Leviticus 7 – More Instructions for the Priests
A. The Trespass Offering.
1. (1-2) The killing of the trespass offering.
‘Likewise this is the law of the trespass offering (it is most holy): In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the trespass offering. And its blood he shall sprinkle all around on the altar.
a. This is the law of the trespass offering: The procedure for the trespass offering was previously described in chapter 5. Here, a specific detail is added, explaining that the trespass offering had to be made at the altar of burnt offering; the central altar at the tabernacle and later the temple.
i. A trespass is a particular kind of sin. Trespassing is the unlawful crossing of a boundary. God has certain boundaries for humanity in general and for His people specifically, and when they cross those boundaries it is a sin of trespass. Leviticus 5:5 also explained that the trespass offering must begin with the confession of sin.
b. Its blood he shall sprinkle all around on the altar: The blood of the trespass offering did not need to be brought into the tabernacle or temple. It could simply be sprinkled all around on the altar.
i. They shall kill the trespass offering: “The verb kill actually means ‘slaughter,’ that is, to cut the throat of the animal.” (Peter-Contesse)
2. (3-5) The offering of the fat of the trespass offering.
And he shall offer from it all its fat. The fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; and the priest shall burn them on the altar as an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a trespass offering.
a. He shall offer from it all its fat: When the trespass offering is described in chapter 5, the focus is on the reasons why it would be necessary to make the offering. It said nothing of what to do with the blood or the fat of the sacrificial animal. Here, the priest is instructed to offer the fatty portions of the animal.
i. Adam Clarke clarified the sense of all its fat: “Chiefly the fat that was found in a detached state, not mixed with the muscles.”
b. The priest shall burn them on the altar as an offering: As was normally done, the fatty portions of the trespass offering were burnt upon the altar.
3. (6-10) What belongs to the priests from the offerings.
Every male among the priests may eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. The trespass offering is like the sin offering; there is one law for them both: the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it. And the priest who offers anyone’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered. Also every grain offering that is baked in the oven and all that is prepared in the covered pan, or in a pan, shall be the priest’s who offers it. Every grain offering, whether mixed with oil, or dry, shall belong to all the sons of Aaron, to one as much as the other.
a. Every male among the priests may eat it: The trespass offering followed a similar pattern to previous sacrifices. The blood and the fat belonged to God and the meat portions could be shared among the priests, with its distribution determined by the priest who actually performed the trespass offering or the sin offering (the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it).
b. That priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered: With the burnt offering (also described in chapter 1), the priest who made the sacrifice was also given the skin of the animal to use for leather or another purpose.
c. Baked in the oven and all that is prepared in the covered pan, or in a pan: The grain offerings prepared in the oven, the covered pan, and the pan were first mentioned in Leviticus 2:4-7. Here, it is made clear that a portion of those offerings belongs to the priest.
i. John Trapp noted how the ancient Christian writer Origen thought of these three items (the oven, the covered pan, and the pan) in an excessively allegorical way: “Here Origen, according to his manner, turns all into allegories and mysteries, and tells us of a threefold sense of Scripture, (1.) Literal; (2.) Moral; (3.) Mystical: comparing them to the gridiron, frying pan, and oven, used in dressing the meat offering. But this itch of allegorising dark and difficult texts hath no small danger in it. And I may doubt of Origen, as one doth of Jerome, whether he did more harm or good to the Church.”
d. Shall belong to all the sons of Aaron, to one as much as the other: With the grain offering (previously described in chapter 2), the distribution was the responsibility of the priest who made the offering, but he was supposed to make sure that the portions were distributed equally.
B. The Peace Offering.
1. (11-14) Bread and cakes given with the peace offering.
‘This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the LORD: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil. Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering. And from it he shall offer one cake from each offering as a heave offering to the LORD. It shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.
a. The law of the sacrifice of the peace offerings: The peace offerings were previously mentioned in chapter 3. The peace offering was normally the sacrifice of an animal (Leviticus 3:1-2) and often made for a thanksgiving.
b. He shall offer…unleavened cakes mixed with oil: Along with the animal sacrifice of the peace offering, there was to be made an offering of some kind of baked good, either unleavened cakes or wafers, each made with oil.
c. He shall offer leavened bread: In addition to the unleavened cakes or wafers, the peace offering was to be made with leavened bread.
i. The prohibition of leaven in any offering (Leviticus 2:11) was apparently only relevant to those things which were burnt upon the altar. This leavened bread that was part of the peace offering ceremony was not offered upon the altar but presented in a heave offering. Leviticus 23:17 also describes leavened bread used in a wave offering.
ii. In the symbolism of the sacrificial system, this is fascinating. The peace offering was accompanied by the priest holding before God unleavened bread in one hand and leavened bread in the other. In some ritual manner, the unleavened and the leavened were waved before the LORD. From a New Testament perspective, we may connect this to the fact that Jesus Christ has made peace between Jew and Gentile, breaking down the wall that previously separated them (Ephesians 2:11-18), and Jesus Christ Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) because of the sacrifice He made of His own flesh (Ephesians 2:15).
ii. “The Peace Offering is supremely the symbol of communion based on reconciliation. It is the offering which symbolises two sides to a great transaction; one of those is that of God, at the other is that of man. God and man are at peace. The Godward side can only be symbolised by that which is unleavened, free from all evil, separated from everything that tends to corruption. On the other hand, there remains in man much of imperfection. This is symbolised by the leavened cakes.” (Morgan)
d. He shall offer one cake from each offering as a heave offering to the LORD: Apparently, when the peace offering was made (especially as a sacrifice of thanksgiving), there was also to be this heave offering made with both an unleavened cake or wafer, and with leavened bread.
i. Trapp on the heave offering: “So called, because it was heaved and lifted up before the Lord, in token that they received all from him, and did acknowledge all to be due to him.”
ii. Adam Clarke says this regarding the heave offering, indicating that it comes from the Hebrew word “to lift up, because the offering was lifted up towards heaven, as the wave-offering, in token of the kindness of God in granting rain and fruitful seasons, and filling the heart with food and gladness. As the wave-offering was moved from right to left, so the heave-offering was moved up and down; and in both cases this was done several times.”
2. (15-18) When to eat the meat of the peace offering.
‘The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning. But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offers his sacrifice; but on the next day the remainder of it also may be eaten; the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day must be burned with fire. And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be imputed to him; it shall be an abomination to him who offers it, and the person who eats of it shall bear guilt.
a. His peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered: The peace offering could be made for a few different reasons, including for thanksgiving or for a vow or a voluntary offering.
b. Shall be eaten the same day: When the peace offering was made for thanksgiving, the meat had to be eaten on the day of the sacrifice. When it was made for a vow or a voluntary offering, it could also be eaten on the next day.
i. “Thanks must be returned while mercies are fresh; lest, as fish, they putrify with keeping.” (Trapp)
c. If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted: Yet, the meat from a peace offering could never be eaten on the third day from the sacrifice. Any leftover meat had to be burned with fire. Perhaps this was God’s way to emphasize His desire for a “fresh,” current relationship with Him.
i. “Because in such a hot country it was apt to putrefy, and as it was considered to be holy, it would have been very improper to expose that to putrefaction which had been consecrated to the Divine Being.” (Clarke)
3. (19-21) Who may eat of the peace offering.
‘The flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned with fire. And as for the clean flesh, all who are clean may eat of it. But the person who eats the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering that belongs to the LORD, while he is unclean, that person shall be cut off from his people. Moreover the person who touches any unclean thing, such as human uncleanness, an unclean animal, or any abominable unclean thing, and who eats the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering that belongs to the LORD, that person shall be cut off from his people.’”
a. Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten: The meat that came from the peace offering that could be eaten had to be kept in a ceremonially clean manner.
b. All who are clean may eat of it: Ceremonial purity was required of anyone who wanted to participate in the fellowship meal associated with the peace offering. This illustrates the principle that we cannot enjoy the peace of God until we have received His cleansing grace.
c. The person who touches any unclean thing…and who eats: If a person who was ceremonially unclean did eat of the meat of a peace offering, it was a serious sin. Such disregard for the holiness of God’s sacrifice meant that person shall be cut off from his people.
i. Presumably, the strong penalty of excommunication was reserved for those who knowingly ate of the peace offering while ceremonially unclean. If they did it accidentally or unknowingly, there was a sacrifice specifically accepted for it (Leviticus 5:2).
ii. It isn’t that God demands perfection; the presence of the leavened loaf shows that isn’t true. But when a believer today tries to receive spiritual things while knowingly unclean, there is some separation in regard to their fellowship with God. 1 John 1:6 says: If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
iii. “Moreover, in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, which closely approximates the eating of the fellowship offering, the believer must not participate if unconfessed sin is in his life. Like the Israelite who ate the sacrifice in a state of uncleanness, the believer who partakes of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy state may expect the direct judgment of God (1 Corinthians 11:27–32).” (Rooker)
C. Regarding the fat and blood of animals.
1. (22-25) The fat may not be eaten.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘You shall not eat any fat, of ox or sheep or goat. And the fat of an animal that dies naturally, and the fat of what is torn by wild beasts, may be used in any other way; but you shall by no means eat it. For whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his people.
a. You shall not eat any fat, of ox or sheep or goat: Under the Old Covenant, an Israelite could not eat the large fatty portions of an animal. This was true of animals offered in sacrifice and even an animal that dies naturally or was dead and torn by wild beasts. The law was the same: you shall by no means eat it.
i. The fat of the animal represented its goodness and abundance, and that belonged to God. Additionally, the fat is the stored energy of the animal; that also belongs to God.
b. Whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire: This shows that the prohibition against eating the fatty portions only applied to sacrificed animals, and to those animals which were otherwise forbidden for eating.
i. Leviticus 22:8 forbade the eating of any kind of animal that was killed by another animal (such as one torn by wild beasts).
c. The person who eats it shall be cut off from his people: As with the previous law against ceremonially unclean persons eating the meat from sacrifices, the penalty for violating this law was severe – excommunication from the community of God’s people.
i. “Nineteen offenses resulted in a person receiving the punishment of ‘being cut off’ in the Old Testament. Offenses that resulted in the offender being ‘cut off’ included violation of holy days (including the Sabbath), committing moral offenses, violating purity laws such as eating the blood, and failure to circumcise on the eighth day.” (Rooker)
2. (26-27) The blood may not be eaten.
Moreover you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwellings, whether of bird or beast. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.’”
a. You shall not eat any blood: The law of the Old Covenant also prohibited the Israelite from the direct eating of blood of any kind (of bird or beast). The blood represents the life of the animal or person (Leviticus 17:11-14), and the life belongs to God.
b. That person shall be cut off from his people: As with the previous laws, the penalty for disobedience was severe: to be cut off from the community of God’s people.
i. “One would think this to be but a peccadillo [little sin]: yet how fearfully is it threatened! No sin can be little, because there is no little God to sin against.” (Trapp)
D. The specific portions of the peace offering.
1. (28-31) The breast portion.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offering to the LORD shall bring his offering to the LORD from the sacrifice of his peace offering. His own hands shall bring the offerings made by fire to the LORD. The fat with the breast he shall bring, that the breast may be waved as a wave offering before the LORD. And the priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast shall be Aaron’s and his sons’.
a. He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offering: The following instructions relate to meat portions of the peace offering. The individual who brought the sacrifice to the priests actually brought his offering to the LORD.
b. His own hands shall bring the offerings: An Israelite could not delegate this to someone else. The peace offering had to be brought to the priest with his own hands.
c. The breast may be waved as a wave offering before the LORD: This was a specific waving of the portion of meat or bread dedicated to the LORD, waving it before the LORD in a specific pattern. In this way, even though the priest kept the portion, the one bringing the offering still dedicated it to God.
i. Poole notes that it was the Israelite who brought the offering that made this waving motion with the breast of the sacrifice: “to and fro by his hands, which were supported and directed by the hands of the priest.”
ii. Adam Clarke says this regarding the wave offering, indicating that it comes from the Hebrew word “to stretch out; an offering of the first-fruits stretched out before God, in acknowledgment of his providential goodness. This offering was moved from the right hand to the left.”
iii. In his commentary on Exodus 29:27, Clarke wrote this regarding the heave and wave offerings: “As the wave-offering was agitated to and fro, and the heave-offering up and down, some have conceived that this twofold action represented the figure of the cross, on which the great Peace-offering between God and man was offered in the personal sacrifice of our blessed Redeemer.” For this idea, Clarke cited the work of Charles Houbigant, a French Bible scholar of the 18th century.
2. (32-34) The thigh portion.
Also the right thigh you shall give to the priest as a heave offering from the sacrifices of your peace offerings. He among the sons of Aaron, who offers the blood of the peace offering and the fat, shall have the right thigh for his part. For the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering I have taken from the children of Israel, from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons from the children of Israel by a statute forever.’”
a. The right thigh you shall give to the priest: This part of the animal belonged to the priest who carried out the sacrifice. Presumably, the left thigh of the animal was given to the Israelite who brought the offering, so they could enjoy the meat from the sacrifice in a fellowship meal.
b. For the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering: There was some distinction between the ceremonial presentation of the breast and the thigh of the animal. The breast was presented in a wave offering, and the thigh was presented in a heave offering.
c. I have taken: Both portions belonged to the LORD. God was not visibly present at the sacrifice, yet God still received the offering through the work of the appointed, anointed priest. God received the offering, then gave it to the priest (I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons).
3. (35-36) The principle of portions given to the priest.
This is the consecrated portion for Aaron and his sons, from the offerings made by fire to the LORD, on the day when Moses presented them to minister to the LORD as priests. The LORD commanded this to be given to them by the children of Israel, on the day that He anointed them, by a statute forever throughout their generations.
a. This is the consecrated portion for Aaron and his sons: For emphasis, God repeated the idea that though these sacrifices were given to the LORD, portions of those sacrifices belonged to the priests by right and by command (the LORD commanded this to be given to them by the children of Israel).
i. Someone might object that this was a great benefit to the priests, and maybe even an excessive benefit. Meat was a luxury in the ancient world, and the priests had more meat to eat than most people. Yet, it should be remembered that the priests (as from the tribe of Levi), had no allotment of land given to them (Numbers 18:20). God was their inheritance, and they were provided for by the offerings and gifts of God’s people.
ii. In a similar way, God says in the New Testament that those who serve God and His people in spiritual ways have the right to be supported in material ways (1 Corinthians 9:12). This is a right that can and should be set aside when it is to greater advantage to the cause of the gospel to set it aside, yet the right remains. As Paul wrote, so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14).
b. On the day when Moses presented them to minister to the LORD as priests: This ceremony was described in Exodus 29 and carried out in Leviticus 8. It was the ceremony that officially appointed and anointed Aaron and his sons as priests for Israel.
4. (37-38) Postscript on the sacrifices.
This is the law of the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the consecrations, and the sacrifice of the peace offering, which the LORD commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day when He commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to the LORD in the Wilderness of Sinai.
a. This is the law of the burnt offering: This is a summary statement regarding the previous seven chapters, with the instructions for the sacrifices of Israel. These included:
· The burnt offering: Leviticus 1 and 6:8-13.
· The grain offering: Leviticus 2 and 6:14-23.
· The sin offering: Leviticus 4 and 6:24-30.
· The trespass offering: Leviticus 5 and 7:1-10.
· The consecrations: Perhaps a reference to the restitution offerings described in Leviticus 5:14-6:7, and the portions set aside for God and the priests in Leviticus 7:22-36.
· The peace offering: Leviticus 3 and 7:11-21.
b. Which the LORD commanded Moses on Mount Sinai: Moses received all these laws for Israel on Mount Sinai and brought them down to the people of Israel. They were an additional and important part of the Old Covenant, first established in the Wilderness of Sinai.
i. “These laws were probably given to Moses while he was on the mount with God; the time was quite sufficient, as he was there with God not less than fourscore days in all; forty days at the giving, and forty days at the renewing, of the law.” (Clarke)
Jesus Christ and the Fulfillment of the Sacrificial System
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12)
JESUS FULFILLED THE BURNT OFFERING (Leviticus 1)
As Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:2)
JESUS FULFILLED THE GRAIN AND FIRSTFRUITS OFFERING (Leviticus 2)
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)
JESUS FULFILLED THE PEACE OFFERING (Leviticus 3)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
JESUS FULFILLED THE SIN OFFERING (Leviticus 4)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
JESUS FULFILLED THE GUILT OFFERING (Leviticus 5)
Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:25)
You make His soul an offering for sin. (Isaiah 53:10)
Jesus Christ has fulfilled every sacrifice for His people!
“He is the Burnt-offering, the Meat-offering, the Peace-offering, the Sin-offering, and the Trespass-offering for His people. By His one oblation of Himself once offered, He has stood in all these different relations.” (Jukes)
We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)