Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Leviticus 2

Verse 1

And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:

When any will offer a meat offering - vegetable gift, as ears of grain [ minchaah (H4503)] - or bread offering, such as meal cakes (see the notes at Genesis 4:3-5). If presented in the latter form, the bread was to consist of "fine flour" sifted from all bran or husks, that distinguished a bloodless from a bloody sacrifice.

The word "meat," however, is improper, as its meaning, as now used, is different from that attached at the date of our English translation. It was then applied, not to 'flesh,' but 'food' generally, and here it is applied to the flour of wheat. The meat offerings were intended as a thankful acknowledgment for the bounty of Providence. The priest was to take out of the offering brought a 'handful,' as a sample; and hence, although meat offerings accompanied some of the appointed sacrifices, those here described, being voluntary oblations, were offered alone.

Pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon. Oil was used as butter is with us: symbolically it meant the influences of the Spirit, of which oil was the emblem, as incense was of prayer. Incense also was required as an accompaniment to the meat offering (cf. Leviticus 2:15; Leviticus 6:14-15).

Verse 2

And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD:

Shall burn the memorial - rather, 'for a memorial;' i:e., a part of it ['et 'azkaaraataah (H234); Septuagint, to mneemosunon autees]. This was the designation of that part of the vegetable offering which was consumed with frankincense upon the altar. The smoke of its strong fragrance ascending aloft was supposed to recommend the offerer to the favour of God, by reminding Him of His covenant promises (Leviticus 2:9; Leviticus 2:16; Leviticus 5:12; Numbers 5:26: see also Leviticus 24:7, where the incense sprinkled upon the showbread is also termed "a memorial."

Verse 3

And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.

The remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. The circumstance of a portion of it being appropriated to the use of the priests distinguishes this from a burnt offering. They alone were to partake of it within the sacred precincts as among "the most holy things (cf. Leviticus 6:16; Leviticus 6:26; Leviticus 7:6; Leviticus 7:9; Leviticus 21:22).

Verse 4

And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.

Baken in the oven - generally a circular hole excavated in the floor, from one to five feet deep; the sides of which are covered with hardened plaster, on which cakes are baked of the form and thickness of pancakes (see the note at Genesis 18:6). The shape of Eastern ovens varies considerably according to the nomadic or settled habits of the people.

Verse 5

And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.

Baken in a pan - a thin plate, generally of copper or iron [Septuagint, teeganon; ta-jen of the Arabs], similar to what the country people in Scotland called a 'girdle' for baking oatmeal cakes.

Verse 6

Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.

Part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon. The breaking into halves or fragments was necessary, because part was to be offered, while the remainder was reserved for the priest. Pouring oil on bread is a common practice among the Eastern people, who are fond of broken bread dipped in oil, butter, and milk. Oil only was used in the meat offerings, and probably for a symbolic reason. It is evident that these meat offerings were previously prepared by the offerer, and when brought, the priest was to take it from his hands and burn a portion on the altar. In later times there was an oven in the temple for the preparation of meat offerings (1 Chronicles 23:28-29; Ezekiel 46:20).

Verses 7-10

And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 11

No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.

No leaven, nor any honey. Leaven [being the symbol of kakia (G2549) and poneeria (G4189)] was not allowable in meat offerings, the value of which, being thank offerings, consisted in their being expressive of eilikrineia (G1505), sincerity and aleetheia (G225), truth; azuma (G106), unleaven was emblematic of these qualities (1 Corinthians 5:8). Nothing sweet or sour was to be offered. In the warm climates of the East leavened bread soon spoils; and hence, it was regarded as the emblem of hypocrisy or corruption. Some, however, think that the chief reason of the prohibition was that leaven and honey were used in the idolatrous rites of the pagan.

Verse 12

As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour.

The oblation of the first-fruits - voluntary offerings made by individuals out of their increase, and leaven and honey might be used with these (Leviticus 23:17; Numbers 15:20). Though presented at the altar, they were not consumed, but assigned by God for the use of the priests.

Verse 13

And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.

Every ... meat offering shalt thou season with salt. The same reasons which led to the prohibition of leaven recommended the use of salt-if the one soon putrifies, the other possesses a strongly perservative property; and hence, it became an emblem of incorruption and purity, as well as of a perpetual covenant-a perfect reconciliation and lasting friendship [ melach (H4417) bªriyt (H1285) 'Eloheykaa (H430)].

The symbolical meaning of the rite is here distinctly brought out-namely, that the salt denoted the covenant of Yahweh with Israel. The Septuagint translates: ou diapausate halas diatheekees kuriou apo thusiasmatoon humoon, from your sacrifices. De Wette ('Exeget. Man.' 1: 2:, p. 189) considers the salt to have been used as a seasoning, and the ceremony to have originated in the anthropomorphic idea, that God required in the meat offerings presented on His altar to have His palate gratified by the seasoning of salt, as men at their tables. But this is a low conception of the rite, refuted by the reference to 'the covenant of the Lord called a covenant of salt' (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5) - i:e., inviolable, indissoluble, and "a covenant of holiness," or purity, as implied by sacrifice, constituting the basis of Hebrew worship. (See this idea largely illustrated in Bahr, 'Symbolik des Mos. Cultus,' pp. 324-327.)

No injunction in the whole law was more sacredly observed than this application of salt; for, besides other uses of it that will be noticed elsewhere, it had a typical meaning, referred to by our Lord concerning the effect of the Gospel on those who embrace it (Mark 9:49-50; Colossians 4:6). As salt, when plentifully applied, preserves meat from spoiling, so will the Gospel keep men from being corrupted by sin. And as salt was indispensable to render sacrifices acceptable to God, so the Gospel brought home to the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit is indispensably requisite to their offering up of themselves living sacrifices.

Verse 14

And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears.

A meat offering of thy first-fruits. From the mention of green ears, this seems to have been a voluntary offering before the harvest-the ears being prepared in the favorite way of Eastern people, by parching or roasting them at the fire, and then beating them out for use. The grits or polenta of early grain (cf. Leviticus 23:14; Ruth 2:14; 1 Samuel 17:17; 1 Samuel 25:18; 2 Samuel 17:28; 2 Kings 4:42) - i:e., says Gesenius, 'fresh wheat or barley groats,' in preparing which as an offering to God, the best and earliest ears were selected from [ karmel (H3759)] garden or other grain.

The Rabbinical interpretation, therefore, is not absurd, but opens the way to the true sense-namely, 'a young and tender ear of grain; not a green ear.' Accordingly the passage should be rendered, 'Thou shalt bring for the meat offering of thy first-fruits, the abib, the fruit or cereal produce, parched with fire, beaten out of the full ear;' for it is evident that what is beaten out of the full ear is not a verdant, unripe ear, but the grain or edible part of it.

The first-fruits when presented as an offering was accompanied with some parched grain or bread baked of it. The use of parched grain is still very common in the rural districts of the East, as well as among the Bedouin Arabs. 'In the season of harvest the grains of wheat, not yet fully dry and hard, are roasted in a pan or in an iron plate, and constitute a very palatable article of food: this is eaten along with bread, or instead of it. Indeed, the use of it is so common at this season among the labouring classes that this parched grain is sold in the markets' (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' vol. 2:, p. 394).

It was designed to be an early tribute of pious thankfulness for the earth's increase, and it was offered according to the usual directions. But it was one of those rites enjoined on the Israelites, the regular or practicable observance of which could only be attended to after their settlement in the promised land.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Leviticus 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.