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Burnt Offering


Translation of the Greek λοκαύτωμα and some similar forms, "wholly burnt (sacrifice)," the Septuagint (LXX) equivalent of the Heb. minhâ ōlâ, "offering that is caused to ascend (in smoke)." A related older term is kālîl, "wholly burnt" (Dt 33.10; cf. 1 Sm 7.9), denoted sacrifices, other than animal, completely consumed on the altar [Lv 6.1516; Ps 50(51).21; Sir 45.14; cf. Dt 13.17). Similar offerings were known before Moses, but no cognate term seems to have originated in other Semitic languages. The ceremony is described in the Priestly Code (Lv 1.317). Perfect animals (bulls, cows, calves, sheep, lambs, goats, kids), or birds (pigeons, doves) for the poor, were selected. In the tabernacle, after the laying-on-of-hands, they were killed, cut, and placed on the altar by the one offering the sacrifice, or by the priest (assisted perhaps by levites), if it was a public sacrifice. The blood was then sprinkled around the altar. The victim was completely consumed by fire; the hide was given to the priest.

There were eight obligatory burnt offerings: 1. Daily burnt offering, at the third and nineth hour, of a yearling lamb or a kid; part of morning and evening prayer, accompanied by a cereal offering and wine libation. (This was the tāmîd, "routine": Ex 29.3842; Nm 28.329.39; Ez 46.1315; Dn 8.1114; 11.31; 12.11.) 2. Sabbath burnt offering, double the daily offering (Nm 28.910).3. Feast day burnt offerings, celebrated at the New Moon, Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles; here the number of victims was increased (Nm 28.1129.39). 4. Consecration of a priest (Ex 29.15; Lv8.18; 9.12). 5. Purification of women after childbirth (Lv 12.68). 6. Cleansing of lepers after their cure (Lv 14.1920). 7. Removal of ceremonial defilement (Lv 15.15, 30). 8. Atonement offered by a Nazirite whose vow was broken (Nm 6.11, 16).

Voluntary burnt offerings could be made on special occasions (Nm 7; 3 Kgs 8.64). Gentiles, forbidden to offer other sacrifices, were allowed to make this one. Josephus says war with Rome began when Eleazar forbade Roman rulers the usual sacrificial offerings (Bell. Jud. 2.17.2). Burnt offerings ('ōlâ ) were part of Canaanite cult (3 Kgs 18; 4 Kgs 5.17; 10.1827). The price list of Marseilles (Punic inscription found at Carthage) mentions three sacrifices: kālîl (expiatory sacrifice), sewa't (communion sacrifice), and šelem kālîl (holocaust). Ras Shamra may have known burnt offerings (šrp ). Its symbolism was recognized by theologians: "This kind of sacrifice was offered to God especially to show reverence to His majesty, and love of His goodness; it typified the state of perfection as regards the fulfillment of the counsels. Wherefore the whole was burnt up: that as the whole animal by being dissolved into smoke soared aloft, so it might denote that the whole man, and whatever belongs to him, are subject to the authority of God, and should be offered to Him" (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 102.3 ad 8; cf. St. Augustine, Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne [Paris 187890] 37: 1775; St. Gregory the Great, Patrologia Latina 75:577).

See Also: holocaust.

Bibliography: a. a. de guglielmo, "Sacrifice in the Ugaritic Texts," The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 17 (1955) 196216. r. de vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions, tr. j. mchugh (New York 1961). w. b. stevenson, "Hebrew ōlāh and zebach Sacrifices" in Festschrift für Alfred Bertholet (Tübingen 1950). l. rost, "Erwägungen zum israelitischen Brandopfer," Von Ugarit nach Qumran (Festschrift Eissfeldt; Berlin 1958).

[k. sullivan]

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