New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Lev 2:1 ‘When anyone offers-
"Anyone", literally "any soul / person", is a term carefully chosen. For women as well as men were encouraged to offer- in contrast to the generally male based system of offerings in the surrounding religions. There is also no age limit- anyone and everyone was encouraged to offer, even a grain offering if they could not manage an animal.

An offering of a grain offering to Yahweh, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it-
Frankincense was a type of incense which would have given a pleasing smell to the burning flour. This represented how pleased God was with the offering even of a handful of flour (:2). Small sacrifices please Him immensely. And they are what comprise daily life.

Lev 2:2 He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests; and he shall take his handful of its fine flour, and of its oil, with all its frankincense; and the priest shall burn its memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh-

Paul writes often that he "makes mention" or 'remembers' his brethren in regular prayer (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:2; Philemon 4). The Greek mneia is the word used in the LXX for the "memorial" of the incense or the meal offering (Lev. 2:2,16; 6:15; 24:7), or the constant fire on the altar (Lev. 6:12,13). That fire, that flour, that incense, had to be carefully and consciously prepared; it had to be the result of man's labour. And likewise, Paul seems to be saying, he first of all thought through the cases which he then presented to the Father.

Lev 2:3 That which is left of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. It is a most holy thing of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire-
The language of "most holy" is juxtaposed against the fact that this was referring to a simple grain offering, a 'little something' offered by literally anyone within Israel (see on :1). But such tiny offerings were "most holy" to God; we think of the Lord's attitude to the widow offering her two small coins.

Lev 2:4 When you offer an offering of a grain offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil-
God was pleased to accept just flour; but there was the opportunity to bake a cake from the flour and bring that to the altar. For the idea was that the altar was the table of Yahweh, and they were eating with Him. And you don't eat flour together at a meal table, you eat cakes. The various possible levels within God's law reflect our opportunities to serve on different levels, just as the good soil of the sower parable brings forth different amounts. Some will make more of God's truth than others. The very existence of these levels, rather than a simple binary demand of obedience / disobedience, pass / fail, of itself inspires us to serve God as extensively as we can. For who can be a minimalist in response to His love. See on :14.

Lev 2:5 If your offering is a grain offering baked in a pan, it shall be of unleavened fine flour, mixed with oil-
Paul writes of the church in Corinth that God has "tempered" the whole body together (1 Cor. 12:24). This is alluding to the way in which the unleavened cakes of flour were "mixed" or "tempered" with the oil (cp. the Spirit) in order to be an acceptable offering (Lev. 2:4,5; 7:10; 9:4 etc.). Paul has already likened his Corinthian ecclesia to a lump of unleavened flour (1 Cor. 5:7); he is now saying that they have been "tempered" together by the oil of God's Spirit. If we break apart from our brethren, we are breaking apart, or denying, that "tempering" of the body which God has made.

Lev 2:6 You shall cut it in pieces, and pour oil on it. It is a grain offering-
Every part of our lives, including our most inward parts, are to be offered to God. The process of splitting the offering into its parts speaks of our self-examination, defining each part of our lives and offering them to God consciously. This was taught in the dividing up of the offerings into pieces (see on Lev. 1:17).

Lev 2:7 If your offering is a grain offering of the pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil-
The continual stress upon the usage of oil [shehmen] may look ahead to the meshiach, the Christ, the anointed one. All aspects of the offerings looked ahead to the Lord Jesus Christ. "The pan" is LXX "the hearth". 

Lev 2:8 You shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to Yahweh: and it shall be presented to the priest, and he shall bring it to the altar-
We note how it was the priest who was to place the sacrifices upon the altar. 1 Pet. 2:5 surely alludes to this; we are "to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (cp. Rom. 15:16).

Lev 2:9 The priest shall take from the grain offering its memorial, and shall burn it on the altar, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh-
“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.

Lev 2:10 That which is left of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. It is a thing most holy of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire-
The "most holy" nature of the humble grain offering is stressed (:3). The grain offering was just a little flour, a 'little something' offered by literally anyone within Israel (see on :1). But such tiny offerings were "most holy" to God; He has a particular interest in those 'little somethings' we offer to Him, and they are very holy to Him.

Lev 2:11 No grain offering, which you shall offer to Yahweh, shall be made with yeast; for you shall burn no yeast, nor any honey, as an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
Even though leaven was prohibited in offerings (Lev. 2:11), God was willing to accept a peace offering with leaven in it (Lev. 7:13). Yeast represented sin (1 Cor. 5:8). Honey and yeast would’ve made the grain pleasing to men; but the lesson was that what pleases people isn’t what is necessarily pleasing to God. He wants a person as they are, from the heart, and wanted to teach that He wants us as we are without any element of fermentation (which yeast and honey produced). God wanted salt and not honey on His food; for the altar is presented as the table of Yahweh at which a man ate with his God. Honey was widely used in pagan sacrifices, and God wished to cut off all possibility of serving idols in the name of Yahweh worship. And yet this is what Israel did, despite His best efforts in this legislation to help them maintain a total separation between such kinds of worship.

Lev 2:12 As an offering of firstfruits you shall offer them to Yahweh: but they shall not ascend for a pleasant aroma on the altar-
The "them" refers to leaven and honey, which could be offered as firstfruit offerings (Lev. 23:17; 2 Chron. 31:5). But they were not to be burnt, but given to the priests. As noted on :11, leaven and honey are associated with fermentation and therefore moral corruption. We may discern here that less than perfect offerings are still welcomed and encouraged by God; such is His desire for engagement with man, and His wish to accept the imperfect offering we bring.

Lev 2:13 Every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; neither shall you allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt-
The altar was understood as the table of Yahweh, where He ate together with the offerer. To eat bread and salt was a sign of fellowship and acceptance in covenant, and the presence of salt in the sacrifices was therefore insisted upon (Lev. 2:13). A "covenant of salt" was an eternal covenant (Num. 18:19). The reminder therefore was that our relationship with God is eternal, not a passing phase in our lives, nor just a mere religious crutch to help us get through this life. For truly, God is man's friend and accepts us at His table. The salt represents gracious speech (Col. 4:6) and peace with one another (Mk. 9:50); without these things, no matter how great our sacrifice, it cannot be accepted by God. Hence Jesus taught that we should not offer our sacrifices to God until we have done what we can to get at peace with our brother (Mt. 5:24). Salt was a symbol of covenant relationship with God; yet in the NT this salt stands for love, peace and kind speaking the one to the other (Mk. 9:50; Col. 4:6). This is the result of true membership in covenant relationship; a true and abiding love for all others in covenant.

Lev 2:14 If you offer a grain offering of first fruits to Yahweh, you shall offer for the grain offering of your first fruits grain in the ear parched with fire, bruised grain of the fresh ear-

"Grain in the ear" is Abib, the month of Passover which was at the time of grain harvest. But "grain in the ear" is literally green ears; just before harvest, some of the immature grain could be offered as a freewill offering. This was an opportunity for higher level of devotion from those eager to show personal gratitude for redemption from Egypt in addition to the Passover. As discussed on :4, here was another opportunity to serve God on the highest level.

Lev 2:15 You shall put oil on it, and lay frankincense on it: it is a grain offering-
The incense gave the offering a sweet smell, portraying God's acceptance of it and how pleasing are such 'little things' of freewill sacrifice. The offering of the frankincense was therefore to teach the offerer this. And we must ever remember that God Himself was not in need of such sacrifices of incense. If He were hungry, He would not tell us (Ps. 50:12). The legislation and concepts were therefore purely for our benefit, and that of His people at the time. We therefore need to discern the teaching.

Lev 2:16 The priest shall burn as its memorial portion part of its crushed grain, and part of its oil, along with all its frankincense: it is an offering made by fire to Yahweh’-
The "memorial portion" of the offerings was to serve as a reminder to God, as it were, of the covenants which He "remembered". He of course doesn't forget His covenant but ever remembers it (Ps. 105:8 etc.), yet He is presented in human terms as having His memory rekindled, as it were, by human prayer, faith, situations and sacrifices so that He "remembers the covenant" (Gen. 8:1; 9:15; Ex. 2:24; 6:5; Lev. 26:42,45; Num. 10:9 and often). The regular sacrifices were such a "memorial" or 'reminder'- both to God and to His people. The place of prayer, regular sacrifice of giving, breaking of bread at the "memorial meeting" etc., are all equivalents for us under the new covenant.