THE PENTATEUCH PART III: LEVITICUS
Lesson 4: Chapters 7-8
Divine Instruction in the Ritual of Sacrifice Part IV:
Priesthood and Sacrifice continued and The Ordination of the Priests
In the priesthood of Jesus Christ You have given us the fulfillment of everything the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured. Jesus Christ, our high priest and unique covenant mediator, has made the New Covenant Church "a kingdom of priests," who together with Your ministerial priesthood of bishop and priests participate, each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ. Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us, Lord, as we study the role of the ministerial priesthood of the Old Covenant as Your representatives to the covenant people and as the ministers of liturgy and worship. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Every high priest is taken from among human beings and is appointed to act on their behalf in relationships with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can sympathize with those who are ignorant of who have gone astray, because he too is subject to the limitations of weakness. That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. Hebrews 5:1-3
The whole Old Testament is a movement of transition to Christ, a waiting for the One in whom all its words would come true, in whom the "Covenant" would attain fulfillment as the New Covenant. Joseph Ratzinger, Feast of Faith, page 58
The divine instructions Yahweh gave Moses concerning the ritual sacrifices for sins committed against God's Law and against men and women within the covenant community in Leviticus chapters four and five were intended to teach the Israelites that sins seriously distort the covenant bond between Israel and God. Sin, individual and communal, needed to be reconciled through sacrifice and blood atonement. In the rite of expiation an acceptable sacrifice, offered with a public confession of sin before Yahweh's priestly representative at the altar of sacrifice and through the ritual of blood performed by the priest, provided forgiveness of the sin according to the Law.
Yahweh's instructions to Moses in chapter six concerning the Tamid daily sacrifice of the communal whole burnt offering that stayed burning on the altar fire day and night suggests the necessary continual consecration of the people of God. Jesus Christ is our New Covenant burnt-offering who consecrates His people continually thorough His one perfect sacrifice made present in the covenant meal of fellowship the sacrifice of thanks and praise we call the Eucharist. It is a sacred meal that should continually remind us that fellowship with God is the highest privilege of our covenant relationship with the Most Holy Trinity.
Instructions for the Priests in the Ritual of Sacrifice continued
Please read Leviticus 7:1-6/6:31-36: Instruction in the
Sacrifice of Reparation/Trespass Offering ('asham)
7:1'"This is the ritual for the sacrifice of reparation: "It is especially holy [kodesh kodashim]. 2The victim must be slaughtered where the burnt offerings ['olah] are slaughtered, and the priest will pour [splash = zarak] the blood all around the altar. 3He will then offer all the fat: the tail, the fat covering the entrails, 4both kidneys, the fat on them and on the loins, the mass of fat which he will remove from the liver and kidneys. 5The priest will burn these pieces on the altar as food burnt for Yahweh. This is a sacrifice of reparation. 6Every male who is a priest may eat it. It will be eaten inside the holy place; it is especially holy."
Question: Where are the victims for the trespass
offerings sacrificed? See Lev 1:11; 6:18/24; 7:7/6:37.
Answer: Like the sacrifice of the Tamid lambs, the individual covenant member's whole burnt offering and the sin sacrifices, the sacrifices of reparation are slaughtered on the north side of the altar.
Question: What was the climax of the sacrifice?
Answer: The priests ate the remaining parts of the sacrifice in a sacred meal.
As in the sin sacrifice for individual covenant members, the officiating priest received portions of the sacrifice from God that he shared with his brother priests in a sacred meal. The meal was cooked and eaten in the courtyard of the Sanctuary in front of the Tabernacle (Lev 6:19-22/26-30). Unlike the sacred meal of the communion sacrifice, which God shared with His priests and His covenant people, only the anointed priests who were descendants of Aaron were permitted to eat the sin sacrifice (also see Lev 7:6/6:36). No explanation is given in Scripture as to why consecrated priests were the only members of the covenant to eat the sin sacrifices, and there is no consensus among Christian and Jewish scholar as to why the eating of this sacrificial meal was limited to the priests. Most scholars suggest that since expiation had not yet been made for the sinner he could not take part in the sacred meal. However, this suggests that expiation and forgiveness was not complete until after eating the sacred meal. This interpretation contradicts Leviticus 4:20-21 in which the covenant community is forgiven after the blood of the sin sacrifice was poured out at the foot of the altar and the victim's fat was burned on the altar with no sacred meal.
In the New Covenant Jesus' one perfect sacrifice has fulfilled all the sacramental sacrifices of the Old Covenant and all baptized covenant members who are in a state of grace and have be initiated into the Sacrament of the Eucharist through the necessary instruction and the ritual of first Holy Communion are invited to partake in God's sacred meal within the Sanctuary.
Question: Why was the sacred meal of the sin
sacrifice only limited to God's anointed priestly representatives descended
from Aaron? What is different in the New Covenant?
Answer: The answer may lie in the fact that only anointed priests could take part in the sacred meal. In the Old Covenant the ordinary people lost their priestly status through their first born sons in the sin of the Golden Calf and the rebellion that followed (Ex 32:25-29; Num 3:11-13; 18:1-7). In the New Covenant, however, we are a priestly people, anointed by Christian baptized into Christ's death and resurrection and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. If that is the difference, the anointed priests, who were the only covenant members holy enough to eat a sin sacrifice (with the exception of their own sin sacrifice) and who stood before the people in a state of grace as the image of redeemed man, prefigured the open invitation to the priestly anointed New Covenant people of God to receive the sacred meal that is the risen Savior Jesus our sin sacrifice who gives to us from His own Body our communion meal of restoration of fellowship.
Please read Leviticus 7:7-10/6:37-40: The Rights of the
Priests in the Sin Sacrifice, the Trespass Offering and the Grain Offerings
7:7"As with the sacrifice for sin, so with the sacrifice of reparation the ritual is the same for both. The offering with which the priest performs the rite of expiation will revert to the priest. 8The hide of the victim presented by someone to the priest to be offered as a burnt offering will revert to the priest. 9Every cereal offering baked in the oven, every cereal offering cooked in the pan or on the griddle will revert to the priest who offers it. 10Every cereal offering, mixed with oil or dry, will revert to all the descendants of Aaron without distinction."
Verses 7-9 provide a list of the officiating priest's rights in the sin and trespass sacrifices:
Question: How was the trespass sacrifice/sacrifice of
reparation like the hatta't sin sacrifice for the individual covenant member
(with the exception of the offerings of the poor)?
Answer: Like the sin sacrifice the fat and kidneys of the victim were burned on the altar fire. Like the sin sacrifice the ritual was concluded in a sacred meal in which God shared the sacrificial victim that had been given to Him with the officiating priest who in turn shared the meal with his brother priests. The sacred meal was eaten in the courtyard in front of the Tabernacle. The hide of the animal also reverted to the officiating priest as in the sin sacrifice offered by an individual covenant member.
The hide of the sacrificed animal, which belonged to God, reverted to the officiating priest except in the case of a sin for a high priest or for the entire covenant community. In those cases the body of the victim including the hide was totally consumed in fire outside the camp of God (Lev 4:11-12, 20-21). The hide was of course an object of value, but there may be something significant in the gift beyond its personal or commercial value.
Question: God's gift of the hide of the victim of
sacrifice to His priest recalls what first incident when God gave such a gift
to His priestly representative? See Gen 3:21.
Answer: This gift may have been intended to recall when God gave the hides of the first animals sacrificed after Adam and Eve's fall from grace to Adam, the priestly representative of the Edenic Sanctuary, to cloth the physical nakedness of Adam and Eve as the blood of the slain victim clothed their spiritual nakedness.
From the time of the fall of man, nakedness became a sign of sin. This was the reason the priests were commanded to completely cover their nakedness in wearing linen breeches under their liturgical garments. The prophet Isaiah equated nakedness with sin when he wrote: Let your nakedness be displayed and your shame exposed (Is 47:3a).
Leviticus 7:9: Every cereal offering baked in the oven, every cereal offering cooked in the pan or on the griddle will revert to the priest who offers it. Every cereal offering, mixed with oil or dry, will revert to all the descendants of Aaron without distinction."
It was common for a grain offering to accompany the animal sacrifice and to be consumed in the sacred meal. In the voluntary minhah tribute grain offering that was offered to Yahweh in several ways (Lev 2:1-9), only a portion was burned on the altar as a memorial (Lev 2:2). The remaining flour or bread revered to the priest (Lev 2:3, 10). The priests also received a portion of the first fruits of the harvest after a memorial portion was burned on the altar (Lev 2:14-16; Dt 26:1-4). After the children of Israel take possession of the promised land, grain and wine offerings will be required for every sacrifice (Num 15:1-16)
Instruction for the Communion Sacrifices
Let thanksgiving [todah] be your sacrifice to God, fulfill the vows [neder] you make to the Most High; then if you call to me in time of trouble I will rescue you and you will honor me (Ps 50:14-15).
Please read Leviticus 7:11-17/7:1-7: The Priestly Ritual
for the Communion Sacrifices
7:11This is the ritual for the communion sacrifice to be offered to Yahweh: 12"If this is offered as a sacrifice with praise [sacrifice of thanksgiving = zevah todah], to the latter must be added an offering of unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and wheaten flour in the form of cakes mixed with oil. 13This offering, then, must be added to the cakes of leavened bread and to the communion sacrifice with praise [zevah todat shelamav = sacred thanksgiving greeting]. 14One of the cakes of this offering must be presented as an offering to Yahweh; it will revert to the priest who pours out [sprinkle = nazah] the blood of the communion sacrifice. 15The meat of the victim will be eaten on the day the offering is made; nothing may be left until next morning. 16If the victim is offered as a votive or a voluntary sacrifice, it must be eaten on the day it is offered, and the remainder may be eaten on the following day; 17but on the third day whatever is left of the meat of the victim must be burnt."
 = literal translation (The Interlinear Bible, vol. I, page 273; JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 43).
Leviticus chapter seven continues with Yahweh's instructions for the priests in the rite of the communion sacrifice (an addendum to the instructions for the people in chapter three). The communion sacrifices are known as "sacrifices of peace," in Hebrew zevah ha-shelamim.
The order of sacrifice in the priest's ritual for both sin and communion offerings:
Question: In what three forms could a communion
sacrifice be offered? See Lev 7:12, 16-17.
Answer: As a sacrifice of praise/thanksgiving, as a votive/vow offering, or as a voluntary/free-will offering.
Communion sacrifices and the resulting sacred meal could be offered in these three forms:
The todah communion meal had to be eaten the same day as the sacrifice within the Sanctuary precincts, but the vow and voluntary offerings were communion gifts of lesser sanctity; therefore, the donors were permitted to eat those sacrifices in a meal with family and friends outside the sacred precincts but within the "camp" of God. Priests, however, had to eat all communion meals within the Sanctuary precincts (JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 42). Additional instructions for the number of days the meat of the sacrificial animal could be eaten in three categories of the communion meals are given in Leviticus 19:5-8 and in Leviticus 22:29-30. The same-day rule for the todah communion meal was also applied to the eating of the Passover sacrifice in Exodus 12:5-10.(1)
Question: The offerer's communion sacrifice of a male
or female animal from the herd or flock (Lev 3:1) was accompanied by grain
offerings in four forms of bread brought to the altar in a basket (Lev 8:26).
What were the types of bread to be included in the offering to Yahweh in
association with a communion sacrifice?
Only the unleavened bread offerings are described as a minhah. In addition to the unleavened bread, cakes of leavened bread were to be provided. All of the bread was offered to the Lord, small portions of the bread were burned on the altar with the exception of the leaven loaves which were forbidden to be placed on the altar (Lev 2:11). One of each type of the bread reverted to the officiating priest. When the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land they were instructed to add red wine as a libation on the altar in addition to the animal sacrifice and the minhah grain offerings (Num 15:1-16). The bread that was not burned on the altar became part of the sacred communion meal.
The "transfer" of the gifts of sacrifice by God to the donor and others for the sacred meal will be mentioned again in verses 34-35 and underlies the grants to the priesthood outlined in Numbers 18:8-19. It was common for grain offerings to accompany the blood sacrifices and the sacred meal. According to Leviticus 8:26, gain offerings also accompanied the blood sacrifice and the sacred meal in the ordination rites of the priesthood. Offerings of bread, both leavened and unleavened, were eaten in other sacred meals; for example there was the command to eat unleavened bread with the meal of the Passover victim at sundown, which was the first day of Unleavened Bread, and to eat unleavened bread for the entire seven day period of that extended feast (Ex 12:15; 13:6-7; Num 9:11). Leavened bread accompanied the eating of unleavened bread with the boiled meat of the sacrificial victim in the communion meal (Lev 7:13) and was a sacrificial offering during the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (Lev 23:15-20).(2)
The courtyard of the Sanctuary was the only place where sacrifices and offerings were to be brought to Yahweh (Lev 1:3; 4:4, 14, 17:8-9; etc). The covenant people were permitted to hunt and eat the wild game of clean animals inside or outside the camp if they obeyed the prohibition against consuming raw flesh or drinking blood by pouring the blood of the slain animal upon the ground and covering it over with dirt (Lev 17:13). However, when covenant members wanted to eat cattle, sheep or goat meat, those animals could only be eaten when they were slaughtered at Yahweh's altar and offered as a communion sacrifice (Lev 17:1-9). It was God's intention for the people to become accustomed eating the sacred meal in fellowship with Him. The prohibition against killing and eating the domestic animals of their herds and flocks outside of the Sanctuary was lifted after they took possession of the Promised Land, but they had to continue to observe the blood prohibition as a condition of the covenant (Dt 12:15-16)
Please read Leviticus 7:18-27/8-17: Four Rules Governing the Eating of the Sacred Communion Meal
1. 18"If any of the meat of a victim offered as a communion sacrifice [sacrifice of well-being] is eaten on the third day, the person who has offered it will not be acceptable and will receive no credit for it. It will count as rotten meat, and the person who eats it will bear the consequences of the guilt.
This prohibition of the "third day" only applied to the vow and voluntary communion sacrifices. The todah "thanksgiving" sacrifice had to be eaten the same day the victim was slaughtered. No part of the animal could be left until the next morning; any remaining parts had to be burned (Lev 7:15/5). The command is repeated in Leviticus 19:5-8. The meat of the sacrifice left over beyond the period of time stipulated made the entire sacrifice unacceptable (also see Lev 19:5 and 22:10).
2. 19Meat that has touched anything unclean cannot be eaten; it must be burnt.
Since the neder (vow) sacrifices and the nedavah (voluntary/free-will) sacrifices could be consumed outside the Sanctuary but within the camp of God, maintaining the ritual purity of the meal was paramount.
3. 20Anyone clean may eat the meat, but anyone unclean who eats the meat of a communion sacrifice offered to Yahweh will be outlawed from his people.
This law addressed the issue of personal sanctity. Any one taking part in the communion meal had to be in a state of holiness he could not be ritually unclean/spiritually unclean eating a meal provided by the holy God.
Question: What was the penalty if a covenant member
received the sacred communion meal in a state of sin (ritual impurity was also
judged to be sin)?
Answer: He was to be excommunicated from the covenant people.
Question: How did St. Paul address this same issue in
association with receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?
How are the warning and the penalty for not being in a state of grace in eating
the sacred meal of the Eucharist different and how is it the same as the
penalty for eating the Old Covenant communion sacrifice unworthily? See 1 Cor
11:27-32; CCC 1385, 1457.
Answer: St. Paul wrote that anyone who ate the bread or drank the cup of the Lord is "answerable for the body and blood" of Christ that person will be judged for failing to recognizing Christ's presence and activity in the Eucharist. In showing such a lack of reverence and failure in belief in acknowledging the Presence of Christ St. Paul wrote that the person is "eating and drinking to his own condemnation;" the failure to receive Christ in a state of grace or to acknowledge His Real Presence can threaten that person's salvation. The failure and punishment in the Old Covenant was temporal but in the New Covenant the failure has eternal consequences.
4. 21Furthermore, if anyone touches anything unclean, human or animal, or any foul thing, and then eats the meat of a communion sacrifice offered to Yahweh, that individual will be outlawed from his people.
Those consuming the sacred meal, whether within the Sanctuary or in the camp of God, had to be in a state of ritual purity. The penalty was to be excommunication from the covenant community and forbidden to offer sacrifices or to take part in the sacred meal.
These instructions for the communion offerings are in addition to the instructions given to Moses for covenant members in chapter three (also see Lev 19:5-8, 21-30). The offerer and those intending to eat the sacred meal had to be free of sin in all forms personal and ritual. The entire offering of the victim and the bread 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 that same day with leaven and unleavened bread (Lev chapter 7; 19:5-6; Num 15:7-10). The male and female victims from the herd or flock presented for a communion sacrifice had to be unblemished, except in the case of a voluntary/free-will offering where underdeveloped or deformed animals were acceptable (Lev 22:22-23).(3)
Please read Leviticus 7:23-27/13-17: Prohibitions
Concerning Animals used in the Sacrificial Rites
23Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, 'Speak to the Israelites and say: 24"You may not eat the fat of ox, sheep or goat. The fat of an animal that had died a natural death or been savaged by beasts may be used for any other purpose, but you are not to eat it. 25Anyone who eats the fat of an animal offered as food burnt for Yahweh will be outlawed from his people. 26Wherever you live, you will never eat blood, whether it be of bird or of beasts. 27Anyone who eats any blood will be outlawed from his people."
Verses 23-27 contain prohibitions against eating blood and the fat the animals that were acceptable as sacrifices for Yahweh. The prohibition against blood is repeated a third time (see Gen 9:4; Lev 3:17). The prohibition against fat only refers to the fat that covers internal organs and entrails. This is because those were the portions of the victim that belonged to God as His share of the offering. The prohibition against fat and blood extended to all pure animals whether or not the animals were actually to be offered in sacrifice. The penalty for disobedience to this covenant prohibition was excommunication from the covenant and the covenant community (JSP Commentary: Leviticus, page 45).
Please read Leviticus 7:28-34/18-24: The Priest's Portion
of the Communion Sacrifice
7:28Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, 29'Speak to the Israelites and say: "Anyone who offers Yahweh a communion sacrifice must bring him part of his sacrifice as an offering. 30He must bring the food to be burnt for Yahweh, that is to say, the fat adhering to the forequarters, with his own hands. He will bring it, and also the forequarters, with which he will make the gesture of offering before Yahweh. 31The priest will then burn the fat on the altar, and the forequarters will revert to Aaron and his descendants. 32You will set aside the right thigh from your communion sacrifice and give it to the priest. 33The right thigh will be the portion of the descendant of Aaron who offers the blood and fat of the communion sacrifice. 34For I have deprived the Israelites of the forequarter offered and the thigh presented in their communion sacrifices, and given them to the priest Aaron and his descendants; this is a perpetual law for the Israelites.
Verses 29-30 ordain that the offerer of the communion sacrifice, which was intended to established "peace" with Yahweh, must actively participate in presenting the offering with his own hands in the ritual of sacrifice a substitute offerer was not acceptable.(4) The "gesture of offering" made by the donor was to elevate the parts of the animal that were to be given to God, parts of which God gave back to be shared with His people. Mishnah: Menahot 5.6 describes this gesture as the offering being carried "to and fro in a raised position." The gesture of offering (tenufah) was the way the precious metals contributed for the building of the Sanctuary in Exodus 38:24 and 29 were consecrated. The "wave" offering gesture was prescribed for certain gain offerings where no part of the offering was placed on the altar with the parts of the animal sacrifice (Lev 23:11, 17), and the "wave offering" was part of the ritual of the investiture rites for the priests (Ex 29:22-28). The intent was to demonstrate that God received and accepted the sacrifice the parts to be burned on the altar and the parts to be cooked and eaten in the sacred meal. It was an important stipulation that the priests and the people only took possession of their allotted portions after God's share of the offering (the fatty parts) had been burned on the altar.(5)
Blood sacrifice was at the center of the communion sacrificial ritual in which ownership of the victim was first transferred from the offerer to God who in turn, as an expression of His hesed (covenant "loving-kindness"), shared a feast of celebration with members of His covenant family. The blood sacrifice of the todah "thanksgiving" offering was a natural expression of joy in the worshipper's covenant relationship with Yahweh. The sacred meal took place in the courtyard of the Sanctuary in front of the Tabernacle (as for the sin sacrifices eaten in God's presence by His anointed priests), and God's invited guests were His priests and His people. The meat of the todah had to be eaten the day of the sacrifice, and any meat that was leftover had to be burned. The meat of the vow and voluntary communion meals, however, could be eaten within the "camp of God" over a two day period; this rule included the hagigah festival offerings (Lev 7:16-17/6-7; Mishnah; Hagigah). For a communion sacrifice the laying-on-of-hands ritual and the confession of praise denoted the offerer transferring his gratitude and thanks expressed to God through the giving of the life of the animal. The offerer laid all his feelings of gratitude upon the head of the innocent and unblemished beast that shed its blood for him before God.
Question: What was the other aspect of this shared
banquet that embodied covenant continuation and Israel's relationship to Yahweh
as opposed to the secular world? Think of the implications of the covenant
treaty of Sinai and the political hierarchy within other nations.
Answer: God was Israel's deity, but He was also the great King of His vassal people. The sacred meal of communion was a banquet that can be compared to the way the king of a nation was sustained by the tributes of his subjects, who were nevertheless greatly honored to be invited to banquet at His table (Dan 5:1-3; Est 1:2-3).
Question: However, this sacred meal that celebrated
peace between God the King and His subjects had far greater significance than
the comparison to any secular banquet it was a sign of covenant union and of what
was to come. How was this covenant meal a promise of two fulfillments: of what
was to come in the future and to come at the final "end of days"? See Mt. 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19-20; Rev 19:9.
Answer: It prefigured the Last Supper, our first of many Eucharistic meals as well as the promise of the future heavenly banquet of the wedding feast of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church, at God's table in the heavenly Sanctuary (Rev 19:9).
The JPS Commentary: Leviticus records: The todah occupied a special position in the rabbinic tradition because it symbolized the pure expression of gratitude to God. It was not obligatory; nor was it occasioned by sinfulness or guilt, nor even by the motives that induced Israelites to pledge votive sacrifices when confronted by danger. According to rabbinic teaching, it would continue to be offered in the messianic era, when the rest of the sacrificial system was no longer operative (page 43; underlining added).
Question: Was the prophecy that the todah would
continue in the Messianic era when all other sacrifices had ceased fulfilled?
Answer: Yes, this prophecy was perfectly fulfilled. When the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in 70 AD all the sacrificial rites of the Old Covenant ceased, but the todah ("thanksgiving" sacred meal) continued in the Eucharistic sacred meal of the New Covenant people of God.
A todah sacrifice was an appropriate expression of one's gratitude to God for deliverance from some personal crisis or life threatening misfortune:
The deliverance and restoration aspect of the todah sacrifice also became the focus of many of the psalms in which the connection can be made between the psalmist's temporal peril and need for deliverance with the todah sacrifice. In Feast of Faith Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) wrote (quoting in part from a work by Bible scholar H. Gese): As to the influence of this kind of sacrificial meal, we can say "that the toda formed the cultic basis of the major part of the Psalter." He went on to write: Gese analyzes Psalm 69; 51; 40:1-12 and 22'the great Christological psalm of the New Testament. (Indeed for the evangelists, Psalm 22 became a textbook on the Passion of the Christ.) From the context revealed by Gese, it is clear that what we have here is not some retrospective application of Old Testament words to an event, transforming and "theologizing" it: the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus is toda. It is the real fulfillment of the words of these psalms at a new depth. Indeed, it is as if the words had been waiting of their profound fulfillment in Jesus, a fulfillment which surpasses every individual destiny, whether of death or of deliverance, and which also surpasses the merely collective destiny of Israel, expanding both individual and collective destinies into something far greater and hitherto unknown (Feast of Faith, pages 54-55).
A todah psalm begins by the psalmist referring to a fearful situation that threatens his life. He then calls upon God and petitions God to intervene to save him from disaster. For example David's Psalm 22 begins with a plea for help: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The words of my groaning do nothing to save me. My God, I call by day by you do not answer, at night, but I find no respite (Ps 22:1-2). David continues his plea by describing his peril: Many bulls are encircling me, wild bulls of Bashan closing in on me. Lions ravening and roaring open their jaws at me. My strength is trickling away [I am poured out like water], my bones are all disjointed, my heart has turned to wax, melting inside me.... A pack of dogs surrounds me, a gang of villains closing in on me as if to hack off my hands and my feet. I can count every one of my bones, while they look on and gloat; they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing (Ps 22:12-18). As the psalm continues, David cries out for God to save him and ends with a hymn of praise to God, announcing his faith in God and in the assurance of his deliverance and restoration: Yahweh, do not hold aloof! My strength, come quickly to my help, rescue my soul from the sword, the one life I have from the grasp of the dog! Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the wild bulls' horns! ... I shall proclaim your name to my brothers, praise you in full assembly: ... For he has not despised nor disregarded the poverty of the poor, has not turned away his face, but has listened to the cry for help....The whole wide world will remember and return to Yahweh, all the families of nations bow down before him. ... and these will tell of his saving justice to a people yet unborn: he has fulfilled it (Ps 22:19-31).
Describing the significance of the todah as both a sacrifice and sacred meal of deliverance, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict the XVI) again quoting Biblical scholar H. Gese: The thanksgiving sacrifice presupposes a particular situation. If a man is saved from death, from fatal illness or from those who seek his life, he celebrated this divine deliverance in a service of thanksgiving which marks an existential new start in his life. In it, he "confesses"(jd[h]) God to be his deliverer by celebrating a thank offering (toda). He invites his friends and associated, provides the sacrificial animal...and celebrates...together with his invited guests, the inauguration of his new existence.... In order to recall God's deliverance and give thanks for it, it is necessary to reflect on one's pilgrimage through suffering, to bring to mind the process of redemption.... It is not a mere sacrificial rite; it is a sacrifice in which on professes one's involvement.... Here we have a unity which embraces a service of the word in a ritual meal, praise and sacrifice. The sacrifice cannot be misunderstood as a 'gift' to God; rather it is a way of 'honoring' the Deliverer. And the fact that the rescued man is able to celebrate 'life restored' in the sacred meal is itself the gift of God (Ratzinger, Feast of Faith, page 55).
Connecting the blood ritual of the todah sacrifice and the eating of the flesh of the sacrificial victim, Joseph Ratzinger wrote: Anyone who takes account of these factors will not find it difficult to understand the origins of the Eucharist of Jesus Christ. Structurally speaking, the whole of Christology, indeed the whole of eucharistic Christology, is present in the toda spirituality of the Old Testament. As Gese sums it up: "The Lord's Supper is the Toda of the Risen One." (Feast of Faith, page 57). Then he used Bible scholar H. Gese's quote from rabbinic sources: The toda of Jesus vindicates the rabbinic dictum: "in the coming (Messianic) time, all sacrifices will cease except the toda sacrifice. This will never cease in all eternity. All (religious) song will cease too, but the songs of toda will never cease in all eternity" (quoted by H. Gese in"The Origin of the Lord's Supper", Feast of Faith page 58).
Please read Leviticus 7:35-38/25-28: Conclusion of
Instructions for the Sacrificial Rites Prior to the Priests' Ordination
35Such was the portion of Aaron and his descendants in the food burnt for Yahweh, the day he presented them to Yahweh for them to become his priests. 36This was what Yahweh ordered the Israelites to give them on the day they were anointed: a perpetual law for all their descendants. 37Such was the ritual for burnt offering, cereal offering, sacrifice for sin, sacrifice of reparation, investiture sacrifice and communion sacrifice, 38which Yahweh laid down for Moses on Mount Sinai, the day he ordered the Israelites to make their offerings to Yahweh in the desert of Sinai."'
Verses 35-38 summarizes the body of instruction from Leviticus chapters six through seven concerning the rightful inherited portion of the sacrifices belonging to the descendants of Aaron after their ordination in their role as God's representative to the people in the rituals of sacrifice.
The Investiture of the Priests
What follows next
explains... the proper manner of consecration which is to be used in dedicating
[Aaron and his sons] as well as the tabernacle with all its furnishings. [That
manner] is to offer the Lord a calf and two rams and wheat bread that is not
only unleavened but also sprinkled with oil or even covered with an application
of the oil of unction. Figuratively all of these things doubtless indicate
either devotion to good works and purity of faith or the grace of divine
illumination, which is the only proper means of consecrating priests. For who
does not know that the sacrifice of those animals and [the sprinkling of] their
blood designate the death of our Lord and the sprinkling of his blood, through
which we are set free from sins and strengthened for good works?
Bede, On the Tabernacle 3.10
Please read Leviticus 8:1-13: Aaron and His Sons are
Anointed and Dressed in their Sacred Vestments
8:1Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 2'Take Aaron and with him his sons, the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sacrifice for sin, the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread. 3Then call the whole community together at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.' 4Moses did as Yahweh ordered; the community gathered at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, 5and Moses said to them, 'This is what Yahweh has ordered to be done.' 6He made Aaron and his sons come forward and washed them with water. 7He then dressed him in the tunic, passed the waistband round his waist, vested him in the robe and put the ephod on him. He then put the waistband of the ephod round his waist, fastening it to him. 8He put the breastplate on him, and placed the urim and thummim in it. 9He put the turban on his head, and on the front of the turban, the golden flower; this was the symbol of holy consecration, which Yahweh had prescribed to Moses. 10Moses then took the anointing oil and anointed the dwelling and everything inside it, to consecrate them. 11He sprinkled the altar seven times and anointed the altar and its accessories, the basin and its stand, to consecrate them. 12He then poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron's head and anointed him to consecrate him. 13Moses then made Aaron's sons come forward; he dressed them in tunics, passed the waistbands round their waists and put on their head-dresses, as Yahweh ordered him.
In the ordination ceremony Moses assumed the role of God's prophet/officiating priest. Moses' actions in the ordination ceremony are a repeat of the divine instructions given to Moses on his first ascent of Mt. Sinai in Exodus 28:41-29:37 and repeated when the Tabernacle was erected in 40:12-15. The instructions for making the sacred priestly vestments were given in Exodus 28:1-40 and carried out in 39:1-41.
Question: Following Yahweh's instructions, what did
Moses do to consecrate Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar in
the first part of the investiture ceremony prior to the animal sacrifice and
the blood ritual? See Lev 8:1-13; Num 3:3.
The consecrated oil (Ex 30:22-33) conferred a special status to whatever it touched. The altar, the Tabernacle and the vessels were consecrated as sacred to Yahweh with the holy oil. Aaron and his sons also became "sacred vessels" of Yahweh upon consecration with the oil.(6)
Leviticus 8:8: He put the breastplate on him, and placed the urim and thummim in it. The urim and thummim were placed in the pocket of the breastplate worn on Aaron's chest (Ex 28:15-30). See the discussion of the vestments and these objects in Lessons 14-15 of the Exodus study. The High Priest always wore his sacred vestments including the breastplate carrying the urim and thummim when he entered the Tabernacle. The High Priest used these sacred objects in guiding the destiny of the Israelite people according to the will of God.(7)
Please read Leviticus 8:14-30: The Investiture Sacrifices
and the Blood Ritual
8:14He then had the bull for the sacrifice brought forward. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the victim's head 15and Moses slaughtered it. He then took the blood and with his finger put some of it on the horns of the corners of the altar to purify the altar. He then poured the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar, which he consecrated by performing the rite of expiation over it. 16He then took all the fat covering the entrails, the mass of fat over the liver, both kidneys and their fat; and he burnt this on the altar, 17but the bulls skin, its meat and its offal he burnt outside the camp, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 18He then had the ram for the burnt offering brought forward. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram's head 19and Moses slaughtered it. He poured its blood all around the altar. 20He then quartered the ram and burned the head, the quarters and the fat. 21He then washed the entrails and shins, and burnt the whole ram on the altar, as a burnt offering, offered to be a pleasing smell, as food burnt for Yahweh, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 22He then had the other ram brought forward, the ram for the investiture sacrifice. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head 23and Moses slaughtered it. He took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 24He then made Aaron's sons come forward and he put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. Next, Moses poured the rest of the blood all around the altar. 25He then took the fat: the tail, all the fat covering the entrails, the mass of fat over the liver, both kidneys and their fat, and the right thigh. 26From the basket of unleavened bread placed before Yahweh, he took an unleavened cake, a cake of bread made with oil, and a wafer; he placed these on the fat and the right thigh, 27and put it all into Aaron's hands and those of his sons, and made the gesture of offering before Yahweh. 28Moses then took them away from them and burned them on the altar, with the burnt offering. This was the investiture sacrifice, offered to be a pleasing smell, as food burnt for Yahweh. 29Moses then took the forequarter and made the gesture of offering before Yahweh. This was the portion of the ram of investiture that reverted to Moses, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 30Moses then took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled Aaron and his vestments, and his sons and their vestments, with it. In this way he consecrated Aaron and his vestments and his sons and their vestments.
These instructions are a repeat of the instructions Moses received on the mountain in Exodus 29:10-21.
Question: Three animals were offered in what three
kinds of sacrifices?
Since the bull was a priestly sin sacrifice, the priests could not benefit from it and it could not be eaten in a sacred meal. With the exception of the fat that was burned on the altar, the rest of the animal's body was destroyed outside the camp according to the instructions in Leviticus 4:1-12. Pope St. Leo the Great (reigned 440-461 AD) compared Jesus, the High Priest of the New Covenant people of God, to the priestly sin sacrifice that reconciled the high priest to God and to the people and was destroyed outside the camp: Indeed consequently, "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed," as the apostle says. Offering himself to the Father as a new and real sacrifice of reconciliation, he was crucified not in the temple whose due worship is now completed, nor within the enclosure of the city which was to be destroyed because of its crime, but "outside and beyond the camp." That way, as the mystery of the ancient sacrifices was ceasing, a new victim would be put on a new altar, and the cross of Christ would be the altar not of the temple but of the world. Pope Leo the Great, Sermon 33.7
Leviticus 8:26-28: From the basket of unleavened bread placed before Yahweh, he took an unleavened cake, a cake of bread made with oil, and a wafer; he placed these on the fat and the right thigh, 27and put it all into Aaron's hands and those of his sons, and made the gesture of offering before Yahweh. 28Moses then took them away from them and burned them on the altar, with the burnt offering. This was the investiture sacrifice, offered to be a pleasing smell, as food burnt for Yahweh. Portions of the bread in the basket were burned on the altar and the remainder was eating in the communion meal. According to the provisions in Leviticus 7:32-34, the right thigh of the victim belonged to the priests (Ex 29:27-28), but they surrendered their own portion to God to be burned on the altar. It would have been improper for them to benefit from what was offered on their own behalf. It was only when they were in service to members of the community that they could benefit from the portions assigned to them.
Question: What was significant about the portion
Moses received? See verse 29 and Ex 29:26-28.
Answer: He received the breast and forequarter portion due the officiating priest, which he contributed to the priests as a gift for the communion meal.
Question: What was the significance of the blood
ritual applied to Aaron and his sons from the sacrificial blood of the "Ram of
Answer: The blood on their right ears, right thumbs and big right toes signified that the entire man was consecrated in blood to Yahweh.
Leviticus 8:30: 30Moses then took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled Aaron and his vestments, and his sons and their vestments, with it. In this way he consecrated Aaron and his vestments and his sons and their vestments. It is significant that the blood of the second ram, called the "Ram of Investiture" in Exodus 29:31 and Leviticus 8:21, is smeared upon Aaron and his sons and the remaining blood is cast against the altar. In the covenant ratification ceremony in Exodus chapter 24 the blood of the sacrificial victim was cast against the altar, which represented God as one of the parties in the covenant treaty, and the rest of the blood was cast over the people, the other party in the covenant treaty, uniting God and the people as one covenant family. The blood ritual ended in a sacred meal (Ex 24:4-11).
Question: How was the blood of ordination sacrifice
applied to both the newly ordained priests and the altar of sacrifice followed
by a sacred meal similar to the covenant ratification ceremony in Exodus
chapter 24? See Ex 40:15; Lev 2:13; Num 18:19; Jer 33:21; Sirach 45:7/8, 15/19.
Answer: The ritual of the blood purified the priests and also united them in a covenant of lifetime service to Yahweh in His Tabernacle and as His covenant representative to His people. Like the ratification ceremony at Sinai, the covenant between Yahweh and Aaron and his sons (and all future descendants of Aaron) is ratified in blood and a sacred meal.
Please read Leviticus 8:31-36: The Eating of the Sacred Communion
Meal of Investiture
8:31Moses then said to Aaron and his sons, 'Cook the meat at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, and eat it there, as also the bread of the investiture sacrifice still in the basket of the investiture offerings, as I ordered, when I said, "Aaron and his sons must eat it." 32What remains of the meat and bread you will burn. 33For seven days you will not leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, until the time of your investiture is complete; for your investiture will require seven days. 34Yahweh has ordered us to do as we have done today to perform the rite of expiation for you; 35hence, for seven days, day and night, you will remain at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting observing Yahweh's ritual; do this, and you will not incur death. For this was the order I received.' 36So Aaron and his sons did everything that Yahweh had ordered through Moses.
Question: With the covenant community assembled as witnesses to the event,
the consecration ritual for Aaron and his sons was carried out in what five
Question: How long was the ordination ceremony to
Answer: The same three sacrifices and the sacred meal were to be repeated for a seven day period.(8)
Each day's celebration for the week ended in a communion meal signifying God's covenant union with His ordained priests who stood as His representatives before the covenant people. They could not leave the Sanctuary for that period of time to avoid becoming ritually defiled and unable to eat the communion meal.
Question: What ominous warning is given concerning
faithful obedience to the instructions Yahweh has given for sacrificial rites
and covenant rituals?
Answer: Verse 35 contains the command to do everything as Yahweh has instructed and they "will not incur death;" implied is the warning that to not do everything as Yahweh has commanded will incur death.
Unfortunately, later Aaron's eldest sons will fail to heed the warning and will bear the consequences.
In Exodus 40:15 Yahweh impressed upon Moses the significance of the ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons in future generations: Their anointing will confer an everlasting priesthood on them for all their generations to come.
Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] on the history of the ministerial priesthood:
Sirach 45:14-22/ 15-27: 45:14His sacrifices were to be burnt entirely, twice each day and for ever. 15/18Moses consecrated him and anointed him with holy oil; and this was an everlasting covenant for him, and for his descendants as long as the heavens endure, that he should preside over worship, act as priest, and bless the people in the name of the Lord. 16/20He chose him out of all the living to offer sacrifices to the Lord, incense and perfume as a memorial to make expiation for the people. 17/21He entrusted him with his commandments, committed to him the statutes of the Law for him to teach Jacob his decrees and enlighten Israel on his Law. 18/21Others plotted against him, they were jealous of him in the desert, Dathan and Abiram and their men, Korah and his crew in fury and rage. 19/23The Lord saw it and was displeased, his raging fury made an end of them; he worked miracles on them, consuming them by his flaming fire. 20/25And he added to Aaron's glory, he gave him an inheritance; he allotted him the offerings of the first-fruits, before all else, as much bread as he could want. 21Thus they eat the sacrifices of the Lord which he gave to him and his posterity. 22/27But of the people's territory he inherits nothing, he alone of all the people has no share, 'For I myself am your share and heritage.'
Questions for group discussion:
Question: Compare the five steps of the consecration ritual for the ordination of the priests to the consecration ritual for adult New Covenant members into the priesthood of believers through the Sacrament of Baptism. How are the rituals similar?
Answer: Psalm 22 is a description of the Passion of Jesus Christ. For example Psalm 22 mentions:
Jesus quoted from the first line of Psalm 22 so that all those listening and watching the events would recall the psalm and witness its prophetic fulfillment. All these passages were fulfilled in the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, son of David, Son of God.
2. The prophet Amos referred to the improper burning of leaven cakes as part of the thanksgiving offering by those who had no respect for Yahweh's laws (Amos 4:5). The offering of leavened cakes which reverted to the priests was also required in the feast of Weeks/Pentecost in Lev 23:17.
3. The voluntary/free-will offerings were usually eaten in sacred meals during the pilgrim feasts where covenant members living in different parts of the Promised Land or outside the nation had to journey to God's altar three times a year, often accompanied by their families. In their prolonged stay near the Sanctuary or later in Jerusalem during the week-long feasts of Unleavened Bread (eight days plus Passover) and Shelters/Tabernacles (eight days), the voluntary communion offerings (called the hagigah festival offerings) provided for their families in sacred meals within the camp of God. Lessoning the restriction of only "unblemished sacrificial victims" to animals with some minor defects reduced the cost of those sacrifices for the offerer.
4. This ordinance did not apply to the Passover victim; it was not necessary to be present for the sacrifice of the Passover victim. The Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Nisan was not a pilgrim feast. According to Mishnah: Pesahim 8:2-8:4 one could entrust the offering of the Passover victim to a family member or even a slave, but it was absolutely necessary to be present that night for the sacred meal of the roasted lamb or kid with bitter herbs, chopped fruit, unleavened bread, and the red wine that symbolized the blood of the sacrificed victim.
5. See 1 Sam 2:12-17 where the sons of the High Priest Eli failed to observe this law. They seized their portions of the sacrifices from the cooking pots before the altar sacrifice had been performed and suffered the wrath and judgment of God (1 Sam 2:34; 4:11).
7. In Numbers 27:21 Joshua, who was to become Moses successor, was instructed to ask Aaron's son Eleazar, the new High Priest, to give him direction using the urim. References to both these objects are found seven times in the Old Testament: Ex 28:30; Lev 8:8; Num 27:21; Dt 33:8; 1 Sam 28:6; Ezra 2:63 and Neh 7:65.
8. Both wedding feasts and ordination banquets continued for a seven day period (Gen 29:27; Judg 14:12; Ex 29:37; Lev 8:33-35), symbolically pointing to a "new creation." In marriage the seven day period is prefigured in the marriage of Adam and Eve on the seventh day and the promise of new life to a family in bringing forth children. The same symbolism can be seen in the ordination rite of the priests: new life in the transformation from ordinary men to men who have become a new creation men transformed by holiness into the image and likeness of God.
Michal Hunt © copyright 2010
Catechism references for this lesson: * indicates the citation is either quoted or paraphrased from Scripture.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.