Leviticus 2
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Meal-Offering

The Heb. word Minḥah primarily denotes a gift or offering generally, e.g. the present made by Jacob to Esau (Genesis 33:10). It is also applied to tribute (e.g. Jdg 3:15-18). When used in connexion with sacrifices, it bears either a wider or a narrower meaning, denoting sometimes an offering made to God whether of animals or grain (thus used of both Cain’s and Abel’s offering, Genesis 4:3-5), but often (and in P always) restricted to the sense of grain or cereal offering. This offering consisted for the most part of fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense, to which was added salt. See further in notes on the following vv.

The Meal-Offering was generally brought as an accompaniment to an animal offering. The ritual here prescribed is applicable to such cases, and also to a Meal-Offering brought by itself. No quantities are here prescribed; they are given in Numbers 15:1-16 for the minḥah when brought with a Burnt-Offering or a Peace-Offering.

The variations between the 2nd persons sing. and pl. in Leviticus 2:4-15 probably indicate combination of two sources.

And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:
And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD:
2. and he shall take] The personal pronoun in the English version refers to the person who brings the offering, but the subject of the verb ‘take’ is the priest mentioned in the following clause (cp. Leviticus 2:9). Dillm. suggests that the words from ‘and he shall take’ to ‘all the frankincense thereof’ may be an addition describing the material of the ‘memorial’ in the next clause.

the memorial] Heb. ‘azkârah, an expression applied to a part of the Meal-Offering in this ch. and Leviticus 6:15; elsewhere Leviticus 5:12 (of the poor man’s Sin-Offering), Leviticus 24:7 (of the frankincense offered with the shewbread), and Numbers 5:26 only (cp. Sir 38:11; Sir 45:16). It is generally explained as an offering which puts God in remembrance (cp. ‘memorial’ in Acts 10:4, where the Gk. word is the same as in LXX. of these passages), and it has been suggested that Psalms 38, 70, with their titles ‘to bring to remembrance,’ may be in some way connected with this ceremony (Berth. Bibl. Theol. d. A.T. ii. p. 67). Others prefer sweet smelling offering; cp. Dillm. note here, Isaiah 66:3 (see Skinner’s note in C.B.), and Hosea 14:7.

And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.
3. most holy] See on Leviticus 6:12 (end).

And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
4. The pouring and the mixing may be done by the ordinary Israelite; from the taking of the handful and onwards the priest officiates. (Rashi.)

The cakes or wafers must be 10 in number.

4–10. After the general description of Leviticus 2:1-3, three methods of preparing the Meal-Offering are specified. It may be (1) baken in the oven (Leviticus 2:4), or (2) on a flat plate (Leviticus 2:5, mg. of R.V. and A.V.), or (3) in a frying pan (Leviticus 2:7). In all cases the material is the same; fine flour and oil, and the priest is to treat it in the same way (Leviticus 2:9-10 repeat the directions of Leviticus 2:2-3).

And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.
5. of the baking pan] The Heb. word occurs only here and in Leviticus 6:21 [Heb. 14], Leviticus 7:9, 1 Chronicles 23:29 in connexion with sacrifice, and in Ezekiel 4:3 (pan, mg. flat plate). See on Leviticus 2:7.

Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.
And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
7. frying pan] Only here and Leviticus 7:9. The Mishna (Tal. Bab. Menaḥoth 63 a) describes this vessel as having a cover and deep; what is put into it is boiled and moist, while what is placed on the baking pan (‘flat plate’ mg. of R.V. and A.V.) is baked crisp and hard, and broken into pieces (Leviticus 2:6). Cp. Leviticus 7:9-10.

And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the LORD: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar.
8. that is made of these things] of the things prepared as described in the preceding verses.

And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.
No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.
11. Leaven and honey are not to be mixed with any offering made by fire; they shall be offered as an oblation of firstfruits (Heb. rçshîth) but not on the altar (Leviticus 2:12). See Driver (C. B.) on Am. iv. 5. By ‘honey’ is meant not only that prepared by bees, but a syrup made from grapes, called by the Arabs dibs, the same as Heb. dĕbásh.

Both leaven and honey produce fermentation, a process which has been associated in thought with the working of unruly desires, and considered as a symbol of evil. The idea of corruption in connexion with leaven was familiar to the Romans. Plutarch (Quaest. Rom. 109) says: ‘Leaven is born of corruption, and corrupts that with which it is mixed … all fermentation is a kind of putrefaction.’ The Flamen Dialis, a priest of Jupiter in one of the oldest Roman cults, among many other restrictions of ancient date, was not allowed to touch leavened bread (Sir J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough3, Pt II. 13 and his references on p. 14, note 3, to Aulus Gellius x. 15, Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxviii. 146, and other writers: see also Pauly’s Real Encyc. (ed. G. Wissowa) vi. 2485 ff.). This idea is in the N.T., where ‘leaven’ is used figuratively of the corrupt doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:16; Luke 12:1), and by St Paul as representing ‘malice and wickedness’ in contrast with ‘the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). But there is no such contrast implied in the prohibition of leaven at the feast of the Passover (Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19; Exodus 13:7). The unleavened bread is regarded as ‘bread of affliction’ (Deuteronomy 16:3), less pleasant than ordinary leavened bread, reminding the Israelites of bondage as well as deliverance.

As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour.
And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.
13. shalt thou season with salt] Salt, which is necessary for those who eat farinaceous food and a pleasant condiment with flesh meat, was freely used by the Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and other nations of antiquity. They brought it as an accompaniment of sacrifice, in accordance with the primitive view of sacrifice as the food of the gods (cp. ch. Leviticus 21:22). It may have been an element in the Jewish ritual from the earliest times. The phrase ‘salt of the covenant of thy God’ indicates that a symbolical meaning was also attached to it. A covenant among ancient peoples was ratified by eating food together (Genesis 31:54) with which salt was generally taken. ‘There is salt between us’ is in the mouth of the Arab a declaration of friendship and obligation; God’s covenants with Levi and David are ‘covenants of salt’ (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5); so here ‘the salt of the covenant’ implies that the Israelite, by reason of his covenant relation with God, was bound to bring with his sacrifice the offering of a willing heart (Psalm 54:6; Psalm 119:108). Salt with sacrifice is enjoined in Ezekiel 43:24, and referred to Mark 9:49. For the remission of the tax on salt, cp. 1Ma 10:29; 1Ma 11:35, and Jos. Ant. xii. 3. 3. For the mola salsa of the Romans (Hor. Sat. ii. 3. 200) and other classical references to salt with sacrifice, see the Articles on Salt in HDB. and Enc. Bib.

And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears.
14. corn in the ear] Heb. Âbîb, from which the Passover month is named.

parched with fire] Cp. Ruth 2:14.

bruised corn of the fresh ear] Heb. géres karmel. The first word occurs only here and in Leviticus 2:16; karmel is found Leviticus 23:14 and 2 Kings 4:42. The bruised corn is treated as the fine flour of Leviticus 2:1; a memorial of it is burnt, and the remainder would be for the priests. Cp. Leviticus 2:1-3 and Leviticus 2:10.

14–16. Meal-Offering of firstfruits (Heb. bikkûrîm). The rçshîth of Leviticus 2:12 is not to be offered on the altar, while the ‘memorial’ of the bikkûrîm is offered (Leviticus 2:16) as ‘an offering made by fire unto the Lord.’

And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering.
And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
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