Introduction to Part 1 pages 41-48
North’s insistence that the fivefold covenant structure outlined in the preface applies to the fivefold sacrificial offerings seriously lets his exposition down here. To give just two examples, he states (page 46) that
‘...the peace (well-being) offering, dealt with boundaries: how covenant-keeping man can lawfully cross the boundaries and come into God’s presence in a shared meal’
Of course, by expecting to see a boundary, he observes what he expects to see. He seems almost blind to the possibility that the burnt offering can equally well be interpreted as demonstrating how sin’s boundary may be crossed through sacrifice (1:3) or how the boundary of not being able to give God anything because He owns everything is overcome through the cereal/grain offering (2:1ff - where the Hebrew name by translation means ‘gift’).
North is simply observing what he expects to see and this comes out even more forcibly where we read (page 47)
‘...there was the trespass or guilt offering. The priest kept the skin of the animal (Lev 7:9). Animal skins were also God’s gift to Adam and Eve just before they were cast out of the garden (Gen 3:21). These skins were the coverings that would preserve them: a testimony to God’s grace to them by providing a future’
The hide is here interpreted as giving Israel a ‘future’, a continuance of the covenantal agreement. Just a page before, the hides stand for something totally different because that’s what North needs them to stand for there when referring to the burnt offering. As he writes
‘The hide, like the hides in which God wrapped Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21), testified to God’s presence with them in history’
But what is more significant is that North is quite wrong to assert that the priest kept the animal skin of the sacrifice that was presented for the guilt offering. His proof text quoted above (Lev 7:9) reads
‘And every cereal offering baked in the oven and all that is prepared on a pan or a griddle shall belong to the priest who offers it’
which speaks only of the cereal offering (oops!). Perhaps he meant Lev 7:7 which reads (my italics) that
‘The guilt offering is like the sin offering, there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it’
The guilt offering is like the sin offering in that the priest ‘...shall have it’. This refers us back to Lev 6:24-29 where it tells us that the priests’ portion is that of consumption of the boiled flesh once the fat has been offered to God on the altar and provided that the blood had not been sprinkled within the Holy Place (Lev 6:30).
Even though the hide was not given to the priest (as far as I can see), North sees this dubious fact as proving his allusion to the fifth point of his covenant structure.
Moreover, he is quite able to see his fivefold covenant structure proven within the sacrifice listing because he is looking for evidence to show that it exists. The reality is that all the offerings can be made to demonstrate the boundary aspects (point 3 of the covenant structure) because that’s what each of them are. Similarly, the ‘continuance of the covenant’ (point 5 of the covenant structure) is true for each of the offerings as they maintain and sustain the future validity of the inheritance and can be made to speak of God’s ‘transcendence’ and ‘sovereignty’ (point 1 of the covenant structure) through seeing a testimony (page 46)
‘...to God’s presence with them in history’
One other point. The priestly instructions (6:8-7:36) which follow the offerer’s instructions (1:1-6:7) place the offerings in a different order than North needs to be able to carry his fivefold covenant structure thesis, the peace offering being relegated to fifth position with the sin and guilt offerings being shuffled up the line one.
Need I really go on?
Whatever North expects to see, he sees. He even sees what he wants to see when his exposition is based on a misunderstanding of what the characteristic of an offering is about. All this shows us is not that the fivefold covenant structure is contained within the five levitical offerings in a perfect order and, therefore, with a perfect design and intention but that the fivefold covenant structure can be made to be seen within the sacrificial instructions.
Leviticus Home Page
Old Doctrines Home Page