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Leviticus 2 – Offering Food

There’s a bit of a change of gears in the second chapter of Leviticus, which contains only food sacrifices.  (See Leviticus 1" href="http://www.deepbiblestudy.net/?p=608" target="_blank">Leviticus 1.  Abbreviations at the end of the post.)  These sacrifices are most commonly not offered because of some sin or impurity, but rather as sacrifices of thanksgiving or for some celebration.

I think that if most Christians were asked to do a word association, they would think of “animal” very quickly in relation to “sacrifice.”  That’s because they are very much used to the link between animal sacrifice, sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus.  That link is not without merit, but the temple services were so much more than animal sacrifices for sin.

Baker gets less new out of this chapter than out of the first one, though he does mention the meticulous directions for the sacrifices because “it’s human nature for people to wriggle their way out of any obligation that might cost them something.”  That’s a good point about people in general, though I’m not sure it’s a major point to be drawn from this chapter.

The difficulty for anyone trying to teach from these passages is that especially these first few chapters are much like notes for priests and presumably worshipers, though the latter might have gotten the answers indirectly.  Supposing you took all the liturgical directions for your church for a year and put them in a book.  This would probably be quite useful to the next worship leader, but it wouldn’t make engaging reading for most church members.

Nonetheless, one could learn a great deal about liturgy by reading such a book.  But if you were going to use a portion as a text for a lecture on liturgy, what would you assign?  Doubtless the instructions for various weeks would contribute to the topic.

This is similar to the problem of teaching from Leviticus.  You have quite a number of cryptic instructions, and many of the lessons don’t come through until you have the broader picture.  I’m thinking as I go through this book about using a more visual approach to teaching.  Certainly many people use tabernacle models and so forth, and that would help, but perhaps a study could start with an overview of key points, trying to produce a general picture of a year of worship, then focusing on individual aspects, and finally drawing lessons for specific aspects of worship, such as atonement and forgiveness, thanksgiving and celebration, characteristics of the worship experience, living in a way that is conscious of God’s presence, and connecting worship with history.

I’ll continue to comment on these ideas as I continue to write, but there are a couple of thoughts from the resources I’m using that I’d like to mention.

First, Baker comments that “the major difference between this sacrifice and the previous was that here there was no blood shed, and as a result, there was no atonement (1:4; Heb 9:22)” (p. 27).

I find this rather interesting in consideration of Lev. 5:11-13, which provides an alternative of a grain offering for animal sacrifices, which clearly refers to both atonement and forgiveness.  I’ll discuss this more when we get to that chapter, though I did look ahead and did not see any discussion of the matter in Baker.  NISB notes that grain offerings could substitute for animal sacrifices for the poor with equally little discussion.

Milgrom does discuss the issue of blood in atonement and various other uses and I will include some of his comments at the appropriate time.

The OSB was quite interesting, with its unabashedly Christological interpretation.  The grain offering “pictures Christ as the totally acceptable grain offering to God” (p. 119), paralleled with John 12:24.  In addition, the grain offering is related to the faithful in Christ and their service.  Metaphors are wonderful that way–multiple meanings!  The oil is the Holy Spirit, and the salt represents the “whole spiritual meditation of the scriptures” (p. 120).

While I would hardly see this passage as pointing forward in that sense, looking back I can see that the grain offering might will provide an excellent background for understanding some of the bread passages in the gospel of John.

I also note for the record that again the OSB works out much better when I don’t read the translation!


OSB – Orthodox Study Bible

NISB – New Interpreter’s Study Bible

Milgrom – Milgrom, Jacob.  Anchor Bible:  Leviticus 1-16.

Baker – Leviticus portion written by David H. Baker, of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary on Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

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