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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Leviticus 3

 

 

Verse 1

Leviticus 3:1. A sacrifice of peace-offering — The original word here used, שׁלמים, shelamim, is in the plural number, and is properly rendered peaces, pacifications, and also payments. These were offerings for peace, prosperity, and the blessing of God; either, 1st, Obtained, and then they were thank-offerings, or peace-offerings for thanksgiving, as they are termed, Leviticus 7:15 . Or, 2d, Desired; and so they were a kind of supplications to God. Sometimes, again, they were offered by way of vow, (Leviticus 7:16; Proverbs 7:14,) in expectation of peace and future blessings; for peace, in the Hebrew language, signifies all manner of prosperity and happiness. In this case they were properly termed payments, namely, of the vows previously made. Sometimes they were offered without any antecedent obligation of a vow, in which case they were called free-will-offerings, Leviticus 7:11; Leviticus 7:16. Those sacrifices which were called sin-offerings and trespass-offerings, supposed the offerer to be obnoxious to the divine justice on account of sin, and God to be displeased; and they were appointed for atonement and reconciliation. But peace-offerings supposed God to be reconciled to the offerer, and him to be at peace with God; in testimony of which reconciliation and peace, the offerer was in this case admitted to partake of the altar. For whereas, in the holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, the altar consumed all the flesh of the sacrifice, neither the priest nor any of the people being allowed to partake; and in the sin and trespass offerings, though the priests did partake, yet the offerers had no share; in these peace-offerings the offerers themselves were allowed to partake of the sacrifice, and feast upon it. They partook of the Lord’s table, and that was a sign of favour and friendship. For eating together was always esteemed so, and was therefore used in ancient times in making covenants and agreements. Thus, when Christ becomes our peace, and being justified through his blood, we are made one with him and with his followers; through him we have communion with God, and with his people in his ordinances, finding the flesh of Christ to be meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed. Through the exercise of faith in his sacrifice, which puts away sin, love to him and each other is shed abroad in our hearts, and while we gratefully offer and dedicate ourselves to his service as a free-will-offering, we rejoice in each other’s gifts and graces, and communicate to one another’s necessities. This fellowship with the Father and the Son, and one with another, is happily shadowed forth, and seems to have been intended to be represented in this significant ceremony of the Jewish Church. Whether it be male or female — Females were allowed here, though not in burnt-offerings, because those principally respected the honour of God, who is to be served with the best, but the peace-offerings did primarily respect the benefit of the offerer, and therefore the choice was left to himself. Again, burnt-offerings had regard to God, as in himself the best of beings, and therefore were wholly burned. But peace-offerings had regard to God as a benefactor to his creatures, and therefore were divided between the altar, the priest, and the offerer.


Verse 2

Leviticus 3:2. He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering — Here, as in the former case, (Leviticus 1:4,) the laying on of the offerer’s hand may denote his devoting the sacrifice wholly to God. In the peace-offerings it was accompanied with solemn thanksgiving to God, and an acknowledgment of those mercies which were the occasion of it. Thus Conradus, “This laying on of hands signifies devotion and faith, with an acknowledgment of the benefits, for which we can offer nothing of our own, but only return to God what we have received; that we may understand gratitude and thanksgiving to be the greatest sacrifices.” And kill it at the door — Not on the north side of the altar, where the burnt-offering was killed, as also the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering, but in the very entrance of the court where the brazen altar stood, which place was not so holy as the other; as appears both because it was more remote from the holy of holies, and because the ashes of the sacrifices were to be laid here. And the reason of this difference is not obscure, both because part of this sacrifice was to be waved by the hands of the offerer, (Leviticus 7:30,) who might not come into the court; and because this offering was not so holy as the others, which were to be eaten only by the priest, whereas part of these was eaten by the offerer.


Verse 5

Leviticus 3:5. Upon the burnt-sacrifice — Either, 1st, Upon the remainders of it, which were yet burning; or, rather, 2d, After it: for the daily burnt- offering was first to be offered, both as more eminently respecting God’s honour, and as the most solemn and stated sacrifice, which should take place of all occasional oblations, and as a sacrifice of a higher nature, being for atonement, without which no peace could be obtained, nor peace- offering offered with acceptance.


Verses 9-11

Leviticus 3:9; Leviticus 3:11. The rump — Which in sheep is fat and sweet, and in these countries was much larger and better than in ours. The food of the offering — So called, to denote God’s acceptance of it, and delight in it; as men delight in their food.


Verse 16

Leviticus 3:16. Shall burn them — The parts mentioned, among which the tail is not one, as it was in the sheep, because that in goats is a refuse part. All the fat is the Lord’s — This is to be limited, 1st, To those beasts which were offered or offerable in sacrifice, as it is explained, Leviticus 7:23; Leviticus 7:25. 2d, To that kind of fat which is above mentioned, and required to be offered, which was separated, or easily separable from the flesh: for the fat which was here and there mixed with the flesh they might eat.


Verse 17

Leviticus 3:17. All your dwellings — Not only at or near the tabernacle, not only of those beasts which you actually sacrifice, but also in your several dwellings, and of all that kind of beasts. Fat — Was forbidden, 1st, To preserve the reverence of the holy rites and sacrifices. 2d, That they may be taught hereby to acknowledge God as their Lord, and the Lord of all the creatures, who might reserve what he pleased to himself. 3d, To exercise them in obedience to God, and self-denial and mortification of their appetites, even in those things which probably many of them would much desire. Blood — Was forbidden, partly to maintain reverence to God and his worship; partly, according to Maimonides, out of opposition to idolaters, who used to drink the blood of their sacrifices; partly, with respect to Christ’s blood, thereby manifestly signified. God would not permit the very shadows of this to be used as a common thing. Nor will he allow us, though we have the comfort of the atonement made, to assume to ourselves any share in the honour of making it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 3:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/leviticus-3.html. 1857.

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