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The Burnt Offering


The L ord summoned Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying: 2Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When any of you bring an offering of livestock to the L ord, you shall bring your offering from the herd or from the flock.

3 If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you shall offer a male without blemish; you shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, for acceptance in your behalf before the L ord. 4You shall lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be acceptable in your behalf as atonement for you. 5The bull shall be slaughtered before the L ord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer the blood, dashing the blood against all sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 6The burnt offering shall be flayed and cut up into its parts. 7The sons of the priest Aaron shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the parts, with the head and the suet, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9but its entrails and its legs shall be washed with water. Then the priest shall turn the whole into smoke on the altar as a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the L ord.

10 If your gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, your offering shall be a male without blemish. 11It shall be slaughtered on the north side of the altar before the L ord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar. 12It shall be cut up into its parts, with its head and its suet, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 13but the entrails and the legs shall be washed with water. Then the priest shall offer the whole and turn it into smoke on the altar; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the L ord.

14 If your offering to the L ord is a burnt offering of birds, you shall choose your offering from turtledoves or pigeons. 15The priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head, and turn it into smoke on the altar; and its blood shall be drained out against the side of the altar. 16He shall remove its crop with its contents and throw it at the east side of the altar, in the place for ashes. 17He shall tear it open by its wings without severing it. Then the priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the L ord.

1. And the Lord called unto Moses. In these seven chapters Moses will treat generally of the sacrifices. But since we read of many things here, the use of which has passed away, and others, the grounds of which I do not understand, I intend to content myself with a brief summary, from whence, however, the reader may fully perceive that whatever has been left to us relative to the legal sacrifices is even now profitable, provided we are not too curious. Let those who choose to hunt for allegories receive the praise they covet; my object is only to profit my readers, and it will suffice briefly to sum up what I think useful to be known. Although in this chapter burnt-offerings only are treated of, yet the rule which is laid down respecting them has a more extensive application, since Moses teaches what animals God would have offered to Him, so as that they may be acceptable, and also by whom and with what ceremonies they are to be offered. He enumerates three kinds, of the herd, of the flocks, and of fowls; for the case of the red heifer, from which the ashes of atonement were made, was different and peculiar; and here the question is as to the ordinary sacrifices, by which private individuals used either to atone for their sins or to testify their piety. He commands, therefore, that the cattle as well as the lambs and kids should be males, and also perfect and free from all blemish. We see, then, that only clean animals were chosen for the sacrifices, and again that all clean animals did not please God, but only domestic ones, such as allow themselves to be directed by the hand and will of men. For, though deer and roes are sometimes tamed, yet God did not admit them to His altar. This, then, was the first rule of obedience, that men should not offer promiscuously this or that victim, but bulls or bull-calves of their herds, and male lambs or kids of their flocks. Freedom from blemish is required for two reasons; for, since the sacrifices were types of Christ, it behooved that in all of them should be represented that complete perfection of His whereby His heavenly Father was to be propitiated; and, secondly, the Israelites were reminded that all uncleanness was repudiated by God lest his service should be polluted by their impurity. But whilst God exhorted them to study true sincerity, so he abundantly taught them that unless they directed their faith to Christ, whatsoever came from them would be rejected; for neither would the purity of a brute animal have satisfied Him if it had not represented something better. In the second place, it is prescribed that whosoever presented a burnt-offering should lay his hand on its head, after he had come near the door of the tabernacle. This ceremony was not only a sign of consecration, but also of its being an atonement, 249249     Lat., “piaculum.” Fr., “mais aussi de la malediction a cause du peche." since it was substituted for the man, as is expressed in the words of Moses, “And it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” (Ver. 4.) There is not, then, the least doubt but that they transferred their guilt and whatever penalties they had deserved to the victims, in order that they might be reconciled to God. Now, since this promise could not have been at all delusive, it must be concluded that in the ancient sacrifices there was a price of satisfaction which should release them from guilt and blame in the judgment of God; yet still not as though these brute animals availed in themselves unto expiation, except in so far as they were testimonies of the grace to be manifested by Christ. Thus the ancients were reconciled to God in a sacramental manner by the victims, just as we are now cleansed through baptism. Hence it follows that these symbols were useful only as they were exercises unto faith and repentance, so that the sinner might learn to fear God’s wrath, and to seek pardon in Christ.

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