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Leviticus Bible Study – Lesson #2

Lesson 2 includes Leviticus Capters 2 and 3  

Read Leviticus 2

The grain offering (in Hebrew, minhāh) was of meal flour, or grain.    There were various types of grain offerings, as follows: fine flour, with oil and frankincense poured on it (Lev. 2:1). This was not cooked, but a handful of it was burned on the altar (Lev. 2:2). There were three different types of bread or cakes: (a) baked in the oven (Leviticus 2:4); (b) baked in a flat pan (Lev. 2:5); (c) cooked in a covered pan (Lev. 2:7). There were also kernels of grain representing firstfruits of harvest, roasted in fire (Lev. 2:14). Verse 12 refers to a special meal offering (Lev. 23:15-21) which was not to be burned on the altar because it contained leaven.

No leaven or honey was to be used in any of these burnt meal offerings (Lev. 2:11). These produced fermentation, indicative of a form of decay and death (sin).  But salt was to be added, as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. It was called the salt of the covenant (Lev. 2:13), signifying that the covenant was unbreakable. See Numbers 18:19, 2 Chronicles 13:5; Ezekiel 43:24 for other references to “the covenant of salt.”

Duties of the offerer: He prepared the offering at home and brought it to the priests (Lev. 2:2,8).

Duties of the priest: The priest presented the offering at the altar (Lev. 6:14); he then took a handful of the offering and burned this memorial handful on the altar (Leviticus 2:2 and  Lev. 2:9).

Distribution of the offering: The “memorial handful,” burned on the altar with all the frankincense, was the Lord’s; the priests were permitted to take all the rest of the offering as food (Lev. 2:3 and Lev. 2:10). The officiating priest was entitled to whatever was baked in the oven or cooked in a pot or pan (Lev. 7:9). Everything mixed with oil and everything dry was to belong to the rest of the priests (Lev. 7:10); the offerer received no part of this offering.

The person who brought the meal offering acknowledged the bounty of God in providing the good things of life, represented by flour, frankincense, oil (and wine in the case of the drink offering).

Symbolically this offering speaks of the moral perfection of the life of our Savior (fine flour), untainted by evil (no leaven), fragrant to God (frankincense), and filled with the Holy Spirit (oil).

Read Leviticus 3

The peace or fellowship offering (Heb. Shelem) celebrated peace with God that was established on the basis of the power and acceptance of the atoning blood. This word, almost always in the plural form, is related to the well-known Hebrew word. Shalom. The Hebrew concept is broader than merely absence of hostility, but includes prosperity and wholeness as well as peace with God. A second meaning of this word is a sacrifice of communion in God’s presence. Usually, though not here, the peace offering is last in order, and some scholars derive the word from the rare meaning “to complete.” Carr makes a nice application: “If this sense is correct, the NT references to Christ our Peace (e.g., Eph 2:14) become more meaningful, as he is the final sacrifice for us (cf. Heb. 9:27 and Heb. 10:12).” It was a feast of joy, love, and communion.

The offering itself: There were three grades of this offering also: an animal from the herd (oxen or cattle), male or female (Lev. 1-5); a lamb from the flock, male or female (Lev. 6-11); a goat from the flock, male or female (Lev. 3:12-17).

Duties of the offerer: He presented the animal before the Lord at the gate of the court (Lev. 3:1, 2, 7, 12); he laid his hand on the head of the victim (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13); he killed it at the door of the tabernacle (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13); he removed certain portions of the animal—the fat, the kidneys, the whole fat tail, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver—to be burned on the altar (Lev. 3:3, 4, 9, 10, 14, 15).

Duties of the priests: They sprinkled the blood all around on the altar (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13); they burned the Lord’s portion (the fat, etc.) on top of the burnt sacrifice (Lev. 3:5).

Distribution of the offering: The Lord’s portion, called the food of the offering made by fire (Lev. 3:11), was the fat, the kidneys, the caul, and the fat tail; in Lev. 7:32-33 we learn that the officiating priest received the right thigh after it had been first presented as a heave offering; the other priests received the animal’s breast (Lev. 7:31). This was first presented as a wave offering before the Lord; the offerer received all the rest (Leviticus 7:15-21). This is the only offering in which the offerer received a portion. He made a feast for his family and friends, along with a representative priest, as a kind of fellowship meal. Thus the offering promoted peace between fellow Israelites within the covenant.

The person bringing this offering was expressing his joyful gratitude for the peace he enjoyed in fellowship with Jehovah. A person might also present the peace offering in connection with some vow he was making to the Lord, or in thanksgiving for some special favor.

As to its typical (symbolic) meaning, Peter Pell comments:

The finished work of Christ in relation to the believer is seen in the peace offering. The Lord Jesus is our peace (Eph. 2:14), having made peace through the blood of His cross (Col. 1:20). He preached this peace to those who were afar off and to those who were near (Eph. 2:17), thus breaking down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. In Christ, God and the sinner meet in peace; the enmity that was ours is gone. God is propitiated, the sinner is reconciled, and both alike are satisfied with Christ and with what He has done.      

The people of Israel were forbidden to eat fat or blood, since both belonged to the Lord.

These first three offerings—burnt, meal, and peace—had a place in the public worship of the nation, but they could also be brought to the Lord by an individual at any time on a voluntary basis. The next two offerings were commanded to be brought when someone had sinned. Thus we have the twin concepts of voluntary worship and compulsory atonement set forth in the offerings.