Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Burnt Offering

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'olah , "what ascends" in smoke to God, being wholly consumed to ashes. Also kaliyl , "perfect." Part of every offering was burnt in the sacred fire, the symbol of God's presence; but this was wholly burnt, as a "whole burnt offering." In Genesis 8:20 is the first mention of it; Throughout Genesis it is seemingly the only sacrifice (Genesis 15:9; Genesis 15:17; Genesis 22:2; Genesis 22:7-8; Genesis 22:13). It was the highest of gifts to God (eucharistic, prosforai , "offerings," Hebrew minchsh ), representing entire, unreserved dedication of the offerer, body, soul, spirit, will, to God (Psalms 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:5-6). The other kind of "sacrifices," namely, propitiatory (thusiai ) and sin offerings, are distinct (Hebrews 10:8-9; compare Exodus 10:25; 1 Samuel 15:22).

Other "gifts" to God were of a lower kind, only a part being given; as the meat (not flesh, but flour, etc.) offering, which was unbloody, and the peace offering, a thank offering (1 Kings 3:15; 1 Kings 8:64; Psalms 51:17; Psalms 51:19). The most perfect surrender of human will to God's is that of Jesus in the temptation, and agony, and on Calvary; the antitype to the whole burnt offering (Hebrews 5:1-8). This could only be offered by one free from sin; therefore the sin offering always came first (Exodus 29:36-38; Leviticus 8:14; Leviticus 8:18; Leviticus 9:8; Leviticus 9:12; Leviticus 16:3; Leviticus 16:5). So, only when we are first reconciled by Christ's atonement for our sin to God, can we "present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" (Romans 12:1).

A "meat offering" (flour and oil, fruits of the earth) accompanied the burnt offering; for when men dedicated themselves wholly to God they also dedicated the earthly gifts which He had given them (Leviticus 9:16-17). It was to be brought of the offerer's own free will, and slain by himself, after he had laid his hands on its head, to mark it as his representative; a young bullock, or he goat, era turtle dove, or pigeon (if the person was poor), not to be divided in offering it. The skin alone was reserved.

There was a daily burnt offering, a lamb of the first year, every morning and evening (Exodus 29:38-42); that for the sabbath double the daily one; the offering at the new moon of the three great feasts, Passover, pentecost, and tabernacles; also on the great day of atonement and the feast of trumpets; private burnt offerings at the consecration of a priest, etc., etc. (Exodus 29:15) They were offered in vast numbers at Solomon's dedication of the temple; but ordinarily were restricted in extent by God, to preclude the idea of man's buying His favor by costly gifts. Jephthah's vow was without divine warrant, and due to the half paganism of his early life (Judges 11:4).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Burnt Offering'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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