1 “When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it 2 and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests. And he shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 3 But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the Lord’s food offerings.
-Not all offerings were sacrifices. I said last chapter that a burnt offering was a dedication but it was more like a re-dedication. The idea is that one has sinned and needs to rededicate themselves to the Lord completely (hence all the pieces being burned). Now that a person has had a death cover their sins and they are dedicated, now they can begin giving to the Lord. A grain offering is just that, giving of what you have. It is a good work. Recall in Genesis 4 when Abel gave a burnt offering of animals and Cain gave a grain offering. Cain’s offering was rejected for one because his heart was not in it but secondly because there was no shedding of blood for his sins. Cain was giving “good works” but he had to repented and made himself clean. This is the same thing as an atheist who gives to the poor. God does not merely accept good behavior and an atheist can be the world’s nicest person to ever live and it will not get him or her into heaven. This is why a grain offering is almost always done with a burnt offering and only after the burnt offering takes place. The exceptions are when a grain offering is done ceremonially like at the end of the feast of weeks. In this case, burnt offerings are done for Israel every morning and evening and once on the Sabbath which covers this requirement for the special occasions when a grain offering is made on its own. Israel is constantly being rededicated because they are constantly sinning as are we. Of course no one can ever sacrifice enough bulls even if they had an endless supply to cover all their sins in their lifetime but just like with all the imagery and design of the tabernacle and the high priest garments, it all is symbolic for who God is and His relationship with us.
4 “When you bring a grain offering baked in the oven as an offering, it shall be unleavened loaves of fine flour mixed with oil or unleavened wafers smeared with oil. 5 And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil. 6 You shall break it in pieces and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. 7 And if your offering is a grain offering cooked in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. 8 And you shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to the Lord, and when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar. 9 And the priest shall take from the grain offering its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 10 But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the Lord’s food offerings.
-I briefly touched on leavened and unleavened bread in the past but I will say again that this is done so that there is nothing “foreign” in the bread. It does not mean yeast is unhealthy or evil in itself. Everything is symbolic to who God is and who He wants us to be. He does not want us “contaminating” ourselves with anything other than Him. It is true that if one were to keep a “biblical diet” and follow the law in terms of only eating clean foods and never unclean foods, they would eat very healthy and have a very low risk for heart problems or infections. This was likely one of the purposes so that God’s people remain healthy and have an advantage over other nations in this regard. But in the case of leaven and unleavened, there does not appear to be a health advantage to avoiding yeast. Although it is possible there is something we have not found in science but regardless, the meaning is symbolic.
11 “No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord. 12 As an offering of firstfruits you may bring them to the Lord, but they shall not be offered on the altar for a pleasing aroma. 13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
-Why salt? The best theory seems to be that it is the opposite of leaven. Leaven “corrupts” the bread but salt preserves and purifies it.
14 “If you offer a grain offering of firstfruits to the Lord, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits fresh ears, roasted with fire, crushed new grain. 15 And you shall put oil on it and lay frankincense on it; it is a grain offering. 16 And the priest shall burn as its memorial portion some of the crushed grain and some of the oil with all of its frankincense; it is a food offering to the Lord.
-For those who don’t know, “frankincense” is a spice from the middle and near-east that has a pleasing aroma to it. The idea is that by putting frankincense on everything, you are making it pleasing to God. It tells us that God find giving of our firstfruits and of our surplus is pleasing to God. (For a non-biblical related interesting tidbit, the word “frankincense” is taken from “French incense” similar to how we might call greasy cuts of potatoes “French fries”. Now I’m really wishing we called French fries “frankinfries” which seems very appropriate considering what they sometimes look like and what they do to your stomach).