Monday, January 22, 2007

Leviticus 6

Leviticus 6: Rules about deception, and burnt, grain, and sin offerings

Synopsis

This chapter starts out with some rules about reparations that must be made, when someone is dishonest—which includes some forms of stealing—and then moves on to rules for the priests, about different types of offerings. Verses 1–7, on dishonesty, seem to be holdovers from Chapter 5—I just didn’t include that section when I covered Chapter 5.

  • When someone is dishonest, he must repay the wronged person in full, and add a fifth to it. e.g. if you steal a goat worth $500, you must return a goat or goats worth $600.
    • Verses 2–3 outline the type of “dishonesty” being referred to here; if someone is guilty of:

      …deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do…

      I think the “any such sin that people may do” is purposely left vague; it’s up to the priests to make judgement calls, from time to time.
  • In addition to paying back the wronged person, the guilty party must also present a guilt offering to the LORD; a ram, without defect, and of the proper value.
In other words, if you steal a goat worth $500—I have no idea how much a goat would be worth, I’m just using that number because it’s easily divided by 5—it’s going to cost you $1,200; $600 to pay back the person from which you stole, plus $600 for making atonement to the LORD for your guilt.

The rest of the chapter is devoted to rules for the priests, about how they’re to handle certain types of offerings.

  • The Burnt Offering
    • Burnt offerings are to remain on the altar all night, with the fire burning
    • In the morning, the priest is to put on his linen clothes, remove the ashes, and place them beside the altar. He is then to put on other clothes, and carry the ashes outside of the camp, to a place that is “ceremonially clean”.
    • The fire on the altar is never to go out; every morning the priest is to add firewood, and arrange the burnt offering—and fat from any fellowship offerings—in order to keep it going.
There’s nothing too exciting about this passage. It simply gives some extra detail to the priests, about how they are to maintain the altar, in preparation for offerings.

  • The Grain Offering
    • Grain offerings are to be brought before the LORD by the priest (“Aaron’s sons” (verse 14)), in front of the altar.
    • The priest is to take a handful of the flour and oil—as prescribed in an earlier chapter—and burn it on the altar.
      • This part of the grain offering is called the “memorial portion”.
    • The rest of the grain offering is to be eaten by the priests. They are to eat it in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting, and it must be baked without yeast.
    • This portion of the grain offering is “most holy”, and may be eaten by any male descendent of Aaron.
      • Verse 18b says that “[w]hatever touches them will become holy”, but the footnote says that this could also be translated “whoever touches them must be holy”.
  • On the day Aaron and his sons are anointed, they are to bring 2 litres of fine flour for their own grain offering. (They are to bring half in the morning, and half in the evening.)
    • It is to be prepared in a griddle, well mixed, and broken into pieces.
    • It is to be prepared by whichever son of Aaron’s will succeed him as High Priest.
    • This offering is to be burned completely—in fact, every grain offering which is offered by priests is to be burned completely. They are not to take a share from their own offerings.
In this case, because of the nature of the offering, it is stipulated that only the male descendants of Aaron—the priests—are to eat the priests’ share of the grain offerings. The priests’ share of other types of offerings, however, are meant for the priests’ entire families.

  • The Sin Offering
    • The Sin Offering is to be slaughtered in the same place that the burnt offering is slaughtered.
    • The priest who offers it is the one who is to eat it. It is to be eaten in a holy place, in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting.
    • Anything that touches the flesh of the offering will become holy—although, as with verse 18, this might also be translated that “whoever touches it must be holy”—and if any of the blood gets on the priest’s clothes, those clothes must be washed in a holy place.
    • If the meat is cooked in a clay pot, the pot must be broken, after it’s done being used. If the meat is cooked in a bronze pot, it must be scoured and rinsed with water.
    • Any male in the priest’s family may eat the meat from this offering.
    • If any of the blood from the offering is brought into the Tent of Meeting, to make atonement in the Holy Place, it must not be eaten. It must be burned, instead.
Again, because of the nature of the sacrifice, only the priests, who are ordained by God, are to eat the meat of this sacrifice—not the rest of their families.

Thoughts

As mentioned, future chapters will cover types of offerings in which the priest’s share of the offering can be shared with the entire family. For those offerings, the priest’s share is like his wages; because serving the LORD is how he makes his living, his share of the sacrifices are how he supports his family.

The sacrifices outlined here, however, are different in nature. The priest is not eating the meat for these sacrifices as a payment for his services; eating the meat is part of the worship ritual.
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