Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New TestamentLEVITICUS 7
And this is the law of the trespass-offering: it is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt-offering shall they kill the trespass-offering; and the blood thereof shall he sprinkle upon the altar round about. And he shall offer of it all the fat thereof: the fat tail, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the caul upon the liver, with the kidneys, shall he take away; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar for an offering made by fire unto Jehovah: it is a trespass-offering. Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it shall be eaten in a holy place: it is most holy. As is the sin-offering, so is the trespass-offering; there is one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith, he shall have it. And the priest that offereth any man's burnt-offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt-offering which he hath offered. And every meal-offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is dressed in the frying-pan, and on the baking-pan, shall be the priest's that offereth it. And every meal-offering, mingled with oil, or dry, shall all the sons of Aaron have, one as well as another.
One as well as another
(Leviticus 7:10) appears to have been the ancient way of saying, share and share alike.
There is hardly anything here different from the instructions listed in previous chapters concerning these different offerings, the focus here being on exactly what portions were allowed to priests as their personal possession.
And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which one shall offer unto Jehovah. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour soaked. With cakes of leavened bread he shall offer his oblation with the sacrifice of his peace-offerings for thanksgiving. And of it he shall offer one out of each oblation for a heave-offering unto Jehovah; it shall be the priest's that sprinkleth the blood of the peace-offerings.
The peace-offering was the only sacrifice in which the worshiper himself was privileged to eat the meat offered and to share it with his friends. "The peace-offering was the only one that laymen were allowed to eat."F1 From this, it has been supposed that upon occasions of peace-offerings many of the Israelites had a rare opportunity to eat meat. The peace-offerings were discussed in Lev. 3; the additional instruction here regards the particular type of peace-offering intended also as a thanksgiving-offering. Additional items are specified here as being necessary in those cases.
A different order of these sacrifices is observed in Lev. 7 from that in the previous chapters, but we have been unable to assign any significance whatever to this, or any reason for it. The peace-offering is the one oddly placed in Lev. 7.
The mention of thanksgiving-offering here reminds us that:
"The peace-offerings of Lev. 3:2-27 were further classified as: (1) thanksgiving (Leviticus 7:12-15); (2) votive (Leviticus 7:16-18); and (3) freewill. The difference between the first and the other two was in the times when they could be eaten."F2
The latter two of these are discussed in the next paragraph.
And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his oblation; he shall not leave any of it until the morning. But if the sacrifice of his oblation be a vow, or a freewill-offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offereth his sacrifice; and on the morrow that which remaineth of it shall be eaten: but that which remaineth of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire. And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings be eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.
These verses serve to distinguish among the three different types of peace-offerings, the principal distinction being in the times during which the flesh was to be eaten. Several opinions are offered as to why the thanksgiving type of peace-offering had to be consumed on the day of its offering; but the most logical, it appears to us, is that suggested by Wenham, (1) either it was for the purpose of encouraging the offerer to invite others to share it, or (2) it showed that the worshipper trusted God to supply his future needs.F3 Cate thought the word "abomination" meant the same thing as "spoiled".F4
And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire. And as for the flesh, every one that is clean shall eat thereof: but the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, that pertain unto Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his people. And when any one shall touch any unclean thing, the uncleanness of man, or an unclean beast, or any unclean abomination, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which pertain unto Jehovah, that soul shall be cut off from his people.
Both in Lev. 7:20 and Lev. 7:21, the reference "shall be cut off from his people" is intriguing, and there are few certainties as to the exact meaning. It has been seen as ostracism from the community, or capital punishment, or some other penalty, but Bamberger may have the correct explanation thus:
"Several related passages make it clear that it is God who cuts the offender off from his kin (Lev. 17:10; 20:3-6). The term then refers to divine rather than human punishment, most probably premature death."F5
And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no fat, of ox, or sheep, or goat. And the fat of that which dieth of itself, and the fat of that which is torn of beasts, may be used for any other service; but ye shall in no wise eat of it. For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people. And ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of bird or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whosoever it be that eateth any blood, that soul shall be cut off from his people.
Here we have a repetition of the prohibitions against eating either the fat or blood (See Lev. 3:17), with the proviso that the fat could be used for other purposes (oiling a harness, for example, or making soap). Also, there is the double reference to being cut off from one's people. (See the preceding paragraph.)
And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, He that offereth the sacrifice of his peace-offerings unto Jehovah shall bring his oblation unto Jehovah out of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings: his own hands shall bring the offerings of Jehovah made by fire; the fat with the breast shall he bring, that the breast may be waved for a wave-offering before Jehovah. And the priest shall burn the fat upon the altar; but the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons'. And the right thigh shall ye give unto the priest for a heave-offering out of the sacrifices of your peace-offerings. He among the sons of Aaron that offereth the blood of the peace-offerings, and the fat, shall have the right thigh for a portion. For the wave-breast and the heave-thigh have I taken of the children of Israel out of the sacrifices of their peace-offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons as [their] portion for ever from the children of Israel.
Most of the elements of this paragraph have been dealt with in previous chapters of this section, the one new thing being that the offerer of peace-offerings was commanded to bring his oblation personally. Proxy religion was simply not allowed under the Law, and we might add that it is also worthless today. Perhaps the reason why this regulation was given in connection with the peace-offerings lies in what may be supposed as the temptation for well-to-do people to send such gifts by the hand of a servant.
Verses 35, 36
This is the anointing-portion of Aaron, and the anointing-portion of his sons, out of the offerings of Jehovah made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto Jehovah in the priest's office; which Jehovah commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day that he anointed them. It is [their] portion for ever throughout their generations.
This paragraph refers to the various portions of certain sacrifices given to the priests, portions here called anointing-portions. In the previous paragraph, certain of these portions were called "wave-breast" and "heave-thigh." This was a reference to the manner in which those portions were handled before God's altar. The breast was "waved," passed from right to left and left to right after being elevated in the hands of the worshipper. "Heaved" has almost the same meaning, except that it indicated a heavier load. It was lifted up (sometimes two men were required to do this) toward heaven and lowered perhaps a number of times. In both instances, the meaning was that the portion actually belonged to God, being actually offered "up" to him, but the lowering indicated God's returning it as a gift to the priests. Note that God as the "giver" appears very plainly in these verses.
Verses 37, 38
This is the law of the burnt-offering, of the meal-offering, and of the sin-offering, and of the trespass-offering, and of the consecration, and of the sacrifice of peace-offerings; which Jehovah commanded Moses in mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their oblations unto Jehovah, in the wilderness of Sinai.
These two verses are the formal summary of the whole first sections of Leviticus (Lev. 1--7), and it should be particularly noted that the time and the place of these instructions as well as the human author through whom they were given are dramatically stated. We cannot believe that any man has the authority to replace this sacred information with his "scholarly" guess. The law of sacrifice for sins did not begin here, for it had existed since the Fall of Adam. However, what was achieved in these chapters was the ordering and establishing of sacrifices in such a manner as to bear witness to the eventual coming of the Messiah to redeem lost and sinful people. Many instances of the effectiveness of this symbolism have been observed and stressed in our comments on these chapters.
There are many other lessons of a personal and practical nature that appear in these instructions. Honesty, integrity, fair-dealing, self-denial, humility, hospitality, and many other virtues are inherently woven into the whole structure of the sacred sacrifices. Also, the dramatic and vital difference between that which is holy and that which is not holy is apparent in every word of these divine instructions. The extreme danger in all sin, the heavenly Father's unqualified hatred of sin (yet coupled with the love of the sinner), and the eventual outpouring of divine wrath upon Adam's sinful race are constant overtones of all that is written here.
Footnotes for Leviticus 7
1: Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), p. 123.
2: Robert L. Cate, Teacher's Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972), p. 82.
3: Gordon J. Wenham, op. cit., p. 124
4: Robert L. Cate, op. cit., p. 82.
5: Bernard J. Bamberger, Torah, a Modern Commentary (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), p. 57.