Leviticus 2 – The Grain Offering
A. The procedure for the grain offering.
1. (1-3) The presentation of the grain offering.
‘When anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. And he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it. He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD. The rest of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. It is most holy of the offerings to the LORD made by fire.
a. When anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD: The grain offering was typically fine flour, mixed with a bit of oil and frankincense. A portion of the flour was burnt before the LORD on the altar. The remainder was given to the priests for their own use in making bread for the priest and his family (the rest of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons).
b. A memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD: God allowed and received this bloodless sacrifice as an expression of thanksgiving, not as atonement for sin. In an agrarian society this was a fitting symbol of thanks for God’s faithful provision.
2. (4-10) Different types of grain offering.
‘And if you bring as an offering a grain offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. But if your offering is a grain offering baked in a pan, it shall be of fine flour, unleavened, mixed with oil. You shall break it in pieces and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. ‘If your offering is a grain offering baked in a covered pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. You shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to the LORD. And when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar. Then the priest shall take from the grain offering a memorial portion, and burn it on the altar. It is an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD. And what is left of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. It is most holy of the offerings to the LORD made by fire.
a. If you bring as an offering a grain offering baked in the oven: A grain offering could also be brought in the form of fine flour already cooked. It could be baked in an oven, cooked on a flat griddle, or in a covered pan.
i. No matter what its form, the grain offering had to be prepared at home. We can imagine an ancient Jewish woman carefully preparing the best her kitchen could make and presenting it to God as a sacrifice. This expression of devotion to God began at home and if offered with the right heart, it was a sweet aroma to the LORD.
ii. The covered pan worked like a modern deep fat fryer. “Authorities suggest that the cereal offering cooked in the [covered pan] would look rather like a modern deep-fried doughnut.” (Harrison)
b. What is left of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons: If the grain offering was brought as fine flour or as prepared bread a portion went to the priests for their sustenance.
B. Special instructions regarding the grain offering.
1. (11) The addition of leaven or honey was prohibited.
‘No grain offering which you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the LORD made by fire.
a. No grain offering which you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven: Leaven was prohibited because it was a type of sin. This leaven wasn’t merely yeast, but a pinch of dough left over from the previous batch, as in the making of sourdough bread.
i. This was how bread was commonly leavened in the ancient world, and a little pinch of dough from the old lump could make a whole new lump of dough rise and puff up. Therefore, the work of leaven was considered an illustration of the work of sin and pride. The presence of a little can corrupt a large amount.
ii. “Sometimes the Jew used the word leaven much as we would use the term original sin, or the natural evil of human nature.” (Barclay in his commentary on Mark)
b. Nor any honey in any offering to the LORD made by fire: Honey was not allowed because it was a favorite sacrifice to pagan deities. God did not want to be worshipped after the customs of the pagans.
i. Leaven can make things artificially sour and honey can make things artificially sweet. God did not want either of these in sacrifice. When we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice He wants us to come just as we are, without artificially making ourselves more sour or sweet.
2. (12) The offering of firstfruits.
As for the offering of the firstfruits, you shall offer them to the LORD, but they shall not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma.
a. As for the offering of the firstfruits: Firstfruits were to be offered, but not as other grain offerings. They were never to be burned on the altar but offered with a different procedure.
3. (13) Each grain offering must include salt.
And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.
a. Every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt: Salt was an important part of the offering because it spoke of purity, of preservation, and of expense. Every sacrifice offered to God should be pure, should be enduring, and should cost something. In this one verse God repeated the idea three times.
i. As a preservative salt will arrest the normal operations of the flesh. It is the nature of flesh to spoil, but salt-cured meats stay good.
ii. Salt also spoke of friendship. According to ancient custom, a bond of friendship was established through the eating of salt. It was said that once you had eaten a man’s salt, you were his friend for life. God wanted every sacrifice to be a reminder of relationship.
b. The salt of the covenant of your God: Therefore, a covenant of salt had specific characteristics. It was:
· A pure covenant (salt stays pure as a chemical compound).
· An enduring covenant (salt makes things preserve and endure).
· A valuable covenant (salt was expensive).
i. Spurgeon on the covenant of salt: “By which was meant that it was an unchangeable, incorruptible covenant, which would endure as salt makes a thing to endure, so that it is not liable to putrefy or corrupt.”
ii. The idea of the covenant of salt is repeated in Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5.
4. (14-16) Procedure for a grain offering of firstfruits.
‘If you offer a grain offering of your firstfruits to the LORD, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits green heads of grain roasted on the fire, grain beaten from full heads. And you shall put oil on it, and lay frankincense on it. It is a grain offering. Then the priest shall burn the memorial portion: part of its beaten grain and part of its oil, with all the frankincense, as an offering made by fire to the LORD.
a. If you offer a grain offering of your firstfruits to the LORD: In Leviticus 2:12 God told Israel to not bring firstfruit offerings in the same manner as grain offerings. Here He tells them how to bring a firstfruits offering.
i. The idea of firstfruits was important. The first of the harvest and the firstborn of livestock belonged to the LORD. This could be considered risky giving because the land might not yield much more produce, and the cow or ewe might not give birth again – yet the first still belonged to God. The LORD promised to bless this giving of the firstfruits and firstborn in faith: Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
b. You shall put oil on it, and lay frankincense on it: These were thought to sweeten the sacrifice and make it costlier.
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