Types of Offerings in the Old Testament

Offerings to God often involved animals, such as rams or young bulls.

The Old Testament is a collection of writings edited and written by the Jewish-Hebrew community, and interpreted by Christianity. The Old Testament (or The Hebrew Bible) is the main religious text and gives instruction on living life in the eyes of God. Genesis tells how God created the Earth and all creatures; Leviticus explains the lives of priests and their roles; and Exodus describes the liberation of the Jews from slavery. Throughout the Old Testament, many stories discuss historical and human events that echo a belief in God and His influence. It also describes the types of offerings, that embody Christ's characteristics.

1 Burnt Offering

This offering, as it is burnt, reflects consecration — the act of being consumed by God's love and committing oneself to Him. People presented the offering first in Leviticus 1:1-17: God receives with the entire animal (usually a bull, a ram, or a male bird), but the priest receives the animal's skin. Its purpose is designed as an expression of total devotion, and also to receive atonement from an unintentional sin. In Leviticus 8:18-21, the priest offers an "unblemished male goat" and it is "slaughtered before the Lord," at the site of the burnt offering.

2 Grain Offering

This offering, either flour, oil, grain, incense, baked bread or salt, was designed to reflect the goodness of God and the richness of the His gifts. It was a voluntary act of worship and reflected commitment to God. The offering, which never included yeast or honey, accompanied the burnt and peace offerings. When a priest made the offering, the entire portion went to God but when others gave it, they only had to give a memorial portion; they were to eat the rest in the court of tabernacle. The grain offering appears in Leviticus6:14-23, where "the sons of Aaron shall offer it on the altar before the Lord."

3 Peace Offering

The peace offering is another form of voluntary worship and was designed for thanksgiving and fellowship; it typifies the act of communion. The offering was an animal with no defects, from herd or flock and from a number of breeds. God's portion is the fatty elements: the fat that covers the inner parts, the fat tail, kidneys and the fatty part of the liver. The high priest would receive the breast meat and the officiating priest would receive the right foreleg. A peace offering is made in Leviticus 3:1-17: "if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord." The offering should be sacrificed at the tabernacle door and its blood sprinkled around the altar.

4 Sin Offering

The sin offering was carried out for the atonement of unintentional sin, confession of sin, forgiveness of sin and cleansing from defilement. The offerings were available depending on social status: for example, a high priest would offer a young bull but a poor man would offer a dove or a pigeon; the destitute would would offer fine flour. God's portion of the offering was the fatty portions; the high priest and others would receive atonement for their sins. The sin offering appears a number of times throughout Leviticus but its first mention is in 5:1-13: "As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin."

5 Trespass Offering

The trespass offering was always carried out with a ram and for the purposes of atonement for specifi,c unintentional sin that requires restitution, cleansing from defilement and for making restitution. The offering to God would consist of the fatty portions (kidneys, fatty aspects of liver, inner fatty portions and the fat tail) of the ram while the remainder was given to the priest, who was required to eat it within the circle of tabernacle. In Leviticus 5:14-19, it is also referred to as a 'guilt offering' and requires the person to offer "a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver."

Hannah Treagus began writing professionally in 2010. She frequently writes reviews for websites such as A Geek Life and Passing Nightmare. Treagus earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature at the University of Portsmouth.