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.


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.

Inadvertent and intentional law breaking (Num 15:22-15:31)

“But if you unintentionally fail to observe all these commandments that Yahweh has spoken to Moses, that is everything that Yahweh has commanded you by Moses from the day that Yahweh gave commandments and thereafter, throughout your generations, if it was done unintentionally without the knowledge of the congregation, the whole congregation shall offer one young bull for a burnt offering.  This will be a pleasing odor to Yahweh with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one male goat for a sin offering.  The priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the Israelites.  They shall be forgiven.  It was unintentional.  They have brought their offering, an offering by fire to Yahweh.  They have brought their sin offering before Yahweh for their error.   All the congregation of the Israelites shall be forgiven, as well as the alien residing among them, because the whole people were involved in the error.”

Much like in Leviticus, chapter 4, there are sacrifices that have to be made for inadvertent behavior.  The whole congregation shall offer one young bull for a burnt offering with a grain and drink offering.  They will offer one male goat for a sin offering.  They and anybody involved with it shall be forgiven because it was unintentional and they brought the correct offering.  Once again, there is one law for both aliens and Israelites.

“An individual who sins unintentionally, he shall present a female goat a year old for a sin offering.   The priest shall make atonement before Yahweh for the one who commits an error, when it is unintentional, to make atonement for the person, and he shall be forgiven.  For both the native among the Israelites and the alien residing among them, you shall have the same law for anyone who acts in error.  But whoever acts high-handedly, whether a native or an alien, and affronts Yahweh, that person shall be cut off from among the people.  Because of having despised the word of Yahweh and broken his commandment, such a person shall be utterly cut off and bear the guilt.”  

If one person sins unintentionally, he has to make a sin offering.  However, anyone who acts high-handedly, or intentionally, offends Yahweh and shall be cut off from among his people.  When you have despised the word of Yahweh and broken his commandment, you will be cut off from your people and bear the guilt.  If you sin deliberately, there is no hope, no atonement.

Purification of females after birth (Lev 12:1-12:8)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  ‘Speak to the people of Israel, saying, if a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be ceremonially unclean seven days.  As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. On the eight day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.   Her time of blood purification shall be thirty-three days.  She shall not touch any holy thing, or come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed.   If she bears a female child, she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation.  Her time of blood purification shall be sixty-six days.

Once again, Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Women are considered unclean after childbirth because of the blood discharge that takes place with birthing. There are different rules for male and female children. If a male is born, the woman is unclean for 7 days, the same as menstruation, so that on the 8th day the male child can be circumcised.  However, she will have to wait 14 days if it is a female child.  There are 33 days of blood purification for the male child, but 66 days for a female child.  During her unclean period, this new mother cannot touch any holy thing, or go into the sanctuary. The blood purification is also twice as long for the female child, 7-14 days and 33-66 days, without any real clarification as to why.

“When the days of her purification are completed, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a brunt offering, and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering.  He shall offer it before Yahweh, and make atonement for her.  Then she shall be clean from her flow of blood.  This is the law for anyone who bears a child, male or female.  If she cannot afford a sheep, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.  The priest shall make atonement on her behalf.  Then she shall be clean.”

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.  The priest then made atonement on her behalf to make her clean.  The unclean mother’s birth has to become clean with a burnt and sin offering.  Childbirth was considered an unclean action.  Her period of uncleanness was much longer than merely touching a dead unclean animal.


Problems with the sin offering (Lev 10:16-10:20)

“Then Moses made inquiry about the goat of the sin offering.  It had already been burned!   Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons and said, ‘Why did you not eat the sin offering in the sacred area?  It is most holy.  God has given it to you that you may remove the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement on their behalf before Yahweh.  Its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary.  You should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded.’  Aaron spoke to Moses. ‘See, today they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before Yahweh.  Yet such things as these have befallen me!   If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been acceptable to Yahweh?’  When Moses heard that, he agreed.”

Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar because they did not eat the sin offering of the goat in the sacred area.  They did not bring the blood into the inner part of the sanctuary.  Aaron responded that it was a bad day since so much had happened to him.  They were afraid that it would not be agreeable to Yahweh.  When Moses heard this, he agreed.