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Wednesday, November 29th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

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Minchâh (מִנְחָה, Strong's #4503), “meat [cereal] offering; offering; tribute; present; gift; sacrifice; oblation.” The KJV characteristically translates the word as “meat offering,” using it some 40 times in this way in both Leviticus and Numbers alone. The word “meat” in this KJV use really means “food”; the RSV’S rendering, “cereal offering,” generally is much more accurate.

Minchâh is found some 200 times in the Old Testament. Minchâh is found in all periods of Hebrew, although in modern Hebrew, while it is commonly used in the sense of “gift,” it also is used to refer to “afternoon prayers.” This latter use is an obvious echo of the Old Testament liturgy connected with sacrifices. It appears in other Semitic languages such as Arabic and Phoenician, and seems to be used in ancient Ugaritic in the sense of “tribute/gift.”

Minchâh occurs for the first time in the Old Testament in Gen. 4:3: “… Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.” This use reflects the most common connotation of minchâh as a “vegetable or cereal offering.” Minchâh is used many times in the Old Testament to designate a “gift” or “present” which is given by one person to another. For example, when Jacob was on his way back home after twenty years, his long-standing guilt and fear of Esau prompted him to send a rather large “present” (bribe) of goats, camels, and other animals (Gen. 32:13-15). Similarly, Jacob directed his sons to “carry down the man a present” (Gen. 43:11) to appease the Egyptian ruler that later turned out to be his lost son Joseph. Those who came to hear Solomon’s great wisdom all brought to him an appropriate “present” (1 Kings 10:25), doing so on a yearly basis.

Frequently minchâh is used in the sense of “tribute” paid to a king or overlord. The delivering of the “tribute” of the people of Israel to the king of Moab by their judgedeliverer became the occasion for the deliverance of Israel from Moabite control as Ehud assassinated Eglon by a rather sly maneuver (Judg. 3:15- 23). Years later when David conquered the Moabites, they “became servants to David and brought gifts [tribute]” (2 Sam. 8:2). Hosea proclaimed to Israel that its pagan bull-god would “be carried unto Assyria for a present [tribute]” (Hos. 10:6). Other passages where minchâh has the meaning of “tribute” are: Ps. 72:10; 1 Kings 4:21; 2 Kings 17:3-4. Minchâh is often used to refer to any “offering” or “gift” made to God, whether it was a “vegetable offering” or a “blood sacrifice.” The story of Cain and Abel vividly illustrates this general usage: “… Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:3- 5). The animal sacrifices which were misappropriated by the wicked sons of Eli were simply designated as “the offering of the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:17). In each case “offering” is the translation of minchâh. A common use of minchâh, especially in later Old Testament texts, is to designate “meat [grain/cereal] offerings.” Sometimes it referred to the “meat [cereal] offering” of first fruits, “green ears of corn, dried by the fire.…” (Lev. 2:14). Such offerings included oil and frankincense which were burned with the grain. Similarly, the “meat [grain] offering” could be in the form of finely ground flour upon which oil and frankincense had been poured also. Sometimes the oil was mixed with the “meat [cereal] offering” (Lev. 14:10, 21; 23:13; Num. 7:13), again in the form of fine flour. The priest would take a handful of this fine flour, burn it as a memorial portion, and the remainder would belong to the priest (Lev. 2:9-10). The “meat [cereal] offering” frequently was in the form of fine flour which was mixed with oil and then formed into cakes and baked, either in a pan or on a griddle (Lev. 2:4-5). Other descriptions of this type of baked “meat [cereal] offering” are found in Num. 6:15 and Lev. 7:9. These baked “meat [cereal] offerings” were always to be made without leaven, but were to be mixed with salt and oil (Lev. 2:11, 13).

The minchâh was prescribed as a “meat offering” of flour kneaded with oil to be given along with the whole burnt offering. A libation of wine was to be given as well. This particular rule applied especially to the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Lev. 23:18), to the daily “continual offering” (Exod. 29:38-42), and to all the whole burnt offerings or general sacrifices (Num. 15:1-16). The “meat [cereal] offering” was to be burned, while the wine seems to have been poured out at the foot of the altar like blood of the sacrificial animal. The regular daily morning and evening sacrifices included the minchâh and were specifically referred to as “meat [cereal] offering of the morning” (Exod. 29:41; cf. Num. 28:8) and as “the evening meat [cereal] offering” (2 Kings 16:15; cf. Ezra 9:4-5 and Ps. 141:2, “evening sacrifice”).

Minchâh provides an interesting symbolism for the prophet when he refers to the restoration of the Jews: “And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots … to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord” (Isa. 66:20). In his vision of the universal worship of God, even in Gentile lands, Malachi saw the minchâh given as “a pure offering” to God by believers everywhere (Mal. 1:11).

Terûmâh (תְּרֻמָה, Strong's #8641), “heave offering; offering; oblation.” This word is found in the literature of ancient Ugarit in the term, “bread of offering,” as well as in all periods of Hebrew. In modern Hebrew it is often used in the sense of “contribution,” quite like the use found in Ezek. 45:13, 16, where it refers to a contribution to be given to the prince. Terûmâh is found approximately 70 times in the Old Testament, being used for the first time in the Old Testament text in Exod. 25:2: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with the heart ye shall take my offering.”

In more than a third of its occurrences in the text, the KJV translates terûmâh as “heave offering,” all of these instances being found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (where the majority are found), and Deuteronomy. This translation apparently is derived from the fact that the word is based on the common Semitic root, “to be high, exalted.” The inference seems to be that such “offerings” were raised high by the priest in some sort of motion as it was placed on the altar. This is clearly illustrated in Num. 15:20: “Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for a heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall ye heave it.” From texts like this, it appears that terûmâh was used in the early period to refer to “contributions” or “gifts” which consisted of the produce of the ground, reflecting the agricultural character of early Israel. See Deut. 12:6, 11, 17 for other examples.

Terûmâh often is used to designate those gifts or contributions to God, but which were set apart specifically for the priests: “And every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring unto the priest, shall be his” (Num. 5:9). Such “offerings” were to go to the priests because of a special covenant God had made: “All the holy offerings which the people of Israel present to the Lord I give to you [Aaron], and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due; it is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord for you and for your offspring with you” (Num. 18:19, RSV). Such offerings, or contributions, sometimes were of grain or grain products: “Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for a heave offering unto the Lord, and it shall be the priest’s that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings” (Lev. 7:13-14). Part of the animal sacrifices was also designated as a terûmâh for the priests: “And the right shoulder shall ye give unto the priest for a heave offering of the sacrifices of your peace offerings” (Lev. 7:32; cf. Lev. 10:14-15; Num. 6:20). Such contributions to the priests obviously were given to provide the needed foodstuffs for the priests and their families since their tribe, Levi, was given no land on which to raise their own food.

While all the priests had to be from the tribe of Levi, inheriting their office through their fathers, not all Levites could function as priests. For one thing, there were too many of them. Also, some were needed to work in the tabernacle, and later the temple, as maintenance and cleanup people, something that is readily understandable when one thinks of all that was involved in the sacrificial system. The Levites actually lived in various parts of Israel, and they were the welfare responsibility of the Israelites among whom they lived. They, like the widow, the orphan, and the resident alien, were to be given the tithe of all farm produce every third year (Deut. 14:28-29). The Levites, then, were to tithe the tithe they received, giving their own tithe from what they received from the people to the Lord. Part of that tithe was to be a terûmâh or “heave offering” to the priests, the descendants of Aaron (see Num. 18:25-32).

In order to provide for the materials necessary for the construction of the wilderness tabernacle, Moses was instructed to receive an “offering” or terûmâh. The “offering” was to consist of all kinds of precious metals and stones, as well as the usual building materials such as wood and skins (Exod. 25:3-9). When Moses announced this to the people of Israel, he said: “Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord; whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord …” (Exod. 35:5), following this with a list of the needed materials (Exod. 35:6-8). The implication here is twofold: the terûmâh is really the Lord’s, and it is best given freely, willingly, from a generous heart. In the Second Temple Period, following the Exile, the silver and gold and the vessels for the temple are called “the offering for the house of our God” (Ezra 8:25), also signifying a contribution.

The terûmâh sometimes was an “offering” which had the meaning of a tax, an obligatory assessment which was made against every Israelite male who was twenty years old or older, to be paid for the support of the tabernacle and later, the temple (Exod. 30:11-16). This tax was levied on all males without any allowance for their financial situation: “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls” (Exod. 30:15). This tax actually had its basis in the census or count of the male population, the tax then being required as a ransom or atonement from the wrath of God because such a census was taken (2 Sam. 24:1). The practical aspect of it was that it provided needed financial support for the sanctuary. Another example of terûmâh in the sense of taxes may be seen in Prov. 29:4: “The king by judgment establisheth the land; but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.” Solomon’s heavy taxation which led to the split of the kingdom may be a case in point (1 Kings 12).

A very different use of terûmâh is found in Ezek. 45:1; 48:9, 20-21, where it refers to an “oblation” which was that portion of land on which the post-exilic temple was to be built, as well as accommodations for the priests and Levites. This tract of land is referred to as “the holy oblation” (Ezek. 48:20; RSV, “holy portion”), since it belongs to God just as much as the terûmâh which was given to Him as a sacrifice.

Qorbân (קֻרְבָּן, Strong's #7133), “offering; oblation; sacrifice.” Qorbân is found in various Semitic languages and is derived from the verb “to come/ bring near.” It is found in ancient Akkadian in the sense of “a present,” while a form of the verb is found in Ugaritic to refer to the offering of a sacrifice. Found throughout the history of Hebrew, in late or modern Hebrew it is used in the sense of “offering” and “consecration.” In the Septuagint, it is often rendered as “gift.”

While the root, “to come/bring near,” is found literally hundreds of times in the Old Testament, the derived noun qorbân occurs only about 80 times. All but two of the occurrences in the Old Testament are found in the books of Numbers and Leviticus. The two exceptions are in Ezekiel (20:28; 40:43), a book which has a great concern for ritual. The word occurs for the first time in Lev. 1:2.

Qorbân may be translated as “that which one brings near to God or the altar.” It is not surprising, then, that the word is used as a general term for all sacrifices, whether animal or vegetable. The very first reference to “sacrifice” in Leviticus is to the qorbân as a burnt “offering”: “If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice …” (Lev. 1:2-3; cf. Lev. 1:10; 3:2, 6; 4:23). The first reference to qorbân as a “meat [cereal] offering” is in Lev. 2:1: “And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour.…”

What is perhaps the best concentration of examples of the use of qorbân is Numbers 7. In this one chapter, the word is used some 28 times, referring to all kinds of animal and meat [cereal] offerings, but with special attention to the various silver and gold vessels which were offered to the sanctuary. For example, Eliab’s “offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, … both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering; One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering” (Num. 7:25-27).

In the two uses found in Ezekiel, both are in the general sense of “offering.” In Ezek. 20:28 the word refers to the pagan “provocation of their offering” which apostate Israel gave to other gods, while in Ezek. 40:43, qorbân refers to regular animal sacrifices.

Qûrbân (קֻרְבָּן, Strong's #7133), “wood offering.” Qûrbân is closely related to qorbân, and it is found in Neh. 10:34; 13:31. Here it refers to the “wood offering” which was to be provided for the burning of the sacrifices in the Second Temple. Lots were to be cast among the people, priests, and Levites to determine who would bring in the “wood offering” or fuel at the scheduled times throughout the year.

‛Ôlâh (עוֹלָה, Strong's #5930), “whole burnt offering.” This word has cognates in late and biblical Aramaic. It occurs about 280 times in biblical Hebrew and at all periods.

In its first biblical occurrence ‛ôlâh identifies a kind of “offering” presented to God: “And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Gen. 8:20). Its second nuance appears in Lev. 1:4, where it represents the “thing being offered”:“And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”

This kind of “offering” could be made with a bull (Lev. 1:3-5), a sheep, a goat (Lev. 1:10), or a bird (Lev. 1:14). The offerer laid his hands on the sacrificial victim, symbolically transferring his sin and guilt to it. After he slew the animal (on the north side of the altar), the priest took its blood, which was presented before the Lord prior to being sprinkled around the altar. A bird was simply given to the priest, but he wrung its neck and allowed its blood to drain beside the altar (Lev. 1:15). This sacrifice effected an atonement, a covering for sin necessary before the essence of the sacrifice could be presented to God. Next, the “offering” was divided into sections. They were carefully purified (except those parts which could not be purified) and arranged on the altar (Lev. 1:6-9, 12-13). The entire sacrifice was then consumed by the fire and its essence sent up to God as a placating (pleasing) odor. The animal skin was given to the priest as his portion (Lev. 7:8).

The word ‛ôlâh was listed first in Old Testament administrative prescriptions and descriptions as the most frequent offering. Every day required the presentation of a male lamb morning and evening—the continual “whole burnt offering” (Exod. 29:38-42). Each month was consecrated by a “whole burnt offering,” of two young bulls, one ram, and seven male lambs (Num. 28:11-14). The same sacrifice was mandated, for each day of the Passover-Unleavened Bread feast (Num. 28:19-24), and the Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:26-29). Other stated feasts required “burnt offerings” as well. The various purification rites mandated both “burnt” and sin “offerings.”

The central significance of ‛ôlâh as the “whole burnt offering” was the total surrender of the heart and life of the offerer to God. Sin offerings could accompany them when the offerer was especially concerned with a covering or expiation for sin (2 Chron. 29:27). When peace offerings accompanied “burnt offerings,” the offerer’s concern focused on fellowship with God (2 Chron. 29:31-35). Before the Mosaic legislation, it appears, the “whole burnt offering” served the full range of meanings expressed in all the various Mosaic sacrifices.

'Ishshâh (אִשֶּׁה, Strong's #801), “fire offering.” Sixty-two of the 64 appearances of this word occur in the sacramental prescriptions of Exodus-Deuteronomy. The other two occurrences (Josh. 13:14; 1 Sam. 2:28) bear the same meaning and sacramental context. All legitimate sacrifices had to be presented before God at His altar, and all of them involved burning to some degree. Thus they may all be called fire offerings. The word 'ishshâh first occurs in Exod. 29:18: “And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”

'Âshâm (אָשָׁם, Strong's #817), “guilt offering; offense; guilt; gift of restitution; gift of atonement.” The noun 'âshâm occurs 46 times in biblical Hebrew; 33 of its occurrences are in the Pentateuch. The most frequent meaning of the word is “guilt offering”: “And he shall bring his trespass [guilt] offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned …” (Lev. 5:6). This specialized kind of sin offering (Lev. 5:7) was to be offered when someone had been denied what was due to him. The valued amount defrauded was to be repaid plus 20 percent (Lev. 5:16; 6:5). Ritual infractions and periods of leprosy and defilement took from God a commodity or service rightfully belonging to Him and required repayment plus restitution. Every violation of property rights required paying full reparation and the restitution price (אֲבַטִּיחַ, Strong's #20), percent) to the one violated as well as presenting the guilt offering to God as the Lord of all (i.e., as a feudal lord over all). If the offended party was dead, reparation and restitution were made to God (i.e.given to the priests; Num. 5:5-10). Usually the “guilt offering” consisted of a ram (Lev. 5:15) or a male lamb. The offerer presented the victim, laying his hands on it. The priest sprinkled its blood around the altar, burned the choice parts on the altar, and received the rest as food (Lev. 7:2-7). When a cleansed leper made this offering, blood from the sacrifice was applied to the man’s right ear, right thumb, and right big toe (Lev. 14:14).

In some passages, 'ăbaṭṭı̂yach is used of an offense against God and the guilt incurred by it: “And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? One of the people might lightly have lain with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us” (Gen. 26:10—the first occurrence). There is an added sense here that the party offended would punish the perpetrator of the crime.

In two verses (Num. 5:7-8), 'ăbaṭṭı̂yach represents the repayment made to one who has been wronged: “Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.” In the Hebrew the word is the value of the initial thing taken from the injured party, which value is to be returned to him, i.e., the reparation or restitution itself. This basic idea is extended so that the word comes to mean a gift made to God to remove guilt (1 Sam. 6:3), or atone for sin (Isa. 53:10) other than the specified offerings to be presented at the altar. (OLIVE) OIL

A. Nouns.

Shemen (שֶׁמֶן, Strong's #8081), "(olive) oil; olive; perfume; olivewood.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, Syriac, Arabic, and Aramaic. This word appears about 190 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

Shemen means olive “oil”: “And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it” (Gen. 28:18). Olive “oil” was also used to anoint a future office bearer (Exod. 25:6; 2 Kings 9:6); one’s head as a sign of mourning (2 Sam. 14:2); one’s head as a sign of rejoicing (Ps. 23:5); and one’s ear lobe, thumb, and toe as a ritual cleansing (Lev. 14:17). Shemen is used as a preservative on shield-leather (2 Sam. 1:21) and in baking (Exod. 29:2) and as a medication (Ezek. 16:9). This “oil” is burned for light (Exod. 25:6). Its many uses made olive oil a valuable trade item (Ezek. 27:17).

In many contexts shemen perhaps means the “olive” itself: “… But ye, gather ye wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels …” (Jer. 40:10). Once the word appears to mean lavish dishes, or dishes mixed with much oil: “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things [NASB, “lavish banquet”]” (Isa. 25:6).

Shemen is “a kind of perfume,” or olive oil mixed with certain odors to make a perfume, in passages such as Song of Sol. 1:3: “Because of the savor of thy good ointments [NASB, “oils”] thy name is as ointment poured forth.…”

Shemen sometimes modifies “wood”: “In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high” (1 Kings 6:23, RSV).

A related noun mishman appears 4 times. It means “stout or vigorous ones” (Isa. 10:16) and “fertile spots” (Dan. 11:24).

B. Verb.

The verb saman which appears 5 times, has cognates in Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. The word means “to grow or be fat” (Neh. 9:25; Jer. 5:28).

C. Adjective.

The adjective shaman, which occurs 10 times, in Ugaritic cognates means: “fat” (Ezek. 34:16); “rich” in the sense of fattening (Gen. 49:20— the first occurrence); “fertile” (Num. 13:20); “robust or muscular” (Judg. 3:29); and “large” (Hab. 1:16).

Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Offering'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​vot/​o/offering.html. 1940.
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