We are going to discuss a neglected subject in the Scriptures and that is the Menachot, or “bread offerings.” You can find more information about this subject in the Mishnah tractate Menachot and a book called “The Colorful Ceremonies of the Beit ha Mikdash” by Torah V’Mesorah Publications. Much of the following information comes from “The Korban Minchah: A Pictoral Guide to the Korban Minchah” by Menachem Moshe Oppen. The bread offerings are also known as the “meal offerings.” They include 13 types of bread offerings which are called the following:
1) Minchat Solet
2) Minchat Challah
3) Minchat Rekikin
4) Minchat Machvat
5) Minchat Marcheshet
6) Minchat Sotah
7) Minchat Choteh
8) Lechem ha Pannim
9) Minchat Chavitin
10) Minchat Chinuch
11) Minchat ha Omer
12) Shtai ha Lechem
13) Minchat Nesachim
We are going to discuss these very briefly but each one can be looked up individually on the Internet for more detail. By this time, we should be seeing, thinking and acting different in regards to the Temple and its services. It makes you pick up the Torah with new understanding as well as the rest of the Scriptures. One of the things that should be happening is your biblical vocabulary should be growing. That is why we use many Hebrew terms because it puts all of this back into its Jewish context and the Hebrew can bring out many concepts that you won’t see in English. For example, the 12 loaves placed on the golden table in the Heichal (Holy Place) is called by many the Showbread. But it is called the Lechem ha Pannim or “the bread of the faces.” This alludes to the faces of the Father, Son and Ruach ha Kodesh in the Sanctuary, but it also alludes to the 12 tribes of Israel that is constantly before the “faces” of the Lord on the Shulcahn ha Lechem ha Pannim (the table of the bread of the faces).
Now, here is a concept. If you can pick up 10 new words and concepts after studying for one hour a day, how many new things will you know after 10 days? What about after 365 days? In one year you will have 3,650 new words and concepts! Think of how this can change your understanding of the Scriptures and the Lord, and that is the real goal of this website. That is why a child starts with the book of Leviticus first at 5 years old. We are not talking about reading “three chapters a day” but actually understanding what you are reading.
Most believers just read the Bible with no understanding, but that is not our goal here. Understanding the Temple, the services, the ceremonies and the korbanot will be the foundation for understanding the rest of the Scriptures. We need to “back up” and get the basics and it will be hard, sometimes tedious, difficult and long. You won’t master these things overnight. But, what you will come away with will be worth the effort and work if you think that knowing the Word of God is important to you. The key will be vocabulary and understanding the context in which the words are used, not in English, but in Hebrew.
The ingredients of the menachot is important. Each type of minchah will use some of these ingredients. Wheat is covered by an outer shell called chaff (motz) and two thin layers of bran called “subin and mursin.” Two types of flour are produced from the kernel, regular flour called “kemach” and superior flour called “solet.” Only the solet is used for wheat menachot. After harvesting, the wheat is left to dry in the sun. It is then gathered and beaten with thick sticks to break off the chaff. It is winnowed to blow the broken chaff away. Remember that the Temple site was a threshing floor. A person runs his palms over the kernels and pounds them with his fist. This loosens the bran layers. The kernel is then placed in a bean mill. The grinding stones of this mill are adjusted loosely so they only break off the loosened bran layers and split the kernels into parts that become kemach and solet. Finer sieves separate the superior solet from the regular kemach. The solet part is then ground in a flour mill and this produces the solet flour.
Barley flour is used in two menachot, the Omer and the Michat Sotah (Adultery test). The Torah requires that the Omer be milled from the kernels that completely fill the layer of bran that covers them. In order to keep the kernel from shrinking, the barley is not sun dried. As soon as the barley is harvested, it is gathered and beaten with soft reeds and roots. In this way, the chaff is removed without crushing the kernel. With winnowing, the chaff is blown away. The kernels are dried over a flame on a perforated pan called an “aviv.” The kernel is soaked in water to loosen the bran and is ground in a bean mill to split off the part of the kernel from which the superior flour is made. Sifting and grinding follow. In preparing the flour for the Minchah Sotak, in contrast to the Omer, the chaff can be removed from the kernel in any manner without protecting the kernel from being crushed. The bran is not removed at all, and the entire kernel is ground together in a flour mill.
Olive oil is produced in three stages. First, the olives are pounded in a pestle and put into a perforated basket. Superior oil (used in the Menorah) drips from the basket into a pan beneath it. Then the olives are pressed with a large beam or heavy stones., producing average oil. Finally the olives are ground in a mill and pressed again, yielding an inferior oil. All of these oils may be used in the korbanot. It is a good work (mitzvah) to use the best quality available.
Levona is frankincense, a spice that comes from the sap of a tree. The sap hardens into small granules. Water is used in the menachot and used in small amounts to knead the bread. Small amounts of oil are also used. Salt (melachah) is used on a minchah that is burnt on the Mizbeach (Altar).
Now we are going to look at the quantity of flour required for each korban. Flour is measured in a vessel which holds an “esoron.” Each “esoron” is the volume of 43 1/5 eggs. For example, the required amounts of flour used in the Lechem ha Pannim (bread of the faces) is 24 esorim, which is a volume of 1037 eggs. The Minchat Neshachim uses 1-3 esorim, which is a volume of 132 eggs. The Shtai ha Lechem used at Shavuot uses 2 esorim, or the volume of 86 eggs. Other menachot use at least 1 esoron which has a volume of 43 1/5 eggs.
Oil is measured in a vessel which holds a “log.” A “log” has the volume of 6 eggs. Most menachot use 1 log, or 6 eggs. The Minchat Chavitin and Chinuch use 3 logs, or the volume of 18 eggs. The Minchat Nesachim uses 3-6 logs which has the volume of 18-36 eggs. Levona (frankincense) for each menachot equals a “kometz.” This is where a hand goes in and with three fingers brings up an amount, which is equivalent to about the volume of 1 egg. The Lechem ha Pannim uses 2 kometzim, or the volume of 2 eggs.
The Minchat Nesachim is part of the morning service. When a Korban Olah (burnt), Shelem (peace), Chata’at (sin) and Asham (guilt) of a metzora (leper) is brought, they are accompanied by a Minchat Nesachim. This minchat is burned entirely on the Mizbeach (Altar). It is made by putting oil in a vessel, adding flour and mixed with additional oil. The remainder of the oil is poured, then it is salted and burned on the Altar.
If a korban was brought by one person it is called a “Korban Yachid (one).” If a korban is communal, it is called “Korban Tzibor.”
The Korban Solet is fine flour and oil, sometimes wine. It is baked in round cake pans called a “Keli” with oil at the bottom, then fine flour is put into it with more oil. Levona is added by being placed on the side of the mixture and brought to the Altar. It is brought to the kohen uncooked and he touches the southwest corner of the Mizbeach with the pan. Then a kometza is performed, which again is when the kohen squeezes three fingers together to get a portion of the dough called the Kometz, and the levona is gathered and removed from the mixture. Melachah (salt) is added once the kometz and the levona in the pan reach the Mizbeach. Every offering must be salted (Mark 9.49). Then all of this placed on the Mizbeach fire at the southeastern corner. The remaining Minchat Solet is divided by the kohanim and eaten within the Azarah after baking it. It will come out looking like pancakes. The Minchat Nesachim has the same steps as the Solet, except the whole thing is burned on the Altar, not just the kometza (the three fingers worth of dough about the size of an egg). This is equivalent to a Korban Olah. The amount of flour and oil used is determined by the type of animal being brought.
In Part 7 we will begin with the Minchat Chavitin and Chinuch.