Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tzav – Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:8 - 8

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tzav – Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:8 - 8
(Hebrew Scriptures 6-8)

Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering…’” (Lev. 6:9), are YHVH's words to Moshe at the beginning of our Parasha, which is named after the imperative form for "command" - "tzav." "The law (of the burnt offering)" is rendered "torah," making the usage of this word here, “binding instructions.” This is but one of several examples of the way this multi-faceted term is utilized. But before we attend to the subject matters included in the Parasha, let us pause and look at an all important word, that appeared three times in last week’s Parashat Vayikra (Lev. 4:3, 5, 16, making its first appearing in Scripture), and once in ours (6:22). This word is “mashi’ach,” translated “anointed.” The Hebrew language, however, makes a clear distinction between “anointed” in verb form (e.g. 6:20, 7:12 etc. etc.), which is literally “coated with oil,” the adjective form, such as in Sh’muel Bet (2nd Samuel) 3:39) where David declares: “And I am weak today, though anointed (“mashu’ach”) king,” AND the noun: “Mashia’ch.” In order to illustrate the difference we can take, for example, the verb “to appoint.” An “appointed person” falls under the category of an adjective, whereas “appointee” is classified as a noun. Similarly, “mashi’ach” is not someone who has been merely smeared or coated with oil, whether for a singular function or functions, or even for a permanent position or calling. “Mashi’ach’s” function and nature, his very being, are embodied in his person. And even though this term was used regarding the priests (or the people of Yisrael - “m’shi’chim” – plural, in Ps. 105:15) these were obviously not The Messiah. Yet this rendering was employed with the long term view to the coming of the one and only “Mashi’ach” – the Anointee, if you will.

Back to the Parasha’s topics; the main one being the listing of the various offerings, with added specifications (if compared to their enumeration last week). The interaction and connection that exists between them is another added feature. Thus, we read about the meal offering - "mincha" (in 6:17)…"It is most holy, like the sin offering, and like the guilt offering" (italics added). In verse 25 it says about the sin offering ("chatat")…"This is the law [torah] of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before YHVH" (italics added). Likewise, regarding the guilt offering ("a'sha'm"): “In the place where they kill the burnt offering, they shall kill the guilt offering" (7:2, italics added), and again in 7:7…"As a sin offering is, so [is] a guilt offering. One law [torah] is for them. The priest who makes atonement by it, it is his" (italics added).

In summation, the meal offerings' holiness is identical to that of both the sin and guilt offerings, all of which are denoted by the term "kodesh kodashim" - holy of holies – i.e. the "holiest of all." The animals for the sin and guilt offerings are to be killed in the same place as the burnt offering. Similarly, both the sin and guilt offerings are to have one "torah," according to which they actually belong to the priest who makes the atonement by both offerings. Thus, status (of holiness), place, and ownership are the three common elements shared in some way by all four of these offerings.

These same three attributes may be quite easily related to the person of Yeshua, to what He has accomplished, and hence to the benefits that have been derived thereby:

1. Holiness: “The Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14 in reference to Yeshua, italics added).
"According as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and
without blemish before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4, italics added).

2. Place: "I am going to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2, italics added)

3. Ownership by the Priest: " I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are mine, and
I am known by the ones that are mine" (John 10:14, italics added).
"I guarded those whom You gave to Me" (John 17:12, italics added).
"Of those whom You gave to Me, I lost not one of them" (John 18:9, italics added).

Following the instructions for the "guilt offering" is the "torah of zeva'ch sh’lamim,” or “the law of the Slaughtered Peace Offerings” (7:11-21), which appears to stand on its own. However, its conspicuous placement after the mention of the "guilt offering" may be significant. Last week we noted that the "guilt offering" (as mentioned in Parashat Vayikra), was accompanied by reparations for damages incurred (5:4,5). Peace and reconciliation cannot take place before one is relieved of one's guilt (through YHVH’s provision, such as making good for damages). We also noted that "sh'lamim" is of the root sh.l.m, meaning "complete or whole" as well as "peace, reconciliation and payment." But the actual term for "peace offering" - sh'lamim - is rendered in the plural form. This is not surprising, as this type of sacrifice includes three differing aspects or categories: "thanksgiving," "oath" and a "freewill offering" (7:11-16).

Thanksgiving is "toda," from the root y.d.a, connected to "hand" or “arm” (and "confession," as we observed last week). Interestingly, in quite a few cases carrying out a vow is conveyed as "paying the vow/oath" - "shalem neh'de'r" - making use of both these terms ("peace/whole/pay" and "oath") together (e.g. 2Sam. 15:7; Ecc. 5:4; Is. 19:21; Jonah 2:9). The freewill offering is termed "n'dava," which is a word we encountered in Parashat Trumah (Ex. 25:2). The root n.d.v. speaks of generosity and free giving. “Oath” as "neh'de'r” (n.d.r) is connected to another root, n.z.r, which is the root for "nazarite," being the adjective for 'he who is bound by a "neh'de'r," or an oath' (see for example Numbers 6:2). Soon the root n.z.r will also appear in our Parasha.

Toward the end of our Parasha, in 8:9, we read about the consecration of A'ha'ron and his sons: "And put the miter on his head, and on the miter, on its front, he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as YHVH commanded Moses." The "holy crown" here is "nezer ha'kodesh," the "crown of holiness." Since the nazarite is a person who is "consecrated or dedicated," the root n.z.r appears to be a fusion of that which pertains to a priestly ministry and at the same time also referring to a crown, an item associated with royalty. Does the term “nezer,” therefore, allude to the office of king-priest, particularly as it was to be fulfilled in Yeshua the Nazarene (see Zech. 6:12,13)?

"As to the flesh of the sacrifice of the thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten in the day of his offering. He shall not leave of it until morning" (7:15). This idea engendered a variety of comments on the part of the sages and rabbis. Maimonides, writing in The Guide for the Perplexed- part 3, proffers the following reason: “‘The offerings must all be perfect and in the best condition, in order that no one should slight the offering or treat it with contempt’. And according to Sefer haHinuch: ‘There is an allusion [here] to our trust in God; a man should not begrudge himself his food and store it for the morrow, seeing that God commanded to utterly destroy sanctified meat after its time, when no creature - man or beast - is allowed to partake of it.’” This point of view is comparable to the way the Israelites were supposed to regard the manna.[1] In addition, if the offerer is to partake of the peace offering, he must himself be ritually clean or else be cut off from his people (ref. 7: 20, 21). Similarly in 1st Corinthians 11:20-34, we read that those who were breaking bread together were not to do so “unworthily, [such] that one will be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and let him drink of the cup; for he who is eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (v. 27-29).

Still on “Ze'vach sh'lamim" and its above mentioned featurest, may be seen as an analogy to Yeshua's perfect (shalem) and "one [time] offering… [that] has perfected the ones being sanctified for all time" (Heb. 10:14, italics added), who are thereby able "through Him… [to] offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Elohim always, that is, the fruit of the lips… "(Heb. 13:15, italics added).

"Any person who eats any blood, even that person shall be cut off from his people" (7:27). In last week's Parasha Insights we quoted Vayikra 17:11 regarding the “blood which makes atonement for the soul," additionally it says there "that the life is in the blood." And while Man(kind) - "adam" - is of the earth ("adama"), he is also of blood, which is "dam." Man cannot partake of the very substance which is divinely designed to both give him life AND cover his sin and iniquity.

In chapter 8, dealing with the consecration of the priesthood, one of the words used for "consecration" is "milu'im" (v. 22, 28,29,31,33), of the root "m.l.a" (mem, lamed, alef), meaning "full, to make full or fulfill,” and by implication "consecrate," as is seen in verse 33: "…until the days of your consecration are fulfilled. For He shall consecrate you seven days" (italics added). The connection of "maleh" (the singular form) to consecration seems rather obscure. Yet when looking at the items pertaining to the act of consecration in verses 25 and 26, all of which were to be placed on the palms of A'ha'ron's hands and his sons’, we get a glimpse of the connection between 'making holy' and 'full.' This is how it is described in the Gill Commentary[2]: "And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons," [&c.], which accounts for the use of the phrase, filling the hand for consecration." Gill goes on to say - "For all the above things of the ram, bread, cakes and wafers were put into their hands when consecrated, denoting their investiture with their office: all things are in the hands of Messiah, relative to the glory of God and the good of his people. Their persons are in his hands, and all grace and blessings of it for them; a commission to execute his office as a priest is given to him. And as it was proper that he also should have somewhat to offer (Heb. 8:3), his hands are filled, and he has a sufficiency for that purpose, as Aaron and his sons had." And to that we may add: "And out of His fullness we all received, and grace on top of grace. For the Torah was given through Moses, and grace and truth came through Messiah Yeshua" (John 1:16,17, italics added). The Parasha ends with A’haron and sons doing as they were commanded, that is sitting for a complete seven days and nights at the door of the Tent of Meeting, thus fulfilling the “charge of YHVH” (8:35) for their sanctification - “milu’im” (again, literally, “fullness” or “completion”). Lastly, another interesting encounter with the term “fulfill” or “fulfilling” by the “hand” is found in Divrey Hayamim Bet (2nd Chronicles). At the inauguration of the (first) Temple Shlomo addressed YHVH, and then “turning around” he “blesses Yisrael” saying: “Blessed be YHVH the Elohim of Israel, who spoke by his mouth to David my father, and with [or by] his hands fulfilled…” (6:4, literal translation). The question whose hands did the "fulfilling" (as in Hebrew verse 4 is ambiguous) is answered by Shlomo in verse 15 of the same chapter: “… You spoke by Your mouth, and with Your hand You fulfilled [it on] this very day” (literal translation). And as we saw above (in John 1:16), YHVH does not only fulfill, He is also responsible for the FULLNESS.


[1] . New Studies in Vayikra Part 1, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner
Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books
Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

[2] On Line Bible