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Bible Dictionaries
Sacrifice and Offering

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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1 . Terminology of sacrifice. ( a ) General . Since every sacrifice was an offering, but all offerings were not sacrifices, this preliminary study of the usage of these two important terms in our EV [Note: English Version.] may start from the more comprehensive ‘ offering .’ It is true that in the majority of the occurrences of ‘offering,’ both in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and in RV [Note: Revised Version.] , it is simply a synonym of ‘sacrifice’ (cf. German Opfer ). This is the case more particularly in the extensive nomenclature of the various sacrifices, as ‘burnt offering,’ which also appears in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] as ‘burnt sacrifice,’ ‘meal (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] meat) offering,’ etc. (In AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] the names of the sacrifices are printed separately, in Amer. RV [Note: Revised Version.] they are more correctly joined by a hyphen, burnt-offering, etc.) As will presently appear (§ 2 ), the compound expression in such cases represents but a single word in the original, which is the technical term for the particular sacrifice.

In the remaining occurrences, however, ‘offering,’ or its synonym ‘oblation,’ is used in a more extended application to denote a gift offered to God, as opposed to a secular gift, in the form of a present, bribe, or the like, to a fellow-creature. Such ‘holy gifts’ (Exodus 28:38 ) or offerings may be divided into three classes, namely, (1) altar-offerings, comprising all such offerings as were brought into contact with the altar (cf. Matthew 23:19 ), mostly for the purpose of being consumed thereon; (2) the stated sacred dues, such as tithes, first-fruits, etc.; and (3) special votive offerings, e.g. those specified in Numbers 7:1-89 . In this comprehensive sense of the term, ‘offering,’ or as almost uniformly in RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘ oblation ,’ corresponds to the Heb. qorbân , a word peculiar to Ezekiel and the priestly legislation. It is the corban of Mark 7:11 , ‘that is to say, Given to God ’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.]; AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘a gift’), and means ‘something brought near,’ i.e. to the altar, or at least presented at the sanctuary, in other words, a present to God. The term, as has been said, appears late in the history of OT sacrifice ( Ezekiel 20:28; Ezekiel 40:43 and the various strata of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] passim ), the nearest corresponding term in the older literature being minchâh , for which see § 2 .

The classification of OT offerings above suggested serves, further, to bring into relief the relation of ‘sacrifice’ to ‘offering.’ The former may be defined as an offering which is consumed, in whole or in part, upon the altar , or, more briefly, as an altar-offering. It is in this more restricted sense of altar-offering that ‘sacrifice’ and ‘offering’ are employed synonymously in our English nomenclature of sacrifice.

But there is still another use of these terms in which they are not synonymous but contrasted terms. In the sacrificial system of OT, altar-offerings ‘sacrifices,’ in the sense above defined are of two kinds, animal offerings and cereal offerings, using the latter term a fortiori for all non-bloody altar-offerings, including not merely cereal oblations in the strict sense (flour, cakes, etc.), but also offerings of wine, oil, and the indispensable salt. Now the characteristic and significant Heb. designation of an animal, or, as it is often termed, a bloody, offering is zebach , lit. ‘slaughter,’ from the verb zâbach , originally to slaughter generally, then specially to immolate the sacrificial victim, to sacrifice hence also the word for ‘ altar ,’ mizbçach , lit. the place of slaughter (for sacrifice). The complement of zebach in this sense of animal sacrifice is minchâh , in the later specialized sense of cereal offering (see, further, for both terms, § 2 ), so that ‘sacrifice and offering’ came to denote the whole category of altar offerings ( Psalms 40:6 , 1 Samuel 2:29 , Amos 5:25 also Isaiah 19:21 ‘sacrifice and oblation’). In this sense, also, they are to be understood in the title of this article. The results now reached may be thus summed up: ‘sacrifice’ is used as a convenient term for both kinds of OT altar-offerings, but in the EV [Note: English Version.] , and in strict usage, it corresponds to the Heb. zebach , which is always used of animal sacrifice, while ‘offering’ is used in three different senses for all sacred gifts ( qorbân ), for such gifts only as ‘came up’ upon the altar, and, finally, in the special sense of cereal offering.

2 . Terminology of sacrifice. ( b ) Special . To the foregoing study of the more general terms may now be added a brief review of the more specific renderings of the names of the principal altar-offerings, reserving for later sections the examination of their characteristic features. Following the order of the manual of sacrifice, Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 3:1-17; Leviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 5:1-19 , we have (1) the burnt offering , so RV [Note: Revised Version.] uniformly, AV [Note: Authorized Version.] also ‘burnt sacrifice’ Heb. ‘ôlâh , lit. ‘that which goes up’ (on the altar). The name is supposed to point to the feature by which the ‘ôlâh was distinguished from all other sacrifices, viz., the burning of the whole victim as a holocaust upon the altar. This characteristic is more explicitly brought out by the rare designation (2) kâlîl , the ‘ whole burnt offering ’ of Deuteronomy 33:10 RV [Note: Revised Version.] (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘whole burnt sacrifice’) and Psalms 51:19 . ‘Whole offering’ would be a more exact equivalent of (1) and (2).

(3) Meal offering (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) and meat offering (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) are the equivalents of minchâh in its restricted sense of cereal or vegetable offering, as already explained. The Heb. word ‘does not express the neutral idea of a gift, but denotes a present made to secure or retain goodwill’ (Driver, art. ‘Offering.’ in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iii. 587), such as Jacob’s ‘present’ to Esau ( Genesis 32:13; Genesis 32:18 ), and the ‘presents’ which subjects were expected to offer to their sovereigns ( 1 Samuel 10:27 ). From the latter usage there is but a step to the further sense of an ‘offering’ to the Divine sovereign. In the older literature, minchâh , as a present or offering to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , includes both animal and cereal offerings, as in the case of the ‘offering’ brought by Abel and Cain respectively ( Genesis 4:3 ff.) In the later Priests’ Code, however, minchâh is restricted to the cereal offering. For this the ‘meal offering’ of RV [Note: Revised Version.] is better than the older rendering, ‘meat’ being now obsolete in the sense intended, but is still not sufficiently comprehensive; hence cereal offering or cereal oblation is the rendering now generally preferred. With the cereal offering may be taken (4) the drink offering , first met with in Genesis 35:14 .

(5) Peace offering (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] thank offering ). The meaning of the special name of this sacrifice ( shelem Amos 5:22 , elsewhere always plural shÄ•lâmîm ) is still uncertain, a fact reflected in the alternatives of RV [Note: Revised Version.] . Most scholars, following the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , connect the word with shâlôm , ‘peace,’ as reflecting the harmonious relations of worshipper and worshipped brought about by the sacrifice. Others, with greater probability, would derive the name from another meaning of the same root ‘to recompense, repay, pay one’s vows’ (see Proverbs 7:14 ). On this view, recompense offering is perhaps as good a rendering as any, and leaves (6) thank offering ( 2 Chronicles 29:31 , tôdhâh , lit. ‘thanksgiving,’ hence the expression ‘a sacrifice of thanksgiving,’ Amos 4:5 , Psalms 50:14; Psalms 50:23 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) for an important variety of the recompense offering (cf. Leviticus 7:13 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving’). Other two varieties, named together Leviticus 7:16 , Numbers 15:3 etc., are (7) the votive offering (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘vow’), defined in the latter passage as ‘a sacrifice to accomplish a vow,’ and (8) the freewill offering (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), which explains itself.

The probable meaning of the difficult terms rendered (9) sin offering , and (10) trespass (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) or guilt (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) offering will be more profitably discussed when the precise nature and object of these offerings are under consideration (§ 14 f.) All the various offerings (1) to (10) are explicitly or implicitly included in a favourite term of the Priestly legislation, namely (11) ’ishsheh , fire offering , in EV [Note: English Version.] ‘the offering (or sacrifice) made by fire.’ The fire offering is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:1 and 1 Samuel 2:28 (a Deuteronomic passage).

Two other significant terms may be taken together, namely, the heave offering and the wave offering . The former is the rendering, in this connexion, of (12) tÄ•rûmâh , which etymologically signifies not something ‘heaved up’ (so Exodus 29:27 ), but rather ‘what is lifted off a larger mass, or separated from it for sacred purposes.’ The Heb. word is used in a variety of applications gifts of agricultural produce, of the spoils of war, etc., and in these cases is rendered ‘offering’ or ‘oblation’ (see Driver, DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iii. 588, and Com. on Deut . 142, who considers ‘that “contribution” is perhaps the English word which … best suggests the ideas expressed by the Heb. tÄ•rûmâh ’). In connexion with sacrifice, however, it denotes certain portions ‘taken or lifted off’ from the rest and assigned to the priests as their due, in particular the ‘heave thigh’ ( Leviticus 7:34 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), or ‘the thigh of the heave offering’ ( Exodus 29:27 f.). ‘Heave offering’ accordingly in the sacrificial terminology is the equivalent of ‘priest’s portion’ (cf. Leviticus 6:17 , where, however, a different word is used).

(13) With the tÄ•rûmâh is closely associated the tÄ•nûphâh or wave offering . The Heb. word denotes a movement to and fro, swinging, ‘waving,’ the priest lifting his share of the victim and moving it to and fro in the direction of the altar, thus symbolizing the presentation of the part of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , and J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s return of it to the priest. It is applied specially to the breast of the sacrificial victim, hence termed ‘the breast of the wave offering’ ( Exodus 29:26 f.), or more tersely ‘the wave breast’ ( Leviticus 7:34; Leviticus 10:14 f.). Further, like tÄ•rûmâh, tÄ•nûphâh is also used in the more general sense of ‘offering’ ( Exodus 35:22; cf. Numbers 8:11; Numbers 8:13 of the Levites, where the change from ‘offering’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) to ‘wave offering’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) is not an improvement).

(14) The last entry in this vocabulary of OT sacrifice is reserved for the obscure term ’azkârâh , memorial offering , applied especially to the handful of the cereal offering burnt by the priest upon the altar ( Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 2:9; Leviticus 2:16 etc., EV [Note: English Version.] ‘memorial’). According to the usual, but uncertain, derivation of the term ( zâkar ‘remember’), the ’azkârâh is understood as an offering designed to bring the offerer to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s remembrance.

3 . Sacrifice and offering in the pre-exilic period. The history of OT sacrifice, like the history of the religion of Israel of which it is the most characteristic expression, falls into two main divisions, the first embracing the period from Moses to the end of the monarchy (b.c. 586), the second the period from the Babylonian exile to the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70. For the latter period we have the advantage of the more or less systematic presentation of the subject in the various strata of the complex legislation of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] (esp. Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 3:1-17; Leviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 5:1-19; Leviticus 6:1-30; Leviticus 7:1-38 ); for the former we must have recourse to the numerous references to sacrifice in the non-Priestly sources of the Pentateuch, in the early narratives of the historical books, and in the writings of the pre-exilic prophets.

Now, according to J [Note: Jahwist.] , sacrifice as an institution is as old as the human race itself (Genesis 4:2 ff.). In this significant narrative, sacrifice appears as the spontaneous expression of man’s need of God, who ‘made of one every nation of men … that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him’ ( Acts 17:26 f. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). Our study of the terminology of sacrifice has shown that the dominant conception of sacrifice in the OT from first to last is that of a gift, present , or offering . The object of the gift, reduced to its simplest terms, may be said to be threefold to secure and retain the favour of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , to remove His displeasure incurred, and to express gratitude for benefits received. In this, Hebrew sacrifice differed from sacrifice elsewhere, even in the lowest religions, only in respect of the deity to whom it was offered.

The sacrificial worship of the earlier differs from that of the later period mainly in the greater freedom as regards the occasion and in particular the place of sacrifice, in the greater simplicity of the ritual, and in the joyousness of the cult as compared with the more sombre atmosphere of the post-exilic worship, due to a deepened sense of sin and the accompanying conviction of the need of expiation.

As regards, first of all, the place of sacrifice , every village appears to have had its sanctuary or ‘high place’ with its altar and other appurtenances of the cult, on which the recent excavations have thrown so much new and unexpected light (see High Place). Not that sacrifice could be offered at any spot the worshipper might choose; it must be one hallowed by the tradition of a theophany: ‘in every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee’ ( Exodus 20:24 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). With the abolition of the local sanctuaries by Josiah in b.c. 622 21, the Temple at Jerusalem became, and henceforth remained, the only legitimate place of sacrifice, as required by the legislation of Deuteronomy ( Deuteronomy 12:2 ff.).

The occasions of sacrifice were manifold, and in the days of the local sanctuaries, which practically means the whole of the period under consideration, these occasions were naturally taken advantage of to an extent impossible when sacrifice was confined to the Temple of Jerusalem. Only a few of such occasions, whether stated or special, can be noted here. Of the regular or stated occasions may be named the daily sacrifices of the Temple a burnt offering in the morning followed by a cereal offering in the afternoon ( 2 Kings 16:15 , cf. 1 Kings 18:29; 1 Kings 18:36 , which, however, may refer to one or more of the large sanctuaries of the Northern Kingdom. e.g. Bethel or Samaria), the ‘yearly sacrifice’ of the various clans ( 1 Samuel 20:6 ), those at the recurring festivals, such as the new moon and the three agricultural feasts ( Exodus 23:14 ff; Exodus 34:22 ff.), at which the oldest legislation laid down that ‘none shall appear before me empty’ ( Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:20 ), that is, without an offering in token of gratitude and homage. Still more numerous were the special occasions of sacrifice the installation of a king ( 1 Samuel 11:15 , the arrival of an honoured guest, family events such as the weaning of a child, a circumcision, a marriage, the dedication of a house ( Deuteronomy 20:5 ): no compact or agreement was completed until sealed by a sacrifice ( Genesis 31:54 etc.); at the opening of a campaign the warriors were ‘consecrated’ by a sacrifice ( 1 Samuel 13:9 ff., Isaiah 13:3 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). One of the most fruitful occasions of sacrifice was undoubtedly the discharging of a vow, of which those of Jacob ( Genesis 28:20-22 ), Jephthah (see 5 ), Hannah ( 1 Samuel 1:11 ), and Absalom ( 2 Samuel 15:7 ) may be cited as typical specimens, just as in Syria to-day, among fellahin and bedouin alike, similar vows are made to the welys of the local shrines by or on behalf of sick persons, childless women, or to avert or remove plague or other threatened calamity.

4 . The varieties and material of sacrifice in this period. Three varieties of sacrifice are met with in the older Hebrew literature, viz. the burnt offering , the ‘ peace’ offering , and the cereal or ‘ meal offering . The two former, appearing sometimes as ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ ( Exodus 18:12 , Jeremiah 7:22 etc.), sometimes as ‘burnt offerings and peace offerings’ ( Exodus 24:5 , 1 Samuel 13:9 etc.), exhaust the category of animal sacrifices, the special ‘sin’ and ‘guilt’ offerings being first definitely named by Ezekiel (see §§ 13 15 ). The typical animal offering in the pre-exilic period is that now termed ‘sacrifice’ ( zebach ) simply, now ‘peace offering’ ( Amos 5:22 ) to differentiate it more clearly from the burnt offering, now still more explicitly ‘sacrifice of peace offerings’ (perhaps rather ‘of recompense,’ shÄ•lâmîm , § 2 ). Almost all the special offerings and most of the stated ones were of this type. Its distinguishing feature was the sacrificial meal , which followed the sacrifice proper. After the blood had been returned to the Giver of life (we have no details as to the manipulation of the blood in the earliest period, but see 1 Samuel 14:32-34 ), and the fat burned upon the altar ( 1 Samuel 2:15; cf. Isaiah 1:11 ), the flesh of the victim was eaten at the sanctuary by the sacrificer and his family ( 1 Samuel 1:3-7 ) or, in the case of a communal sacrifice, by the representatives of the community ( 1 Samuel 9:22-25 ). The last passage shows that a special ‘guest-chamber’ was provided at the ‘high place’ for this purpose.

The underlying idea of this, by far the commonest, form of sacrifice was that of sharing a common meal with the deity. The worshippers were the ‘guests’ (Zephaniah 1:7 ) of God at His sanctuary, and as such secure of His favour. To this day among the Arabs ‘the act of eating together is regarded as something particularly solemn and sacred,’ and, as is well known, creates a solidarity of interest between guest and host, and imposes upon the latter the duty of protecting his guest so long as, in Arab [Note: Arabic.] phrase, ‘his salt is in his belly’ (see Jaussen, Coutumes des Arabes [1908], 86 88). This idea of table communion , as it is termed, is accordingly one which may be reckoned a common possession of the Semitic stock. Even to St. Paul the eating of meat that had been sacrificed to heathen deities appeared as an act of ‘communion (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘fellowship’) with demons’ ( 1 Corinthians 10:20 Amer. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). References to this solemn one might almost say sacramental eating of the sacrifice are too frequent to require citation, but we may recall the favourite expression of Deuteronomy, ‘ye shall eat (and drink) before the Lord your God’ ( Deuteronomy 12:7 etc.), often followed by the equally characteristic ‘ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God.’ Here we meet with the dominant note of Hebrew worship in this period, the note of joyousness above referred to an element which not infrequently led to the excesses deplored by the prophets.

Much less frequent in the older documents is the mention of the burnt offering , more precisely the ‘whole’ offering (see above, § 2 ). The fact that the whole was consumed upon the altar enhanced its value as a ‘holy gift,’ and accordingly we find it offered when the occasion was one of special solemnity ( Genesis 8:20 , 1 Kings 3:4 etc.), or was otherwise extraordinary, as e.g. 1 Samuel 6:14 . In most cases the burnt offering appears in conjunction with the ordinary ‘sacrifice’ above described ( Exodus 18:12 , 1Sa 6:17 , 2 Samuel 6:17 , 2 Kings 16:13; 2 Kings 16:15; cf. Isaiah 1:11 , Jeremiah 7:22; Jeremiah 17:26 ).

Apart from the special offering of the first-fruits , the cereal or meal offering (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘meat offering’ § 2 ) is rarely mentioned as an independent offering in this period, but is frequently named along with the two more important offerings discussed above, as Judges 13:23 , Amos 5:22 , Jeremiah 14:12 (with the burnt offering), 1 Samuel 2:29; 1 Samuel 3:14 , Isaiah 19:21 (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘oblation’), and often. ‘When the Hebrew ate flesh, he ate bread with it and drank wine, and when he offered flesh on the table of his God, it was natural that he should add to it the same concomitants that were necessary to make up a comfortable and generous meal’ ( RS [Note: S Religion of the Semites.] 2 222). The various forms which the meal offering might assume are attested for a later period by Leviticus 2:1-16 , for which see § 11 . One form occurring there is undoubtedly ancient, viz. parched ears of corn ( Leviticus 2:14; cf. Food, § 2 ).

Another very ancient form of offering, although not an altar-offering in the strict sense (yet strangely reckoned among the fire offerings, Leviticus 24:9 ), is that named the presence bread (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘ shewbread ’), which perpetuates the primitive idea of an offering as a meal for the deity ( 1 Samuel 21:4-6 , 1 Kings 7:48 ). The mention in a later passage of ‘the flagons thereof and the bowls thereof to pour out withal’ ( Exodus 25:29 , see, further, Shewbread) shows that, as for an ordinary meal, the ‘holy bread’ was accompanied by a provision of wine, in other words by a drink offering . This species of offering occurs as an independent offering only in Genesis 35:14 . The skins of wine mentioned in 1 Samuel 1:24; 1 Samuel 10:3 doubtless served in part for a drink or ‘wine offering’ ( Hosea 9:4 ), in part, like the accompanying flour and loaves, for the sacrificial meal. More explicit reference to the wine of the drink offering as an accompaniment of animal sacrifice is found in Deuteronomy 32:38 (cf. the early reference, Judges 9:13 , to wine ‘which cheereth God’). For the ritual of the later drink offering, see § 11 . It is significant of the predominant part played by the drink offering in early Babylonian ritual, that the word for libation ( niqu ) has there become the usual term for sacrifice ( KAT [Note: Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament.] 3 595).

A brief reference must suffice for oil in early ritual ( Genesis 28:18 , Judges 9:9 , Micah 6:7 for the later ritual, see § 11 ). A water offering appears only in the isolated cases 1 Samuel 7:6 , 2 Samuel 23:16 , but emerges as an interesting survival in the rites of the Feast of Tabernacles (wh. see). Honey , although offered among the first-fruits ( 2 Chronicles 31:5 ), was excluded, along with milk, from the altar ( Leviticus 2:11 ), on the ground that both were liable to fermentation (see also Leaven).

5 . Material and ritual of sacrifice in this period. From the details just given it is evident that ‘among the Hebrew offerings drawn from the vegetable kingdom, meal, wine, and oil take the chief place, and these were also the chief vegetable constituents of man’s daily food’ ( RS [Note: S Religion of the Semites.] 2 219). The same remark holds good of the animal sacrifices, which were drawn chiefly from ‘the herd,’ i.e. neat cattle, and from the ‘flock,’ i.e. sheep and goats. Excluded from the altar, on the other hand, were not only all unclean animals, but also game and fish, which, not being reared by man, were probably regarded as God’s special property, and therefore inadmissible as a present from man. This idea that only what was a man’s ‘very own’ constituted an appropriate sacrifice is reflected in David’s words to Araunah, 2 Samuel 24:24 (offerings ‘which cost me nothing’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). Males of the various species, a heifer is mentioned in connexion with ordinary sacrifice only 1 Samuel 16:2 ( Genesis 15:9 , Deuteronomy 21:3 ff., 1 Samuel 6:14 do not belong to this category), and of these, yearlings, as in the later legislation, were doubtless the commonest victims, although we read of ‘a bullock of three years old’ ( 1 Samuel 1:24 , see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.]; Judges 6:25 is corrupt, ‘seven years old’).

The question of human sacrifice cannot be passed over, even in this brief sketch of a vast subject. The recent excavations at Gezer and elsewhere (see High Place, § 3 ) have revealed the surprising extent to which this practice prevailed among the Canaanites (cf. 2 Kings 3:27 ), and well-attested instances are recorded even among the Hebrews ( Judges 11:30-40 , 1 Kings 16:34 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , for which see House. § 3 ), apart altogether from the child sacrifices to Molech. Indeed, the familiar story of Abraham’s frustrated sacrifice of Isaac is now regarded as a polemic against this inhuman custom, which certainly had no sanction in the religion of OT.

As regards the ritual of sacrifice in this period, we have little information, 1 Samuel 2:13-16 being the only passage that touches definitely on this subject. This much is certain, that much greater latitude prevailed while the local sanctuaries existed than was afterwards the case; and also, that the priest played a much less conspicuous part in the rite than he does in the developed system of the Priests’ Code. The chief function of the priest in the earliest times was to give ‘direction’ ( tôrâh ) by means of the oracle, and to decide in matters pertaining to the sphere of ‘clean and unclean.’ The layman as father of the family or head of the clan, still more the anointed king offered his sacrifice without the intervention of the priest. The latter, however, as the custodian of the sanctuary, was entitled to his due (see 1Sam l.c. , Deuteronomy 18:3 ). At the more frequented sanctuaries Jerusalem, Bethel, Beersheba, etc. a more or less elaborate ritual was gradually evolved, for which the priest, as its depositary, became indispensable.

But even from the first the deity had to be approached with due precaution. The worshippers ‘sanctified’ themselves by ablutions (1 Samuel 16:5 ), and by washing ( Exodus 19:10 ) or changing their garments ( Genesis 35:2 ); for only those who were ceremonially ‘clean’ could approach the altar of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] . The sacrificer then entered the high place and immolated the sacrificial victim, originally, it would appear, upon the altar itself ( Genesis 22:9 , 1 Samuel 14:33 f.), so that the blood ran over it; later, near to the altar, care being taken that the blood was caught and poured out at its base. The victim was next cut up and the fat of the viscera removed. In the case of an ordinary sacrifice ( zebach ), to judge from 1 Samuel 2:16 , the flesh was boiled for the sacrificial meal, and not until the latter was ready was the fat, J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s special portion, burned upon the altar. By this simultaneous consumption of the sacrifice the table-fellowship of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] and His guests was more strikingly realized, the latter ‘eating and drinking before the Lord,’ as the ‘sweet smoke’ ( qÄ•tôreth ) ascended from the altar, an ‘odour of soothing (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘sweet savour’) unto the Lord.’

While the normal attitude of the worshippers on such occasions was one of rejoicings, as became those who, by thus renewing their covenant relation to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] in the way appointed, felt themselves secure of His favour and protection, a more serious note, implying a sense of alienation and the need of propitiation, is not infrequently found even in pre-exilic sacrifice, as will appear in a later section (§ 13 ).

6 . The developed sacrificial system of the post-exilic period Its general features. In an earlier section it was shown how intimately connected with the everyday life of the family were the free, joyous sacrifices at the local sanctuaries. The abolition of the latter by Josiah, in accordance with the demands of Deuteronomy (for the justification of this measure, see High Place, § 6 ), marks an epoch in the history of OT sacrifice. Hitherto every slaughter of a domestic animal for the entertainment of a guest, or to celebrate a family ‘event,’ was a form of sacrifice (for a remarkable list and description of such ‘immolations’ as practised by the Arabs of Moab at the present day, see Jaussen, Coutumes des Arabes au pays de Moab [1908], 337 363). Henceforward this was no longer so. The restriction of legitimate sacrifice to the one distant sanctuary at Jerusalem meant in practice the divorce from common life of the principal rite of religion. The Temple, from being only one, although certainly the most important, of the local sanctuaries of Judah, became the one national sanctuary; the cultus assumed an official character, while its dignity was enhanced by the presence of a numerous priesthood and a more elaborate ritual. Sacrifice, in short, lost its former spontaneity and became a statutory obligation. The Jewish nation had taken the first step towards becoming the Jewish Church .

A still more potent factor, making for change, soon appeared in the shape of the crushing calamity of the Exile. Then, at last, the words of the prophets came home to men’s hearts and minds, and it was recognized that the nation had received the due reward of its deeds. A deepened sense of sin and a heightened conception of the Divine holiness were two of the most precious fruits of the discipline of the Exile. The confident assurance of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s protection and good-will, which marked the relations of worshipper and worshipped in the days of Israel’s prosperity, had passed away. In its place arose a conviction of the need of expiation and propitiation a conviction reflected in the whole sacrificial system, as gradually systematized and elaborated, on the basis of the usage of the Temple, by successive generations of Priestly writers from Ezekiel onwards. In its fully developed form, as we find it in the middle books of the Pentateuch, we see how the cultus as a whole has become the affair of the community: the old sacral units, the family and the clan, have disappeared.

Great one is tempted to say, the main stress is now laid on the technique of sacrifice, on the proper observance of the prescribed ritual: the slightest want of conformity thereto invalidates the sacrifice; the old latitude and freedom are gone for ever. The necessary corollary is the enhanced status and importance of the priest as the indispensable intermediary between the worshipper and the Deity. Beyond immolating the victims, the laity are no longer competent to perform the sacrificial rites. The relative importance of the two older animal sacrifices, the ’ôlâh and the zebach , is now reversed. The typical sacrifice is no longer the latter with its accompanying meal, but the ‘continual burnt offering,’ an act of worship performed every morning and evening in the Temple in the name of the community, whose presence is unnecessary for its due performance. Still more characteristic of the later period, however, is the emergence of special propitiatory sacrifices ( piacula ) the allied sin offering and guilt offering. The older varieties of sacrifice, although still retaining their propitiatory efficacy, are no longer sufficient to express and adequately to satisfy the new consciousness of man’s sinfulness, or, more accurately expressed, of God’s exacting holiness.

7 . The five kinds of altar-offerings in P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] . The numerous altar-offerings mentioned in the various strata of the Priestly legislation are divided by Josephus into two classes: (i) those offered ‘for private persons,’ and (ii) those offered ‘for the people in general,’ a classification corresponding to the Roman sacra privata and sacra publica ( Ant. III. ix. 1). The public sacrifices were either stated or occasional, the former and more important group comprising the daily burnt offering (see § 10 ) and the additional sacrifices at the stated festivals Sabbath, New Moon, New Year, the three great feasts, and the Day of Atonement.

Since it is impossible within present limits to attempt to enumerate, much less to discuss, the multifarious varieties and occasions of public and private sacrifices, it will be more convenient to follow, as before, the order of the five distinct kinds as given in the systematic manual, Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 3:1-17; Leviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 5:1-19; Leviticus 6:1-30; Leviticus 7:1-38 . These are (1) the burnt offering, (2) the cereal or meal (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘meat’) offering, (3) the peace offering and the two propitiatory sacrifices, (4) the sin offering, and (5) the guilt (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘trespass’) offering. Arranged according to the material of the offering, these fell into two groups represented by the terms’ sacrifice’ and ‘offering’ (§ 1 ); in other words, into animal and vegetable or cereal offerings (including the drink offering). The four animal or bloody offerings may be classified according to the destination of the flesh of the victim, thus (cf. the relative §§ below)

(i) The flesh entirely consumed upon the altar the burnt or whole offering.

(ii) The flesh not consumed upon the altar the peace offerings and the two propitiatory offerings.

The second group may again he subdivided thus

( a ) The flesh apart from the priest’s dues, assigned to the offerer for a sacrificial meal the peace offering.

( b ) The flesh assigned to the priests to be eaten within the sanctuary the guilt offerings and the less important of the sin offerings.

( c ) The flesh burned without the sanctuary the more important sin offerings.

8 . The material of sacrifice in P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] . ‘ Holy’ and ‘most holy .’ The material of all these remains the same as in the pre-exilic period (§ 5 ), with the addition of pigeons and turtle-doves to meet the needs of the poor, but the victim for each special kind of sacrifice, and its qualifications, are now definitely prescribed. As regards neat and small cattle, the victims must be males for the most part, entire and without blemish (see Leviticus 22:1-33 for list of imperfections an exception, however, was made for the freewill offering, Leviticus 22:23 ). For the peace offering both sexes were equally admissible ( Leviticus 3:1 ), and a female victim is specially prescribed for the less important sin offerings ( Leviticus 4:28; Leviticus 4:32 ). The animals were eligible for sacrifice from the eighth day onwards ( Leviticus 22:27 ), but the typical sacrifice was the yearling. For the material of the cereal offering see below.

Here may be noted an interesting contrast between such offerings as were regarded as merely ‘holy’ and those reckoned ‘most holy.’ The limits of the former category are somewhat vague, but it certainly included firstlings and first-fruits , the tithe and the portions of the peace offerings falling to the priests, whereas the shew-bread ( Leviticus 24:9 ), the sacred incense ( Exodus 30:36 ), the meal offering ( Leviticus 2:3 ), and the sin and guilt offerings ( Leviticus 6:25; Leviticus 6:29 , Leviticus 7:1; Leviticus 7:6 ) are all classed as ‘most holy.’ One practical effect of the distinction was that the ‘most holy things’ could be eaten only by the priests, and by them only within the Temple precincts ( Leviticus 6:16; Leviticus 6:26 , Numbers 18:10; cf. Ezekiel 42:13; Ezekiel 46:20 ). As charged with a special potency of holiness, which was highly contagious, the ‘most holy things’ there were many other entries in the category, such as the altar and the high priest’s dress rendered all who came in contact with them ‘holy,’ in modern phrase ‘taboo’ ( Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 6:27 ). The ‘holy things,’ on the other hand, might he eaten by the priests and their households, if ceremonially clean, in any ‘clean place,’ i.e. practically in Jerusalem ( Leviticus 10:14 , Leviticus 22:3; Leviticus 22:10-16 , Numbers 18:11 ff.).

9 . The Ritual of post-exilic sacrifice. This is now, like all else, matter of careful regulation. The ritual, as a whole, doubtless continued and developed that of the pre-exilic Temple, where the priest had long taken the place of the lay offerer in the most significant parts of the rite. After the offerer had duly ‘sanctified’ himself as explained in § 5 , and had his sacrifice examined and passed by the Temple officials, the procedure comprised the following ‘actions’:

(1) The formal presentation of the victim to the priest officiating at the altar.

(2) The sÄ›m îkhâh or laying on of hands; the offerer leaned his right hand in the later praxis, both hands upon the head of the victim, in token of its being withdrawn from the sphere of the ‘common’ and transferred to the sphere of ‘holy things’ (cf. for the two spheres, 1 Samuel 21:4 ), and of his personal assignation of it to the Deity. There is no suggestion in this act of the victim being thereby made the substitute in a penal sense of its owner and donor (see the Comm., and, for recent discussions, the reff. in DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] Ext. Vol. 720 b ).

(3) The immolation of the victim, on the north side of the altar (Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 6:25 ), by severing the arteries of the neck. In private sacrifices this was always done by the person presenting them.

(4) The manipulation of the blood by the priest. This, the central action of the whole rite, varied considerably for the different sacrifices. After being caught by the priest in a large basin, the blood was in most cases tossed against the sides of the altar (‘sprinkle’ of EV [Note: English Version.] , Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 3:2 etc., is misleading, being the proper rendering of a different term occurring Leviticus 4:6 , Leviticus 16:14 , and elsewhere). Generally it may be said that the more pronounced the propitiatory character of the sacrifice, the nearer the blood was brought to the presence of the deity (see § 14 ), the climax being reached in the blood-rite of the Day of Atonement ( Leviticus 16:14 , see Atonement [Day of]).

(5) The skinning and dismemberment of the animal, including the removal of the internal fat, as specified Leviticus 3:3-4 and Leviticus 4:8 f. The hide fell to the officiating priest, except in the case of the sin offering, when it was burned with the flesh ( Exodus 29:14 ).

(6) The arrangement of all the pieces upon the altar in the case of the burnt offering, of the specified portions of ‘the inwards’ in the case of the others; and finally

(7) The burning lit. the turning into ‘sweet smoke’ of these upon the altar of burnt offering, the fire on which was kept continually burning (Leviticus 6:13 ).

Of these various elements of the ritual, those requiring contact with the altar as a ‘most holy thing,’ viz. (4), (6), and (7), represent the priest’s, the rest the layman’s, share in the rite of sacrifice.

10. The burnt offering ( Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 6:8-13 , Exodus 29:15-18 ). The first place in the manual of sacrifice, Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 3:1-17; Leviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 5:1-19; Leviticus 6:1-30; Leviticus 7:1-38 , is occupied by the sacrifice which alone was entirely consumed upon the altar, hence the older and more correct designation ‘whole offering’ (§ 2 ) a feature which constituted it the typical honorific sacrifice, the fullest expression of homage to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] on the part alike of the community and of the individual. The victim from the flock and the herd was always a male young bull, ram, or he-goat. The turtle-dove and the young pigeon of the poor had their special ritual ( Leviticus 1:14-17 ). The most important of the stated sacrifices in the period under review was the ‘ continual burnt offering ’ ( Exodus 29:38-42 , Numbers 28:3-8 ), so called because it was presented every morning and evening along with a cereal oblation by the particular ‘course’ of priests on duty in the Temple. The victim was a yearling lamb, which was offered on behalf of the whole community of Israel throughout the world. An interesting survival of the primitive anthropomorphic conception of sacrifice, as affording a complete meal to the deity, is seen in the provision that every burnt offering (as also every peace offering) must be accompanied by both a meal offering and a drink offering (see next §).

11. The meal ( AV [Note: Authorized Version.] meat ) offering ( Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 6:14-23 , Numbers 15:1-16 etc.). As pointed out in an early section, the term minchâh , which originally was applicable both to an animal and to a cereal offering, is in the later legislation limited to the latter species. As such it appears in a large variety of forms, and may be either an independent offering, as contemplated in Leviticus 2:1-16 , or, as in most cases, an accompaniment of the burnt and peace offerings ( Numbers 15:1-16 ). One of the oldest forms of the minchâh was, undoubtedly, the ‘meal offering of first-fruits ,’ as described Leviticus 2:14-16; another antique form survived in the unique offering of barley meal in the jealousy offering ( Numbers 5:15 ). As an ordinary altar-offering the minchâh consisted of ‘fine flour,’ and was presented either cooked or uncooked, as prescribed in detail in Leviticus 2:1-7 . In the latter case the flour was placed in a vessel and mixed with oil, the equivalent of our butter in matters culinary. The dough was then covered with frankincense, when it was ready for presentation at the altar. The priest took off all the frankincense, then removed a handful of the dough, which he put into another vessel, added salt, the unfailing accompaniment of every species of altar-offering (2:13, Mark 9:44 ), and the frankincense, and proceeded to burn the whole upon the altar. The portion burned was termed the ’azkârâh (§ 2 ), or ‘memorial’ (so EV [Note: English Version.] from Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] memoriale ). The remainder of the offering fell to the priests, by whom it was eaten as ‘a thing most holy’ (§ 8 ). The priests’ own meal offerings, on the other hand, were wholly burned ( Leviticus 6:23 ).

In Numbers 15:1-16 and elsewhere, minute instructions are given as to the precise amounts of fine flour, oil, and wine which should accompany the burnt and peace offerings (cf. Ezekiel 46:5-14 and the tabular comparison of the quantities in the two passages in Gray, ‘Numbers’ [ ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] ], 170). These were regulated by the importance of the animal sacrificed, the drink or wine offering ( Hosea 9:4 ), for example, being uniformly 1 / 2 hin for a bullock, 1 /3 hin for a ram, and 1 /4 hin for a lamb, the hin may be taken approximately as 12 pints.

No instructions have been preserved as to how the wine was to be offered, but from later evidence it appears that, like the blood, it was ‘poured out at the foot of the altar’ ( Sir 50:15; cf. Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant. III. ix. 4). For the importance of incense in the later ritual, see Incense.

12. The peace or thank offering ( Leviticus 3:1-16; Leviticus 7:11-21; Leviticus 7:28-34; Leviticus 17:1-9; Leviticus 22:21-33 etc.). The latter rendering, which is that of RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] . is nearer what we consider to be the meaning of the original term, ‘sacrifice of recompense’ (§ 2 ). Its distinguishing feature continued to be the sacrificial meal which followed the actual sacrifice. Three varieties are named ( a ) the thanksgiving offering (7:13, 15 tôdhâh , also rendered ‘thank offering’ in the narrower sense, 2 Chronicles 29:31 ), in recognition of some special mercy; ( b ) the votive offering (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘vow,’ Leviticus 7:16 ), in discharge of a vow; and ( c ) the freewill offering , a spontaneous and unprescribed recognition of God’s goodness. The last was clearly of less importance than the others, since for it alone imperfect victims were admitted to the altar ( Leviticus 22:23 ). As a fourth variety may be reckoned ( d ) the priests’ installation offering ( Exodus 29:19-26 ).

The modus operandi was essentially the same as for the burnt offering, female victims, however, being admitted equally with males. Special instructions are given as to the removal of the fat adhering to the inwards (see the coloured illustrations in SBOT [Note: BOT Sacred Books of Old Testament.] , ‘Levit.,’ in loc .), along with the ‘caul of the liver,’ i.e. the caudate lobe (G. F. Moore; see EBi [Note: Encyclopædia Biblica.] iv. col. 4206, and the ref. in Oxf. Heb. Lex . 1124 b ), and the two kidneys. The parts falling to the priests, the breast and the right hind leg, these varied at different times, cf. Deuteronomy 18:3 with Exodus 29:26 , Leviticus 7:31 f. were symbolically presented to and returned by J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , by being ‘waved’ towards the altar (see § 2 for this ceremony, and for the expressions ‘heave thigh’ and ‘wave breast’). The fat was then salted and burned, while the remainder of the flesh furnished the characteristic meal. Both sexes, if ceremonially clean, might partake of this meal, but only on the day of the sacrifice or the day following ( Leviticus 7:16-18; Leviticus 19:5-8 ). The flesh of the special thanksgiving offering

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Sacrifice and Offering'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​s/sacrifice-and-offering.html. 1909.
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