Questions Regarding the Book of Leviticus


#1

I would be grateful if someone can answer the following questions:

1) Why were there two main classes of animals for sacrifice i.e. herd and flock?

2) I noticed there is an insistence throughout the book of Leviticus the sacrificial animal must be held by the head. What’s is the significance of this? Was it to transfer the guilt of the person to the animal just like Yom Kippur?


#2

Just to make sure that we answer the particular question that you’re asking, would you mind if I ask you to provide a specific quote or quotes from Leviticus that have you puzzled? Especially given your reference to Yom Kippur, I want to make sure that the response you get answers the particular question you have…

Thanks!


#3

Oops sorry! You’re right I should have provided them.

1) *Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any one of you wishes to bring an animal offering to the LORD, such an offering must be from the herd or from the flock – Leviticus 1:2.

and there lay his hand on the head of the holocaust, so that it may be acceptable to make atonement for him – Leviticus 1:4.*

This is repeated throughout the book of Leviticus starting from these two verses.

2) Yom Kippur “The Day of Atonement” Leviticus chapter 16 (the entire chapter).


#4

Herd and flock simply differentiate ox from sheep, both used for sacrifice.


#5

[quote="Neofight, post:4, topic:332924"]
Herd and flock simply differentiate ox from sheep, both used for sacrifice.

[/quote]

Yes thanks I know that. I wish to know why the two classes and not simply just one class of “clean” animals...


#6

You may just be reading too much into it. Again, it is just correct diction to say both herds and flocks because the animals come from herds a flocks. All commentary seem to say nothing about this; the only requirement being “clean” animals without blemish.

There are 2 contentions on the touching of the animal, and touching the head is not as significant as simply laying on hands. One is that it shows who is presenting the sacrifice even though a priest is doing the deed; or just a gesture that the animal is taking the place of the offerer.

Touching the goats head on the day of atonement is to transfer the sin of israel “into the head of the live goat” before being cast out into the desert.


#7

[quote="Neofight, post:6, topic:332924"]
You may just be reading too much into it. Again, it is just correct diction to say both herds and flocks because the animals come from herds a flocks. All commentary seem to say nothing about this; the only requirement being "clean" animals without blemish.

There are 2 contentions on the touching of the animal, and touching the head is not as significant as simply laying on hands. One is that it shows who is presenting the sacrifice even though a priest is doing the deed; or just a gesture that the animal is taking the place of the offerer.

Touching the goats head on the day of atonement is to transfer the sin of israel "into the head of the live goat" before being cast out into the desert.

[/quote]

Thanks very much for that, I appreciate it.

If Leviticus 1:2 was just an isolated verse then I wouldn’t think any more of it. I was curious when I read chapter 3.

"If someone in presenting a peace offering makes his offering from the herd, he may offer before the LORD either a male or a female animal, but it must be without blemish. He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and then slaughter it at the entrance of the meeting tent; but Aaron's sons, the priests, shall splash its blood on the sides of the altar. From the peace offering he shall offer as an oblation to the LORD the fatty membrane over the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall sever above the kidneys. All this Aaron's sons shall then burn on the altar with the holocaust, on the wood over the fire, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD. "If the peace offering he presents to the LORD is from the flock, he may offer either a male or a female animal, but it must be without blemish. If he presents a lamb as his offering, he shall bring it before the LORD, and after laying his hand on the head of his offering, he shall slaughter it before the meeting tent; but Aaron's sons shall splash its blood on the sides of the altar. As an oblation to the LORD he shall present the fat of the peace offering: the whole fatty tail, which he must sever close to the spine, the fatty membrane over the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he must sever above the kidneys. All this the priest shall burn on the altar as the food of the LORD'S oblation. "If he presents a goat, he shall bring it before the LORD, and after laying his hand on its head, he shall slaughter it before the meeting tent; but Aaron's sons shall splash its blood on the sides of the altar. From it he shall offer as an oblation to the LORD the fatty membrane over the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he must sever above the kidneys. All this the priest shall burn on the altar as the food of the sweet-smelling oblation. All the fat belongs to the LORD. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for your descendants wherever they may dwell. You shall not partake of any fat or any blood."

See what I mean?


#8

[quote="Augustine3, post:5, topic:332924"]
Yes thanks I know that. I wish to know why the two classes and not simply just one class of “clean” animals...

[/quote]

Notice that specifying 'herd' and 'flock' also excludes wild animals. Sacrifice comes from one's own possessions -- it's a gift from oneself. Capturing a wild animal, though, would be a different thing entirely, and wouldn't be a gift of one's own goods. In sacrifice, we give back to God what is ours, not something that isn't ours... ;)


#9

[quote="Neofight, post:6, topic:332924"]
There are 2 contentions on the touching of the animal, and touching the head is not as significant as simply laying on hands. One is that it shows who is presenting the sacrifice even though a priest is doing the deed; or just a gesture that the animal is taking the place of the offerer.

Touching the goats head on the day of atonement is to transfer the sin of israel "into the head of the live goat" before being cast out into the desert.

[/quote]

Notice, too, that there are two distinct gestures: there is 'laying a hand' on an animal, and there is 'laying both hands' on it. As Neofight mentions, the former gesture may be one of ownership or identification, whereas the latter is a gesture (in Lev 16) that ritually places the sins of the people on the animal through the confession of the people's sins onto it...


#10

Thanks brother that makes sense :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="Gorgias, post:8, topic:332924"]
Notice that specifying 'herd' and 'flock' also excludes wild animals. Sacrifice comes from one's own possessions -- it's a gift from oneself. Capturing a wild animal, though, would be a different thing entirely, and wouldn't be a gift of one's own goods. In sacrifice, we give back to God what is ours, not something that isn't ours... ;)

[/quote]

Well , this could be argued. By the writing of Leviticus there was an already emerging non-agrarian merchant class in Hebrew society. Clean animals were offered for sale to those who did not keep flocks and herds of there own.

The suitability of offering is more related to the attitude of giving than what was given. This is evidenced by the story of Cain and Abel. Cain's offering would have been quite suitable (cereal offerings were quite acceptable), but an offering given reluctantly, or out of surplus, would have been an affront to God, which many scholars and theologians see as Cain's indiscretion.

Peace and all good!


#12

Yes, but an animal that was bought, is one for which a legitimate chain of ownership exists. It’s this notion of giving from one’s own wherewithal – whether that means a ‘product’ that one nurtures oneself, or something that one buys with the proceeds from one’s work – that makes a sacrifice make sense.

The suitability of offering is more related to the attitude of giving than what was given. This is evidenced by the story of Cain and Abel. Cain’s offering would have been quite suitable (cereal offerings were quite acceptable), but an offering given reluctantly, or out of surplus, would have been an affront to God, which many scholars and theologians see as Cain’s indiscretion.

Exactly. The ‘attitude of giving’, when one gives from one’s own necessities, is a proper attitude. However, the ‘attitude of giving’, when one goes out into the fields and grabs something and hands it over, is quite a different attitude. It says, “I don’t want to have to make an investment in this gift: here, let me give you something that I just took from around the neighborhood.” That is a rather poor attitude in terms of sacrificial giving…


#13

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