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A Series on Practical Messianic Living and Apologetics (halakhah)
By Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy
Towards Understanding Sacrifices and Atonement
(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.)
*Updated: March 31, 2008
And it is written, “And he [Abraham] said: Lord God, through what should I know that I will inherit?” (Gen. 15: 8). Said Abraham before The Holy One, Blessed Be He: Master of the World, perhaps, may there be calm and peace (has ve-shalom), Israel will sin before You, and You will treat them like the generation of the flood or the generation of the dispersion [i.e., the Tower of Babel]. He [God] said to him: No. He [Abraham] said before Him: Master of the World, “through what should I know...?” Gen. 15: 8). He [God] said to him: “Take a three-year old heifer...” (Gen. 15: 9). He [Abraham] said before Him: Master of the World, that is fine when the Temple exists. When the Temple does not exist, what will happen to them? He [God] said to him: I have already established for them the list of the sacrifices. Whenever they read them, I consider it as if they have offered a sacrifice before Me, and I forgive all their sins. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Megillah 31b)
R. Asi said: Why do young children commence with [the Book of] The Law of the Priests, and not with [the Book of] Genesis?—Surely it is because young children are pure, and the sacrifices are pure; so let the pure come and engage in the study of the pure. (Midrash Rabbah – Leviticus VII:3)
Mankind is a fallen race. No righteous deed, no amount of charity, no ostensible pedigrees in family ethnicity can ever make up for the fact that we, in and of ourselves, are hopelessly separated from a Holy God; human ingenuity cannot wipe the stain of sin from the hearts of men. HaShem (God), however, has lovingly provided a means by which mankind can be redeemed. In the period of the TaNaKH (the Old Testament), the sacrificial system was given, among other reasons, as the “vindication markers” of the faith of an individual (“faith acted out in faithfulness”). Obedience played a big role in demonstrating true and lasting covenant faith. Individuals wishing to approach HaShem’s sanctuary were required to bring some sort of atonement for the sin they carried. Often, the blood of the animals served this very purpose. Surely the animals themselves did not bring about lasting atonement (a permanent forgiving of sin), yet God saw fit to allow his perfect plan of Salvation, tied into the eventual coming of his Son Yeshua (Jesus), to be “acted out” as it were through the Temple rituals. The historical sacrificial system was effective in cleansing sin (sanctifying of the flesh; restoration of ritual purity) as well as cleansing (wiping) the Sanctuary, but ultimately it proved to be a mere “shadow” pointing to the True Body of Sacrifice found only in the Perfect Lamb of Sacrifice! The sacrificial system was not designed to accomplish for the individual the “goal” of purging the conscience. Even though it was a “limited” solution, it was authentically God’s solution. No Jew living in that time period was able to circumvent this system, and remain officially within the community. If we take HaShem seriously, then we will accept his provision—no matter what means, or how limited that provision is! This is our first lesson in “Torah logic.”
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Part One – Vayikra “Leviticus
2. Washing and Wiping the Sins Away
3. Types of Offerings (a) – ‘Olah Tamid “Continual Burnt Offering”
4. Types of Offerings (b) – The ‘Five’ Types of Offerings
5. Apologetics Part One
6. Apologetics Part Two
7. Talmudic Quotes
8. Yeshua’s Bloody Atonement Sacrifice and Leviticus 17:11
9. Leviticus 18:5 - Torah Observance Equals Eternal Life?
10. Conclusion: Third Temple Issues (Q and A)
1. Introduction Part One – Vayikra “Leviticus
Parashat Vayikra signals the beginning of the book of Vayikra (say “vah-yeek-rah”), also known as Leviticus. The English title comes from the fact that the book is primarily written about the many functions within the Levitical priesthood. Our Hebrew title comes from the ancient practice of naming a book or portion after one of the opening few words. The Stone edition TaNaKH has this to say about the book of Vayikra:
In the lexicon of the Talmudic Sages, the Book of Leviticus is called Toras Kohanim, the Torah of the Kohanim, or priests, because most of the Book deals with the laws of the Temple service and other laws relating to the priests and their responsibilities. The opening chapters of the Book deal exclusively with animal “korbanos,” a word that is commonly translated as either sacrifices or offerings, but the truth is that the English language does not have a word that accurately expresses the concept of a korban. The word “sacrifice” implies that the person bringing it is expected to deprive himself of something valuable—but God finds no joy in His children’s anguish or deprivation. “Offering” is more positive and closer to the mark—indeed, we use it in our translation—but it too falls short of the Hebrew korban. Does God require our gifts to appease Him or assuage Him? “If you have acted righteously, what have you given Him?” (Job 35:7); God does not become enriched by man’s largess.
Indeed, much of the concept of sacrifices is foreign to our 21st century ears. As believers in Messiah Yeshua, we understand that, as pertaining to temporal sanctification of the flesh vs. eternal cleansing of the conscience, the Levitical priesthood has been superseded by the priesthood according to Malki-Tzedek and the effectual, bloody sacrifice made on the Heavenly Altar (read Hebrews 7:18, 19 and 8:23-28 along with 10:1-4). To be sure, a thorough study of the book of Hebrews (called Messianic Jews in another well-known translation) would do well to help the average reader understand the concepts that the book of Vayikra is ultimately pointing to. For those of you who are new readers, it is imperative that you understand what I have previously stated in a former parashah concerning sacrifices and our relationship to Yeshua as believers. Here is a brief recap for those folks:
(Taken from Parashat Vayak’hel): As I stated in a previous parashah, God’s system of animal sacrifices, with their ability to cleanse or “wash” the flesh, was never intended to be a permanent one. Additionally, the animal sacrifices were not intended to be a “temporary fix” either. In fact the etymological background of the word Torah (the root word being an archery term meaning to “direct towards the goal”) also suggests that the fullest measure of HaShem’s atonement (Hebrew=kafar rpk is usually translated “to atone,” “to cover over,” “make reconciliation,” “pacify,” “propitiate,” “purge.”) was not found in the earthly copies, but rather, in the heavenly originals. Yet, during the time period of the TaNaKH, the animal sacrifices were authentically God’s system. In other words, if you were a citizen of this community of former slaves, and you wanted to operate within a covenant relationship with its Savior, then you had no choice but to participate in the sacrificial system when approaching the Holy Tabernacle/Temple where God concentrated his Glory. There was no room for circumvention. Why would HaShem require exclusivity? Because, in his established order of things, only the blood could make atonement for their lives (read Leviticus 17:11). Tim Hegg makes a case for the meaning of the word kafar rpk as “wipe off, smear on” in this quote from a short paper available from his site at torahresource.com as of 3-20-07:
The root kpr is attested in the Akkadian base stem kaparu, meaning “wipe off, smear on.” This is classified with kaparu II, “pour bitumen over” and koper II, “pitch, tar, bitumen” and with the so-called D stem kuppuru, “to wipe off, clean, rub, ritually purify.”
The idea that rpk has its base meaning “to cover” was strengthened by the fact that the same root is used one time in the Tanach to mean “to cover with pitch,” Gen 6:14. In this case, the verb appears in the Qal stem. However, every other place the verb is found in the Tanach, it is in either the Piel, Pual, Hitpiel, or the rare Nitpiel. Averbeck notes that “from a methodological point of view, linguistically the same root in a different stem is a different word.” As such, the qal should not necessarily be taken to indicate the meaning for the piel and other stems. Thus, the suggestion that rpk has as its base meaning “to cover” has been discarded by many current scholars, including evangelical scholars.
Presenting the notion that the blood of the animals did not so much cleanse the worshipper as it cleansed the Holy Sanctum, Tikvat David (Hope of David) writes in an article titled “Understanding the Sacrifices of Isra’el, Past and Future,”
Most importantly, burnt, purification, and reparation offerings were made to cleanse the sanctuary of the people’s sin and impurity. The sins and ritual impurities of the people were like pollution that stuck to the tabernacle/ temple. God’s holy presence would withdraw from the land, which was also holy, if the people did not constantly cleanse to allow his presence near. This is the theology of Leviticus 15:31, “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.” This is also behind Numbers 5:3, “You shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell.” See also Num. 19:13, 20 and Ezekiel 5:11 and 23:38. Thus, the Levitical sacrifices were not for obtaining personal forgiveness or for making the worshipper clean. In this sense, they were not like the cross of Yeshua, which does bring forgiveness to the worshipper and makes him or her clean. They were to clean the sanctuary of the people’s sins and impurities so God’s presence could dwell in a clean place.
Hegg seems to make reference to such cleansing of the Tabernacle/Temple as well:
If we accept Averbeck’s viewpoint, that a primary meaning of rePiK (the piel stem) is to be found in those places where the verb has a clear direct object, then it’s base meaning is to be found in connection with Yom Kippur, for the verb with direct object occurs only in Lev 16 and the comparable passages in Ezek 43 and 45. If this is the case, then the base meaning is “to wipe away,” for in these contexts rpk has a direct effect on sancta—it “wipes” sancta “clean,” meaning it restores the status of sanctum to that which had been defiled. In this way, the qal meaning of the verb, “to cover with pitch” is connected to the meaning of the piel, “to wipe (with blood).”
I can agree as a writer with both aspects of this word kafar rpk “cover,” and “wipe clean” with regards to the worshipper and the Sanctuary. For indeed, as the blood of the animals pointed towards the ultimate sacrifice of Yeshua, we (the cleansed worshipper) can now approach the Holy of Holies in Heaven without fear of contaminating God’s Throne. Whether or not we could theoretically approach the earthly Mercy Seat as believers is altogether another issue. Suffice it to say, with the above-supplied information, we can now better understand that our God was teaching each and every participant an important aspect of his established spiritual laws.
2. Washing and Wiping the Sins Away
The animal sacrifices conveyed both a temporal and an eternal message to the participants. The blood of bulls and goats is the shadow; Yeshua is the type. However, before we become so quick to look down on God’s “temporal shadows,” let’s look at what the sacrificial system of those days could accomplish. In Psalms chapters 32 and 51 we see the heart of man who genuinely experienced the forgiveness of HaShem. In Psalm 32:1 he stated that the man whose sin is covered is blessed! (Hebrew for “covered”=kasah hsk) In verse 5 he clearly states that his acknowledgement of his sin brought about true forgiveness from HaShem. Because of unmerited favor, this man could rejoice in the mercies of HaShem (verses 10, 11)!
Psalm 51 was written after Dah-vid had committed the gross sin with Bat-Sheva, the mother of Melekh Shlomo (King Solomon). In this passage we again see a man who, knowing the true goal of the Torah—salvation of his eternal soul through the Promised One to come—sought the genuine forgiveness of his Maker.
Verses 16-19 of this Psalm explain to us readers that a heart given to genuine trusting faithfulness—the very same heart required of us today!—is what rendered the sacrifices of the TaNaKH effective. Simply performing the rituals perfunctorily did not please our Heavenly Abba (verse 16, 17). Rather, it was a heart broken in genuine submission to the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) that moved HaShem to forgiveness! This same heart gave the sacrifices validity (verse 19).
Did Dah-vid, as of yet, know the name of his future descendant Yeshua? We have no evidence to support that he explicitly knew the name “Yeshua.” What he did know is that through Moshe, the Torah promised that one day a “Prophet” would arise and that the people were to obey him (read Deuteronomy 18:15-19)! What he did have was a glimpse of the intended function and nature of the Torah (the “goal”), in that, these antitypes pointed towards that day when the corporate sins of all Isra’el would be forgiven, never again to be brought to HaShem’s mind (read Ps. 103:12). This is the day spoken about in Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:34,
“…for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (KJV)
And just in case you’ve forgotten, this is a “New Testament” feature (read Hebrews 8:12)! According to the book of Hebrews, the sacrifices of Dah-vid’s day could cleanse the flesh and restore ritual purity, but could not cleanse the conscience, that is to say, I understand Hebrews to be teaching that only the eternal blood of a Sinless Sacrifice can regenerate the heart and mind of an individual. By comparison, the blood of bulls and goats focused on the ritual, temporal, and external:
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13, 14, KJV)
Moreover, the writer of Hebrews makes his point explicit in this additional passage:
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4, NIV)
The “Old Testament” saints were not “saved” by a different system than the one in which we rely on. If they were, then this would suggest that there were really two separate ways unto righteousness—a theory, which we know, cannot be true. Hegg’s conclusion is fitting for our study:
The older idea that “atonement” was only a “temporary fix” for sins for those who lived in the time before the coming of our Messiah must be abandoned. The idea of atonement as portrayed in the Scriptures encompasses both a temporal aspect as well as an eternal one.
To be sure, Yeshua himself stated emphatically that he was THE way, and that NO man can come unto the Father except through HIM.
The sacrifices, performed with a genuine heart of repentance, afforded real-life forgiveness, but only to the purification of the flesh! However, the mortal blood of the animals in and of themselves—and by themselves—could not even take away sin; only the eternal blood of the Perfect Sacrifice—to which the animals pointed—could purify both flesh and soul.
Thus you could say that the blood of the animals restored ritual purity and “washed, wiped clean” the Holy Place where God “manifestly dwelt.” The objective faith of the individual still remained dependent upon God’s Promised Word to Come, namely Yeshua himself, yet his obedience was demonstrated by adherence to explicit Torah commands where sacrifices were concerned. What is more, the salvation of the eternal soul of an individual was always dependent upon a circumcised heart, exactly as it is today.
3. Types of Offerings (a) – ‘Olah Tamid “Continual Burnt Offering”
In all fairness, the topic of animal sacrifices was introduced to us way back in Exodus 29: 38-46
38 ”Now this is what you are to offer on the altar: two lambs a year old, regularly, every day. 39 The one lamb you are to offer in the morning and the other lamb at dusk. 40 With the one lamb offer two quarts of finely ground flour mixed with one quart of oil from pressed olives; along with one quart of wine as a drink offering. 41 The other lamb you are to offer at dusk; do with it as with the morning grain and drink offerings - it will be a pleasing aroma, an offering made to ADONAI by fire. 42 Through all your generations this is to be the regular burnt offering at the entrance to the tent of meeting before ADONAI. There is where I will meet with you to speak with you. 43 There I will meet with the people of Isra’el; and the place will be consecrated by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar, likewise I will consecrate Aharon and his sons to serve me in the office of cohen. 45 Then I will live with the people of Isra’el and be their God: 46 they will know that I am ADONAI their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt in order to live with them. I am ADONAI their God.
The tamid (continual) offering is in view here. FFOZ has provided a precise and theologically sound explanation for understanding the tamid offering mentioned in this passage:
Exodus 29:38–42. God ordained a daily worship service in the Tabernacle. The daily worship service was called the “continual burnt offering.” Every day, two male lambs were offered up as burnt offerings for this daily service.
The continual burnt offering (tamid, תמיד) began each morning with a male lamb offered as a burnt offering (olah, עולה). The lamb was slaughtered and placed on the fire on the altar as the first sacrifice of the day. Each subsequent sacrifice that day was placed on top of the continual burnt offering lamb. The lamb burned on the fire all day.
When the day’s service was over, and all the offerings had been brought, a second lamb was slaughtered as an olah and placed on top of the remains of that day’s offerings. The effect was that of sandwiching the whole day’s services between the two lambs of the continual burnt offering. The second lamb was left on the altar to burn through the night. The next morning, the ashes were removed and a new lamb was slaughtered and placed on the altar, beginning the process all over. Thus, a lamb was continually burning on the altar before the LORD. The Temple’s entire sacrificial service began with an olah, was offered on top of the olah, and was concluded with an olah. These olah offerings were called the continual burnt offering because one of them was continually on the altar fire.
The continual burnt offering was the most basic and regular function of the Tabernacle and the Temple. The prayer services, the singing of psalms, the lighting of the menorah, the burning of incense all occurred in conjunction with the continual offering. The continual burnt offering is the very center of the entire worship system.
The continual burnt offering was to be a remembrance of the offering made during the Exodus 24 covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai. For this reason, the burnt offering was to be continually upon the altar as a permanent token of the covenant. Its blood, splashed daily against the altar, was a reminder of the blood Moses splashed against the altar and onto the people. Without the continual burnt offering, no other sacrifices were possible. So too, without the covenant status, no further relationship with God was possible.
It is most likely a reference to the continual burnt offering which prompts Yochanan the Immerser to declare Yeshua as “the Lamb of God.” (John 1:29)
As we can see the tamid offering was the first offering (an ‘olah) presented at the beginning of each day. Jacob Milgrom takes note of the tamid in his JPS commentary to Numbers:
Abravanel remarks that the initial prescription ordaining the tamid “throughout the generations at the Tent of Meeting” (Exod. 29:42) means that it never ceased. In support, one should note that the text of the first public sacrifices in the Tabernacle explicitly states that it was offered “in addition to the burnt offering of the morning” (Lev. 9:17), meaning the tamid.
It is the tamid that is also described in these verses:
1 ADONAI said to Moshe, 2 ”Give an order to the people of Isra’el. Tell them, ‘You are to take care to offer me at the proper time the food presented to me as offerings made by fire, providing a fragrant aroma for me.’ 3 Tell them, ‘This is the offering made by fire that you are to bring to ADONAI: male lambs in their first year and without defect, two daily as a regular burnt offering. 4 Offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb at dusk, 5 along with two quarts of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with one quart of oil from pressed olives. 6 It is the regular burnt offering, the same as was offered on Mount Sinai to give a fragrant aroma, an offering made by fire for ADONAI. 7 Its drink offering is to be one-quarter hin for one lamb; in the Holy Place you are to pour out a drink offering of intoxicating liquor to ADONAI. 8 The other lamb you are to present at dusk; present it with the same kind of grain offering and drink offering as in the morning; it is an offering made by fire, with a fragrant aroma for ADONAI. (Numbers 28:1-8)
With the tamid now explained we are better poised to examine the remaining five offerings of Leviticus chapters 1-5. These five are the types of offerings introduced in the opening pages of Leviticus.
4. Types of Offerings (b) – The ‘Five’ Types of Offerings
‘Olah (Burnt Offering) – Lev. 1:1-17
Minchah (Grain Offering) – Lev. 2:1-16
Sh’lamim (Peace Offering) – Lev. 3:1-17
Chata’at (Sin Offering) – Lev. 4:1-35; 5:1-13
‘Asham (Guilt Offering) – Lev. 5:14-26
The first three could easily be considered “freewill offerings,” brought before HaShem by anyone at various times in the life of anyone in the community. The last two were required to make restitution for various sins. Such korbanot (chata’at and ‘asham) are referred to as “expiatory.” The expiatory korbanot shall occupy the bulk of the latter part of this commentary. Chabad.org will supply us with our standard descriptions of the first three korbanot.
‘Olah (Burnt Offering)
The first korban to be described is the olah, the “ascending” offering (commonly referred to as the “burnt offering”), whose distinguishing feature is that it is raised to G-d, in its entirety, by the fire atop the Altar.
The olah can also be a male sheep or goat, in which case the same procedure is followed.
A turtledove or young pigeon can also be brought as an “ascending offering.” Instead of being slaughtered through shechitah (cutting of the throat), the bird is killed by melikah--nipping off the head from the back of the neck. The blood is applied to the wall of the Altar, and the bird’s crop and its adjoining feathers are removed and discarded; then the bird’s body is burned upon the Altar.
Upon analysis, we see that the daily ‘olah service involved three different locations, in descending holiness:
- On top of the altar.
- Next to the altar.
- A ritually clean place outside the camp.
For Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), first Chief Rabbi of the Land of Isra’el, the completely burnt offering was a metaphor for the very highest level of contact between man and God. The fire on the altar reflects sublime experiences of inspiration and prophecy. At this level, the material world is of no consequence. The fire totally consumes the flesh of the offering, freeing man from the shackles of his physical reality.
The kindling of the holy flames on man’s soul is outside the framework of normal life. Such Divine interaction is beyond the ordinary structures of human existence, both individual and collective. The ‘olah offering burns on the altar itself.
Minchah (Grain Offering)
And a soul who shall offer a meal offering to G-d...
Meal offerings, called menachot (“gifts”), are prepared of fine flour, with olive oil and frankincense. The priest removes a kometz (“handful”--actually the amount grasped by his three middle fingers), to be burned on the Altar; the remainder is eaten by the priests.
There are five types of donated meal offerings: 1) the standard “meal offering” whose kometz is removed before it is baked; 2) the “baked meal offering,” which came in two forms: loaves or 3) flat matzot; 4) the “pan-fried” meal offering; 5) the minchat marcheshet, deep-fried in a pot.
The following rule applies to all the meal offerings (including the “loaves”):
No meal offering, which you shall bring to G-d, shall be made leavened; for you shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of G-d made by fire...
Another rule is that,
Your every meal offering shall you season with salt; never shall you suspend the salt covenant of your G-d.
This latter rule applies to all korbanot: “With all your offerings you shall offer salt.”
Another meal offering mentioned here is the minchat bikkurim (also called the “omer”) brought on the second day of Passover from the year’s very first barley harvest. In this minchah, the kernels are roasted by fire before they are ground into flour.
(In addition, a meal offering accompanied all animal offerings.)
Sh’lamim (Peace Offering)
The shelamim, or “peace offering,” could be either male or female, and either from “the herd” (i.e., an ox or a cow), a sheep or a goat.
Like the olah, its blood was sprinkled upon the Altar; but unlike the olah, which “ascended” in its entirety upon the Altar, the meat of the shelamim was eaten by the “owner”--the one who brought the offering (two portions of the animal, the breast and the right thigh, were eaten by the priests). Only certain parts of the animal were burned on the fire atop the Altar:
The fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the appendage of the liver which he shall remove with the kidneys.
If the peace offering is a sheep, “the whole fat tail, up to the backbone” was added to these.
And the priest shall burn it on the Altar; it is [divine] food, a fire-offering, a sweet savor to G-d.
Because they are offered to G-d on the Altar, these specified veins of fat, which the Torah calls cheilev, are forbidden for consumption in all animals: “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your habitations: all cheilev and all blood, you shall not eat.”
A quote from the JPS Commentary to Leviticus is in order before we study the last two types of korbanot:
Chapters 4 and 5 contain the laws governing expiatory sacrifices, the purpose of which is to secure atonement and forgiveness from God. These offerings are efficacious only when offenses are inadvertent or unwitting. They do not apply to defiant or premeditated crimes. Whenever an individual Isra’elite, a tribal leader, a priest, or even the chief priest, or the Isra’elite community at large is guilty of an inadvertent offense or of failing to do what the law requires, expiation through such sacrifice is required.
The laws of chapters 4-5 do not specify all the offenses for which such sacrifices are mandated. We may assume, as did the rabbinic sages, that there is a correspondence between those offenses requiring the expiatory offerings and those punishable by the penalty known as karet, the “cutting off” of the offender from the community: The expiatory sacrifices are required for inadvertent transgressions that, if committed defiantly, would bring upon the offender the penalty of karet.
It is important that we understand that the Torah does not clearly describe sins of “intent” in overly simplistic terms. To be sure, “unintentional sins” are represented by a very technical term known in Hebrew as “bishgagah” (h'g'g.viB), a word only found 6 times in Leviticus altogether. Tim Hegg remarks on bishgagah in this short commentary on the topic of “forgiveness:”
…A study of the words “unintentional” and “intentional” when describing sin reveals something different, however. In Leviticus 6:1-7, the sins for which a person may bring a guilt offering (~'v'a, ‘asham) include lying, theft, fraud, perjury, and debauchery. Yet in Leviticus 4, the sins of a leader or a common person for which a guilt offering may atone are called “unintentional” (h'g'g.viB, bishgagah). That is actually not a very good translation, however, for it makes it appear as though one can lie, steal, defraud, perjure oneself, and engage in all manner or debauchery without direct intent to do so! Actually, this word does not describe one’s attitude or intentions in the matter, but simply the class of sins for which there existed a prescribed sacrifice. The basic meaning of the word is “mistake” (and thus the English translators’ “unintentional”) but also simply means “unacceptable behavior.” What is striking is that nowhere in the Torah are “intentional sins” described. Rather, the opposite of so-called “unintentional” sin is the sin “of a high hand” (h'm'r d'y.B, b’yad ramah) as in Numbers 15:30. This describes rebellion, a sin for which there is no expiation. Thus, as long as a person persists in his rebellion, there is no means of forgiveness. Only when he turns from his rebellion and seeks atonement through the prescribed sacrifices is he forgiven. There are therefore only two classes of sins described in the Torah: bishgagah (usually translated “unintentional”) for which there is expiation, and b’yad ramah, the “high hand” for which there is no expiation.
Levine continues in his commentary to Leviticus to explain ‘asham and chata’at:
In substance, chapters 4-5 prescribe two principle sacrifices: the [chata’at] and ‘asham. The object of the [chata’at], usually translated “sin offering,” was to remove the culpability borne by the offender, that is, to purify the offender of his guilt (4:1-5:13). The ‘‘asham usually translated “guilt offering,” was actually a penalty paid in the form of a sacrificial offering to God. It applied when one had unintentionally misappropriated property that belonged to the sanctuary or had been contributed to it; or, in certain cases, when one had sworn falsely concerning his responsibility toward the property of others. A false oath brings God into the picture directly. The sacrifice did not relieve the offender of his duty to make full restitution for the loss he had caused another. In fact, the offender was fined 20 percent of the lost value. The ‘asham merely squared the offender with his God, whose name he had taken in vain (5:14-26).
Let us provide brief descriptions of the chata’at and the ‘asham respectively:
Chata’at (Sin Offering)
The sin offering proper is a sacrifice consisting of either a beast or a fowl and offered on the altar to atone for a sin committed unwittingly. The rules concerning the sin offering are as follows: If the anointed priest or the whole congregation commits a sin through ignorance, the sin offering is a young bullock without blemish. Should the ruler so sin, his offering is a male kid without blemish. But when a private individual sins, his offering must be either a female kid or a female lamb without blemish, or, if he is too poor to provide one of these, a turtledove.
Sin offerings were brought on other occasions also. On the Day of Atonement the high priest inaugurated the festival with two sin offerings—a bullock as his own offering, and a male kid for the congregation. The flesh of these was not eaten, but after the fat had been removed the carcasses were burned outside the camp (Lev. 26:3, 5, 10-11, 25, 27). A woman, after the days of her purification had been fulfilled, was required to bring a dove for a sin offering, in addition to a burnt offering. A leper, on the day of his cleansing, was required to bring, besides other offerings, a female lamb or, if he were too poor, a dove for a sin offering (Lev. 12:6; 14:10, 19, 22).
‘Asham (Guilt Offering)
Torah.org makes this note concerning the ‘asham:
The Asham offering has many applications. Like the Chatas, it is a sin offering, however, the Asham atones for intentional sinning. Swearing falsely is one such example. “G-d is the unseen Third Party Who is present wherever and whenever one man has dealings with another, even if no other witnesses are on hand. G-d Himself is the Guarantor for the honest dealings between men. If therefore this guarantor is invoked as a witness when any factor in these dealings has been disavowed, it is not merely an act of ordinary faithlessness. For in this case the offender has pledged his priestly character, his relationship to G-d, as surety for his honesty”.
A standard Judaic definition of the ‘asham might read something like this: A guilt offering is an offering to atone for sins of stealing things from the altar, for when you are not sure whether you have committed a sin or what sin you have committed, or for breach of trust. The Hebrew word for a guilt offering is ‘asham. When there was doubt as to whether a person committed a sin, the person would bring an ‘asham, rather than a chata’at, because bringing a chata’at would constitute admission of the sin, and the person would have to be punished for it. If a person brought an ‘asham and later discovered that he had in fact committed the sin, he would have to bring a chata’at at that time. An ‘asham was eaten by the cohanim.
5. Apologetics Part One
Let us turn now to a discussion of the expiatory offerings and their bearing on Jews and Christians today. To be sure, this will be the central topic of my commentary. For the sake of this next apologetic section I would like to create two imaginary groups: the Missionary and the Anti-missionary. In reality both of these groups really exist but my commentary will of necessity be structuring their respective arguments for my readers. I would like to start by citing some somewhat “standard answers” to a few “Christian” objections, here presented as the “missionaries,” concerning the sacrifices, prayer, and atonement. Sample missionary questions will appear first with “standard Jewish” answers, here read as the “anti-missionaries,” following. Later in the commentary I will take my own shot at refuting the “standard” anti-missionary answers.
First we shall list two questions from the missionaries and allow the anti-missionaries to answer:
Q: How do Jews obtain forgiveness without sacrifices?
A: Forgiveness is obtained through repentance, prayer and good deeds.
In Jewish practice, prayer has taken the place of sacrifices. In accordance with the words of Hosea, we render instead of bullocks the offering of our lips (Hosea 14:3) (please note: the KJV translates this somewhat differently). While dedicating the Temple, King Solomon also indicated that prayer could be used to obtain forgiveness (I Kings 8:46-50). Our prayer services are in many ways designed to parallel the sacrificial practices. For example, we have an extra service on Shabbat, to parallel the extra Shabbat offering (cite tamid example from ArtScroll Siddur, Sefard version, page 45). A short quote from OU.org (Orthodox Union) is also telling. Commenting on Leviticus 6:1-11:
The portion from the beginning of Tzav until this point is one of the daily readings of the Korbanot section of the Shacharit service. It is very important to recite the portions of Korbanot, based on the concept of “And our lips will substitute for the bulls”. The Gemara relates the following: Avraham Avinu asked G-d “what method will my descendants have to pursue atonement for their sins?”. G-d told him that sacrifices will help bring atonement. Avraham then asked what will be during the time that the Beit HaMikdash will not stand and sacrifices will not be practiced. G-d’s answer: “I have already prepared for that eventuality. As long as they read the Torah portions about sacrifices, I will consider it as if they actually offered the sacrifices, and I will forgive them their iniquities.” This idea is hinted at by the words in the opening pasuk of the sedra: ZOT TORAT HA’OLAH - This Torah (portion) of the Olah - HEE HA’OLAH... - It (the passage) is (equal to) the Olah (itself).
It is important to note that in Judaism, sacrifice was never the exclusive means of obtaining forgiveness, was not in and of itself sufficient to obtain forgiveness, and in certain circumstances was not even effective to obtain forgiveness. This will be discussed further below.
Q: But isn’t a blood sacrifice required in order to obtain forgiveness?
A: No. Although animal sacrifice is one means of obtaining forgiveness, there are non-animal offerings as well, and there are other means for obtaining forgiveness that do not involve sacrifices at all. Besides prayer, mere study of the korbanot themselves constitutes participation!
The passage that people ordinarily cite for the notion that blood is required is Leviticus 17:11: “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood and I have assigned it for you upon the altar to provide atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that atones for the soul.” But the passage that this verse comes from is not about atonement; it is about dietary laws, and the passage says only that blood is used to obtain atonement; not that blood is the only means for obtaining atonement. Leviticus 17:10-12 could be paraphrased as “Don’t eat blood, because blood is used in atonement rituals; therefore, don’t eat blood.”
To finalize our view of the fact that prayer and study of the korbanot replaces the actual korbanot themselves, we cite a lengthy passage from the Talmud Bavli, Masechet Menachot, Daf 110a:
GEMARA: Objected R. Shimi bar Hiyya to Rab, “‘For from the rising of the sun even to the going down thereof my name is great among the nations, and in every place offerings are burnt and present to my name, even pure obligations’ (Mal. 1:11)!” He said to him, “Are you the one they call Shimi? What they call him is merely, ‘God of Gods. ‘”
“And in every place offerings are burned and presented to my name” (Mal. 1:11): Do you really think that this is in every place! Said R. Samuel bar Nahmani said R. Jonathan, “This refers to the disciples of sages who engaged in Torah-study in every place. I regard them as though they burned up incense and made offerings to my Name. “‘Even pure obligations: ‘ this refers to one who in a state of purity studies the Torah, meaning, someone who first gets married and then studies the Torah.”
“A song of ascents: behold, bless you the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord in the night seasons” (Psa. 134: 1): What is the meaning of “in the night seasons”? Said R. Yohanan, “This refers to the disciples of sages who engaged in Torah-study by night. Scripture regards them as though they engaged in the Temple service.”
“This is an ordinance for ever to Israel” (2Ch. 2: 3): Said R. Giddal said Rab, “This refers to the altar that has been built, where Michael, the lead angelic prince, is standing and presented thereon an offering.” And R. Yohanan said, “This refers to disciples of sages who are engaged in the study of the laws of the Temple service. Scripture regards them as though the Temple were rebuilt in their days.”
Said R. Simeon b. Laqish, “That is the meaning of the verse, ‘This is the Torah for the burnt offering, meal offering, sin offering, and guilt offering’ (Lev. 7:37)? Whoever is engaged in Torah-study is as though he offered a burnt offering, meal offering, sin offering, and guilt offering.”
Said Raba, “Why does the verse say, ‘for the burnt offering, for the meal offering,’ when it could as well have said, a burnt offering, a meal offering’?” Rather, said Raba, “Whoever engages in Torah-study has no need for either burnt offering, meal offering, sin offering, or guilt offering.”
Said R. Isaac, “What is the meaning of the verse, ‘This is the Torah of the sin offering’ (Lev. 7:16), ‘This is the Torah of the guilt offering’ (Lev. 7: 1)? “Whoever engages in the study of the Torah of the sin offering is as though he had offered a sin offering, and whoever engages in the study of the Torah of the guilt offering is as though he had offered a guilt offering.”
6. Apologetics Part Two
Were the Old Testament Sacrifices Personally and Objectively Effective?
Let us now turn to a discussion about the efficacy of the animal sacrifices themselves, comparing popular Christian theology against the Torah. For this section I will provide the readers with an extended quote from a work by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. His book ‘Toward Rediscovering The Old Testament’ has proven to be invaluable in helping to uncover the truth behind this crucial topic of discussion:
The repeated statement of the Law of Moses on the effects of the sacrifices offered for sin in the Levitical law is “and he shall be forgiven” (Lev 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5: 10, 16). So effective and so all-embracing was this forgiveness that it availed for such sins as lying, theft, fraud, perjury, and debauchery (Lev 6:1-7). In David’s case the list extended to adultery and complicity in murder (Pss 32 and 51). In fact, in connection with the Day of Atonement, what is implicit in these other lists is clearly stated: “all their sins” were atoned (Lev 16:21, 22; my emphasis). Thus, instead of limiting the efficacy of this forgiveness to ceremonial sins, all the sins of all the people who were truly repentant were included. It is important to note that the qualification of a proper heart attitude is clearly stated in Leviticus 16:29 and 31 where the people are asked to “afflict (‘anah) their souls” (KJV). Accordingly, only those who had inwardly prepared their hearts were eligible to receive the gracious gift of God’s forgiveness (cf. also 1 Sam 15:22).
Nevertheless, a major problem appears whenever the Christian introduces the argument of Hebrews 9-10 into this discussion. The writer of Hebrews states in no uncertain terms that:
The law is only a shadow of the good things, that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. . . because it impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10: 1, 4).
This surely seems to diminish the high claims that we just finished attributing to the writer of Leviticus. In fact, Hebrews 9:9 adds that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.” What shall we say then about the forgiveness offered in the Torah? It would be too much to contend that the O[ld] T[estament] offer of forgiveness repeated so often in the Levitical institution of the sacrifices was only symbolic and offered no actual cleansing from or removal of sin.
The only solution is to take both the O[ld] T[estament] and N[ew] T[estament] statements seriously. We conclude then, with Hobart Freeman, that the O[ld] T[estament] sacrifices were subjectively efficacious, in that the sinner did receive full relief based on the clear declaration of God’s appointed servant. But it is just as clear that the sacrifices of bulls and goats were not in themselves expiatory and efficacious. The most these sacrifices could do was to point to the need for a perfect, living substitute who would, in the timing of God, ransom and deliver all from the debt, guilt, and effects of their sin. Thus, the O[ld] T[estament] sacrifices were not objectively efficacious; but then neither did the O[ld] T[estament] ever claim that the blood of these bulls and goats was inherently effective.
Geoffrey Grogan would not solve the problem by using the distinction Freeman has used here; in fact, he believes that the O[ld] T[estament] sacrifices were ineffective both objectively and subjectively. He cites two reasons for the ineffectiveness of the sacrifices: (1) they had to be repeated, and (2) they were animal sacrifices and thus could not truly act as substitutes for humans. But when the natural question is put to Grogan, “Did they effect nothing then?” he answers that their true function was provisional, “imposed until the time of reformation” (Heb 9:9-10 RSV). In the meantime, the O[ld] T[estament] sacrifices typified the sacrifice that was to come in Christ, and thus they were a means of grace by which the sacrifice of Christ could be channeled even to O[ld] T[estament] worshippers.
We believe that both Freeman and Grogan end up with the same position, though Freeman has the advantage in treating the fact that real forgiveness was effected in connection with a proper use of the sacrifices and with a declaration that their sins were gone and remembered against them no more.
The efficacy of the O[ld] T[estament] sacrifices, then, rested in the Word of God, who boldly announced that sacrifices done in this manner and with this heart attitude (Ps 50:8, 14; 51: 16 [Heb 10:8]; Prov 15:8, 21:3; Isa 1:11-18; 66:3; Jer 7:21-23; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21; Mic 6:6-8) would receive from God a genuine experience of full forgiveness. Of course, everything depended on the perfect payment for this release, a payment that would occur sometime in the future. Therefore, not the blood of bulls and goats but the “blood” (i.e., the life rendered up in violent death) of a perfect sacrifice finally made possible all the forgiveness proleptically enjoyed in the O[ld] T[estament] and retrospectively appreciated in the N[ew] T[estament]. Only the lamb of God could have provided objective efficacy, even though the subjective efficacy that had preceded it was grounded on the authority and promised work of Christ.
Until the death of Christ happened, the sins of the O[ld] T[estament] saints were both forgiven and “passed over” (paresis, Rom 3:25) in the merciful grace of God until the expiatory death of Christ provided what no animal ever could do and what no O[ld] T[estament] text ever claimed it could do.
During the O[ld] T[estament] period, sins were forgiven and remembered against men and women no more (Ps 103:3, 10-12)-in fact, removed as far from the O[ld] T[estament] confessor as the east is from the west! Thus, the O[ld] T[estament] saint experienced sins forgiven on the basis of God’s Word and sins forgotten (i.e., “remembered against him no more,” (Ezek 18:22, my translation) on the same basis.
I think it is safe to say that both missionaries and anti-missionaries would agree that atonement is made available for sin in general, but would simply (and sharply) disagree on the methods of procuring such atonement. So what exactly is the big issue at stake here? Perhaps at least two issues: Exactly which sins are atoned for? And by what method are they atoned?
I firmly believe that the Torah clearly teaches that the Yom Kippur ritual was intended for both intentional and unintentional sins. Before I show my answer, let me show you another anti-missionary answer.
Some anti-missionaries would readily disagree with my above statement about Yom Kippur, teaching that there is no atonement for intentional sins. A well-known anti-missionary organization by the name of Jews for Judaism agrees with the notion of atonement for intentional and unintentional sins, but the means of such atonement is radically different than the accepted missionary approach.
Observe their answer:
“Biblically, the optimum means for attaining atonement consists of both animal sacrifices and sincere confessionary repentant prayer used in conjunction with each other. Traditional Judaism looks forward to the restoration of the dual system working simultaneously--animal sacrifice and contrite prayer.
“The rabbis under the leadership of Yohanan ben Zakkai did not make an unscriptural substitution when they emphasized sincere confessionary repentant prayer as a means of obtaining atonement. The Bible already mandated sincere confessionary repentant prayer, as a proper vehicle for attaining forgiveness. In the biblical period atonement prayer was used with full divine sanction, with or without animal offerings (even for non-Jews--Jonah 3:5-10).
“Sincere confessionary repentant prayer is the primary biblical prescription for obtaining atonement when animal sacrifices cannot be offered concurrently. Animal sacrifices are only prescribed for unwitting or unintentional sin (shogeg)--Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:5, 15 (cf. Numbers 15:30). The one exception is if an individual swore falsely to acquit himself of the accusation of having committed theft (Leviticus 5:24-26). Intentional sin can only be atoned for through repentance, unaccompanied by a blood sacrifice- Psalms 32:5, 51:16-19.
“Giving charity is a material expression of this inner repentance that is articulated in the rabbinic formula: “Prayer, repentance, and charity avert the evil decree” (T.J. Ta’anit 2:1, 65b). This is based on the verse: “If My people, upon whom My name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways; then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).”
Firstly it must be recognized that HaShem’s forgiveness, as enacted in the korbanot, are reserved for those whose hearts are pure, that is, for those with the intention of turning from their sin and making restitution for sinning against God. The anti-missionaries correctly quoted 2 Chronicles in an effort to demonstrate this, but again I will disagree that the focus of such “t’shuvah” (repentance) is the prayers, charity, and repentance alone (more on these three later in this commentary). I maintain that our focus today can only be upon the Spotless Lamb offered for atonement, Yeshua our Yom Kippur! The Renewed Covenant will bear this out later as well.
7. Talmudic Quotes
The ancient Rabbis agreed that sacrifice without true repentance invalidates the sacrifice itself! The Talmud in Tractate Yoma clearly teaches this:
MISHNA: Sin-offerings and trespass-offerings atone. Death and the Day of Atonement, if one is penitent, atone. Penitence atones for slight breaches of positive or negative commandments; for grave sins, it effects a suspension, till the Day of Atonement completes the atonement. To him who says: “I will sin, repent, sin again, and repent again,” is not given the opportunity to repent. For him who thinks, “I will sin; the Day of Atonement will atone for my sins,” the Day of Atonement does not atone. A sin towards God, the Day of Atonement atones for; but a sin towards his fellowman is not atoned for by the Day of Atonement so long as the wronged fellowman is not righted. R. Eliezer b. Azariah lectured: It is written [Lev. xvi. 30]: “From all your sins before the Lord shall ye be clean.” (This is our tradition.) The sin towards God, the Day of Atonement atones for; but sins toward man, the Day of Atonement cannot atone for till the neighbor has been appeased.
Said R. Aqiba: Happy are ye, O Israel. Before whom do ye cleanse yourselves, and who cleanses you? Your Father who is in Heaven. For it is written [Ezek. xxxvi. 25]: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean “; and it is also written: “The Migveh (hope, or legal bath) of Israel is the Lord.” As a legal diving-bath purifies the unclean, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, cleanse Israel.
GEMARA: “Death and the Day of Atonement,” etc. Only when one is penitent, but otherwise they do not atone? Shall we assume that the Mishna is not in accordance with Rabbi, in the following Boraitha: “Rabbi says: All sins mentioned in the Bible, whether one is penitent or not, are atoned by the Day of Atonement, except throwing off the yoke (of God), expounding the Torah falsely, and abolition of circumcision (and mocking a fellowman). These sins are atoned for by the Day of Atonement, if one is penitent, but not otherwise.” It may be said even that the Mishna is in accordance with Rabbi: Penitence is supplemented by the Day of Atonement or Death, but the Day of Atonement does atone alone.
“Penitence atones for slight breaches, if positive or negative,” etc. Why has it to be told, positive? If negative, so much the more positive? Said R. Jehudah: The Mishna meant to say, a positive commandment, or a negative commandment inferred from a positive. But a real negative commandment is not atoned? There is a contradiction from the following Boraitha: What are called slight sins? A breach of a positive and negative commandment, except the negative commandment [Ex. xx. 7]: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”; and all things equal to this: since this, which is a real negative commandment, is excepted, the other negative commandments are atoned for? Come and hear another contradiction: It is written [Ex. xxxiv. 7]: “And he will clear of sins.” We might think, from this sin, the breach of the negative commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord,” etc., he will also clear. Therefore it is further written, “by no means.” Shall we assume, that from the breaches of all negative commandments he will not clear? Therefore it is written [Ex. xx. 7]: “For the Lord will not hold him guiltless (the Hebrew term is the same) that taketh His name in vain.” Infer from this, that breaches of other negative commandments he does atone for? (How, then, does Jehudah say that the breaches of real negative commandments are not atoned for?) There is a difference of opinion among the Tanaim, as we have learned in the following Boraitha: “What does penitence atone for? For breaches of positive, and negative inferred from positive, commandments. And for which does penitence only gain a suspension, and the Day of Atonement atones? The sins for which the penalties are Karoth, death by Beth Din, and real negative commandments.”
The Master has said: Because it is written [Ex. xxxiv. 7]: “He will clear of sins,” how is it to be understood? That is as we have learned in the following Boraitha: R. Elazar said: We cannot say it means, He clears of sins, because it is written further, “by no means” does He clear. We cannot say, He does not, because it is written “clear of sins.” We must therefore explain the verse: He clears of sins those who do penance; and does not, those who are not penitent. 
This concept of intentional and unintentional sin and of penitence and rebellion is touched upon in the Torah at Sefer B’midbar (the Book of Numbers):
Num 15:26 - Num 15:36
26. And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people [were] in ignorance. 27. And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. 28. And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the Lord, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. 29. Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, [both for] him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. 30. But the soul that doeth [ought] presumptuously, [whether he be] born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 31. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity [shall be] upon him.
The very same concept is taught in the B’rit Chadashah (the Renewed Covenant, i.e., the New Testament) in the book of Hebrews!
26. For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27. but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30. For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Thus we see that atonement for sins, both intentional and unintentional, must be accompanied by a penitent heart. Now does Leviticus teach that the Yom Kippur atones for all of these sins? Let us quote the text of Leviticus 16:17-24 from the 1917 JPS version:
And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins; and so shall he do for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.
And there shall be no man in the tent of meeting when he goeth in to make atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel.
And he shall go out unto the altar that is before HaShem, and make atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleannesses of the children of Israel.
And when he hath made an end of atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting, and the altar, he shall present the live goat.
And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of an appointed man into the wilderness.
And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land which is cut off; and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
And Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there.
And he shall bathe his flesh in water in a holy place and put on his other vestments, and come forth, and offer his burnt-offering and the burnt-offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people.
Look again at verse 16!
“And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins; and so shall he do for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses” (emphasis mine).
And again at verse 21!
“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of an appointed man into the wilderness” (emphasis mine).
It is not difficult to understand the import of the passages quoted. “All” means “all!” The Yom Kippur sacrifice, if presented by the priest with a right heart on behalf of the people with right hearts atoned for all of their sins.
Again I cite the RaMBaM (Rabbi Moshe ben-Maimon, a.k.a., Maimonides) for ancient support. In his Mishneh Torah chapter one deals with the Laws of Repentance:
The goat sent to Azazel on the Day of Atonement is an atonement for all of Israel. The High Priest confesses verbally over it for all Jews, as it is written, “..and confesses over it all the iniquities of the Children of Israel”. This goat atones for all transgressions of whatever severity of any of the Torah’s commandments, whether they were committed deliberately or accidentally, whether the transgressor had confessed or not, provided that the guilty parties had repented, for without repentance the goat sent to Azazel repents only for the less-severe transgressions. Severe transgressions are those which a Court of Law can punish by death, or which carry a penalty of excision, and also false oaths and falsehood, even though they do not bear a penalty of excision. Transgressions of negative commandments or other transgressions the transgression of which does not carry a penalty of excision are considered less severe. 
Of course any good Jew can go on to read that in section three immediately following section two he clarifies his position on repentance by teaching:
In this day and age we have only repentance, for we don’t have the Temple and Altar. This repentance [that we have to do nowadays] can atone for all sins. 
This is where the RaMBaM and I part ways.
In chapter 16 of our Leviticus, we find the divine instructions for the sacred day of assembly known as Yom Kippur. HaShem has very explicit and important details that he expects Aharon the cohen gadol (high priest) to carry out. To be sure, as we shall find out, they had a very significant and far-reaching impact not just on the physical offspring of Avraham, but as the fullness of God’s timetable would demonstrate, on the rest of humanity as well.
8. Yeshua’s Bloody Atonement Sacrifice and Leviticus 17:11
In an attempt to continue explaining the matter, we need to understand the plans and purposes of HaShem as expressed in the whole of the Torah. From our vantage point and using twentieth century hindsight, it makes perfect sense to send the Messiah to atone for our sinful nature. After all, if God left things in the hands of mankind, each individual man would have to atone for his own personal sins and consequently every man would eventually have to die for such a payment. But what does the Torah say?
“Here is how it works: it was through one individual that sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and in this way death passed through to the whole human race, inasmuch as everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
With the entrance of sin came the punishment for sin–death. So we see that HaShem is perfectly righteous when he says that the wages for our sin is death; every man does deserve to die. But here is where the mercy of HaShem comes in! He has lovingly provided a means by which mankind can redeem himself. In the period of the TaNaKH, the sacrificial system was that means! Even though it pointed towards something greater, it was authentically God’s solution. No Jew living in that time period was able to circumvent this system, and remain officially within the community. If we take HaShem seriously, them we will accept his provision–no matter what means, or how temporal that provision is! This is our first lesson in “Torah logic”.
This brings us to the current situation facing every man and woman and child, Jew or non-Jew, living today: “Since the sacrificial system used in the TaNaKH has been dissolved, what is his means of atonement today?”
As we have already observed from the anti-missionary’s position above, the modern rabbis would have us to believe that the three ways by which we appease HaShem today are “T’shuvah” (repentance), “T’fillah” (prayer), and “Tzedekah” (righteous acts). To be sure, all of these principles are found in the teachings of the Torah! And each and every one of them has valid merit. For our God is highly interested in our repentance from sin, and he is very supportive of a prayer time, and he is enthusiastic of our righteous acts done in his name! But what does our Torah portion say?
“For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.” (Leviticus 17:11)
Moving into chapter 17, we encounter one of our chair passages. This single verse of the Torah has caused no small disagreement between Christian missionaries and anti-missionaries. The missionaries use this verse as a launching point by which to propagate the necessity of the atonement of Yeshua the Messiah for the forgiveness of sin. The rabbis teach that according to further insight (usually provided for them by the Talmud, this verse is not exclusively addressing the issue of sin atonement. Since we are studying the arguments and responses of both camps, we should not be ashamed to provide an authoritative answer.
First of all, the rabbis have a somewhat valid point to make; the Torah does address the issue of atonement in other sections. Likewise, HaShem did use the blood of animals in other types of sacrificial requirements, where sin is not the primary issue. But what the rabbis seem to misunderstand is that the above quoted verse was not intended to confuse the average reader! Citing the rules of standard grammatical-historical exegesis: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise. In other words, did the average unlearned reader, living in the time period of the TaNaKH, understand what HaShem was asking of him? Of course he did. If he did not, I imagine we would have read about the difference in interpretation somewhere else in the Torah. But our verse here in Leviticus contains little or no ambiguity. The immediate recipients of the context of chapter 17 are as given: to Moshe (vs. 1), to Aharon and his sons (vs. 1), to ‘Am Isra’el (vs. 1), and finally someone from the community of Isra’el or one of the foreigners living with you (vs. 8, 10). The chapter even leaves off addressing “anyone” in verse 15.
Were all of these individuals learned people? Did they study in the most brilliant theological schools of their day? Was HaShem secretly cloaking this important information in mystery only to be understood by the future rabbis and Torah teachers of the people of Isra’el? I am not reluctant to place the blame on over-examination. Because of this, we sometimes miss the simple explanation that the Torah is trying to teach us. To use modern language “We miss the forest for the trees!” Another rather obvious cause for the disagreement here is the fact that most non-Messianic rabbis don’t consider the New Covenant Scriptures authoritative, and therefore, they usually ignore it’s teaching. Woe unto those unfaithful teachers during the coming day of reckoning (Yom haDin)!
But the Torah, as revealed by the Messiah and his first century followers, is authoritative concerning this issue, so it is there that we will settle the issue:
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners. Therefore, since we have now come to be considered righteous by means of his bloody sacrificial death, how much more will we be delivered through him from the anger of God’s judgment!” (Romans 5:8, 9)
Yeshua has now become the means by which all men must satisfy the righteous atoning requirement of the Holy One! This type of atonement is not the kind that is repeated year after year! Our sins are not meted out into animals, only to be repeated the next year at Yom Kippur. This type of atonement is based on better promises with a better sacrifice! What does the Torah say?
“No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know ADONAI’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)
Thus we see that the covenant spoken about by the prophet Jeremiah is surely a superior system. When HaShem says that he will remember our sins no more, that’s something to rejoice about! When a person rejects Yeshua HaMashiach as the final atonement for their sin, they are really rejecting the One who sent the Messiah in the first place! In other words, to reject Yeshua is to reject HaShem! This is where the corporate blindness of my people lies.
In summary then, the sacrificial system was not designed to bring the participant to the goal, namely a purged conscience and salvation of the individual. Sacrifices were for dealing with sin in the flesh, for restoration of ritual purity. Only genuine faith in the Promised One could move God’s heart to reckon to one’s account “righteousness” as was done for Avraham. The Torah was weak in that it could not bring to the goal of salvation the heart of an individual. Only the Spirit’s supernatural work could—and always will be able to—do that.
There is only ONE path to positional righteousness. There is only ONE way to attain lasting salvation.
The second important aspect of the sending of Yeshua at the appointed time has to do with order. HaShem has a perfect plan for everything. According to the purpose of God, sin seems to have had to run its course until the ideal time for sending the Messiah into the world came. Yeshua therefore demonstrated his obedience to the Father by surrendering his life as a sacrifice only when the time set by his Father was perfect. Not sooner. Not later. We must accept this Biblical truth and live by it. In a way, you could say that if Messiah Yeshua had provided himself for atonement at a much earlier time, then, because of community dynamics, the majority of Am Yisra’el would have accepted him, yet the majority of the surrounding Gentile Nations would have missed out. Of course this is speculative, yet it does contain an element of truth. Read Romans chapter eleven, specifically verse twenty-five sometime, and you’ll notice that the Torah is hinting at this very aspect!
9. Leviticus 18:5 - Torah Observance Equals Eternal Life?
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.
וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר
דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם
כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֧ה אֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֛יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְשַׁבְתֶּם־בָּ֖הּ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֶֽרֶץ־כְּנַ֡עַן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶתְכֶ֥ם שָׁ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶ֖ם לֹ֥א תֵלֵֽכוּ
אֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֧י תַּעֲשׂ֛וּ וְאֶת־חֻקֹּתַ֥י תִּשְׁמְר֖וּ לָלֶ֣כֶת בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם
וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם הָאָדָ֖ם וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֽה
Here the writer, Moshe, describes the lifestyle of an existing covenant member as characterized by obeying the laws spelled out by the Torah. Paul, quoting Moshe, refers to such a position as “clearly” described in Galatians 3:11. In other words, Paul expects his readers and opponents alike to come to the same conclusion as he: genuine Torah submission does not precede genuine faith; genuine Torah submission is the natural, expected result of genuine faith. Stated another way: genuine and lasting obedience flows from the heart that has been circumcised by the Spirit of God himself. The order of procession is vitally important for Paul’s argument: faith comes first; obedience follows faith. Such a processional order is also implied in the historical order to which the covenants in question were given: the Avrahamic Covenant, typified by faith, preceded the Moshaic Covenant, typified by obedience. By comparison, the Influencers of the 1st century Judaisms had the sequence reversed, suggesting that faith came as a result of following after the teachings of Torah, as indicated by their preoccupation with the ritual of circumcision.
A few years ago I had the unique opportunity of engaging in a lengthy debate with a non-Messianic rabbi over the important implications behind this single verse. Since the debate was via the medium of e-mail, I have decided to share a selected portion with you here in this commentary. A word of caution: my apologetics (Scriptural defensive reasoning) were aimed at the gross error that exists within the scholarship of the Jewish learned. My comments were intended to expose that error in an effort to showcase the Truth of the Torah to a man whose eyes were blinded by defensive (not passive) unbelief, as well as a man bent on ill-feelings towards the Christian community of which he believes is in serious disobedience to the Torah of the very God that they claim to serve. My comments should not be understood as being applied to the Jewish people as a whole, nor am I singling out any particular Christian group. Truth cuts to the heart of the issue for those who walk in disobedience. To use modern vernacular “If the shoe fits….then wear it!”
I have not posted any of his comments, as I do not permission to do so. Mixing only my own comments with those of noted author and translator David H. Stern, as found in his Jewish New Testament Commentary, I wrote:
“Moshe spoke of the righteousness that is grounded in trust, in Vayikra 18:5, “That the person who does these things will attain life through them.” Rashi (quoting the Sifra) comments: “It refers to the world to come; for if you say it refers to this world, doesn’t everyone die sooner or later?” I understand the Torah then to be talking about eternal life.
“That many Christians don’t believe that the Torah teaches eternal life through the Teachings of the Mitzvot is irrelevant! If they have made a serious error in their theology, they must answer to HaShem for misunderstanding His Torah. Why do we become so “caught up in the middle” over false teaching? Is it because of the fence that we have built around Torah, that we defend it so fervently? In any case, they are wrong about Torah.... it is to be kept, not disregarded. It is the goal of the Torah to lead its followers to the righteousness grounded in trust. But have you ever stopped to think that they (the minim) may have understood a central part that our people, the Jewish community, miss?
“The lesson in logic goes like this: the person who practices “the righteousness grounded in the Torah” will necessarily have the trust in Yeshua the Messiah that the B’rit Chadashah proclaims. Why? Because legalism is the exact opposite of trust! The heresy of legalism, when applied to the Torah, says that anyone who does these things, that is, anyone who mechanically follows the rules for Shabbat, kashrut, etc., will attain life through them, will be saved, will enter the Kingdom of HaShem, will obtain eternal life. No need to trust HaShem, just obey the rules! What is more to the point concerning historic and modern Judaism is the heresy of ethnicity (being born Jewish or following after conversion) which supposedly automatically guarantees the Jewish person a place at the table with Avraham! The problem with this simplistic ladder to Heaven is that legalism conveniently ignores the “rule” that trust must underlie all rules following which HaShem finds acceptable. But trust necessarily converts mere rule-following into something altogether different, in fact, into its opposite, genuine faithfulness to HaShem. Therefore, “legalistic obedience to Torah commands” as well as “ethnic-driven corporate identity” (that is, “works of the Law” as expressed by a rabbinical conversion policy for Gentiles wishing to enter into Isra’el) is actually disobedience to the Torah! Sha’ul clearly taught in Galatians that “circumcision” (often used by the Apostle as shorthand for “proselyte conversion”) as a prerequisite for covenant inclusion runs contrary to the genuine Good News of Yeshua, and consequently sets itself at odds with God’s True Torah.
“As a Jew, who follows the Torah as given by Him, through Moshe Rabbenu, I challenge you once again: legalism - that is, legalistic obedience to Torah commands - is disobedience to the Torah! One could be obeying every single mitzvah (except, by assumption, the mitzvah of trust), but if these things are being done without heartfelt trust in the God who is there, the only God there is, the God who sent his Son Yeshua to be the atonement for sin, then all this outward “obedience” is hateful to HaShem (Yesha’yahu 1:14), and the person doing it, the legalist, “lives under a curse,” because he is not “doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah” (D’varim 27:26).
“Now here’s the sad truth! The evidence that non-Messianic Jews “have not submitted themselves to HaShem’s way of making people righteous,” which itself shows that their “zeal for HaShem” is “not based on correct understanding,” is that they have not grasped the central point of the Torah and acted on it. Had they seen that trust in HaShem - as opposed to “being born Jewish,” self-effort, legalism, and mechanical obedience to the rules - is the route to the righteousness which the Torah itself not only requires but offers, then they would see that, “the goal at which the Torah aims is [acknowledging and trusting in] the Messiah, who offers [on the ground of this trusting the very] righteousness (they are seeking). They would see that the righteousness, which the Torah offers, is offered through him and only through him. They would also see that he offers it to everyone who trusts - to them and to the Goyim as well, without having to convert to Judaism first!”
10. Conclusion: Third Temple Issues (Q and A)
The corporate animal sacrifices officially came to a halt when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., as there were no more priests to officiate and of course there was no facility. They have not officially resumed since then. Now we are talking corporate sacrifices here. In some Orthodox circles live fowl and such are still used in expatiation type ceremonies. Moreover, the ancient Samaritans are reported to still offer sacrifices on Mount Gerizim today. The book of Hebrews possibly allows for the fact that even Messianic Jews were still offering sacrifices before the Temple was destroyed, being that the book was most likely written just before the destruction.
Yeshua’s public ministry continued until his death sometime around the early 30’s A.D. That the Temple remained standing until Titus oversaw its destruction in 70 A.D. is a well-known historical fact. That the Temple was used to facilitate the sacrificial system, even after the death of Yeshua can be deduced by the very necessity to write the entire book of Hebrews. But historic documents can also be found.
Josephus, one of the first century’s respected and well-noted journalists recounts that the sacrifices ended sometime around 66 A.D., in this excerpt from The War of the Jews:
‘And now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig up the foundations for the tower of Antonia, and to make him a ready passage for his army to come up; while he himself had Josephus brought to him (for he had been informed that on that very day, which was the seventeenth day* of Panemus [Tamuz], the sacrifice called “the Daily Sacrifice” had failed, and had not been offered to God for want of men to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it) and commanded him to say the same things to John that he had said before, that if he had any malicious inclination for fighting, he might come out with as many of his men as he pleased, in order to fight, without the danger of destroying either his city of temple; but that he desired he would not defile the temple, nor thereby offend against God.” (Book 6, Chapter 2.1.) Concerning the 17th day, it was footnoted: This was a very remarkable day indeed, the seventeenth of Panemus [Tamuz], A.D. 70, when, according to Daniel’s prediction, 606 years before, the Romans “in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” Dan. 9:27, for from the month of February, A.D. 66, about which time Vespasian entered on this war, to this very time, was just three years and a half. See Bishop Lloyd’s Tables of Chronology, published by Mr. Marshall, on this year. Nor is it to be omitted, what very nearly confirms this duration of the war, that four years before the war began, was somewhat above seven years five months before the destruction of Jerusalem, 5.3.’
So much for history. Did the Messianic Community participate in these sacrifices even after Yeshua died? Consider this commentary to Hebrews 10:8-10, and again at 15-18:
‘Notice that God does not take away the Torah; rather he takes away the first system of sacrifices and priesthood in order to set up the second within the framework of the one eternal Torah. Moreover, it is not necessary to suppose that this “taking away” prohibits all animal sacrifices by the Levitical priesthood. The author’s point relates to only the sin offering: “an offering for sins is no longer needed” (Heb. 10:15-18) because the second sin offering system is effectual in a way that the first never was (Heb. 10:10, 9:11-15). The other animal sacrifices and the Levitical priesthood could be continued without eclipsing the preeminent role of Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice and eternal high-priesthood. Even the sin-offering ritual could theoretically be continued, but only if it were regarded as a memorial and not as effective in itself. Just as it was never more than “a shadow” (Heb. 10:1), so now, if it should be resumed (which would presuppose the rebuilding of the Temple at some future time; see 2 Thess. 2:4), it could not be more than a reminder of the great deliverance provided in Yeshua’s death as our final and permanently effective sin offering and his resurrection as our cohen gadol.
‘Having God’s Torah written in one’s heart and mind necessarily implies that God has forgiven one’s sins, so that an offering for sins is no longer needed. Therefore the readers of this sermon should free themselves from their compulsion to offer animal sacrifices as sin offerings and instead be fully assured of the sufficiency of Yeshua’s sacrifice of himself on their behalf. We moderns have no such compulsion, but we too should be convinced of the necessity of blood sacrifice for sin while having assurance that Yeshua’s blood sacrifice fulfills that requirement. With this, the author’s major argument is completed. But the author is very specific in limiting what he says. An offering for sins is no longer needed and is ruled out. But the other sacrificial offerings remain part of God’s order even after Yeshua’s death, as provided by Sha’ul’s activity in the Temple at Acts 21:26 and his own offering of sacrifices which he himself speaks of at Acts 24:17. With the destruction of the Temple, sacrificial offerings became impossible; but if the Temple is rebuilt, thank offerings, meal offerings, and praise offerings may be offered once again. The author of this letter does not proclaim the end of the sacrificial system in its entirety, only the end of animal sacrifices for sins.’
Q: Will the sacrifices ever return?
A: According to a p’shat understanding of the last dozen or so chapters in Ezekiel, yes.
A: According to these passages sacrifices will be enforced during the Millennial reign of Messiah.
Q: How does that work?
A: When a Jewish person comes to believe in HaShem through His Messiah, Yeshua, he no longer interprets Judaism the way he used to. His new way of thinking is permeated by what was accomplished on the execution stake. To be sure, the Ruach HaKodesh makes this a reality in his mind. Consequently, all sin offerings, whether while the Temple was still standing, or when it will be rebuilt, find their meaning in the historical reality of the “once and for all” sacrifice of Yeshua.
Messiah accomplished the atonement for sin, and we should not confuse the issue with regards to additional sacrifices. Commandments, whether performed out of obedience, or remembrance, are still valid commandments. We understand that the Torah of HaShem is eternal. Additionally, the latter part of the book of Ezekiel discusses some of the sacrificial activities of the Millennium period; offerings for sin are addressed. Once again, if we settle the issue within ourselves as believers, once and for all, that the participation in such an offering can be applied as a memorial, then I don’t see a problem with the sacrifices in the Millennium.
For further study, read: Leviticus chs. 16, 17; Numbers 29:7-11; Isaiah 57:14-58:14; Jonah 1-4; Micah 7:18-20; Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews chs. 7-10.
Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy firstname.lastname@example.org
 Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud (Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), CD-ROM.
 David Kantrowitz, The Soncino Midrash Rabbah (The Soncino Press, Ltd., Judaica Press, Inc. Brooklyn, NY, 1984), CD-ROM.
 Tanach, (Stone Edition, ArtScroll Series, Mesorah Publications), p. 243.
 Brown, Driver, Briggs (BDB), rpk.
 NIDOTTE, 2:692-93.
 Tim Hegg, The Meaning of rpk, torahresource.com (http://www.torahresource.com/Parashpdfs/kafarstudy.pdf), p.1.
 Tim Hegg, The Meaning of rpk, torahresource.com (http://www.torahresource.com/Parashpdfs/kafarstudy.pdf), p 2.
 Ibid, p. 5.
 First Fruits of Zion, Weekly eDrash: The Daily Continual Burn Offering (http://ffoz.org/resources/edrash/tetzaveh/the_daily_continual_burnt_offe.php).
 Jacob Milgrom, The JPS Torah Commentary to Numbers (Jewish Publication Society, 1990), p. 240.
 Baruch A. Levine, The JPS Torah Commentary to Leviticus (Jewish Publication Society, 1989), p. 18.
 Leviticus 4:2, 22, 27; 5:15, 18; 22:14.
 Baruch A. Levine, The JPS Torah Commentary to Leviticus (Jewish Publication Society, 1989), p. 18.
 Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud (Hendrickson Publishers, 2005 CD-ROM).
 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward Rediscovering The Old Testament (Zondervan, 1991), pp. 133-135.
 Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud (Hendrickson Publishers, 2005 CD-ROM).
 Flavius Josephus, The War of the Jews, Translated by William Whiston (Dent/Everyman, 1928), Book 6, Chapter 2.
 David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (JNTC Publications, 1996), pp. 704-705.