With the Day of Atonement just last month, and with many of us thinking of Thanksgiving this month, we wanted to present a biblical look at sacrifices for sin, as well as for giving thanks.
Sin offering: The offering depended on the person giving it: For the High Priest or entire “congregation” it was a bull; for a tribal leader, a male goat. Others could give a female goat or lamb; those who were poor could offer doves or pigeons; if very poor, 1/10 ephah of flour. Where the blood was sprinkled also depended on the person: for the High Priest, on the veil covering the Holy of Holies (except on the Day of Atonement, it was sprinkled on the mercy seat). For others the blood was sprinkled in the outer courtyard on the altar of burnt offering. Remaining blood was poured out by the altar of burnt offering and the fat portions burned. If offered for a priest, the rest of the animal was burned outside the camp; if offered for an ordinary person, the priest could eat the remainder.
Guilt offering: Only rams (male lambs) were offered regardless of person. Blood was thrown against the altar of burnt offering; the fat and entrails were burned. The priest could eat the remainder.
Hattat: The most well-known example of the hattat in the Old Testament is in the ceremony of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, found in Leviticus 16. “So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness” (Leviticus 16:16).
Asham: The famous Suffering Servant passage of Isaiah 53, predicting the redemptive ministry of the Messiah, mentions this sacrifice: “When You make His soul an offering for sin . . .” (Isaiah 53:10). The word for “offering” is asham.
Todah: Jonah’s prayer from within the belly of the great fish included a hope of deliverance to be followed by thanksgiving and a sacrifice (todah): “But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). In the following verse, God commands the fish to deposit Jonah onto dry land.
Nedavah: When the Ziphites and King Saul were in hot pursuit of David, David says, “I will freely sacrifice [literally, with a freewill offering I will sacrifice] to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good” (Psalms 54:6). Why is he offering this sacrifice? Because “He has delivered me out of all trouble . . .” (verse 7).