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Guilt Offering

Posted by Chris on June 4, 2008

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

The guilt offering, sometimes known as the trespass offering, is similar to the sin offering in that the Lord required it to atone for specific sins committed by the Israelite community. The commentator Matthew Henry divides the guilt offering into two categories: they are sins against a neighbor in either holy things or common things. First I will give some general information on the guilt offering and then look at these two types of sins in detail.

General characteristics

  • Offering is brought as a penalty in addition to atonement (Lev 5:15, 6:6)
  • Sacrifice: a ram w/o defect, worth in silver the value of a sanctuary shekel (Lev 5:15, 6:6)
  • Like the sin offering; ofg belongs to priest who makes atonement; any male in the priest’s family may eat it, in a holy place (Lev 7:6-7)

Sinning against God v. Sinning against Man

  • Despite the categories I gave from HENRY, the text emphasizes that sin is first against the Lord, even if one has wronged a neighbor. (Lev 5:19, 6:2, Num 5:6) HENRY himself says:

Though all the instances relate to our neighbour, yet it is called a trespass against the Lord. Though the person injured be mean, and even despicable, yet the injury reflects upon that God who has made the command of loving our neighbour next to that of loving himself… The trespasses here mentioned, still are trespasses against the law of Christ, which insists as much upon justice and truth, as the law of nature, or the law of Moses.

Requiring Restitution

  • Guilty one must also make restitution in full for his sin, plus adding a fifth of the value (Lev 5:16, 6:5, Num 5:7)
  • Num 5:8 adds the following: if wronged person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made, it belongs to the Lord and is given to the priest along with guilt ofg
  • While the text does not make this explicit, WESLEY and GILL both add that it must be the case that the victim has died during this time (or, WESLEY says, they may have gone to a far-off place). This seems similar to the same way that one would look to a kinsmen if someone had died childless (for an example, read the Book of Ruth).

GUZIK: “If a person had been defrauded, it wasn’t enough that sacrifice cover the guilt of the sin before God; restitution had to settle the account with the victim of the fraud.”
HENRY: “all methods of doing wrong to others, are alike violations of the Divine law, even keeping what is found, when the owner can be discovered. Frauds are generally accompanied with lies, often with false oaths. If the offender would escape the vengeance of God, he must make ample restitution, according to his power, and seek forgiveness by faith in that one Offering which taketh away the sin of the world.”

After declaring the general characteristics, the lesson about sin as being a violation against the Lord, and the requirement of restitution, let’s look at the two categories of sins which call for a guilt offering atonement.

Sins against The Lord’s Holy Things

  • Still unintentional sins, but not in regard to commands, but the “Lord’s holy things” (Lev 5:15)
  • Restitution is given to the priest along with the guilt offering (Lev 5:16)

CLARKE: relates to sacrilege and defrauds in spiritual matters, such as: neglect to consecrate or redeem firstborn; withholding first-fruits and tithes; making secular gain of divine things—keeping back any part of the price of things dedicated to God; withholding a vow

  • Sounds like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5; makes sense that these are sins to which you can assign a quantitative value, thus adding a fifth is easy to calculate (as opposed to touching something holy when one is unclean or some kind of sin like that)
  • CLARKE seems to imply sins that might have intentionality—you could forget part of the price of a thing dedicated to God, or to consecrate firstborn, but defrauding sounds intentional. This is an important distinction, as normally there is no sacrifice which can atone for intentional sin (see the Matthew Henry commentary I quote in the Sin Offering study). This view is contrasted with Henry. It is not surprising that Henry would not find this to be an example of intentional sin after saying about the sin offering that only unintentional sins could be atoned for.

HENRY adds the following possibilities of sins against holy things and the priests who cared for them:

  • Converting to one’s use anything dedicated to God (whether tithes, first fruits, firstborn of cattle)
  • Eating any of the parts of sacrifices that are for priests.

Sins against Common Things

  • These are intentional sins
  • Text indicates the following as wrongs towards one’s neighbor: Deceiving about something left in one’s care; steal from or cheat him; lying about lost property; swearing falsely; leaves it open for “any such sin that people may do” (Lev 6:2-3)
  • Restitution is given to the owner on the day the guilt ofg given (return that of which the wrong concerned along with adding a fifth of the value) (Lev 6:4-5)

Note on Numbers 5:5-8

  • This passage addresses restitution without mentioning guilt offering but seems to re-inforce everything in Lev 5 & 6. I have assumed it can be laid on top of those chapters to affirm and add to the understanding of the guilt ofg.
  • WESLEY, in his commentary on Num 5:8, calls it “an additional explication to that law” in Leviticus 6:2

This marks a break in the study.  I’m not sure where I will go next as this is the end of the prominent offerings described in the beginning chapters of the book of Leviticus.  I think I will move next to the Holidays and Feasts as prescribed for and practiced by the ancient Jewish religion.

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Sin Offering

Posted by Chris on May 28, 2008

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

As the last post on regular offerings indicated, the sin offering was a part of the special monthly offering. I have chosen, however, to put it with the second group of offerings that are usually only offered regularly during holidays and festivals (thus with less frequency than what I called the “regular offerings”—daily, weekly, and monthly). The sin and guilt offerings are also given in response to certain sins. Later, I will present a third group of offerings that are never given regularly but only for specific situations.

This overview of the sin offering will introduce several themes of the Law and offerings. Notice that the Lord required different offerings depending upon the offending party and the provision for the poor, that they too could present acceptable offerings to God.

General characteristics

  • For unintentional sins (Lev 4:2-27; Num 15:22-29); repeated emphasis that if you sin unintentionally, one is guilty, even “though the community is unaware of the matter” (Lev 4:13)
  • Through the sin offering, the priest makes atonement for the sin committed

MATTHEW HENRY concise commentary gives 3 traits of the sins discussed: overt acts… against the commandments—to give a sacrifice for every sinful thought or word would be an endless task; sins of commission; and committed through ignorance—if they were done presumptuously, and with an avowed contempt of the law and the Law-maker, the offender was to be cut off, and there remained no sacrifice for the sin.

  • Num 15:30-31: “anyone who sins defiantly… blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people… his guilt remains on him”
  • It belongs to the priest who makes atonement; he eats in a holy place, courtyard of ToM; any male in the family may eat it (Lev 6:26, 29; Lev 7:7)

Guilty Person: Anointed Priest (or whole Israelite Community)

  • Sin of the high priest brings guilt on the people (Lev 4:3)
  • Sacrifice: young bull (Lev 4:3)
  • After slaughtering, high priest dips finger into blood and sprinkles it 7 times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary (Lev 4:6)
  • Rest of blood: put some on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense, then pour out remainder at the base of the altar of burnt offering (Lev 4:7)
  • The rest of the parts of bull are taken outside the camp to a clean place, where ashes are thrown, and burned (Lev 4:11-12)
  • For entire community, might add a male goat (see Num 15:24)


Guilty Person: A Leader

  • Sacrifice: male goat (Lev 4:23)
  • Blood: priest puts on the horns of the altar and pours out at base, but no sprinkling (Lev 4:25)


Guilty Person: Member of the Community

  • Sacrifice: a female goat (Lev 4:28, Num 15:27) or a female lamb (Lev 4:32)
  • Slaughter, blood, atonement: same as male goat/leader’s ofg (Lev 4:29-31, 33-35)

Guilty of sins of carelessness

  • Lev 5:1-4 gives four additional sins, which could all be called careless, which call for a sin offering
    • These are: not speaking up in public when one has knowledge about a charge levied against someone; touching something ceremonially unclean, unaware; touching human uncleanness , unaware; thoughtlessly taking an oath
  • Must confess your sins (Lev 5:5)
  • As a penalty, bring a female lamb or goat as sin offering; this makes atonement (Lev 5:6)

First explicit provision for poverty offering

  • This occurs in the context of the sins of carelessness, Lev 5:1-13
  • If cannot afford a lamb: may bring 2 doves or young pigeons as a penalty (Lev 5:7)
    • one bird for sin ofg, other for burnt ofg (Lev 5:7)
    • First, sin ofg bird: offered by priest; wring its head but not sever completely; sprinkle blood against side of altar; rest drained out at base of alter (Lev 5:8-9)
    • This differs from prescription for birds in Lev 1: crop/contents/feathers not removed; normally, head is separated, bird not severed completely when it’s torn in half by its wings
    • Burnt ofg is offered by priest in prescribed way (Lev 5:10); see Lev 1:14-17
  • If cannot afford 2 birds: tenth of an ephah [1/10eph] of fine flour (Lev 5:11)
    • Offer w/o oil and incense; bring to priest who takes handful as memorial portion and burns on altar on top of offerings; the rest of the offering belongs to the priest (Lev 5:12-13)
    • This is the process of a grain offering, but different ingredients

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The regular prescribed offerings

Posted by Chris on May 15, 2008

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

The prior posts described the most common offerings that made up Israel’s regular religious practices. After learning about the burnt, fellowship, grain, and drink offerings, you can then look at what God asks of Israel on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Daily Offerings

  • Burnt Ofg: 2 lambs (Num 28:3); one in the morning, one at twilight (Num 28:4, 8 )
  • The basic Grain & Drink ofg’s (Num 28:5, 7)

Sabbath Offerings (Weekly)

  • Offered in addition to the daily ofg’s (Num 28:10)
  • Same as daily offerings (burnt- 2 lambs, grain, & drink ofg’s)
    • Exception: grain ofg is 2/10 ep flour instead of 1/10 (Num 28:9)

Monthly Offerings

  • On the first of the month (Num 28:11)
  • Burnt Ofg: 2 bulls; 1 ram; 7 male lambs (Num 28:11)
  • Basic Grain & Drink ofg’s
  • Sin Ofg: a male goat (Num 28:15)

As you can see, the ministry of the priests was ongoing. These requirements may seem astounding, especially once we look at the all the “irregular” or special offerings. These offerings were to maintain the general communion with God because of the general sinfulness of people– in the same way that Christians should not merely worship on Sundays but rather “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; for this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Next I will address the less common Sin and Guilt offerings.

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Peace Offerings

Posted by Chris on April 6, 2008

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

The peace, or fellowship, offering, must derive its name from the motives for the sacrifice. Instead of atonement from sin, these offerings signify the occurrence of good events. The Hebrew word used for peace offerings is Shelem. I am guessing that this is related to the word ‘Shalom’. The lexicon I use at Studylight.org defines Shelem as:

A peace offering, requital, sacrifice for alliance or friendship; a voluntary sacrifice of thanks

General characteristics

  • Priests burn it on the altar on top of the burnt ofg
  • Standard offering is a male or female cow (Lev 3:1)
  • One could also give a male or female sheep or goat (Lev 3:6, 12)


General purposes in giving a peace offering

  • Expression of thankfulness (Lev 7:12). Meat must be eaten on the day it is offered (Lev 7:15)
  • Result of a vow (Lev 7:16). Meat can also be eaten on the following day; third day it must be burned (Lev 7:16-17)
  • Freewill offering (Lev 7:16). Meat can be eaten on the following day; third day it must be burned (Lev 7:16-17)

Other occasions for peace offerings

  • When Israel entered Promised Land (no specifics)
  • For the dedication of the altar: 2 oxen, 5 rams, 5 male goats & 5 male lambs

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Drink Offering

Posted by Chris on March 27, 2008

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

The First Drink Offering
Context: Jacob, after reconciling with Esau, is told by God to return to Bethel and settle there and build an altar. God appears to Jacob and extends to him the covenant and promises of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob sets up a stone pillar to mark the spot and pours out a drink offering on it (Gen 35:11-14)

Characteristics of drink offerings

  • Consists of ¼ – ½ hin of fermented drink (Hin: 4 qts or 3.5 liters)
  • Drink offerings are offered as part of the daily, Sabbath, and monthly offerings

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Grain Offering

Posted by Chris on March 26, 2008

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

Grain offerings can be put into two general categories. Most mentions of the grain offering pertain to the grain offering accompanying a burnt offering (regular burnt offerings were complemented with grain and drink offerings). Then, there are offerings of firstfruits, that is, giving to the Lord the first crops harvested either upon the arrival in the Promised Land or each planting season. I hope to address firstfruits in more depth at a later time in a larger discussion on “firsts” belonging to God.

General characteristics

  • Made of fine flour (Lev 2:1; Num 28:5); without yeast (Lev 2:11)
  • Priest burns a portion as a “memorial portion” on altar (Lev 2:2,9,16; Lev 6:15)
  • Remainder is called a “most holy part of the offerings made by fire” (Lev 2:3,10)
    • The priests were to eat it in a holy place (the courtyard of the ToM) (Lev 6:16)
  • Seasoned with salt, the “salt of the covenant” (Lev 2:13)

Commentators say several things about the salt; the most relevant point is that salt is an image of the permanence of the covenant. Several commentators quote CHARLES SPURGEON: “it was an unchangeable, incorruptible covenant, which would endure as salt makes a thing to endure, so that it is not liable to putrefy or corrupt.”

Standard Offering

  • Fine flour with oil and incense (Lev 2:1
  • Amounts for the burnt offerings
    • BULL: 3/10 ephah of fine flour mixed with oil (Num 28:12-14)
    • RAM: 2/10ep
    • LAMB: 1/10ep

Other Offerings

  • Baked in an oven: cakes, (and/or) wafers (Lev 2:4)
  • Prepared on a griddle: crumble it (Lev 2:5-6)
  • Firstfruits, which do not belong to the priests (they did not eat)

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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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General requirements for the Israelite sacrifices to God

Posted by Chris on March 24, 2008

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

I want to categorize things as much as possible to repeat repetition. In turn, less repetition means less material at every turn, and thus (hopefully) less confusion and overwhelming information. Unless I later state an exception (or in the case of likely mistakes), all of these rules apply to sacrifices. They are all repeated for each type of offering, but the implication seems to be that they apply to all unless stated otherwise. Most of these have very significant implications, but it may be a while before I get there.

For now, be satisfied with knowing that a proper sacrifice was called “an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord” (Lev 2:2,9)

Also, it is important to realize that offerings and sacrifices were not part of arbitrary rules created as part of the Law. For one, they have their Biblical origin after God made his covenant with Abraham, not Moses (Abraham gives Melchizedek a tithe; God provides a ram as a sacrifice for Abraham in place of Isaac; Jacob pours out a drink offering). Second, the significance of the offerings go beyond the system of atonement for Israel– rather, they point to God’s larger plan of redemption and the New Covenant of Christ, a superior covenant to that of Moses.

That being said, the following information and studies for now will deal exclusively with the significance of the offerings within the context of the Old Testament.

The altar fire

  • The fire should always be kept burning (Lev 6:9,12-13)
  • Offerings remain on the altar throughout the night, removed in the morning (Lev 6:9)
  • Each morning a priest puts on linen clothes and attends to the altar (Lev 6:10)
    • He places the ashes on the east side of the altar (Lev 1:16)
    • Then changes and carries ashes outside camp (Lev 6:11)

Attributes of animals chosen to be sacrificed

  • Without defect
  • One year old (sometimes just stated as “young”)

The offeror of the sacrifice

  • The sacrifice is for the atonement of the offeror and their household and/or forgiveness for a specific trespass (Lev 1:4, 4:26,31; 5:16; 6:7)
  • Offeror is responsible for bringing the sacrifice to the Temple and preparing (grain) or killing (animal) it, “before the Lord”. (Lev 1:3,5,11; 2:2,8; 3:2; 4:4,15,24,29,33; 6:25; 7:2)

It is awesome to think of a common Israelite – having to cut his own bull at the jugular vein, before the priests at the Tabernacle of Meeting. It would be a solemn testimony to the need for sacrifice! We must also realize that we killed Jesus; that our sin – personally – delivered Him to death. DAVID GUZIK

[Before the Lord] appears 60 times in Leviticus. What happens in Leviticus happens before the Lord, and every sacrifice that was made was to be made before the Lord. How our own sacrifices to God would change if we did them with the understanding that we do it before the Lord! DAVID GUZIK

The parts of the sacrifice

  • Blood is sprinkled on all sides of the altar (exception: sin offering) (Lev 1:5; 3:2; 7:2)
  • What is not burnt belongs to the priest (Lev 7:7-10)
  • Fat, the kidneys, and covering of the liver are always burnt, never eaten (Lev 1:5-8; 3:3-4,9-10,14-15,17; 4:8-10,19-20,26,31,35; 7:3-4,23)

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