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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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Name and Early History.

Comprehensive term for all sacrifices from the vegetable world; to designate these in the Old Testament the Hebrew word "minḥah" is used, which, as a probable derivative of the Arabic verb "manaḥ" = "to give" properly signifies "gift" or "present." The desire of offering to God oblations of vegetables or cereals is presupposed in the Bible to be as general a human one as that of pleasing God by animal sacrifices. The earliest example of a meal-offering is undoubtedly the sacrifice that Cain tendered from the fruit of his field (Genesis 4:3-5). Gideon added to a meatoffering maẓẓot made of an ephah of flour (; Judges 6:19). Maẓẓot were probably also baked from the flour () that Hannah took to Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:24); for it is not likely that flour alone was sacrificed, it being in the unprepared state not an article of human food. A vegetable sacrifice is referred to also in the second member of the phrase (ib. 2:29, 3:14). Loaves of bread () were laid before God (ib. 10:3). Mention is made of their being placed in the sanctuary of Yhwh at Nob (ib. 21:7). In the term (1 Kings 18:29,36) the second member () is added not as a new distinction qualifying this as different from the others or as a fixed regular institution, but merely in view of the preceding fixation of time, "and when midday was past." Leavened bread () likewise was sacrificed (Amos 4:5). Vegetable sacrifice is also designated as "minḥah" when it is connected with a thankoffering (Amos 5:22), a meat-offering (Isaiah 19:21), or a burnt offering (Jeremiah 14:12; Psalms 20:2). The foregoing shows that cereal oblations are mentioned only sporadically in the early historical books.

Regulations of the Law.

The Law ordains: (a) as regards the material of the meal-offering that it must consist, except in the case of the jealousy-offering (Numbers 5:15), of fine flour (; Leviticus 2:1), oil (ib.), salt (ib. verse 13), and incense (ib. verses 1 et seq., 15 et seq.), while leaven and honey must be kept strictly separate (ib. verse 11), the latter probably because it fermented easily (comp. the Neo-Hebraic ="to ferment," in Dalman, "Aramäisch-Neuhebräisches Wörterb. zu Targum, Talmud, und Midrasch," 1901, p. 86). (b) This material might be offered in the following forms: (a) barley flour () without oil or incense was brought for the socalled jealousy-offering (Numbers 5:15); (β) fine flour (), even in its original state, must have oil poured over it, and be sprinkled with incense, the last alone being lighted (Leviticus 2:1-3); (γ) the meal-offering might consist of different kinds of cakes (verses4-7); (δ) the first-fruits of the field were offered in the shape of roasted ears or ground grains of fresh corn (verse 14, where is a later addition; comp. König, "Syntax," § 333 t). It is an interesting detail that the meal-offering which was baked on a flat tin pan () was broken into small pieces (; Leviticus 2:6, 6:14). (c) The meal-offerings, according to the purposes they served, might be divided into two groups: (a) those offered alone as a substitute in the case of the poor (Leviticus 5:11 et seq.) for the sin-offering; as the daily meal-offering ("tamid") of the priests (Ex. 29; Leviticus 6:12-16; comp. 1 Chronicles 9:31); and as the jealousy-offering (Numbers 5:15 et seq.), which "reminds of sin" (comp. the sheaf offered in recognition of the beginning of harvest [Leviticus 23:9 et seq.], the loaves of the Feast of Weeks [ib. 23:16 et seq.], and the showbread [ib. 24:5 et seq.]); and (β) meal-offerings added to the animal-offerings. These "musaf" offerings were added to the thank-offering (Leviticus 7:11-13, etc.), to the sacrifice of purification of the Israelites (Leviticus 9:3) and of the lepers (ib. 14:10-20), and to the burnt offering (Numbers 15:1-16); and they were combined with a drink-offering. The unqualified statement that the unconsumed portion of the meal-offering should belong to the priests (Leviticus 2:3) refers probably also to the accompanying meal-offerings (comp. Franz Delitzsch in Riehm's "Handwörterb." cols. 1519b, 1520a). Not every burnt offering, however, is to be supplemented by a meal-offering, as Leviticus 12:6 shows.

  • For the earlier views see Franz Delitzsch, in Speiscopfer, in Riehm's Handwörterb, des Biblischen Alterthums;
  • the later view of the history of vegetable sacrifices is supported by Benzinger, Arch. §§ 62 et seq.;
  • Baentsch, Exodus-Leviticus, in Handkommentar, 1900;
  • Bertholet, Leviticus, in Kurzer Handkommentar, 1901.
E. G. H.
E. K.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Meal-Offering'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia.​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​m/meal-offering.html. 1901.