The flour was stated to be “fine flour.” This means one had to spend a lot of time to make the flour fine, as it would typically be course due to the amount of work it took to grind the grain by hand. Extra special effort was made for this type of sacrifice to God. Again, they were offering their very best.
The one making the offering would take a handful (called the memorial portion) and the priest would burn it on the altar (Lv 2:2). The remainder (called the most holy part) was then given to the priests to use for their own consumption (Lv 2:3).
There were elements which were prohibited in this type of sacrifice (Lv 2:11): leaven and honey. Yeast (leaven) and honey symbolically represented corruption: leaven typically represented sin, and honey likely equated to self-gratification or pleasure. Sometimes, unleavened bread was symbolic of God’s deliverance (Dt 16:4). While such a gift with yeast and honey could be presented to the priest (separate from offering) during firstfruits, it could not be used as an offering placed upon the altar.
There was a special element required for this type of sacrifice (Lv 2:13): salt. Salt was used since it sealed the covenant (Lv 2:13; Nu 18:19; 2Ch 13:5) as it likely represented the preservation and longevity of the covenant, two major characteristics of salt. It was also used as a flavoring agent (perhaps as a benefit to priests). Salt symbolically represented the longevity of the Mosaic Covenant, which was dependent upon their obedience to God (Dt 28).
In some ways, the grain offering was similar to the burnt offering. It had to be of the highest quality (Lv 2:1): fine flour was difficult to produce and took a lot of time, olive oil in the desert was in short supply, and frankincense was very expensive. The grain offering was also offered by fire, and both produced a soothing aroma to the Lord (Lv 2:2). Often these two sacrifices were carried out together, as the grain offering was to follow the burnt offering (Nu 28:4-5; Jd 13:19).
Yet, the grain offering was also very different from the burnt offering. The burnt offering was an animal sacrifice, while the grain offering was a vegetable sacrifice composed of either wheat or barley. Because this offering had no blood, it was not for atonement. It was a form of worship as the one making the offering had some say in the offering: the one making the offering could choose the type of grain and how it was presented. It was a way of thanking God for sustaining them – giving them “their daily bread,” and grain was likely scarcer than animals as it would have to be taken from their seed reserves. In addition, in this sacrifice only a portion of it was offered on the altar whereas in the burnt offering, the entire animal was sacrificed with none of it going to the one making the offering or to the priest, except for the hide (Lv 7:8). Here, in this offering, the majority of the grain offering was used to sustain the priests (Nu 18:9).
In our next post, we will look at the application of this type of sacrifice. I hope you join us.
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