"And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire. And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering. And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the LORD: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar. And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 10 And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire." — Leviticus 2:1-10 KJV.
Meat offering — Our word meat has undergone a contraction in its meaning. It once signified food of any kind; but now its popular use is restricted to flesh. On account of this mutability in words, so beautifully portrayed by Horace in his Art of Poetry, every version of the Bible, after a few generations, needs a revision. The American Bible Union and Professor Murphy have adopted the oblation as a translation of the מִנְחָה (mincha), the food offering — a general term applied to a particular offering, and always needing explanation. Let us go back to the original intent of our English translators and call it food offering, or more exactly, bread offering, since it was made of bread or breadstuff.
Fine flour — This was produced from wheat ground in hand mills and sifted. Only the wealthy could afford to make it a constant article of diet. The quantity is not here specified. In the case of individuals the quantity may have been left for the offerer to determine, as an exercise of his benevolent feelings. When the feast of firstfruits was celebrated, the quantity of fine flour was prescribed — “two tenth deals of flour,” Leviticus 23:13, equal to about six and a half quarts. Shall pour oil upon it — This is the oil of pressed olives. Animal oil was forbidden for food. Leviticus 7:23. Olive oil is much used in the preparation of food in Palestine. It takes the place of butter and lard in the diet and cookery of the western nations. Bread baked in oil is reputed to be particularly sustaining. Wheat boiled and eggs fried in oil are common dishes for all classes in Syria. Since oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual lesson conveyed by this ingredient is, that all the offerings of our hearts to God must be through the unction of the Holy Ghost, and all our devotional exercises must be inspired by him, whether of prayer, (Jude 1:20,) or song, (1 Corinthians 14:15,) or speaking, (Acts 2:4.)
Frankincense — This is a vegetable resin, brittle, bitter, glittering, and white when obtained from the first incision of the tree, the arbor thuris. It is produced in Arabia, (Isaiah 60:6,) especially in Sheba. The statement that it is still uncertain by what tree it is produced, is not complimentary to botanical science. The disagreement of modern writers is as great as that of ancient authors. Professor Murphy asserts that the Boswellia thurifera, or libanus, of the natural order Burseraceae, a tree of India and Arabia, produces this gum. Frankincense is chiefly used for sacrificial fumigation. The incongruity of putting this inedible substance upon the bread offering is explained in the next verse, in which the priest is directed to take all the incense and a handful of the flour and oil and burn it upon the altar.
2. The memorial — This is a sacrificial term peculiar to the bread offering. It is descriptive of either that which brings the offerer to the remembrance of God, or of that which brings God to the grateful recollection of the sacrificer. In the New Testament it is used in the former sense. See Matthew 26:13; Acts 10:4, notes. The same term is applied to the pure incense (in vases) set out with the showbread, (Leviticus 24:7,) and which, according to Josephus, was also burnt upon the altar.
3. The remnant… shall be Aaron’s — Abundant provision was made for the support of the priesthood out of the tithes and offerings. St. Paul insists that Christianity is not surpassed by Judaism in this particular. 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14. Hence, when, through the decline of piety and the growth of avarice, the offerings are withheld, the service of God’s house languishes, and the ministers at the altar are driven to secular employments. Nehemiah 13:10.
A thing most holy — Everything offered to Jehovah was holy, but the portion reserved for his representatives, the priests, was most holy, and it must not be burnt, (Leviticus 10:17,) but eaten either in the holy place by the priests alone, or in a clean place by their families. Leviticus 6:25, note; 10:14. Eating by the priests symbolizes the complete acceptance of any thing on the part of Jehovah. Consuming by the altar-fire, is another mode of acceptance.
4. Oblation — The Hebrew ( קָרְבַּ֥ן) korban. It is a general term for offering, and is so translated in Leviticus 1:2.
Baken in the oven — There is no ‘in’ in the original. Hence we infer that the oven was of the kind used by the Arabs, a great stone pitcher heated by a fire within it. To the exterior of this, thin cakes or wafers are applied, which are instantly baked.
Unleavened cakes — Leaven is expressly forbidden in the bread offering. See verse 11. The ground of this prohibition is, that the fermentation of the leaven is incipient decay, and the bread is rendered impure. This is the testimony of modern chemistry and hygiene, which has led to the attempt to substitute aerated and salt-raised bread for that corrupted by leaven. Our Lord Jesus and St. Paul always regarded leaven as a symbol of moral putrefaction. Matthew 16:6; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. Thus, according to St. Paul, unleavened cakes are emblematical of “sincerity (pureness) and truth.” Leaven in food was not forbidden except in the passover week. Because the bread of the peace offering was eaten and not burned, (Leviticus 2:11,) leaven was permitted in that peace offering. Leviticus 7:14. 5.
Baken in a pan — This was a flat iron plate or griddle. It is still used by the Arabs.
6. Part it in pieces — This was for the convenience of the priest, who was to cast one piece well oiled upon the altar fires, and to eat the rest himself, or to share it with his colleagues.
7. Fryingpan — The Hebrew word is found in only one other place in the Bible, Leviticus 7:9. Gesenius and Furst define it as a kettle for boiling. Others think that it is still to be found among the Bedouins in the form of a shallow earthen vessel called a tajen, a word which sounds much like the thganon of the Seventy, the pan of verse 5. Maimonides suggests that the translation of these two utensils in verses 7 and 5 should be reversed.
8. Thou shalt bring… unto the Lord — The entire preparation of the offering was to be made by the offerer. This variety in form not only suited the convenience of the people, but it afforded some change to the priests who were to eat the oblation. There were five forms in which it might be brought: fine flour unbaked, to be cooked by the priest, baked on a plate, in a fryingpan, in an oven, and made into wafers. In every case oil is to be added. The frankincense is mentioned only with the first. It was probably an accompaniment of all the other forms.