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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 3

 

 

Introduction

III. Peace Offerings.—This properly follows ch. 1, and describes the ritual of the next great class of sacrifices, the peace offerings. These are familiar in the narrative parts of the OT, and the Book of the Covenant. The root of the Heb. term for "peace offering" denotes not simply "peace" in our sense, but "being quits" with another. In the OT generally, the peace offering is a common meal, wherein God, priest, and worshippers sit down, as it were, together, in token that there is nothing which separates them, and that all causes of displeasure on the part of God are at an end. This offering is often spoken of as "sacrifice" par excellence (cf. 1 Samuel 11:15, 1 Kings 1:19). It often takes the form of a family or communal commemoration, of a joyous and festal character (1 Samuel 20:29). In the Levitical system, each personage at the banquet has his own portion; to Yahweh belong the blood and the fat (the former as sacred or "taboo"—too dangerous for mortals to consume; the latter for the same reason or as being the special delicacy); the rest of the victim is boiled (cf. 1 Samuel 2:13 ff.); to the priest go the breast and shoulder; to the worshippers the rest (Leviticus 7:12 ff., Numbers 15:17 ff.). Here, however, only Yahweh's portions are mentioned. Originally this would seem to have been the commonest form of sacrifice; by P it is subordinated to the burnt offering.


Verses 1-5

III. Peace Offerings.—This properly follows ch. 1, and describes the ritual of the next great class of sacrifices, the peace offerings. These are familiar in the narrative parts of the OT, and the Book of the Covenant. The root of the Heb. term for "peace offering" denotes not simply "peace" in our sense, but "being quits" with another. In the OT generally, the peace offering is a common meal, wherein God, priest, and worshippers sit down, as it were, together, in token that there is nothing which separates them, and that all causes of displeasure on the part of God are at an end. This offering is often spoken of as "sacrifice" par excellence (cf. 1 Samuel 11:15, 1 Kings 1:19). It often takes the form of a family or communal commemoration, of a joyous and festal character (1 Samuel 20:29). In the Levitical system, each personage at the banquet has his own portion; to Yahweh belong the blood and the fat (the former as sacred or "taboo"—too dangerous for mortals to consume; the latter for the same reason or as being the special delicacy); the rest of the victim is boiled (cf. 1 Samuel 2:13 ff.); to the priest go the breast and shoulder; to the worshippers the rest (Leviticus 7:12 ff., Numbers 15:17 ff.). Here, however, only Yahweh's portions are mentioned. Originally this would seem to have been the commonest form of sacrifice; by P it is subordinated to the burnt offering.

Leviticus 3:1-5. Cattle.—Females as well as males are allowed here, though not for the burnt offering. The different kinds of fat, all of which belong to Yahweh, are carefully specified (cf. Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 34:6). The fat on the kidneys is thought of, as the Arab proverb shows, as the seat of life, like the blood (Leviticus 17:14). By the caul is meant the caudate lobe. The liver itself, by many peoples, has been used for divination, notably in Babylonian ritual; perhaps for this reason it is included among the parts to be burnt.


Verses 6-11

Leviticus 3:6-11. Sheep.—"Flock" (Leviticus 3:6) includes either sheep or goats, but note that by implication only lambs, and not full-grown sheep, are to be offered. The ritual is the same as for cattle, save that the fat tail (another special delicacy, properly the fat lying close to the tail in certain breeds of sheep) is carefully mentioned. The offerer denies himself the pleasantest parts The old anthropomorphic view survives in the mention of "the food" in Leviticus 3:11. These words may have formed part of the ritual language used from time immemorial by the priest at the altar.


Verses 12-16

Leviticus 3:12-16. Goats.—The language is the same as in the preceding paragraph, save that the tail is not mentioned. Birds are not included among the victims for peace offerings. They could hardly be divided among the participants. The whole chapter, and specially Leviticus 3:17, shows that P's interest is not with the sacrifice as a whole, but one particular part of it, the scrupulous devoting of the fat and the blood to Yahweh. We can distinguish here and elsewhere in P, as in the other codes, the hand of the legislative reformer.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Leviticus 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/leviticus-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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