Offerings And Sacrifices
By Yochanan Zaqantov
As a part of the worship of Yehovah, sacrifices and offering have been a part of it. Even into the future there will continue to be sacrifices and offerings, So we need to be aware of what they are, when they are offered, how they are offered, and should we offer them today. What were the requirements to be able to offer them?
We will be studying some Hebrew words related to this.
Min’chah 4503/4504 Feminine noun (Mem-Nun-Chet-Hey)
Olah 5930 Feminine Noun (Ayin-Lamed-Hey) from the verb Alah (5927)
Alah 5927 Verb (Ayin-Lamed-Hey)
T’nufah 8573 Feminine Noun (Tav-Nun-Fey-Hey) from the verb nuf (5130)
Nuf 5130 Verb (Nun-Vav-Fey sofit)
T’rumah 8641 Feminine Noun (Tav-Resh-Vav-Mem-Hey) from the verb rum (7311)
Rum 7311 Verb (Resh-Vav-Mem sofit)
Nesekh 5262 Masculine Noun (Nun-Samech-kaf sofit) from the verb nasakh (5258)
Nasakh 5258 Verb (Nun-Samech-Kay Sofit)
Chattat 2403 Feminine Noun (Chet-Tet-Aleph-Tav) from the verb chata (2398)
Zevach 2077 Maculine Noun (Zayin-Bet-Chet) from the verb zavach (2076)
Zavach 2076 Verb (Zayin-Bet-Chet)
First lets look at these in three time periods: “Pre-Exodus”, “Exodus/Wilderness” and “In the Land”. This will allow us to see any changes that happened from each period to the next.
Min’chah is the Hebrew word first used in referenced an Offering.
3 In the course of time, Cain brought an offering (min’chah מִנְחָה) to Yehovah from the fruit of the soil; 4 and Abel, for his part, brought the choicest [and from their fat umechel’vahen וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן] of the firstlings of his flock. Yehovah paid heed to Abel and his offering (min’chato מִנְחָתוֹ), 5 but to Cain and his offering (min’chato מִנְחָתוֹ) He paid no heed. Cain was much distressed and his face fell.
Here we see that min’chah is more specific of a general sense of an offering. Hevel brough the Fat “Chelev” and offered that with his animals on the Altar. Whereas, we see Kayin brought his min’chah of the ground. It does not comment why Kayin’s was not acceptable. Nothing is mentioned whether this was consumed or burnt up like the olah. Next we see olah as the next offering used in Bereshit.
20 Then Noah built an altar to Yehovah and, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings (vayya’al olot) וַיַּעַל עֹלֹת) on the altar.
Here Noach does a burnt offering in which the burns up the clean animal and bird on the altar. It does not say how he prepared the animal or whether it was put whole on the altar. Next we see olah used again but for the story of Avraham and Yitzhaq.
Bereshit/Genesis 22:2,3,6,7,8, and 13
22:2 He said: Pray take your son, your only-one, whom you love, Yitzhak, and go-you-forth to the land of Moriyya/Seeing, and offer him (vaha’alehu 5827 וְהַעֲלֵהוּ) up there as an offering-up (la’olah לְעֹלָה) upon one of the mountains that I will tell you of. 3 Avraham started-early in the morning, he saddled his donkey, he took his two serving-lads with him and Yitzhak his son, he split wood for the offering-up (olah עֹלָה) and arose and went to the place that haElohim had told him of. 4 On the third day Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Avraham said to his lads: You stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad wish to go yonder, we wish to bow down and then return to you. 6 Avraham took the wood for the offering-up (ha’olah הָעֹלָה), he placed them upon Yitzhak his son, in his hand he took the fire and the knife. Thus the two of them went together. 7 Yitzhak said to Avraham his father, he said: Father! He said: Here I am, my son. He said: Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb (haseh 7716 הַשֶּׂה ) for the offering-up (la’olah לְעֹלָה) ? 8 Avraham said: Elohim will see-for-himself to the lamb (haseh 7716 הַשֶּׂה ) for the offering-up (la’olah לְעֹלָה), my son. Thus the two of them went together. 9 They came to the place that haElohim had told him of; there Avraham built the slaughter-site and arranged the wood and bound Yitzhak his son and placed him on the slaughter-site atop the wood. 10 And Avraham stretched out his hand, he took the knife to slay his son. 11 But Yehovah's messenger called to him from heaven and said: Avraham! Avraham! He said: Here I am. 12 He said: Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, do not do anything to him! For now I know that you are in awe of Elohim- you have not withheld your son, your only-one, from me. 13 Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw: here, a ram (ayilאַיִל) was caught behind in the thicket by its horns! Avraham went, he took the ram (ha’ayilהָאַיִל) and offered it up as an offering-up (la’olah לְעֹלָה) in place of his son. (Fox Translation)
We see that the Olah was no taken slaughtered but offered up whole as a burnt offering. We also see that it could be a lamb (seh) or a ram (ayil). We return to min’chah and look at another offering.
Bereshit/Genesis 32:14-22 (13-21)
14 Spending the night there that night, he took a gift (min’chah מִנְחָה) from what was at hand, for Esav his brother: 15 she-goats, two hundred, and kids, twenty, ewes, two hundred, and rams, twenty, 16 nursing camels and their young, thirty, cows, forty, and bulls, ten, she-asses, twenty, and colts, ten; 17 he handed them over to his servants, herd by herd separately, and said to his servants: Cross on ahead of me, and leave room between herd and herd. 18 He charged the first group, saying: When Esav my brother meets you and asks you, saying: To whom do you belong, where are you going, and to whom do these ahead of you belong? 19 Then say: -to your servant, to Yaakov, it is a gift (min’chah מִנְחָה) sent to my lord, to Esav, and here, he himself is also behind us. 20 Thus he charged the second, and thus the third, and thus all that were walking behind the herds, saying: According to this word shall you speak to Esav when you come upon him: 21 You shall say: Also-here, your servant Yaakov is behind us. For he said to himself: I will wipe (the anger from) his face with the gift (bamin’chah בַּמִּנְחָה) that goes ahead of my face; afterward, when I see his face, perhaps he will lift up my face! 22 The gift (hamin’chah הַמִּנְחָה) crossed over ahead of his face, but he spent the night on that night in the camp. (Fox Translation)
What we see from this section of miqra is that min’chah is a gift or offer to someone with the general idea to appease. It a general sense it can be anything given as a gift. In an offering sense it is anything tahor (clean) which may be offered.
53 May Elohey of Avraham and Elohey of Nahor keep-justice between us- Elohey of their father. And Yaakov swore by the Terror of his father Yitzhak. 54 Then Yaakov slaughtered a slaughter-meal (zevach זֶבַח) on the mountain and called his brothers to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night on the mountain. (Fox Translation)
Here we see the zevach (slaughter offering) that is sometimes translated as sacrifice. This is one where it appears that the person eats of it. Here we see this was part of an agreement with Lavan and Yaaqov. Next we look at the last reference to min’chah in the Pre-Exodus time.
9 Esav said: I have plenty, my brother, let what is yours remain yours. 10 Yaakov said: No, I pray! Pray, if I have found favor in your eyes, then take this gift (min’chatiy מִנְחָתִי) from my hand. For I have, after all, seen your face, as one sees the face of Ehlohim, and you have been gracious to me. 11 Pray take my token-of-blessing that is brought to you, for Elohim has shown me favor-for I have everything. And he pressed him, so he took it. (Fox Translation)
Again we see min’chah as a gift.
1 Yisrael traveled with all that was his and came to Be'er-sheva, and he slaughtered slaughter-offerings (zebachim זְבָחִים ) to Elohay of his father Yitzhak.
Here we see that Yisrael (Yaaqov) offered sacrifices at Beersheva. Again these were not olah and so these may have been eaten.
These offerings and sacrifices were generally done on an altar. In Hebrew Altar is miz’beach (Mem-Zayin-Bet-Chet) and reference number 4196. It is a masculine noun and from the verb root of 2076 (zavach). Which is also the same verb root as zebach.
20 Noah built a slaughter-site (miz’beach מִזְבֵּחַ) to YHWH. He took from all pure animals and from all pure fowl and offered up offerings upon the slaughter-site ( bamiz’beachבַּמִּזְבֵּחַ).
With the Mem prefix it changes the verb zabach to a noun with the meaning of from slaughter/killing.
7 Yehovah was seen by Avram and said: I give this land to your seed! He built a slaughter-site (miz’beach מִזְבֵּחַ) there to YHWH who had been seen by him. 8 He moved on from there to the mountain-country, east of Bet-el, and spread his tent, Bet-el toward the sea and Ai toward the east. There he built a slaughter-site (miz’beach מִזְבֵּחַ) to Yehovah and called out the name of Yehovah.
3 He went on his journeyings from the Negev as far as Bet-el, as far as the place where his tent had been at the first, between Bet-el and Ai, 4 to the place of the slaughter-site (hamiz’beach הַמִּזְבֵּחַ) that he had made there at the beginning. There Avram called out the name of Yehovah.
8 Avraham said: Elohim will see-for-himself to the lamb for the offering-up, my son. Thus the two of them went together. 9 They came to the place that God had told him of; there Avraham built the slaughter-site (et-hamiz’beach אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּחַ) and arranged the wood and bound Yitzhak his son and placed him on the slaughter-site (hamiz’beach הַמִּזְבֵּחַ) atop the wood.
25 He built a slaughter-site (miz’beachמִזְבֵּחַ) there and called out the name of Yehovah. He spread his tent there, and Yitzhak's servants excavated a well there.
Bereshit/Genesis 33:1, 3, 7
1 Now Elohim said to Yaakov: Arise, go up to Bet-el and stay there, and construct a slaughter-site (miz’beachמִזְבֵּחַ) there to the El who was seen by you when you fled from Esav your brother. 2 Yaakov said to his household and to all who were with him: Put away the foreign gods that are in your midst! Purify yourselves! Change your garments! 3 Let us arise and go up to Bet-el, there I will construct a slaughter-site (miz’beachמִזְבֵּחַ) to the El who answered me on the day of my distress -he was with me on the way that I went!
7 There he built a slaughter-site (miz’beachמִזְבֵּחַ) and called the place: El of Beit-El! For there had the Power-of-haElohim been revealed to him, when he fled from his brother
At these altars the person would call upon Yehovah. They were constructed wherever they were. Also, if they were previously constructed they were used again. Up to this point the how of construction was very vague. It was a structure of some sort since it had to be built.
Lets review what we have found so far in the Pre-Exodus time period. Olah offerings were burnt offerings. They consisted of a lamb or ram. The animal offered up was completely consumed by the fire. It was not eaten. The Min’chah offering was a form of a gift. It consisted as anything given. We see from some of the things given: she-goats, and kids, ewes, rams, camels and their young, cows and bulls, she-asses, and colts. If it was a gift to Yehovah then it was something that was pleasing to him. Zebach sacrifice is a slaughtered sacrifice and is from appearance to be consumed. We will see more of this soon.
In the Exodus period, I have included the Yisraelites in Egypt. The Plagues were the taking the people out from their captivity. Thus, it was a natural place to look at the offerings and sacrifices to see how they would be done now. For many years the Yisraelites were made to be forced labor after the death of Yosef. It was said,
Shemot/Exodus 1:8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who had not known Yosef.
For over seventy year, The Children of Yisrael lived well in Goshen. At this time, things changed. This was when they were put into bondage. It doesn’t say much about what offering they did for that time. If anything it was lost. We see this in Moshe response to Pharoah.
25 Moshe said: You must also give slaughter-offerings and offerings-up into our hand, so that we may sacrifice them for Yehovah Eloheynu! 26 Even our livestock must go with us, not a hoof may remain behind: for some of them we must take to serve Yehovah Eloheynu; we-we do not know how we are to serve Yehovah until we come there.
Was this information lost in the 400 years of servitude? What could have caused this?
In Egypt, the Ram was a Deity. Here is a quote on him.
Amon (ā'mun, ä'–) [key], Ammon (ă'mun) [key], or Amen (ä'men) [key], Egyptian deity. He was originally the chief god of Thebes; he and his wife Mut and their son Khensu were the divine Theban triad of deities. Amon grew increasingly important in Egypt, and eventually he (identified as Amon Ra; see Ra) became the supreme deity. He was identified with the Greek Zeus (the Roman Jupiter). Amon's most celebrated shrine was at Siwa in the Libyan desert; the oracle of Siwa later rivaled those of Delphi and Dodona. He is frequently represented as a ram or as a human with a ram's head.
Why was this important? The offering of olah or zebach consisted of a lamb or ram. Therefore, if one sacrificed an animal which one of your gods was a resprentation of would you be upset? Yes. Moshe even alluded to this.
21 Pharaoh had Moshe and Aharon called and said: Go, slaughter (offerings) to your god in the land! 22 Moshe said: It would not be wise to do thuswise: for Egypt's abomination is what we slaughter for Eloheynu; if we were to slaughter Egypt's abomination before their eyes, would they not stone us?
Was this abomination the killing of a Ram, which represented their chief god? Thus for 400 years did they not make sacrifices since they were under the control of the Egyptians.
Was an indication given early on by Yosef’s instructions?
Gen. 46:34 Then say: Your servants have always been livestock men, from our youth until now, so we, so our fathers- in order that you may settle in the region of Goshen. For every shepherd of flocks is an abomination to the Egyptians.
So we pichkup the first hand accounts of the children of Yisrael through Moshe.
Shemot/Exodus 10:25 (24-26)
24 Pharaoh had Moshe called and said: Go, serve Yehovah, only your sheep and your oxen shall be kept back, even your little-ones may go with you! 25 Moshe said: You must also give slaughter-offerings and offerings-up (zevachim va’olot זְבָחִים וְעֹלוֹת) into our hand, so that we may sacrifice them for Yehovah Eloheynu! 26 Even our livestock must go with us, not a hoof may remain behind: for some of them we must take to serve Yehovah Eloheynu; we-we do not know how we are to serve Yehovah until we come there.
So Moshe was telling Pharaoh that they needed their livestock to be a sacrifice (eaten) or olah (burnt). This means that Yehovah was telling Moshe directly what needed to be done after it may have been lost.
27 then say: It is the slaughter-meal (zevach זֶבַח) of Passover (Pesach) to Yehovah, who passed over the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt, when he dealt-the-blow to Egypt and our houses he rescued. The people did homage and bowed low.
Here we see that while in Egypt and for the last plague was placed upon Egypt. The zebach sacrifice was the Pesach. So it shows here that indeed a zebach was to be eaten.
Shemot/Exodus 12: 5-11
5 A wholly-sound male, year-old lamb shall be yours, from the sheep and from the goats are you to take it. 6 It shall be for you in safekeeping, until the fourteenth day after this New-moon, and they are to slay it-the entire assembly of the community of Israel-between the setting-times. 7 They are to take some of the blood and put it onto the two posts and onto the lintel, onto the houses in which they eat it. 8 They are to eat the flesh on that night, roasted in fire, and matzot, with bitter-herbs they are to eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw, or boiled, boiled in water, but rather roasted in fire, its head along with its legs, along with its innards. 10 You are not to leave any of it until morning; what is left of it until morning, with fire you are to burn. 11 And thus you are to eat it: your hips girded, your sandals on your feet, your sticks in your hand; you are to eat it in trepidation- it is a Passover-meal to Yehovah.
So we see that a zevach is to be eaten.
Shemot Exodus 18:12
12 Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, took an offering-up and slaughter- animals (olah uzevachimעֹלָה וּזְבָחִים) for Elohim, and Aharon and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with Moshe's father-in-law, before the presence of Elohim.
Here we see that a single olah offering was made and then multiple zebach sacrifices were made. Yitro, Moshe, Aharon and the elders of Yisrael eat together.
21 A slaughter-site of soil (miz’beach adamah מִזְבַּח אֲדָמָה), you are to make for me, you are to slaughter upon it your offerings-up (vezavach’ta וְזָבַחְתָּ), your sacrifices (et-oloteykha אֶת־עֹלֹתֶיךָ) [and] of shalom (et-shalomeykha), your sheep and your oxen! At every place where I cause my name to be recalled I will come to you and bless you. 22 But if a slaughter-site of stones (miz’beach ‘avanimמִזְבַּח אֲבָנִים) you make for me, you are not to build it smooth-hewn, for if you hold-high your iron-tool over it, you will have profaned it (make it common). 23 And you are not to ascend my slaughter-site (miz’bechiyמִזְבְּחִי) by ascending-steps, that your nakedness not be laid-bare upon it.
Here are two altars, which may be built one altar of soil/earth and the other of stone. You are to offer upon them your sheep and oxen.
Later after receiving the words of Yehovah Moshe builds an altar to him and offers offerings and sacrifices.
4 Now Moshe wrote down all the words of Yehovah. He started-early in the morning, building a slaughter-site (miz’beach מִזְבֵּחַ) beneath the mountain and twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent the (serving-) lads of the Children of Israel, that they should offer-up offerings-up (olot), slaughter slaughter-offerings (zebachim) of shalom for YHWH-bulls. 6 Moshe took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he tossed against the slaughter-site (miz’beach).
Moshe offers up olot (plural of olah) and zebachim (zebach plural). This was done to consecrate the people into the covenant.
This will bring us to the end of Part 1.