Epistles of Thomas

February 10, 2009

Leviticus 4-6

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 16:18
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Chapter 4 begins to detail what must happen when sin takes place unintentionally in the community. It deals first with sin by a priest which beings guilt on the people. He is to sacrifice a bull and offer the fat on the altar as with the fellowship offering. If the people as a whole sin they are to also present a bull. If it is a leader of the community he must present a male goat. If it is a member of the community then a female goat or lamb is required. In all cases the blood will be put on the horns of the altar and spilled at its base and the fat burned.

Chapter five informs us that atonement for sin is not to be an onerous burden on people. “Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for their sin—one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering” (Lev 5:7). “If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour for a sin offering” (Lev 5:11). The attitude was as important as the financial sacrifice and this should be equal for different classes.

Another important component to the offerings is that they were the priests’ means of providing for themselves and their families. “The rest of the [sin] offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering” (Lev 5:13). “Any male descendant of Aaron may eat it [the grain offering]. For all generations to come it is his perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the Lord” (Lev 6:18; cf. 2:3). The priest could eat the meat of the sin offering in the sanctuary “But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned up” (Lev 6:30). In later periods the prophets would cry out against the people for failing to provide for the priests. Because they were making no offerings the priests had to get jobs and could no longer devote themselves to their work in the temple.

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