Some Laws of Animal Sacrifices

Leviticus 22:17-33

The Torah now tells us who may or may not eat of the holy food which is consecrated for the priests. We are told that a layman may not partake, even if he lives with or works for a priest. If he is a slave owned by a priest, however, he is permitted to eat. The priest’s unmarried daughter may eat, as well, but if she is widowed or divorced, she can only partake if she has no children. Anyone who eats the consecrated food by mistake must repay it with an added fifth of value.


Much like the priests which bring the offerings, the animals themselves which are to be sacrificed must be unblemished, we are then told. An offering from a stranger is also unacceptable. A new-born animal must remain with its mother for a week before it can be brought for sacrifice, and a mother animal and its offspring may not be slaughtered on the same day. All offerings from which the offerer is meant to partake as well must be eaten within the allotted time frame, so as not to desecrate the name of God.


The Israel Bible points to the juxtaposition of the sanctification of God’s name and the exodus from Egypt at the end of this passage. The scholar Rashi says this teaches us the redemption from Egypt was conditioned on the Israelites sanctifying God’s name. The Talmud indicates the primary way to sanctify God’s name is through one’s behavior. Kindness, consideration and honesty bring others to realize “fortunate are the parents and teachers who raised such a person.”


Virtual Classroom Discussion

The rules regarding which blemishes disqualify a peace-offering are more lenient than other offerings. Why do you think that is?


Comments ( 18 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • "According to the Talmud, the primary way to sanctify God is through one’s behavior. One is to act in accordance with God’s commandments and treat others with kindness, consideration and honesty"
    I would say that peace-offerings are offerings out of your free will. Those are born out of the heart.
    G-d is looking at each person's heart more than looking at their offering. The mere fact you are bringing this sacrifice might say so much more than showing up at the altar or just using your mouth. It demended an act, a deed!

  • I'm not certain what Rashi is saying. I'll have to do some thinking on it. Certainly, Elohim requires us to sanctify Him. Certainly, how we behave toward Him and others gives glory to His Name. It's like the one-liner, "a picture is worth a thousand words". Or, the statement, "practice what you preach". How one behaves very succinctly describes the condition of one's spiritual heart, and their relation with Elohim.
    However, I can't say that was the reason Elohim brought the children of Yisra'el out of Mitzryim. He brought them out so they (and their descendants) would be His people, and YHVH their Elohim. The language in these verses is the same as that of Exodus 20: 2. It's the first of the Ten Commandments. He is now telling the priests to "believe Him"–the ONLY way to have righteous access to the presence of Elohim. In so doing, they would be an example to the people.

  • The rules regarding which blemishes disqualify a peace-offering are more lenient than other offerings. Why do you think that is?
    "There are three kinds of peace-offering: (1) the thank-offering (); (2) the votive-offering (); and (3) the free-will offering (). The thank-offering is a response to acts of divine beneficence; the votive and the free-will sacrifices are connected with the expectation of benefit; but the significance of the thank-offering is wider than that of the other two. The votive offering is prompted by a feeling of gratefulness at the fulfilment of a petition; while the free-will sacrifice, which has the character of complete voluntariness, has its origin not so much in the gratitude elicited by a happy experience as in the spontaneous motive of piety.
    Usually Private Sacrifices.
    Peace-offerings were usually private sacrifices, their characteristic feature being the fact that the worshipers entered into a common feast;" (From the Jewish Encyclopedia)
    As the free-will offering is the only peace offering that was held to a lesser standard, perhaps the person making a free will offering would be moved to offer only the very best animal that they could afford to bring. Why bother to bring such an offering if it was going to be something unacceptable to Elohim? Maybe that's why this offering is given a little slack….
    Baruch Hashem.

    • Not everyone is at the same station in life. It has to do with what one can afford. It's an offering borne of gratitude in a person's heart. No matter the status of a man, the ground is level in the presence of YHVH.

  • "An offering from a stranger is also unacceptable."
    I believe this statement is false based on this verse: 8 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘Any man of the house of Israel or of the aliens in Israel who presents his offering, whether it is any of their [o]votive or any of their freewill offerings, which they present to the Lord for a burnt offering—
    Clearly any person that wanted to come to the Temple to make an offering was welcome.
    The statement above is "assumed" from this verse: 25 nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the [s]food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you.’”
    After carefully studying this matter through several Scripture versions and commentaries, I believe that the words "accept any such from the hand of a foreigner" are referring to the animals that are defined as unacceptable in verse 24:
    24 Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord, or [r]sacrifice in your land, 25 nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the [s]food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you.’”
    If there is a different conclusion to be made here, then there is an apparent contradiction in this chapter and I don't believe that this is the case. Elohim has never given any commandment to exclude anyone that wanted to come and worship HIM in the way that HE has defined acceptable worship.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • Great comment! The requirements are that offerings and sacrifices must be in accordance to what Moshe said. They must be pure in every way, without blemish. You're absolutely correct. ANYONE that wishes to present an offering unto Elohim in accordance with Moshe may do so–the natural born, the alien, and the sojourner–no respecter of persons. YHVH is the Elohim of the WHOLE world–of every nation and tongue.

  • Sheila

    This freewill offering seems to be an offering of goodwill and gratitude and thanks to the Lord from a spontaneous heart. Not sure why this is more lenient— perhaps this reflects the heart of the worshipper desiring to honour the Lord yet still imperfect.

    • Diana Brown

      It seems that this is allowed because it is not life and death like the other offerings. Free will is whole-hearted soul-seeking relationship with the Creator God and a relationship with other souls in your midst. I think.

      • I agree with that Diana. Perhaps some offerings are done from tradition or wanting to appease G-d,
        rather than from the heart?

  • Diana Brown

    Atonement does not come from peace offerings.

    • Danielle Reisman

      Diana, at the time of the Temple, Jews did atone by bringing sacrifices, but today since the Temple is no longer with us, we use prayer as our modern way of atoning for our sins.

      • Diana Brown

        Thank you for the clarification.
        I was thinking that Peace offerings were not for the purpose of atonement like sin and guilt and whole burnt offerings. I thought one would bring a peace offering to “reason together” on conflicts or struggles with God and Neighbor in hopes of making peace.

        • Diana Brown

          I realized I could not visualize why the freewill offering (peace) could be blemished unless it was given along with a vow. I am a visual learner so when I can’t connect the dots, I look up what I did to learn in the Aleph Bet videos. Here is what I found…it takes 10 minutes to watch but it did help me to understand more about the freewill offerings…

          • Theresa

            Thank you for sharing the link to the Aleph Bet videos. I loved it.

          • Very beautiful video. Many thanks.

  • Ken

    I appreciate Theresa thoughts about expectation of making peace complete.
    In addition there is a distinction between the free will offering and the offering associated with a vow. In the case of the vow offering, there is no exception. This no exception seems to stress a vow is something that requires full commitment to the end and not simply getting close to fulfilling it.

  • Theresa

    I was not born Jewish, but was grafted into the Olive Tree. This study is helping me understand my roots. After some searching this is what I found, please assist me with its correctness.
    Shalom, or peace, means one who has, or has been provided, what is needed to be whole and complete. There are three peace offerings: the thank-offering, the votive-offering and the free-will offering. The sacrifice for the free-will offering may be imperfect in that it may have mismatching limbs or be lacking in parts. It is connected with expectation. The free-will offering is not given from gratitude or a good experience, but given for something requested in faith. Our faith is not perfect either, but is accepted by a perfect G-d. It is often given with the votive-offering, which is also given in expectation, but it must be perfect. The votive offering is prompted by feelings of thankfulness. We come to G-d with an imperfect faith, thanking Him for an answer from a heart filled with the perfect sacrifice of praise.

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