The Hebrew Scriptures use the word most frequently with reference to the livers of animals prepared by the Israelites for sacrifice. (Ex. 29:13, 22; Lev. 3:4, 10, 15; 4:9) It was “the appendage upon the liver” that was made to smoke on the altar. The work Commentaries on the Old Testament, by Keil and Delitzsch, “Pentateuch,” Volume II, page 300, describes this portion of the liver as “the liver-net, or stomach-net, . . . which commences at the division between the right and left lobes of the liver, and stretches on the one side across the stomach, and on the other side to the region of the kidneys. . . . This smaller net is delicate, but not so fat as the larger net; though it still forms part of the fat portions.” It is defined in Pentateuch with Rashi’s Commentary, “Leviticus,” page 9, as “the protecting wall (membrane) over the liver.”
King Solomon’s account of the inexperienced youth who succumbs to the enticement of the immoral woman concludes: “All of a sudden he is going after her, . . . until an arrow cleaves open his liver, . . . and he has not known that it involves his very soul.” (Prov. 7:21-23) This is a very appropriate description, for medical doctors have found that the tiny corkscrewlike organisms associated with the crippling, death-dealing venereal disease called syphilis are frequently detected in great numbers in the liver cells (although also found in other tissues). This is true especially in the more advanced stages of the disease. Similarly, the organism (gonococcus) responsible for gonorrhea, another venereal disease, gets into the lining membrane of the liver. The liver’s vital role to life is recognized in figurative use in depicting profound sorrow.—Lam. 2:11.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, when looking for guidance as to his military maneuvers, “looked into the liver” as a form of divination.—Ezek. 21:21; see DIVINATION.