Leviticus 2, the grain offering

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Oct 25, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    Grain offerings could be the whole heads of grain, the fine flour from the milling, or bread.

    Regardless of the way in which it was offered, oil and salt were both to be included, either in the cooking or combined later with it. And when it was burned, it was to be burned with incense.

    All four of these elements are used later, either in parables or idiomatically, so it might be interesting to note that here:

    The grain is the seed of a grass plant. It is also the 'fruit' of the grass. Thus, when the sower went out to sow in Jesus' parable, what he was sowing was seed which was also fruit. It makes for some interesting thinking.

    Jesus indicated that the seed of His parable about the sower was the Word of God.

    Oil was used for anointing all the way through the Bible and even today. Jesus Himself was the Christ, the Anointed One. Only He was anointed by God the Father, and this through the Holy Spirit. For this reason oil has been considered by many to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit or, at the least, of anointing itself.

    Incense is associated in Revelation with the prayers of the believers.

    And salt. Was salt used as a symbol in the Bible? Yes, but it takes a little digging to find it. Where you will find its idiomatic use is in the New Testament in the phrase that translates 'lose its saltiness.' This is best known from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:13 and its parallel passage in Luke 6. However that phrase is used four times, not two in the New Testament. In Romans 1:22, Paul is describing those who are aware of God but refuse to glorify Him or give thanks to Him. In this verse Paul states, "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." The phrase "became fools" is the exact same phrase that is translated as 'lose saltiness' in the Sermon on the Mount.

    The fourth time this appears is in 1 Corinthians 1:20 -- "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" And, once again, the translation is 'made foolish.'

    Salt was an idiom and symbol for wisdom. Both kinds: worldly and God's. In the Old Testament we see that Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt and references to salt wastes and wastelands. Worldly wisdom in its futility and sterility. And then there is the kind of salt that Jesus said we are -- the salt of the world. God's wisdom in the world.

    And so the grain offering had to have the oil and the salt and the incense -- if you want to push this in terms of symbolism, it might then be said that the offerings we give God of the fruits of our lives must have with them the anointing, or blessing and empowerment, of God, and His wisdom as well, and be offered up with prayer. Thus we have in symbolism the fact that we can give nothing to Him that He has not given to us first.

    However if it is easier to think of the grain offering simply as a grain offering, that is fine, too.

    What could NOT be added to the grain offering or burned with it were yeast or honey (although both could be offered as part of the first fruits offerings). Yeast is a symbol of sin all the way through the Bible with the possible exception of one of Jesus' illustrations about the Kingdom of Heaven permeating a person's life. Honey is a little different, though. Why would honey be forbidden? A few reasons have been put forth by various commentators:

    1. Honey sweetens artificially. We should not add to the fruit (grain) God has produced in our lives. We cannot make it better by doing that.

    2. Unprocessed honey (which is what they would have used) has a very high bacteria count. Bacteria often cause illnesses and illnesses are the results of sin in the human race.

    3. The Israelites were being led to a land of 'milk and honey.' This is the phrase often used to describe a land overflowing with abundance -- enough sweet grasses for the cattle and goats to have abundant milk and the enough flowers on trees and shrubs for the bees to produce an abundance of honey. Thus 'milk and honey' are indicative of overflowing blessings here on this earth. Interestingly, however, there are proscriptions involving both elements in the Law. The meat of a young sheep or goat may not be cooked in its mother's milk. There is no known reason for this law physically. And, here, honey may not be added to the grain offering. There is a possibility that forbidding the honey was forbidding concentration on the sweetness of wealth here on earth.

    4. The bee was worshiped in neighboring cultures.

    5. Honey was used in the making of beer, just as yeast was used in the making of other alcoholic beverages.

    So there are some interesting possibilities regarding honey being forbidden to be part of the grain sacrifice.

    No matter how the grain offering was brought, a token part was burned on the altar and the rest given to Aaron and his sons for their consumption. The part given to them is listed in Scripture as being the most holy part of the offering. In chapter 6 it will be stated that these 'most holy' parts were to be consumed on the Temple premises and not taken home to the families.
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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