After instructing the priests with further details of the sacrificial rites, God tells Moses to instruct the people regarding portions they are forbidden from eating at any time and who gets to partake in the sacrifices they bring and how.
God commands the Children of Israel not to eat the fats of animals which would otherwise be offered upon the altar. This includes sheep, goats and oxen. Even if the animal is not to be eaten, such as a carcass which died on its own, the fats may be used for other purposes, but not human consumption. The blood of any animal may not be eaten at any time, according to the Torah. Anyone who eats the blood or forbidden fats will be “cut off from its people”, a heavenly punishment considered to be the harshest God ever doles out.
The people are also told that when they bring a peace offering, the fat shall be burned for God, but the breast and right thigh shall be the priestly portion for all eternity.
The final four verses of this section serve to bookend all that came before, signalling that God has finished instructing Moses with everything he would need to know before the Tabernacle begins operating.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think eating the forbidden fat and blood is so severe a transgression that it is punishable by the most serious of consequences known in the Torah?