The Five Fire Sacrifices and Offerings of Israel – The Meal Offering

The Old Covenant Book of Leviticus outlines five special Levitical fire offerings and sacrifices. The Burnt Offering is for the sanctification of the whole man in self-surrender to the Lord even unto death. The Meal or Grain Offering is the fruit of that sanctification. The Peace Offering is the blossoming of the possession and enjoyment of saving grace. The Sin Offering is for making amends for sin. The Trespass Offering was for the restoration of rights that had been violated.

The New Testament views all the old covenant sacrifices as types of the death of Christ. That is, the five sacrifices bring out different aspects and significance of His one sacrificial death on the cross. Lambs sacrificed every morning and evening were the most typical victim, so Jesus is called ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Indeed he died at the time of the evening sacrifice. (3)

The Meal or Grain Offering (Leviticus 2:1-16)

The second Levitical offering is called a Meal or Grain Offering, and it is the only one that was not a blood offering. The Meal Offering is referred to in the Hebrew text as korban minchah, and literally means “to give a present.” Therefore, the basic concept is that of a gift (Genesis 32:13, 18). It was often used in the context of giving a gift to gain the favor of a superior. It was a tribute of a faithful worshipper to a divine overlord. (2)

Again, this is the only offering that was bloodless. However, it was never offered apart from blood, but was normally accompanied by blood (Leviticus 23:9–14. Numbers 15:1–16. Ezra 7:17). Often, the Meal Offering is mentioned in conjunction with the Burnt Offering, as it is very closely associated with the Burnt Offering (Joshua 22:23, 29. Judges 13:19, 23. 1 Kings 8:64. 2 Kings 16:13). Before the Meal Offering was placed upon the Altar, the Burnt Offering was given first. The Meal Offering was then placed upon the Burnt Offering so that the Meal Offering always came in contact with blood.

Consequently, there is no ground in the Meal Offering for human boasting as though the offerer were received by God on the grounds of human effort. Again, the recognition of the person’s unworthiness is emphasized by the fact that meal offerings must be accompanied by a whole burnt offering.

The Meal Offering was sacrificially offered to God in thanksgiving, and then given to the priest for the purpose of ministry. It may have been offered either cooked or uncooked. The basic content of the Meal Offering was wheat beaten into a very fine sifted flour. However, unsifted barley flour was used in the offering of the woman accused of adultery (Numbers 5:15). (5,7)

Cakes or Wafers of the Meal Offering

Ten cakes (loaves) or ten wafers were prepared for the Meal Offering with the exception of twelve cakes for the showbread and twelve “baked cakes” for the High Priest (4),

Cooked Meal Offering

There were four options for the finely sifted wheat flour:

  • baked in an oven mixed with olive oil into ring-shaped or perforated unleavened loaves,
  • baked in an oven into unleavened wafers smeared with olive oil,
  • baked on a flat pan (griddle) mixed with olive oil into an unleavened cracker, crumbled into pieces, and then olive oil poured over the pieces, and
  • deep-fried in a pan of olive oil (Leviticus 2:4-10)

There was only one option for the first ripe grain of barley at harvest times during the Feast of First Fruits (1) :

  • roasted in fire soft kernels from crushed bits of fresh grain with olive oil and frankincense on it (Leviticus 2:14-16)

The Uncooked Meal Offering

It would be offered as a fine wheat flour along with two items (Leviticus 2:1-3) (except for the coarse barley meal offerings of a sinner or a woman accused of adultery which had neither (Numbers 5:15), the showbread which required frankincense but not oil, and a meal offering brought with drink offerings that required oil but not frankincense):

  • olive oil (poured on), and
  • frankincense (placed on) (Leviticus 2:1,15).

There were two items that were never to be added to the Meal Offering that would be offered by fire:

  • leaven, and
  • honey (Leviticus 2:11).

However, leaven was to be used in the:

He must present this grain offering in addition to ring-shaped loaves of leavened bread which regularly accompany the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offering. (Leviticus 7:13 NET)
  • Ring-shaped loaves of bread that normally accompanied a Thanksgiving Peace Offering, and
  • Two First Fruit (of wheat) Loaves of the Feast of Weeks (i.e., Pentecost)
You can present them to the Lord as an offering of first fruit, but they must not go up to the altar for a soothing aroma. (Leviticus 2:12 NET)

There was one item items that was always to be added to the Meal Offering:

  • Salt (from Sodom (XV)) (Leviticus 2:13)
Moreover, you must season every one of your grain offerings with salt; you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering—on every one of your grain offerings you must present salt. (Leviticus 2:13 NET)

Individual Meal Offerings

There were nine individual meal offerings, all of them offered upon the Altar, as follows:

  • the sinner’s meal offering that a poor man offered when he was obliged to bring a sin offering but could not afford to offer an animal (Leviticus 5:11–13),
  • the meal offering of a woman suspected of adultery, known as “the meal offering of jealousy” [i.e., a woman accused of adultery],” (Numbers 5:15),
  • the meal offering that every priest brought when he first entered the service, which he offered with his own hand and was called “the meal offering of induction,”
  • the meal offering that the High Priest offered every day, which was referred to as “Baked Cakes” (Leviticus 6:19–23),
  • the meal offering of fine flour, brought as a vow or free-will offering (Numbers 15:1–16),
  • the meal offering baked on a griddle, brought as a vow or a freewill offering,
  • the meal offering of the stewing-pan, brought as a vow or a freewill offering,
  • the meal offering baked in an oven, brought as a vow or a freewill offering, and
  • the meal offering of wafers, brought as a vow or a free-will offering. (4)

Congregational Meal Offerings

Three meal offerings were brought by the congregation:

  • the Sheaf of Waving (1) [ʿomer] (first barley), which was offered upon the Altar (Leviticus 23:13, 18),
  • The Showbread, which was prepared every week and was NOT offered upon the Altar but consumed entirely by the priests. (Leviticus 23:15–17, 24:5–9) (5)
  • the “Two First Fruit (of wheat) Loaves of the Feast of Weeks (i.e., Pentecost) and referred to as “a meal offering” (they were NOT offered upon the Altar and were leavened). (4)

Required Sacrifices

  • None required; however, Meal Offerings were typically associated with other offerings as indicated in the“Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant” table immediately below:

There were six sequential steps of the Meal Offering ritual.

  1. The worshipper would bring his Meal Offering to the Tabernacle.
  2. The following Meal Offerings were required to be waived (i.e., to swing them forward and backward and upward and downward) at the East end of the Bronze Altar: (a) the meal offering of fine flour, and (b) the meal offering prepared in the baking pan, and (c) the meal offering prepared in the frying pan [Leviticus 2:8], and (d) the meal offering of cakes, and (e) the meal offering of wafers, and (f) the meal offering of priests, and (g) the meal offering of an anointed priest, and (h) the meal offering of gentiles, and (i) the meal offering of women accused of adultery, (j) the meal offering of a sinner and (k) the meal offering of the Sheaf of Waving (I,4)
  3. For all Meal Offerings that were to be burned by fire, the offerer was required to “bring near” the offering to the Bronze Altar on the west side against the point of the southwest horn. (4)
  4. The worshipper would then take a handful of the Meal Offering (except for the induction meal offering, the “Baked Cakes”, and a priest’s meal offering brought because of a sin or as a freewill offering, all which were burned upon the Altar and no Handful was taken from them.) (4)
  5. The priest would take the handful of fine flour with all the frankincense and olive oil upon it from the worshipper and burn it on the Altar providing a sweet-smelling aroma to God.
  6. The rest of the Meal Offering would be given to the priest as a means of sustenance.

Typological Meaning

The Meal Offering typifies the perfect humanity of the Messiah.

Finely Sifted (Wheat) Flour

Wheat, Wheat Kernels, and Wheat Flour

The grain offering was to be made of “fine flour.”  In order to make coarse grain into fine flour, you must pound, grind, and sift it repeatedly. Usually, when a loaf of bread is made leaven is added so that it will rise.  After the dough is allowed to rise, it is then punched down, kneaded, shaped into a loaf, and then put into the oven to bake.  After baking it becomes bread for consumption.

When Jesus was on the cross, our sins, our “leaven,” were placed on Him like a garment.  Jesus was beaten, punched to become fine flour, and then placed in God’s furnace of misery; the cross where he suffered God’s judgment in payment for all our sin and sins.  In doing so, He became the Bread of Life!

Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have purified you in the furnace of misery. (Isaiah 48:10 NET)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51 NET) 
I am speaking to thoughtful people. Consider what I say. Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all share the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:15–17 NET)


“It was, and is, grown chiefly as provender for horses and asses (1 Kings 4:28), oats being practically unknown, but it was, as it now is, to some extent, the food of the poor in country districts (Ruth 2:17; 2 Kings 4:42; John 6:9, 13)”. (IV) “Barley bread served as food for the common people; and the loaves which were miraculously distributed to the multitude by our Lord were made of barley (John 6:9, 13).” (V) “As the first grain to ripen, barley was a symbol of spring (Ruth 1:22). The first omer of barley was reaped on the second day of Passover, marking the beginning of the spring harvest season (Leviticus. 23:9–15). The end of the barley harvest (and the beginning of the wheat harvest) is associated with the festival of Shavuot when the Book of Ruth (which takes place during the barley harvest) is read in the synagogue.” (VI)

Consequentially, Barley represents that Jesus would come from poor common people (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:1-8).

Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence. (1 Corinthians 1:26–29 NET)
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5 NET)

Barley also represents the people of Israel, the Jews. God did not favor and chose this people group to be His people because they were the largest, most prestigious nation. Israel like barley compared to wheat was the smallest nation. However, it was Jews that were the first to respond to His call, the first fruits (i.e., the first to be born again).

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the Lord favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the Lord brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the Lord your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. (Deuteronomy 7:6–11 NET)

Israel was a small group of people without great culture or prestige. They possessed no unique personal qualities which would warrant such a choice. The election was an act of God alone (cf. John 15:16). The ultimate cause for that choice lay in the mystery of divine love. (XVII)

Olive Oil

The bread dough was to be mixed with olive oil (1), beaten, pounded into the desired shape, and baked in an oven. If it was an unleavened “cake,” it was to be “mixed with oil”.  If it was an “unleavened wafer”, it was to be “anointed” with oil.

Mixed with oil is a picture of Jesus who was born without sin and full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was “anointed with oil,” upon coming up out of the waters after being baptized by John. At that time, The Holy Spirit rested ON HIM (poured over Him as oil) without measure. 

You love justice and hate evil. For this reason God, your God has anointed you with the oil of joy, elevating you above your companions. (Psalm 45:7 NET)
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” (Hebrews 1:9 NET)
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52 NET)


Frankincense is used for incense and perfume as it has a sweet smell. Paul alludes to a fragrant offering figuratively in the New Covenant.

For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God. And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. May glory be given to God our Father forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:18–20 NET)

Frankincense is tapped from the scraggly but hardy trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called Frankincense tears

This depicts the horrendous torture He suffered by slashings and stripes from the whippings and beatings before He suffered the most disgraceful death of crucifixion. Furthermore, it represents what Jesus is doing for us in the present role as our Great High Priest and Covenant Mediator.

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:14–16 NET)

Waving or Elevating (Heaving)

“Waving or elevating the offering apparently had several purposes. In most cases, and always when animal meat and fat constituted the sacrifice, the ritual marked a change in ownership of the sacrifice from the offerer to God, and its consecration for the presiding priest’s meal (Leviticus 7:24–36). (VIII) (X)

Major sacrifices such as the purification, holocaust, burnt, and “sin” offerings were not elevated because they already belonged to Yahweh. Moreover, the priest lifted only those parts of the carcass that he would eat (the breast and right shank), not the parts returning to the worshipper. (VIII) (X)

Exceptions to these conditions exist in the grain offerings in Leviticus 23; Numbers 5:15 [i.e., the grain offering of suspicion], all of which depart from the norm by being of barley rather than wheat and by lacking oil and incense. Also dissimilar is the offering for the person with scale disease, which cannot be paid in silver, unlike reparation offerings in other contexts.(VIII) (X)

The elevation offering could occur at various points of the ritual cycle: with grain offerings at the beginning (Leviticus 23:15) and with meat and mixed offerings in the middle (Exodus 29:23–26; Numbers 5:25; Leviticus 14:12) or at the end (Exodus 29:27–28; Lev. 9:21) of the ceremony. Notably, the elevation offering marks the transition to the ritual exit (through blessing) in the inaugural service of the priest (Leviticus 9:21), perhaps to signify his new right to preside at all sacrifices. The elevation of the offering thus marked important transitions in the ritual, especially prior to its climax.” (VIII) (X)

Hebrew “terumah” (Exodus 29:27) means simply an offering, a present, including all the offerings made by the Israelites as a present. This Hebrew word is frequently employed. Some of the rabbis attach to the word the meaning of elevation and refer it to the heave offering, which consisted in presenting the offering by a [single] motion up and [then] down, distinguished from the wave offering, which consisted in a repeated movement in a horizontal direction, a “wave offering to the Lord as ruler of the earth, a heave offering to the Lord as ruler of heaven.” The right shoulder, which fell to the priests in presenting thank offerings, was called the heave shoulder (Leviticus 7:34; Numbers 6:20). (I)

“The parts assigned to the priest constituted the wave-offering (“terumah”; Ex. 29:24, 26), and were waved backward and forward in a line with the altar. According to Orelli, this movement was a symbolical expression of the reciprocity of the giving and receiving on the part of God and the sacrificer (Herzog-Hauck, “Real-Enyc.” 1904, 14:392). They were waved toward the four sides of the world (see Rashi on Ex. 2:9; Baḥya on Lev. 8; and Levi ben Gershon on Lev. 3.). The wave-offering symbolized that the person dedicated himself to God, who dwells as much above as among His people (Hoff, “Die Mosaischen Opfer,” p. 23, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1857). Kurtz suggests that the offering was waved vertically as well as toward the four quarters of the world.” (IX)

“To wave an offering is to swing, sway, or move to and fro while physically presenting something in worship to the Resurrection and the Life through this action.” (II) “The wave offering was waved, not from right to left, but back and forth toward the altar and the priest, symbolizing that the offering was being given to God.” (VII)

While there is some disagreement on the waving or heaving terminology, the act of Waving or Heaving back and forth portrays the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, we have reminders in the water Baptism (1) and the Lord’s Supper (1) (i.e., Eucharist or Communion). The Waving to the four corners of the World (North, East, West, South) represents that Jesus died for everyone, everywhere, and at every time since the fall of man on Earth! Now that is Good NEWS! Hallelujah!

Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:12–15 NET)
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me." For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NET)


Dead Sea Salt
Moreover, you must season every one of your grain offerings with salt; you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering—on every one of your grain offerings you must present salt. (Leviticus 2:13 NET)

All grain offering were required to have salt added to them.

According to the Babylonian Talmud the salt used in the service of the temple must come from Sodom (the Dead Sea area):

III:2: Nor shall you allow salt to be lacking:” Since the word for “be lacking” uses the same consonants as those in the word Sabbath, the meaning is: produce salt that has no Sabbath but is produced winter and summer, and what is that? It is salt from Sodom. (XIV)

Since salt was regarded in the ancient Near East as not being destructible by fire, “a covenant of salt” seems to refer to an eternal covenant (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5) (XIII)

Salt has the following characteristics:

Salt Preserves – many of the disciples Jesus called were fishermen and were well aware of the ability of salt to preserve caught fish and thus keep them from spoiling.

As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.”They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16–20 NET)

Salt stands for permanence and incorruptibility. Thus when salt is used in a “covenant of salt,” it always signifies an everlasting covenant, with the salt being an emblem or symbol of perpetuity. The use of salt in an offering would therefore signify the everlasting relation between God and His people—they everlastingly belong to Him, and He everlastingly belongs to them. For this reason, salt and permanence were always associated in a covenant; 2 Chronicles 13:5 states: “Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” (XV)

Salt Flavors – salt is added to food to bring out its flavor. Salt can turn bland food into savory!

Can food that is tasteless be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? (Job 6:6 NET)

Salt Heals – in Biblical times salt was rubbed on newborn babies due to salt’s antiseptic properties.

The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, the city has a good location, as our master can see. But the water is bad and the land doesn’t produce crops.”Elisha said, “Get me a new jar and put some salt in it.” So they got it. He went out to the spring and threw the salt in. Then he said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or fail to produce crops.”The water has been pure to this very day, just as Elisha prophesied. (2 Kings 2:19–22 NET)

Salt Penetrates – a small amount of salt in a bottle of water will be nearly instantly salty throughout.

Salt represented the permanence of the covenant that the Israelites had just entered into with the Lord (Exod. 20–24). By requiring the Israelites to add salt to their offerings, the Lord provided a way for them constantly to affirm their covenant relationship with him. This affirmation would have greatly encouraged the people, by reminding them of the Lord’s steadfast commitment to be their covenant King. They especially needed this encouragement as they prepared to enter the Promised Land and establish God’s kingdom there. Only the presence of their covenant King in their midst could give them confidence in the success of their mission. (It is no different for the Christian today; this is no doubt why Jesus assures us of his presence when giving us our covenant mission; Matt. 28:18–20.) As well as being an encouragement, the requirement of the salt of the covenant served to remind the Israelites of their covenant obligations. The Lord had chosen them to be ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exod. 19:6), and the covenant laws he had given them had to be followed in order to show to the nations the Lord’s wisdom, righteousness and holiness (1) (Lev. 20:24b–26; Deut. 4:5–8). (III)

Jesus picks up on the same principle when he tells his disciples, ‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew. 5:16). To follow the King’s commands is to reflect the King’s character. Believers are to do this in such a radical way that people end up knowing the King’s character by seeing how his servants live. (III)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NET)
Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25 NET)
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50 NET)

Furthermore, Jesus equates being “salted with fire” with the growth in the fruit of the Spirit resulting from effectively suffering (1) for the Gospel’s sake.

Everyone will be salted with fire.(Mark 9:49 NET)
Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. (1 Peter 4:12–15 NET)

Wine Libations

A libation is a drink offering, usually of wine, poured out upon an altar as part of a sacrificial ceremony. (XXI) Drink offerings were poured out on the Bronze Altar; however, drink offerings were prohibited from being poured out on the Golden Altar of Incense. (Exodus 30:9)

Drink offerings poured out on the Bronze Altar always consisted of wine. There was no substitute as it represented the fruit of the earth or a product of a person’s labor. The drink offering recognized God as Creator and Lord over all the earth. It was quantified in the Mosaic Law of sacrifices (Exodus 29:38-41. Leviticus 23:13. Numbers 15:3-10). (XII)

Levitical Requirements for Sacrifices and Offerings including the Drink Offering

After the sacrifice had been made in the Levitical law, then, as an extra offering, this libation, this drink, would be taken and poured upon the sacrifice. And when it was poured upon the sacrifice, the heat there in the altar and the flames would consume it and vaporize it, and it would be gone forever, never to be retrieved, never to be brought back. It would go into the presence of God. (XXII)

The drink offering typologically represents our complete dedication: a life poured out to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul said it this way:

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you. And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me. (Philippians 2:17,18 NET)

What Paul was saying is, I give my life upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I pour it out, no holds barred, never hope to get it back, and no strings attached (1). (XXII)

Jesus said it this way:

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35 NET)

It has been said,, “Finders keepers; losers weepers.” But Jesus says, “Losers finders, keepers weepers.” “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall [find] it.” (XXII)

Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. (Genesis 49:11 NET)

On a deeper level, wine also represents blood, the essence of human life. Pouring wine upon the altar in sacrifice to God depicted a person’s total dedication—spirit, soul, and body. (XII)

for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life. (Leviticus 17:11 NET)
Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22 NET)

The blood of Jesus is conceptualized as wine poured out from a container. (XI)

And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20 NET)
He said to them, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many. (Mark 14:24 NET)
for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28 NET)

Later Paul would say:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (2 Timothy 4:6 ESV)

Paul knew that atonement for his sins had been achieved through the blood of Jesus Christ (1). But as he languished in prison, perhaps he reflected on the meaning of his approaching death. He knew that his death was a freewill offering to God, an oblation of his life upon the altar. He sacrificed himself in the service of Christ, recognizing Him as sovereign over all creation. As a drink offering, Paul poured out the fruit of his labors and the essence of his life. (XII)

The Old Leaven of the Kingdom of Darkness


No grain offering, that would be offered on the altar, could contain leaven or yeast.

“ ‘No grain offering which you present to the Lord can be made with yeast, for you must not offer up in smoke any yeast or honey as a gift to the Lord. You can present them to the Lord as an offering of first fruit, but they must not go up to the altar for a soothing aroma. (Leviticus 2:11–12 NET)

Generally, leaven represents sin in the Bible. Consequently, most offerings contained no leaven because unleavened bread represented Jesus in His perfect, sinless life in the flesh.  Jesus committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22), had no sin within Himself (1 John 3:5), and never knew sin (2 Corinthians 5:21); therefore, He being without blemish and spot qualified to be our sacrificial offering (1 Peter 1:19).

Jesus warned his disciples of three dangerous forms of leaven:

The Pharisaical Leaven of Hypocrisy

Meanwhile, when many thousands of the crowd had gathered so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1 NET)

The term hypocrite originated in Greek drama and means to “put on the face.”  The hypocrite was an actor in a play. He pretended to be something that he was not. The Pharisee pretended to be spiritual as he paraded his giving, praying, and fasting (Matthew 6). They were actors on the stage of life! All of their good works were done to be “seen of men” (Matthew 23:5). Christ warned his disciples to “beware” of this leaven by making sure their inside was as good as their outside:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagoguesand elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ (Matthew 23:1–7 NET)
“Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too! “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25–28 NET)

The Pharisees created laws contrary to God’s Word to benefit themselves and used them to control the people.

Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matthew 15:7–9 NET)
Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.” (Mark 7:13 NET)

The Liberal Leaven of the Sadducee

“Watch out,” Jesus said to them, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6 NET)

The Sadducees were the major ruling religious party of Christ’s day. They were very liberal with their handling of scripture, interjecting their own human reasoning into its interpretation. They thought that the archaic writings of scripture needed to be brought up to date with modern understanding.

They proposed a parable to Jesus in Matthew 22:23-30 to prove in their minds that there couldn’t possibly be any resurrection of the dead. “A woman married and was widowed seven times by seven brethren. In the resurrection, whose wife would she be?” Jesus simply corrected their reasoning with Scripture and told them they erred in two ways:

Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 NET)
  • Not knowing the Scripture – When the leaven of liberalism sets in, emphasis on the teaching, preaching, reading, memorizing, and studying Scripture is left off, causing God’s people to perish (Hosea 4:6).
  • Not knowing the Power of God – The power of God is only known by believing in the Word of God. When you leave the ministry of the Word, you leave off the powerful object of our faith, the Word of God. (Hebrews 1:3. 1 Corinthians 2:4. 1 Thessalonians 1:5)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.” (Romans 1:16–17 NET)
Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NET)
Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NET)

To purge out the leaven of liberalism in our lives, we need only to ask ourselves if we are obeying:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NET)

The Worldly Leaven of Herod

And Jesus ordered them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” (Mark 8:15 NET)

Herod the Great was the great builder of Israel and the darling of Rome. Herod’s followers the Herodians were wholly given to the Greek culture, the Roman power, and the politics of the times. They tried to trap Jesus by asking, “Is it lawful to give unto Caesar?” (Mark 12:14-17) “This present world”, in every age, has had its allures. Jesus knew his disciples were going to be tempted by the leaven of worldliness, and he prayed the following to His Father:

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. (John 17:15 NET)
If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. (John 15:19 NET)

We are also instructed to be in the world but not of the world, not conformed to it.

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1,2 NET)

We are definitely not to be in love with the world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:15–17 NET)
Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. (James 4:4 NET)

Every believer has to make their decision to either chose God or the god of this world:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24 NET)

Beware of the leaven of Herod by considering what happened to the apostle Paul’s hand-picked disciple, whose Christianity by appearance probably would have put ours to shame:

For Demas deserted me, since he loved the present age, and he went to Thessalonica. Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10 NET)

The Common Sin of the Three Leavens

The three leavens are commonly rooted in the sin of unbelief or the lack of faith as seen in the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herod that polluted their teaching and lifestyle.

But the man who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23 NET)

The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees were jealous of Jesus and routinely attempted to entrap Him with their questions. They had no faith in Him, the living Word of God, or His words. They did not have God’s love in their hearts (John 5:42) and could not discern the times or who He was as faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). Rather than believing that Jesus was the promised Messiah by what He said and did in fulfillment of prophecies (Luke 7:20-23), they wanted a sign, a “magic show.” Jesus only gave them the sign of the prophet Jonah:

But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:39–40 NET)
Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He said, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.’ You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away. (Matthew 16:1–4 NET)

After this confrontation, Jesus immediately left and went across the lake with His disciples. The disciples became anxious about how they would provide food to feed His followers. Recall they had witnessed Jesus’ miracle of the multiplication of the bread on two previous occasions, once for Jews (i.e., the feeding of the 5000, Matthew 14:13-21. Mark 6:30-44. Luke 9:10-17. John 6:1-13) and the other time for Gentiles (i.e., the feeding of the 4000, Matthew 15:32. Mark 8:1-3). Jesus attempted to help them see their “lack of faith” and used the recent confrontation with the Sadducees and Pharisees and their “lack of faith” with the two feedings to provide a case study.

When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread. “Watch out,” Jesus said to them, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” So they began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “It is because we brought no bread.” When Jesus learned of this, he said, “You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many baskets you took up? How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5–12 NET)

Jesus warned the disciples to guard against the leaven or teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees’ because it was not based on faith and therefore is sin. (Romans 14:23). Jesus instructed the disciples that they needed to have faith in Him and His words without the impurity of a lack of faith. The teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees removed faith from the people because, like leaven, it permeated throughout the truth that came from what Jesus taught, the true bread from Heaven.

A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise! (Galatians 5:9 NET)
Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough—you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6–8 NET)

The Apostle Paul, like Jesus, was not talking about physical bread, but rather that we are to live a life filled with God’s truth received in faith.


“ ‘No grain offering which you present to the Lord can be made with yeast, for you must not offer up in smoke any yeast or honey as a gift to the Lord. You can present them to the Lord as an offering of first fruit, but they must not go up to the altar for a soothing aroma. (Leviticus 2:11–12 NET)

It is believed that the reason honey was forbidden in offerings by fire was that it ferments under certain conditions. For this reason, honey is associated with corruption. (XV)

Honey was forbidden from use in fire offerings; however, it was permitted in Firstfruits offerings (these were not offered by fire) given to the priests for their services.

Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant

Topical Index of Hal’s Blogs (1)

(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.

(2) This article has been primarily adapted from: Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). The Messianic Bible Study Collection (Vol. 180, p. 16). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.

(3) Wenham, G. J. (1981). Numbers: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 220). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

(4) Neusner, J. (2007). A History of the Mishnaic Law of Holy Things: Menahot: Translation and Explanation. (J. Neusner, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 1). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers.

(5) Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 19, pp. vii–viii). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

(I)  Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 742). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

(II) Malda, B. D. (Ed.). (2015). Come and Worship: Ways to Worship from the Hebrew Scriptures (p. 62). Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books: a division of Messianic Jewish Publishers.

(III) Sklar, J. (2013). Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 3, p. 101). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

(IV) Masterman, E. W. G. (1915). Barley. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 405). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

(V) Balfour, J. H. (1885). The Plants of the Bible (p. 212). London; Edinburgh; New York: T. Nelson and Sons.

(VI) Eisenberg, R. L. (2004). The JPS guide to Jewish traditions (1st ed., p. 670). Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.

(VII) Hannah, J. D. (1985). Exodus. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 153). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

(VIII) Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

 (IX) Singer, I. (Ed.). (1901–1906). In The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 12 Volumes (Vol. 9, p. 568). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.

(X) Hamilton, M. W. (2000). Elevation Offering. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

(XI)  (2016). The Lexham Figurative Language of the New Testament Dataset. In J. R. Westbury, J. Thompson, K. A. Lyle, & J. Parks (Eds.), Lexham Figurative Language of the Bible Glossary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(XII) Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 331). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

(XIII) Lindsey, F. D. (1985). Leviticus. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 177). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

(XIV) Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 19, p. 617). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

(XV) Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 143). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

(XVI) Wuest, K. S. (1961). The New Testament: an expanded translation (1 Co 5:6–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

(XVII) Thompson, J. A. (1974). Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 5, p. 147). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

(XVIII) Keach, B. (1858). An Exposition of the Parables and Express Similitudes of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (pp. 239–240). London: Aylott and Co.

(XIX) Beis Hamikdash Topics – Tour of the Temple: Class 10, The Altar

(XX) C. S. Lewis, Miracles (New York: HarperCollins, 1974), pp. 236–37.

(XXI) Hall, K. D. (2000). Libation. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 807). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans. 

(XXII)  Rogers, A. (2017). Back to Bethel. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Ge 35). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.

(XXIII) The only other view of the younger Jesus is when He was 12 years old. Jesus’ parents had left Jerusalem thinking He was with some of the relatives, but after a day’s journey, they realized He was not. Upon returning to Jerusalem, they found Him in the temple, both learning and teaching the religious teachers of Israel! (Luke 2:42-52) This was one of the moments when Mary was reminded of things told to her when Jesus was born (Luke 2:27-32). His mission to save humanity would come not come without some cost to her as well (Luke 2:34,35). Jesus, while obeying the fifth commandment to honor His earthly father and mother (Exodus 20:12), answered to a higher authority – a higher call than just being a good son they could be proud of in their old age. This was Mary’s first of several friendly reminders that He would be controlled by no one but God – not even Mary, His mother would be allowed to derail the mission – as the mission was to set her free, too. Realize, Jesus emptied Himself of His power and authority as God to become a man (Philippians 2:6-8). He was not born with a genetic memory knowing all things in His soul (i.e., mind, will, and emotions). Yes, in His spirit, He was the creator of all the universe, including man. However, as the Great Shepherd leader, He became flesh and lived out life on this fallen planet to show us the way. That is, when He messed His diaper like a baby, He was NOT just faking it! Jesus came as the Second Man and Last Adam and accomplished what the First Adam was supposed to do – subdue all enemies of God (Genesis 1:28). He did it with no advantage over what the First Adam had available to him. Through studying the scriptures and mentoring by the Holy Spirit, His soul learned who, what and why He was, is, and ever shall be – this knowledge He already subconsciously had in His spirit. (Psalms 119:98-104. Luke 2:40) Jesus never stopped being the eternal God; however, He voluntarily limited Himself to being a Man submitted to God the Holy Spirit. God, the Holy Spirit, performed the miracles that God the Father wanted to be performed through Jesus while He was on Earth (John 14:10). This was available to the First Adam and now available to all that are in Him (John 14:12). All hail the God that became Man to save an undeserving wretch like me!!! 

Doulos Hal

Hal has been teaching the Bible for over three decades. Presently, He desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God, that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.

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