is the first word in the text. The oldest name for this book is תורת כהנים The Law of the Priests1.

Notes:

  1. ‘Pentateuch & Haftorahs Hebrew Text English Translation & Commentary”, Dr. JH Hertz, Editor. London. Soncino Press. 1994, PG. 409