Lesson 3: Chapters 5:1 – 6:23
Divine Instruction in the Ritual of Sacrifice Part III:
Yahweh's Instructions for Sin Sacrifices, for Sins of Reparation and the Priesthood and Sacrifice

Almighty God,
Blood ritual was a key part of Old Covenant worship and the means by which You taught Your covenant people the significance of expiation, atonement, the restoration of fellowship, and the necessity of holiness in order to prepare them for the coming of the Redeemer-Messiah.  We are thankful for our Old Covenant brothers and sisters, Lord, and the role they played in Your plan of salvation.  They laid the foundation of our own covenant and their descendants became the Fathers of the New Covenant Church.  Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us, Lord, in our continuing study of Old Covenant liturgy and worship.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good, yet still imperfect.  Like a tutor it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it.  Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage.  According to St. Paul, its special function is to denounce and disclose sin, which constitutes a "law of concupiscence" in the human heart.  However, the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom.  It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God.  It provides a teaching which endures for ever, like the Word of God.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1963

He has taken his seat at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tent which the Lord, and not any man, set up.  Every high priest is constituted to offer gifts and sacrifices, and so this one too must have something to offer.  Hebrews 8:1b-3

Christ is the High Priest of the New Covenant.  Like the high priest of the Old Covenant, He performs the ritual of blood in liturgical worship, not by entering a Tabernacle made by human hands with the sacrificial blood of animals but by taking the blood of His own sacrifice into the heavenly Tabernacle where, having won eternal redemption, He purifies and consecrates His covenant people by continually offering His sacrifice on the heavenly altar before the throne of God (Heb 8:1-3; 9:11-14; Rev 5:6).   The role of the high priest in the blood ritual and liturgy of worship in the Old Covenant paved the way for our understanding of Christ's role as the High Priest of the New Covenant.

While there were elements of worship in the liturgical instructions given at Mt. Sinai that were common to many of the Near Eastern pagan cultures contemporary to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, there are three distinctive features of the Sinai Covenant not found in pagan culture:

  1. Worship of a single god (monotheism) in a legally binding covenant with a unified people
  2. Worship restricted to a single shrine and a single altar of sacrifice
  3. The elaborate blood ritual associated with animal sacrifice 

In this lesson we will continue with Yahweh's instructions on the list of the basic classes of sacrifices and offerings for the Sinai Covenant community.  It is a list that began with Yahweh's divine instructions for the perpetual communal whole burnt offering that was to be offered daily for the covenant people in Exodus 29:38-42.  Additional instruction for sacrifices and offerings will be given for holy days in Leviticus chapter 23 and Numbers 28:1-29:39.

The different classes of sacrifices in the Sinai Covenant:

  1. The compulsory communal daily whole burnt offering''olat ha-tamid (Ex 29:38-42; Num chapters 28-29).
  2. The individual covenant members' voluntary whole burnt offering''olah (Lev 1:1-17; 6:1-6/6:8-13).
  3. The individual covenant members' voluntary loyalty offering in the form of grain and/or bread'minhah (Lev 2:1-14; 6:7-16/14-23) and first-fruits offerings (Lev 2:14-16; Dt 26:1-11).
  4. The individual covenant members' voluntary communion sacrifices'zevah ha-shelemim (Lev 3:1-17; 7:11-34/1-28; 22:18-23; 19:5-10).
  5. The covenant members' and the covenant community's compulsory sin sacrifice'hatta't (Lev 4:1-5:13; 6:17-22/24-30; Num 5:5-10).
  6. The individual covenant members' guilt/sacrifice of reparation''asham (Lev 5:14-26/6:7; 7:1-10/6:31-40).
  7. The compulsory sacrifices and offerings for the appointed holy days (the Sabbath, the annual sacred feasts, the feast of the new moon, etc.) that are God's appointed time [mo'ed] for a sacred occasion'mikra' kodesh (Lev chapter 23; Num chapters 28-29).

(For a more detailed list of categories 1-6 see the chart in the appendix to this lesson).

In the last lesson we began studying God's instructions to Moses concerning the ritual of sacrifice in association with the forgiveness of the sins of inadvertence.  Public confession of the sin in the presence of the priest always accompanied the laying-on-of-hands upon the victim prior to the offering of the sacrifice'there was no private confession of sin in the Old Covenant:

(See additional Old Testament passages: Josh 7:19-20; Dan 9:20; and in the New Testament: Mt 3:6 and Mk 1:5 (St. John the Baptist was a priest); Jm 5:16; 1 Jn 1:9).

The instructions given for the sin sacrifice (hatta't) addressed five kinds of sin sacrifice rituals that depended on the status of the offerer within the covenant community:

  1. The high priest (Lev 4:1-12)
  2. The covenant community as a whole (Lev 4:13-21)
  3. A leader of the community (Lev 4:22-26)
  4. An individual covenant member (Lev 4:27-35)
  5. The offerings of the poor (Lev 5:7-13)

The first two classifications of hatta't sacrifices addressed the sins of a high priest and the covenant community where the ritual required the sacrifice of a young bull calf.  This sacrifice was a reminder of Israel's fall from grace in the sin of the Golden Calf and the consequences of such a major covenant breach (Ex 32:1-35).  Because of the serious nature of both the personal sin of a high priest (that also contaminated the covenant community) and the sin of covenant people as a whole, the entire Tabernacle had to be re-consecrated through a sanctifying ritual of blood (Lev 4:5-7; 16-18). 

The third class of sin sacrifice in Leviticus chapter four addressed the personal sin of a leader of the community of Israel who was required to offer a he-goat for expiation of his sin (Lev 4:23-26).  The fourth class of sin sacrifice concerned the individual covenant member who was required to offer a female goat or sheep (Lev 4:28, 32).  A blood ritual was necessary in both these classes of sin sacrifice but it was not as elaborate as the blood ritual for the sin of a high priest or for the community as a whole.

In Leviticus unintentional sin is described as:

Sins of inadvertence are not sins committed in rebellion against God or with malice against other men and women.  Nevertheless, because of Israel's covenant commitment to live as a holy people and as an example of holiness to the other nations of the earth, atonement must be made for even a thoughtless or ignorant deed that worked in opposition to God's will for His people.  A sin of inadvertence committed through ritual defilement meant the covenant member had to observe the purity cleansing regulations and/or make the proper sin sacrifices (Lev chapters 11-15).

In Leviticus chapter five Yahweh's instructions address four examples of sins of inadvertence where atonement is made through the ritual sin sacrifices of hatta't, and instruction on the accepted sacrificial offerings of the poor and destitute in the covenant community.  The four examples of sins of omission focus on the cultic code that requires:

  1. The ritual purity and respect for what is sacred that is essential for showing respect for God.
  2. Oaths taken in God's name as sacred obligations.

The rituals for the sins of defilement addressed the offending condition and cleansed the offerer of impurity.  The second category of sin in this section concerns the Law of the Sinai Covenant in civil cases that were tied to religious law.  Judgment in all matters, civil and religious, was God's prerogative (Dt 1:6-16).  The lower courts were to be established in local villages but the authoritative court was to be located within the Sanctuary/Temple and the high priest was the presiding supreme court judge (Dt 16:18-20; 17:8-13).

Chapter 5: Yahweh's Continued Instruction on the Hatta't Sin Sacrifices and Instruction on the 'Asham Trespass/Guilt Offerings

I made my sin [hatta't] known to you, did not conceal my guilt.  I said, 'I shall confess my offence to Yahweh.'  And you, for your part, took away my guilt, forgave my sin [hatta't].  Psalm 32:5

David's confession after Nathan accused him of his sin with Bathsheba: Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies; blot out my transgressions.  Wash me completely from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin [hatta't].  For I know my transgressions; and my sin [hatta't] is ever before me.  Against You, You only, I have sinned [hata], and done evil in Your eyes; that You might be justified in Your speaking, and be clear when You judge.
Psalm 51:1-4 (Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. II, pages 1411 and 1432)

The first type of hatta't prescribed in Leviticus 4:3-21 included the blood ritual for the personal sin of a high priest and the community as a whole.  The second type of hatta't was prescribed in 4:22-5:13 and consisted of sin sacrifice for covenant members based on wealth and status within the community (as in the community leader in 4:22-26).  Hebrew words used frequently in these passages: hata = the verb "sin"; hatta't = the noun "sin" or "sin sacrifice"; hata'ah = "an offense" or a sacrifice for it; 'asham = "to be guilty," "guilt/trespass offering."

Please read Leviticus 5:1-6: Four Examples of Sins of Omission Classified as Hatta't  
5:1'"If someone sins in any of these following cases: 

#1. "He should have come forward to give evidence when he heard the formal adjuration, having seen the incident or known the facts; but he has not spoken out, and so bears the consequence of his guilt;

Question: What guilt does the first example address and why is the failure a serious, if unintentional offense?  See Ps 89:14/15
Answer: The first example concerns the unwillingness to be a witness in legal cases.  Withholding testimony is contrary to justice. The maintenance of justice is a vital component of the earthly kingdom because the earthly nation of Israel was intended to be a model of God's heavenly kingdom: Saving justice and fair judgments are the foundations of your throne (Ps 89:14/15).

This is a sin of omission that involved speech and not action.  It is a sin of negligence which can cause a failure in justice'a principle concern of the Sinai Covenant.

#2. 2or someone touches something unclean, whatever it may be'the dead body of an unclean animal, wild or tame, or of one of the unclean reptiles'and without realizing it becomes unclean, he becomes answerable for it;

Question: What are the implications of the second example?  Hint: guilt and defilement are closely linked.  See Lev 11:24-28; 15:31-33.
Answer: Ritual cleanliness was a means of consciously maintaining purity and sanctification.  However, one could become ritually defiled unknowingly.

Question: What types of impure carcasses are named?  Why does contact with a dead animal require a sin sacrifice?  See Lev 11:24-31; Wis 1:1; 2:23-24. Keep in mind that defilement was contagious just as holiness was contagious.

Death equated to sin'death was a by-product of sin since the Fall of man.  A sin sacrifice was required because contact with dead animals was a source of impurity that ritually defiled whoever came in contact with it or into contact with anything associated with it.  The ritual impurity transmitted by contact is the basis of the offender's guilt.

There are additional instructions on prohibitions of contact in Lev 11:24-31.  An example of this kind of ritual contamination is found in the story of the gift of honey Samson gave his parents in Judges 14:5-9

Question: Why did Samson's gift put his parents in the position of having committed an unintentional sin?  What is Samson's double sin?
Answer: Not only was Samson ritually defiled but he caused his parents to become defiled.  His deliberate failure to tell them the source of the honey was his second sin and indicates that he knew they would not have eaten the honey had they known the source of his gift.

During Jesus' ministry He was constantly placing Himself in situations that would normally have constituted ritual defilement of a covenant member: curing lepers, dining with sinners and tax collectors, and even contact with Gentiles. 

Question: Read about the petition of a Roman centurion made to Jesus to heal his servant in Matthew 8:5-8.  Why didn't the Gentile officer want Jesus to come to his home? 
Answer: It was the Roman centurion's sensitivity to this prohibition of Jewish Law that caused him plead with Jesus, after asking Him to cure his paralyzed servant, saying: Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured (Mt 8:5-8).

Question: In addition to condemnation by the Pharisees for associating with defiled sinners (Mt 9:11), who were those close to Jesus who became concerned about His lack of concern for ritual defilement? See Mk 3:20-21.
Answer: Even Jesus' family became concerned about such breaches of covenant Law.

Question: Why wasn't Jesus, who professed His obedience to the Law (Mt 5:17-19), concerned with ritual defilement?
Answer: Jesus purified and healed every defiled person that He touched by imputing His righteousness to the previously defiled person.

#3. 3or he touches some human uncleanness, whatever it may be, contact with which makes him unclean; he does not notice it, then, realizing it later, he becomes answerable for it;

Question: What is the third example of defilement? See Lev chapters 12-15.
Answer: Contact with a dead body or with someone who had a contagious skin disease or a secretion of any bodily fluid could render a person ritually unclean.  Before the person could be restored to the community the observance of the ritual requirements for purification and/or a sin sacrifice had to be offered.

Contact with a dead human body and contact with certain bodily fluids (Lev 12:2-4; Dt 23:11/10) or with a non-covenant person who may be defiled in some way through lack of personal hygiene resulted in defilement.  When David failed to appear at the noon banquet table of King Saul (the large meal was normally consumed around noon), Saul assumed David had somehow become ritually unclean, perhaps in a skirmish with the Philistines since the blood of a dead or wounded person made a covenant member unclean.  If such was the case, David would have been unable to eat a meal with his covenant countrymen (1 Sam 20:26).  This particular requirement of ritual purity was the concern of the members of the Sanhedrin who brought Jesus of Nazareth to the Roman governor Pontus Pilate.(1)  Contact with a pagan Gentile in his residence could render a covenant member ritually unclean (Jn 18:28) and unable to participate in the morning worship service at the Temple.  This form of defilement lasted until sundown when the next day began.

Question: What was ironic about the High Priest and the members of the Sanhedrin's concern for obedience to the Law of Moses in the matter of their ritual purity when they appeared at Pilate's residence with Jesus?  See Mt 26:59-66 and Jn 18:28-29.
Answer: These men had knowingly condemned an innocent man to death and had brought him to the Roman ruler to finish a deed that they did not have the power to complete, and yet they were concerned about retaining the integrity of their ritual purity.

The sin offering in these cases removed ritual defilement, which was also defined as "guilt."  A woman who had given birth had not intentionally defiled herself or her house, but she was nevertheless commanded to offer a sin offering to become purified and restored to the covenant community by the blood of her sacrifice. 

#4. 4or someone lets slip an oath to do something either evil or good, in any of those matters on which someone may let slip an oath; he does not notice it, then, realizing it later, he becomes answerable for it;

Question: How could thoughtless oath swearing become a breach requiring atonement?  See Gen 15:16-17; Lev 7:16/6; 22:18-23; Num 30:3; Dt 23:23/24.
Answer: Oaths made publically were legally binding, whether made directly to Yahweh or in a formal pledge under oath.  The covenant with Abraham was based on oath-swearing, and the concept of oath-swearing was at the heart of covenant making. The example in Leviticus 5:4 refers to a rash vow made to Yahweh without considering the obligations and consequences of the vow. 

Since swearing an oath evoked the divinity and could have serious consequences, the breaking of a vow required a sin offering and the fulfillment of the vow required a communion sacrifice at Yahweh's altar (Lev 7:16/6:6; Num 6:13-17; Acts 21:23-24).

Question: Can you think of some examples of vows/oath-swearing in Scripture?
Answer: Some possible answers: Abraham's servant made and kept his vow to his master to find a wife for Isaac (Gen 24:2-9).  Jacob's sons Simeon and Levi broke the family's covenant vow to the Shechemites which resulted in the death of the men of Shechem, their father's condemnation and the loss of their status as senior sons (Gen 49:5-7).  Jephthah made a rash vow to Yahweh that brought disaster to his family (Judg 11:30-31, 34-40).  Yahweh swore a vow to Abraham concerning His covenant promises to Abraham and his descendants (Gen 22:15-18; Dt 7:8).  Yahweh also swore an oath to David that his throne would endure forever ruled by his priest-king descendant (Ps 110:4; 32:11; Acts 2:29-31).

The inspired writer of Ecclesiastes warned of the danger of making rash vows: If you make a vow to God, discharge it without delay, for God has no love for fools.  Discharge your vow.  Better a vow unmade than made and not discharged.  Do not allow your mouth to make a sinner of you, and do not say to the messenger that it was a mistake.  Why give God occasions to be angry with you and ruin all the work that you have done? (Ecc 5:3-5).   

Question: What did Jesus say about swearing oaths in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:33-37)?
Answer: He admonished the people to be truthful and sincere by letting "yes" mean you will do what you say or "no" mean you will not or cannot do it. 

5if he is answerable in any of those cases, he will have to confess the sin committed. 6As a sacrifice of reparation for the sins committed, he will bring Yahweh a female from the flock (sheep or goat) as a sacrifice for sin; and then priest will perform the rite of expiation for him to free him from his sins."

Confession of the sin committed was an essential part of the ritual of expiation and forgiveness (see handout # 2 for this lesson). 

The continual emphasis on ritual purity and cleansing by the blood of the sin sacrifice was imperative to maintain God's presence among His people (Lev 15:31).  It was an outward sign that indicated an internal condition.  In Jesus' ministry He continually had contact with those who carried on their person the contamination of ritual defilement, yet He cleansed them by His very touch.

Question: In your walk of faith do you maintain a condition of internal and external holiness?  How does living in holiness contribute to your Christian witness, inspiring those with whom you come in contact on a daily basis and your family members?  Do you have a covenant obligation to live in holiness?  See CCC 2013.

Please read Leviticus 5:7-13: The Sin Sacrifices of the Poor and Destitute
5:7"If he cannot afford an animal from the flock as a sacrifice of reparation for the sins he has committed, he will bring Yahweh two turtledoves or two young pigeons–one as a sacrifice for sin and the other as a burnt offering. 8He will bring them to the priest who will first offer the one intended for the sacrifice for sin.  The priest will wring its neck but not remove the head. 9He will sprinkle [nazah] the side of the altar with the victim's blood, and then squeeze out the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar.  This is a sacrifice for sin. 10He will then offer the other bird as a burnt offering according to the ritual.  This is how the priest must perform the rite of expiation for the person for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven. 11If he cannot afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, he will bring a tenth of an ephah of wheaten flour as an offering for the sins committed; he must not mix oil with it or put incense on it, since this is a sacrifice for sin. 12He will bring it to the priest, who will take a handful of it as a memorial, and burn this on the altar in addition to the offerings of food burnt for Yahweh.  This is a sacrifice for sin. 13This is how the priest must perform the rite of expiation for the person for the sin he has committed in any of those cases, and he will be forgiven.  In this case, the priest has the same rights as for a cereal offering."'
[] =literal translation (The Interlineal Bible:Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 267).

Notice that in each case for the acceptable sacrifices for sin God required sacrifices that could be offered without imposing too great a financial burden on the offerer.  The spirit of the requirement was directed toward the sinner being freed from sin through blood expiation and atonement and being restored to God and to the covenant community.

Question:  What were the five different kinds of sin sacrifices and the animals acceptable for each in the instructions given to Moses for sin sacrifice in Leviticus 4:1-5:13?
Answer: The five different classes of sin sacrifices and the required sacrificial offering:

  1. For a high priest an unblemished young bull
  2. For the covenant community an unblemished young bull
  3. For a leader/ruler of the community an unblemished he-goat
  4. For an individual covenant member an unblemished she-goat or ewe lamb
  5. For the poor two turtledoves or two young pigeons and for the destitute a tenth of a ephah of wheat flour (1 ephah = 1.25 bushels or 45 liters)

8He will bring them to the priest who will first offer the one intended for the sacrifice for sin. The priest will wring its neck but not remove the head. 9He will sprinkle [nazah] the side of the altar with the victim’s blood, and then squeeze out the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar. The priest was to pinch the birds head at the nape without severing the head. In the sacrificial ritual of a poor person’s whole burnt offering the head of the bird was removed, but not in the sin sacrifice ritual. The different applications of the sacrificial ritual identified what kind of sacrifice was being offered.

10He will then offer the other bird as a burnt offering according to the ritual. This is how the priest must perform the rite of expiation for the person for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven. The JPS Commentary: Leviticus comments on the order of the sacrifices in this section of the instructions: There is logic to the order of the two sacrifices: the hatta't preceded the 'olah because one was obliged to be in good standing before he could properly worship God. Coming immediately after the hatta't, which was expiatory in character, the 'olah symbolized the restoration of the offender and constituted his first act of worship after forgiveness.

Question: What was the sin sacrifice of the destitute?
Answer: A portion of wheat flour, a handful of which the priest burned on the altar with salt but without oil or incense.

There was no reason for a covenant member to feel he did not have the means to become reconciled with God through a sin sacrifice since there was an acceptable sacrifice available for every person no matter what his economic condition.

13This is how the priest must perform the rite of expiation for the person for the sin he has committed in any of those cases, and he will be forgiven. 

Question: How many times is assurance of the effective quality of the ritual of the sin sacrifice for forgiveness of sins of inadvertence repeated in Leviticus 4:1-5:26?
Answer: Through the ministerial action of the priest in offering the sin sacrifices assurance of expiation and God's forgiveness of the sin is repeated nine times in 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, and 26 (the phrase "he will be forgiven is repeated eight times and the phrase "to free him from his sin" once).  Forgiveness was offered through the blood ritual and the ritual actions of the priests who were God's representative to the people.

Question: How is expiation made for venial and mortal sin in the New Covenant?
Answer: The ritual of forgiveness of sin is still through the ministry of God's priests who minister to the people on behalf of our High Priest, Jesus Christ.  Venial (unintentional) sin is addressed through confession in private prayer and expiation is completed in confession during the Penitential Rite of the Mass and in receiving the Eucharist.  Mortal sin can only be forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation when the priest, in Persona Christi (in the person of Christ), hears our confession, imposes our penance, hears our sincere act of contrition and in the name of Jesus Christ forgives the sin.  It is a power the  New Covenant priesthood received directly from Jesus (Jn 20:22-23).

Question: What did Joseph and Mary offer as a purification sin offering when they made their obligatory visit to the Temple for Mary's purification ritual when Jesus was forty days old?  See Lev 5:7; 12:2-4, 8; Lk 2:22-24.
Answer: In accordance with what was prescribed in the Law, they brought two birds for the sacrificial ritual for Mary's purification: one for the burnt offering and the other for the sin sacrifice.  Their offering of two birds is an indication that they were too poor to afford a yearling lamb as a burnt offering.

The 'Asham Trespass/ Guilt Offering

The person must confess the sin [hatta't] committed and restore in full the amount owed, with one-fifth added.  Payment [his guilt-fine/'asham] is to be made to the person wronged (Num 5:7).

It was Yahweh's good pleasure to crush him with pain; it he gives his life as a sin offering [guilt offering ='asham], he will see his offspring and prolong his life, and through him Yahweh's good pleasure will be done.  Isaiah 53:10

Please read Leviticus 5:14-26/ 14-6:7: Sacrifices for Sins of Reparation

When the rights of Yahweh or the rights or property of covenant members had sustained damage, the trespass or guilt offering provided for the restitution of the wrong along with atonement for the wrong itself. When the damage could be assessed in terms of monetary value, a restitution payment and a guilt-payment in the form of a 20% fine was added to the sacrifice.  The priests' liturgical role in the ritual of expiation will not be discussed until Leviticus 7:1-20, but it was the priest who assessed the damage and set the cost of restitution.  In Leviticus 5:14-12 five examples are given in the instructions for sacrifices offered for sin where reparation can be made. Three classifications of the 'asham trespass sacrifices are addressed:

  1. Sins against the Sanctuary/ holy things of Yahweh: verses 14-16
  2. Sins of contingency: verses 17-19
  3. Sins involving deceitful acts against fellow countrymen:  verses 20-26

Verses 14 – 16 address sins infringing on Yahweh's holy things:

#1. 14Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 15'If someone is unfaithful and sins inadvertently by infringing Yahweh's sacred rights [holy things], as a sacrifice of reparation he must bring Yahweh an unblemished ram from his flock, the value of which will be decided by you in sliver shekels according to the rate of the sanctuary-shekel. 16He will make amends for what his sin subtracted from the sacred rights, adding one-fifth to the value, and give it to the priest.  The priest will them perform the rite of expatiation for him with the ram for the sacrifice of reparation and he will be forgiven. 

The sanctuary-shekel was heavier than the common shekel (Ex 30:14; 38:24-26; Lev 5:15; 27:25; Num 3:47; 18:16).  It was worth one-fiftieth of a mina and weighed c. 0.04 ounces (1.13 grams), whereas the common shekel was worth one-sixteth of a mina (Ez 45:12).

It was the priest who decided on the cost of the debt owed Yahweh for the trespass against His holy things with an additional 20 % to be added as guilt money.  This was paid to the priest before he made expiation for the sin through the blood ritual of the individual's trespass sacrifice of an unblemished ram.

#2. Verses 17-19 address sins of contingency: 17If someone sins and without realizing it does one of the things forbidden by guilt.  18As a sacrifice of reparation he must bring the priest an unblemished ram from his flock to the value of which you decide, and the priest will perform the rite of expiation for him for the oversight unwittingly committed, and he will be forgiven.  19This is a sacrifice of reparation; the man was certainly answerable to Yahweh.'

These verses address the occasion where a possible unintentional violation has occurred where the person "knew" but didn't "know." According to the JPS commentary, rabbinic tradition understood theses laws to mean that the offender did not know "for certain" but suspected he had crossed the line in making an offense (JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 32).  Both examples #1 and #2 are sins of omission.  An example of such a sacrifice might be found in Job 1:5 where Job, a devout father, encouraged his children to be purified after their banqueting and brought sacrifices to the altar on their behalf because of the likelihood that during their celebrations and revelry they might have unwittingly commit a blasphemy.  In this case there was no monetary guilt fine.

Verses 20 – 26 address expiation for a series of acts of deceit, theft, or fraud against fellow countrymen:  The offenses put forward here seem to be more intentional than innocently unintentional, but perhaps these sins are judged as unintentional if the perpetrator came forward on this own and confessed his sin when it was brought to his attention.

#3. 20Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 21'If someone sins and is unfaithful against Yahweh by deceiving his fellow-countryman over a deposit or a security, or by withholding something due to him or by exploiting him;

#4. 22or if he finds lost property and denies it;

#5. or if he perjures himself about anything that a human being may do criminally in such matters;

Question: What is the wider consequence of sins against brothers and sisters within the covenant?
Answer: The sin is judged not only as a sin against the person defrauded who is a member of the covenant family, but it is also a sin against God.

The implication is that the person who has sinned made a false oath to the person he offended concerning the dispossession of the property (see Lev 5:4; Num 30:3) and therefore is liable to God in whose name the oath was taken: If you make a vow to Yahweh your God, you must not be slack about fulfilling it: Yahweh your God will certainly hold you answerable for it and you will incur guilt ['asham].  If, however, you make no vow, you do not incur guilt.  Whatever passes your lips you must keep to, and the vow that you have made to Yahweh your generous God, you must fulfill (Dt 23:22-24; also see Ecc 5:3-5).

23if he sins and so becomes answerable, he must restore what he has taken or demand in excess: the deposit confided to him, the lost property that he has found, 24or any object about which he has perjured himself.  He will add one-fifth to the principal and pay the whole to the person who held the property rights on the day when he incurred the guilt.  25He will then bring Yahweh an unblemished ram from his flock to the value which you decide, to the priest as a sacrifice of reparation, 26and the priest will perform the rite of expiation for him before Yahweh an he will be forgiven, whatever the act by which he incurred guilt.'

When the offender's guilt was established he had to make good on his obligation to pay the assessed damage and the 20% guilt fine before the priest could undertake the ritual of expiation.  The sacrifice in these examples of sins of trespasses was the same as the first examples in trespasses sins of omission (Lev 5:14-19).  The sacrifice was an unblemished male ram instead of a female from the flock as in the hatta't sacrifice, but the blood ritual was the same as the sin sacrifice for an individual covenant member (Lev 7:7/6:37).  In all cases of the trespass sacrifice, the ram's blood was "poured out" around the altar and the fat, the tail, fat covering the intestines, both kidneys, the mass of fat from the liver and kidneys were burned on the altar fire (Lev 7:1-5/6:31-35).  The rest of the animal and the hide reverted to the priest.  The meat was eaten in the Sanctuary courtyard by the priests in a sacred meal (Lev 7:6-10/6:36-40).

Also see Numbers 5:5-10 for Yahweh's additional instructions that state the necessity for public confession of the sin committed (Num 5:7), restitution of that which was taken plus the 20 % guilt fine paid to the person wronged (Num 5:7) in addition to the blood sacrifice of the ram (Num 5:8), and what reverts to the priest.  In cases where the sinner can no longer make restitution to the person wronged, the restitution reverts to the priest (Num 5:8-10).  As in the sin sacrifice a portion of the animal brought forward for the rite of expiation becomes the priest's portion, which is eaten in a sacred meal in the Sanctuary courtyard.

Review of the sin sacrifice and the trespass sacrifice of reparation:

Chapter 6: Priesthood and Sacrifice

The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi will be without share or heritage of their own in Israel; they will live on the foods offered to Yahweh and on his heritage. Levi will have no heritage of his own among his brothers; Yahweh will be his heritage, as he has promised him.  Deuteronomy 18:1-2

In Leviticus chapters 6-7 Yahweh instructed Moses concerning the role of the priesthood in offering the various kinds of sacrifices discussed in chapters 1-5. 

Please read Leviticus 6:1-6/6:8-13: The Priest's Duties in Preparing the Altar for the Whole Burnt Offering of the Tamid and the Individual Covenant Member's Whole Burnt Offering
6:1Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 2'Give these orders to Aaron and his sons: "This is the ritual for the burnt offering (that is, the burnt offering that stays on the altar brazier all night until morning and is consumed by the altar fire). 3The priest will put on his linen tunic and put his linen drawers on to cover himself.  He will then remove the fatty ashes of the burnt offering consumed by the altar fire and put them at the side of the altar. 4He will then take off his clothes, put on others and carry the ashes to a clean place outside the camp. 5The fire on the altar that consumes the burnt offering must not be allowed to go out.  Every morning the priest will make it up with wood, arranging the burnt offering on it and burning the fat from the communion sacrifices. 6The fire must always be burning on the altar; it must never go out."

The reference to the "burnt offering" ('olah) in verse two refers to the daily whole burnt offering of the Tamid lambs (Ex 29:38-42). The complete directions for the ritual of the communal Tamid are given in the Tamid section of the Jewish Mishnah.  The Agape Bible Study website has a description of the Tamid worship service in the study "The Advent of the Messiah: Part II."  Daily worship began and ended with the Tamid whole burnt offering.  Other sacrifices were offered in between the worship services surrounding these two sacrifices.  The instructions also refer to the individual covenant member's whole burnt offerings which covenant members were allowed to bring to the altar after the morning Tamid sacrifice and before the afternoon service.  The whole burnt offering of the second Tamid lamb that was sacrificed at about three in the afternoon was to remain burning on the altar fire throughout the night.(2)

Question: What was the morning ritual for the priest whose duty it was to prepare the Altar of Burnt Offerings to receive the day's sacrifices?
Answer: According to the instructions Moses received, these are the duties of the priest who was to prepare the altar in the Sanctuary courtyard:

  1. He was to dress in his linen tunic and linen underwear.
  2. He had to remove the fatty ashes from under the bronze altar's brazier.
  3. After changing out of his liturgical tunic into ordinary clothes, he was to take the ashes outside the camp to be deposited in a designated area.
  4. When he returned he arranged the wood on the altar to receive the morning Tamid whole burnt offering, after which other sacrifices including the fat from communion sacrifices could be put on the altar fire.

According to the Mishnah (Tamid 1:1Q; Yoma 3:3) every morning the priests on duty in the Sanctuary ritually immersed in a bath (mikvah) prior to dressing in the liturgical tunic to prepare for the morning worship service.  The priest assigned to clean the altar also bathed and dressed again in the liturgical tunic after returning from depositing the ash and before assuming other duties.  The tunic and other liturgical garments were only worn within the Sanctuary (Ez 42:14).  See the chart on the High Priest's vestments in the Charts: Old Testament/Pentateuch section.  Of the eight articles of clothing worn by the anointed High Priest, the other priests wore four articles of clothing: the breeches, tunic, waistband, and headdress (Ex 28:40-43).

Question: What command is repeated two times in this section of instructions?  Why?  See Lev 9:22-24.
Answer: The altar fire must never be allowed to go out; it was a fire that God lit when He accepted His priests' first sacrifice on the Altar of Burnt Offerings–it was holy fire.

Please read Leviticus 6:7-11/6:14-18: The Priest's Role in the Ritual for the Grain Offering (Minhah)
6:7"This is the ritual for the cereal offering: "One of the descendants of Aaron will bring it into Yahweh's presence in front of the altar, 8will take a handful of the wheaten flour (with the oil and all the incense which have been added to it) and burn the memorial on the altar as a smell pleasing to Yahweh; 9and Aaron and his sons will eat the remainder in the form of unleavened loaves.  They will eat it inside the holy place, in the court of the Tent of Meeting. 10The portion I give them of the food burnt for me must not be baked with leaven; it is especially holy, like the sacrifice for sin and the sacrifice of reparation. 11All male descendants of Aaron are entitled to eat this portion of the food burnt for Yahweh (this is a perpetual law for all your descendants) and anyone who touches it will become holy."

These instructions address the ritual offering of the grain minhah (chapter 2).  Nothing with leaven or honey was ever to be put on the altar (Lev 2:11).  Leaven was a sign of sin, it changed the nature of the flour by puffing it up like sin changed the nature of a soul, and honey was the product of an unclean insect (Lev 11:20-23).

Question: After the offerer handed his entire grain offering to the priest what ritual did the priest perform with the grain?
Answer: He offered a portion of the wheat grain with some oil and all the incense and burned it on the altar as a memorial.  The priests then ate the remainder of the offering as unleavened wheat loaves within the Sanctuary courtyard.

Question: Why was the grain eaten by the priests as unleavened bread deemed "most /especially holy"?  See Dt 18:1-2.
Answer:  It was "most holy" because the offering was food belonging to Yahweh who shared it with His priests.

11All male descendants of Aaron are entitled to eat this portion of the food burnt for Yahweh... Only the males among Aaron's descendants could eat these unleavened bread loaves in the courtyard, but their wives and daughters were permitted to eat other foodstuffs collected for the support of their families.  These foodstuffs are summarized in Numbers 18:8-20 and 22:10-13

anyone who touches it will become holy. This statement implies that anyone who is to touch Yahweh's bread must be in a holy state.  The JPS Commentary on Leviticus suggests "anyone who touches these things must be in a holy state" is the better translation (page 37).

Question: Does the same command apply to those who touch Yahweh's Eucharistic bread that has become the Living Christ?  See Jn 6:55.
Answer:  Absolutely.  One must be in a state of grace in order to partake of the sacred meal of the Eucharist–it is God's food shared with us: For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

Please read Leviticus 6:12/19-16/23: The Priests' Ordination Tribute Offering (Minhah)
6:12Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 13'This is the offering that Aaron and his sons must make to Yahweh on the day they are anointed:  one-tenth of an ephah of wheaten flour as a perpetual cereal offering, half in the morning and half in the evening [afternoon]. 14It will be prepared on the griddle mixed with oil; you will bring the paste as a cereal offering in several pieces, offering them as a smell pleasing to Yahweh. 15When one of his sons is anointed priest to succeed him, he will do the same.  This is a perpetual law.  The entire cereal offering will be burnt for Yahweh. 16Every cereal offering made by a priest will be a total sacrifice; none of it will be eaten.'

This is the minhah of the high priest as well as the other chief priests (not the lesser Levite ministers).  The high priest's minhah was to be offered by the high priest in the liturgical services of the morning and afternoon Tamid sacrifice, the perpetual sacrifice of an unblemished male lamb for the covenant people.  Like the totally consumed sacrifice of the Tamid lamb, the high priest's minhah offering was to be elevated above the burning Tamid lamb, broken in pieces and completely consumed on the altar fire.

Question: What is the connection to the anointed high priest's ordination rite?
Answer: The first time the newly anointed priest offered his priestly minhah was at his ordination and his offering continued so long as he lived.

15bThis is a perpetual law.  The word translated "perpetual" in Hebrew is term tamid, as in the Tamid daily sacrifice which is to be a "standing" (literal meaning of tamid) as a "perpetual" or "continual" sacrifice (JPS Commentary: Leviticus page 38; The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 271). 

Sirach 45:14 records the high priest's minhah offering: His sacrifices were to be burnt entirely, twice each day and for ever.  And Sirach 50:1, 10-17/11-19 records the high priest Simon II offering his high priestly minhah with the morning Tamid and pouring out the wine libation at the foot of the altar.   In Mishnah: Menahot 4:5-4.6 the high priest's daily grain offering is called havitei Kohen Gadol "the griddle cakes of the High Priest" (JPS Commentary: Leviticus page 38). 

16Every cereal offering made by a priest will be a total sacrifice; none of it will be eaten. Every grain offering that a priest brought as a personal offering or on behalf of the priesthood as a whole, as a sin sacrifice or as a voluntary offering, was to be burned entirely on the altar in the same way.  Priests could only benefit for services undertaken on behalf of other Israelites and not on their own behalf.  When a priest brought a personal offering or a personal sin sacrifice the share that normally went to the priests had to be surrendered entirely to God on the fire of the altar.

Grain offerings for covenant individuals and priests (only for Lev 2:1-16; 6:7-16/14-23; 7:7-10/6:37-40; 8:26):

Offerer Type of offering/preparation Leavened or unleavened Voluntary or compulsory/ how offered
Individual member's minhah Fine wheat flour mixed with oil   Voluntary personal offering; portion burned on the altar with incense and salt; remainder to priest.
Individual member
Wheat four bread made with oil and baked in an oven (challos) Unleavened Voluntary personal offering; portion burned on the altar with incense and salt; remainder to the priest
Individual member
Wheat wafers baked in an oven and smeared with oil (rekikim) Unleavened Voluntary personal offering; portion burned on the altar with incense and salt; remainder to the priest.
Individual covenant member
Wheat mixed with oil and fried on a griddle (machavas) Unleavened Voluntary personal offering; portion burned on the altar with incense and salt; remainder to the priest.
Individual covenant member
Wheat bread mixed with oil and deep-fried in a pan (marcheshes) Unleavened Voluntary personal offering; portion burned on the altar with incense and salt; remainder to the priest.
Priest's minhah Wheat flour mixed with oil Unleavened Voluntary personal offering: flour burned entirely on the altar with incense and salt; remaining flour made into loaves in any of the three forms of bread and eaten.
High priest's
Wheat flour mixed with oil and cooked as a thin cake on a griddle. Unleavened Compulsory offering broken and burned entirely on the altar with incense and salt, half in with the morning Tamid and the other half with the afternoon Tamid sacrifice.
Priests induction
Wheat bread made with oil, baked as a thin cake on a griddle. Unleavened Compulsory offering broken and burned entirely on the altar with incense and salt and offered with the Tamid.
Sinner's grain offering for the destitute Raw wheat flour without oil Unleavened Compulsory offering with a portion burned on the altar with salt but without incense; remainder to the priest
Firstfruits offerings
Barley with oil poured over roasted ears of grain or wheat bread of ground wheat Unleavened Compulsory offering with a portion burned on the altar with incense and salt and the remainder to the priest.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Initially only the high priest offered the Tamid sacrifice, but at some time after the Temple was built the high priest could designate another senior priest to perform the ritual.  See the description of the High Priest Simeon (Simon) offering the Tamid sacrifice in Sirach 50:1-21/23.

Please read Leviticus 6:17-23/6:24-30: The Priest's Role in the Ritual for the Sacrifice for Sin (Hatta't)
6:17Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, 18'Speak to Aaron and his sons and say: "This is the ritual for the sacrifice for sin: "The victim must be slaughtered before Yahweh on the spot where the burnt offerings are slaughtered.  It is especially holy [kodesh kodashim]. 19The priest who offers this sacrifice will eat it.  It will be eaten inside the holy place, in the court of the Tent of Meeting. 20Everything touching the victim's meat will become holy, and if any of the blood splashes on clothing, the stain will be washed off inside the holy place. 20The earthenware vessel in which the meat is cooked must be broken; if a bronze vessel has been used for the cooking, it must be scrubbed and thoroughly rinsed with water. 21Any male who is a priest may eat the sacrifice.  It is especially holy. 22But no one may eat any of the victims offered for sin, the blood of which has been taken into the Tent of Meeting to make expiation inside the sanctuary.  These must be burnt."'

The sin offering, like the whole burnt offering, had to be sacrificed at the northern side of the altar.  This part of the sacrificial ritual is recorded as a practice in the Second Temple period in Mishnah: Zevhahim 5.1F (zevah means "blood sacrifice"'zevahim literally means "blood sacrifices" but in this sense a better translation is "pertaining to blood sacrifice"). 

18bIt is especially holy [kodesh kodashim].  19The priest who offers this sacrifice will eat it.  The term kodesh kodashim, "most sacred" or "most holy" refers to offerings that are given to Yahweh, transference into Yahweh's possession makes the offering holy as Yahweh is holy.  This term is repeated five times; it was first encountered in Leviticus 2:3 and was also used in 2:10, here in 6:18, and will be repeated in verse 22 and in Lev 7:6.

20Everything touching the victim's meat will become holy, and if any of the blood splashes on clothing, the stain will be washed off inside the holy place.  Again, anyone who touches the flesh of the victim given to Yahweh through the blood poured out (sin sacrifice) ritual against the altar must be in a holy state and anything touched by the kodesh kodashim ("most sacred") sacrifice received a transfer of that holiness.

Question: If any of the sacrificial blood stained the priest's clothing why must it be washed off inside the Sanctuary?
Answer: Holiness is contagious.  The holiness of the victim made anyone who touched it or anything touched by it holy.  The sacred blood had to be removed in a holy setting or the garment might be used in a profane way.

This instruction is repeated in Mishnah: Zevahim 11:1-5.

Question: When the priests prepared the sacred meal of the sin sacrifice (or a communion sacrifice) by boiling the meat in an earthen vessel why did that vessel have to be broken and not the metal pot? See Lev 7:15-18b.
Answer: Earthenware is porous and can absorb what is cooked in it; therefore it cannot be purified.  Since all the parts of Yahweh's food shared with His priests or His people were sacred, the pot had to be destroyed to keep it from being reused for a profane purpose or from bits of the flesh being absorbed into the pot and violating the command that none of the sacred meat was to be left over into the next day.

The command to destroy earthenware pots that cooked a sacred meal (of sin or communion sacrifices) was part of the Temple observances recorded in Mishnah: Kelim 2:1.  The practices of ritual purity of vessels described in this passage is observed in orthodox Jewish homes today where only certain vessels and certain kinds of utensils can be used for cooking certain types of foods in order to observe "kosher" eating practices'"kosher" from the Hebrew word kodesh, meaning "holy."

An offerer could not eat his own sin sacrifice, even a priest.  But the priests were commanded to eat the sin sacrifices of covenant members.

Question: What sin sacrifices were the exceptions to this command?  What was to be done with the body of the sacrificial victim in those cases?  See Lev 6:2-21.
Answer: The sin sacrifice of a high priest and the covenant community as a whole could not be eaten in a sacred meal.  After the blood ritual the entire body of the animal was to be burned outside the camp.

Yahweh's elaborate commands and instructions effectively taught the covenant people to recognize the damaging reality of sin and the necessity of living in a holy relationship with a holy God.  God's righteousness could not overlook any sin, even unintentional sin, but His love provided the means for expiation, cleansing through the blood of atonement, and most important the restoration and continuation of fellowship with God, the highest privilege of the covenant relationship.

Question for group discussion:

In the ritual of blood sacrifice for the hatta't (sin sacrifice) and the 'asham (trespass/guilt sacrifice) to "pour out" the blood of the sacrifice is a liturgical instruction used eight times in Leviticus: 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15; 9:9; and 17:13.  In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament this word is translated as ekcheo.  Jesus used this same word at the Last Supper in His divine command to remember His sacrificial meal and the offering of His blood (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20).

Question: How is Jesus Christ our "sin offering" (hatta't) and our "trespass offering" ('asham) whose blood is "poured out" for the salvation of mankind?  Please use these Bible passages and any others that come to mind to support your answer: Is 53:5-12; 1 Pt 2:24; 2 Pt 1:4; Mt 20:28; 26:28; Jn 1:29; Rom 3:25; 5:11; 8:3; 2 Cor 5:17-19; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 9:5, 12; 10:10, 14; 13:12.

  1. Jesus gave His life as a sin offering (Is 53:10; Mt 26:28) in atonement for our sins (a word meaning "at-one-ment").  His atoning sacrifice has allowed New Covenant believers to be cleansed of sin and to become one with God (Rom 5:11; 2 Pt 1:4). 
  2. He is the unblemished "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn 1:29).  "He was bearing our sins in His own body on the Cross so that we might die to our sins and live for uprightness" (1 Pt 2:24); "through His bruises you have been healed" (Is 53:5).
  3. Jesus is our trespass offering: in His sacrifice He paid the debt owed God for our sins by making reparation on our behalf as our substitute sacrifice.  He has died in our place, paying the price for our sins (Is 53:12; Mt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6)'"the punishment reconciling us fell on him" (Is 53:5).  As a result, our sin debt has been cancelled and forgiven. 
  4. Sin is forgiven because God has accepted the sacrifice of the innocent Victim offered as a sacrifice of expiation, His blood "poured out" for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28).  The blood of Christ made complete atonement (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:5) because Jesus is our perfect sin offering (Rom 8:3; Heb 13:12).  Just as the high priest took the blood of his sacrifice into the earthly Tabernacle to purge it of impurities and restore its holiness, the Lord Jesus took His own blood into the heavenly Sanctuary before the presence of God to cleanse our sin, "reconciling us to God" (2 Cor. 5:17-19) and making us holy in God's sight forever (Heb 9:12; 10:10, 14).

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Appendix: The sacrifices and offerings of the Sinai Covenant found in Exodus 29:38-42, and Leviticus chapters 1-7 (additional instructions for festival sacrifices are not included in this chart but will be covered later in the study):

The Communal 'Olat ha-Tamid: whole burnt perpetual daily sacrifice

What offered and by whom Who received Bloody or bloodless Voluntary or compulsory/ purpose
The community as a whole offered a single unblemished male lamb in the morning liturgy of worship and a second in an afternoon worship service.  It was to be completely consumed on the Altar of Burnt Offerings with wheat flour mixed with oil, a red wine libation, and the priest's minhah offering of broken unleavened bread. God received the whole sacrifice consumed on the Altar of Burnt Offerings.  The officiating priest received the hide. Blood ritual of splashing the blood of the sacrifice around the altar and the ritual of pouring out the wine libation at the foot of the altar. Compulsory daily sacrificial offering of the covenant community for forgiveness of sins and the blessings of covenant continuation, to be offered by all generations in covenant with Yahweh so long as the Sinai Covenant endured.

(Ex 29:38-42; Lev 1:1-17; Num 15:1-16; 28:3-8; Sir 50:15/16)

The sacrifice of the Tamid lambs was the first and only sacrifice for the covenant people prior to the sin of the Golden Calf.  After Israel's fall from grace broke the covenant bond with Yahweh, the covenant was renewed (Ex 33:10-35) and the Law and the ritual of sacrifice were expanded.  However, the daily sacrifice of the Tamid lambs remained the center focus of liturgy and worship for the covenant people in a liturgical service that was offered in the morning and repeated in the afternoon.  No other sacrifice took precedence over this sacrifice, even the Passover sacrifice ( Num 28:4-10, 15, 23, 31; 29:6, 11, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38; Mishnah: Tamid). 

The Individual Covenant Member's 'Olah: whole burnt sacrifice

What offered and by whom Who received Bloody or bloodless Voluntary or compulsory/ purpose
Individual covenant members offered an unblemished male from the herd or flock, or a turtledove or pigeon *offered with grain mixed with oil and a red wine libation. Yahweh received in the sacrifice completely consumed on the Altar of Burnt Offerings.  The officiating priest received the hide. Blood ritual of splashing the blood of the animal around the altar and squeezing out the blood of the bird. Voluntary sacrifice based on the wealth of the offerer. Reflection of the covenant members' appreciation of God's blessings.

(Lev 1:1-17; 6:1-6/8-13; Num 15:1-16)

The Minhah: loyalty tribute offerings; offered as a cereal offering

What offered and by whom Who received Bloody or bloodless Voluntary or compulsory/ purpose
Described as five types of grain/ unleavened bread offerings by an individual covenant member together with oil, incense, salt.

The priests' grain offering was to accompany the daily Tamid sacrifice
Yahweh received the offering with a portion burned on the altar and the remainder shared with His priests. Bloodless but offered on the altar consecrated with blood and often in association with blood sacrifices. Voluntary offerings designated as "memorial" offerings.  A symbol of loyalty to God the great King.

(Lev 2:1-16; 6:7-11/14-18; for a priest 6:12-16/19-23)

The Zevah ha-Shelamim: peace offerings in communion with God

What offered and by whom Who received Bloody or bloodless Voluntary or compulsory/ purpose
Communion offerings by an individual covenant member were to be from male or female animals from the herd or flock, salted and *offered with grain mixed with oil and a wine libation. Yahweh received all the sacrifice but the fatty parts and kidneys were burned on the altar.  God shared the remainder of the offerings in a sacred meal with His priests, the offerer and other covenant members eaten in the Sanctuary courtyard in front of the Tabernacle.  The officiating priest received the hide. Blood ritual of sprinkling the blood of the victim around the altar. Voluntary sacrifices  reaffirming "peace" and fellowship with God and with the covenant community in the "thanksgiving" (todah) offering and the vow offering (neder) eaten in a shared meal in the courtyard and the voluntary offerings (nedavah) eaten within the "camp" of God.

(Lev 3:1-17; 7:11-34/7:1-24; 19:5-8; 22:21-30; Num 15:1-12)

The Sin Sacrifices

The Individual Covenant Member's Hatta't : sin sacrifices

What offered and by whom Who received Bloody or bloodless Voluntary or compulsory/ purpose
Based on status within the covenant community:
  1. a bull calf for a high priest
  2. a bull calf for the community as a whole
  3. a he-goat for a community leader
  4. a female animal from the herd or flock for an individual covenant member
  5. two turtledoves or two pigeons for the poor/ wheat flour for the destitute.
    Salted and *offered with grain and a wine libation (no oil or incense in a sin sacrifice, Num 5:15).
Yahweh received all the sacrifice but the fatty parts and kidneys were burned on the altar.  After the priest preformed the sacrificial rites, the sin was forgiven.  The remainder of the animal was burned outside the camp for the sacrifice of a high priest or the community but in the other cases God shared the remainder of the offerings in a sacred meal with His priests.  The officiating priest received the hide. Bloody sacrifice.  In the blood ritual for a high priest or the community the blood was taken into the Tabernacle where it was sprinkled seven times in front of the curtain covering the Holy of Holies and blood was smeared on the horns of the incense altar.  The rest of the blood was poured out around the sacrificial altar in the courtyard.  For the other types of sin sacrifices for individuals the blood was smeared on the horns of the sacrificial altar and the remaining blood was poured out around the altar.  Confession of the sin was part of the ritual. Compulsory sacrifices for expiation of sins by making atonement through the blood of animal sacrifice.

(Lev 5:14-28; Num 5:22-31)

The Individual Covenant Member's 'Asham: sins of reparation/ guilt offering

What offered and by whom Who received Bloody or bloodless Voluntary or compulsory/ purpose
Individual covenant member offered an unblemished ram; in cases where reparation could be made the value of the reparation plus 20%. Yahweh received all the victim but the fatty parts and the kidneys were burned on the altar as in the sin offering.  God shared the remainder of the animal with His priests in a sacred meal.  The officiating priest received the hide. Blood ritual was the same as in the sin sacrifice except the blood was "splashed" (zarak) around the altar and not "poured out" (shaphah) as in the hatta’t sin sacrifice. Compulsory; to pay the debt owed for sins of guilt.

(Lev 5:14-26/6:7; 7:1-10/6:31-40)

*Additional instructions for the priests in the various sacrificial rites are given in Leviticus 6:1-7:38/6:8-7:28 and Num 15:1-31.(3)


1. Judea was a vassal state governed by Rome.  Only Rome's official representative had the power over life and death.

2. The priest/historian Flavius Josephus recorded that the time of the afternoon Tamid was at about the ninth hour Jewish time, which is three in the afternoon our time (The Antiquities of the Jews, 14.4.3 [65]); also see 1 Kng 18:29 which confirms the afternoon sacrifice and 2 Kng 16:15 which mentions both the morning and "evening" (our afternoon since their day ended at sundown) Tamid sacrifices.

3. When the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land they were instructed to add red wine as a libation on the altar with the animal sacrifice and the grain offerings in addition to a priestly minhah offering of unleavened cakes mixed with oil or unleavened wafers spread with oil and wheaten flour mixed with oil and formed into a cake (Num 15:1-31).  The entire offering belonged to God, but He shared the sacrifice with His priests, the offerer and the covenant community in a sacred meal cooked in the courtyard of the Sanctuary and eaten with leaven bread and red wine.  The meal was to be eaten the same day for a Todah communion offering but over a two day period for a voluntary offering (i.e., like the Hagigah festival offering), which could be eaten within the camp of God (Lev chapter 7; 19:5-6; Num 15:7-10).  The victims presented for a communion sacrifice had to be unblemished, except in the case of a voluntary offering where an underdeveloped or deformed male or female animal from the herd or flock was acceptable (Lev 22:22-23).  In all cases anything offered on the altar had to be salted: You will put salt in every cereal offering that you offer, and you will not fail to put the salt of the covenant of your God on your cereal offering; to every offering you will add an offering of salt to you God (Lev 2:13) and was completely consumed in the altar fire.

Catechism references:

Lev 5-6


Lev 5:14-26


Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.