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Parashah 25 Tzav

Leviticus 6:8 (6:1) – 8:36

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted 

Torah Readings:

  1. 6:8-18 (6:1-11 Hebrew version)
  2. 6:19 – 7:10 (6:12 – 7:10 Heb.)
  3. 7:11-38
  4. 8:1-13
  5. 8:14-21
  6. 8:22-29
  7. 8:30-36
  8. Maftir: 8:33-36


Haftarah: Jeremiah 7:21 – 8:3; 9:22-23


means “command”


The First Aliyah, 6:8-18

6:9    Command Aharon and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: the burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning; and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated “law” is torah, which means “instruction”. Here we see an example of how the word torah can be limited to apply to the specific instruction about the ascension offering, which also is called “burnt offering”. This passage contains specific instructions for Aharon and his sons, the priests. The instructions that were given about the different offerings in the previous Parashah are general and apply to all the people. In this Parashah, however, are detailed and comprehensive directions for the priests, regarding the offerings that were mentioned earlier.

This teaches us that when a heavenly revelation is given to us, we do not receive everything at once. First a general picture is given and thereafter the Spirit brings out more details about those things that were revealed generally. The Torah was written in harmony with the way that the human mind works. The mind does not function linearly, but circularly. This means that when a theme is presented to us, our minds do not follow this theme in a linear pattern, but it advances circularly, or rather in a spiral formation. It advances a bit on one theme and then goes back over the same theme again to while bringing out more details. Then it goes on to another theme, which is related to the first theme, and then it goes back again and gives more details to one of the themes that were addressed earlier, and so on.

This is what is happening here. In VaYikra 1, general instructions were already given about the ascension offering. In this Parashah the same theme is addressed again, this time with more comprehensive details about the offering. The same thing happens with the other offerings.

There were several fires on the altar. The rabbis are not in agreement about how many fires they were. They speak of between two and four fires. One of these was burning constantly, as it is written in this verse and in verses 12 and 13,

“The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not go out; and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning: and he shall lay the ascension offering in order upon it, and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.”(HNV revised)

Three times the Torah repeats the importance of not allowing the fire on the altar to go out. In order for fire to keep burning, three elements are necessary: flammable material, oxygen, and heat. If one of these is lacking, fire cannot burn. The fire that was on the altar in the tabernacle had fallen from heaven. The priests had the task of keeping that fire burning at all times. The heat was in the flames and in the burning coals. Oxygen came from the air around it. Wood was the only thing that needed to be added.

That teaches us how important it is to keep the heavenly fire burning on the personal altar that each one of us has within. Every morning more wood must be placed on the fire.

What is wood?

Wood is the product of the life and death of a tree. It is written that the Torah is a tree of life, see Proverbs 3:18. The Mashiach also compared himself to a tree, see Luke 23:31; John 15:1. This teaches us that the flammable material that keeps the flame alive in our hearts is the Torah and the Messiah. The life and death of the Messiah has created enough fuel for us to burn for eternity in the presence of the Eternal. Every morning more fuel must be added to the fire in the heart so that we can burn constantly before the Eternal.

Fuel is added to the fire through prayer, praise and studying of the Scriptures, which all those who are faithful engage in each morning. The only way to keep the heavenly fire burning in our lives is to keep adding more fuel. It must be a daily activity.

Dear Reader, if you feel that the fire in your spiritual life is about to go out, then you need to take this command seriously and you need to pray, read, and study the Spirit-breathed Scriptures every morning.

There is oxygen in the air. The Hebrew word for wind is ruach.[1] Ruach is also translated as “Spirit”. This teaches us that the Spirit of the Eternal is oxygen for spiritual fire. If the Spirit is lacking in our prayer and reading, the fire will die out. Neither should you let heat be lacking in your dedication to the Eternal. Heat symbolizes the love and intensity of our zeal, in Hebrew kavanah.

Make sure that the fire does not go out in your life!

In 2 Timothy 1:6, it is written,

“For this cause, I remind you that you should stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”(HNV revised)

This is referring to the fire of the ministry of proclaiming the good news (in Greek “evangelist”).

6:15 “He shall take from there his handful of the fine flour of the meal offering, and of its oil, and all the frankincense which is on the meal offering, and shall burn it on the altar for a sweet savor, as its memorial, to HaShem.”(HNV revised) – Here it speaks about all the incense of the meal offering. According to Rashi, this means that all of the meal offerings had incense, not only the first kind, as mentioned in the previous Parashah, see Leviticus 2:1-2.

6:17 “It shall not be baked with yeast. I have given it as their portion of my offerings made by fire. It is highly consecrated, as the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.”(HNV revised) – There are two different kinds of offerings when it comes to their level of consecration. There are “highly consecrated” offerings, in Hebrew kodshei kadashim, and there are offerings with a lower level of consecration, in Hebrew kadashim kalim.

These are the highly consecrated offerings:

·         Olah – the ascension offering

·         Minchah – the meal offering

·         Shelamim tzibur – the peace offering of the people

·         Chatat – the sin offering

·         Asham – the guilt offering

These are the offerings with a lower level of consecration:

·         Shelamim yachid – the peace offering of the individual

·         Todah – the offering of thanksgiving

·         Bechor – a first born male animal

·         Ma’aser behemah – the tenth of animals

·         Pesach – the Passover offering

The offerings that had a high level of consecration and were for eating could only be eaten by the male priests in the tabernacle or in the court of the tabernacle. These animals had to be slaughtered on the north side of the altar.

The offerings that had a lower level of consecration and were for eating, the priests and their families could eat either in the court of the temple or within the walls of Yerushalayim. These animals could be sacrificed anywhere in the court area.

Any remains from the individual peace offerings and the Passover offerings could be eaten by any Israelites within the consecrated city; men, women, and children who were ritually clean.

6:18 “Every male among the children of Aharon shall eat of it, as their portion forever throughout your generations, from the offerings of HaShem made by fire. Whoever touches them shall be sanctified.”(HNV revised) – Those of Aharon’s male relatives who had physical imperfections could also eat of the offerings that where highly consecrated, even though they could not serve as priests, see 21:21-22.

Here we see how the Torah makes a clear distinction between men and women when it comes to ministry before the Eternal in this world. The man has greater responsibility in leading the temple-ministry in the congregation and in the home. There is, however, no distinction between the genders when it concerns the heavenly temple-ministry, which is in the order of Malki-Tzedek, as it is written in Galatians 3:28,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”(HNV revised)

The distinction between the genders has been instituted into this age by the Eternal. In the coming age, those who are transformed will not be of any gender, but will be as the angels in heaven, as it is written in Mark 12:25,

“For when they will rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”(HNV)

The Second Aliyah, 6:19 – 7:10

6:20 “This is the offering of Aharon and of his sons, which they shall offer to HaShem in the day when he is anointed: the tenth part of an efah of fine flour for a meal offering perpetually, half of it in the morning, and half of it in the evening.”(HNV revised) – The regular priests offered this meal offering only on the day that they were consecrated for ministry. The High Priest, however, had to offer it every day in order for it to be an “offering perpetually”, as it also is written in Leviticus 6:22,

The anointed priest that will be in his place from among his sons shall offer it. By a statute forever, it shall be wholly burnt to HaShem.”(HNV revised)

The High Priest was the one who paid for this meal offering, which he offered twice a day.

The Third Aliyah, 7:11-38

7:12 “If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mixed with oil.”(HNV) – The gratefulness that is felt when one experiences a miracle or a heavenly intervention is expressed through an offering of thanksgiving. Four reasons for this offering have been established based on the text in Psalm 107:

·         Psalm 107:4 – For protection during a desert journey.

·         Psalm 107:10 – For being set free from prison.

·         Psalm 107:17 – For a physical recovery or being healed from a serious disease.

·         Psalm 107:23 – For protection during a journey on the sea.

In Psalm 107:22, it is written,

Let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with singing.”(HNV)

In Jonah 2:2-10, it is written,

“He said, ‘I called because of my affliction to HaShem. He answered me. Out of the belly of She'ol I cried. You heard my voice. For you threw me into the depths, in the heart of the seas. The flood was all around me. All your waves and your billows passed over me. I said, “I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your sacred temple.” The waters surrounded me, even to the soul. The deep was around me. The weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains. The earth barred me in forever: yet have you brought up my life from the pit, HaShem my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered HaShem. My prayer came in to you, into your sacred temple. Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to HaShem.’”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 27:6, it is written,

Now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me. I will offer sacrifices of joy in his tent. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to HaShem.”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 50:14, 23, it is written,

“Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Pay your vows to the Most High… Whoever offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies me, and prepares his way so that I will show God’s salvation to him.”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 116:17, it is written,

“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call on the name of HaShem.”(HNV revised)

Since there is no temple today, a Jew who has been released from any of these four calamities ought to pray a special prayer of thanksgiving in the synagogue, called birkat hagomel, instead of presenting an offering of thanksgiving.

7:13 “With cakes of leavened bread he shall offer his offering with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving.”(HNV revised) – According to Talmud,[2] all the food offerings consisted of ten bread cakes.

7:14 “Of it he shall offer one out of each offering for a heave offering to HaShem. It shall be the priest’s who sprinkles the blood of the peace offerings.”(HNV revised) – The priest would receive one of each kind of the bread cakes, altogether four cakes of bread, which represents one tenth of the offering. The rest of the bread was eaten by the one who presented the offering.

7:20 “but the soul who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that belongs to HaShem, having his uncleanness on him, that soul shall be cut off from his people.”(HNV revised) – This is referring to ritual uncleanness of the body. The punishment called karet, or “being cut off”, means that the soul was cut off from its spiritual source and the person was exposed to direct punishment from heaven. According to Rashi it means that such a person would die childless and prematurely.

We can see the similarities between eating of the offerings of thanksgiving, which consisted of meat and bread, and eating of the Lord’s table. When one eats of the Lord Yeshua’s table with an attitude of scorn and rejection toward one’s brothers and sisters, it is as if eating it while being unclean, which brings heavenly judgment. Since the consecrated ones in Corinth did not acknowledge their brothers and sister as partakers of the same body, judgment came over them. This judgment caused many to be sick and die prematurely, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32,

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a manner unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”(HNV)

The message that is portrayed when the bread is eaten, which symbolizes the Messiah’s giving up of himself for his assembly, is that we are all one body in him, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 10:17,

Because we, who are many, are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread.”(HNV)

Therefore, when one eats of this bread together with others, it is a proclamation of unity. The problem in Corinth was that those who partook in this bread, and thus proclaimed their unity with the body of believers, simultaneously lived in division and had critical attitudes and scorn for one another. We cannot proclaim one thing and live another. We cannot preach what we are not living. Such an attitude brings judgment. In this case, the result of the judgment was sickness and premature death. If there are many people in our congregations that are sick and some who have died prematurely, then we ought to ask ourselves, “What is the attitude we have toward one another?”

How important it is to have love among brothers and sisters of the faith!

7:26 “You shall not eat any blood, whether it is of bird or of animal, in any of your dwellings.”(HNV) – That means that a Jew may eat the blood of clean fish and clean locusts. It is only the blood of birds and animals of the field that is forbidden for him.

The chosen among the nations have also the obligation not to eat blood from some animals, as it is written in Acts 15:19-20:

"Therefore my judgment is that we do not trouble those who have turned to God from among the nations, but that we write to them that they should abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (MKJV)

7:34 “For the waved breast and the heaved thigh I have taken from the children of Yisra'el out of the sacrifices of their shalom offerings, and have given them to Aharon the priest and to his sons as their portion forever from the children of Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – The wave offering was waved back and forth, and up and down. These movements represented the Eternal’s leading and ruling over the whole world in all four directions and that He owns heaven and earth.

The Fourth Aliyah, 8:1-13

8:2    Take Aharon and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and the bull of the sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket of matzah”(HNV) – Here Moshe receives the order to inaugurate the priests in their ministry. This dedication lasted for a week and was finished in the first month of the second year after the exodus, see Exodus 29:30, 35-37; Leviticus 8:35. The Mishkan was finally set up on the first day of the first month, see Exodus 40:2, 17.

8:12 “He poured some of the anointing oil on Aharon’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, Moshe first poured the oil on the head and then he applied the oil to the forehead between the eyebrows using one finger.

The Fifth Aliyah, 8:14-21

8:15 “He killed it; and Moshe took the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it.”(HNV) – Moshe served as priest during the seven days of the dedication of the priests. He presented all the offerings and thus demonstrated to Aharon and his sons how the ministry in the tabernacle was to be done.

The Sixth Aliyah, 8:22-29

8:22 “He presented the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aharon and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, this was a peace offering, see Exodus 29:22, 28, because the word miluim, which is translated as “consecration”, has a similar meaning as shelamim, which means “peace offering”. Both miluim and shlamim mean “completion”.

The Seventh Aliyah, 8:30-36

8:28 “Moshe took them from their hands, and burned them on the altar on the burnt offering. They were a consecration for a sweet savor. It was an offering made by fire to HaShem.”(HNV revised) – The consecration offering had to be consumed on top of, or after, the ascension offering. This teaches us that the priestly ministry is based on complete dedication. If there is not a complete dedication in the Eternal’s servants, then their service will not be pleasing to him.

The Seventh Aliyah, 8:30-36

8:30 “Moshe took some of the anointing oil, and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aharon, on his garments, and on his sons, and on his sons’ garments with him, and sanctified Aharon, his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.”(HNV) – The anointing was sprinkled both on Aharon and on his clothes. This teaches us that there is anointing both for personal life and for ministry. The personal comes first, then ministry. Personal anointing serves for functioning in the daily life, in the family. This is more important than anointing for ministry. It is very important that those who have a ministry to the Eternal’s people not neglect their families and their personal lives. The anointing, which is the Spirit of the Messiah, is given mainly to affect our personal life and family life, secondly for ministry.

This Parashah contains commandments number 131-148 of the 613 commandments:

  1. The command to daily remove the ashes from the altar, Leviticus 6:10 (6:3).

  2. The command to daily light a fire on the altar, Leviticus 6:13 (6:6).

  3. The prohibition of putting out the fire on the altar, Leviticus 6:13 (6:6).

  4. The command to eat the remains of the meal offerings (menachot), Leviticus 6:16 (6:9).

  5. The prohibition of preparing the rest of the meal offerings as chametz (something like yeast), Leviticus 6:17 (6:10).

  6. The command for the High Priest to offer the meal offering twice a day, Leviticus 6:20 (6:13).

  7. The prohibition of eating a meal offering that belongs to a priest, Leviticus 6:23 (6:16).

  8. The command for the priests to offer the sin offering (chatat), Leviticus 6:25 (6:18).

  9. The prohibition of eating of a sin offering (chatat) whose blood was sprinkled on the inner altar, within the sanctuary, Leviticus 6:30 (6:23).

  10. The command for the priests to offer the guilt offering (asham) according to the rules presented in the Torah, Leviticus 7:1.

  11. The command for the priests to offer peace offerings (shelamim) according to the rules presented in the Torah, Leviticus 7:1-2.

  12. The prohibition of leaving meat from the offering of thanksgiving (todah) until the morning, Leviticus 7:15.

  13. The command to burn the rest of the offerings, Leviticus 7:17.

  14. The prohibition of eating an offering that is considered pigul (offered with a purpose that disqualifies it), Leviticus 7:18.

  15. The prohibition of eating a consecrated offering that had become unclean, Leviticus 7:19.

  16. The command to burn a consecrated offering that had become unclean, Leviticus 7:19.

  17. The prohibition of eating the fat that surrounded the intestines (chelev), Leviticus 7:23.

  18. The prohibition of eating the blood of a land animal or a bird, Leviticus 7:26.

[1]     Strong H7306 rûach, roo'-akh, A primitive root; properly to blow, that is, breathe; only (literally) to smell or (by implication perceive (figuratively to anticipate, enjoy): - accept, smell, X touch, make of quick understanding.

[2]     Menachot 77b.