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Monday, February 17, 2014

Three types of grain offerings

Leviticus 2:1 “‘When anyone offers an offering of a meal offering to Yahweh, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it.
4 “‘When you offer an offering of a meal offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
14 “‘If you offer a meal offering of first fruits to Yahweh, you shall offer for the meal offering of your first fruits grain in the ear parched with fire, bruised grain of the fresh ear. (World English Bible, public domain)

There were three types of meal (or grain) offerings specified in Leviticus 2. One was of recently harvested grain, presumably wheat (corn did not grow in the Old World at that time). One was of flour, ground up grain. One was of baked goods, flour with oil added to it. (The King James version of the Bible uses "meat" in Leviticus 2, but meat, in the culture in which the KJV was translated, meant "food, of any kind.")

Note that, for two of these, it was not "if you offer," but "when you offer." This wasn't a choice. Why the third type was optional, I don't know.

Leviticus 2 includes some other requirements, which aren't quoted above. No yeast was to be added to the grain. No honey was to be added to the grain. All grain offerings were to have salt added to them. I don't know why God specified these requirements, but God is God, and no doubt He had his reasons, which, perhaps, were obvious to people living in the culture of that time.

Why three types of offerings? Again, I don't know. But, it occurs to me, these might be taken as symbolic of the Christian life. We need to offer ourselves to Christ as Lord when we first come to belief -- first fruits. We need to continue doing so as we become more mature in the Christian life -- ground into fine flour. And we need to continue serving Christ until the end -- baked in the oven, mixed with oil, ready to eat.

There is a discussion of the grain offerings here. It's a pretty good discussion, with some speculation, about the significance of the grain offerings, for the Israelites and for us. (Unfortunately, the author confuses "principal" and "principle.") One thing that the article said struck me. That was that Moses gave these commands to the people in the desert, where wheat would have been hard to come by. Manna, on the other hand, would have been easy to come by, but there was no requirement of a manna offering. See also the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary on Exodus 2. Both these sources offer opinions on why honey and yeast (leaven) were prohibited, and why salt was required. Leviticus 6 has a section on the grain offerings, but it doesn't add much to Leviticus 2.

Remember that Christ used a story about wheat as a parable of winning others to the Kingdom.

Thanks for reading!

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