Putting sacrifices on the calendar
Daily sacrifices1 The LORD told Moses, 2 Give the people of Israel this message:
When you bring the offerings that belong to me, bring them on time. Then put them in the fire to produce a sweet aroma for the LORD. 3 Also tell them this:
Here’s one offering I want you to sacrifice and burn every day: two male lambs. They each need to be a year old, and there should be nothing wrong with them. 4 Sacrifice one animal in the morning and the other at twilight, before the sun goes down. 5 I also want you to bring two quarts of your best flour mixed with a quart of olive oil. 6 All of this will become a daily offering burned in a fire to send up a sweet aroma to the LORD. This offering, instituted on Mount Sinai, is now official. 7 The liquid part of this offering for the LORD, accompanying the lamb, should be one quart of something that has a kick. 8 Repeat this offering in the evening. Just as you did in the morning, burn the offering of a lamb, grain, and liquid with a kick. The fire will produce a sweet aroma for the LORD.
Sabbath offerings9 On the Sabbath, double the daily offering of food to the LORD. In addition to what you bring every day, on the Sabbath bring two extra male lambs. They should be one year old and in perfect shape. Also bring the two quarts of fine flour mixed with olive oil. And bring the liquid offering. 10 Burn this every Sabbath, in addition to what you burn every day.
Monthly burnt offerings11 On the first day of every month, give the LORD a burnt offering of two bulls and one ram along with seven male lambs, each lamb a year old and in perfect shape—no defects. 12 With every bull, add six quarts of fine flour mixed with olive oil. With every ram, add four quarts of flour with oil. 13 For each lamb, add two quarts of fine flour with olive oil. The smell of this burning sacrifice is a sweet aroma to the LORD. 14 Add the following liquid offerings to each of the animals sacrificed. With each bull, two quarts of wine. With the ram, one quart plus an extra third of a quart. With each lamb, one quart. Do all of this at the beginning of every month. It’s your monthly burnt offering.
Monthly sin offering15 In addition to the monthly burnt offering, I want you to bring one male goat as a monthly sin offering to the LORD. Bring a liquid offering with it.
Passover sacrifices16 Celebrate Passover every spring, on the fourteenth day of the first month. 17 On the fifteenth day, celebrate Passover with a meal. For seven days, eat only yeast-free bread. 18 On the first day of this week-long festival, call the people in for a sacred time together. Do not work on this day. It’s a day off. 19 Give the LORD a burnt offering. Sacrifice two bulls, one ram, and seven male lambs that are a year old and in perfect shape—no defects. 20 Bring grain offerings of fine flour mixed with olive oil. This should accompany each animal, as follows.
Bull: six quarts.
Ram: four quarts.
21 Lamb: two quarts.
22 For the sin offering, sacrifice a goat. This will atone for your sins and get you on good terms with the LORD 23 These offerings are in addition to the daily offering you bring to the LORD.
24 So, this is how I want you to bring food offerings during the seven days of the festival, in addition to the burnt offering you bring every day. These offerings that you put into the fire produce a sweet aroma to the LORD. 25 On the last day of the week-long festival, have the people meet for a sacred time together.
Harvest Festival sacrifices26 When you have the annual Harvest Festival and you bring the LORD some of the first crops you harvest, take the day off. Don’t work. Meet with others in a sacred time together. 27 Bring a burnt offering to produce a sweet aroma for the LORD: two bulls, one ram, and seven male lambs, with each lamb a year old. 28 Bring a grain offering of fine flour mixed with olive oil to accompany each animal. Six quarts for each bull. Four quarts for each ram. 29 Two quarts for each of the seven lambs.
30 Also bring a male goat as a sin offering to atone for your sins and to get you on good terms with the LORD. 31 Bring these offerings with the usual accompanying liquid offering. And bring these in addition to the daily offerings you bring to the LORD. All the animals you bring should be in perfect shape. There should be nothing wrong with them.
Israelites followed a lunar calendar, with every month starting at the first tiny crescent after the new moon. A new moon is when the moon is hidden behind earth’s shadow for one day. The sun, moon, and earth are aligned, with earth in the middle.
A “burnt offering” is the most common of the sacrifices. It’s one that consumes the entire animal and pays the price for sin, atoning for sin, and getting people back on good terms with God. Laws related to the burnt offering are in Leviticus 1.
Six dry quarts of flour is about 6.6 dry liters, which would be about an eight-pound bag of flour (3.6 kg).
4.4 dry liters.
A sin offering 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.”
The Hebrew word is pesach (PAY sock). It refers to the annual Passover meal today called a seder (SAY dur), which means “order.” That’s a reference to the fact that the Passover meal is eaten as a meticulously detailed ritual of reading, remembering, and prayer. The word “Passover” comes from the story of God or one of his angels killing the Egyptian firstborn, but “passing over” Hebrew homes with animal blood on the doorframes. See Exodus 12.
The month is Nisan. The Israelite calendar was based on the cycles of the moon. Passover falls on March-April. Jewish holidays begin at sundown. So, the week-long Passover celebrations begin at sundown on day 14 and ends at sundown on day 21.
This was to help the Israelites remember the rushed way their ancestors left Egypt and slavery. There was no time for yeast to raise the bread dough. They ate flat bread in their last meal as slaves. Then on the rush out of the country, “the Israelites scooped up their bread dough without yeast. They stashed it in their kneading bowls, which they wrapped in cloaks they carried on their shoulders….For food, they stopped and baked the yeast-free bread dough they carried with them. They made flat cakes of yeast-free bread because they didn’t have yeast. When Pharaoh ordered them to leave, they didn’t have time to do much of anything but close the door on their way out” (Exodus 12:34, 39).
The Festival of the Yeast-free Bread is more widely known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For a week, the Israelites didn’t eat bread made with yeast. Observant Jews today don’t eat anything made with yeast. Some also remove from their houses any trace of yeast or of food made with yeast.
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