Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vayikra

Leviticus 1:1 - 6:7

The first parasha of Leviticus is title Vayikra which means “and He called.” Often times this book is called the “Book of Sacrifices” for the reason that within it contains the commandments of the offerings that are to be brought to HaShem. Over 40 percent of all the commandments in the Torah are found in sefer Leviticus.

The parasha begins with instructions from HaShem to Moses about which are acceptable offerings. Lev 1:1-4 “The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any of you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.’”

HaShem begins with the qualifications of the “Burnt offering” also known in Hebrew as “Olah”. This was a freewill offering that was consumed entirely by the fire on the altar. The sacrifice must be an animal or a bird that is without defect. As the animal is slaughtered, the priest catches the blood and sprinkles it on the altar. The animal is then cut up, salted, and entirely burned. Normally, what is called semichah, and viduy is performed with this sacrifice. Semichah is the action of placing your hands on the head of the animal, and viduy is the confession of the sin of the person offering the sacrifice upon the animal.

The next offering that HaShem commands is the “Grain Offering” known in Hebrew as the “Minchah”. This was a meal offering of freewill made of flour prepared with fine flour, olive oil and frankincense. This offering was usually brought by those of modest financial stature. Part of the meal offering is burned on the altar, and the remaining part is eaten by the Priests. Any flour offering must be baked quickly to prevent the dough from rising so that it is made into unleavened bread. Like the animal offerings, minchah offerings must also be salted. Mincha is the Hebrew word for gift.

The next offering that HaShem commands is the “Fellowship Offering” known in Hebrew as “Shelamim.” This was a freewill offering eaten by the one who brings it and was given as a way of expressing thanks to HaShem during times of joy. Semichah is performed to show praise to HaShem, although no confession is made.

The “Sin Offering” is the next offering covered and in Hebrew is called “Chatat.” This was a required offering to make atonement for certain sins committed unintentionally by an individual. The High Priest would preform this sacrifice for himself, the entire community, the king or the ordinary Israelite. It is important to note that this sacrifice was strictly for unintentional sins and that there was no specific sacrifice for intentional sins. For this a person was to be cut off from his people which almost certainly meant an early death.

The last offering covered is the “Guilt Offering” know in Hebrew as “Asham.” This was a required offering made for penitence for certain improper acts. In this case, the person making the offering was required to seek forgiveness from the person which they had sinned against or wronged before they could offer this sacrifice.

Both of the sin offerings, Chatat and Asham, were obligatory offerings to be made for atonement. They had to be offered by the High Priest who would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice seven times inside the tabernacle on the golden altar opposite the curtain before the Holy of Holies. The fat of the offering was burned on the altar, but unlike the other offerings the rest of the animal would be taken “outside the camp” to be burnt with fire.

Although we can clearly see that before the giving of these instructions of making offerings to HaShem that offerings had been made prior to these commandments. It is recorded in scripture that Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses all made sacrifices to HaShem. But now HaShem is bringing His instruction to His nation, His commonwealth and to His Kingdom of what it is to be as Holy, set apart people pleasing to Him. Although it is believed and taught that Yeshua came as a sacrifice for our sins, did he also atone for our intentional sins? For those that even have a small amount of knowledge of HaShems commandments should heed the writings in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 10:26-31 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

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