We are going to briefly talk about the Korban Shelemim (Lev 3.1-17, 7.11-34). This is often translated “peace offerings” but that does not suggest an appeasement. This korban is brought freely to the Lord because a person wants to. When offered it was seen that God brings peace (shalom and shelem related) to the world and to the person who gave it. The animals used were from the flock and the herd. It is slaughtered in the Azarah and they can be communal or private shelemim. The animals were without blemish and the worshipper slaughtered it, male or female. The kohen would take the breast and the thigh.
The individual shelem was offered at the fulfillment of a vow, in gratitude called “Todah” or thankgiving. The Passover lamb was a shelem or peace offering and Passover was an annual time of peace offerings. Certain portions were burned on the Altar (the blood and the organs) and this shelem was considered “Kodshai Kelim” or “holy” and could be eaten within Jerusalem. The fat (kelev) covering the stomach and fat of the stomach, two kidneys and fat, the fat on the loins and the lobe of the liver was not allowed to be eaten. The worshipper would take the rest of the meat and hide.
The only communal shelem was the two lambs at Shavuot that was waved with the two loaves called the Shtai Ha Lechem. These lambs were Kodshai Kodashim (most holy) and could only be eaten within the Azarah. Deut 27.6 says that the Altar was to be made of “uncut” stones. The word “uncut” is “shelemot” in Hebrew giving the meaning that the Altar brought peace. No fat just mentioned was to be eaten (Lev 3.4, 7.23) because fat speaks of “folly, lust and a block rendering the heart dull and oblivious to truth.”
The purpose of the shelem is to give peace and express happiness and gratitude for the blessings God has given. It is also given as a reminder of what God had promised the worshipper. The shelem speaks of the Messianic Kingdom, the Day of the Lord, the Atid Lavo or the Sabbath of God after 6000 years when Messiah comes. The Korban Shelem would conclude many series of korbanot in the Temple, speaking of when God, in the end, will bring “shalom” or peace.
It promotes peace because you would have a meal consecrated to God, the highest form of worship, afterwards. These meals were called a “Lord’s Supper.” A Passover meal was a Lord’s Supper or meal consecrated to God with the lamb being part of the communal meal.
Before we move on, let’s go over some things briefly. The term “holy” in regards to the korbanot is “Kodshai Kelim” which means the korban can be eaten within Jerusalem. This includes the Korban Shelem of an individual, the Todah (thanks), the Ma’aser or tithe of animals and the Passover lamb. When you read that a korban is “most holy” it is “Kodshai Kodashim” and that means it can only be eaten within the Azarah of the Temple. These include the Korban Olah, the Korban Minchah, the Korban Chata’at, the Korban Asham and the Korban Shelem of the community. Free will offerings are the Korban Olah, The Korban Shelem and the Korban Mincha. Obligatory korbanot include the Korban Chata’at, the Korban Asham, the Bikkurim (first fruits) of animals, the Ma’aser (tithe) of animals, the Passover, the Todah (thanks), the daily Korban Minchah of the Kohen ha Gadol (High Priest), the Chinuch (dedication) Korban of the Kohen ha Gadol, the Korban of a Metzora (leper), the korban of the Zav (one with a chronic issue), the korban of a woman after childbirth and the communal Korban for the whole community.
Now, people have a revulsion to the thought of all these korbanot. They see it as “pagan” and “cruel” but it is the depth of what the Lord is trying to communicate to us. Hopefully, we are seeing the value of the korbanot. What should be coming out in all this is whether it is an animal or a bread korban, it is not the animal or bread that is required by God but a “proper heart attitude.” That is why in many places in the Tanach that the Lord said he hates the korbanot and the festivals. Samuel told Saul that to “obey was better than sacrifice” when Saul offered korbanot when he was not supposed to. The Lord was after their hearts and that was not what was happening many times. Many have taken these statements and said that the Lord hates these korbanot and “did away with them” but that is not true because he gave them in the first place and they are coming back after Yeshua returns (Ezek 40 through 48). Even Paul offered korbanot after he came out of a Nazarite Vow (Acts 18.18, 21.17-26, 24.17).
Next we come to the Korban Chata’at (sin offering). This is referred to in Lev 4.1-35, 6.24-30, 8.14-17, 16.3-22. These were mandatory for specific sins. The person unintentionally sins against a negative commandment without knowing. It is also given when a person intentionally sins against God in a positive commandment and they could be “Karet” or “cut off” from the community. Not knowing is no excuse, one can still sin against God without knowing it (Hag 1.5-10). They were being “blocked” by God spiritually and they needed to go back and “consider” their ways.
There are three types of Korban Chata’at. A bullock by the High Priest, the bullock offered by the community for a communal sin and the chata’at offered by the Prince (Nasi). Otherwise, it was for unintentional sin. Here is a concept: Why is a sin offering brought by a woman who had a baby? Did she sin? The answer is “No.” Blood is the most important element in the korbanot and it is applied the Altar. Life is brought forth with the shedding of blood. She has not sinned, but brings a sin offering because man was created in the image of God at first. Then man sinned and he was “diminished.” When the generations of man are talked about before the fall of man, the word for “generations” is Toledot in Hebrew. This word is fully written out in Hebrew. But, after man sinned, the word for generations (Toledot) is never written out fully again because man’s generations are diminished because of sin. However, in Ruth 4.18, the word “generations” is written fully again because the generations of the Messiah was being given. God sacrificed an animal in Eden on the day Adam sinned and he made a covering (atonement). The purpose of the korbanot is to “draw near” to God like they did in Eden. When the korbanot are brought and they draw near, man has returned to God and is very thankful.
A chata’at is done with a woman in childbirth because there was a loss of blood (life) and this alludes back to the loss of life in Eden. Man died because of sin. The blood belongs to God because life is in the blood. Life was given and exchanged for blood. However, life is in a diminished state, so a sin offering is given to recall the fact that there was sin that caused this child to be in a fallen state (except for Yeshua), so it is a “zekor” or a memorial.
A Nazarite takes a vow to “draw near to God” and when he completes his vow, he offers a chata’at because man has sinned and man needs to be reconciled to God. He is, in a sense, “drawing away from God” when he comes out of the vow. Now he is in touch with death and he is reminded that sin caused this breach.
In Lev 6.24 we read that the chata’at is “Kodshai Kodashim” or most holy. It is slain in the same place as the Korban Olah and eaten in the Azarah of the Temple. Lev 1.11 says that it must be slain north of the Altar and this speaks of judgment. This alludes to the fact that Yeshua was killed north of the Altar. The chata’at was the most important korban because it symbolized general redemption.
There were two peculiar differences connected to the chata’at. First, it differed in who you were. The Kohen ha Gadol brought a bullock, the highest animal that could be given. A kid from the goats was brought for the people on Yom Kippur and other festivals, a ruler who sinned and the consecration of the Mishkan. The lowest grade of chata’at were turtle-doves or pigeons offered at certain purifications. The second difference was the blood was sprinkled, not tossed, on the Altar.
In Part 11, we will pick here with the Korban Asham.