Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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:II.
(1) A meat offering.—Better, an oblation of a meat offering, as the same two words are rendered in Leviticus 2:4; Leviticus 2:13. The meat offerings which come next in the legal enumeration, and which occupy the whole of the present chapter, consisted of three kinds. The first is fine flour with oil and frankincense (Leviticus 2:1-3). The flour was of wheat (Exodus 29:2), and was double the value of the ordinary barley flour (2Kings 7:1; 2Kings 7:16; 2Kings 7:18), and because of its use at the sacrifices formed part of the Temple stores (1Chronicles 9:29; 1Chronicles 23:29).
Shall pour oil upon it.—Oil being to the food of the Israelites what butter is to ours, the offerer is here commanded to put some of it into this preparation in order to make it more palatable to the priests who were to eat part of it. (See Leviticus 2:3.) The frankincense was designed to counteract the offensive smell arising from the quantity of the flesh burnt there, as is evident from the following verse, where it is stated that it is wholly to be burnt.
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.—Better, And the priest shall take from it a handful of its flour and of its oil with all its frankincense, and this shall he burn as its memorial upon the altar, &c.
Memorial.—So called because it was designed to bring the worshipper into the grateful remembrance of God, and to remind him, as it were, of His promise to accept the service of His people rendered to Him in accordance with his command. Hence the declaration of the Psalmist, “the Lord remember all thine offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice” (Psalm 20:4), and of the angel to Cornelius, “thy prayers and thy alms are come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4).
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) And the remnant.—With the exception of the memorial or the handful of flour and oil, and of all the frankincense, this meat offering belonged to the priests, who divided it among them, and by whom alone it was to be consumed in the court of the sanctuary.
A thing most holy.—The offerings consisted of two classes, less holy and most holy. The thank offerings (Leviticus 23:20; Numbers 6:20), the firstborn of clean sacrificed animals (Numbers 18:17), the firstlings of oil, wine, and corn, and the paschal sacrifices, belonged to the less holy, and might be eaten entirely or partially in any clean place within the holy city by the officiating priests and their families (Leviticus 10:12-14). The incense offering, the shew-bread (Exodus 30:26; Leviticus 24:9), the sin and trespass offerings (Leviticus 6:25-28; Leviticus 7:1; Leviticus 7:6; Leviticus 14:13, &c.), and the meat offerings here described, belonged to the most holy class. They could only be eaten in the court of the sanctuary by the priests alone.
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) A meat offering baked in the oven.—The second kind of meat offering consisted of preparations baked with oil in the oven, or in the pan, or cooked in a pot (Leviticus 2:4-10). The oven is probably the portable pot, open at the top, about three feet high and liable to be broken (Leviticus 11:35), which is still used in the East for making bread and cakes. After the vessel is thoroughly heated, the dough, which is made into large, thin, oval cakes resembling pancakes or Scotch oatcakes, is dexterously thrown against the sides, the aperture above is covered, and the bread is completely baked in a few minutes. Though the bread when first taken out is soft, and can be rolled up like paper, it hardens and becomes crisp when it is kept.
And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.(5) Baken in a pan.—Better, a flat plate. This is probably the iron fire-plate (Ezekiel 5:3), with a convex surface, which is placed horizontally upon stones about nine inches from the ground, and underneath which the fire is kindled, used by the Arabs to this day. The large thin cakes, and the thin wafer bread, are laid upon the convex surface, where they are baked in comparatively few minutes. These baking operations took place in the court of the sanctuary, where the vessels of ministration were kept (Ezekiel 46:20; 1Chronicles 23:28-29).
Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.(6) Thou shalt part it in pieces.—The cake thus baked was not to be offered as a whole, but broken up in pieces and mingled with oil. Bread, broken in pieces and steeped in oil, butter, milk, or sweet juices, still constitutes a favourite dish among the Bedouin Arabs.
And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.(7) Baken in the frying-pan.—Better, boiled in a pan. This is a deeper vessel than the frying-pan, and corresponds more to our stew-pan or pot. In this deep vessel the cakes were boiled in oil.
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) And thou shalt bring.—Whichever of the three cereal preparations is preferred, the offerer is to present it to the priest, who is to take it to the altar. During the second Temple, the pieces were put into a ministering vessel, oil and frankincense were then put on them, and the vessel was carried by the offerer to the priest, and the priest carried it to the altar and brought it to the south-west.
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.(9, 10) And the priest.—Leviticus 2:9-10, which conclude the law about the bloodless offerings, resume and expand the directions given in Leviticus 2:1-2.
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) No meat offering.—Leviticus 2:11-13 add some general rules respecting meat offerings. As honey was used in olden times to produce fermentation, it is excluded, like fermented dough, from these offerings. (See Leviticus 11:20.)
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.(12) As for the oblation.—Better, as an oblation of firstfruits ye may offer them. This verse mentions an exception to the rule laid down in the previous one. i.e., leaven and honey, which are excluded from the meat offerings, may be used with firstfruits. Hence they are mentioned with firstfruits (Leviticus 23:17; 2Chronicles 31:5).
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) And every oblation.—But salt, which is the contrary to leaven, and which preserves from putrefaction and corruption, was to be an ingredient, not only of bloodless, but of all animal sacrifices (Ezekiel 43:24).
The salt of the covenant of thy God.—From its antiseptic and savoury qualities, salt became the symbol of hospitality, friendship, durability, fidelity. “To eat bread and salt together” is, in the East, an expression for a league of mutual amity (Russell, Aleppo, i. 232). When the Arabs make a covenant together, they put salt on the blade of a sword, from whence every one puts a little into his mouth. This constitutes them blood relations, and they remain faithful to each other even when in danger of life (Ritter, Erd. 14:960). Hence the expression “a covenant of salt,” which also occurs in Numbers 18:19, and 2Chronicles 13:5, denotes an indissoluble alliance, an everlasting covenant. Hence, too, the phrase “salted with the salt of the palace” (Ezra 4:14) means bound by sacred obligations of fidelity to the king.
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) And if thou offer.—The third kind of meat offering (Leviticus 2:14-16) is of the firstfruits. These verses should properly come immediately after Leviticus 2:12, since Leviticus 2:13 concludes the directions about the different kinds of minchas or bloodless offerings, with general remarks applying to all animal sacrifices. Such transpositions are not uncommon in the Hebrew Scriptures. Parched or roasted corn, as here described, was, and still is, a favourite article of food in the East (Leviticus 23:14; Joshua 5:11; 1Samuel 17:17; 1Samuel 25:18; 2Samuel 17:28; Ruth 2:14). It was, therefore, an appropriate meat offering. Hence the regulations about it, Leviticus 2:14-16, are the same as those given with regard to the other two kinds of bloodless offerings.