Posts Tagged ‘offerings’

Parashah 24: Vayikra (He called) – LEVITICUS

Leviticus 1:1-6:7

“Adonai called to Moshe and spoke to him from the tent of meeting” (Leviticus 1:1).

Leviticus or Vayikra means ‘he called’ and begins with Adonai calling Moshe into the Mishkan to explain the order of worship in the Tabernacle.  He explains the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, the peace or fellowship offerings, the guilt, and sin offerings.

Offerings and sacrifices are ordinances for the Tabernacle (and Temple) services. Many believe that when Yeshua died on the cross, these sacrifices and offerings were no longer required. This is not true. If all of the sacrifices and offerings ended when Yeshua died, Sha’ul would have known. However, in Acts 21:22-26, Sha’ul offers what the Torah requires for purification including the sacrifice so that those who were saying he apostatized from Torah would be silenced.

The sacrifices and offerings stopped in 70 CE because there was no longer a Temple where they could be done. In other words, whenever there is a Temple, there will be a sacrificial system. In the coming Millennial Kingdom, another Temple will be built.  According to the prophet Ezekiel, there will be an Altar of Sacrifice in this Temple and there will be regulations for its consecration as well as its offerings (Ezekiel 43).   The ‘prince’ will be obligated to present burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, sin offerings, and peace offerings on the Altar for the House of Isra’el (Ezekiel 45:17).

An Altar of Sacrifice is a very important detail when constructing another Temple. For the Jews to build any Temple without an Altar of Sacrifice is contrary to Torah. They know the Torah has regulations for the Temple, including regulations for sacrifice as well as the Levitical priesthood. They know they need a sacrifice for their personal sins as well as corporately for the nation. They cannot offer a Pesach lamb or have an authentic Yom Kippur without a Temple. With veiled hearts and minds toward Yeshua, they mourn the loss of the only way to have a relationship with HaShem (2 Corinthians 3:14).

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has been preparing all of the objects necessary for rebuilding a third Temple, not the Millennial Temple described by the prophet Ezekiel.  Outside the Temple Institute for public viewing is their perception of the Menorah.

Whenever there is a Temple, there are regulations. Having regulations for offerings does not negate or minimize the work of Yeshua; they prove his ‘reality’ in the ‘shadows.’ Those who are resurrected as the royal priesthood to serve Yeshua, the High Priest, in the Millennial Temple will serve according to the regulations described by Ezekiel.

“Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.  Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you” (Deuteronomy 12:13-14).

Offerings or Korbanot

“But you say, ‘If someone says to his father or mother, “I have promised as a korban…’” (that is, as a gift to God)” (Mark 7:11).

The Hebrew word for ‘offering’ is korban and includes all offerings consecrated to Adonai whether or not they involve blood as not all offerings included a blood sacrifice. Some were grain and drink for fellowship and peace offerings.

“A person’s gift clears his way and gives him access to the great” (Proverbs 18:16).

There is a tradition of bringing a hostess gift to someone you’re visiting. Korban is a similar concept. When visiting Adonai in His House, a gift is presented as one would present a gift to a King opening the way for a relationship. This was the purpose and intent of the Tabernacle system –– to make a way into the presence of the Holy One of Isra’el.

Many of the offerings also became the provisional sustenance for the Levitical priesthood during their Tabernacle/Temple duties. They were given meat, grain, and drink by their Israelite brothers and sisters.  Only a few of the offerings were kept for Adonai Himself.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Offering or korban – קרבן – kof, resh, bet, nun
– what is behind the highest authority of the house of life

Korban Olah – Burnt Offerings

“When any of you brings a [burnt] offering to Adonai, you may bring your animal offering either from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he must offer a male without defect…. The cohen is to make it go up in smoke on the altar, on the wood which is on the fire, as a burnt offering; it is an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for Adonai”
(Leviticus 1:2-3, 9).

This is an offering which rises up into heaven as a fragrant aroma to Adonai. The term olah is first used in Genesis 22:3 in reference to the burnt offerings of Noach and when Abraham offers the ram on Mount Moriah. This offering was a completely voluntary offering and brought no profit to the worshiper or the administering priest except the blessing of being consumed in worshiping Adonai. It was used in conjunction with other offerings and sacrifices as well as the daily morning and evening sacrifice.

Requirements and Regulations
The animal for the korban olah could be a bull, goat, sheep or even a bird.  It had to be a male without defect.  A bull (or other animal) was brought to the entrance of the Mishkan and the offerer laid his hands on the head of the animal so that it would be accepted by Adonai for his atonement.  This was called semichah.  It implied a physical ‘leaning’ on the animal so that the weight of the man was transferred to the animal, symbolic of transferring the identity of the man onto the animal.  In this way, the animal represented him before Elohim and became his substitute sacrifice.

The offerer slaughtered the animal. A sheep or goat was to be slaughtered on the northern side of the Altar.  A dove or pigeon was be taken by the cohen to the Altar where he snapped off its head. The atonement made by the animal was called kaphar meaning ‘covering’ or ‘ransom for one’s life.’  Kaphar was used when Noach ‘covered’ the inside and the outside of the Ark with pitch.  

The priests, the sons of Aaron, presented the blood to Adonai by splashing it against all four sides of the Altar of Sacrifice.  The animal was then skinned and cut into pieces, the entrails and lower parts of the legs were washed with water. The blood of the dove or pigeon was drained out on the side of the Altar. The food pouch and feathers from its neck were removed and discarded on the ash pile on the eastern side of the Altar.

After arranging pieces of wood on the Altar, the animal parts, the head, and the fat were put on the wood along with the entrails and lower parts of the legs.  For a bird offering, the priest pulled it open with a wing on each side (without tearing it in half) before placing it on the fire. Everything was burnt on the Altar and went up in smoke. This offering became a fragrant aroma before Adonai.

Minchah or Grain Offering

“Anyone who brings a grain offering to Adonai is to make his offering of fine flour; he is to pour olive oil on it and put frankincense on it” (Leviticus 2:1).

The Hebrew word minchah does not mean ‘grain offering’ nor does it include ‘meat’ as is found in some translations. A minchah is a ‘gift or donation’ and is also the name for the afternoon prayer service in Judaism. The gift of grain was a free-will offering and became food for the priests.

Requirements and Regulations
The minchah was a fine flour mixture with olive oil and frankincense poured on it. A grain offering could be baked in an oven like matzah, cooked on a griddle like a pancake or in a pot like a matzah ball. No grain offering was to include chametz or ‘soured dough’ leaven because neither leaven or honey was to be burned up in smoke. A small portion or ‘reminder’ of the offering was burnt up on the Altar as a fragrant aroma to Adonai. The remainder was given to Aaron and his sons as food.

Leaven was allowed in a Firstfruits offering, but it was not burned up on the Altar. A Firstfruits offering was made from kernels of fresh ears of grain, dry roasted with fire and covered in olive oil and frankincense.

Zevah Shelamim or Peace/Fellowship Offerings

“If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, then, if he offers before Adonai an animal from the herd, then, no matter whether it is male or female, it must be without defect…. Aharon’s sons will make it go up in smoke on the altar on top of the burnt offering which is on the wood on the fire; it is an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for Adonai“ (Leviticus 3:1,5).

The Hebrew word zevah means ‘slaughter’ and shelamim has its root in shalom or peace and suggests harmony, health, and prosperity. This peace offering was a ‘slaughter offering’ of complete well-being. Like the burnt and grain offerings, the peace offering was voluntary. Thanksgiving offerings, free-will offerings, and Passover lambs were all considered peace offerings. These offerings were never brought as atonement for sin or guilt; it was an offering that symbolized the fellowship between Adonai and man. The worshiper who brought a peace offering would invite his family and friends to eat of the sacrificed meats.

Requirements and Regulations

“It is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations wherever you live that you will eat neither fat nor blood” (Leviticus 3:17).

A slaughter ‘peace offering’ came from the herd or flock.  It could be male or female, but it had to be without defect. The worshiper laid his hand on the head of the offering and slaughtered it at the entrance to the Tabernacle. The cohanim, the sons of Aaron, splashed the blood against all four sides of the Altar. The offering consisted of the fat in and around the inner organs, the two kidneys with their fat, and the covering of the liver. The fat was burnt up on the Altar as a pleasing aroma to Adonai. The rest of the meat and the organs were cooked on the Altar and became food for the priests, the worshiper, and his guests.

Korban Chatat or Sin Offering

“If anyone sins inadvertently against any of the commands of Adonai concerning things which should not be done, if he does any of them”… (Leviticus 4:2).  

In Hebrew, korban chatat is a purification offering made for inadvertent and unintentional sins. There is no purification for intentional sin as Adonai didn’t want His people to think they could intentionally sin, offer a sacrifice, and go off to sin again. The korban chatat did not atone for sin;  it was the means of spiritual purification –– a confession and repentance of sin.

There were two ways to sin inadvertently: personal and corporate. If an individual or priest, sinned unintentionally by breaking one of the instructions of Elohim, a korban chatat was necessary. For the nation of Isra’el that sinned unintentionally, a korban chatat was necessary for purification of the nation.

Requirements and Regulations
There were different regulations for this offering depending on whether it was an individual, a leader, a priest or the whole community of Isra’el. The priest’s inadvertent sin brought guilt on the people he served and the Tabernacle itself. When the community of Isra’el sinned, it made the whole community guilty.

When an individual became aware of his sin, he would offer a female goat or lamb without defect. He laid hands on the animal’s head and slaughtered it at the same place as the burnt offerings in the presence of Adonai. A leader was to bring a male goat without defect. He also laid hands on its head and slaughtered it at the same place as the burnt offerings. A cohen was to offer a young bull without defect. He was to bring it to the entrance of the Mishkan, lay hands on the bull’s head, and slaughter it in the presence of Adonai. When the community of Isra’el sinned unintentionally, a young bull was offered by the leaders at the entrance to the Tabernacle. They were to lay hands on the bull and slaughter it in the presence of Adonai.

All the fat from the bull was removed just as in the peace offering and then burned up on the Altar of Sacrifice as a pleasing aroma to Adonai. The rest of the bull in its entirety, including the dung, was taken outside the camp to where the ashes from the Altar were emptied. The bull’s remains were to be burned up on a wood pile.

When making the offering for the community of Isra’el, the cohen took some of the bull’s blood and brought it into the Mishkan.  In front of the veil, he was to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it in the front of the veil. He was to sprinkle the blood seven times in the presence of ‘I Am.’ He was also to put some of the blood on the horns of the Altar of Incense as a fragrant aroma before Adonai.  The rest of the blood was poured out at the base of the Altar for burnt offerings.

“In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22).

This is the only mention of a priest taking an offering into the Holy Place. Sin, breaking Adonai’s instructions is an offense against His holiness. In order to purify the individual, leader, cohen or the nation of Isra’el, the veil separating man and Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh must be purified with blood in order to restore fellowship. Sin also affects a person’s prayers in the ears of Elohim (Proverbs 28:9). It is at the Altar of Incense that the prayers of Elohim’s people rise like incense and must be purified from sin (Psalm 141:2).

The priest was to sprinkle the blood seven times. Seven. Sheva.

There are seven days in a week. Seven days that one can sin and need purification. Seven days that each individual needs to search their heart to make sure there is no sin of anger or bitterness that goes beyond the setting of the sun. Sprinkling the blood seven times is a reminder to live the next week with wholehearted devotion to Adonai because there has been purification from sin. The sprinkling of blood seven times may have been to remember the seven-fold spirit of Elohim that would one day rest on Yeshua (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Seven is also the number of completion. When the blood was sprinkled seven times, the purification for the individual, the leader, the cohen, and the nation of Isra’el would be completed and their conscience would be restored.

“Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting — with our hearts sprinkled clean from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

Asham or Guilt Offering

“If anyone sins inadvertently against any of the mitzvot of Adonai concerning things which should not be done, if he does any one of them, then, if it is the anointed cohen who sinned and thus brought guilt on the people, he is to offer Adonai a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he committed” (Leviticus 4:2-3).

Asham means ‘guilt’ or ‘trespass’ offering. A guilt offering is different from the purification offering in that it recognizes sin and its consequence of guilt. This offering included restitution because a sin against another person was a sin against Elohim. Torah doesn’t say the offering made atonement for the sin, but if a person confessed their sin, “He will be forgiven in regard to whatever it was he did that made him guilty” (Leviticus 5:27).

Regulation and Requirements
When a person realizes they are guilty of sinning against Adonai, they are to confess their sin and bring a guilt offering for the sin that was committed. The offering can be either a lamb or goat and the priest will make atonement for the person’s guilt. Two doves or two pigeons are acceptable offerings for those who cannot afford a lamb or goat; two quarts of fine flour without olive oil or frankincense is acceptable for those who can’t afford doves or pigeons.   Atonement for guilt will be made, forgiveness granted, and the remaining meat or grain is given to the priest as food.

A person is guilty of sin who is a witness to an event, is sworn to testify, but refuses to tell what he has seen or heard. A person is guilty of sin if they touch something ‘unclean,’ whether the dead carcass of an ‘unclean’ wild animal, a domestic animal or a reptile, or even a (ritually) ‘unclean’ person, whether or not they realize the person is (ritually) ‘unclean.’ A person is guilty of sin who speaks an oath, whether or good or evil.

If anyone acts improperly in regard to the holy things of Elohim, they are guilty of sin. Improperly handling the things of Adonai requires an asham of a ram without defect or its equivalent in silver shekels. Restitution is also required for whatever was done wrong with regard to the holy thing along with an additional 20 percent to be given to the cohen.

Anyone who breaks any of Adonai’s instructions is considered guilty of sin. Even if they are unaware, they must bear the consequences of their sin.  An asham of a ram without defect is required or its equivalent according to the appraisal of the cohen.  The priest will make atonement for the sin and the person will be forgiven of his guilt before Adonai.

Anyone who deals falsely with his neighbor with regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him steals from his neighbor through extortion; anyone who deals falsely regarding an object that was found or swears to a lie is guilty of sin. All of these sins require a guilt offering and restitution of payment plus 20 percent given to the person who was wronged.

Yeshua, the Sacrifices

“But when the Messiah appeared as cohen gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And he entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

The Bull
baqar – בקר – bet, kof, resh
– house behind the highest authority

The bull, a symbol of strength and service, was completely burnt up as ‘that which ascends’ for a fragrant rising offering to Adonai.

“So then, after he [Yeshua] had spoken to them [the talmidim], the Lord Yeshua was taken up [ascended] into heaven and sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

The Ox
shor – שור – shin, vav, resh
– consume the binding of highest authority

The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is an alef with the word picture of an ‘ox’ symbolizing ‘first’ and ‘strength.’ It represented the first of the Ten Commandments of having no other gods before Adonai. The alef is also part of the alef-tav –- את –– inserted between words throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the ‘sign’ of Yeshua.

The ox is a castrated bull which makes it easier to control. Oxen are yoked together to plow and pull wagons. Two oxen pulled the Ark of the Covenant when David wanted to take it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:6).

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

seh – שה – shin, hey
– the consume and reveal

Sheep symbolize Isra’el and ultimately those who join with her through faith in Messiah. Sheep were offered for burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings. Both ewes and rams were offered on the Altar of Sacrifice.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

tela – טלאים – tet, lamed, alef, yod, mem
– twist urging forward the first strength, the mighty finished work

A lamb is a baby sheep and symbolizes innocence and purity. It is generally weak and needs a lot of attention until it becomes a ewe or ram. Lambs were used for burnt, fellowship, sin, and guilt offerings. On Mount Moriah, Abraham looked forward to the provision of ‘the lamb’ when Isaac asked about the missing sacrifice.

Yeshua, like a lamb, was born in a sukkah. He grew up “like a tender shoot and though mistreated, he was submissive — he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

“The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, ‘Look! God’s lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29)

“You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold; on the contrary, it was the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot. God knew him before the founding of the universe, but revealed him in the acharit-hayamim [last days] for your sakes” (1 Peter 1:18-20).

ayil – איל – alef, yod, lamed
– first strength finished work urges forward

A ram is a male sheep and symbolizes divine strength, leadership, and resurrection. Though Abraham looked for ‘the lamb,’ the immediate provision was a ram caught in the thicket. Through this provision, Abraham understood the concept of resurrection.

“By trusting, Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz’ak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, to whom it had been said, “What is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’ak.” For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

When Yeshua returns, he will not be a quiet, submissive lamb. He will be a resurrected ram, a warrior, who contends for his people, the nation of Isra’el.

“Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself…. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations…. It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies” (Revelation 19:11-16).

aze (Female) – עז – ayin, zayin
– see the division

attud (Male) – עתוד – ayin, tav, vav, dalet
– see the sign of the binding pathway

Goats from the herd were an option for the korban if someone couldn’t afford a lamb. Two goats were used for the atonement of Isra’el and the removal of sins. Goats also represent the Adversary and the worship of goat-gods in foreign nations. In the Middle East, goats and sheep are similar in appearance which is why Yeshua said that he will separate the sheep from the goats –– to the world they look the same.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The ‘sheep’ he will place at his right hand and the ‘goats’ at his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

parah – פרה – peh, resh, hey
– source of the highest authority revealed

A cow symbolizes the Truth in the Word of God (Isaiah 30:23). A heifer is a young cow that has never had a yoke or has given birth. Even more specifically, a heifer has never been with a bull. The ashes of the red heifer were used for purification.

“For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Dove or Pigeon
yonah – יונה – yod, vav, nun, hey
– finished work of the binding of life revealed

Doves or pigeons were also acceptable korbanot for those who were poor. A dove was sent out by Noach and brought back an olive leaf showing life had been restored to the earth. The olive leaf, bitter in taste, symbolizes a choice to serve Elohim rather than serve the world. In Judaism, the dove is a symbol of the human soul. The nest of the dove is considered the ‘dwelling place’ of Yeshua’s soul until he comes.

“When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to Adonai and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai” (Luke 2:22-24).

“As soon as Yeshua had been immersed, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, he saw the Spirit of God coming down upon him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him’” (Matthew 3:16-17).

A Covenant of Salt

The eternal covenant of salt is mentioned three times in Scripture. It was given to Aaron and his sons as a promise of the eternal priesthood.

“All the contributions of the holy things which the people of Isra’el offer to Adonai, I have given you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law, an eternal covenant of salt before Adonai for you and your descendants with you” (Numbers 18:9)

It was given to David and his sons regarding an everlasting kingdom as an eternal covenant.

“Don’t you know that Adonai, the God of Isra’el, gave rulership over Isra’el to David forever, to him and his descendants, by a covenant of salt?” (2 Chronicles 13:5).

The covenant of salt began with Isra’el with regard to their free-will or grain offerings, the minchah, as something they are to do forever.

“You are to season every grain offering of yours with salt — do not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God, but offer salt with all your offerings” (Leviticus 2:13).

The worshiper brought the salt-seasoned grain offering to the priest. The cohen took a handful of the mixture of salt and grain and placed it on the Altar of Sacrifice to burn up. This small portion was the reminder portion for Adonai, an offering made by fire that was a fragrant aroma to Him. The rest of the salted grain offering belonged Aaron and his sons as an especially holy offering.

Throughout history, salt has been considered a mineral of great value.  Those who work hard are ‘worth their weight in salt.’ In some countries, salt was considered a source of life and its distribution was controlled by the ruler of that country. 

With the grain offering, there is a combination of ‘bread and salt.’  Breaking  bread generally means a time of table fellowship.  Sharing salt symbolizes having peaceful table fellowship. Who has not asked for or passed the salt during a meal with another person? During the breaking of bread, a host will treat his guests with respect and even protection until even a short time after they leave. Breaking bread together bonds people together and makes them ‘family’ for a short time. Being filled with salt, there is peace in our fellowship with others.

Here is an interesting observation about salt and table fellowship: “Where enmity subsists, the fiercer Arabs will not sit down at the same table with their adversary; sitting down together betokens reconciliation…. It is not customary among Arabs to place salt on a common table.”

Salt is also symbolic of blood. Ancient people who did not have salt or could not afford salt substituted fresh blood for the mineral.   Dr. Livingstone, a missionary to South Africa, noted that when he was among people who had difficulty procuring salt, fresh-killed meat seemed to satisfy the natural craving.  Today in hospitals, saline solutions are given intravenously when blood is not readily available in an emergency.

After the flood, Elohim told Noach that blood was forbidden as food (Genesis 9:4).   The Israelites were also told not to consume the blood of the animal (Deuteronomy 12:23). It was always drained from the animal and poured out at the Altar.  Jewish kosher dietary laws involve shekita or the humane way of killing an animal that drains its blood forcing Jewish people to salt their food because their meat has no blood.

Salt also represents life.  Elohim says that the life of an animal is in its blood (Leviticus 17:11).  Therefore, if salt is synonymous with blood and blood is the source of life, then salt and life are synonymous. As we say, “He was the life of the party,” the Arabs say, “he was the salt of the party.”

After Elisha replaced Elijah as a prophet, he was met by some men from Jericho who told him the water was bad and was causing miscarriages.  Elisha tells them to bring him a new jug and put salt in it. He took it to the source of the water, threw salt into it and said, “This is what Adonai says: ‘I have healed this water; it will no longer cause death or miscarriage.’ The water was healed and has remained healed to this day” (2 Kings 2:19-22). Salt changed ‘death water’ into ‘living water.’

In some cultures newborn babies are washed and salted. In the Middle East when someone says, “He wasn’t salted when he was born,” it refers to a person lacking common sense or wisdom. When the prophet Ezekiel reproaches Jerusalem for their foolishness, he uses the same symbolism, “As for your birth –– on the day you were born, nobody cut your umbilical cord, washed you in water to clean you off, rubbed salt on you, or wrapped you in cloth” (Ezekiel 16:4).

It is still customary to observe the salt covenant on Shabbat. Some people sprinkle salt on their challah as it is passed around the table. I put salt on top of my challah before baking it. With the symbolism of blood, peace, and life, salt is an eternal ‘covenant’ reminder of Yeshua whose free-will offering of his poured-out blood brought peace and life to Isra’el.

Yeshua, the Offerings

Sin Offering

“God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Guilt of Sin

“We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet Adonai laid on him the guilt of all of us” (Isaiah 53:6).

Purification from Sin

“The blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)

Peace and Fellowship with God

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Grain Offering of Fine Flour

“Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest” (John 12:24).

Salt Covenant for Eternity

“So have salt in yourselves –– that is, be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50).

Burnt Offering Ascends to Heaven

“After saying this, he was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9).

The Pleasing Aroma of a Free-will Offering

“So imitate God, as his dear children; and live a life of love, just as also the Messiah loved us, indeed, on our behalf gave himself up as an offering, as a slaughtered sacrifice to God with a pleasing fragrance” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Parashah 20: Tetzaveh (You are to order)

Exodus 27:20-30:10

“You are to order the people of Isra’el to bring you pure oil of pounded olives for the light and to keep a lamp burning continually” (Exodus 27:20).

The olive tree is one of the oldest cultivated trees in the world. It probably developed from the wild Mediterranean olive, Olea Europaea, which grows from Portugal throughout the Middle East into the Arabian Peninsula.

The Israelites pounded olives from the olive tree to produce oil. When pounded, the olive loses its physical appearance and only its essence is extracted. Yeshua was beaten, lost his physical appearance, and his life essence was poured out; however, he was only one olive and it takes thousands of olives to produce olive oil. The Menorah, made of hammered gold, already symbolizes Messiah being beaten and bruised. To continue with honest exegesis, the olives beaten into the oil that give the Menorah the ability to shine in the darkness must be ‘someone’ different.

Yeshua talks about the value of oil in Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The wise virgins had oil for their lamps when the Bridegroom arrived, but the foolish ones had allowed their oil to run out. While they ran to purchase more oil, their Beloved arrives and they miss the reward of entering the wedding chamber. In the Parable, the lamps are not the Bridegroom or even the Bride, but the Word of Elohim (Psalm 119:105). The oil is the Ruach haKodesh, the other part of worshiping Elohim in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24).

Romans 11 compares Isra’el to an Olive Tree. On this tree there are natural branches along with ingrafted wild ones. Both types of branches produce the same fruit –– olives! The root of the Olive Tree is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of faith. From them came the nation of Isra’el, the natural branches producing olives, who have been relentlessly pounded through the millennia by severe persecution and near annihilation. Their beatings began with slavery in Pharaoh in Egypt, continued with Haman in Persia, Antiochus Epiphanes in the Syrian Empire and the Spanish Inquisitions through the Holocaust in Europe. Wild olives grafted into the Olive Tree have also been pounded through persecutions leading to martyrdom. The next and greatest pounding of all olives will come during the Tribulation.  Some olives will be chosen to proclaim the name of Yeshua to the world; others will lose their heads.  With each pounding of the olives, their essence remains, and the pure oil of their faith continues to light the Menorah that shines brightly in this dark and evil world.

Garments for the High Priest

“This is to be a perpetual regulation both for Aaron and his descendants” (Exodus 28:43).

The Hebrew word for ‘priest’ is cohen (cohanim, plural) and comes from a root that means ‘base’ such as the ‘base of a column.’  The cohanim are the structural support of the Israelite community.  It is their responsibility to carry out the will of Adonai, intercede for the people and keep the community in relationship with Adonai.

Adonai’s calling of cohanim came to Aaron and his sons, Nadav, Avihu, El’azar and Itamar. They were to have holy garments, worn only by them, when they went into the Mishkan. The unique garments for Aaron and his sons gave them dignity and splendor in front of the community bringing them respect as priests of Adonai. When they removed the consecrated garments, they became ‘ordinary people.’ 

As priests serving Adonai in the Tabernacle, they walked on ‘holy ground.’ While they ministered to the people, served at the Altar, and fellowshipped in the Holy Place, they did so in bare feet.

Moshe took off his sandals when he stood before the burning bush –– ‘holy ground.’

Hebrew Word Pictures
Priest or cohen – כהן – kaf, hey, nun
– open the revealing of life

Priesthood or cohanim – כהנים – kaf, hey, nun, yod, mem
– open and reveal the finished work of the mighty life

Spirit of Wisdom

“If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold I will pour out my spirit of wisdom upon you, I will make my words known to you” (Proverbs 1:23, AMP).

The priestly garments were made by a few craftsmen who were given the ‘spirit of wisdom’ so they could accomplish the work necessary. These craftsmen had to be wholehearted toward Adonai so they could hear His words. At this time, the Ruach Elohim was not inside everyone, but with only a select few. After Yeshua ascended to his Father, the Ruach haKodesh was poured into those who were circumcised in their heart (John 14:15).

It is through the Ruach of wisdom that these craftsmen gained a deep and intimate knowledge of the ‘heavenly’ Tabernacle and their Creator. The Ruach of wisdom is Messiah Yeshua who gives insight into the mysteries and secrets of Elohim.

“But to those who are called, whether Jew or Gentile,  Messiah is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).  

“In my prayers I keep asking the God of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you will have full knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:16-17).

Gold Thread and Fine Linen

One of the projects of the craftsmen was to make gold thread. There is not a gold coating on the threads. These craftsmen had to know how to create thread from gold that would not break and could be worked into fabric.

The process of hammering gold into an extremely thin, unbroken sheet is called ‘goldbeating.’ Egyptian craftsmen recognized the extraordinary durability and malleability of gold and became the first goldbeaters. They pounded gold using a round stone to create the thinnest gold leaf possible.

Most goldbeaters use 23 karat gold.  They put the gold in a pot and melt it in a furnace.  When liquified, the gold is poured into a mold and cast into a bar.  The gold bar is rolled in a mill until it is 1/1000 of an inch thick. After being rolled, the thin ribbon of gold is cut into 1-inch squares as preparation for beating.

The first step of beating is called the Cutch which uses a fabric to interleave the gold as it was being beaten. Originally, the Cutch was made of 150 skins of ox intestine, but parchment or mylar is used today in order to handle the hours of repeated hammer blows needed to beat the gold.

The gold is beaten on a large heavy block of marble or granite.  Beating of the Cutch takes about one hour using a fifteen pound hammer.  The goldbeater follows a pattern and sets up a rhythm of about seventy strokes per minute.  The Cutch packet is rotated and turned to ensure the gold inside expands evenly in all directions to about 4 inches square.  The gold is taken out of the Cutch and each piece is cut into four smaller pieces with a knife and put in a packet called a Shoder which has 1,500 skins.  The Shoder is beaten for about three hours until the gold expands into a 5-inch square.

The gold is taken out of the Shoder and placed on a leather-covered surface.  The gold is now so thin that the cutter can simply blow on it to flatten it out.  Using a wooden implement called a ‘wagon,’ the gold is quickly cut into four pieces and placed in a packet called a Mold for the final beating.  The Mold, coated with gypsum powder to prevent the gold from sticking to the skins, contains 1,500 pieces of gold.  The Mold is beaten with an 8-pound hammer for three to four hours until it is a circle about six inches in diameter.  The finished leaf forms an unbroken sheet of gold with a thickness of 1/250,000 of an inch.

Gold is a symbol of divinity showing the Divine Presence would be woven throughout the articles for the Tabernacle, including the high priest’s garments. Fine linen symbolizes purity. Aaron and his sons were to be the examples of purity for Isra’el, judging and living righteously before the Divine Presence.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Linen or karpas – כרפס – kaf, resh, peh, samech
– to open to the highest authority, the source of support

The Ritual Vest – Ephod

“Calling to mind the sons of Isra’el.  Aaron is to carry their names before Adonai on this two shoulders as a reminder” (Exodus 28:12).

The ephod was made of gold with blue, purple, and scarlet yarn with finely woven linen. These colors are used throughout the Mishkan. Blue symbolized the heavens, purple symbolized royalty, and scarlet was the color of sacrifice through the lineage of Judah. Along with the gold thread of the Divine Presence, the colors foreshadowed the coming High Priest from heaven, the Divine Presence of Adonai on earth –– Yeshua.

Attached to the front and back of the ephod were two shoulder pieces that could be fastened together. It had a belt made by the same skilled craftsmanship. Two onyx stones were engraved with the names of the sons of Isra’el according to their birth order with six names on each stone. They were made as a seal and put on the shoulder pieces of the ephod to remind Aaron of the sons of Isra’el when he came before Adonai. The two stones, called the urim and the tumim, were also placed in the breastplate and used for judging Isra’el. They were over Aaron’s heart and gave him the means for making wise decisions when standing before Adonai.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Ritual Vest or ephod – אפוד – alef, peh, vav, dalet
– first strength, source of the binding to the pathway

The Breastplate

“Make a breastplate for judging. The stones will correspond to the names of the twelve sons of Isra’el; they are to be engraved with their names as a seal would be engraved, to represent the twelve tribes” (Exodus 28:15,21).

The breastplate was made like the ephod with gold thread, blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, with finely woven linen. When it was folded in half, it would be square –– “a hand-span by a handspan” (Exodus 28:16). The breastplate was attached with gold rings and twisted gold chains that connected the pieces together over the shoulder and over the ephod.

The legal term which describes the entire process of justice and ‘judging’ is tzadak and means ‘righteousness.’ In the Septuagint, the word dikaios is used for ‘righteousness’ and describes those who conform to Adonai’s Torah.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Breastplate or choshen – חושן – chet, vav, shin, nun
– protect the mighty binding of life

“Aharon will carry the names of the sons of Isra’el on the breastplate for judging, over his heart, when he enters the Holy Place, as a continual reminder before Adonai” (Exodus 28:29).

Four rows containing three precious stones were to be set in gold. On each stone was engraved a name of one of the son’s of Isra’el so the breastplate would represent the 12 Tribes of Isra’el. The stones listed below are the colors the Temple Institute in Jerusalem believe are the most reliable Biblical stones. It is believed the colors of the stones matched the color of the flags carried by each tribe as the Israelites traveled in the wilderness.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Righteousness or tzadak – צדיק – tzade, dalet, yod, kof
– pull toward to the pathway, what is behind the finished work

The Robe

“Aharon is to wear it [the robe] when he ministers, and its sound will be heard whenever he enters the Holy Place before Adonai and when he leaves, so he won’t die” (Exodus 28:35).

The high priest’s robe was made entirely of blue representing the heavenly realm.   It had an opening around the neck edge with a border woven like the neck of a coat of chain mail, though it was not actual chain mail. Only warriors wore literal chain mail implying the priestly robe symbolized a garment of battle. As the intercessor between Adonai and Isra’el, there would be many battles, both physical and spiritual, to be fought whether from actual physical enemies or the spiritual idolatry that would entice the Israelites.

The position of the high priest was one of great responsibility.  Everything had to be done in perfect obedience to the commands of Adonai or the high priest would die. Along the bottom of the robe’s hem, pomegranates crafted of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn alternated with gold bells –– gold bell, pomegranate, gold bell, pomegranate. The bells were placed on the hem of the robe so Adonai would know when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place and allow him to live.

Pomegranates are found throughout Scripture as a symbol of fruitfulness. They are one of the seven species found in the Promised Land and brought to the Temple as offerings (Deuteronomy 8:8).   Hundreds of pomegranates were carved on the pillars of Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 7:18,20).   The Song of Songs refers to pomegranates in Solomon’s love song to his bride (Song of Songs 4:13, 6:11, 7:12, 8:2).   The pomegranate is found on ancient Jewish coins; and in Jewish tradition, the pomegranate has 613 seeds representing the 613 mitzvot of Torah.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Robe or me’il – מטילֹ – mem, tet, yod, lamed
– the mighty twisting, the finished work of the shepherd

Pomegranate or rimon – רמון – resh, mem, vav, nun
– highest authority, the mighty binding to life

Mitznefet – Priestly Turban

“Because Aharon bears the guilt for any errors committed by the people of Isra’el in consecrating their holy gifts, this ornament is always to be on his forehead, so the gifts for Adonai will be accepted by him” (Exodus 28:38).

An ornament of pure gold was put on the mitznefet or turban worn by the high priest. It was engraved as a seal with the words ‘Kadosh l’yod-hey-vav-hey’ (Holy to Adonai).  It was fastened to the turban with a blue cord on the front over Aaron’s head. Because the high priest wore the ornament, the consecrated gifts of Isra’el would be accepted by Adonai.

The mitznefet is part of the modern-day infantry wear of the Israeli Defense Forces. It is a floppy mesh cover over the helmet that camouflages the helmet and protects head of the soldier.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Turban or mitznefet – מצנפת – mem, tzade, nun, peh, tav
– consume and pull toward life, the source of the covenant

The Tunic, Belt and Undergarments

Ketonet  is a general Hebrew term for clothes. It is used in Genesis when ketonet or coverings were made for Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned.  It is  also used for the unique robe given to Joseph by his father. ‘Clothes’ in the Greek is himation and means ‘robe’ like the ketonet. The tunic or ketonet for the high priest was checkered and woven of fine linen along with the turban and belt.  The ketonet covered the entire body from head to foot and had long sleeves.

According to rabbinical writings, the avnet or belt was long and needed to be wrapped around the body several times.  Though no one knows exactly how it was wrapped, it may have crossed over the heart.  The Talmud explains this was done as atonement for the impure thoughts of the nation of Isra’el.  Yeshua taught that sin begins with iniquity in the heart, and the sash may have been symbolically used for reminding the high priest that the sins of Isra’el began in the heart.

The high priest also wore miknesevad or undergarments consisting of linen shorts reaching from waist to thigh covering his bare flesh.  He wore these ‘boxer shorts’ when he approached the Altar to minister in the Holy Place so he wouldn’t incur guilt and die.  The miknesevad kept the priest from exposing his ‘private parts’ when going up to minister at the Altar. When the Temple was built, there were numerous steps the priests would climb and the undergarments kept their ‘private parts’ from being exposed.

Aaron’s sons, the priesthood who minister at the Altar, also wore tunics, belts, and head coverings to show the dignity and splendor of the priestly position.  They were anointed and set-apart to serve Adonai in the office of cohen.

When I was growing up, my mother told to always wear underclothes: bras, panties, and slips. Of course, I asked her ‘why.’ She explained the priests in the Temple wore under clothes for modesty so we should too. I was young and had never read the priestly regulations, but I never questioned her wisdom. In my adult years, I have had conversations with women, young and old, about wearing undergarments. Many have no conviction about what they are revealing to the world. I am grateful my mother taught me ‘priestly’ modesty that I have tried to pass on to my daughters (and sons). Because I am part of a royal priesthood, dressing with dignity and splendor became central to how I present myself to the world, but more importantly how I dress to honor my High Priest.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Tunic or ketonet – כתנת – kaf, tav, nun, tav
– to cover life’s sign of the covenant

Sash or avnet – אונת – alef, vav, nun, tav
– first strength binding to the covenant of life

Undergarments or miknesevad – מכנסי-בד – mem, kaf, nun, samech, yod, bet, dalet
– the mighty covering of life, proping the finished work of the house and pathway

Preparation for Ministry

“Take one young bull and two rams without defect, also matzah, matzah cakes mixed with olive oil, and matzah wafers spread with oil – all made from fine wheat flour, put them together in a basket and present them in the basket, along with the bull and the two rams… bring them to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water” (Exodus 29:1-3).

To consecrate Aaron and his sons for ministry in the Tabernacle, one bull and two rams were to be offered to Adonai along with a basket of unleavened bread, cakes and wafers. Aaron and his sons were washed at the entrance to the Tabernacle.  One by one, each of the priestly garments were put on Aaron: the undergarments, tunic, robe, ephod and breastplate.  The turban was placed on his head along with the gold ornament ‘Kadosh to yod-hey-vav-hey.’ He was anointed by pouring olive oil over his head allowing it to run down his body.

“Oh, how good, how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in harmony. It is like fragrant oil on the head that runs down over the beard, over the beard of Aharon, and flows down on the collar of his robes” (Psalm 133:2).

Aaron’s sons were also dressed in tunics, sashes, and head coverings. The office of the Aaronic priesthood and the high priest lineage was theirs by a permanent regulation, meaning forever (Exodus 29:9). Whenever there is a Temple in Jerusalem, the Aaronic priesthood will serve at the Altar because Adonai made a forever covenant with them. This is the fourth covenant given in Scripture. Just like the covenants given to Noach, Abraham and Isra’el, the covenant with Aaron is not removed or replaced by any other covenant.

“Therefore say, ‘I am giving him [Aaron] my covenant of shalom, making a covenant with him and his descendants after him that the office of cohen [priesthood] will be theirs forever.’ This is because he was zealous on behalf of his God and made atonement for the people of Isra’el” (Numbers 25:13).

The Process of Consecration

The Sin Offering
Aaron and his sons laid hands on the bull’s head and slaughtered it at the entrance to the Mishkan.  Some of the bull’s blood was put on the horns of the Altar with the finger; the rest was poured out at the base. All the fat covering the inner organs, including the liver and kidneys, was burnt up as an offering.  The bull’s flesh, skin, and feces were taken outside the camp and burnt up. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on one of the two rams’ heads and slaughtered the ram.  Its blood was splashed on all sides of the Altar. It was quartered and burnt up on the Altar as a burnt offering.

The Burnt Offering
From the second ram, some of its blood was put on Aaron’s right ear lobe and the right ear lobes of his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and the big toe of their right foot.  The rest of the blood was splashed on the side of the Altar. Some of the blood that was on the Altar was mixed with the anointing oil and sprinkled on Aaron’s garments and his sons’ garments so that everything would be consecrated. The fat of the ram, from its tail to the fat covering its inner organs and kidneys, and its right thigh along with one loaf of bread, one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer from the basket was put in their hands.  They waved them as a wave offering in the presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.  Everything was burned up on the Altar on top of the bull. “It will be a pleasing aroma before Adonai, it is an offering made to Adonai by fire” (Exodus 29:25)

The Peace or Shalom Offering
The breast of the second ram was waved as an offering and became food for Aaron and his family.   Every breast and thigh or anything that was meant for Aaron and his sons was waved and became the consecrated portion of food for Aaron and his sons. “It will be a contribution from the people of Isra’el from their peace offerings, their contribution to Adonai” (Exodus 29:28).

The consecration process took seven days with sin offerings and atonement offerings made for the Altar each day.   The atonement for the Altar made it holy along with whoever touched the Altar.

The priests were to take a ram of consecration and boil its meat in a holy place. Aaron and his sons were to eat the ram’s meat and the bread in the basket at the entrance to the Tabernacle.  They were to eat the atonement foods –– no one else was to eat this food because as it was holy only for them.   If any food remained until the morning, it was to be burned up.

Daily Offerings

Twice a day, everyday, in the morning and evening, two lambs, a year old, were offered on the Altar with finely ground flour mixed with oil from pressed olives along with wine as a drink offering. “This will be a pleasing aroma an offering made to Adonai by fire” (Exodus 29:41).

A nesek or drink offering was poured out at the base of the Altar and accompanied a burnt, peace, or grain offering.  This practice went as far back as Jacob who poured a drink offering on his standing stone.  Drink offerings of either wine or a stronger alcohol were consumed in the fire of the Altar. The drink offering was given to Adonai and considered His ‘drink’ (Numbers 15).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Drink offering or nesek – נסך – nun, samech, kof
– life supports the pathway

The Divine Presence

“Through all your generations this is to be the regular burnt offering at the entrance of the tent of meeting before Adonai.  There I will meet with you to speak with you.  There I will meet with the people of Isra’el and the place will be consecrated by my glory.  I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the Altar, likewise I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me in the office of cohen.  Then I will live with the people of Isra’el and be their God: they will know that I am Adonai their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt in order to live with them. I am Adonai their God” (Exodus 29:42-46).

Each day with the daily offerings, Adonai would meet and speak with Aaron and the priests. He would meet with the people of Isra’el and consecrate them along with the Tabernacle, the Altar, and the priests. He would live with them and be their Elohim. This is a ‘shadow’ of the restoration of the Kingdom when Adonai’s glory is with mankind and He will live with His people and be their Elohim (Revelation 21:3).

Yeshua is the physical dwelling place of Adonai’s glory. He is the visible image of the invisible Elohim (Colossians 1:15). Anyone who has seen him has seen the Father (John 14:9). Though his glory is veiled, we will see it when he appears because we will see him as he really is (1 John 3:2).

The Hebrew word for ‘glory’ is kavod and means ‘honor, glory, imposing presence or position.’ Though abstract in essence, when it is attached to something that is seen, there is revelation. Through His kavod, Adonai expresses Himself more specifically to His people. His glory was in the cloud and the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites in the wilderness.  In Psalm 24:8, the kavod of Adonai is ‘strong and mighty in battle’ meaning His victory over the enemy can be seen.  In 1 Corinthians 11, man is the kavod of Adonai while woman is the kavod of man. Kavod is used for ‘honor’ in the commandment to ‘honor your father and mother.’ Kavod also carries with it the inference that it has weight or heaviness as to ‘let the weight of Adonai’s glory fall.’ 

The word Shekinah is not found in the Scriptures, but has come to mean the ‘Divine Presence’ of Elohim appearing in a specific locality. The word is derived from the Hebrew sheken and means ‘to settle, inhabit or dwell.’ Mishkan has the same root. Whoever first used the word Shekinah used it as a noun form to describe the physical manifestation of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh that settles in a way that is perceivable. Zechariah 2:8-11 and 1 Samuel 4:21 both support the Shekinah, the divine visitation of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh on earth that comes and goes. The Talmud says, “Whenever ten men are gathered in prayer, the Shekinah rests.”  Yeshua referred to this Talmudic concept when he said, “For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, ’I Am’ there with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Glory or kavod – כבד – kaf, bet, dalet
– to cover the house, the pathway

Shekinah –  שכן – shin, kaf, nun
– consume and open life

Altar of Incense

“It [the Altar of Incense] is especially holy to Adonai” (Exodus 30:10).

Within the Holy Place was the Altar of Incense. It was made of Acacia wood, 18 inches square and 3 feet high. Like the Altar of Sacrifice, it had horns made as one piece with it. Everything was overlaid with gold. Gold rings were put under the moulding at the corners on both sides for inserting carrying poles.   The poles were made of Acacia wood overlaid with gold. The Altar of Incense was placed in front of the Holy Curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.

Aaron was to burn fragrant incense on the Altar of Incense every morning and evening when he prepared the lamps for the Menorah in the morning or lit them at dusk. No unauthorized incense was to be burnt on the Altar of Incense nor any burnt or grain offering.  No drink offering was to be poured on it.  Once a year on the Day of Atonement, atonement for the Altar of Incense was made on its horns with blood from the sin offering.

“All the people were outside, praying, at the time of the incense burning, when there appeared to him an angel of Adonai standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was startled and terrified at the sight” (Luke 1:10-12 ).

Yeshua and the Priestly Garments

 High Priest, Cohen
“But this one, after he had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of God, from then on to wait until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has brought to the goal for all time those who are being set apart for God and made holy” (Hebrews 10:12-14).

Spirit of Wisdom
“But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai, a shoot will grow from his roots. The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai …” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Breastplate and Turban
“He put on righteousness as his breastplate, salvation as a helmet on his head; he clothed himself with garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in a mantle of zeal” (Isaiah 59:17).

The Belt
“Justice will be the belt around his waist, faithfulness the sash around his hips” (Isaiah 11:5).

“Upon entering the house, they saw the child with his mother Miryam; and they prostrated themselves and worshiped him. Then they opened their bags and presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Ritual Vest, Heart For Isra’el
“He said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el’” (Matthew 15:24).

“Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you refused!” (Matthew 23:37)

The Robe
“A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years approached him from behind and touched the tzitzit on his robe” (Matthew 9:20-21).

Tunic, Undergarments
“After they had nailed him to the stake, they divided his clothes among them by throwing dice” (Matthew 27:35).

“Yosef purchased a linen sheet; and after taking Yeshua down, he wrapped him in the linen sheet, laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb” (Mark 15:46).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Tithe to Who?

“Then Melchizedek king of  Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,  and he blessed Abram, saying,  ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’  Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Abram heard that five kings had taken his nephew captive along with all the possessions and food in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram gathered 318 of his trained men and went in pursuit of the kings. They attacked and defeated them. Abram’s men recovered everything that was stolen and retrieved Lot. In the Valley of Shaveh, the King’s Valley, the King of Sodom met him and asked him to return the people and keep the goods for himself. Abram refused to give the King of Sodom anything.

The King of Salem, Melchizedek, also met him. Melchizedek, whose name in Hebrew means ‘King of Righteousness,’ brought out bread and wine. Together Abram and this priest of the ‘Most High God’ had Sabbath fellowship. Melchizedek blessed Abram by the ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ who delivered his enemies into his hand. In response, Abram gave Melchizedek a “tenth of everything” as dividing the spoils of war with rulers and religious leaders was commonplace.

The giving of one-tenth of a part of something to another person is called a tithe. The tithe is as ancient as this exchange between Abram and Melchizedek. It also became part of the Torah given to Israel by God.

“The Torah requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people – that is their fellow Israelites – even though they also are descended from Abraham.  This man (Melchizedek), however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abram and blessed him who had the promises” (Hebrews 7:4-6). 

Levitical Priesthood

From Abraham’s seed came Isaac and his son, Jacob. Levi was the third son of Jacob from his wife, Leah. From Levi’s descendants came the priesthood of God because of their faithfulness in the wilderness. The Levites were given duties in the Tabernacle along with responsibilities surrounding the offerings and sacrifices. The Levitical priestly duties continued throughout the generations whenever there was a Temple in Jerusalem.

The Levites, unlike the other tribes, were not given a tribal land inheritance, but were dispersed throughout the land of Israel. Because they didn’t own land, they had no way of growing their own food or raising their own livestock. God commanded the tithe be given to them as their inheritance for doing His work among the people of Israel. Tithes of grain and oil became their sustenance, along with the meat of a firstborn cow, sheep, or goat.

“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites’” (Numbers 18:21, 23-24).

From the tithes of Israel, the Levite priests gave a tithe to God. From everything they received from the Israelites, they were to present the best portion to God. God gave His portion to Aaron and his sons as sustenance. God’s portion was considered holy, and all of Aaron’s sons and daughters were allowed to eat it as their share of the inheritance.

“The LORD said to Moses,  “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest.  You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you” (Numbers 18:25-29).

Tithes went to the Levite priests because they ministered in God’s Tabernacle. Each Levite family division had different responsibilities. Some ministered at the Altar of Sacrifice with burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, and drink offerings while others led worship, supervised weights and scales, witnessed legal agreements, and made judicial decisions. Their greatest responsibility was reading the Torah to Israel in such a way that the people understood it and could obey it.

“The Levites – Yeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Yamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Yozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah – instructed the people in the Torah while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of Torah of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:7-8).

“In keeping with the ordinance of his father, David, he [Solomon] appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise” (2 Chronicles 8:14).

“In Jerusalem also, Jehosaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families to administer the Torah of the LORD and to settle disputes” (2 Chronicles 19:8).

“Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions – each of them according to their duties as priests to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD’s dwelling” (2 Chronicles 31:2).

Unfortunately, the Levite priests did not always do what they were called to do. They stopped distinguishing between the ‘holy’ and ‘profane,’ taught there was no difference between ‘unclean’ and ‘clean,’ and ignored keeping the Sabbath and ‘appointed times.’ They began to steal from the people and did violence to God’s Torah –– sinning against man and doing abominations against God –– profaning His Name among the people.

“They [the priests] do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach there is no difference between the unclean and clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” (Ezekiel 22:25-26).

Since 70 CE and the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, there has been no Temple. There is no Altar of Sacrifice or Holy Place that requires a Levitical priesthood. The Levite priests have been scattered throughout the world waiting for the day when there is another Temple, and God’s promise of an eternal priesthood to Aaron is restored (Numbers 18:8). Accordingly, the tithe is not in force when there is no Levitical priesthood.

Because of the belief that God is through with Israel and the church has replaced God’s holy nation, many Christian leaders teach that the covenant of the eternal Levitical priesthood has also been replaced with a newer one. They teach that God’s Torah is either too difficult to keep or can’t be kept at all. They teach that Jesus’ death on the cross removed everything found in Torah from Sabbath to the Feasts of the LORD to the dietary regulations to –– well, almost everything; they still want the tithe.

The tithe existed long before the Levitical priesthood so the idea of the tithe still has intrinsic value, but only in its ordained purpose for the Levitical priests who ministered God’s Truth to the people. According to God’s instructions, the tithe shouldn’t be given to anyone today as there is no Levitical priesthood.

If modern-day churches want to collect the tithe, they should give it to the ‘priests’ who teach the difference between the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean,’ the difference between the ‘holy’ and the ‘pagan,’ and honor the Sabbath and the ‘appointed times’ –– ‘priests’ who teach Torah.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (2 Peter 2:9).

As faithful followers of Yeshua, we are called the ‘royal priesthood.’ We get our royal status from Yeshua, whose Kingly lineage comes through Judah and King David. We get our priestly status from Yeshua, who is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20). The ‘royal priesthood,’ under the authority of Yeshua, our High Priest, is commanded to equip the people of God through teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness with the God-breathed Scriptures: the Torah, Prophets and Writings (2 Timothy 2:16).

However, it is very difficult to find ‘priests’ today that teach Torah as expected of the ‘royal priesthood,’ a much higher calling than the Levitical priesthood. Most church pastors do not use the full counsel of God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation. They do not teach holy living through obedience to God’s commandments. They don’t teach the difference between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ or the dietary instructions. They do not accept their place in ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ nor God’s ‘appointed times’ and they close their eyes to the weekly Sabbath.

Most church leaders pick and choose those things in the Bible that promote their personal and financial agenda. They keep their disciples walking in the darkness of the world because the light of the Word conflicts with the ways of the world. Worse yet, they do severe violence to God’s Torah by abolishing Torah and teaching lawlessness (1 Peter 4:17). Consequently, God’s name is not only profaned within the hearts of men where the Spirit should dwell, but also throughout the nations of the world.

Should such leaders, pastors, and teachers receive a tithe? Was the command for the tithe to be given to them?

Gifts and Offerings

Our family struggled with the tithe for years, especially when it came to giving to church institutions and pastors who judged our walk of faith. How can we give teachers who tell us the ‘law is done away with’ the tithes commanded in the Torah? How can we financially support leaders who refuse to distinguish between the ‘holy’ and the ‘profane,’ teach there is no difference between the ‘unclean’ and ‘clean,’ remain blind to keeping the Sabbath and God’s holy days, and give them the tithe belonging to the Levites?

It was through prayer and the guidance of the Spirit that we searched the Scriptures and found Biblical alternatives for the tithe.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress … “ (James 1:27).

Followers of Yeshua are to look after widows and the fatherless. In an agricultural society, the corners of fields were left for the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 24:19). Though we may not have a field with corners that we can designate for the poor, we do have the means to help them in the time of their distress. We can watch their children, help with the housework, buy food, pay a bill, take them to the doctor, or just be a comfort in the days of their sorrow and struggle. We have a huge responsibility to look after these women and children because we do not live in a culture that encourages supporting the widow and orphan; we leave it to the government. We should never be found on the wrong side of God who “defends the cause of he fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).

What about ministries that take care of orphans? We have a personal standard that the ministry must not only teach the children about Yeshua and salvation, it must also teach them God’s commandments. We do not support any humanistic, philanthropic outreach. Though they are noble, they are not bringing glory to God or Yeshua. Christian ministry outreaches like World Vision and Compassion International teach children the message of salvation; however, they don’t meet the standard our family has maintained for support –– they don’t teach the commandments of God while they do teach un-Biblical western theologies. Whatever you choose to do with giving, be convinced in your own mind (Romans 14:5).

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:12-14).

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

These verses above give two other ways to give to God’s people as part of the ‘royal priesthood.’ Sharing our material goods with those who are in need and practicing hospitality to strangers, shows Yeshua in our lives as we help and encourage people who are homeless, jobless, and penniless (3 John 1:8).

We have found that by keeping the Biblical Sabbath, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, we always have time available to invite people into our home for a meal. Sharing material goods and practicing hospitality can be challenging because there is no guarantee that it will be appreciated. We have experienced criticism numerous times when we have opened our home and treated others generously; however, because we know that God works everything for His glory, we continue to step out and bless, encourage, and offer hospitality.

Paul suggests another way of giving citing examples of what gentile congregations in Asia Minor and Galatia did. They gave their tithe to the Messianic believers in Jerusalem. A tithe per year was required to go to Jerusalem so Paul recommended that gentiles who have come to faith in Yeshua set aside money on the first day of the week (never collected on Sabbath) and give what has been collected to Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. He reasons “the gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (Romans 15:27).

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

“For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.  They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.  For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.  So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution” (Romans 15:26-28).

“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.  Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea” (Acts 11:27-29).

Giving to ministries in Jerusalem is one that the modern-day ‘royal priesthood’ can actually do with establishment of the State of Israel. There are many ministries not just in Jerusalem, but in the land of Israel that need support, especially those who are Messianic Jews trying to bring the message of Yeshua to their own people. Poverty abounds in Israel especially with immigrants coming ‘home.’ Some of the ministries in Israel that we have supported are: Dugit Messianic Outreach Center in Tel Aviv that does street witnessing for Yeshua; Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, that supports child victims of war and terrorism; the IDF soldiers; the Magen David Adom, the Israeli Red Cross; Vision for Israel that helps new immigrants; Heart of G-d, a family of musicians who encourage Jewish people around the world to make aliyah or ‘come home;’ and Jerusalem Vistas, a media ministry that sent us a prayer map with a specific street in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray for. We had the wonderful opportunity to walk that street when we visited Jerusalem.

Abram, our forefather tithed the King of Salem, Melchizedek, the priest of God who was eternal (Hebrews 7:3). Like Abraham, we should tithe to those who are ‘priests of righteousness’ who teach Torah, the standard for holy living. Or, as Paul suggests, we should give to our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem because they have preserved and guarded the Torah of God allowing us to know and receive the riches of life contained in His Word.

©2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.