Leviticus 6:8-7:38

Notes (NET Translation)

6:8 (6:1) Then the Lord spoke to Moses:

This passage supplements the prior instructions concerning the sacrifices.

Chs. 1-5 concentrate on those aspects of sacrifice that immediately concern the worshipper himself, while chs. 6-7 focus on those of concern to the officiating priest. There is not a hard and fast division between these sections: chs. 1-5 also contain details of ceremonial which chiefly concern the priest, whereas chs. 6-7 for their part contain some instruction for the ordinary Israelite. (Wenham 1979, loc. 1559-1561)

6:9 (6:2) “Command Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering is to remain on the hearth on the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar must be kept burning on it.

The burnt offering was described in chapter 1. It was the first offering in the morning and the last offering at night (Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-8). The rabbis taught that sacrifices could only be offered during the day but their incineration could continue through the night (m. Ber. 1:1; t. Meg. 2:10; b. Meg. 21a).

6:10 (6:3) Then the priest must put on his linen robe and must put linen leggings over his bare flesh, and he must take up the fatty ashes of the burnt offering that the fire consumed on the altar, and he must place them beside the altar.

The priest’s clothing mentioned in this verse was worn so his genitals (“bare flesh”) would not be exposed to the altar (cf. Ex. 20:26; 28:42-43). Some ancient Near Eastern cultic practices involved the priest performing the ceremonies in the nude. Laws such as this “eliminate the possibility of any use of human sexual powers as a way of approaching God or as a means of influencing the divine realm magically” (Hartley 1998, p. 96). The fatty ashes are a mixture of wood ashes and animal fat produced by the burning sacrifices.

6:11 (6:4) Then he must take off his clothes and put on other clothes, and he must bring the fatty ashes outside the camp to a ceremonially clean place,

The change of clothing is so the priest does not defile his official garments by wearing them outside the sanctuary. There was a known place to put the ashes (Lev. 4:12). The ashes were placed outside the camp to reinforce the notion that the burnt offering was wholly God’s and was not to benefit the offerer.

6:12 (6:5) but the fire which is on the altar must be kept burning on it. It must not be extinguished. So the priest must kindle wood on it morning by morning, and he must arrange the burnt offering on it and offer the fat of the peace offering up in smoke on it.

The fire must be kept burning even when the ashes are removed. The provision of wood is mentioned in Neh. 10:34; 13:31.

6:13 (6:6) A continual fire must be kept burning on the altar. It must not be extinguished.

Milgrom makes the interesting suggestion that the fire was to be kept burning in order to preserve the miraculous divine fire that inaugurated the cult in Lev. 9:24 (Milgrom 1991, p. 389). Other explanations hold that it represents the uninterrupted worship of God, the continual consecration of the people of God, or the continual need for atonement.

6:14 (6:7) “‘This is the law of the grain offering. The sons of Aaron are to present it before the Lord in front of the altar,

The regulation here concerns a private raw grain offering like that described in chapter 2.

6:15 (6:8) and the priest must take up with his hand some of the choice wheat flour of the grain offering and some of its olive oil, and all of the frankincense that is on the grain offering, and he must offer its memorial portion up in smoke on the altar as a soothing aroma to the Lord.

6:16 (6:9) Aaron and his sons are to eat what is left over from it. It must be eaten unleavened in a holy place; they are to eat it in the courtyard of the Meeting Tent.

6:17 (6:10) It must not be baked with yeast. I have given it as their portion from my gifts. It is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering.

6:18 (6:11) Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it. It is a perpetual allotted portion throughout your generations from the gifts of the Lord. Anyone who touches these gifts must be holy.'”

The sons of Aaron are the priests who officiate at the altar. The portion does not belong solely to the priest who officiated that particular grain offering but to the priests in general.

6:19 (6:12) Then the Lord spoke to Moses:

6:20 (6:13) “This is the offering of Aaron and his sons which they must present to the Lord on the day when he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of choice wheat flour as a continual grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening.

Since the anointing of Aaron (and his successors) as the high priest was a one time event it is not clear why this offering is called a continual grain offering. Other sources suggest the High Priest offered a daily grain offering in conjunction with the daily burnt offering (Num. 4:16; Sir. 45:14; Philo, Laws 1.255-256; Josephus, Ant. 3.10.7 § 257; Mishnah Menahot 4:5; 6:2). If this is the case, the daily grain offering is not mentioned in chs. 1-5.

6:21 (6:14) It must be made with olive oil on a griddle and you must bring it well soaked, so you must present a grain offering of broken pieces as a soothing aroma to the Lord.

The meaning of the Hebrew murbeket (“well soaked”) is uncertain.

6:22 (6:15) The high priest who succeeds him from among his sons must do it. It is a perpetual statute; it must be offered up in smoke as a whole offering to the Lord.

6:23 (6:16) Every grain offering of a priest must be a whole offering; it must not be eaten.”

A priest may not profit from his own offerings.

6:24 (6:17) Then the Lord spoke to Moses:

6:25 (6:18) “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered the sin offering must be slaughtered before the Lord. It is most holy.

The burnt offering was slaughtered at the northern side of the altar (Lev. 1:11).

6:26 (6:19) The priest who offers it for sin is to eat it. It must be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the Meeting Tent.

6:27 (6:20) Anyone who touches its meat must be holy, and whoever spatters some of its blood on a garment, you must wash whatever he spatters it on in a holy place.

6:28 (6:21) Any clay vessel it is boiled in must be broken, and if it was boiled in a bronze vessel, then that vessel must be rubbed out and rinsed in water.

No reason is given for the different treatment of the two kinds of vessels. B. A. Levine opines that earthenware was more porous and would absorb flesh boiled in it. Such flesh would technically constitute leftovers that could not be consumed and so the vessel was to be destroyed so no one ate the leftovers (cf. Lev. 7:15-17; Mishnah Kelim 2:1). J. Milgrom finds this explanation to be weak because it does not explain why this rule is only put in place for the sin/purification offering. He opines that the purification offering alone both causes holiness and impurity with objects it comes into contact with.

In the matter of objects contacted by the flesh of the purification offering, the subject of this pericope, a . . . paradox ensued: although the objects that came into contact with the purification offering were treated as if they were impure they were nonetheless considered to be holy. That is to say, these objects became or remained the property of the sanctuary because they were rendered holy but were dealt with as impurities: bespattered garments were washed, copper vessels were scoured and rinsed, and earth vessels smashed and discarded (or buried). (Milgrom 1991, p. 406)

6:29 (6:22) Any male among the priests may eat it. It is most holy.

6:30 (6:23) But any sin offering from which some of its blood is brought into the Meeting Tent to make atonement in the sanctuary must not be eaten. It must be burned up in the fire.

7:1 “‘This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy.

The sacrificial procedure for the guilt offering is described here but not in 5:12-26. J. Milgrom suggests the procedure is described here because the worshiper was only to bring the monetary equivalent of the sacrificial animal to the sanctuary, not the animal itself. Since 5:12-26 was directed more towards the laity while this passage is directed more towards the priests, it makes sense for the sacrificial procedure to be given in this passage.

7:2 In the place where they slaughter the burnt offering they must slaughter the guilt offering, and the officiating priest must splash the blood against the altar’s sides.

7:3 Then the one making the offering must present all its fat: the fatty tail, the fat covering the entrails,

7:4 the two kidneys and the fat on their sinews, and the protruding lobe on the liver (which he must remove along with the kidneys).

7:5 Then the priest must offer them up in smoke on the altar as a gift to the Lord. It is a guilt offering.

7:6 Any male among the priests may eat it. It must be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy.

7:7 The law is the same for the sin offering and the guilt offering; it belongs to the priest who makes atonement with it.

7:8 “‘As for the priest who presents someone’s burnt offering, the hide of that burnt offering which he presented belongs to him.

7:9 Every grain offering which is baked in the oven or made in the pan or on the griddle belongs to the priest who presented it.

7:10 Every grain offering, whether mixed with olive oil or dry, belongs to all the sons of Aaron, each one alike.

7:11 “‘This is the law of the peace offering sacrifice which he is to present to the Lord.

7:12 If he presents it on account of thanksgiving, along with the thank offering sacrifice he must present unleavened loaves mixed with olive oil, unleavened wafers smeared with olive oil, and well soaked ring-shaped loaves made of choice wheat flour mixed with olive oil.

The thank offering sacrifice refers to the animal sacrifice ordained in chapter 3. This passage describes the grain offerings that were to accompany the meat sacrifice, a matter not mentioned elsewhere in Leviticus.

7:13 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.

7:14 He must present one of each kind of grain offering as a contribution offering to the Lord; it belongs to the priest who splashes the blood of the peace offering.

7:15 The meat of his thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day of his offering; he must not set any of it aside until morning.

It is not clear why the thanksgiving peace offering had to be eaten in one day while the votive or freewill sacrifice could be eaten within two days.

7:16 “‘If his offering is a votive or freewill sacrifice, it may be eaten on the day he presents his sacrifice, and also the leftovers from it may be eaten on the next day,

A votive offering was brought following the fulfillment of a vow.

7:17 but the leftovers from the meat of the sacrifice must be burned up in the fire on the third day.

7:18 If some of the meat of his peace offering sacrifice is ever eaten on the third day it will not be accepted; it will not be accounted to the one who presented it, since it is spoiled, and the person who eats from it will bear his punishment for iniquity.

Eating meat on the third day makes the sacrifice ineffective because it involves desecration of something holy (Lev. 19:7-8; cf. Ex. 29:34). The meaning of the Hebrew piggul (“spoiled”) is uncertain but could be better translated as “desecrated”. The nature of the punishment is not specified here but Lev. 19:5-8 indicates that the guilty party will be cut off from his people.

7:19 The meat which touches anything ceremonially unclean must not be eaten; it must be burned up in the fire. As for ceremonially clean meat, everyone who is ceremonially clean may eat the meat.

7:20 The person who eats meat from the peace offering sacrifice which belongs to the Lord while his uncleanness persists will be cut off from his people.

Chs. 4-5 imply that the punishment is for intentional, not accidental, violations. The cutting off penalty refers to some form of divine punishment (see the article on the cutting off punishment).

7:21 When a person touches anything unclean (whether human uncleanness, or an unclean animal, or an unclean detestable creature) and eats some of the meat of the peace offering sacrifice which belongs to the Lord, that person will be cut off from his people.'”

7:22 Then the Lord spoke to Moses:

7:23 “Tell the Israelites, ‘You must not eat any fat of an ox, sheep, or goat.

Recall from chapter 3 that the helev (“fat”) was not all fat but only the fat around the organs that were offered on the altar.

7:24 Moreover, the fat of an animal that has died of natural causes and the fat of an animal torn by beasts may be used for any other purpose, but you must certainly never eat it.

7:25 If anyone eats fat from the animal from which he presents a gift to the Lord, that person will be cut off from his people.

7:26 And you must not eat any blood of the birds or the domesticated land animals in any of the places where you live.

The verse makes it clear that violations could occur outside the sanctuary area.

7:27 Any person who eats any blood – that person will be cut off from his people.'”

Blood would not normally be drunk as a separate item from the meat. Rather it would be ingested along with the meat (Deut. 12:23). This is why the verb “eats” is used instead of “drinks”.

7:28 Then the Lord spoke to Moses:

7:29 “Tell the Israelites, ‘The one who presents his peace offering sacrifice to the Lord must bring his offering to the Lord from his peace offering sacrifice.

7:30 With his own hands he must bring the Lord’s gifts. He must bring the fat with the breast to wave the breast as a wave offering before the Lord,

J. Milgrom’s student, Susan Rattray, suggests that the ancient Israelites would have quartered the animal in such a way that they could have offered the entire breast, not just the left or right half as is common with modern methods of quartering an animal (Milgrom 1991, p. 430-431). The rabbis thought the wave offering (tenupa) involved a horizontal motion of extending and bringing back the offering, but Milgrom argues that it is a raising or lifting motion (Milgrom 1991, p. 470). It signified the offerer giving the breast to God (who then gave it to the priests (Lev. 7:34)).

7:31 and the priest must offer the fat up in smoke on the altar, but the breast will belong to Aaron and his sons.

7:32 The right thigh you must give as a contribution offering to the priest from your peace offering sacrifices.

This is the right thigh of the hind legs. The contribution offering (teruma) has also been called a heave offering. The rabbis held that it involved the raising and lowering of the thigh. J. Milgrom notes that the teruma (contribution offering) is to God while the tenupa (wave offering) is before God. In other words, the teruma (contribution offering) occurs outside of the sanctuary while the tenupa (wave offering) occurs inside the sanctuary. The teruma (contribution offering) is a dedication to God that precedes the tenupa (wave offering). In this verse the thigh it an allotted portion for the priest.

7:33 The one from Aaron’s sons who presents the blood of the peace offering and fat will have the right thigh as his share,

7:34 for the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution offering I have taken from the Israelites out of their peace offering sacrifices and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons from the people of Israel as a perpetual allotted portion.'”

7:35 This is the allotment of Aaron and the allotment of his sons from the Lord’s gifts on the day Moses presented them to serve as priests to the Lord.

Verses 35-36 are a summary of the peace offering (vv. 11-34)

7:36 This is what the Lord commanded to give to them from the Israelites on the day Moses anointed them – a perpetual allotted portion throughout their generations.

7:37 This is the law for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering, and the peace offering sacrifice,

Verses 37-38 are the summary of 6:8-7:38. The ordination offering to ordain a new high priest is described in Ex. 29 and Lev. 8. It is mentioned here because it too was one of the instructions received while Moses was on Mount Sinai (v. 38).

7:38 which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to present their offerings to the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai.

The reference to Mount Sinai forms an inclusio with the beginning of the book (1:1).


Hartley, John E. Leviticus. Dallas, Tex.: Word Books, 1992.

Levine, Baruch A. Leviticus. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Milgrom, Jacob. Leviticus 1-16. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Rooker, Mark, and Dennis R. Cole. Leviticus. Kindle Edition. Holman Reference, 2000.

Wenham, Gordon J. The Book of Leviticus. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979.


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