“On the eighth day, Moshe called Aharon, his sons and the leaders of Israel, and said to Aharon, “Take a male calf for a purification offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defect, and offer them before Adonai.”-Leviticus 9:1-2
In verse 1 of Leviticus chapter 9, we’re told that Moses invited the “leaders of Israel” to stand witness to the first ever priestly sacrifices that were going to be performed.
In an earlier post I mentioned that whenever we encounter the phrase “all of Israel” or “the whole congregation”, it did NOT necessarily mean the whole population of Israel.
More often than not the phrase was just referring to the “representatives” of Israel, also called “elders”.
The Hebrew word for elders is ZEKENIM.
Some scholars believe that here in chapter nine it was only the Chief Elders that were summoned.
In reality, there were actually hundreds of elders and like any large group of people, they would have been organized into a hierarchy of sorts.
To use a corporate analogy, some folks believe that it was just the “Board of Directors” of Israel, so to speak, who came.
Although technically speaking, the “Board of Directors” of a company is not considered management, but they are responsible for representing management and the rank-and-file employee.
Let’s take a look at verse 2 where it says a “male calf” is to be offered up as a HATTA-AT or a “Purification Offering”.
Other translations may say “bull” or a “young bull”.
All of these renderings would be somewhat correct.
The original Hebrew is EGEL and yes it does indeed mean a “male calf”.
However, recall that there are two different categories of bulls used for sacrificing.
A “young” bull and a “mature” bull.
A young bull is one year old.
A mature bull would have to be at least three years old and was considered of higher value than a young bull.
EGEL refers ONLY to a young (one year old) male bull.
Now there’s a really interesting point I want to bring up here.
The use of the Hebrew word EGEL here to refer to a young sacrificial bull is unusual!
Throughout Leviticus, usually a different word is used to refer to a “young bull”.
That word is BEN PAR.
So the question that confronts us is why this out-of-the-blue, strange use of the Hebrew word EGEL to refer to the bull sacrifice here in Leviticus chapter 9?!
Well, here’s something to chew on.
A few weeks earlier the horrible and tragic Golden Calf incident occurred and that idol calf that the people molded out of gold was also called an EGEL.
I wonder if the Lord is trying to tell us something here.
I get the feeling that YHVH is reminding Aaron and his sons about the idolatrous act that was committed not too long ago and in a not so indirect fashion is making the newly established priesthood aware of the difference between pure God-ordained worship and Egypt’s pagan animal worship system.
In the Lord’s worship system, AN ANIMAL WAS NEVER EVER TO BE HELD UP AS A DEITY TO WORSHIP.
Instead an animal was sacrificed on behalf of man.
In stark contrast to practically every other pagan religion in the world at the time, the Lord considered animals of lesser value than man.
And come to think of it, this idea also speaks against the Theory of Evolution which teaches that human beings are just animals with the same intrinsic value as any other creature in the animal kingdom.