Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Leviticus 3

Leviticus 3: Rules for Fellowship Offerings

Synopsis

This chapter outlines rules for presenting “Fellowship Offerings” to the LORD.

  • Offerings from the herd
    • Fellowship offerings from the herd—I believe this means cows/bulls—can be male or female, but in either case, the animal has to be without defect
    • The person offering the animal is to lay his hand on its head, and slaughter it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priests will then sprinkle the animal’s blood against the sides of the altar.
    • From this animal, the priests are to burn on the altar: the fat that covers the inner parts (or is connected to them); the kidneys, with their fat; the covering of the liver.
These rules state which parts of the animal are to be burned, but I missed what is to be done with the rest of the animal. I’m assuming that the rest belongs to the priest, but that may not be the case.

  • Offerings from the flock
    • For fellowship offerings from the flock (lambs or goats), again, either males or females can be offered, but in either case, the animal has to be without defect
    • Similar to the bull, the person offering the animal is to lay his hand on its head, and slaughter it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priests will then sprinkle the animal’s blood against the sides of the altar.
    • Certain parts of the animal are then to be burned on the altar:
      • For lambs: its fat, the tail, all of the fat that covers the inner parts (or is connected to them), both kidneys with the fat still on them, and the covering of the liver.
      • For goats: the fat that covers the inner parts (or is connected to them), both kidneys with the fat still on them, and the covering of the liver.
I find it interesting that there are different rules for the parts of the animal that are offered, depending on whether it’s a lamb or a goat. I assume that this is because the two animals have more or less fat in certain places; verse 16 explicitly states that “[a]ll the fat is the LORD’s”.

  • The Israelites are never to eat any fat or blood.
This rule is slipped in with the rules on “Fellowship Offerings”, but is a dietary rule—such as the rule that they weren’t allowed to eat pork.

Thoughts

I’m not actually sure what a “Fellowship Offering” is—which is why I keep putting it in quotes, since I can’t explain it any other way—but a clue might be in the NIV footnote for verse 1, which says that the term “fellowship offering” was “Traditionally [translated] ‘peace offering’”.

So I can only guess at the purpose of these offerings, based on the name (either “fellowship” or “peace”); are these “freewill” offerings that the Israelites presented to the LORD? Not something they had to do—like offerings for sin—but just something they wanted to do, to have further fellowship with Him?

Again, this is doubtless the kind of thing that people in seminary study, but us regular “laypeople” don’t typically look into it that much.

1 comment:

sernaferna said...

Not that it’s important, but I wanted to point out that this was my 100th post to the serna Bible Blog. That’s about 90 more posts than I was expecting to put up, when I started it! I kind of figured it would fizzle out quickly.

Maybe I really will get to Revelation…