The priestly functions (Lev 9:1-9:24)

“On the eighth day, Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.  He said to Aaron, ‘Take a bull calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before Yahweh’.  Say to the people of Israel, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering.  Then a calf and a lamb, yearlings without blemish, for a burnt offering.   Next, take an ox and a ram for an offering of well-being to sacrifice before Yahweh. Finally, a grain offering mixed with oil.  Today Yahweh will appear to you.’  They brought what Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting.  The whole congregation drew near and stood before Yahweh.   Moses said, ‘This is the thing that Yahweh commanded you to do, so that the glory of Yahweh may appear to you.’  Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Draw near to the altar, and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering.  Make atonement for yourself and for the people.  Sacrifice the offering of the people.  Make atonement for them, as Yahweh has commanded.”

Moses told Aaron on the 8th day that as new priests that they should make the following offerings: a sin offering, a burnt offering, and a well-being offering with the following elements:

1)      A bull calf for a sin offering;

2)      A ram for a burnt offering;

3)      A male goat for a sin offering;

4)      A calf and a lamb for a burnt offering;

5)      An ox and a ram for a well-being offering;

6)      A grain offering mixed with oil.

“Aaron drew near to the altar.  He slaughtered the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.   The sons of Aaron presented the blood to him.  He dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar.  The rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar.  However, the fat, the kidneys and the appendage of the liver from the sin offering he turned into smoke on the altar, as Yahweh commanded Moses.  The flesh and the skin he burned with fire outside the camp.”

Aaron performed the sin offering for himself.  He killed the calf, put blood on the horns of the altar and poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.  Then he took the fat and the entrails and burned it on the altar.  Finally, he took the meat and the skin and burned it outside the camp.

“Then he slaughtered the burnt offering.  Aaron’s sons brought him the blood.  He dashed it against all sides of the altar.  They brought him the burnt offering piece by piece.  The head he turned into smoke on the altar. He washed the entrails and the legs and, with the burnt offering, turned them into smoke on the altar.”

Aaron performed the burnt offering.  He dashed the blood on all sides of the altar.  After burning the head on the altar, he washing the entrails and the legs, and burned them on the altar.  .

 “Next he presented the people’s offering.  He took the goat of the sin offering that was for the people, and slaughtered it.  He presented it as a sin offering, like the first one.  He presented the burnt offering, and sacrificed it according to regulation.  He presented the grain offering, and taking a handful of it turned it into smoke on the altar, in addition to the burnt offering of the morning.”

Aaron then presented the people’s sin offering.  He killed the goat and followed all the procedures like he had done for himself.  However, he also presented a grain offering on the altar.

“He slaughtered the ox and the ram as a sacrifice of well-being for the people.  Aaron’s sons brought him the blood, which he dashed against all sides of the altar.  They brought the fat of the ox and of the ram that is the broad tail, the fat which covers the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat of them, and the appendage of the liver.  They first laid the fat on the breasts, and the fat was turned into smoke on the altar.  The breasts and the right thigh Aaron raised as an elevation offering before Yahweh, as Moses commanded.”

Aaron then presented the well-being offering.  He killed the ox and the ram.  He dashed the blood on all sides of the altar.  Then he took the fat including the entrails, kidneys and liver, and burned them on the altar.  Finally he raised the breasts and right thigh as an elevation offering.  All this was done as Moses had commanded him.

“Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them.  He came down from sacrificing the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the offering of well-being.  Moses and Aaron entered into the tent of meeting.  Then they came out and blessed the people.  The glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people.  Fire came out from Yahweh and consumed the burnt offering and the fat upon the altar.  When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”  

All these offerings were mentioned above in chapters 1-7.  Apparently, Aaron and his sons performed them all on the same day at one time after the completion of their 7 day ordination.  In each case, Aaron slaughtered the animal, poured the blood at the base of the altar, and burned the fat on the altar.  This was a bloody massacre.  Having done all these offerings or sacrifices, Moses and Aaron blessed all the people.  Then the glory of Yahweh appeared and consumed all the brunt offerings and the grain offerings on the altar.   All the people shouted out and fell on their faces. 

 

The sin offering (Lev 5:14-5:19)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘When any of you commit a trespass and sin unintentionally in any of the holy things of Yahweh, you shall bring as your guilt offering to Yahweh, a ram without blemish from the flock, convertible into silver by the sanctuary shekel.  It is a guilt offering.  You shall make restitution for the holy things in which you were remiss.  You shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest.  The priest shall make atonement on your behalf with the ram of the guilt offering, and you shall be forgiven.’”

Once again, Yahweh spoke to Moses about sinning unintentionally in any of the holy things of Yahweh.  You had to bring a ram as a guilt offering to Yahweh. However, you could convert this into the sanctuary silver shekel.  You had make restitution.  The priest would atone for you, so that you will be forgiven.  However, there is a 20% charge that goes to the priest.

 “If any one of you sin without knowing it, doing any of the things that by Yahweh’s commandment ought not to be done, you have incurred guilt.  You are subject to punishment.  You shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, or an equivalent, as a guilt offering.  The priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the error that you committed unintentionally.  You shall be forgiven.  It is a guilt offering.  You have incurred guilt before Yahweh.”

Even the unintentional sin brings guilt, punishment, and forgiveness.  Therefore, you have to bring to the priest a guilt or sin offering, either a ram or its equivalent.

 

           

The sin offering of an ordinary person (Lev 5:7-5:13)

“But if you cannot afford a sheep, you shall bring to Yahweh, as your penalty for the sin that you have committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a brunt offering.   You shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer first the one for the sin offering, wringing its head at the nape without severing it.  He shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar.  It is a sin offering.   Then he shall offer the second bird for a burnt offering according to the regulation.  Thus the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the sin that you have committed.  You shall be forgiven.”

The ordinary person could bring two turtledoves or two pigeons instead of a sheep.  You are guilty because you did something wrong, whether you knew it or not at the time of the action.  There are two offerings.  One of the birds is for a sin offering and the other is for a brunt offering.  The priest followed the same procedure as in chapter 2, by wringing off its head, and turning it into smoke on the altar.  The blood was to be drained out against the side and base of the altar.

 “But if you cannot afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, you shall bring as your offering for the sin that you have committed, one-tenth of an ephah of choice flour for a sin offering.  You shall not put oil or frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.  You shall bring it to the priest.  The priest shall scoop up a handful of it as a memorial portion.  He will turn this into smoke on the altar with the offerings by fire to Yahweh.  It is a sin offering.  Thus the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for whichever of these sins you have committed.  You shall be forgiven.  Like the grain offering, the rest shall be for the priest.”

If you could not afford the birds, you had to bring 1/10th of an ephah of flour.  The ephah was an ancient Hebrew unit of dry measure, roughly equivalent to a bushel or 33 liters.  1/10th would be about 3 liters of flour.  You should not put oil or frankincense on it.  This is a sin offering so you bring it to the priest.  He will offer it on the altar with the burnt offerings.  He would scoop up a handful of it as a memorial portion.  Anything left over, like the grain offering, the priest would keep.

Sins that need a sin offering (Lev 5:1-5:6)

“When any of you sin in that you have heard a public adjuration to testify, though able to testify as one who has seen or learned of the matter, do not speak up, you are subject to punishment.  Or when any of you touch an unclean thing, whether the carcass of an unclean beast or the carcass of unclean livestock or the carcass of an unclean swarming thing, and are unaware of it, you have become unclean, and are guilty.  Or when you touch human uncleanness, any uncleanness by which one can become unclean, and are unaware of it, when you come to know it you shall be guilty.  Or when any of you utter aloud a rash oath for a bad or good purpose, whatever people utter is an oath, and are unaware of it, when you come to know it, you  shall in any of these be guilty.   When you realize your guilt in any of these, you shall confess the sin that you have committed.  You shall bring to Yahweh, as your penalty for the sin that you have committed a female from the flock, a sheep or a goat, for a sin offering.  The priest shall make atonement on your behalf for your sin.”

Here are some explicit sins that need a public confession and the sin offering of a female goat or sheep..  In these sins, you may not know that you are sinning.  However, when you become aware of these transgressions, then you must come forward.  Half of these are about touching unclean things.  This will become important, once you understand what is unclean:

1)      When you see something and do not speak up when you are able to testify;

2)      When you touch an unclean thing, like the carcass of an unclean beast, livestock, or swarming thing;

3)      When you touch human uncleanness;

4)      When you utter a rash oath for a bad or good purpose.

Once you realize your guilt in any of these, you should confess the sin, and present a sin offering.  The priest then makes atonement for you.

The ordinary person (Lev 4:27-4:35)

“If anyone of the ordinary people among you sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by Yahweh’s commandments ought not to be done you incur guilt.  When the sin that you have committed is made known to you, you shall bring a female goat without blemish as your offering for the sin you have committed.  You shall lay your hand on the head of the sin offering.  The sin offering shall be slaughtered at the place of the burnt offering.  The priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering.   He shall pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.  He shall remove all its fat, as the fat is removed from the offering of well-being.  The priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar for a pleasing odor to Yahweh.  The priest shall make atonement on your behalf.  You shall be forgiven.”

If any ordinary person sins unintentionally, they are to bring a female goat as a sin offering.  This is a female goat and not a male. The same rules applies here as with the priests, the whole congregation, and the ruler.  You lay your hand on its hand and slaughter it.  Then you splash the blood on the horns and burn the fat.  Once again, there is no mention of what happens to the remains of this goat.

“If the offering you bring as a sin offering is a sheep, you shall bring a female without blemish.  You shall lay your hand on the head of the sin offering.  It shall be slaughtered as a sin offering at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered.  The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering.  He shall pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.  You shall remove all its fat as the fat of the sheep is removed from the sacrifice of well-being.  The priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar, with offerings by fire to Yahweh.  The priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the sin that you have committed.  You shall be forgiven.”

You can also bring a female sheep, but not a male sheep. The ritual is same as that for a goat.  All these sacrifices refer to unintentional guilt, so that everyone is forgiven if the ritual is done right.  There seem to be four categories of people, the priests, the whole congregation, the ruler, and then the individual.

The ruler (Lev 4:22-4:26)

“When a ruler sins, doing unwittingly any one of all the things that by the commandments of Yahweh his God ought not to be done.  He incurs guilt.  Once the sin that he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a male goat without blemish.  He shall lay his hand on the head of the goat.  It shall be slaughtered at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered before Yahweh.  It is a sin offering.  Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering.  He will pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering.  All its fat he shall turn into smoke on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of well-being.  Thus the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.  He shall be forgiven.”

If the ruler unintentionally sins, he had to offer a male goat without blemish, not a bull.  Interesting enough, there are no rulers mentioned yet, so that it obviously places this prescription at a later date when there is a settled society.  Once again, he lays his hand on its head and slaughters him at the holocaust table outside the tent.   This time the blood stays at the base of this holocaust table and not the table in the tent.  The fat then becomes the offering. Thus the priest makes atonement on his behalf for his sin and he is forgiven. There is no mention of what happens to the rest of the goat.

Consecration of the altar of holocausts (Ex 29:35-29:37)

“Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, just as I have commanded you.  Through seven days you shall ordain them.  Every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement.  Also you shall offer a sin offering for the altar, when you make atonement for it.  You shall anoint it to consecrate it.  Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar, and consecrate it.  The altar shall be most holy.  Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.”

Everything takes 7 days, an important number.  Every day you take a bull and sacrifice it so that the altar itself can become holy, anointed, and consecrated.  Anointing is important in that is what consecrates it.  Who or whatever touches the altar shall become holy like the altar.

Offering of the bull and rams (Ex 29:10-29:21)

“You shall bring the bull in front of the tent of meeting.  Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull.  You shall then slaughter the bull before Yahweh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your fingers, and all the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar.  You shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the appendage of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them into smoke on the altar.  But the flesh of the bull, and its skin, and its dung, you shall burn with fire outside the camp.  It is a sin offering.”

The bull and two rams will be offered up.  First, Aaron and his sons lay their hands on the head of the bull, and then they slaughter the bull before Yahweh at the entrance of the meeting tent.  They put some of the blood on the horns of the altar.  The rest of the blood they pour out at the base of the altar.  Then they take the fat, the liver, and two kidneys and turn them into smoke on the altar.  However, the flesh of the bull, its skin, and its dung, they burn with fire outside the camp as a sin offering.

“Then you shall take one of the rams.  Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the ram. Then you shall slaughter the ram.  You shall take its blood and dash it against all sides of the altar.  Then you shall cut the ram into parts, and wash its entrails and its legs.  Then put them with its parts and its head.  Finally, turn the whole ram into smoke on the altar.  It is a burnt offering to Yahweh. It is a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to Yahweh.”

Aaron and his sons should kill one of the rams, after laying their hands on his head.  They dash its blood against all sides of the altar.  Then cut the ram into parts and wash its entrails and legs.  Then they burn the whole ram into smoke on the altar as a pleasing burnt offering to Yahweh.  So far, we have a sin offering and a burnt offering.

“You shall take the other ram.  Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of this ram.  You shall slaughter this ram.  Then take some of its blood and put it in the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet.  Dash the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar.  Then you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his vestments and on his sons and his sons’ vestments with him.  Then he and his vestments shall be holy, as well as his sons, and his sons’ vestments.”

The second ram gets slaughtered also after the laying on of hands.  However, the blood plays a bigger role as this makes them holy, sacred, or set aside.  Some of its blood goes on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of the right ears of his sons.  Then the blood goes on their right hand thumbs and their right foot big toes.  The rest of the blood is dashed against all sides of the altar.  Finally the blood and the anointing oil are sprinkled on Aaron and his sons and their vestments, so that they will have holy vestments.