The Sacrificial Offerings of Leviticus chapters 1-7
This information on the five sacrificial offerings in Leviticus would be better presented in table format but the problem if I did this would be that the actual text would have to be too small for me to be able to fit all the teaching under the appropriate headings.
Therefore, it’s easier I consign the next points to headers.
Names of the Offerings
Burnt Offering - referred to as BO
Cereal Offering - referred to as CO
Peace Offering - referred to as PO
Sin Offering - referred to as SO
Guilt Offering - referred to as GO
Laws for the Offerer
BO - Leviticus chapter 1
CO - Leviticus chapter 2
PO - Leviticus chapter 3 and 7:19-30
SO - Leviticus chapter 4 and 5:1-13 (assumed)
GO - Lev 5:14-6:7
I’ve labelled v.1-13 of chapter 5 as assumed as these, though referred to with various labels, don’t carry with them any restitution within the commands which mark the GO as distinct from the SO. They also deal with more than one offering in their text. But it seems best to take the verses as instructions concerning the SO as noted above on the relevant web page.
Laws for the Priests
BO - Lev 6:8-13
CO - Lev 6:14-23
PO - Lev 7:11-27,31-36
SO - Lev 6:24-30
GO - Lev 7:1-10
Translation of the Hebrew Name
The letter S represents the Strongs Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew number while M represents the number assigned to the word in Harris, Archer and Waltke’s Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
BO - S5930, M1624c and M1624d - ‘Ascent’
CO - S4503, M1214a - ‘Gift, Tribute, Present'
PO - S8002, M2401b - There are various possibilities here, none of which are certain and the following possibilities are not an exhaustive list. Either
i. From ‘shalom’ thereby denoting ‘peace’. The blessing of wholeness, prosperity and the status of being at peace with God,
ii. ‘Communion’ (hence NIV’s ‘Fellowship’ offering). An offering in which there’s a sharing of the sacrificial animal and the resultant fellowship around a meal, or,
iii. ‘Conclusion’. A concluding sacrifice from the form of a word that means ‘to complete’.
SO - S2403, M638e - Probably from a word meaning to ‘miss the mark’ or to ‘miss the way’.
GO - S817, M180b - Guilt, guiltiness.
What was its purpose?
BO - Atonement (1:4). To be accepted before the Lord (1:3). The offering had the effect of removing and nullifying the effects of sin and averting God’s wrath from the offerer. In short, it restored the relationship of the offerer with God (see the notes under the heading ‘Chapter 1 (Burnt Offering) pages 49-62’)
CO - No atonement (no shedding of blood). The offering of a gift to God (by translation of the Hebrew name) as a result of the inner moving of a worshipper’s heart. It may have had overtones of acknowledging God as sovereign in the cultural setting of a tribute payable by a vassal to a greater king than himself.
PO - No atonement. There are three reasons given for its offering - thanksgiving to God (7:12), a vow to God (7:16) or a freewill offering to God (7:16). All three were offerings that the offerer was under no obligation to make and therefore represent a gift presented to God but with the renewal and reminder of the covenant made with the nation present in the participation of part of the sacrifice at its conclusion (see Exodus 24:1-11 as the parallel).
SO - Atonement (blood shed, forgiveness secured). To atone for the unwitting sins of individuals (for example, 4:2) or of the nation (4:13). No restitution was necessary because of the nature of the sin.
GO - Atonement (blood shed, forgiveness secured). To atone for the unwitting sins in which restitution is required or when a sin (inadvertent or deliberate) can be assessed in monetary terms.
The difference is not immediately obvious between the last two, especially as, noted above, the offerings of 5:1-13 mention cases where the GO and SO seem to be one and the same (5:6), where the GO seems to be divided up into a SO and a BO (5:7) and, even more confusing, the GO (as interpreted by some commentators) becomes a SO comprised of flour which makes atonement even when there’s no blood shed (5:11-13)!! See here for a possible explanation of this problem.
What was the offering?
Notice that each offering must always represent a cost to the offerer.
BO - Either
i. A male without blemish from the herd (1:3),
ii. A male without blemish from the sheep or goats (1:10), or,
iii. A pair of turtledoves or young pigeons (1:14)
CO - Where the offering was a cooked product (the first four of the five options), no leaven or honey was to be used (2:11-12) and in all five cases, salt must be used (2:13). Oil had to be used either in the cooked cereal, on it, or both - and frankincense was necessary to be used on two of the five specific types. The offerings were either
i. Fine flour (2:1),
ii. An offering baked in the oven (2:4),
iii. An offering cooked on the griddle (2:5),
iv. An offering cooked in a pan (2:7), or,
v. If a first fruit, crushed new grain from fresh ears, parched with fire (2:14)
PO - Either
i. A male or female animal from the herd without blemish (3:1),
ii. A male or female from the flock without blemish (3:6), or,
iii. A goat (3:12)
If the PO was for ‘thanksgiving’, both unleavened cakes and wafers (7:12) and leavened cakes (7:13) had to be included, but forms of agricultural produce are not specified for a PO that was either a vow or a freewill offering.
SO - The offering depended upon what type of person committed the sin. Either this represented the finance available to the offender or it spoke of the increasing responsibility not to sin of individuals who have been given more to have jurisdiction over. The offerings were either
i. For the anointed priest - A young bull without blemish (4:3),
ii. For the whole congregation - A young bull (4:13-14),
iii. For a ruler - A male goat without blemish (4:22-23), or,
iv. For anyone of the common people - A female goat without blemish (4:27-28) or a female lamb without blemish (4:32).
v. For specific transgressions (5:1-5) - a female lamb or goat (5:6), two turtle-doves (5:7) or a cereal offering (5:11).
GO - A ram without blemish assessed with a monetary value according to the Sanctuary (5:14, 5:18, 6:6).
Restitution also needed to be made at a cost of 120% of the original value where the offence could be assessed in monetary terms (5:16, 6:5).
Duties of the Offerer
BO - i. He brings the offering to the door of the tent of meeting
ii. He lays his hand on the head of his offering (association/transference) - though not if his offering is birds (the practicalities outweigh the symbolism!!).
iii. He kills the offering himself - if from the flock, on the north side of the altar (1:11). If birds, the priest kills them (1:15).
iv. If the sacrifice is an animal from the herd, he flays it.
v. He cuts the carcass into pieces but the birds are ripped apart.
CO - i. He prepares the offering.
ii. He takes a handful of the offering and gives it to the priest.
PO - i. He lays his hand upon the head of the animal. Like the BO, the offering is to be brought by the offerer to the tent of meeting (the Tabernacle).
ii. He kills the animal at the door of the tent of meeting.
iii. He removes the required parts of the animal (yuck) to be offered on the altar by the priest and the parts to be waved (7:30).
iv. He participates in the sacrifice (but the participant must make sure that he’s ceremonially clean before he eats of the sacrifice - 7:19-21). For a thanksgiving offering, the flesh of the sacrifice was to be eaten the same day (7:15) but for a votive or freewill offering, the flesh is to be eaten on the same day or the day after, but what remains on the third day is to be burnt with fire (7:16-18). It appears that the remainder of the cakes after the Lord had had His portion were also to be eaten but this is not stated in the legislation.
SO - i. He brings the offering to the door of the tent of meeting.
ii. He lays his hand on the head of the animal.
iii. He kills the animal.
iv. He takes some of the blood to the officiating priest.
GO - i. He brings to the priest the animal of the guilt offering (the procedure was probably the same as that of the SO - Cp 7:7).
ii. Restitution must be made, either to the priest (5:16) or to the one that the offerer has wronged (6:5).
Duties of the Priest
BO - i. He presented the blood.
ii. He threw the blood around the altar of burnt offering (the bird’s blood was drained out on the side of the altar - 1:15)
iii. He laid the pieces of the offering on the altar (entrails and legs were to be first washed with water - 1:9,13).
iv. He offered the sacrifice whole (except the crop and feathers of the bird which were cast on the east side of the altar - 1:16. The priest also had to slay the bird - 1:15).
v. He was to carry the ashes outside the camp.
vi. He was to ensure that the fire was to be kept continually burning on the altar.
CO - He was to burn a handful of the offering as a memorial (a reminder) upon the altar if the offering was of fine flour or part of the offering if it was already cooked.
PO - i. He was to throw the blood round about the altar of burnt offering.
ii. He was to burn the specific parts of the animal on the altar. If it was from the herd or a goat, that meant the fat that both covered and that was on the entrails, the two kidneys and fat on them at the loins and the appendage of the liver that came away with the kidneys. If it was from the flock, the same had to be offered but with the addition of the fat tail (3:9).
iii. He waved the fat with the breast before the Lord (7:30).
SO - i. He was to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of it seven times in front of the veil of the sanctuary and smear the blood on the altar of burnt incense but, if the offering was for the sin of a ruler or the common people, this was not done.
ii. He applied the blood to the horns of the burnt offering if the offering was neither for the anointed priest nor for the nation. The priests made atonement for the offerer (the forgiveness of sins is secured - 4:20, 4:26, 4:31, 4:35).
iii. The remaining blood, he poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering.
iv. The fat (as in the PO) he burnt on the altar.
v. All the other parts of the animal he carried outside the camp and burnt on wood, at the place where the ashes are poured out (4:12 - the ashes from the sacrifices of the offerings on the altar?). It talks of the priest carrying the bull outside the camp but surely there must have been some priests who gave him a helping hand?!!!
GO - The priests make atonement for the offerer. The same procedure is probably followed as that of the SO (Cp 7:7).
Portion for the Priest
BO - The skin of the animal
CO - i. Fine flour - what’s left after the handful of fine flour is burnt is for Aaron and his sons (2:3, 7:10). It was to be eaten unleavened in the court of the tent of meeting (6:16-18)
ii. Cooked offering - They were to be eaten by the officiating priest (7:9 but Cp 2:10) after a memorial portion was offered to God on the altar.
PO - i. The unleavened and leavened cakes that are God’s portion for the thanksgiving offering are for the officiating priest (7:13-14).
ii. The breast that’s waved is for Aaron and his sons (7:31).
iii. The right thigh is given to the officiating priest (7:32-33).
SO - If the blood is sprinkled in the Holy Place, the flesh is not to be eaten but burnt (6:30). Otherwise, it’s to be eaten by the officiating priest and the males of his family in the court of the tent of meeting (6:24-29).
It was to be boiled (6:28) - if in an earthen vessel, the vessel was to be smashed after use; if in a bronze vessel, it was to be scoured.
GO - See the SO (7:7).
Differentiating Characteristics (not a comprehensive guide)
BO - The sacrifice was offered whole on the altar (though the skin was the priest’s portion)
CO - i. Bloodless (not an animal offering)
ii. Salt and oil had to be used.
iii. No leaven or honey was to be used.
PO - i. Part of the offering was waved before the Lord.
ii. The offerer participated in the offering.
SO - i. The type of offering depended upon the person who committed the sin.
ii. There was forgiveness (Lev 4:20,26,31,35 - but see Heb 10:4 and the explanation offered in the notes here).
GO - Restitution was necessary when the offence could be assessed in monetary terms.
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