We are going to continue with the ceremonies in the Temple and we are talking about the Korban Mincha, or bread offerings. We are going to continue by taking a look at the Minchat Omer (Omer is a measurement, about 4 litres). The Minchat Omer was brought at Passover and it is identical to the Minchat Solet except that it is made of barley and that the kohanim did a tenufa (a tenufa is where the priest stands on the east or west side of the Mizbeach and wafes the offering in all four directions and up and down). To make the Omer, oil was put in a vessel. Flour is added and then mixed with additional oil. Levona is put on it and a tenufa in all six directions is done. Then the Omer is brought to the Mizbeach and some of the pieces are separated. The kometz (the three finger mixture) is sanctified and so is the levona. Then this is salted and burned on the Mizbeach. The remainder is eaten.
There was a controversy in the Temple as to when this was offered. The Sadducees controlled the Temple till about 50 AD, then the Pharisee’s took control. There are no documents from the Sadducees on how they did things. The Torah in Lev 23.11 it says that the Omer should be waved “on the morrow after the Sabbath.” The Sadducees said the day after the weekly Sabbath is what was meant, and that is how it was done in Yeshua’s day, until 50 Ad. Remember, there were several “Sabbaths” during Passover week so this is what led to the confusion. The Pharisee’s said that the Sabbath being referred to here is Nisan 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread, so they interpreted the day after the Sabbath to mean Nisan 16. You begin to count the Omer until you have 49 days and the next day is Shavuot. It must have 7 Sabbaths in there (Lev 23.16) and only the Sadducee interpretation works. This still causes much confusion today because the Omer is counted according to the Pharisee’s.
The Minchat Challah is referred to as a Minchat Ma’afai Tanur because it is baked on the oven floor without a pan. You put oil in a vessel and then add flour. It is kneaded with water and then additional oil is mixed in. It is then baked and then folded so that no piece breaks. Levona is put on and then it is brought to the Mizbeach. Some of it is separated and this kometz is sanctified, along with the levona. Then it is salted and burned on the Mizbeach and the remainder is eaten.
The Minchat Rekikin is also a Minchat Ma’afai Tanur. Oil is put in a vessel and flour is added and kneaded with water. Then it is baked and smeared with oil. The bread is folded so it doesn’t break and levona is put on and it is brought to the Mizbeach. Pieces are separated in a kemitza (with three fingers) and the kometz is sanctified along with the levona. Then it is salted and burned on the Mizbeach, and the remainder is eaten.
The Minchat Machvat and Marcheshet has the same order except for the type of pan being used. The Minchat Machvat is baked in an oven on a pan called a machavat. The minchah has an elevated part of the pan so that most of the oil drains off. The fire burns the remaining oil causing the minchah to bake into brittle pieces. This pan looks like a pan with “humps” and the dough is placed on top. The Minchat Marcheshet is baked in an oven on a pan called a marcheshet. The dough lies in a lowered part of the pan, like a biscuit pan today. This is the opposite of the Machvat. The oil will be centered on the bread and not run off. Spiritually, it may be a picture of the Messiah anointed fully with the Ruach ha Kodesh (the oil). In the Machvat, where the oil drains off, it may be a picture of us and a partial anointing. For both of these Minchot, oil is put in a vessel and flour is added and kneaded with water. Additional oil is mixed in and baked on the two different pans. Then they are folded without breaking the pieces and the remainder of the oil is put on. Levona is added and then this is brought to the Mizbeach. Some pieces are separated by a kemitza and the kometz is sanctified along with the levona. Then it is salted and burned and the remainder is eaten.
The Minchat Choteh is brought by a person who transgressed certain sins and cannot afford an animal or bird korban. It is composed of wheat solet. No oil or levona is used. After the kometz of flour is burned, the remainder is divided and eaten by the kohanim. It is made by putting flour in a vessel and bringing it to the Mizbeach. Then they would separate some of the flour in a kemitza (the three fingers) and the kometz is sanctified. Then it is salted and burned on the Mizbeach and the remainder is eaten.
The Minchat Nesachim is brought when a Korban Olah, Shelem, Asham or Chata’at of a Metzora (leper) are brought, they are accompanied by a Minchat Neshachim. The minchah is burnt entirely on the Mizbeaach. It is made by putting oil in a vessel and adding flour, then mixed with additional oil. Then it is salted and burned on the Mizbeach.
The Minchat Sotah is brought by a woman who is suspected of adultery. The flour is made of entire kernals of barley, including the bran. Except for the type of flour and a tenufa (waved in all six directions), this korban is identical to the Minchat Choteh. Flour is put in a vessel and then a tenufa (again, a tenufa is when a priest stands on the east or west side of the Mizbeach and he moves in all four directions and up and down) is made. Then it is brought to the Mizbeach and some of the flour is separated by a kemitza. Then the kometz is sanctified, salted and burned on the Mizbeach. The remainder is eaten.
Now we come to what is called the “Shtai Halechem” or the two breads at the festival of Shavuot. Before each Shavuot, two breads called the Shtai Halechem are baked. The dough for each is individually prepared. They are brought on Shavuot in conjunction with a Korban Shelemim of two lambs. Shtai Halechem are entirely eaten by the kohanim. There is no kemitza and no part is burnt on the Mizbeach. The loaves are made by placing flour with some sour dough in a vessel. The flour is kneaded with water and it is baked as chamtez (leavened bread). There is a tenufa with the lambs alive and put in the bread loaves after they are baked like a “sandwich”, and then a second tenufa after the lambs are sacrificed. The entire thing is eaten by the kohanim. This was a special ceremony and bread offering during Shavuot (Lev 23.20). These two loaves were of a particular shape and are unique in that they are the only minchah (bread) offering with leaven (chametz). The dough rises when sourdough (called se’or) is combined with flour and water. Sour dough is dough that has been standing for days or weeks and has fermented. This is what the Bible calls “leaven” even though in some translations it has “yeast.” Each loaf is seven tefachim (about 21 inches) long and four tefachim (12 inches) wide. The corners project upwards to a height of four finger breadths (about 2 inches) like the “horns” of the Mizbeach.
Now, leaven can mean several things. It can represent sin (1 Cor 5.6-7), teaching (Matt 16.6-12 and the Kingdom of God (Matt 13.33) with the Ruach put within us, so it is symbolic of the Spirit of God also. The meaning of the leaven is determined by context. The two lambs are placed between the two loaves and waved in a tenufa in all six directions on the east side of the Mizbeach. The tenufa was performed before the two lambs are slaughtered, with animals being offered on the Mizbeach. The legs of the lambs are waved in a second tenufa between the loaves of bread. Kernals of wheat are prepared to make the flour in a different manner than usual.
This offering was done by preparing the flour in a procedure called “rubbing and beating.” It is rubbed 300 times and beaten 500 times. The procedure for this went like this: it is rubbed once, beaten twice, rubbed twice and beaten three times and this went up to three and five. Then the cycle is repeated until reaching the 300 and 500 numbers. Three seah’s, or about 24 liters of stalks are used. It is ground into fine flour by the rubbing and beating procedure, then with a millstone. Once ground, the flour is sifted through 12 sieves, with each being finer than the previous one.
At the end of this procedure, five liters of choice flour is produced. This is what is needed with the two loaves. each bread is kneaded separately and leavened and molded into brick-like shapes. This shape is obtained by placing the flour and leaven in molds. The bread is removed from the oven and placed on a tray so that it will not be ruined. When the time for the wine libation came and the two loaves were to be offered, the Levitical choir began their music. The singers, musicians and trumpeter’s are called for in Num 10.10.
Shavuot was one of the 12 days of the year in which the flute is played before the Mizbeach. The officiating kohen waves the two loaves with the living lambs “sandwiched” between the two loaves on the east side of the Mizbeach. The Mishnah and the Babylonian Talmud Menachot 61a says that the lamb and loaves were waved together. However, Maimonides interprets Lev 23.20 as the bread and lambs were waved separately. Following the tenufa (waving) the kohanim will eat the two loaves with the remaining meat from the congregational shelemim (peace offerings).
Members of all the priestly shifts join in and it is eaten in the Azarah because it is Kodshai Kodashim. each kohen receives a small amount of the bread and the Korban Shelemim and it is eaten together. It can be eaten within the sanctified area of the Beit ha Moked also. The loaves were baked there in an oven where the Lechem ha Pannim was baked.
We can draw a few spiritual applications from this. Leaven is symbolic in this case as the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) that is placed within us in order for us to grow. Leaven has “life” and the Spirit gives life. It is also symbolic of the Kingdom of God which grows. Yeshua is called the “Bread of life” and the Greek word “artos” is used there, and that is leavened bread. We are immersed into one body (bread, body, Messiah) according to 1 Cor 12.13-14, 27). What happened on Shavuot in Acts 2? The Ruach came upon the people and they were filled with the Ruach, with many manifestations. The Ruach came upon Jew and non-Jew (Acts 2.10).
So, the two loaves represent the Messiah and the believer, Jews and non-Jews, the bride and groom. Betrothal and marriage is a theme for Shavuot because the Lord betrothed himself at Mount Sinai to Israel by giving the Torah, which is seen as a betrothal covenant (Jer 2.2). The “first trump” is an idiom for Shavuot because it is the betrothal. The full marriage is taught at the festival of Rosh ha Shannah, which called the “last trump.” Shavuot and Rosh ha Shannah are the two stages of a Jewish wedding, and the two horns of the ram caught in the thicket in Gen 22. The left horn, or “first trump”, relates to Shavuot and betrothal, and the right horn represents Rosh ha Shannah and the full wedding, called the “last trump” in Jewish eschatology. Paul referred to the “last trump” in 1 Cor 15.52 and the coming of the Lord for the believer before the Birth-pains begin. Why are the believers being resurrected? Because we are going to a wedding, and the seven years of the Birth-pains on earth will be seven years of the chupah and joy in heaven with our groom Yeshua. The Book of Ruth is read at Shavuot and it is about a non-Jew who believes in the God of Israel and is married to Boaz, the kinsman redeemer and a picture of the Messiah.
The Torah was given on what would be known as Shavuot, but the “letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” The Torah is only a guide to life but it is the Ruach who is placed within us that gives life, just like the leaven placed in these two loaves. This bread is called the “first fruits” in Lev 23.20 and is a “tavnit” or pattern of all the people chosen by the Lord to be in the first resurrection of believers. Ruth teaches the concept of the Goel, the “kinsman redeemer.” The Goel had to be related by blood to those he was going to redeem, so Yeshua had to be a man (Deut 24.5; John 1.14; Gal 4.4-5 and Heb 2.14-16). He must be willing to redeem and he must be able to redeem. The festival of Shavuot is the “atzeret” (conclusion) of the Passover season.
In Part 10, we will begin talking about the Korban Shelem, or peace offerings.