Laws for the next generation
Sacrifices to come in Canaan1The Lord told Moses: 2Give this message to the Israelites:
When you Israelites finally make it into the land I’m giving you, 3I want you to offer sacrifices to the LORD. It could be a burnt offering. It could be a special offering about a vow you decide to take. It could be a voluntary offering, just because you want to give it. Or it could be an offering associated with one of the annual festivals. The sacrifice from your flocks and herds will send a sweet smell to the LORD. 4When you bring your offering, bring a grain offering, too. Make it two quarts of your best flour mixed with one quart of your finest olive oil. 5Also bring a quart of wine as a liquid offering. Do that for every lamb you sacrifice as a burnt offering. 6If you sacrifice a male sheep, add a grain offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with one and one-fourth quarts of olive oil. 7And bring one and one-fourth quarts of wine as a liquid offering. This sacrifice will produce a sweet smell to the LORD.
When sacrificing a bull8When you sacrifice a bull, it doesn’t matter if it’s for a burnt offering, a peace offering, or an offering for a special vow you’re taking for the LORD. 9You also need to bring a grain offering. Prepare it with six quarts of your finest flour and two quarts of olive oil. 10Also bring a liquid offering: two quarts of wine. This offering will produce a sweet smell for the LORD.
11So, follow all these instructions when you sacrifice every bull, ram, lamb, or goat. 12Do it for each animal. Every animal comes with its own grain and liquid offering. 13All Israelites who burn sacrifices should do it the way I’ve described. When you do it that way, the offering rises as a sweet smell to the LORD.
Immigrants are your equals14It’s alright for immigrants or others living among you who aren’t Israelites to offer a sacrifice. It will send up a sweet smell to the LORD. They should do it the same way I’ve told you to do it. 15In the eyes of the LORD and the law, everyone is equal. Israelites, immigrants, and everyone else living among you are equals. 16All Israelite laws and teachings about how to behave apply to everyone living among you. It doesn’t matter if you’re Israelite, immigrant, or any other foreigner.
First loaf goes to God17The LORD told Moses: 18Tell the Israelites this:
“There’s something I want you to do when you get to where I’m taking you. 19When you eat food grown on the land, I want you to lift it in the air as an offering to the LORD. 20Present your first loaf of bread as a grain offering. Lift it to the LORD.
21Do this from now on. The first grain you harvest belongs to the LORD. 22Let’s say you accidentally overlook one of these rules that the LORD gave you, through Moses. 23And let’s say your descendants overlook them, too. They forget the rules the LORD gave through Moses. 24If you become aware of the mistake, you should sacrifice a bull as a burnt offering that produces a sweet smell to the LORD. Add the associated grain offering and liquid offering. Also sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering.  25The priest will atone for your sins and keep you on good terms with the LORD. Since this was an accidental sin and you dealt with it by bringing the appropriate offerings, you’ll be forgiven.
26Everyone involved will be forgiven for this mistake. That includes the Israelites and anyone else living among them. 27Let’s say one of you commits some other sin, unintentionally. Make it right by sacrificing a year-old female goat as a sin offering. 28The priest will atone for your unintentional sin and keep you on good terms with the LORD. You’ll be forgiven.
29Israelite laws about unintentional sins apply to everyone living among you. It doesn’t matter if you’re Israelite, immigrant, or any other foreigner. 30But if you defiantly break the law on purpose, you’re insulting the LORD. You’re no longer an Israelite. 31Since you showed nothing but disrespect for the LORD’s instructions and you refused to do as you were told, you’re out. You’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
Penalty for breaking Sabbath32The Israelites were still living in the badlands when a man broke the Sabbath. Instead of resting, he picked up wood. 33Some people caught him and took him to Moses and Aaron, as the entire crowd of Israelites watched. 34They decided to keep him in custody because they didn’t know what else to do about him.
35The LORD told Moses, “Execute him. Take him outside the camp. Have everyone stone him to death.” 36So, the people took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the LORD told Moses they should do.
Fringes, a fashionable way to obey37The LORD told Moses: 38Tell the Israelites:
I want you to put fringes on the hems of your clothing. Then attach a blue cord to each of the four corners. Do this to your clothing from now on. 39When you see the fringes of thread hanging down from hems, remember the laws the LORD gave you. This constant reminder helps you do what the law says instead of doing what your eyes and your selfish desires tell you to do. 40So, this fashion tool will help you obey my laws. That way, you’ll stay holy, devoted to your God. 41I am the LORD your God. I brought out of Egypt so I could be your God. I am the LORD your God.
God is speaking mainly to children, it would seem, since he has already said only adults from this generation will live long enough to set foot in the promised land of Canaan (Numbers 14:29-30).
This was the most common animal sacrifice. Worshipers burned the entire animal. See Leviticus 1.
Two dry quarts equals about 2.2 dry liters.
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.
A sin offering here refers to 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, the person “should be removed from the community” or “cut off.” This is a consequence repeated throughout these early books of the Bible. It’s unclear how and by whom the offenders were removed. Perhaps they could no longer worship at the tent worship center, or they lost their rights as citizens of this emerging nation that Moses seemed to be organizing. Maybe they were executed. Or perhaps the community let God deal with the person. Scholars seem uncertain about what happened.
Or add “tassels” to the hems.
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