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Adam Clarke Commentary

Leviticus 2

Introduction

The meat-offering of flour with oil and incense, Leviticus 2:1 -3. The oblation of the meat-offering baked in the oven and in the pan, Leviticus 2:4 -6. The meat-offering baked in the frying-pan, Leviticus 2:7 -10. No leaven nor honey to be offered with the meat-offering, Leviticus 2:11 . The oblation of the first-fruits, Leviticus 2:12 . Salt to be offered with the meat offering, Leviticus 2:13 . Green ears dried by the fire, and corn to be beaten out of full ears, with oil and frankincense, to be offered as a meat-offering of first-fruits, Leviticus 2:14 -16.

Verse 1

Meat-offering - מנחה minchah. For an explanation of this word see Clarke's note on Genesis 4:3 , and Lev. vii. Calmet has remarked that there are five kinds of the minchah mentioned in this chapter.1. סלת soleth, simple flour or meal, Leviticus 2:1 .2. Cakes and wafers, or whatever was baked in the oven, Leviticus 2:4 .3. Cakes baked in the pan, Leviticus 2:5 .4. Cakes baked on the frying-pan, or probably, a gridiron, Leviticus 2:7 .5. Green ears of corn parched, Leviticus 2:14 .All these were offered without honey or leaven, but accompanied with wine, oil, and frankincense. It is very likely that the minchah, in some or all of the above forms, was the earliest oblation offered to the Supreme Being, and probably was in use before sin entered into the world, and consequently before bloody sacrifices, or piacular victims, had been ordained. The minchah of green ears of corn dried by the fire, etc., was properly the gratitude-offering for a good seed time, and the prospect of a plentiful harvest. This appears to have been the offering brought by Cain, Genesis 4:3 ; see Clarke's note Genesis 4:3 . The flour, whether of wheat, rice, barley, rye, or any other grain used for aliment, was in all likelihood equally proper; for in Numbers 5:15 , we find the flour of barley, or barley meal, is called minchah. It is plain that in the institution of the minchah no animal was here included, though in other places it seems to include both kinds; but in general the minchah was not a bloody offering, nor used by way of atonement or expiation, but merely in a eucharistic way, expressing gratitude to God for the produce of the soil. It is such an offering as what is called natural religion might be reasonably expected to suggest: but alas! so far lost is man, that even thankfulness to God for the fruits of the earth must be taught by a Divine revelation; for in the heart of man even the seeds of gratitude are not found, till sown there by the hand of Divine grace. Offerings of different kinds of grain, flour, bread, fruits, etc., are the most ancient among the heathen nations; and even the people of God have had them from the beginning of the world. See this subject largely discussed on Exodus 23:29 (note), where several examples are given. Ovid intimates that these gratitude-offerings originated with agriculture. "In the most ancient times men lived by rapine, hunting, etc., for the sword was considered to be more honorable than the plough; but when they sowed their fields, they dedicated the first-fruits of their harvest to Ceres, to whom the ancients attributed the art of agriculture, and to whom burnt-offerings of corn were made, according to immemorial usages." The passage to which I refer, and of which I have given the substance, is the following: - Lassabant agiles aspera bella viros.Plus erat in gladio quam curvo laudis aratro:Neglectus domino pauca ferebat ager.Farra tamen veteres jaciebant, farra metebant:Primitias Cereri farra resecta dabant.Usibus admoniti flammis torrenda dedere:Multaque peccato damna tulere suo."Fastor., lib. ii., ver. 515.Pliny observes that "Numa taught the Romans to offer fruits to the gods, and to make supplications before them, bringing salt cakes and parched corn; as grain in this state was deemed most wholesome." Numa instituit deos Fruge colere, et Mola Salsa supplicare, atque (ut auctor est Hemina) far torrere, quoniam tostum cibo salubrius esset - Hist. Nat. lib xviii., c. 2. And it is worthy of remark, that the ancient Romans considered "no grain as pure or proper for divine service that had not been previously parched." Id uno modo consecutum, statuendo non esse purum ad rem divinam nisi tostum - Ibid.God, says Calmet, requires nothing here which was not in common use for nourishment; but he commands that these things should be offered with such articles as might give them the most exquisite relish, such as salt, oil, and wine, and that the flour should be of the finest and purest kind. The ancients, according to Suidas, seem to have made much use or meal formed into a paste with milk, and sometimes with water. (See Suidas in Μαζα). The priests kept in the temples a certain mixture of flour mingled with oil and wine, which they called Ὑγιεια Hugieia or health, and which they used as a kind of amulet or charm against sickness; after they had finished their sacrifices, they generally threw some flour upon the fire, mingled with oil and wine, which they called θυληματα thulemata, and which, according to Theophrastus, was the ordinary sacrifice of the poor.

Verse 2

His handful of the flour - This was for a memorial, to put God in mind of his covenant with their fathers, and to recall to their mind his gracious conduct towards them and their ancestors. Mr. Ainsworth properly remarks, "that there was neither oil nor incense offered with the sin and jealousy offerings; because they were no offerings of memorial, but such as brought iniquities to remembrance, which were neither gracious nor sweet-smelling before the Lord." Numbers 5:15 ; Leviticus 5:11 . In this case a handful only was burnt, the rest was reserved for the priest's use; but all the frankincense was burnt, because from it the priest could derive no advantage.

Verse 4

Baken in the oven - תנור tannur, from נר nar, to split, divide, says Mr. Parkhurst; and hence the oven, because of its burning, dissolving, and melting heat.

Verse 5

Baken in a pan - מחבת machabath, supposed to be a flat iron plate, placed over the fire; such as is called a griddle in some countries.

Verse 7

The frying-pan - מרחשת marchesheth, supposed to be the same with that called by the Arabs a ta-jen, a shallow earthen vessel like a frying-pan, used not only to fry in, but for other purposes. On the different instruments, as well as the manner of baking in the east, Mr. Harmer, in his observations on select passages of Scripture, has collected the following curious information.See more in Harmer's Observat., vol. i., p. 414, etc., Edit. 1808.

Verse 8

Thou shalt bring the meat-offering - It is likely that the person himself who offered the sacrifice brought it to the priest, and then the priest presented it before the Lord.

Verse 11

No meat-offering - shall be made with leaven - See the reason of this prohibition in the note on Exodus 12:8 (note).Nor any honey - Because it was apt to produce acidity, as some think, when wrought up with flour paste; or rather because it was apt to gripe and prove purgative. On this latter account the College of Physicians have totally left it out of all medicinal preparations. This effect which it has in most constitutions was a sufficient reason why it should be prohibited here, as a principal part of all these offerings was used by the priests as a part of their ordinary diet; and these offerings, being those of the poorer sort, were in greater abundance than most others. On this account, the griping, and purgative quality of the honey must render it extremely improper. As leaven was forbidden because producing fermentation, it was considered a species of corruption, and was therefore used to signify hypocrisy, malice, etc., which corrupt the soul; it is possible that honey might have had a moral reference, also, and have signified, as St. Jerome thought, carnal pleasures and sensual gratifications. Some suppose that the honey mentioned here was a sort of saccharine matter extracted from dates. Leaven and honey might be offered with the first-fruits, as we learn from the next verse; but they were forbidden to be burnt on the altar,

Verse 13

With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt - Salt was the opposite to leaven, for it preserved from putrefaction and corruption, and signified the purity and persevering fidelity that were necessary in the worship of God. Every thing was seasoned with it, to signify the purity and perfection that should be extended through every part of the Divine service, and through the hearts and lives of God's worshippers. It was called the salt of the covenant of God, because as salt is incorruptible, so was the covenant made with Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and the patriarchs, relative to the redemption of the world by the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ. Among the heathens salt was a common ingredient in all their sacrificial offerings; and as it was considered essential to the comfort and preservation of life, and an emblem of the most perfect corporeal and mental endowments, so it was supposed to be one of the most acceptable presents they could make unto their gods, from whose sacrifices it was never absent. That inimitable and invaluable writer, Pliny, has left a long chapter on this subject, the seventh of the thirty-first book of his Natural History, a few extracts from which will not displease the intelligent reader.Ergo, hercule, vita humanior sine Sale nequit degere: adeoque necessarium elementum est, ut transierit intellectus ad voluptates animi quoque. Nam ita Sales appellantur omnisque vitae lepos et summa hilaritas, laborumque requies non alio magis vocabulo constat. Honoribus etiam militiaeque inter ponitur, Salariis inde dictis - Maxime tamen in sacris intelligitur auctoritas, quando nulla conficiuntur sine mola salsa.So Virgil, Eclog. viii., ver. 82: Sparge molam.And again, Aeneid., lib. iv., ver. 517: - Ipsa mola, manibitsque piis, altaria juxta.All bent on death, before her altar stands."Pitt.In like manner Homer: - Iliad, lib. ix., ver. 214.Where it was treasured, pour'd it o'er the feast."Cowper.Quotations of this kind might be easily multiplied, but the above may be deemed sufficient.

Verse 14

Green ears of corn dried by the fire - Green or half-ripe ears of wheat parched with fire is a species of food in use among the poor people of Palestine and Egypt to the present day. As God is represented as keeping a table among his people, (for the tabernacle was his house, where he had the golden table, shewbread, etc)., so he represents himself as partaking with them of all the aliments that were in use, and even sitting down with the poor to a repast on parched corn! We have already seen that these green ears were presented as a sort of eucharistical offering for the blessings of seed time, and the prospect of a plentiful harvest. See Clarke's note on Leviticus 2:1 ; several other examples might be added here, but they are not necessary. The command to offer salt with every oblation, and which was punctually observed by the Jews, will afford the pious reader some profitable reflections. It is well known that salt has two grand properties.1. It seasons and renders palatable the principal ailments used for the support of life.2. It prevents putrefaction and decay.The covenant of God, that is, his agreement with his people, is called a covenant of salt, to denote as we have seen above, its stable undecaying nature, as well as to point out its importance and utility in the preservation of the life of the soul. The grace of God by Christ Jesus is represented under the emblem of salt, (see Mark 9:49 ; Ephesians 4:29 ; Colossians 4:6 , because of its relishing, nourishing, and preserving quality. Without it no offering, no sacrifice, no religious service, no work even of charity and mercy, can be acceptable in the sight of God. In all things we must come unto the Father Through Him. And from none of our sacrifices or services must this salt of the covenant of our God be lacking.

Leviticus 2


  1 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:
  2 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:
  3 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.
  4 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.
  5 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.
  6 Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.
  7 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
  8 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.
  9 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.
  10 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.
  11 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.
  12 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.
  13 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.
  14 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.
  15 And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering.
  16 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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