Festivals and Sacrifices

Summaries of the content of the law are listed below under the following general headings

  1. Festivals
  2. Sacrifices
  3. Property and Trade
  4. Personal Requirements
  5. Responsibilities Toward Other Citizens

This week we will look at the Festivals and Sacrifices.


The Passover

14th Day 1st Month
This celebrated Israel leaving Egypt and the Barley Harvest
Celebrations were the Paschal Lamb to be roasted and eaten. Unleavened bread to be eaten for 7 days. Wave sheaf of firstfruits of the harvest offered.

References: Exodus 12:6, Leviticus 23:5-8, Numbers 28:16-25, Deuteronomy 16:1-8


50 Days after Passover
This celebrated the Wheat harvest
The celebrations were two Wave loaves to be offered, plus animal sacrifices for the burnt offering and sin offerings.

References: Exodus 34:26, Leviticus 23:10- 22, Numbers 28:26-31


10th Day 7th Month
This celebrated Reconciliation with God
The celebrations were Two Goats taken, one sacrificed and the other let free. The High Priest to sprinkle the blood of the victim on the Mercy Seat within the Most Holy Place. An incense offering was also offered at the same time within the Most Holy Place.


Leviticus 16:1-34, Leviticus 23:26-32, Numbers 29:7- 11

Feast of Tabernacles

15th Day 7th Month
This celebrated Wilderness Wanderings and General Harvest
A 7-day celebration, where booths were made in which to reside.

References: Exodus 23:16, Leviticus 23:33- 44, Deuteronomy 16:13-15


Weekly on 7th Day
This celebrated the Creation, God rested on the 7th day
The Day of rest from labour for both Israelites and any servants.

References: Numbers 28:9-10, Leviticus 23:1-3

New Moon

References: Numbers 10:10, 28:11-15

Sabbath Year

This celebrated the Creation, God rested on 7th day
Land allowed to lie fallow.

References: Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 15:1


Every 50 years
Land – if sold, returned to original inheriting family based on the distributions made under Joshua.

References: Leviticus 25:8-18


The Tabernacle had two altars, ‘The Altar of Burnt Offering’ in the court, where animal victims and flour-based breads were burnt and ‘The Altar of Incense’ in the Holy Place, before the vail, where censers containing incense and hot coals were placed.

Intricate details of the offerings to be made are described in the law, relating to; those required by the individual, and on a collective basis for the nation under various circumstances, ranging from ritual cleansing to national festivities.
These descriptions also include details of; what portions of the sacrifices were to be burnt on the altar, those parts to be burnt without the camp and those parts that were to be eaten by the priests.
These detailed requirements differ according to; the type of sacrifice, the purpose of that sacrifice, and the standing of the individual making the sacrifice. A basic outline of the sacrificial classification is as follows…

Burnt Offering

What was offered: Bullock or Sheep
Offering details: Victim killed.
Blood sprinkled upon the altar. Carcase flayed and butchered.
Body pieces laid on wood on the altar in order to the head.

Reference: Leviticus 1

Meat Offering

What was offered: Grain or flour, Olive Oil, salt and frankincense, either as raw flour or cooked.
Offering details: Portion of flour and oil burnt with all the frankincense. Remainder given to Priest.

Reference: Leviticus 2

Peace Offering

What was offered: Bullock, Sheep or Goat
Offering details: Victim killed.
Blood sprinkled upon the altar. Carcase butchered. Fat, kidneys and caul burnt.

Reference: Leviticus 3

Sin Offering

What was offered: Priest – Bullock
Congregation – Bullock
Chief – Male Goat
Commoner – Female Goat or Female Sheep
Offering details: Hands of sinner put on the head of the victim.
Victim killed.
Blood put upon the horns of the burnt altar and the remainder poured out at foot of the altar.
For Priest who had sinned or for the congregation as a whole, blood sprinkled before the vail and put on horns of the altar of incense. Fat, kidneys and caul burnt.

Reference: Leviticus 4

Trespass Offering

What was offered: Female Sheep or 2 Turtledoves or 2 young Pigeons or flour
Offering details: As per Sin Offering. Birds head rung off and body burnt

Reference: Leviticus 5

Incense was offered each morning when the light of candlestick was also dressed, Exodus 30:7.
Additionally, incense was offered on the Day of Atonement, where the High Priest took it within the vail into the Most Holy Place Leviticus 16:12-13.

The Paschal Lamb is eaten by Israelite families at the Passover feast, and food is eaten at celebrations such as the Feast of Tabernacles, which are also referred to as sacrificial materials. It was also incumbent upon individuals to bring tithes to provide for the Levites who were to give their lives in service on behalf of the nation Numbers 18:22-28.

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