Terms of Sacrifice in the Old Testament

Featuring Worshipedia Posted on April 5, 2010

Sacrifice and offering were a part of Israelite worship, and extensive portions of the Pentateuch are devoted to the regulation of these activities (Leviticus 1–7; 22–23; Numbers 18; 28–29; and others). All sacrifices were to be offered to Yahweh by the priest, who would “draw near” to the altar to sacrifice in the worshiper’s behalf. The worshipers might bring an offering of meal or grain or an animal for a sacrifice; individuals bringing an animal for sacrifice usually killed and dressed it themselves. Depending on the particular need, the worshipers could bring a sin offering, a guilt or trespass offering, or a peace offering. The officiating priest might present the offering as a burnt offering (literally an offering “going up”) or as an offering made by fire; he might wave it as a wave offering or pour out a drink offering. Regular offerings and sacrifices were mandated for the various festivals and the daily and monthly observances, but the individual worshiper might also bring a voluntary offering, or a votive offering, that is, one brought to pay or fulfill a vow he or she had made (Numbers 30). Any offering or gift brought to the Lord might be called a “holy thing,” that is, something set apart, or a “dedicated thing.”

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