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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Leviticus 7

 

 

Verse 1

ADDITIONAL LAWS OF THE TRESPASS OFFERING, Leviticus 7:1-10.

1. Trespass offering — See chap. 5, introductory remarks, and Leviticus 7:6, note. The primary idea involved in the asham, or guilt offering, is that aspect of sin which constitutes it a debt payable unto God, and frequently to man also, to whom recompense must be made when the asham was offered.


Verse 2

2. The blood… shall he sprinkle — See Leviticus 1:5, note. “The sprinkling of the blood,” says Outram, “was by much the most sacred part of the entire service, since it was that by which the life and soul of the victim were considered to be given to God as the supreme Lord of life and death.” In explaining the significance of this rite, orthodox writers assert that the blood, as representing the life of an innocent animal, was offered to Divine justice as the substitute for the death-penalty inflicted on the guilty soul of the offerer. On the other hand, Socinian and rationalistic writers deny the possibility of rendering a satisfaction to the justice of God. Bahr, with much depth of thought and apparent conformity to the fundamental truths of the Scriptures, insists that there is no symbolical execution of punishment, but rather a typical giving away of the soul of the offerer unto God. “As the presentation of the blood of the beast is a giving up and away of the beast-life in death, so must the natural, that is, selfish life of the offerer, acting in contrariety to God, be given up and away, that is, die; but since this is a giving away to Jehovah, it is no mere ceasing to be, but a dying which, eo ipso, goes into life. Accordingly, the meaning of a sacrifice is in short this, that the natural, sinful being (life) is given up to God in death, in order to obtain the true being (sanctification) through fellowship with God.” This view proceeds upon the supposition that sin is a mere trifle, a bitter-sweet good, a necessary misstep of the infant tottering from his probationary cradle to the state of fixed holiness, and needing no atonement in a universe in which all finite personalities are only manifestations of the one impersonal and nondescript agency called God, and the radical distinction between sin and holiness is an illusion. This exegesis of the bloodshedding on Jewish altars and on Mount Calvary is admirably adapted “to a mystical, pantheistic nature-religion,” but it is extremely repugnant to the plain theistical religion typically set forth by Moses, and actually established by the Son of God.


Verse 3

3. The fat — See Leviticus 3:3; Leviticus 3:17, notes.

The rump — The fat tail. See Leviticus 3:9, note.


Verse 4

4. The kidneys — Sometimes rendered reins. See Leviticus 3:4, note.

The caul — See Leviticus 3:4, note.


Verse 7

7. As the sin offering is, so is the trespass offering — Though much alike in their interior essence and symbolical meaning, they had this difference, the trespass offering was always personal, while the sin offering might be congregational. See Leviticus 5:6, note.


Verse 8

8. The skin of the burnt offering — This was a perquisite of the priest, to be kept or sold at his pleasure. Bishop Patrick suggests that Adam was the first priest who offered a burnt offering, and that the presentation of the skin to him by the Creator established the precedent here ratified by the ceremonial law. The same custom is found among pagans, whose priests superstitiously thought that by lying upon these skins they would be endowed with the gift of prescience. See Virgil’s AEneid, book vii, 7:86-95. The same superstition lingers to this day in the Highlands of Scotland.


Verse 9

9. The meat offering — The bread offering, variously prepared, is described in chap. 2, notes.

Shall be the priest’s that offereth it — Thus individual diligence was stimulated and rewarded; but to provide the sick and aged priests with materials for their own sustenance and for offerings to God, the commandment is given in Leviticus 7:10 that all the sons of Aaron should have the oil and unbaked flour, the largest part, one as much as another — Thus there was a blending of individual interests with community-life as a safeguard against indolence. Moreover, if the whole had been given to the officiating priest there would have been more than he could consume. The cooked-bread offering is supposed to have been small in amount.


Verse 11

LAWS OF THE PEACE OFFERING, Leviticus 7:11-21.

11. The law of… the peace offerings — See chap. 3, notes. There are added to the description given there the chief elements of the bread offering, namely, unleavened cakes and oil. Both offerings are eucharistic, affording an expression of gratitude to Jehovah for the peace which he gives to the obedient, and of fellowship with all the children of Israel. Here the peace offering appears under three divisions, the todha, or thanksgiving; the nedher, or vow, and the n’dhabha; the freewill. The last was quite inferior, since a defective victim might be sacrificed.

Leviticus 22:23. The three are thus distinguished — the first is an outgushing of praise for spontaneous tokens of Jehovah’s goodness; the second is an obligatory requital for some act of Divine beneficence done in consideration of a vow; and the third has regard to no special benefaction, but affords a method of taking the initiative in seeking God.


Verse 13

13. He shall offer… leavened bread — This requirement does not conflict with the prohibition of leaven in Leviticus 2:11, because it is not burned, but eaten in a joyful banquet where it is proper to gratify the palate.


Verse 14

14. Heave offering — According to rabbinical tradition, the manner of heaving was to lay the oblation on the hands of the offerer, the priest putting his hands underneath and then moving them upwards and downwards. The import of heaving in sacrifices is supposed to be a presentation to God, who rules in heaven above and in the earth beneath. It was given to the priest as his representative.


Verse 15

15. The flesh… shall be eaten the same day — The right shoulder, or heave offering, and the wave breast were to be eaten by the priests and their families in the camp, or in Jerusalem, and the remainder of this sacrifice was returned to the offerer, to be eaten by himself and his friends, denoting that they were admitted to a state of intimate companionship with God, sharing part and part with him and his priests, having a standing in his house and a seat at his table. It was an occasion of peculiar joy and gladness, strikingly prefiguring the Lord’s Supper, rightly called the Holy Eucharist, or Thanksgiving, and the blessedness of eating and drinking in the kingdom of God. Luke 14:15.

He shall not leave any… until the morning — It would be very improper to expose to putrefaction any thing considered holy. This is supposed to be the ground of the prohibition. Harmer thinks that it is aimed at the Arabian practice of drying the meats presented in sacrifice, which is contrary to both the genius of the Mosaic and of the Christian dispensations. The Gospel does not impart to the believer grace to be put aside for a time of future need, as a soldier puts several days’ rations in his haversack when he is to be separated from his base of supplies, nor does it require him to live on old experiences, since only unbelief can cut him off from access to the bread of life. He is therefore taught to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”


Verse 16

16. A vow, or a voluntary offering — See Leviticus 7:11, note. Since these were inferior offerings, they were considered less sacred. Hence two days were allowed for eating them. There was little difficulty in this matter where friends were numerous and near. The requirement to eat within one or two days would often induce the offerer to invite the poor to this religious banquet. Theodoret, Clericus, and others, assert that the limit of two days was designed to compel the worshipper to invite the poor to his religious banquet. It is more probable that it is a safeguard against the desecration of holy things.


Verse 18

18. Neither shall it be imputed unto him — It shall not be reckoned or accounted as a worthy act, as was Abraham’s faith. Genesis 15:6. Obedience is more acceptable than sacrifice, without which an offering becomes an abomination. Isaiah 1:11-15.


Verse 20

20. The soul… having his uncleanness — This verse implies that there is an order in the religious exercises of the Hebrews. The ceremonially impure could bring but one acceptable oblation, the sin offering, for the removal of his defilement. Eucharistic offerings from hands impure are not a sweet savour unto Jehovah, but a stench in his nostrils. The first duty of an impenitent sinner is not to lay earthly holocausts upon God’s altar, but to “cease to do evil.”

That soul shall be cut off from his people — This must be understood as the punishment of an audacious and defiant trampling down of Jehovah’s authority, a high-handed sin, and not a mere inadvertence. The cutting off denotes not mere excommunication, but, “the punishment of death in general, without defining the manner.” — Gesenius. Probation is made up of small things. These are tests of character more practicable than requirements of greater seeming importance. Divine authority infuses a moral element into mere ritualism.

Hence positive precepts, as the Christian sacraments, are often a higher test of faith than commandments, which find their reason in man’s moral nature. See Butler’s Analogy, part ii, chap. 1.


Verse 23

THE FAT AND BLOOD FORBIDDEN TO BE EATEN, Leviticus 7:22-30.

23. Eat no manner of fat — This prohibits only the interior fat or suet of the sacrificial animals, whether offered in sacrifice or slain for food. See Leviticus 3:3; Leviticus 3:17, notes. Some writers assert that only the internal fat of animals offered to God is forbidden, since “the fat (suet) of lambs, rams, and goats,” was one of the provisions graciously bestowed on the Israelites. Deuteronomy 32:13-14. But this question is answered in the next verse.


Verse 25

25. Of the beast, of which men offer — This is evidently an interdict of the fat of the entire class of sacrificial animals, and not of the particular victims. Fat promotes cutaneous diseases. The prohibition of this article of diet also raised up a barrier between the Israelites and the idolatrous nations by restraining the former from partaking of the festive banquets of the latter. Michaelis suggests that the prohibition of fat was for the purpose of promoting the culture of the olive, and Knobel maintains that it was because the mouth of man is unclean. A better reason is, because it would be an infringement of Jehovah’s rights to eat as common food that which he had sanctified unto himself.


Verse 26

26. Ye shall eat no… blood — To this prohibition there is no exception.

It has especial respect to the atoning blood of sacrifice, first of the type and then of the great Antitype.


Verse 30

30. A wave offering — The rabbies say that the offering was laid upon the hands of the offerer. The priest, putting his hands beneath, moves the offering to and fro horizontally. But it is not certain from Exodus 29:26-27 whether the waving was done by the offerer alone or by the help of the priest. The significance of this peculiar motion is doubtful. The rabbies say that it symbolically teaches that Jehovah is present in every quarter of the earth. The breast thus waved was eaten by the priest and his family.


Verse 33

PORTION OF THE PRIESTS, Leviticus 7:11-34.

33. Shall have the right shoulder — Because this was not easily divisible it could not be shared by the families of the priests in common. Hence it is divinely allotted to him who sprinkles the blood.


Verse 35

SUMMARY OF PRECEDING LAWS, Leviticus 7:35-38.

35. This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron — This is the provision made for those who are anointed priests — the perquisite by virtue of the holy office. The abstract anointing is put for the concrete, the anointed.


Verse 36

36. In the day that he anointed them — The command given on that day extends over the whole period of the Aaronic priesthood.

A statute for ever — See Leviticus 3:17, note.


Verse 37

37. Burnt offering — Chap. 1, notes, and Leviticus 6:8-13, notes.

Meat offering — Chap. 2, and Leviticus 6:14-18, notes.

Sin offering — Chap. 4, notes, and Leviticus 6:25-30.

Trespass offering — Chapter Leviticus 5:1 to Leviticus 6:7; Leviticus 7:1-7, notes.

The consecrations — This consisted in filling the hands of the priests with the things which they were to offer. See Numbers 3:3, note. It is an expressive mode of inducting them into office. This ordinance is not distinctly spoken of in the previous chapters except in part in Leviticus 6:19-23, but the offerings of which the consecration is made up have been already detailed, as will be seen in chap. 8.

Peace offerings — Chaps. 3, Leviticus 7:11-34. notes. “The sacrificial law, therefore, with the five species of sacrifices which it enjoins, embraces every aspect in which Israel was to manifest its true relation to the Lord its God. While the expiatory sacrifices furnished the means of removing the barrier which sins and trespasses had set up between the sinner and the holy God, and procured the forgiveness of sin and guilt, so that the sinner could attain once more to the unrestricted enjoyment of the covenanted grace, the sanctification of the whole man in self-surrender to the Lord was shadowed forth in the burnt offerings, the fruits of this sanctification in the meat offerings, and the blessedness of the possession and enjoyment of saving grace in the peace offerings. Nevertheless the sacrifices could not make those who drew near to God with them and in them “perfect as pertaining to the conscience,” (Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1,) because the blood of bulls and of goats could not possibly take away sin. Hebrews 10:4. The forgiveness of sin which the atoning sacrifices procured was only a παρεσις (a passing by) of past sins through the forbearance of God, (Romans 3:25-26,) in anticipation of the true sacrifice of Christ, of which the animal sacrifices were only a type, and by which the justice of God is satisfied, and the way opened for full forgiveness of sin and complete reconciliation to God.” — Keil. See Introduction, 5, 6, 7.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Leviticus 7:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/leviticus-7.html. 1874-1909.

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