Leviticus 6:27 (HCSB)
27 Anything that touches its flesh will become holy, and if any of its blood spatters on a garment, then you must wash that garment in a holy place.
This pericope revisits the sin offering, but again, from the priest’s perspective. What strikes me is the fact in this somewhat brief passage, there are three seeming contradictions.
- Lev 6:26 states, “The priest who offers it as a sin offering is to eat it.” Yet, we then read in Lev 6:29 that, “Any male among the priests may eat it; it is especially holy.” So which is it: the priest performing the sacrifice or any priest? It would seem that the prescription in Lev 6:26 is not that the priest must eat the entire offering, but to eat some of it. In that case, it would appear that the sacrificing priest can share the portion with other priests. But, it should be noted that this offering is to only be eaten by the priests, that is unconditional.
- The two types of vessels described as being used for boiling the offering are a play and bronze pot. (Lev 6:28) The seeming contradiction here is the treatment of each after the offering has been cooked: the clay pot is smashed, while the bronze one is washed thoroughly. Why the difference? My thought was that the metal pot would simply be more valuable and harder to produce, thus the reason is simply a practical one. But Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary proposes another thought: “the answer may be that a clay vessel is permeable and the residue of cooking could never be removed completely from it, even by a thorough scrubbing. The ancients knew nothing about microbiology; but God knows all things!” 1 This sounds like perfectly sound reasoning, while also demonstrating God’s providence!
- Lev 6:27 states “anything that touches its flesh will become holy.” Yet, it continues on to say that if any blood gets on a garment, it must be washed in a holy place. Why would the flesh of the offering convey holiness, but the blood cause contamination? If we think about the purpose of each we might see why the different treatment exists. The flesh was too be consumed by the priests, the representatives of a Holy God. The flesh was God’s gift to the priestly order, a holy gift from Him. It would seem that the flesh conveyed a sort of holiness, thus that which it came in contact with took on that property, which, after all, would generally just be the priests. In contrast, the blood of the sacrifice was to make atonement for sin. The blood was not a covering for the priests, it had nothing to do with his atonement. Therefore, it would seem that any blood used “improperly” at best was meaningless, at worst was against God. So it would seem that, since the act of sacrifice surely was accompanied by blood occasionally splattering on garments, God provided a way to remove blood that was not being used as intended.
1 Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), Le 6:28–29.
Lord, thank You for being a perfect God, without blemish or mistake. Even when we might think there are oddities, mistakes, or even contradictions, we can trust that You are higher than our minds and have crafted Your word perfectly. I pray for clarity, to understand Your word, and trust, to have faith even when things are confusing. Amen.