The Word Made Fresh
1“If an offering is brought to seek peace for the community, it may be a male or female animal. If the one offering it to the LORD brings it from the herd, he must be certain it is without any imperfection. 2Place your hand on its head and slaughter it at the entrance to the meeting tent. The priests, Aaron’s sons, will splatter the blood on each side of the altar.3Then you can make a food offering to the LORD from the peace offering of the fat that surrounds the internal organs, 4the kidneys and the fat around them between the hips and the lobe of the liver which you shall remove with the kidneys. 5Then Aaron’s sons will burn all of this on the altar along with whatever other offering is on the wood of the altar fire. This is a food gift that will be a pleasant smell to the LORD.
6 “If the peace offering is from the flock, male or female, it must be without any imperfections. 7If a sheep is offered it must be presented to the LORD 8by placing your hand on its head and slaughtering it at the entrance of the meeting tent. Aaron’s sons will splatter the blood against each side of the altar. 9Then make an offering of the fat to the LORD: the tail, removed at the tailbone; the fat that covers the innards; 10the kidneys and the fat around them between the hips; and the lobe of the liver which you shall remove with the kidneys. 11The priest will burn all of this on the altar as a food offering for the LORD.
12“If the offering is a goat, bring it before the LORD. 13Put your hand on its head and slaughter it at the entrance of the meeting tent. Aaron’s sons will splatter its blood on the four sides of the altar. 14Then you may present it as your food gift to the LORD: the fat around the internal organs; 15the two kidneys and the fat around them between the hips; and the lobe of the liver that was removed with the kidneys. 16The priest will completely burn all of this on the altar as a food gift with a pleasing smell. All the fat belongs to the LORD; this is a permanent rule; you and your descendants must never eat fat or blood.”
1-5: The offering of “well-being,” or thanksgiving is described. Think of this as a thanksgiving for God’s blessings and/or as a petition for continued or renewed blessings. This offering may be of a male or female animal, unblemished of course, of the flock or the herd. If it is of the herd, the animal is brought to the entrance of the tent. In this case it seems pretty clear that the owner of the animal, not the priest, slaughters the animal. The priest then dashes its blood against the four sides of the altar. The owner then butchers the animal and gives the priests the fat from the abdomen along with the kidneys and liver, and these are burned on the altar. The disposition of the remainder of the carcass is not specified here.
6-11: Offerings of well-being from the flock may be of either goat or sheep, male or female. The sheep sacrifice is the same as what was described for the cattle sacrifice, except it is specified that the tail of the sheep (which contains a great deal of fatty tissue) is to be offered along with the other fatty portions.
12-16: If a goat is offered, the procedure is identical to that of the cattle offering.
17: Neither the fat nor the blood is to be eaten from any sacrifice. If an animal is sacrificed to the LORD, the blood is to be poured out after some of it is dashed against the altar, and the fat is to be burned on the altar.
All of this, of course, sounds strange to our ears, but remember that animals represented the wealth of the family. Even today we offer our wealth to the LORD; it is just that we have converted our wealth into paper before we bring it to the altar. We should, however, recover the attitude with which these animal sacrifices were made: it is given in trust that God is involved in and in charge of every aspect of life on earth.