Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Burnt Offering

Posted by Chris on March 24, 2008

This is part of a series. See the description and introduction and glossary.

The burnt offering gets its name because the entire animal is burned on the altar, except for the skin/hide (Lev 1:6, 7:8), a sign of complete dedication to the Lord. In several places in the Old Testament, God demands total dedication of physical sacrifices (other examples: destroying all the plunder of an enemy city, every firstborn belonged to the Lord). In the New Testament, we are to spiritually submit every aspect of our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The burnt offering was perhaps the most common. It was performed as part of the daily offering and usually included in special offerings as well. In most instances, burnt offerings are complemented with standard grain and drink offerings. You will see the regulations for these and there will be blog posts on each in the future.

There were three different types of burnt offering, marked by appropriate requirements based on the level of prosperity of the offeror: cattle, flock, or bird.

Cattle: Bull

  • This was the normal offering throughout the Law
  • Sacrifice process: sacrifice it, skin it, cut into pieces, put wood and fire on altar, put pieces of meat on altar (Lev 1:5-8.)
  • Offeror washes entrails and legs before priests place on altar (Lev 1:9)
  • Grain ofg: 3/10 ephah of fine flour ½ hin oil & Drink ofg: ½ hin of wine (Num 15:4-10, 28:12-14)

Flock: Ram or Goat

  • Sacrifice process: Same as for bull (Lev 1:10-13)
  • RAM: grain ofg: 2/10ep of flour, 1/3 hin oil & drink ofg: 1/3 hin of wine (Num 28:12-14)
  • LAMB: grain ofg: 1/10ep of flour and ¼ hin oil & drink ofg: ¼ hin of wine (Num 15:4-10, 28:12-14)

Bird: Dove or Pigeon

  • Poverty offering
  • There is no explicit direction to include a grain or drink ofg– poor Israelites may have been allowed to only offer the animal
    • For the daily religious activities and special festivals a bird would not have been an acceptable substitute.
  • Sacrifice process: The Priest wrings off its head, blood drained on east side of altar; remove crop (where undigested food held) w/contents and throw in pile where ashes are placed; tear it open by its wings, but not sever completely; then burn on the altar (Lev 1:15-17)

Commentaries explaining the bird sacrifice
[Feathers] Many translations say the crop (or gizzard) and its feathers are removed; some imply that the crop and its contents (filth) are what is removed; ADAM CLARKE thinks that both occur (“the feathers were plucked off, the breast was cut open, and the crop, stomach, and intestines taken out, and then the body was burnt.) The feathers must have been removed, so I will assume that it is implicit in the description that this occurs although I know not when.

[On blood being drained on east side of altar] JOHN WESLEY comments that this is because it is the “remotest place from the holy of holies” which was on the western side; this teaches us that impure things and persons cannot approach God.


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