Parashah 25: Tzav (Give an order)

Leviticus 6:1–8:36

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Give this order to Aharon and his sons: This is the law for the burnt offering: it is what goes up on its firewood upon the altar all night long, until morning; in this way the fire of the altar will be kept burning’” (Leviticus 6:1-2).

In Hebrew, tzav means ‘give an order.’  After explaining the different offerings, Adonai gives more specific instructions for each korban.

Korban olah – Burnt Offering
The korban olah was ‘to go up’ throughout the night until morning.  In the morning, the priest kindled more wood on the Altar of Sacrifice, arranged another burnt offering and made the fat of the peace offering go up in smoke.   It was the responsibility of the priesthood to keep the fire burning on the Altar continuously, never to go out.

The priest wore his linen shorts and outer garments to make the offering.   However, when the time came to remove the ashes from the Altar and take them outside the camp, he changed his clothes. Just as there are different clothes for a wedding and taking out the garbage, there are different garments for administering offerings to Elohim and taking out the ash remains of those offerings.

“Therefore, since we have received an unshakeable Kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may offer service that will please God, with reverence and fear. For indeed, ‘Our God is a consuming fire!’” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Fire is a symbol of the Divine Presence of Adonai.  In the bush that didn’t burn, Moshe encountered the presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.   The presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh was in the column of fire that led the Israelites during the night as they trekked through the wilderness.   When Adonai gave His Torah, the mountain was covered in smoke and fire.

The prophet Jeremiah speaks about the burning fire of the Ruach Elohim in his heart, “But if I say, ‘I won’t think about him, I won’t speak in his name any more,’ then it seems as though a fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I wear myself out trying to hold it in, but I just can’t do it” (Jeremiah 20:9). When the Ruach came upon the Jews in Jerusalem on Shavuot, it looked like tongues of fire. 

The refining fire of trials prove a person’s faith (1 Peter 1:7). When gold is refined in fire, the dross or silver is removed transforming it into pure gold. When the fire of the Ruach haKodesh convicts us of sin, its purpose is to remove the impurities that separate us from Elohim. Sha’ul warns the Thessalonians not to quench the ‘fire of the’ Ruach Elohim” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). When the Ruach Elohim is quenched, it does not allow for the refining fire to do its work –– transforming us into pure gold to become ‘Kadosh l’Adonai.’ The offering of ourselves as living sacrifices becomes a pleasing aroma to Adonai, “I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set-apart for Adonai. This will please him; it is the logical Temple worship for you” (Romans 12:1).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Fire or esh – אש – alef, shin
– first strength consumes

Minchah or Grain Offering
In the instructions for the minchah, the priest was to stand before Adonai in front of the Altar of Sacrifice.  He was to take a handful of fine flour mixed with olive oil and frankincense put it on the Altar ‘to go up’ in smoke as a fragrant aroma for Adonai.  This handful portion of the minchah was called the ‘reminder portion,’ a reminder to Elohim.

The rest of the grain offering became food for the priests. It was to be unleavened and eaten in the Courtyard. It was an especially holy offering because it was given to the priests by Adonai.  It was their share of the offerings, throughout their generations, and whatever touched the offerings became holy. If the grain offering was cooked in a pot, baked in the oven or fried on a griddle, it belonged to the priest who offered it. Every grain offering that was mixed with olive oil or was dry belonged equally to all of Aaron’s sons.

Yom Himmashach or Day of Anointing
When Aaron and his descendants were anointed for serving as high priest in the Tabernacle, they were to offer two quarts of fine flour: one quart in the morning and one in the evening.  The flour was to be mixed with olive oil and fried on a griddle like a pancake; none of it was to be eaten.  It was to be broken in pieces and then offered to Adonai as a grain offering, a fragrant aroma.

Korban Chatat or Sin Offering
The sin offering was to be slaughtered at the same place as the burnt offering.  Anything that touched the meat would become holy. If any blood splattered on the priest’s clothing, it had to be washed. The priest who offered the korban was to eat it in the Courtyard along with any male members of the priesthood. Any clay pot in which the sin offering was cooked had to be broken. A bronze pot had to be scoured and rinsed in water.

Clay pots and jars hold everything from wine to deeds for property to the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Man is a type of clay jar because he was created from the dust of the earth.  Sha’ul calls believers clay jars holding the treasure of Elohim’s power (2 Corinthians 4:7). Yeshua is also a clay jar that became the dwelling place for his Father’s divine nature (Romans 3:2).  As a sin offering, his clay jar needed to be broken releasing a fragrant aroma to Adonai setting mankind free from the ‘law of sin and death.’
No sin offering that had any of its blood, brought to the Mishkan for atonement, was to be eaten by anyone. It was to be completely burned up outside the camp: ”For the cohen hagadol [high priest] brings the blood of animals into the Holiest Place as a sin offering, but their bodies are burned outside the camp.  So too Yeshua suffered death outside the gate, in order to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:10-12).

Asham or Guilt Offering
The guilt offering belongs to the priest who makes atonement with it. Every male from the priestly family may eat the meat in the Courtyard. The asham is to be slaughtered at the same place as the burnt offering. Its blood is to be splashed against all four sides of the Altar.  All of its fat –– the tail, the coverings of the inner organs, the two kidneys, the fat by the flanks, and the covering of the liver –– is to go up in smoke on the Altar.

Zevah Shelamim or Peace Offering
If the zevah shelamim is an offering of thanks, it is to be unleavened cakes mixed with olive oil, matzah spread with olive oil, and cakes made of fine flour mixed with olive oil and fried.  Cakes of leavened bread were to be offered together as a peace offering for giving thanks. From each part of the offering, one is presented to Adonai and belongs to the priest who splashed the blood against the Altar.

Instructions about Meat
The meat of the sacrifice was to be eaten on the day of sacrifice leaving none until morning. If the sacrifice connected with the offering was for a vow or was voluntary, then what remained could be eaten the next day. However, on the third day, any remains had to be burnt up. If any of the sacrifice was eaten on the third day, the sacrifice would not be accepted became a disgusting thing; whoever ate it would bear the consequences. In a desert, where there is no refrigeration, meat would spoil quickly and eating it after three days could bring forth illness like food poisoning.  Depending on the severity of the food poisoning, being ‘cut off from his people’ could actually insinuate death.

Meat that touched something ‘unclean’ was not to be eaten and burned up completely.  If a piece of meat fell to the ground, landed in manure or drew flies, it became disgusting. Eating the meat of an offering was only for those who were ‘clean,’ the ‘unclean’ could not take part.

This may seem like a strange requirement, but what makes a person ritually ‘unclean?’ Apart from the instructions in Leviticus describing what is ‘unclean’ for men and women, ‘unclean’ also includes illnesses like the flu or a contagious skin disease.  Eating meat with an ‘unclean’ person, or having table fellowship, could cause an outbreak of infectious disease within the camp.

Fat is not to be eaten whether it’s from bulls, sheep or goats. Fat from animals that died naturally or were killed could be used for other purposes, but never eaten. The Hebrew word for ‘fat’ is peder and refers to the hard, greasy fat in an animal located around the kidneys and liver. Fats and the tissue around the fats either hold, filter or store toxins that can be harmful to the human body. My mother taught me to allow fat to congeal on the top of broth in order to remove it and not eat it.

No blood was to be eaten whether from birds or animals. Whoever ate blood would be cut off from Isra’el. As Isra’el prepares to enter the Promised Land, Adonai does not want His people following the ways of the nations they would encounter. Setting up these rules prepared them (and us) to know what is right and wrong in Adonai’s eyes when it comes to eating ‘clean’ meat.

Tenufah or Wave Offering

“For the breast that has been waved and the thigh that has been contributed, I have taken from the people of Isra’el out of their sacrifices and peace offerings and given them to Aaron the priest and to his descendants forever as their portion from the people of Isra’el” (Leviticus 7:34).

When a peace offering was made by fire, the breast with the fat was waved before Adonai. The fat went up in smoke on the Altar, but the breast belonged to Aaron and his sons. The right thigh of the peace offering was given to the priesthood as a contribution offering.  Any of Aaron’s descendants who offered the peace offering were given the right thigh as their share of the offering. On the day of high priest’s anointing, the right thigh was the required offering of the people of Isra’el.

When reading through the regulations for the offerings, it can be seen that Elohim wanted no confusion with the procedure for the offerings, but even more so, no arguments between the priests about who would receive which share of the offering. Each priest and his family received portions when they ministered at the Altar while the entire priesthood received shares from the offerings of people of Isra’el.

Anointing the Priests

The entire community of Isra’el assembled at the entrance to the Mishkan.  Aaron and his sons were brought forward along with the priestly garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread.

Aaron and his sons washed with water.  Aaron dressed in the tunic, belt, robe, and ritual vest.  He put on the breastplate with the precious stones and the urim and tumim.  He wrapped the turban around his head, and the engraved gold plate ‘Kadosh to Adonai’ was attached to it. Aaron’s sons dressed in tunics with belts and turbans.

Moshe sprinkled anointing oil on everything in the Tabernacle consecrating it for Adonai. He sprinkled oil on the Altar of Sacrifice seven times, anointing the Altar and its utensils along with the Bronze Laver. He poured anointing oil on Aaron’s head to consecrate him as high priest and sprinkled some of the blood from the Altar on Aaron and his clothing and on his sons’ clothing to consecrate their priestly garments.

A young bull for the sin offering was brought out.  Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull for the sin offering.  After it was slaughtered, Moshe purified the Altar by taking blood on his finger and putting it on the horns and all the way around.  The remaining blood was poured out at the base of the Altar.  Through the blood of the bull, atonement was made for the Altar. It became set-apart as ‘Kadosh l’Adonai.’

By putting blood on the Altar of Sacrifice, it became the only Altar on which to offer sacrifices to Elohim. All other altars were considered ‘high places.’ Sacrificing a lamb or goat for Passover anywhere except the Altar of Sacrifice was, and still is, an abomination to Adonai. There was only one Altar of Sacrifice that opened the way to fellowship with Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.   The altar for believers in Messiah is the Passover table where matzah and wine proclaim the death of Yeshua until he returns (1 Corinthians 11:26).

All of the fat on the inner organs, the covering of the liver, the two kidneys and their fat were went up in smoke on the Altar. The bull’s hide, flesh, and its dung were taken outside the camp and burned up completely. Of the two rams, one ram was presented as a burnt offering.  Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, slaughtered it, and splashed its blood on the sides of the Altar.  Moshe cut the ram in pieces, and along with the head and fat, the pieces went up in smoke.  After the inner organs and lower parts of the leg had been washed, the entire ram went up in smoke on the Altar as a burnt offering made by fire and a fragrant aroma to Adonai.

The other ram consecrated the priesthood.  Aaron and his sons laid hands on the ram and it was slaughtered.  Moshe took some of its blood and put it on the tip of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. Moshe consecrated Aaron’s sons in the same manner.  The remaining blood was splashed on the sides of the Altar.

Moshe took the fat, the fat tail, and all the fat covering the inner organs, the liver, the kidneys, and the right thigh.  From the basket, he took one piece of matzah, one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer and placed them on the fat and right thigh.  He placed everything in the hands of Aaron and his sons and they waved them as an offering before Adonai.  Moshe kept the breast as his portion of the ram and waved it before Adonai. After the wave offering, everything went up in smoke on the Altar. 

Aaron and his sons were instructed to boil the meat at the door of the Tabernacle and eat it with the matzah in the basket.  The leftovers were completely burned.  Aaron and his sons stayed at the entrance to the Tabernacle for seven days and nights. They could not leave until the time of their consecration was completed.

The whole ceremony outlined by Elohim was officiated by Moshe so that atonement might be made for Aaron and his lineage forever.  Forever means eternally. Whenever there is a Temple in Jerusalem, the Levites will administer the sacrifices along with a high priest descended from Aaron.

“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed to act on people’s behalf with regard to things concerning God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness.  Also, because of this weakness, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as those of the people.  And no one takes this honor upon himself, rather, he is called by God, just as Aharon was” (Hebrews 5:1-10).

Yeshua, the High Priest

In the Millennial Kingdom, is appears there will be two orders of priests: the Levitical priesthood with a descendant of Aaron as high priest, and the redeemed royal priesthood with Yeshua as the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

“So neither did the Messiah glorify himself to become High Priest; rather, it was the One who said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ Also, as he says in another place ‘You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.’ During Yeshua’s life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears, to the One who had the power to deliver him from death; and he was heard because of his godliness.  Even though he was the Son, he learned obedience through his sufferings. And after he had been brought to the goal, he became the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey him, since he had been proclaimed by God as a cohen gadol (high priest) to be compared with Malki-Tzedek” (Hebrews 5:5-10).

“I turned around to see who was speaking to me; and when I had turned, I saw … someone like a Son of Man, wearing a robe down to his feet and a gold band around his chest. His head and hair were as white as snow-white wool, his eyes like a fiery flame, his feet like burnished brass refined in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, out of his mouth went a sharp double-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:12-16).

“Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection… they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

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