Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell Aharon and his sons, ‘This is the law for the sin offering: the sin offering is to be slaughtered before Adonai in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is especially holy. The cohen who offers it for sin is to eat it — it is to be eaten in a holy place, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. Whatever touches its flesh will become holy; if any of its blood splashes on any item of clothing, you are to wash it in a holy place.” The clay pot in which it is cooked must be broken; if it is cooked in a bronze pot, it must be scoured and rinsed in water. Any male from a family of cohanim may eat the sin offering; it is especially holy. But no sin offering which has had any of its blood brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place is to be eaten; it is to be burned up completely.-Leviticus 6:17-23
We’re still in the thick of Leviticus Chapter 6, but we’re going to finish this chapter today!
So starting from verse 17, we shift over from the MINCHAH ritual to the HATTA-AT ritual.
Practically all Bible translations will call the HATTA-AT the “Sin Offering” but for reasons that I have already went into in great detail, I have decided this particular sacrifice is best called the “Purification Offering”.
We’re presented with an interesting sequential pattern here.
We started with a blood sacrifice, went to a plant life sacrifice, and now we’re back to a blood sacrifice.
Just like the OLAH, the HATTA-AT was also to be slaughtered on the North side of the Altar.
Keep in mind that verses 17 to 22 is focusing on the priests’ role for the HATTA-AT offering.
What we’re discussing here is what the priests are to do when the sacrifice is brought by the common lay worshipper.
When a common worshipper brings his HATTA-AT or “Purification Offering” to the priest, a part of the animal is burned up and the remainder is set aside for the priests as food.
Notice the part where it says “it is especially holy”.
In Hebrew, this is KODESH KODASHIM.
It is most HOLY FOOD.
Hence, ONLY the priests are allowed to eat it and they have to eat it within the confines of the courtyard.
We then encounter some more details that reflect the seriousness and how careful we have to be when interacting with God’s holiness.
After the ritual, any blood stains that get on the priests’ garments have to be be removed by washing them in water.
And are told that any meat from the sacrifice prepared in a clay cooking pot has to be destroyed but if it is prepared in a metal pot, it just has to be washed.
Why is this?
The answer is because clay is porous but metal isn’t it.
Clay would pretty thoroughly absorb the broth of the meat that was cooked in it, and thus this broth being holy would have been impossible to remove via a mere washing.
Hence, it had to be utterly destroyed.
Of course this problem doesn’t exist with metal, thus for metal pots, a simple washing sufficed.
This brings us back to our discussion of the verse “Whatever touches its flesh will become holy”.
As I said before, I believe the way it is rendered in the English in most Bibles is misleading.
It should read: “Whatever touches its flesh MUST BE IN A STATE OF HOLINESS” (or it will be destroyed is the implication).
The scholarly debate on this issue centers around the following two questions:
Can the Holy Food transfer its holiness to the things and/or people it comes into contact with?
Must things and/or people already be in a state of holiness BEFORE coming into contact with the Holy Food?
I insist that things must already be in a state of holiness before they come into contact with God’s awesome Holiness because it harmonizes with the Biblical pattern presented to us throughout the Scriptures and is the key to understanding why we need to be saved.
Before we can come into a relationship with the Holy One of Israel, we must FIRST be made Holy.
Finally, understand that from verse 23, there is a marked change.
Up until verse 23, we were dealing with the protocol of when the sacrifices were brought by the common or lay worshipper.
However, from verse 23, the instructions deal with the protocol when the HATTA-AT is brought by the priests on behalf of themselves or on behalf of the whole nation of Israel.
To be specific, verse 23 is talking about those special times when the blood from the sacrifice is brought INSIDE THE TENT SANCTUARY to be sprinkled inside the Holy Place or even in the Holy of Holies.
Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement would be a chief example of this.
Notice in this case, ALL of the sacrificial animal is to be completely burned up on the Brazen Altar.
NONE OF IT IS TO BE EATEN!
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN LEVITICUS CHAPTER 7