Peace Offering (in the Bible)

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Also known as a communion offering, of which the main characteristic was that the victim was shared between God, the priest, and the person offering the sacrifice. The Hebrew terms for this kind of offering, zeba zeba, š elāmîm or š elāmîm, were almost interchangeable. Zeba described the sacrifice by its outward ritual, a slaughtering, or immolation; š elāmîm by the intention of the offerer, with opinions varying according to the derivation of šelem from šālôm, peace, or šillam, complete or make good (vows). Three types of peace offerings include sacrifices of praise, votive offerings, and the free-will offering. The distinctions between the three were not very precise, and the time allowed for consuming the portions varied (Lv 7.1518). The principal ritual is described in Leviticus ch. 3 and corresponds to that for holocaust. The victims were also the same as those for holocaust, though birds were not allowed; they could have been male or female, and minor blemishes were tolerated in a victim offered as a voluntary sacrifice (Lv 22.23). Yahweh's portion was burned on the altar. It comprised all the fatty parts, since fat, like blood, was considered a life-giving part (Lv 3.1617; 7.2224). The breast (wave offering) and the right leg (raised offering) were assigned to the priest. The remainder of the animal belonged to the person who offered the sacrifice. He ate it with his family and any guests, all of whom had to be in a state of ritual purity.

Bibliography: r. de vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions, tr. j. mchugh (New York 1961) 417418, 427428. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 178485.

[j. b. freund]