Irregular Receipts: Leviticus 7

Irregular receipts cross the boundaries from the regular olah, minchah, and chatat, to the less loaded ‘shelamim’ sacrifices. Let’s clarify what is sacrificed, and who can handle it, and inclusions and exclusions – what counts. The range of categories is defined as ‘vows’ – for what?

Call this a guilt offering – not a sin offering – similar, in terms of the priests’ claims. But we can simply make a thank-offering, which the priest can turn into a heave-offering – but it must be consumed as a free-will offering in the first three days, or it is offensive. You can’t dump junk, or unclean stuff – or if you do, it is burnt up. If people consume the unclean, they are shunned.

Part of this passage reminds me of ‘fund-raising’ as distinct from the sounder rhythms of generosity and sharing. The motives of participants get slippery, and the connection to the fundamental spiritual issues is elusive. I wince at our ‘Junk for Jesus’ sales, and the unspoken rules of stuff that is ‘not good enough for Kijiji’ – and at our notions that capital repairs and maintenance of million dollar heritage buildings can, or should be, funded by bake sales.

The fat and blood are not for consuming. Sure, the sacrificed animal blood is splashed on the altar, and the fat is burned, providing more of a spectacle. At home with most of your flock, is it prohibited to eat fat? No! The breast and thigh can be the tenufah and terumah, ‘raising up’ and ‘separation’, or wave offerings to be swung around by the priest in some way before it is shared.

This is votive, or promise – this is to be handled with proper intentions or it invalidates the sacrifice. Have you reviewed the CICA rules for restricted trusts, respecting donors’ intentions in the beneficial purposes of trusts?

I have been repeating my case for decades, but particularly in this current congregation, struggling with large legacy fund endowments and few current participants, that the charitable and religious intentions of the donors should be honoured. What did we intend when we accumulated the real property asset of a downtown church – for what purposes did we donate, and overbuild things of beauty as well as functionality? This trust is not for a set of beneficiaries, each other, or even registered members of the UCC, but for purposes: God’s.

The threat is clear, even in this liminal region of un-clarity of the intention of the donor and the trusteeship of the stewards. Don’t self-serve, or you’ll be banished, and left out alone in the desert. In our current context, religious communities sitting on material endowments as if they were annuities, without the quotidian and hebdomadal, seasonal and annual receipt and use of most of our ‘stuff’, lose the thread of our purposes, and wither and die.

Of course, in the past two millennia, the desert of banishment and exiles is metaphorical, but perhaps our relegation from the mainline to the sideline of our own kids and communities is banishment and desert enough. When tired, perhaps I ask ‘can you smell the sulphur’? We first-world Christians, lukewarm in affluent churches, might to well to recover a sense of ultimate threat!

This is the ritual of the guilt-offering. It is most holy;

2 at the spot where the burnt-offering is slaughtered, they shall slaughter the guilt-offering, and its blood shall be dashed against all sides of the altar.

3 All its fat shall be offered: the broad tail, the fat that covers the entrails,

4the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver, which shall be removed with the kidneys.

5 The priest shall turn them into smoke on the altar as an offering by fire to the LORD; it is a guilt-offering.

6 Every male among the priests shall eat of it; it shall be eaten in a holy place; it is most holy.

7 The guilt-offering is like the sin-offering, there is the same ritual for them; the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.

8 So, too, the priest who offers anyone’s burnt-offering shall keep the skin of the burnt-offering that he has offered.

9 And every grain-offering baked in the oven, and all that is prepared in a pan or on a griddle, shall belong to the priest who offers it.

10 But every other grain-offering, mixed with oil or dry, shall belong to all the sons of Aaron equally.

11 This is the ritual of the sacrifice of the offering of well-being that one may offer to the LORD.

12 If you offer it for thanksgiving, you shall offer with the thank-offering unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of choice flour well soaked in oil.

13 With your thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being you shall bring your offering with cakes of leavened bread.

14 From this you shall offer one cake from each offering, as a gift to the LORD; it shall belong to the priest who dashes the blood of the offering of well-being.

15 And the flesh of your thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being shall be eaten on the day it is offered; you shall not leave any of it until morning.

16 But if the sacrifice you offer is a votive offering or a freewill-offering, it shall be eaten on the day that you offer your sacrifice, and what is left of it shall be eaten the next day;

17 but what is left of the flesh of the sacrifice shall be burned on the third day.

18 If any of the flesh of your sacrifice of well-being is eaten on the third day, it shall not be acceptable, nor shall it be credited to the one who offers it; it shall be an abomination, and the one who eats of it shall incur guilt.

19 Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burned. As for other flesh, all who are clean may eat such flesh.

20 But those who eat flesh from the LORD’s sacrifice of well-being while in a state of uncleanness shall be cut off from their kin.

21 When any one of you touches any unclean thing—human uncleanness or an unclean animal or any unclean creature—and then eats flesh from the LORD’s sacrifice of well-being, you shall be cut off from your kin.

22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

23 Speak to the people of Israel, saying: You shall eat no fat of ox or sheep or goat.

24 The fat of an animal that died or was torn by wild animals may be put to any use, except that you must not eat it.

25 If any one of you eats the fat from an animal of which an offering by fire may be made to the LORD, you who eat it shall be cut off from your kin.

26 You must not eat any blood whatever, either of bird or of animal, in any of your settlements.

27 Any one of you who eats any blood shall be cut off from your kin.

28 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

29 Speak to the people of Israel, saying: Any one of you who would offer to the LORD your sacrifice of well-being must yourself bring to the LORD your offering from your sacrifice of well-being.

30 Your own hands shall bring the LORD’s offering by fire; you shall bring the fat with the breast, so that the breast may be raised as an elevation-offering before the LORD.

31 The priest shall turn the fat into smoke on the altar, but the breast shall belong to Aaron and his sons.

32 And the right thigh from your sacrifices of well-being you shall give to the priest as an offering;

33 the one among the sons of Aaron who offers the blood and fat of the offering of well-being shall have the right thigh for a portion.

34 For I have taken the breast of the elevation-offering, and the thigh that is offered, from the people of Israel, from their sacrifices of well-being, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel.

35 This is the portion allotted to Aaron and to his sons from the offerings made by fire to the LORD, once they have been brought forward to serve the LORD as priests;

36 these the LORD commanded to be given them, when he anointed them, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel throughout their generations.

37 This is the ritual of the burnt-offering, the grain-offering, the sin-offering, the guilt-offering, the offering of ordination, and the sacrifice of well-being,

38 which the LORD commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, when he commanded the people of Israel to bring their offerings to the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai.