Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 2

Calvin's Commentary on the BibleCalvin's Commentary

Verse 1

1.And when any will offer. In this chapter Moses prescribes the rules for those offerings to which the name of minha is peculiarly given. They were not bloody sacrifices, nor offerings of animals, but only of cakes and oil. If any one would offer plain flour, he is commanded to season it with frankincense and oil, and also to choose fine flour, that the oblation may not be defiled by the bran. Thus here, as in all the service of God, the rule is laid down that nothing but what is pure should be offered; besides, by the oil its savor is improved, and by the frankincense a fragrant odor is imparted to it. We know that God is not attracted either by sweetness of taste nor by pleasant scents; but it was useful to teach a rude people by these symbols, lest they should corrupt God’s service by their own foolish inventions. Moses afterwards commands, that whatever is consecrated to God should be delivered into the hand of the priest, as we have before seen that private persons were excluded from this honor so that Christ’s peculiar dignity should remain to Him, i.e., that by Him alone access should be sought to God, and that all men might know that no worship pleases God except what He sanctifies. The substance of this type is shewn by the words of the Apostle, when he says that “by him” we now “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15.) But when the priest had burnt a handful of the flour with the oil and frankincense, what remained was left for his own use; for, as we have elsewhere seen, the holy of holies of the burnt-offerings were given to the priests. Other kinds are then spoken of, viz., cakes, baken in the oven; then such as were fried in a pan; and thirdly, on a gridiron: for God would have the minha offered Him of every kind of cake, so that the Israelites might learn to look to Him in all their food, since nothing is clean to us except what He consecrates by His blessing. This is the reason why Moses accurately distinguishes between the cakes which were cooked either in the oven, or the frying-pan, or on the gridiron.

Verse 11

11.No meat-offering, which ye shall bring. God here forbids leavened cakes to be offered to Him, by which rite the ancients were taught that God’s service is corrupted if any strange invention be mingled with it. Nor can it be doubted but that. Christ alluded to this when He warned His disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” (Matthew 16:11;) understanding by that word the fictions whereby they had corrupted religion. The eating of leaven was forbidden in the Passover for another reason, viz., that they might remember their sudden departure, or rather flight, in which there had been no time to prepare provisions for their journey. Although Paul extends it even further, viz., that believers should abstain from all “leaven of malice and wickedness.” (1 Corinthians 5:8.) It is clear, however, that in this general rule all adventitious corruptions are condemned, whereby pure religion is polluted, as if it were said that no offerings would be approved by God except such as were genuine and free from all strange savor. With reference to the honey, the ground of its use is more obscure, for I know not whether there is much dependence to be placed on the subtle disquisitions of some respecting its nature. (252) But although I scarcely dare to make any assertion as to this, still I pass by conceits, and advance what seems to me more probable. Cooked honey immediately becomes sour, and causes the bread with which it is mixed to ferment; these two things, therefore, seem to be combined, that neither honey nor leaven should be offered in the fire. As to what Moses adds just afterwards, “Ye shall offer them among the first-fruits,” I know not whether it applies to the leaven, as some think; assuredly the exception seems to be more simple, that the first-fruits of honey would indeed be acceptable to God, provided it did not corrupt the offerings of the altar. But no doubt the ancients understood the meaning of this precept, else it would have been useless, and thus knew that nothing was legitimate in the sacrifices except what God appointed. But let us, since the use of the ceremony is abolished, learn not to intrude our own imaginations or inventions in God’s service, but to follow obediently the rule which he prescribes.

(252) They appear, indeed, to have been manifold. “R. Salomon (says Corn. a Lapide, in loco) understands by honey, sweet fruits, such as figs and dates. Philo, lib. de Vict., thinks that honey was forbidden in the sacrifices, because the bee is an impure animal, generated by the putrid carcases of oxen.” Oleaster gives as a reason that honey burns with an offensive smell; and many commentators, because it was constantly offered in the Gentile sacrifices.

Verse 13

13.And every oblation of thy meat-offering. The reason for salting the victims was very similar, viz., that God’s service might not be without savor; but the true seasoning which gives grace to sacrifices is found nowhere except in God’s word. Hence it follows that all modes of worship fabricated by men are rejected as unsavory. For although they who profane God’s worship by superstitions think themselves very acute, yet all that most approves itself to them under the cloak of wisdom is mere fatuity. Nevertheless, Christ deduces an exhortation from this ceremony, viz., that believers, if they desire to please God, should patiently endure to be refined and purified. “Every one,” He says,

"shall be salted with fire,
and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” (Mark 9:49.)

In which words He signifies that, when we are searched and tried by fire, we shall be acceptable sacrifices to God, and that this is the seasoning of salt when our flesh with its affections shall have been well macerated. Meanwhile, let us firmly hold to this, that our service of God is not what it should be without, the savor which is to be sought in the word; since in all the brains of men not one particle of salt is to be found. I pass by other more subtle allegories, in which I see no other use than to gratify curious ears. “The salt of the covenant” is used in a different sense from “the covenant of salt,” viz., as the salt which is employed in the sacrifice according to the inviolable compact of God. Hence, too, is confirmed what I have said before, that the keeping of God’s covenant always occupies the first place in this service.

Verse 14

14.And if thou offer a meat-offering. This offering is different from that of the first-fruits, since it was voluntary, whereas the first-fruits were paid in obedience to the enactment of the Law. But if any one chose to add anything to the first-fruits of his new corn, Moses lays down the rule, that the ears should be dried in the fire, so that they might be more easily pounded, and so might be burnt mixed with oil and frankincense; for so I interpret his words, that he means the same thing by “ears of corn dried by the fire,” and “corn beaten out of full ears.” He requires full ears, that the people may select them, and not offer anything poor or stunted.

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cal/leviticus-2.html. 1840-57.
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