Blogging Leviticus: Chapter 3

Continuing a series.

Chapter 3: 1 If the

offering is a sacrifice of well-being, if you offer an animal of

the herd, whether male or female, you shall offer one without

blemish before the Lord. The first thing I

noticed here is that the language has changed slightly from the

previous two chapters. In the previous two chapters, the

descriptions of both sacrifices begin with “when.” When you bring

this offering, here is how you should do it. The first two

sacrifices, while not commanded for this time or that, still carry

with them a mandate that the people of God would be offering them.

This one is different. It says “if.” The second thing is that the

Hebrew word that is translated as “well-being” or “peace” offering

in many Bibles is the word “selamim”, which has “shalom” (SLM) as

its root. The idea of this sacrifice is not that you draw near to

God, not to remember the covenant with God or to help God remember

you, but to get shalom. In Hebrew, Shalom can mean peace, but also

carries with it the larger idea of wholeness. So perhaps this is

the sacrifice you make if you have made the others already, and

yet, like Bono, you still haven’t found what you are looking for…

2 You shall lay your hand on the head of the

offering and slaughter it at the entrance of the tent of meeting;

and Aaron’s sons the priests shall dash the blood against all sides

of the altar. 3 You shall offer from the sacrifice of

well-being, as an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat that

covers the entrails and all the fat that is around the

entrails; 4the two kidneys with the fat

that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver, which

he shall remove with the kidneys. 5Then

Aaron’s sons shall turn these into smoke on the altar, with the

burnt offering that is on the wood on the fire, as an offering by

fire of pleasing odor to the Lord. This

sacrifice, is somewhat like the grain offering, in that not all of

the sacrifice itself is burned completely. In the grain offering,

the majority of the bread goes to Aaron’s sons, to feed them. In

this case, the fat and entrails go to God (actually, the whole

sacrifice goes to God, but God gives back the majority as we will

see later). This begs the question, where does the rest of the

sacrifice end up? In Deuteronomy 12 and 16, we see how this

sacrifice played itself out in the ancient community. When the

animal is given to God, God, rather than being invited to a meal,

as was the custom in the other ancient near east sacrificial meals,

instead receives the offering and sets the meal out for

others and invites them to dine with him. God is the host, not us.

Once the fat and entrails have been offered, the person offering

the sacrifice, along with his family, Levites, any servants, AND

the stranger/outcasts, orphans, and widows were invited to the

meal. And in both references, the word “rejoice” is commanded.

So the idea behind the “well-being” offering is that if you want to

be “made whole” or find “peace,” then you need to take what you

have, give it back to God, and then find your place at the table

which is set by God, and have a party, all along, bringing with you

and blessing your family, those who serve God, those who serve you,

those who are the “other” to you, and those who can’t help

themselves. Sounds like Shalom to me…

6If your offering for a

sacrifice of well-being to the Lord is from the flock,

male or female, you shall offer one without

blemish. 7If you present a sheep as

your offering, you shall bring it before

the Lord 8and lay your hand on the

head of the offering. It shall be slaughtered before the tent of

meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall dash its blood against all sides of

the altar. 9You shall present its fat

from the sacrifice of well-being, as an offering by fire to

the Lord: the whole broad tail, which shall be removed close

to the backbone, the fat that covers the entrails, and all the fat

that is around the entrails; 10the two

kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the

appendage of the liver, which you shall remove with the

kidneys. 11Then the priest shall turn

these into smoke on the altar as a food offering by fire to

the Lord. The first section details an offering

from the herd. This section details, essentially the same customs,

but using an offering from a flock.

12If your offering is a goat,

you shall bring it before

the Lord 13and lay your hand on

its head; it shall be slaughtered before the tent of meeting; and

the sons of Aaron shall dash its blood against all sides of the

altar. 14You shall present as your

offering from it, as an offering by fire to the Lord, the fat

that covers the entrails, and all the fat that is around the

entrails; 15the two kidneys with the

fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver,

which you shall remove with the

kidneys. 16Then the priest shall turn

these into smoke on the altar as a food offering by fire for a

pleasing odor. All fat is the Lord’s. This

last section details the same offerings as above, but with specific

rules concerning offering goats. After these sections, there is one

thing that struck me. The first two kinds of offerings in Leviticus

both had allowances for the poor to bring offerings, a lesser

offering if needed. This offering does not. However, it gets back

to the word used at the very beginning, not when, but “if.” The

Bible assumes that when the peace offering is made, it is not the

poor that will be giving it, but those who have an abundance and

the poor will be invited to participate. Nice. Doesn’t Jesus say

something about throwing parties and inviting the poor?

17It shall be a perpetual

statute throughout your generations, in all your settlements: you

must not eat any fat or any blood. Fat was allowed

to be eaten at other times, just not for any sacrificial purpose.

And blood was never ok. And still isn’t. Gross…

Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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