“Adonai said to Moshe, “If anyone acts improperly and inadvertently sins in regard to the holy things of Adonai, he is to bring as his guilt offering for Adonai a ram without defect from the flock or its equivalent in silver shekels (using the sanctuary shekel as the standard), according to your appraisal of its value; it is a guilt offering. In addition, he is to make restitution for whatever he did wrong in regard to the holy thing; moreover, he is to add to that one-fifth and give it to the cohen. Then the cohen will make atonement with the ram of the guilt offering, and he will be forgiven.“-Leviticus 5:14-16
We have just begun our study of the 5th Levitical sacrifice known as the ASHAM.
Although most Bibles will call this the “Guilt Offering”, I have opted to call it the “Reparation Offering“.
The ASHAM had to be performed when a transgression was committed against the sacred things of the Lord.
Leviticus 5 actually outlines two different procedures for how this sacrifice was to be performed.
One was when a transgression was committed with full awareness and the other when a transgression was committed unawares.
Verses 5:14-16 deal with the protocol for transgressions committed with FULL AWARENESS which is what we’re in the midst of studying.
From verse 17, we will be given the protocol for trespasses committed unknowingly.
So back to verse 15, we are told that if the worshipper is aware of his transgression, he is to bring a Ram (a male sheep).
This Ram had to be at least one year old and be PERFECT, minus any defects.
Not all the sacrifices required perfect animals but for the ASHAM, the sacrificial Ram had to be practically 100% PERFECT.
Next, we’re given an interesting detail.
In addition, to the sacrificial animal, we are told that “he is to add to that one-fifth and give it to the priest”.
This implies that a monetary value has been assigned to the sacrificial animal.
Let’s go into this in detail a bit because this same monetary system was still in operation during Yeshua’s time.
First, as we all know, the shekel is a fixed monetary unit just like the US dollar is a fixed monetary unit.
However, what’s interesting is that during the ancient Biblical era, the amount of precious metal contained inside a shekel varied.
In other words, a shekel could have been minted out of silver, copper, or even bronze.
In addition, there wasn’t some central location where shekel coins were produced like we have our central treasury in our day.
Shekel coins could have been minted by a king, a very wealthy man, or the temple authorities, all in different locations.
So we had a confusing situation whereby there was a variety of shekels of differing values in circulation all over the place.
In order to harmonize the value of all these different types of metal shekel coins floating around, a decision was made that when the shekel was to be used for sacrificial or religious purposes, the standard to be used would be the weights and measures used by the temple authorities.
Think about all the tourists who visit the United States from all around the world bringing with them the currency from their home countries.
If they’re going to be able to use their money in America, they first have to exchange their pounds, yen, dinars, or whatever into the US dollar.
Well, a similar situation existed in Yeshua’s time.
Before an Israelite could perform his Levitical sacrificial duty to the Lord, he had to exchange his locally minted shekel with a shekel that had been minted by the Temple.
In order to do this, he had to go to one of the moneychangers who had set up booths at the temple who of course charged a commission for their money-changing services.
Now here’s why Yeshua lost His temper with these moneychangers.
These “licensed” moneychangers often cheated the people charging outrageous commission to the people who had no other choice but to go to them to exchange their local shekels with official temple-minted shekels.
And the moneychangers in turn were required to give a portion of their profits made from these commissions to the High Priest.
The whole situation had turned into a commercial foreign money exchange operation!
When Yeshua witnessed this unscrupulous situation, He completely lost it and we all know what happened next.
In a rage, he burst onto the scene and began overturning the temples of the moneychangers.
Let this be a warning to those who would dare to use the Lord’s Name to engage in unfair business practices.
Let’s get back to our study of the ASHAM procedures for transgressions committed against the Lord’s sacred property with full awareness.
We are told that an additional 20% or one-fifth HAD TO BE ADDED to the value of the sacrificial animal offered.
Obviously, in order to calculate 20% of the value of a sacrificial animal, a monetary value has to be assigned to the sacrificial animal in the first place, right?
Well, that’s exactly what was done.
The ram was assigned a monetary value and then 20% of this fixed amount was paid in Shekel coins along with the sacrificial animal.
To use a simple example.
Let’s say the sacrificial Ram was assigned a fixed value of 100 shekels.
In this case, the worshipper who had transgressed against the Lord’s property, would pay 20 shekels (according to the temple standard) together with the ram he offered up.
Eventually it became possible to forgo having to offer a ram altogether and just pay off one’s debt of in cash alone.
Based on the above example, in this case, the transgressor would have paid 120 shekels (100 shekels representing the value of the animal and 20 shekels for the 1/5 penalty).
Let’s close here but not without taking a good look at the final words of Verse 16:
“And he shall be forgiven.”
Let us not forget that the transgressor was completely absolved from his sin, given that he had performed his ASHAM or Reparation Offering with a contrite and repentant heart.
I remind you that the Levitical Sacrificial System was NOT defective nor inferior.
It accomplished EXACTLY what it was designed to do.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
Yeshua entered the Temple grounds
and drove out those who were doing business there,
both the merchants and their customers.
He upset the desks of the money-changers and
knocked over the benches of those who were selling pigeons.
He said to them, “It has been written,
‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’
But you are making it into a den of robbers!”
“For the love of money is a root of all the evils;
because of this craving,
some people have wandered away from the faith
and pierced themselves to the heart with many pains.”
-1 Timothy 6:10