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Lesson

#2
The 5 Great Sacrices, Part 1
Sweet Savor Oerings

Sacrice, Part 1

In Lesson #1 we laid a founda1on for our study of Levi1cus, a founda1on


res1ng rmly on the tradi1onal understanding of Scripture as a 1ghtly knit
fabric, a unied work in which the Old Testament pre-gures the New and
the New Testament fullls the Old. Such an understanding begins with the
early Church Fathers, is developed throughout the Middle Ages, and nds
its fullest, most nuanced expression in the post-Va1can II documents of the
Pon1cal Biblical Commission.
In addi1on, we reinforced our founda1on by incorpora1ng the ancient
worlds understanding of the tripar1te nature of the cosmos and how the
cosmos is mirrored in Gods theophany at Mt. Sinai and in the structure of
the Tabernacle.
Finally, we incorporated Mary Douglas brilliant insight developed in
Levi>cus as Literature (1999) that views reality in Levi1cus as an elaborate
system of correspondences between the cosmos, Mt. Sinai and the
Tabernacle, a reality that expresses itself through analogical thinking.
Sacrice, Part 1

Thats some
heavy-duty
hermeneu1cal
stu!
Ill say!

Sacrice, Part 1

Lesson #2 presents the approach to God through sacrice. In this lesson,


we introduce the 5 Great Sacricesthe burnt oering, grain oering,
peace oering, sin oering and guilt oeringand we focus on the rst
three, the Sweet Savor oerings.
Virtually all ancient religions prac1ced animal sacrice as an integral part of
their worship. The dis1nguished Assyriologist A. L. Oppenheim succinctly
characterized such religious behavior as the care and feeding of the god.
The ve great sacrices prescribed in Levi1cus depart radically from this
idea, however. Rather than the care and feeding of God, the ve great
sacrices in Levi1cus are symbolic acts that express a set of moral and
ethical values, which in turn provide a mechanism for all Israelites,
regardless of wealth or social status, to communicate directly with God and
to par1cipate in the spiritual life of the covenant community.

Sacrice, Part 1

The early Church Fathers viewed the ve great sacrices in Levi1cus as


foreshadowing the person and work of Christ. In his Homilies on Levi>cus
Origen stresses the 3-fold understanding of Levi1cus: its literal, moral and
spiritual layers. And in his Summa Theologiae (q. 102 a. 3 co.) St. Thomas
Aquinas states succinctly:
The ceremonies of the Old Law had a two-fold cause, namely, a literal
cause, according as they were intended for divine worship; and a gura>ve
or mys>cal cause, according as they were intended to foreshadow Christ;
and in either way the ceremonies pertaining to the sacrices can be
assigned to a Lng cause.
Read through such a Chris1an interpre1ve lens, the sweet savor oerings
the burnt oering, grain oering and peace oeringspeak of the person
of Christ: 1) of his oering himself wholly and completely to God; 2) of his
perfect humanity and 3) of his being our peace.
Sacrice, Part 1

Virtually all ancient religions


prac1ced animal sacrice. In
Homers Iliad, for example,
when Achilles learns that the
god Apollo has brought a plague
on the Achaeans because
Agamemnon had taken cap1ve
the daughter of a priest of
Apollo, Achilles returns the
daughter to her father Chryses,
and the proper sacrices are
oered to Apollo in recompense:

Sacrice, Part 1

His prayer went up and Phoebus Apollo heard him


and soon as the men had prayed and flung the barley,
first they lifted back the heads of the victims,
slit their throats, skinned them and carved away
the meat from the thighbones and wrapped them in fat,
a double fold sliced clean and topped with strips of flesh.
And the old man [Chryses] burned these over dried split wood
and over the quarters poured out glistening wine
while young men at his side held five-pronged forks.
Once they had burned the bones and tasted the organs
they cut the rest into pieces, pierced them with spits,
roasted them to a turn and pulled them off the fire.
The work done, the feast laid out, they ate well
and no mans hunger lacked a share of the banquet . . .
And all day long they appeased the god with song . . .
and Apollo listened, his great heart warm with joy.
(Iliad, Book 1, 545-566).

Sacrice, Part 1

In this scene from the


Iliad we see, marked in
orange:
the grain oering,
burnt oering,
drink oering and
peace oering.

Sacrice, Part 1

In ancient Egypt we also


witness numerous
examples of animal
sacrice portrayed in
temples and tombs,
such as this one of bulls
being prepared for
sacrice, at the Temple
of Karnak in Luxor.

Sacrice, Part 1

Bulls bound and prepared for sacricial slaughter.


Temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt.
Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

In ancient religion and in literature such as the


Iliad, animal sacrices were meant to thank the
gods, to make atonement for wrong doing or to
gain favorwhat the Assyriologist A. L. Oppenheim
called the care and feeding of the god.
In Levi1cus, however, animal sacrice func1ons
quite dierently. Scripture is very clear that for the
Israelites sacrice can only be made at one
loca1on: the Tabernacle. Later, when Solomon
builds the Temple in Jerusalem (959 B.C.), the
Tabernacle is re1red, and sacrice is then made
only at the Temple.
For over 1,000 years, from 959 B.C. un1l A.D. 70
(when the Temple was destroyed), animal sacrice
occurred daily, except during the Babylonian
cap1vity, 586 516 B.C., and during a brief period
of the Maccabean revolt, 167-160 B.C.

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When the Temple


in Jerusalem was
destroyed in A.D.
70, never to be
rebuilt, animal
sacrice ended
for the Jews,
forever.
Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

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To understand the
func1on of animal
sacrice for the
Israelites, we need to
review the structure and
func1on of the
Tabernacle, where the
sacrices take place.

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When God gave Moses the blueprints


for the Tabernacle in Exodus 25: 1 31:
18, he was told to build it exactly as
instructed. Hebrews 8: 1-5 tells us why:
The main point of what has been said is this
[speaking of the priest Melchizedek in Hebrews 7]:
we have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at
the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle
that the Lord, not man, set up. Now every high priest
is appointed to oer giYs and sacrices . . .. They
worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly
sanctuary, as Moses was warned when he was about
to erect the tabernacle. For he says, See that you
make everything according to the pa\ern shown you
on the mountain.

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The Tabernacle is a copy


and shadow of the heavenly
sanctuary, the very
dwelling place of God!
Since the Fall in Genesis 3,
humanity has been cut o from
direct access to God, but with
the Tabernacle and the 5 Great
Sacrices, mediated by the
priesthood, God invites
humanity back into his presence
albeit in a carefully controlled
fashion.
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God

Tabernacle

Remember the tripar1te vision of the


cosmos that is mirrored in Gods
theophany at Mt. Sinai and in the
structure of the Tabernacle itself?

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The Tabernacle

a copy and shadow of [Gods] heavenly sanctuary

The Tent Cloth, 4 layers


Tahash skins (dolphin?)"


! Ram skins dyed red
! White goat hair
!Linen embroidered with
violet, purple & scarlet yarn
.

The Tent

!Holy of Holies

(Gods private residence)

!Holy Place

(Gods dining room)

The Holy Place

Gods dining room

!Incense
(Aroma)

!Menorah
(Light)
!Bread &
Wine
.

(laden dining
table)

Ark of the Covenant

Gods footstool in his private residence, the Holy of Holies

Holy of Holies
Holy Place
Courtyard

! High Priest/God
! Priests
People

accompanied by

Priests
for sacrice

People

People
People

I think I get it!


But what is the
func1on of the
sacrices in all
this?
Ooooo! I know!

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Unlike other ancient


religions that
understood animal
sacrice as the care
and feeding of the
god, the animal
sacrices in Levi1cus
are not food for God.
Recall Psalm 50!

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I do not ask more bullocks from your farms


nor goats from among your herds.
For I own all the beasts of the forest,
beasts in their thousands on my hills.
I know all the birds in the sky;
all that moves in the field belongs to me.
Were I hungry, I would not tell you,
for I own the world and all it holds.
Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
(Psalm 50: 9-13)

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Indeed, all sacrices


presented at the Tabernacle
are prepared in the
courtyard by the persons
who oer them and by the
priests. Food and wine are
explicitly forbidden inside
Gods tent, save for the
bread and wine displayed on
the table of showbread in
the dining room.

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Rather, the sacrices create a


sense of spiritual connectedness
and in1macy with God.
In sacricing, people communicated
directly with God in a very physical,
visceral way. Bringing the best of your
herd or ock; laying your hand on the
animals head, a gesture of oering your
most valuable property to God; slaying
the animal with ones own hands;
smelling the sweet aroma of the meat
as it roasted on the altar; and watching
the smoke ascend toward heaven, a
symbol of ones prayers and desires
ascending to God, evoked a powerful,
primal connec1on with God.
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And by allowing laypersons to make


their own sacrices, under the auspices
of the priests, the sacrices gave people
a degree of control over their spiritual
lives and their rela1onship with God.
By invi1ng people into the sanctuary to
oer sacrice, people felt personally
invited into Gods earthly home, where
they would engage in that most
in1mate act of sharing a meal.
Indeed, the Hebrew word for sacrice
comes from the verb meaning to bring
near; and the word sacrice itself
comes from the La1n word meaning to
make sacred.

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Wow! That
is powerful
stu!

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So, lets turn now to the 5


Great Sacrices and look at
each one in turn. In this
lesson well focus on the
rst three, the Sweet
Savor oerings:
1. Burnt oering
2. Grain oering
3. Peace oering

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All three of the Sweet


Savor oerings are
voluntary, expressions of
gra1tude and thanksgiving
toward God, and they are
listed and described from
the point of view of the
donor.

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The Burnt Oering


(1: 1-17)

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If a persons oering is a burnt oering from the herd, the oering


must be a male without blemish (Levi1cus 1: 3).
Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

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The burnt oering follows a very


specic ritual procedure:
The donor brings his oering to the entrance of the
tent of mee1ng;
The donor places one hand (not two) on the head of
the animal, symbolically oering his property to God;
The priest then invites the donor into the courtyard,
where he stands with his oering on the north side of
the altar;
The donor then slaughters the animal;
The priest dashes the animals bloodcollected by
his fellow priestson the sides of the altar;
The donor then skins and quarters the animal,
washing its entrails and skins;
The priest stokes the altar re, lays new wood upon
it, places the animal parts on the altar and supervises
its incinera1on.

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There are several important things we


should note about the procedure:
All the preliminary rites are performed by the
donor: hand leaning, slaughtering, aying, quartering
and washing;
The priest takes over at the altar and con1nues the
sacricial ritual.
The altar is the province of the priest, who acts as
mediator between the donor and God; all other
rituals are performed by the donor, so the donor is
ac>vely engaged in the sacricial process;
The blood of the animal is dashed on the sides of
the altar by the priest. Levi1cus 17: 14 says, the life
of all esh is its blood. The giving and taking of life is
the sole province of God; blood is sacred, the vessel
of life, so the animals blood is returned to God and
only the esh is oered;
The esh is then wholly consumed on the altar.
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The burnt oering may be


one of three types of animals,
listed in value from greatest to
least:
A bull, an oering of the herd;

A sheep or goat, an oering of


the ock; or
a bird, a turtledove or a pigeon
If the oering is a bird, the sacricial
process is somewhat dierent, given the
small size of the animal.

The burnt oering is a sweet-smelling obla>on


to the Lord (1: 14); hence, it is called as a
Sweet Savor oering.
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In Chris1an typology, the


burnt oering foreshadows
Christ oering himself wholly
and without blemish to God.
the bull speaks of his strength
and perfec1on;
the sheep speaks of his pa1ence
and unresis1ng abandonment to
death[He was led] like a lamb to
the slaughter (Isaiah 53: 7);

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the goat typies the sinner and, when


used of Christ, it speaks of he who was
counted among the transgressors (Isaiah
53: 12). As St. Paul says, For our sake he
[God] made him to be sin who did not
know sin, so that we might become the
righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians
5: 21);
the turtledove or pigeon speaks of
mourning innocence (Isaiah 38: 14) and the
poverty of the one who for your sake . . .
became poor although he was rich, so that
by his poverty you might become rich (2
Corinthians 8: 9).

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The Grain Oering


(2: 1-16)

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God invites all Israelites, regardless of


their wealth or social status, to
par1cipate in an in1mate rela1onship
with him through the Tabernacle and
the sacricial system.
Bulls, lambs, goats and even birds are expensive;
thus the grain oering provides those who are
poor an opportunity to make a sweet savor
oering to the Lord.
Levi1cus 5, which deals with sin and guilt
oerings, the non-sweet savor sacrices, states
that if a person cannot aord an animal of the
ock, that person shall bring . . . two turtledoves or
two pigeons . . .. If the person is unable to aord
even two turtledoves or two pigeons, that person
shall bring as an oering . . . one tenth of an ephah
of bran our.

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The grain oering is the poor


mans surrogate for the burnt
oering.
We should note several things about it:
It is a sweet-smelling obla>on to the Lord (2:2), a
sweet savor oering;
It is not oered wholly to God; a por1on is reserved
for the priest;
It can be baked, fried or prepared in a pan;
It contains no yeast; yeast is the arch-symbol of
fermenta1on, deteriora1on and death, and hence
taboo on the altar of blessing and life;
It contains no honey (made from dates or gs);
It is seasoned with salt, the preserva1ve par
excellence in the ancient world, and hence a symbol
of Gods eternal covenant with his people;
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In Chris1an typology, the


grain oering foreshadows
the perfec1on of Christs
humanity.
the bran our speaks of his even personality,
of the loveliness of Jesus;
the bread without yeast speaks of his total
lack of corrup1on;
the bread mingled with oil speaks of his being
anointed by the Holy Spirit;
the lack of honey speaks of his honesty and
forthrightness; there is no sweetness in him;
the salt speaks of his faithfulness. Salt
preserves; the salt of the covenant binds
ones word to an agreement.

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The Peace Oering


(3: 1-17)

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The peace oering falls into


three categories: freewill, vow
and thanksgiving.
The freewill oering is the spontaneous
byproduct of ones happiness, whatever its
cause;
The vo1ve oering is brought following
the successful fulllment of a vow;
Psalm 107 suggests that the thanksgiving
oering is made on four occasions: 1) the
safe return from a desert journey, 2) release
from prison, 3) recovery from an illness, and
4) the safe return from a sea voyage.
The common denominator of all three is
joy. As we read in Deuteronomy 27: 7, You
shall also oer communion sacrices [peace
oerings] and eat them there, rejoicing in
the presence of the Lord, your God.
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As Levi1cus 7: 11-37 makes clear,


the peace oering is the only
oering that is eaten by the donor,
those with him and the priests. It
is a communion meal, shared
with God.
The Hebrew word shelamim (peace oering) is
variously translated as communion, fellowship or
well-being;
Unlike the burnt oering, the peace oering can be
either a male or a female from the herd or ock;
Although eaten as a communion meal by the
donor, those with him and the priests, all the fat
belongs to the Lord (3: 16), that is, the best por1ons
of the sacrice.
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In Chris1an typology, the


peace oering portrays
Christ as our peace, and it
foreshadows the Eucharist,
the body and blood of
Christ, our fellowship
meal with God.

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I told you this


would be fun!
It sure is!

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1. How does animal sacrice at the Tabernacle


dier from that of other ancient religions?
2. Why do Jews not oer animal sacrice today?
3. How do the sweet savor sacrices
foreshadow the person of Christ?
4. What is the only sacrice that is shared as a
meal?
5. How is ones rela1onship with God enhanced
by animal sacrice?

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Copyright 2015 by William C. Creasy


All rights reserved. No part of this courseaudio, video,


photography, maps, 1melines or other mediamay be
reproduced or transmited in any form by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any
informa1on storage or retrieval devices without permission in
wri1ng or a licensing agreement from the copyright holder.
[All Tabernacle illustra1ons in these lectures are taken from:
Paul F. Kiene. The Tabernacle of God in the Wilderness of Sinai,
trans. by John S, Crandall. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1977. Used by permission.]

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