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The animals sacrificed at the Jewish altar were selected according to the circumstances and situation in life of the offerer, but only five sorts were accepted. These were bullocks, goats, sheep, turtle doves, and young pigeons. Of all these, burnt-offerings might be offered, so called from a Hebrew word signifying “to ascend,” as in smoke or flame. And here bear in mind the object for which these offerings were made. The offerer, conscious of the evil of his heart and the sins he had committed, was desirous that these should be done away by faith in the Messiah, typified by these sacrifices ; or, having committed some actual offence, he wished to express his sorrow and desire of pardon through the same Great Sacrifice, and therefore brought his offering, according to the precept of the law in such a
The offerer was to appear “before the Lord,” Lev. i. 3, to present himself in the court of the tabernacle, in front of it, or “ before the door.” When the temple was erected, this was understood to mean in the court of Israel. Having brought the animal, he laid his hand upon its head while yet alive. This was emblematical ; it denoted a solemn transfer of sin from himself to the victim, and that by its death he acknowledged his own liability to suffer : thus every sacrifice was a type of Christ's suffering for us. This was usually done on the north side of the altar, among the rings. The offerer stood with his face towards the holy place, and said "I have sinned ; I have done perversely; I have rebelled and done thus ; " mentioning, either aloud or to himself, his offence, or the cause of the offering ;" but I return by repentance before Thee; and let this be my expiation.” The animal was then fastened to one of the rings if large, or only its feet tied if small; its head was laid towards the south, and its face turned to the holy place. At first the animal often was struck, and the blood received, by the offerer ; but, in the time of the temple worship, this was done by the priests, who were then more numerous, and better skilled in doing it. The blood being received in sacred vessels, was taken to the altar, the vessels being handed by one to another as they were filled. The blood was sprinkled on the sides of the altar by a priest, as already stated. The person whose office it was to flay and divide the animal, hung it when dead upon one of the hooks, took off the skin, which was given to the priests; and, dividing the carcase into several parts, handed them in succession to other priests in waiting, by whom they were carried to the ascent of the altar, and sprinkled with salt, Lev. ii. 13. To this Christ referred, Mark ix. 49,50. It is considered, that, as salt preserves things from putrifying, so the application of it to the sacrifices signified that the covenant of grace is lasting. The priest who had to lay the pieces on the altar, then cut out the sinew mentioned Gen. xxxii. 32, threw it among the ashes, and laid the pieces upon the burning pile of wood, nearly in their natural position. In the holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, all the pieces were consumed.
Birds were always brought in pairs; one was carried round the altar, its head wrung off, and the blood sprinkled, its feathers stripped, and its crop turned out and the contents cast among the ashes. The body was then cut open, salted as well as the head, and both were laid upon the fire.
The sin-OFFERING was also a burnt-offering, but differed from what has been already described in some particulars. The victims were offered for sins committed inadvertently, or through ignorance, but for which the offender would have deserved cutting off if done willingly. There were some other occasions enumerated in Leviticus, both public and private, when sin-offerings were to be made, but the later Jewish doctors enumerated three hundred and sixty-five precepts; for forty-three of these, if broken, a sin-offering was required. The beast being killed, as already described, some of the blood was sprinkled in the holy place, before the veil, as well as on the altar, and if for individuals, also on the golden altar of incense. The fat and inwards only were burned
the altar, the carcases were given to the priests, who might eat the flesh within the temple; but, in the sin-offering for the priests or for the congregation, Lev. iv., only the fat was burned on the altar; all the rest, even the skin, was carried to the place where the ashes used to be cast out, and there burned. The birds were offered as already described, but were given to the priests. They ate of the sacrifices after the services were concluded, so their chief meal must have been in the evening : it was unlawful to eat after midnight.
The principle set forth by the sin-offerings, we have seen, was to seek atonement for sins committed from ignorance. And in several parts of the New Testament, as in Romans viii. 3, 2 Cor. v. 21, Christ is spoken of as a sin-offering, the original word meaning both sin and the offering for sin, as Magee and others clearly show. But, as the offerings went to the priests, in corrupt times they desired to promote their own advantage more than the devotion of the people. To this, perhaps, Hosea referred, chap. iv. 8, when he said " They eat up the sin” (the original word also signifies sin-offering) " of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.' They sought their own advantage, instead of the reformation of the people.
Another class of sacrifices was the TRESPASS-OFFERINGS. These were for doubtful cases, as when a person was in doubt whether what he did were criminal or not, such as the case stated Lev. v. 2–6; but the Jewish doctors, in later times, added to the burden of this, as well as to other observances. The trespass-offerings evidently were designed that the conscience might be kept tender, and the appearance of evil be shunned. But evil-disposed priests gained
many advantages by raising scruples; thus, as well as in other instances, laying upon the people a burden too heavy to be borne. Trespass-offerings were expressly ordered in the case of things stolen, unjustly gotten, or detained ; for sacrilege, injury to a bondmaid, for the Nazarite, and for the leper. The carcases of the animals in this case also went to the priests, except the fat and part of the inwards. There was an exception in the case of the leper. Part of the blood of the lamb was put upon the tip of his right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the great toe of his right foot. The sacrifice also, as less holy, was killed on the south side of the court, and the flesh might be eaten by any persons, and out of the temple.
The PEACE-OFFERINGS included thank-offerings, freewillofferings, and offerings in consequence of vows. These were usually of calves or lambs; and a freewill-offering needed not to be free from blemish. The blood was sprinkled, the fat and inwards burned ; the breast and shoulder, after being lifted and waved by the offerer from right to left and up and down, but always towards the altar, was kept by the priests; the rest of the sacrifice might be eaten by the offerer, under certain regulations, after having been boiled in a part of the temple used for that purpose. In the case of Eli's sons, the priests took more than the portion assigned them, and that in an overbearing, violent manner, 1 Sam. ii, 13, 14. Every peace-offering was accompanied by a meat-offering of cakes of flour; a part was burned, and the rest given to the priests.
The sacrifices above described might be offered by heathens, either directly or indirectly, by the congregation of Israel at large, and by individual Israelites ; such, at least, was the practice in later times. The Jewish writers speak of the space between Jerusalem and the tower of the flock, or the tower of Edar, Micah iv. 8, as partly used for a pasture for cattle, the males of which were used for burntofferings, and the females for peace-offerings. This is thought be the place where the shepherds were watching their flocks by night when the angel brought them tidings of Christ's birth, Luke ii. 8–14. Perhaps the animals they watched over were intended for the sacrifices which typified the Lamb of God, whose appearance on earth was then announced. The tower of Edar is mentioned as one of the places where Jacob fixed bis abode, Genesis Xxxv. 21.
Another class of offerings included those called MEATOFFERINGS. Of these there were three for the whole congregation : 1. The shew-bread, Lev. xxiv. 5—9. 2. The sheaf of the firstfruits of barley, Lev. xxiii. 10–12; this was waved before the Lord. The side motion, the later Jewish rabbins said, was for restraining evil winds, the upand-down motion for restraining evil dews : thus did they add to the simple statements of the Divine law. 3. The
offering of two wheaten loaves, for firstfruits, at the feast of Pentecost, Lev. xxiii. 17. The offerings for individuals were : 1. The daily offering of the high priest, Exod. xxix. 40, 41. 2. That offered by every priest on entering his office, Exod. xxix., Lev. vi. 20; these were wholly burned. 3. The offering of a small quantity of flour, by a poor man, instead of an animal for a sin-offering, Lev. v. 11. 4. The offering of barley-meal, brought with a suspected wife, Num. y. 15; this and the firstfruits at the passover were the only offerings of barley. 5. An offering, Lev. ii. 13; this
appears to have been a thank-offering for the bounties of Providence, and might be of dough, either unbaked or baked in an oven or a pan, also in wafers or thinner cakes. 6. The firstfruits, Lev. xxiii. 10—21. Oil and frankincense appear to have been required in most of these.