More to-dos about sacrifices
A sampling of sins1The LORD told Moses: 2I’m going to give you some examples of how a person might commit a sin against the LORD. You might cheat someone out of a security deposit or steal something someone entrusted you to protect. You might rob or extort someone. 3You might find something that someone lost, and then lie about it. You might lie under oath during a trial, inquiry, or a similar situation.
4If you’ve done any of this, you’re guilty. You have to make it right. Return what you stole or extorted. Give back the security deposit you withheld or whatever was entrusted to you that you kept. Return any lost property you found to its owner.
5If you lied and someone took a loss because of it, pay the full value of their loss. In any of these situations, make full restitution, and then give the people you hurt 20 percent on top of it. Do this before you take a guilt offering  to the worship center. 6Only then should you bring your guilt offering to the priest. Your offering should be a male goat—a ram from your flock. It shouldn’t have anything wrong with it as far as you can tell. 7Then the priest will present the offering to the LORD. That atones for your sin. You’ll be forgiven.
PS on burnt offerings8Next, the LORD told Moses: 9I want you to tell Aaron about these laws he needs to enforce about burnt offerings. When he burns the animal, he needs to keep it on the fire all night. And he needs to keep the fire burning until morning. 10Then in the morning one of the priests should wear his formal priestly clothing—from his underwear to his linen robe. Then he should go to the altar and remove the ashes of the burnt offering. He should put them on the ground beside the altar.
11Then he should change into his less formal clothing, shovel up the ashes, and carry them to a ritually clean site outside the camp, to the designated ash heap for sacrificed animals. 12Don’t let the fire go out on the altar. Put wood on it every morning. Then add your burnt offerings, followed by any peace offerings. 13Keep the fire on the altar burning all the time. Day and night.
PS on grain offerings14When it comes to grain offerings, one of Aaron’s sons should stand in front of the altar and present it to the LORD.
15If the grain comes in the form of fine flour, mixed with olive oil and incense, one priest should take a handful of the flour and burn it on the altar. It will go up in smoke as a sweet smell to the LORD. 16The rest of the flour goes to Aaron and his sons to share equally. Here’s what they should do with it. Bake the flour into yeast-free biscuits, and eat them in a sacred space: in the courtyard of the tent worship center.
17I’ll say it again: no yeast. This food is my gift to the priests. I’m letting them share in this offering. It’s a sacred offering, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18Any of Aaron’s male descendants throughout the generations ahead are allowed to eat from this offering. The parts of any sacrifices that go to the priests are sacred. Only people fully devoted to the LORD can touch these servings, which are reserved for the priests.
A priest’s offering when becoming a priest19The LORD told Moses: 20Aaron and his sons have to bring an offering to the LORD when they’re anointed and ordained for ministry as priests. It should be the normal grain offering, which is two quarts (about 2 liters) of fine flour. They should present half of it in the morning and the other half that evening. 21They should mix olive oil into the flour and fry the dough on a frying pan. Tear the fried bread into pieces and present it to the LORD as a sweet-smelling offering.
22In the future, whenever a descendant of Aaron becomes high priest, he has to present the same offering Aaron just did. Burn the entire offering to the LORD, sending it all up in smoke. Don’t eat any of it. 23In fact, every grain offering a priest makes should be completely burned and never eaten.
PS about sin offerings24The LORD told Moses: 25I want you to tell this to Aaron and his sons: A sin offering is sacred to the LORD. These are the rules for offering one. You should sacrifice a sin offering in the same place you sacrifice burnt offerings.
26The priest who officiates at the sin offering and presents it to me is the same priest who gets to eat the portion of the meat designated for priests. The priest should eat it in the courtyard of the tent worship center.
27Only people fully devoted to the LORD can touch this meat. And if the animal’s blood splatters on your clothes, you have to wash the clothes in a sacred place. 28You’ll need to break the clay pot you used to boil away the blood. If you used a bronze pot, scour that pot thoroughly, then rinse it out. 29Any priest of Israel is allowed to eat the priest’s share of this sacrificed animal.
30With one exception: When a priest brings some blood of the animal into the Meeting Tent to present it to the LORD in the Sacred Room, seeking forgiveness there. In that case, don’t eat any of it. Burn the entire animal as an offering.
In older lingo, the guilt offering was called the trespass offering, as in, “Forgive us our trespasses” or sins. In fact, scholars can’t seem to figure out what the difference is between a “sin offering” and a “guilt offering.” One guess is that guilt offerings are more serious and often involve making restitution. Leviticus 5:14-7:7 talks about when a person needs to make a guilt offering. Leviticus 7:1-10 talks about how to make the sacrifice.
This was the most common animal sacrifice. Worshipers burned the entire animal. The officiating priest got to keep the hide (Leviticus 7:8).
See Leviticus 3. A peace offering is one of several prescribed offerings in Jewish tradition. When Jewish people wanted to give thanks to God for something, such as good health or safety, they would sacrifice a sheep, goat, cow, or bull. They would burn part of the animal, including the kidneys and fat covering the intestines. They would eat the rest in celebration, often with family and friends. It takes a fair number of hungry people to eat a cow. But people were eager to eat meat because it was rare in Bible times for common folks to eat meat, many Bible scholars say.
Grain offerings were expressions of gratitude for a harvest and for the way God takes care of the Israelites. People offered the grain in several ways: ground to fine flour, presented as baked, fried, cooked in a pot, or roasted with olive oil. See Leviticus 2.
“Share equally” is confirmed in Leviticus 7:10.
More literally in the courtyard of the Meeting Tent. There’s debate about which tent. There was a tent worship center sometimes known as the Tabernacle—a portable predecessor of what later became the only Jewish temple in the world, the Jerusalem Temple. But Moses also had what was called a Meeting Tent outside the camp, where he met with God (Exodus 33:7). This tent existed before artisans made the tent worship center. The tent here in Leviticus, though, seems more likely the tent worship center of Exodus 36-40, given the descriptions that come later, which include reference to the worship center’s altar (1:5).
A sin offering is described in Leviticus 4 as something the people of Israel brought to God after they realized they had accidentally broken one of God’s laws earlier. Some scholars say a better translation is the opposite of “sin” because the sacrifice is intended to “un-sin” people, to purify them. So those scholars call it a “purification offering”
More literally, “holy.” People were considered holy when they devoted themselves to God. Also, worship utensils such as lampstands were considered holy because they were reserved for sacred use, devoted to God. “Then take the sacred olive oil and anoint the tent worship center and everything in it. Declare it as sacred and reserved for the LORD, devoted exclusively for service to him—and for that reason, holy” (Exodus 40:9).
Whoa Nellie. Leviticus 4:8-12 says the entire animal got burned, not eaten. Some scholars speculate that there were two degrees of sin offerings. They theorize that the animal was incinerated for the most serious sins but that priests were allowed to eat parts of the animals sacrificed for less serious sins. But the sins in Leviticus 4 are accidental. Those might seem least serious, yet those animals were getting burned to ashes. There’s also debate about whether the priest doing the eating had to eat a bull, for example, by himself—or at least the part of the bull that became the priest’s share. More speculation: The priest was allowed to host other priests. Antacid wasn’t developed until 1928.
BY ROBERT V. HUBER
One of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai was “No stealing” (Exodus 20:15). Nothing more is said there about that commandment. However, at the start of chapter 6 of Leviticus, God gives Moses a few examples of the different ways a person may steal and tells him what such a sinner must do to be forgiven. A person who steals has to make restitution, and even pay extra in some cases. What good do you think that does?
In Leviticus 6:9 God tells Moses he wants him to pass on to Aaron the ‘laws’ he’ll need to follow when making burnt offerings. The Hebrew for ‘laws’ here is torah (TOR uh). This is the first time the word torah is used in Leviticus, and while it seems to be an ordinary word, it will later take on great significance. You may have heard that word before? If so, do you remember in what context it was used?
God insists that the fire on the altar never be allowed to go out. In fact, he says it four times. Why do you think it was so important to keep the fire burning?
God says that every morning one of the priests should put on his formal priestly clothing, remove the ashes of the sin offering from the altar, and set it on the ground beside the altar. He should then change into less formal clothing, shovel up the ashes, and carry them outside the camp to the place designated for sacrificed animals. Why do you think the priests needed to do all this changing of clothes? And why must they eat their portion of a sacrifice in the courtyard of the worship center?