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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 3

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) A sacrifice of peace offering.—The peace offering of which this chapter treats, consisted of two kinds, the peace offering from the herd (Leviticus 3:1-5), and the peace offering from the flock (Leviticus 3:6-15). As in the case of the burnt offering (Leviticus 1:3), the ox is mentioned first, because it is most costly and more important.

Whether it be a male.—Whilst in the case of the burnt offering (Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10) the male only was legal, there is no distinction of sex here, nor is there any limitation of age. All that was required was that it should be without any organic defect.

Verse 2

(2) And he shall lay his hand.—Unlike the laying of hands on the burnt offering, there was no confession of sin here, but the utterance of words of praise to God, and this might be done in any place of the court-yard which was most convenient for the offerer to kill the sacrifice.

At the door of the tabernacle.—Better, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. (See Leviticus 1:3.)

Aaron’s sons the priests.—Better, the sons of Aaron, the priests. (See Leviticus 1:5.)

Shall sprinkle.—Better, throw (see Leviticus 1:5).

Verse 3

(3) And he shall offer.—That is, he who brings the sacrifices, not the priest.

The fat.—That is, the best or choicest part. Hence the expression is also used for the best produce of the ground (Genesis 45:18; Numbers 18:12). As the most valuable part of the animal, the fat belonged to God, and hence had a peculiar sanctity, for which reason it was not allowed to be eaten (Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:23).

Verse 5

(5) And Aaron’s sons.—After the offerer has killed the victim, taken out the choice parts and offered them to the officiating priest, the latter shall burn it, that is, the whole collection of the fat pieces described in Leviticus 3:3-4, upon the ashes of the continual burnt offering, which was the daily offering of the lamb. It had always the precedence, and was burning the whole day (Leviticus 6:12). Besides these choice pieces which had thus to be burnt, the breast and the right shoulder were reserved for the priest, whilst the remainder of the peace offering was eaten by the offerer, his family and his friends (Leviticus 7:15-16).

Verse 6

(6) Of the flock.—That is, of sheep or goats; they too might be either male or female, provided only that they were without organic defects.

Verse 7

(7) A lamb.—Better, a sheep, as it is rendered in Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 7:23; Leviticus 22:19; Leviticus 22:27, &c, since the word denotes a full-grown sheep.

Verse 8

(8) Before the tabernacle of the congregation.—Better, before the tent of meeting. (See Leviticus 3:2.)

Verse 9

(9) The whole rump.—Better, the whole fat tail (so also Exodus 29:22; Leviticus 7:3; Leviticus 8:25; Leviticus 9:19). The sheep of Syria and Palestine were, and still are, the bread-tailed species, the broad part often weighing fifteen pounds and upwards. In young animals, the substance of the tail, which consists of marrow and fat, tastes like marrow, and it is used by the Arabs for cooking instead of butter. It is often so large that it trails on the ground, and to save the animal from the pain occasioned by dragging it on the ground, a small wheeled truck is attached to it, on which it draws it along. It is only the tail of sheep which is here included among the fat parts that are to be offered upon the altar. It is, however, not regarded as the ordinary fat of other quadrupeds (Leviticus 9:19), and hence, according to Jewish tradition, is not included in the prohibition of Leviticus 3:3.

Verse 10

(10) And the two kidneys.—The ritual enjoined in these two verses is the same as in Leviticus 3:4-5.

Verse 11

(11) The food, or bread, that is, which the fire upon the altar was to consume for God, or the sacrifice. Hence that which was burnt unto God was called His bread (Numbers 28:2; Ezekiel 44:7), and the priests who burnt it are described as offering “ the bread of their God” (Leviticus 21:6; Leviticus 21:8; Leviticus 21:17).

Verses 12-15

(12-15) And if his offering be a goat.—The directions about the goat as a peace offering are the same as those about an ox. No mention of male or female is here made, because this point is already stated in Leviticus 3:6. Unlike the burnt offering (Leviticus 1:10), the goat is here separated from the sheep because of the difference in the oblation, arising from the

broad tail of the sheep, which does not exist in the goat.

Verse 16

(16) Shall burn them.—That is, the fat pieces which have thus been specified (see Leviticus 4:35), because they constitute the bread of Jehovah; they are to ascend in a sweet-smelling savour to heaven. (See Leviticus 1:9).

All the fat is the Lord’s.—This part of the verse is intimately connected with the following verse. As the fat belongs to the Lord, it is therefore enacted as a perpetual statute that it must never be eaten.

Verse 17

(17) A perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings.—Better, a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings; so the Authorised Version in the only three other passages in which it occurs. (Comp. Leviticus 23:14; Leviticus 23:21, where it is inverted; and 31.) That is, the law not to eat fat of beeves, sheep, or goats, is to be binding upon the Israelites throughout all their future generations, and is applicable to any place wherever they may dwell. As the full legislative formula only occurs four times in the Pentateuch, and is restricted to this book, it is important to render it uniformly in all the four passages. For the import of this statute see Leviticus 7:23-25.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Leviticus 3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/leviticus-3.html. 1905.
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