Leviticus 5 – Leviticus 7
I don’t know about you, but I was glad to see that the gruesome nature and description of chapters 1 – 4 weren’t repeated in these next several chapters. One thing remain constant, the continued instruction on how the priest should offer various sacrifices for the different offerings. Even for the expert reader, it gets a bit confusing remembering the difference between these five different sacrifice/offering that God is asking the people to make. So here are a few pointers:
The first and most common offering was the Burnt Offering, which was required as a general offering for the atonement of one’s sin and as an expression of devotion to God. The instructions for the Burnt Offering are given in Lev 1:3-17. The offering could be a bull (1:3), sheep or goat (1:10), or dove or pigeon (1:14). The animal was to be burnt whole overnight (6:8-13), though its skin was given to the priest (1:6).
The second type of offering is the Grain Offering. This offering was given as an expression of devotion to God. It was voluntary and allowed people to acknowledge God’s goodness and providence. The instructions for the grain offerings are given in Leviticus 2. Most often, it was cooked bread—baked (2:4), grilled (2:5), fried (2:7), roasted, or made into cereal (2:14)—though always seasoned (2:13), unsweetened, and unleavened (2:11). Unlike the Burnt Offering, only a portion of the offering was to be burnt (2:9). The remainder went to the priests for their meal (2:10).
The third offering is the Peace Offering, which includes Thanksgiving Offerings (Lev 7:12), Freewill Offerings (7:16), and Wave Offerings (7:30). These offering could be made with a male or female cattle (3:1), sheep (3:7), or a goat (3:12), as long as it was without blemish. Some Thanksgiving Offerings could also include a variety of breads (7:12). The purpose of making a Peace Offering was to celebrate the gathering of two or more parties, and to comment their relationship to God as they enjoy fellowship with one another. The portions unsuitable for eating were given to God (7:19-27). Depending on the type of Peace Offering, the breast may have been given to the High Priest (7:31) and the right thigh may be given to the priest officiating the meal (7:32). The rest of the meal was to be eaten within one day by the families making the offering (7:16). Also, take note, that all leftovers were to be burnt after two days (7:17).
The fourth offering Sin Offering, which was given as a sacrifice for an unintentional sin (4:2-3, 4:20). Other times, these were given or called a guilt offering, to aid in removing the consequences for our lack of perfection (4:13-14, 4:22-23). As an atonement offering, it contained elements of a Burnt Offering (4:25), yet at the same time had elements of a Peace Offering (4:26). Conversely, some of the “sins” for which one needed atonement were not moral sins but rather matters of ritual impurity (5:1-5). For this reason, some may call these “Purification Offerings” instead of a “Sin Offering.” The primary purpose of this offering is not to atone for sins but rather to purify oneself for re-entering the presence of God. The elements of a Purification Offering could be any of the elements of the previous three types offerings, though unlike the Peace Offering, the meal was not to be shared by the one offering the sacrifice.
The fifth and final offering was the Guilt Offering. Unlike the English word “guilt” this does not refer to a matter of one’s conscience but rather to something one owes on account of a “sin.” Other suggestions for the name of this offering are the “Trespass Offering” or the “Reparation Offering.” The purpose of this offering was to make reparations for one’s sin. As such, this offering had a specific monetary value, and one who owed another on account of a debt due to a “sin” could repay it in silver rather than by sacrificing a ram (5:15). In addition, a 20% fee was assessed and given to the priest who mitigated the debt (5:16).
Hopefully this helped you to clarify the differences between one sin and the other. I know it certainly helped me. So many thanks to Jeremiah Garrett and his article on Seedbed.com for all your useful information!
Now on to see what our next reading has in store, as we read Leviticus 8-10.