Shedding Some Light

Ever learn something and then think, "Oh now I get it"? This week, we were studying the Old Testament peace offerings in Sunday school.

The distinctive part and the main emphasis of the peace offering ritual was the eating of the common meal afterward. The kidneys, liver, and fat were offered up in the sacrifice. Fat was considered the choicest and most precious part (cf. Ps 63:5). The fat was not consumed in general eating nor during any sacrificial ritual (Lev 3:16; 7:22–25). The breast was given as a wave offering (Lev 7:30–34), probably a symbol of giving it to God who then gave it back again. The rest of the animal was eaten by the offerer and his family.

There were three types of peace offerings: the thank offering, the votive offering, and the freewill offering. The rules for the common meal differed with each offering. The thank offering had to be eaten in the sanctuary precincts, and it all had to be eaten the same day. For whatever reason, the votive and freewill meals could be eaten the next day but not on the third day.

You may be asking what the point of all of this is. As I studied this information, another passage of Scripture suddenly became much clearer to me. In Proverbs 7, the father warns his son about the "strange woman" who is stalking simple men to destroy them. He describes such a scenario in which the woman catches a man who is in the wrong place and completely clueless. I was always puzzled however, by her opening line.

She catches him, kisses him, and then says, "I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you" (Prov 7:14-15). She continues on talking about her bed and her husband being gone, and I understood that part, but the first part never really clicked in my mind.

But she was saying that if she had just made a votive offering, she was bringing the meat home with her. The meat had to be eaten the second day; the leftovers would have to be burnt on the third day. She is inviting him to a big meal! All the steak he can eat!


Pittsley said…
Very interesting observation!

The fact that she paid attention to the sacrificial/food laws but not to laws against adultery also shows her/our tendency to strain at gnats and swallow camels.
Mark Perry said…
Pittsley, you make a good point. However, I wonder if perhaps she was just reflecting "cultural tradition" and not so much religious piety. I think this also speaks to how easily an activity of worship can become common, mundane, and even, in this case, used for sin.