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MEAL-OFFERING:

Name and Early History.

Comprehensive term for all sacrifices from the vegetable world; to designate these in the Old Testament the Hebrew word "minḥah" is used, which, as a probable derivative of the Arabic verb "manaḥ" = "to give" properly signifies "gift" or "present." The desire of offering to God oblations of vegetables or cereals is presupposed in the Bible to be as general a human one as that of pleasing God by animal sacrifices. The earliest example of a meal-offering is undoubtedly the sacrifice that Cain tendered from the fruit of his field (Gen. iv. 3-5). Gideon added to a meatoffering maẓẓot made of an ephah of flour (; Judges vi. 19). Maẓẓot were probably also baked from the flour () that Hannah took to Shiloh (I Sam. i. 24); for it is not likely that flour alone was sacrificed, it being in the unprepared state not an article of human food. A vegetable sacrifice is referred to also in the second member of the phrase (ib. ii. 29, iii. 14). Loaves of bread () were laid before God (ib. x. 3). Mention is made of their being placed in the sanctuary of Yhwh at Nob (ib. xxi. 7). In the term (I Kings xviii. 29, 36) the second member () is added not as a new distinction qualifying this as different from the others or as a fixed regular institution, but merely in view of the preceding fixation of time, "and when midday was past." Leavened bread () likewise was sacrificed (Amos iv. 5). Vegetable sacrifice is also designated as "minḥah" when it is connected with a thankoffering (Amos v. 22), a meat-offering (Isa. xix. 21), or a burnt offering (Jer. xiv. 12; Ps. xx. 2). The foregoing shows that cereal oblations are mentioned only sporadically in the early historical books.

Regulations of the Law.

The Law ordains: (a) as regards the material of the meal-offering that it must consist, except in the case of the jealousy-offering (Num. v. 15), of fine flour (; Lev. ii. 1), oil (ib.), salt (ib. verse 13), and incense (ib. verses 1 et seq., 15 et seq.), while leaven and honey must be kept strictly separate (ib. verse 11), the latter probably because it fermented easily (comp. the Neo-Hebraic ="to ferment," in Dalman, "Aramäisch-Neuhebräisches Wörterb. zu Targum, Talmud, und Midrasch," 1901, p. 86). (b) This material might be offered in the following forms: (a) barley flour () without oil or incense was brought for the socalled jealousy-offering (Num. v. 15); (β) fine flour (), even in its original state, must have oil poured over it, and be sprinkled with incense, the last alone being lighted (Lev. ii. 1-3); (γ) the meal-offering might consist of different kinds of cakes (verses4-7); (δ) the first-fruits of the field were offered in the shape of roasted ears or ground grains of fresh corn (verse 14, where is a later addition; comp. König, "Syntax," § 333 t). It is an interesting detail that the meal-offering which was baked on a flat tin pan () was broken into small pieces (; Lev. ii. 6, vi. 14). (c) The meal-offerings, according to the purposes they served, might be divided into two groups: (a) those offered alone as a substitute in the case of the poor (Lev. v. 11 et seq.) for the sin-offering; as the daily meal-offering ("tamid") of the priests (Ex. xl. 29; Lev. vi. 12-16; comp. I Chron. ix. 31); and as the jealousy-offering (Num. v. 15 et seq.), which "reminds of sin" (comp. the sheaf offered in recognition of the beginning of harvest [Lev. xxiii. 9 et seq.], the loaves of the Feast of Weeks [ib. xxiii. 16 et seq.], and the showbread [ib. xxiv. 5 et seq.]); and (β) meal-offerings added to the animal-offerings. These "musaf" offerings were added to the thank-offering (Lev. vii. 11-13, etc.), to the sacrifice of purification of the Israelites (Lev. ix. 3) and of the lepers (ib. xiv. 10-20), and to the burnt offering (Num. xv. 1-16); and they were combined with a drink-offering. The unqualified statement that the unconsumed portion of the meal-offering should belong to the priests (Lev. ii. 3) refers probably also to the accompanying meal-offerings (comp. Franz Delitzsch in Riehm's "Handwörterb." cols. 1519b, 1520a). Not every burnt offering, however, is to be supplemented by a meal-offering, as Lev. xii. 6 shows.

Bibliography:
  • For the earlier views see Franz Delitzsch, in Speiscopfer, in Riehm's Handwörterb, des Biblischen Alterthums;
  • the later view of the history of vegetable sacrifices is supported by Benzinger, Arch. §§ 62 et seq.;
  • Baentsch, Exodus-Leviticus, in Handkommentar, 1900;
  • Bertholet, Leviticus, in Kurzer Handkommentar, 1901.
E. G. H. E. K.
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