The sacrifice offering (Lk 2:24-2:24)

“They offered

A sacrifice,

According to

What is stated

In the law

Of the Lord.

‘A pair of turtledoves,

Or two young pigeons.’”

 

καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Κυρίου, ζεῦγος τρυγόνων ἢ δύο νοσσοὺς περιστερῶν.

 

Luke said that Mary and Joseph offered a sacrifice (καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν), according to what was stated in the law of the Lord (κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Κυρίου).  They were offering a pair of turtledoves (ζεῦγος τρυγόνων) or 2 young pigeons (ἢ δύο νοσσοὺς περιστερῶν.).  Leviticus, chapter 12:5-8, said that when the days of purification were completed, the new mother had to bring a lamb and a pigeon to the entrance of the tent of meeting for a sin offering and a burnt offering.  If she could not afford a lamb, she could bring two pigeons or two turtledoves, which was the case here, since Mary was giving the offering of a poor person.  The priest then made atonement on her behalf to make her clean.  Thus, the unclean mother’s birth had to become clean with a burnt and sin offering, since childbirth was considered an unclean action.  Her period of uncleanness was much longer than merely touching a dead unclean animal.

The seven-day offerings (Ezek 45:23-45:24)

“During the seven days

Of the festival,

The prince shall provide,

As a burnt offering

To Yahweh,

Seven young bulls,

As well as seven rams

Without blemish.

This will be done

On each of the seven days.

He shall also provide

A male goat daily

For a sin offering.

He shall provide

As a grain offering

An ephah for each bull,

An ephah for each ram,

With a hin of oil

For each ephah.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, also mentioned that the prince had to provide a series of animals and grains for the 7 day Passover celebration. This was on top of eating the unleavened bread for 7 days. There was a burnt offering of a bull and an unblemished ram each day of the weeklong festival. Besides the bull and the ram, the prince had to provide a goat each day for a sin offering. He also had to provide a grain offering for each bull and ram. This grain offering was to be an ephah or 2/3rds of a bushel with a hin or a gallon of oil for each ephah of grain.

 

The feast of Passover (Ezek 45:21-45:22)

“In the first month,

On the fourteenth day

Of the month,

You shall celebrate

The festival

Of the Passover.

For seven days

Unleavened bread

Shall be eaten.

On that day

The prince shall provide

For himself,

As well as for all the people

Of the land,

A young bull

For a sin offering.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, reiterated the time of Passover celebration, the 14th day of the 1st month. During 7 days, they would eat only unleavened bread, the traditional Passover celebration food. On the day of Passover itself, the prince would offer a young bull for a sin offering for himself and all the people of the land.

Purify the sanctuary (Ezek 45:18-45:20)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘In the first month,

On the first day

Of the month,

You shall take a young bull

Without blemish.

Purify the sanctuary!

The priest shall take

Some of the blood

Of the sin offering.

He shall put it

On the doorposts

Of the temple.

He shall put it

On the four corners

Of the ledge

Of the altar.

He shall put it

On the posts

Of the gate

Of the inner court.

You shall do the same

On the seventh day

Of the month

For any one

Who has sinned

Through error

Or ignorance.

Thus,

You shall make atonement

For the temple.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, wanted them to purify the sanctuary on the 1st day of the 1st month. In other words, this would be a New Year’s Day activity. They were to take an unblemished bull and use him to cleanse the sanctuary at the start of the new year. The priest should take some of the blood from the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the Temple, as well as the four corners of the altar ledge and the posts of the gate of the inner court. The priest was also supposed to do this same ritual on the 7th day of the month for anyone who sinned inadvertently by error or ignorance. This purification ritual of the first day of the first month of the year would make an atonement for the Temple, so that it would be purified.

The sacrifice for the dead in hope of the resurrection (2 Macc 12:43-12:46)

“Judas Maccabeus also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver. He sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he was not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.”

Judas Maccabeus took up a collection from each man so that he had 2,000 silver drachmas, about $50,000 USA. He sent this money to Jerusalem for a sin offering. This is where the text becomes interesting. This biblical author accounts for the resurrection. This is a clear indication that he or they believed in the resurrection of these dead soldiers. Why pray for the dead if they do not rise? If you fall asleep in godliness, they will have a splendid reward. In fact, they made atonement for the dead so that they could be delivered from sin. This is the only text that indicates that you can affect the dead after they have died. This is often viewed as a justification for purgatory since something can happen to the dead before they are fully resurrected. The Latter Day Saints, Mormons, also believe that people can be saved after their death. Clearly this is a prayer or atonement for a person who has died, not a living person. Here is the mention of the resurrection a little over 100 years before the time of Jesus of Nazareth.

The great offering at Jerusalem (Ezra 8:35-8:36)

“At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to Yahweh. They also delivered the king’s commissions to the governors of the province Beyond the River. They supported the people and the house of God.”

This group then got together. They offered burnt offerings to God for their successful return to Jerusalem. This included 12 bulls, 96 rams, 77 lambs, and 12 goats. Notice the 12 bulls and 12 goats as a remembrance of the 12 now non-existant 12 tribes of Israel. This was a burnt offering. Notice the change from a first person narrative to a third person explanation. They also reported to the governors of the Province Beyond the River, which would have been in Samaria. Meanwhile they supported the people there and the Temple.

The celebration at the Temple (Ezra 6:16-6:18)

“The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs. Then they had a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. Then they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.”

This appears to be the end of the Aramaic section of this book. This celebration is like at the time of Solomon, in 1 Kings, chapter 8, only more subdued. Certainly the priests, Levites, and the returned exiles were there, but there is no mention of the other Israelites who had not gone into captivity. These offerings are rather small when compared with earlier great celebrations. There were100 bulls, 200 rams, and 400 lambs, which is quite substantial. They even had the scapegoat sin offering of 12 goats for the 12 tribes of Israel. However, this celebration was really for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Very little was said about the other tribes. In fact, many of them may be their enemies now. Finally the priests and Levites were set in their distinctive Temple classes. Once again, it was King David who set up these classes and not Moses, even though the euphemism of “the book of Moses” is mentioned.