Sacred Texts  Bible  Bible Commentary  Index 
Leviticus Index
  Previous  Next 

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Leviticus Chapter 7

Leviticus 7:1

lev 7:1

The Law of the Trespass-Offering embraces first of all the regulations as to the ceremonial connected with the presentation.

Lev 7:2

The slaughtering and sprinkling of the blood were the same as in the case of the burnt-offering (Lev 1:5); and therefore, no doubt, the signification was the same.

Lev 7:3-7

The fat portions only were to be burned upon the altar, viz., the same as in the sin and peace-offerings (see Lev 4:8 and Lev 3:9); but the flesh was to be eaten by the priests, as in the sin-offering (Lev 6:22), inasmuch as there was the same law in this respect for both the sin-offering and trespass-offering; and these parts of the sacrificial service must therefore have had the same meaning, every trespass being a sin (see Lev 6:26). - Certain analogous instructions respecting the burnt-offering and meat-offering are appended in Lev 7:8-10 by way of supplement, as they ought properly to have been given in ch. 6, in the laws relating to the sacrifices in question.

Lev 7:8-10

In the case of the burnt-offering, the skin of the animal was to fall to the lot of the officiating priest, viz., as payment for his services. הכּהן is construed absolutely: "as for the priest, who offereth - the skin of the burnt-offering which he offereth shall belong to the priest" (for "to him"). This was probably the case also with the trespass-offerings and sin-offerings of the laity; whereas the skin of the peace-offerings belonged to the owner of the animal (see Mishnah, Sebach. 12, 3). - In Lev 7:9, Lev 7:10, the following law is laid down with reference to the meat-offering, that everything baked in the oven, and everything prepared in a pot or pan, was to belong to the priest, who burned a portion of it upon the altar; and that everything mixed with oil and everything dry was to belong to all the sons of Aaron, i.e., to all the priests, to one as much as another, so that they were all to receive an equal share. The reason for this distinction is not very clear. That all the meat-offerings described in ch. 2 should fall to the sons of Aaron (i.e., to the priests), with the exception of that portion which was burned upon the altar as an azcarah, followed from the fact that they were most holy (see at Lev 2:3). As the meat-offerings, which consisted of pastry, and were offered in the form of prepared food (Lev 7:9), are the same as those described in Lev 2:4-8, it is evident that by those mentioned in Lev 2:10 we are to understand the kinds described in Lev 2:1-3 and Lev 2:14-16, and by the "dry," primarily the קלוּי אביב, which consisted of dried grains, to which oil was to be added (נתן Lev 2:15), though not poured upon it, as in the case of the offering of flour (Lev 2:1), and probably also in that of the sin-offerings and jealousy-offerings (Lev 5:11, and Num 5:15), which consisted simply of flour (without oil). The reason therefore why those which consisted of cake and pastry fell to the lot of the officiating priest, and those which consisted of flour mixed with oil, of dry corn, or of simple flour, were divided among all the priests, was probably simply this, that the former were for the most part offered only under special circumstances, and then merely in small quantities, whereas the latter were the ordinary forms in which the meat-offerings were presented, and amounted to more than the officiating priests could possibly consume, or dispose of by themselves.

Leviticus 7:11

lev 7:11

The Law of the Peace-Offerings, "which he shall offer to Jehovah" (the subject is to be supplied from the verb), contains instructions, (1) as to the bloodless accompaniment to these sacrifices (Lev 7:12-14), (2) as to the eating of the flesh of the sacrifices (Lev 7:15-21), with the prohibition against eating fat and blood (Lev 7:22-27), and (3) as to Jehovah's share of these sacrifices (Lev 7:28-36). - In Lev 7:12 and Lev 7:16 three classes of shelamim are mentioned, which differ according to their occasion and design, viz., whether they were brought על־תּודה, upon the ground of praise, i.e., to praise God for blessings received or desired, or as vow-offerings, or thirdly, as freewill-offerings (Lev 7:16). To (lit., upon, in addition to) the sacrifice of thanksgiving (Lev 7:12, "sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace-offerings," Lev 7:13 and Lev 7:15) they were to present "unleavened cakes kneaded with oil, and flat cakes anointed with oil (see at Lev 2:4), and roasted fine flour (see Lev 6:14) mixed as cakes with oil," i.e., cakes made of fine flour roasted with oil, and thoroughly kneaded with oil (on the construction, see Ges. 139, 2; Ewald 284 a). This last kind of cakes kneaded with oil is also called oil-bread-cake ("a cake of oiled bread," Lev 8:26; Exo 29:23), or "cake unleavened, kneaded with oil" (Exo 29:2), and probably differed from the former simply in the fact that it was more thoroughly saturated with oil, inasmuch as it was not only made of flour that had been mixed with oil in the kneading, but the flour itself was first of all roasted in oil, and then the dough was moistened still further with oil in the process of kneading.

Leviticus 7:13

lev 7:13

This sacrificial gift the offerer was to present upon, or along with, cakes of leavened bread (round, leavened bread-cakes), and to offer "thereof one out of the whole oblation," namely, one cake of each of the three kinds mentioned in Lev 7:12, as a heave-offering for Jehovah, which was to fall to the priest who sprinkled the blood of the peace-offering. According to Lev 2:9, an azcarah of the unleavened pastry was burned upon the altar, although this is not specially mentioned here any more than at Lev 7:9 and Lev 7:10; whereas none of the leavened bread-cake was placed upon the altar (Lev 2:12), but it was simply used as bread for the sacrificial meal. There is nothing here to suggest an allusion to the custom of offering unleavened sacrificial cakes upon a plate of leavened dough, as J. D. Michaelis, Winer, and others suppose.

Leviticus 7:15

lev 7:15

The flesh of the praise-offering was to be eaten on the day of presentation, and none of it was to be left till the next morning (cf. Lev 22:29-30); but that of the vow and freewill-offerings might be eaten on both the first and second days. Whatever remained after that was to be burnt on the third day, i.e., to be destroyed by burning. If any was eaten on the third day, it was not well-pleasing (ירצה "good pleasure," see Lev 1:4), and was "not reckoned to the offerer," sc., as a sacrifice well-pleasing to God; it was "an abomination." פּגּוּל, an abomination, is only applied to the flesh of the sacrifices (Lev 19:7; Eze 4:14; Isa 65:4), and signifies properly a stench; - compare the talmudic word פּגּל faetidum reddere. Whoever ate thereof would bear his sin (see Lev 5:1). "The soul that eateth" is not to be restricted, as Knobel supposes, to the other participators in the sacrificial meal, but applies to the offerer also, in fact to every one who partook of such flesh. The burning on the third day was commanded, not to compel the offerer to invite the poor to share in the meal (Theodoret, Clericus, etc.), but to guard against the danger of a desecration of the meal. The sacrificial flesh was holy (Exo 29:34); and in Lev 19:8, where this command is repeated,

(Note: There is no foundation for Knobel's assertion, that in Lev 19:5. another early lawgiver introduces a milder regulation with regard to the thank-offering, and allows all the thank-offerings to be eaten on the second day. For Lev 19:5. does not profess to lay down a universal rule with regard to all the thank-offerings, but presupposes our law, and simply enforces its regulations with regard to the vow and freewill-offerings, and threatens transgressors with severe punishment.)

eating it on the third day is called a profanation of that which was holy to Jehovah, and ordered to be punished with extermination. It became a desecration of what was holy, through the fact that in warm countries, if flesh is not most carefully preserved by artificial means, it begins to putrefy, or becomes offensive (פּגּוּל) on the third day. But to eat flesh that was putrid or stinking, would be like eating unclean carrion, or the נבלה with which putrid flesh is associated in Eze 4:14. It was for this reason that burning was commanded, as Philo (de vict. p. 842) and Maimonides (More Neboch iii. 46) admit; though the former also associates with this the purpose mentioned above, which we decidedly reject (cf. Outram l.c. p. 185 seq., and Bhr, ii. pp. 375-6).

Leviticus 7:19

lev 7:19

In the same way all sacrificial flesh that had come into contact with what was unclean, and been defiled in consequence, was to be burned and not eaten. Lev 7:19, which is not found in the Septuagint and Vulgate, reads thus: "and as for the flesh, every clean person shall eat flesh," i.e., take part in the sacrificial meal.

Leviticus 7:22

lev 7:22

On the other hand, "the soul which eats flesh of the peace-offering, and his uncleanness is upon him (for "whilst uncleanness is upon him;" the suffix is to be understood as referring to נפשׁ construed as a masculine, see Lev 2:1), "shall be cut off" (see Gen 17:14). This was to be done, whether the uncleanness arose from contact with an unclean object (any unclean thing), or from the uncleanness of man (cf. ch. 12-15), or from an unclean beast (see at Lev 11:4-8), or from any other unclean abomination. שׁקץ, abomination, includes the unclean fishes, birds, and smaller animals, to which this expression is applied in Lev 11:10-42 (cf. Eze 8:10 and Isa 66:17). Moreover contact with animals that were pronounced unclean so far as eating was concerned, did not produce uncleanness so long as they were alive, or if they had been put to death by man; but contact with animals that had died a natural death, whether they belonged to the edible animals or not, that is to say, with carrion (see at Lev 11:8).

There is appended to these regulations, as being substantially connected with them, the prohibition of fat and blood as articles of food (Lev 7:22-27). By "the fat of ox, or of sheep, or of goat," i.e., the three kinds of animals used in sacrifice, or "the fat of the beast of which men offer a firing to Jehovah" (Lev 7:25), we are to understand only those portions of fat which are mentioned in Lev 3:3-4, Lev 3:9; not fat which grows in with the flesh, nor the fat portions of other animals, which were clean but not allowed as sacrifices, such as the stag, the antelope, and other kinds of game.

Leviticus 7:24

lev 7:24

The fat of cattle that had fallen (נבלה), or been torn to pieces (viz., by beasts of prey), was not to be eaten, because it was unclean and defiled the eater (Lev 17:15; Lev 22:8); but it might be applied "to all kinds of uses," i.e., to the common purposes of ordinary life. Knobel observes on this, that "in the case of oxen, sheep, and goats slain in the regular way, this was evidently not allowable. But the law does not say what was to be done with the fat of these animals." Certainly it does not disertis verbis; but indirectly it does so clearly enough. According to Lev 17:3., during the journey through the desert any one who wanted to slaughter an ox, sheep, or goat was to bring the animal to the tabernacle as a sacrificial gift, that the blood might be sprinkled against the altar, and the fat burned upon it. By this regulation every ordinary slaughtering was raised into a sacrifice, and the law determined what was to be done with the fat. Now if afterwards, when the people dwelt in Canaan, cattle were allowed to be slaughtered in any place, and the only prohibition repeated was that against eating blood (Deu 12:15-16, Deu 12:21.), whilst the law against eating fat was not renewed; it follows as a matter of course, that when the custom of slaughtering at the tabernacle was restricted to actual sacrifices, the prohibition against eating the fat portions came to an end, so far as those animals were concerned with were slain for consumption and not as sacrifices. The reason for prohibiting fat from being eaten was simply this, that so long as every slaughtering was a sacrifice, the fat portions, which were to be handed over to Jehovah and burned upon the altar, were not to be devoted to earthly purposes, because they were gifts sanctified to God. The eating of the fat, therefore, was neither prohibited on sanitary or social grounds, viz., because fat was injurious to health, as Maimonides and other Rabbins maintain, nor for the purpose of promoting the cultivation of olives, as Michaelis supposes, nor to prevent its being put into the unclean mouth of man, as Knobel imagines; but as being an illegal appropriation of what was sanctified to God, a wicked invasion of the rights of Jehovah, which was to be punished with extermination according to the analogy of Num 15:30-31. The prohibition of blood in Lev 7:26, Lev 7:27, extends to birds and cattle; fishes not being mentioned, because the little blood which they possess is not generally eaten. This prohibition Israel was to observe in all its dwelling-places (Exo 12:20, cf. Lev 17:10), not only so long as all the slaughterings had the character of sacrifices, but for all ages, because the blood was regarded as the soul of the animal, which God had sanctified as the medium of atonement for the soul of man (Lev 17:11), whereby the blood acquired a much higher degree of holiness than the fat.

Leviticus 7:28

lev 7:28

Jehovah's share of the peace-offerings. - Lev 7:29. The offerer of the sacrifice was to bring his gift (corban) to Jehovah, i.e., to bring to the altar the portion which belonged to Jehovah.

Leviticus 7:30

lev 7:30

His hands were to bring the firings of Jehovah, i.e., the portions to be burned upon the altar (Lev 1:9), viz., "the fat (the fat portions, Lev 3:3-4) with the breast," - the former to be burned upon the altar, the latter "to wave as a wave-offering before Jehovah." חזה, τὸ στηθύνιον (lxx), i.e., according to Pollux, τῶν στηθῶν τὸ μέσον, pectusculum or pectus (Vulg. cf. Lev 9:20-21; Lev 10:15), signifies the breast, the breast-piece of the sacrificial animals,

(Note: The etymology of the word is obscure. According to Winer, Gesenius, and others, it signifies adspectui patens; whilst Meier and Knobel regard it as meaning literally the division, or middle-piece; and Dietrich attributes to it the fundamental signification, "to be moved," viz., the breast, as being the part moved by the heart.)

the brisket, which consists for the most part of cartilaginous fat in the case of oxen, sheep, and goats, and is one of the most savoury parts; so that at the family festivities of the ancients, according to Athen. Deipnos. ii. 70, ix. 10, στηθύνια παχέων ἀρνίων were dainty bits. The breast-piece was presented to the Lord as a wave-offering (tenuphah), and transferred by Him to Aaron and his sons (the priests). תּנוּפה, from נוּף, הניף, to swing, to move to and fro (see Exo 35:22), is the name applied to a ceremony peculiar to the peace-offerings and the consecration-offerings: the priest laid the object to be waved upon the hands of the offerer, and then placed his own hands underneath, and moved the hands of the offerer backwards and forwards in a horizontal direction, to indicate by the movement forwards, i.e., in the direction towards the altar, the presentation of the sacrifice, or the symbolical transference of it to God, and by the movement backwards, the reception of it back again, as a present which God handed over to His servants the priests.

(Note: In the Talmud (cf. Gemar. Kiddush 36, 2, Gem. Succa 37, 2, and Tosaphta Menach. 7, 17), which Maimonides and Rashi follow, tenuphah is correctly interpreted ducebat et reducebat; but some of the later Rabbins (vid., Outram ut sup.) make it out to have been a movement in the direction of the four quarters of the heavens, and Witsius and others find an allusion in this to the omnipresence of God-an allusion which is quite out of character with the occasion.)

In the peace-offerings the waving was performed with the breast-piece, which was called the "wave-breast" in consequence (Lev 7:34; Lev 10:14-15; Num 6:20; Num 18:18; Exo 29:27). At the consecration of the priests it was performed with the fat portions, the right leg, and with some cakes, as well as with the breast of the fill-offering (Lev 8:25-29; Exo 29:22-26). The ceremony of waving was also carried out with the sheaf of first-fruits at the feast of Passover; with the loaves of the first-fruits, and thank-offering lambs, at the feast of Pentecost (Lev 23:11, Lev 23:20); with the shoulder and meat-offering of the Nazarite (Num 6:20); with the trespass-offering of the leper (Lev 14:12, Lev 14:24); with the jealousy-offering (Num 5:25); and lastly with the Levites, at their consecration (Num 8:11.). In the case of all these sacrifices, the object waved, after it had been offered symbolically to the Lord by means of the waving, became the property of the priests. But of the lambs, which were waved at the feast of Pentecost before they were slaughtered, and of the lamb which was brought as a trespass-offering by the leper, the blood and fat were given up to the altar-fire; of the jealousy-offering, only an azcarah; and of the fill-offering, for special reasons, the fat portions and leg, as well as the cakes. Even the Levites were given by Jehovah to the priests to be their own (Num 8:19). The waving, therefore, had nothing in common with the porricere of the Romans, as the portions of the sacrifices which were called porriciae were precisely those which were not only given up to the gods, but burned upon the altars. In addition to the wave-breast, which the Lord gave up to His servants as their share of the peace-offerings, the officiating priest was also to receive for his portion the right leg as a terumah, or heave-offering, or lifting off. שׁוק is the thigh in the case of a man (Isa 47:2; Sol 5:15), and therefore in the case of an animal it is not the fore-leg, or shoulder (βραχηίων, armus), which is called זרע, or the arm (Num 6:19; Deu 18:3), but the hind-leg, or rather the upper part of it or ham, which is mentioned in Sa1 9:24 as a peculiarly choice portion (Knobel). As a portion lifted off from the sacrificial gifts, it is often called "the heave-leg" (v. 34; Lev 10:14-15; Num 6:20; Exo 29:27), because it was lifted or heaved off from the sacrificial animal, as a gift of honour for the officiating priest, but without being waved like the breast-piece-though the more general phrase, "to wave a wave-offering before Jehovah" (Lev 10:15), includes the offering of the heave-leg (see my Archaeologie i. pp. 244-5).

Leviticus 7:34

lev 7:34

The wave-breast and heave-leg Jehovah had taken of the children of Israel, from off the sacrifices of their peace-offerings: i.e., had imposed it upon them as tribute, and had given them to Aaron and his sons, i.e., to the priests, "as a statute for ever," - in other words, as a right which they could claim of the Israelites for all ages (cf. Exo 27:21). - With Lev 7:35, Lev 7:36, the instructions concerning the peace-offerings are brought to a close. "This (the wave-breast and heave-leg) is the share of Aaron and his sons from the firings of Jehovah in the day (i.e., which Jehovah assigned to them in the day) when He caused them to draw near to become priests to Jehovah," i.e., according to the explanation in Lev 7:36, "in the day of their anointing." The word משׁחה in Lev 7:35, like משׁחה in Num 18:8, signifies not "anointing," but share, portio, literally a measuring off, as in Aramaean and Arabic, from משׁח to stroke the hand over anything, to measure, or measure off.

The fulness with which every point in the sacrificial meal is laid down, helps to confirm the significance of the peace-offerings, as already implied in the name זבח sacrificial slaughtering, slain-offering, viz., as indicating that they were intended for, and culminated in a liturgical meal. By placing his hand upon the head of the animal, which had been brought to the altar of Jehovah for the purpose, the offerer signified that with this gift, which served to nourish and strengthen his own life, he gave up the substance of his life to the Lord, that he might thereby be strengthened both body and soul for a holy walk and conversation. To this end he slaughtered the victim and had the blood sprinkled by the priest against the altar, and the fat portions burned upon it, that in these altar-gifts his soul and his inner man might be grounded afresh in the gracious fellowship of the Lord. He then handed over the breast-piece by the process of waving, also the right leg, and a sacrificial cake of each kind, as a heave-offering from the whole to the Lord, who transferred these portions to the priests as His servants, that they might take part as His representatives in the sacrificial meal. In consequence of this participation of the priests, the feast, which the offerer of the sacrifice prepared for himself and his family from the rest of the flesh, became a holy covenant meal, a meal of love and joy, which represented domestic fellowship with the Lord, and thus shadowed forth, on the one hand, rejoicing before the Lord (Deu 12:12, Deu 12:18), and on the other, the blessedness of eating and drinking in the kingdom of God (Luk 13:15; Luk 22:30). Through the fact that one portion was given up to the Lord, the earthly food was sanctified as a symbol of the true spiritual food, with which the Lord satisfies and refreshes the citizens of His kingdom. This religious aspect of the sacrificial meal will explain the instructions given, viz., that not only the flesh itself, but those who took part in the meal, were all to be clean, and that whatever remained of the flesh was to be burned, on the second or third day respectively, that it might not pass into a state of decomposition. The burning took place a day earlier in the case of the praise-offering than in that of the vow and freewill-offerings, of which the offerer was allowed a longer enjoyment, because they were the products of his own spontaneity, which covered any defect that might attach to the gift itself.

Leviticus 7:37

lev 7:37

With Lev 7:37 and Lev 7:38 the whole of the sacrificial law (ch. 1-7) is brought to a close. Among the sacrifices appointed, the fill-offering (המּלּוּאים) is also mentioned here; though it is not first instituted in these chapters, but in Exo 29:19-20 (Exo 29:22, Exo 29:26, Exo 29:27, Exo 29:31). The name may be explained from the phrase to "fill the hand," which is not used in the sense of installing a man, or giving him authority, like בּיד נתן "commit into his hand" in Isa 22:21 (Knobel), but was applied primarily to the ceremony of consecrating the priests, as described in Lev 8:25., and was restricted to the idea of investiture with the priesthood (cf. Lev 8:33; Lev 16:32; Exo 28:41; Exo 29:9, Exo 29:29, Exo 29:33, Exo 29:35; Num 3:3; Jdg 17:5, Jdg 17:12). This gave rise to the expression "to fill the hand for Jehovah," i.e., to provide something to offer to Jehovah (Ch1 29:5; Ch2 29:31, cf. Exo 32:29). Hence מלּוּאים denotes the filling of the hand with sacrificial gifts to be offered to Jehovah, and as used primarily of the particular sacrifice through which the priests were symbolically invested at their consecration with the gifts they were to offer, and were empowered, by virtue of this investiture, to officiate at the sacrifices; and secondly, in a less restricted sense, of priestly consecration generally (Lev 8:33, "the days of your consecration"). The allusion to the place in Lev 7:38, viz., "in the wilderness of Sinai," points on the one hand back to Exo 19:1, and on the other hand forward to Num 26:63-64, and Num 36:13, "in the plains of Moab" (cf. Num 1:1, Num 1:19, etc.).

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. Whilst 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, 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 covenant grace. For, provided only that the people of God drew near to their God with sacrificial gifts, in obedience to His commandments and in firm reliance upon His word, which had connected the forgiveness of sin, strength for sanctification, and the peace of fellowship with Him, with these manifestations of their piety, the offerers would receive in truth the blessings promised them by the Lord. Nevertheless these sacrifices could not make those who drew near to God with them and in them "perfect as pertaining to the conscience" (Heb 9:9; Heb 10:1), because the blood of bulls and of goats could not possibly take away sin (Heb 10:4). The forgiveness of sin which the atoning sacrifices procured, was only a πάρεσις of past sins through the forbearance of God (Rom 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 fore the full forgiveness of sin and complete reconciliation with God. So also the sanctification and fellowship set forth by the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, were simply a sanctification of the fellowship already established by the covenant of the law between Israel and its covenant God, which pointed forward to the true sanctification and blessedness that grow out of the righteousness of faith, and expand through the operation of the Holy Spirit into the true righteousness and blessedness of the divine peace of reconciliation. The effect of the sacrifices was in harmony with the nature of the old covenant. The fellowship with God, established by this covenant, was simply a faint copy of that true and living fellowship with God, which consists in God's dwelling in our hearts through His Spirit, transforming our spirit, soul, and body more and more into His own image and His divine nature, and making us partakers of the glory and blessedness of His divine life. However intimately the infinite and holy God connected Himself with His people in the earthly sanctuary of the tabernacle and the altar of burnt-offering, yet so long as this sanctuary stood, the God who was enthroned in the most holy place was separated by the veil from His people, who could only appear before Him in the fore-court, as a proof that the sin which separates unholy man from the holy God had not yet been taken out of the way. Just as the old covenant generally was not intended to secure redemption from sin, but the law was designed to produce the knowledge of sin; so the desire for reconciliation with God was not to be truly satisfied by its sacrificial ordinances, but a desire was to be awakened for that true sacrifice which cleanses from all sins, and the way to be prepared for the appearing of the Son of God, who would exalt the shadows of the Mosaic sacrifices into a substantial reality by giving up His own life as a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and thus through the one offering of His own holy body would perfect all the manifold sacrifices of the Old Testament economy.

Next: Leviticus Chapter 8