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

Leviticus Chapter 2

Leviticus 2:1

lev 2:1

The first kind consisted of soleth, probably from סלה = סלל to swing, swung flour, like πάλη from πάλλω, i.e., fine flour; and for this no doubt wheaten flour was always used, even when חטּים is not added, as in Exo 29:2, to distinguish it from קמח, or ordinary meal (σεμίδαλις: Kg1 5:2). The suffix in קרבּנו (his offering) refers to נפשׁ, which is frequently construed as both masculine and feminine (Lev 4:2, Lev 4:27-28, Lev 2:1, etc.), or as masculine only (Num 31:28) in the sense of person, any one. "And let him pour oil upon it, and put incense thereon (or add incense to it)." This was not spread upon the flour, on which oil had been poured, but added in such a way, that it could be lifted from the minchah and burned upon the altar (Lev 2:2). The priest was then to take a handful of the gift that had been presented, and cause the azcarah of it to evaporate above (together with) all the incense. קמצו מלא: the filling of his closed hand, i.e., as much as he could hold with his hand full, not merely with three fingers, as the Rabbins affirm. Azcarah (from זכר, formed like אשׁמרה from שׁמר) is only applied to Jehovah's portion, which was burned upon the altar in the case of the meat-offering (Lev 2:9, Lev 2:16, and Lev 6:8), the sin-offering of flour (Lev 5:11), and the jealousy-offering (Num 5:26), and to the incense added to the shew-bread (Lev 24:7). It does not mean the prize portion, i.e., the portion offered for the glory of God, as De Dieu and Rosenmller maintain, still less the fragrance-offering (Ewald), but the memorial, or remembrance-portion, μνημόσυνον or ἀνάμνησις (Lev 24:7, lxx), memoriale (Vulg.), inasmuch as that part of the minchah which was placed upon the altar ascended in the smoke of the fire "on behalf of the giver, as a practical mememto ('remember me') to Jehovah:" though there is no necessity that we should trace the word to the Hiphil in consequence. The rest of the minchah was to belong to Aaron and his sons, i.e., to the priesthood, as a most holy thing of the firings of Jehovah. The term "most holy" is applied to all the sacrificial gifts that were consecrated to Jehovah, in this sense, that such portions as were not burned upon the altar were to be eaten by the priests alone in a holy place; the laity, and even such of the Levites as were not priests, being prohibited from partaking of them (see at Exo 26:33 and Exo 30:10). Thus the independent meat-offerings, which were not entirely consumed upon the altar (Lev 2:3, Lev 2:10, Lev 6:10; Lev 10:12), the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings, the flesh of which was not burned outside the camp (Lev 6:18, Lev 6:22; Lev 7:1, Lev 7:6; Lev 10:17; Lev 14:13; Num 18:9), the shew-bread (Lev 24:9), and even objects put under the ban and devoted to the Lord, whether men, cattle, or property of other kinds (Lev 27:28), as well as the holy incense (Exo 30:36), - in fact, all the holy sacrificial gifts, in which there was any fear lest a portion should be perverted to other objects, - were called most holy; whereas the burnt-offerings, the priestly meat-offerings (Lev 6:12-16) and other sacrifices, which were quite as holy, were not called most holy, because the command to burn them entirely precluded the possibility of their being devoted to any of the ordinary purposes of life.

Leviticus 2:4

lev 2:4

The second kind consisted of pastry of fine flour and oil prepared in different forms. The first was maapheh tannur, oven-baking: by תּנּוּר we are not to understand a baker's over (Hos 7:4, Hos 7:6), but a large pot in the room, such as are used for baking cakes in the East even to the present day (see my Archol. 99, 4). The oven-baking might consist either of "cakes of unleavened meal mixed (made) with oil," or of "pancakes of unleavened meal anointed (smeared) with oil." Challoth: probably from חלל to pierce, perforated cakes, of a thicker kind. Rekkim: from רקק to be beaten out thin; hence cakes or pancakes. As the latter were to be smeared with oil, we cannot understand בּלוּל as signifying merely the pouring of oil upon the baked cakes, but must take it in the sense of mingled, mixed, i.e., kneaded with oil (pefurame'nous lxx, or according to Hesychius, μεμιγμένους).

Lev 2:5-6

Secondly, if the minchah was an offering upon the pan, it was also to be made of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened. Machabath is a pan, made, according to Eze 4:3, of iron-no doubt a large iron plate, such as the Arabs still use for baking unleavened bread in large round cakes made flat and thin (Robinson, Palestine i. 50, ii. 180). These girdles or flat pans are still in use among the Turcomans of Syria and the Armenians (see Burckhardt, Syr. p. 1003; Tavernier, Reise 1, p. 280), whilst the Berbians and Cabyles of Africa use shallow iron frying-pans for the purpose, and call them tajen, - the same name, no doubt, as τήγανον, with which the lxx have rendered machabath. These cakes were to be broken in pieces for the minchah, and oil to be poured upon them (the inf. abs. as in Exo 13:3; Exo 20:8, vid., Ges. 131, 4); just as the Bedouins break the cakes which they bake in the hot ashes into small pieces, and prepare them for eating by pouring butter or oil upon them.

Lev 2:7

Thirdly, "If thy oblation be a tigel-minchah, it shall be made of fine flour with oil." Marchesheth is not a gridiron (ἔσχαρα, lxx); but, as it is derived from חרשׁ, ebullivit, it must apply to a vessel in which food was boiled. We have therefore to think of cakes boiled in oil.

Leviticus 2:12

lev 2:12

The presentation of the minchah "made of these things," i.e., of the different kinds of pastry mentioned in Lev 2:4-7, resembled in the main that described in Lev 2:1-3. The מן הרים in Lev 2:9 corresponds to the מן קמץ in Lev 2:2, and does not denote any special ceremony of heaving, as is supposed by the Rabbins and many archaeological writers, who understand by it a solemn movement up and down. This will be evident from a comparison of Lev 3:3 with Lev 4:8, Lev 4:31, Lev 4:35, and Lev 7:3. In the place of ממּנּוּ ירים in Lev 4:8 we find מזּבח הקריב in Lev 4:10, חלב חוּסר כּאשׁר חוּ in Lev 4:31 and Lev 4:35; so that מן הרים evidently denotes simply the lifting off or removal of those parts which were to be burned upon the altar from the rest of the sacrifice (cf. Bhr, ii. 357, and my Archologie i. p. 244-5). - In Lev 2:11-13 there follow two laws which were applicable to all the meat-offerings: viz., to offer nothing leavened (Lev 2:11), and to salt every meat-offering, and in fact every sacrifice, with salt (Lev 2:13). Every minchah was to be prepared without leaven: "for all leaven, and all honey, ye shall not burn a firing of it for Jehovah. As an offering of first-fruits ye may offer them (leaven and honey, i.e., pastry made with them) to Jehovah, but they shall not come upon the altar." Leaven and honey are mentioned together as things which produce fermentation. Honey has also an acidifying or fermenting quality, and was even used for the preparation of vinegar (Plin. h. n. 11, 15; 21, 14). In rabbinical writings, therefore, הדבישׁ signifies not only dulcedinem admittere, but corrumpsi, fermentari, fermentescere (vid., Buxtorf, lex. chald. talm. et rabb. p. 500). By "honey" we are to understand not grape-honey, the dibs of the Arabs, as Rashi and Bhr do, but the honey of bees; for, according to Ch2 31:5, this alone was offered as an offering of first-fruits along with corn, new wine, and oil; and in fact, as a rule, this was the only honey used by the ancients in sacrifice (see Bochart, Hieroz. iii. pp. 393ff.). The loaves of first-fruits at the feast of Weeks were leavened; but they were assigned to the priests, and not burned upon the altar (Lev 23:17, Lev 23:20). So also were the cakes offered with the vow-offerings, which were applied to the sacrificial meal (Lev 7:13); but not the shew-bread, as Knobel maintains (see at Lev 24:5.). Whilst leaven and honey were forbidden to be used with any kind of minchah, because of their producing fermentation and corruption, salt on the other hand was not to be omitted from any sacrificial offering. "Thou shalt not let the salt of the covenant of thy God cease from thy meat-offering," i.e., thou shalt never offer a meat-offering without salt. The meaning which the salt, with its power to strengthen food and preserve it from putrefaction and corruption, imparted to the sacrifice, was the unbending truthfulness of that self-surrender to the Lord embodied in the sacrifice, by which all impurity and hypocrisy were repelled. The salt of the sacrifice is called the salt of the covenant, because in common life salt was the symbol of covenant; treaties being concluded and rendered firm and inviolable, according to a well-known custom of the ancient Greeks (see Eustathius ad Iliad. i. 449) which is still retained among the Arabs, by the parties to an alliance eating bread and salt together, as a sign of the treaty which they had made. As a covenant of this kind was called a "covenant of salt," equivalent to an indissoluble covenant (Num 18:19; Ch2 13:5), so here the salt added to the sacrifice is designated as salt of the covenant of God, because of its imparting strength and purity to the sacrifice, by which Israel was strengthened and fortified in covenant fellowship with Jehovah. The following clause, "upon (with) every sacrificial gift of thine shalt thou offer salt," is not to be restricted to the meat-offering, as Knobel supposes, nor to be understood as meaning that the salt was only to be added to the sacrifice externally, to be offered with or beside it; in which case the strewing of salt upon the different portions of the sacrifice (Eze 43:24; Mar 9:49) would have been a departure from the ancient law. For korban without any further definition denotes the sacrificial offerings generally, the bleeding quite as much as the bloodless, and the closer definition of על הקריב (offer upon) is contained in the first clause of the verse, "season with salt." The words contain a supplementary rule which was applicable to every sacrifice (bleeding and bloodless), and was so understood from time immemorial by the Jews themselves (cf. Josephus, Ant. iii. 9, 1).

(Note: The Greeks and Romans also regarded salt as indispensable to a sacrifice. Maxime in sacris intelligitur auctoritas salis, quando nulla conficiuntur sine mola salsa. Plin. h. n. 31, 7, (cf. 41).)

Leviticus 2:14

lev 2:14

The third kind was the meat-offering of first-fruits, i.e., of the first ripening corn. This was to be offered in the form of "ears parched or roasted by the fire; in other words, to be made from ears which had been roasted at the fire. To this is added the further definition כּרמל גּרשׂ "rubbed out of field-fruit." גּרשׂ, from גּרשׂ = גּרס, to rub to pieces, that which is rubbed to pieces; it only occurs here and in Lev 2:14 and Lev 2:16. כּרמל is applied generally to a corn-field, in Isa 29:17 and Isa 32:16 to cultivated ground, as distinguished from desert; here, and in Lev 23:14 and Kg2 4:42, it is used metonymically for field-fruit, and denotes early or the first-ripe corn. Corn roasted by the fire, particularly grains of wheat, is still a very favourite food in Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. The ears are either burnt along with the stalks before they are quite ripe, and then rubbed out in a sieve; or stalks of wheat are bound up in small bundles and roasted at a bright fire, and then the grains are eaten (Seetzen, i. p. 94, iii. p. 221; Robinson, Biblical Researches, p. 393). Corn roasted in this manner is not so agreeable as when (as is frequently the case in harvest, Rut 2:14) the grains of wheat are taken before they are quite dry and hard, and parched in a pan or upon an iron plate, and then eaten either along with or in the place of bread (Robinson, Pal. ii. 394). The minchah mentioned here was prepared in the first way, viz., of roasted ears of corn, which were afterwards rubbed to obtain the grains: it consisted, therefore, not of crushed corn or groats, but only of toasted grains. In the place of קלוּי אביב we find קלי (Lev 23:14), or קלוּי (Jos 5:11), afterwards employed. Oil and incense were to be added, and the same course adopted with the offering as in the case of the offering of flour (Lev 2:2, Lev 2:3).

If therefore, all the meat-offerings consisted either of flour and oil-the most important ingredients in the vegetable food of the Israelites, - or of food already prepared for eating, there can be no doubt that in them the Israelite offered his daily bread to the Lord, though in a manner which made an essential difference between them and the merely dedicatory offerings of the first-fruits of corn and bread. For whilst the loaves of first-fruits were leavened, and, as in the case of the sheaf of first-fruits, no part of them was burnt upon the altar (Lev 23:10-11; 17, 20), every independent meat-offering was to be prepared without leaven, and a portion given to the Lord as fire-food, for a savour of satisfaction upon the altar; and the rest was to be scrupulously kept from being used by the offerer, as a most holy thing, and to be eaten at the holy place by the sanctified priests alone, as the servants of Jehovah, and the mediators between Him and the nation. On account of this peculiarity, the meat-offerings cannot have denoted merely the sanctification of earthly food, but were symbols of the spiritual food prepared and enjoyed by the congregation of the Lord. If even the earthly life is not sustained and nourished merely by the daily bread which a man procures and enjoys, but by the power of divine grace, which strengthens and blesses the food as means of preserving life; much less can the spiritual life be nourished by earthly food, but only by the spiritual food which a man prepares and partakes of, by the power of the Spirit of God, from the true bread of life, or the word of God. Now, as oil in the Scriptures is invariably a symbol of the Spirit of God as the principle of all spiritual vis vitae, so bread-flour and bread, procured from the seed of the field, are symbols of the word of God (Deu 8:3; Luk 8:11). As God gives man corn and oil to feed and nourish his bodily life, so He gives His people His word and Spirit, that they may draw food from these for the spiritual life of the inner man. The work of sanctification consists in the operation of this spiritual food, through the right use of the means of grace for growth in pious conversation and good works (Mat 5:16; Pe1 2:12). The enjoyment of this food fills the inner man with peace, joy, and blessedness in God. This fruit of the spiritual life is shadowed forth in the meat-offerings. They were to be kept free, therefore, both from the leaven of hypocrisy (Luk 12:1) and of malice and wickedness (Co1 5:8), and also from the honey of the deliciae carnis, because both are destructive of spiritual life; whilst, on the other hand, the salt of the covenant of God (i.e., the purifying, strengthening, and quickening power of the covenant, by which moral corruption was averted) and the incense of prayer were both to be added, in order that the fruits of the spiritual life might become well-pleasing to the Lord. It was upon this signification that the most holy character of the meat-offerings was founded.

Next: Leviticus Chapter 3