No meat offering, which you shall bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for you shall burn no leaven, nor any honey…
After describing the minchah under sundry forms, and before proceeding to the meat offering of the firstfruits, certain notable things are mentioned which the minchah has in common with sacrifices in general. These now claim attention, viz. -
I. THE PROHIBITION OF LEAVEN (verse. 11). The reasons of this appear to be:
1. Because of its fermenting properties.
(1) These, which, under the action of heat, throw the lump into commotion, represent the evil passions of the heart (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). But since the meat offering is taken as a type of Christ, it was most fitting that everything suggestive of these should be excluded. In him was no ferment of anger or discontent when he was subjected to the fiercest fires of the wrath of God (Isaiah 53:7). What an example has he left to us!
(2) By its fermenting properties, leaven tended to reduce substances to corruption. But since our "Bread of Life," our "Firstfruit" of the resurrection, could not "see corruption," because he was the "Holy One," it was most proper that leaven should be absent from his type (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31).
2. That the Hebrews might be reminded of their deliverance from Egypt.
(1) For they were, at the time of the Exodus, so hurried that they had to take their dough as it was without being leavened (Exodus 12:39). It was most salutary to keep alive the remembrance of such mercies as they then experienced, and of the stupendous works with which they were associated.
(2) But since those things were all typical of gospel blessings, so must it be most edifying to us to remember the spiritual bondage and darkness from which we have been emancipated by the hand of that great Prophet "like unto Moses," to whom it is our duty to hearken in preference to him.
II. THE PROHIBITION OF HONEY (verse 11). The reasons of this appear to be:
1. Because honey was a symbol of carnal pleasures.
(1) It was in this light viewed by Philo and by Jerome: and certainly the similitude is apt. Though luscious to the palate, it is bitter to the stomach. Be evermore is sensual gratification (see Proverbs 25:16, 27).
(2) The exclusion of honey from the sacrifices and offerings of the altar will, therefore, convey important morals, viz.
(a) considering these as types of Christ,
(b) considering them also as types of such spiritual sacrifices as we can present acceptably to God through Christ. Another reason may be:
2. Because honey was offered with the abominations of the heathen.
(1) Honey was offered to Bacchus and to the dii superi, the dii inferi, and departed heroes. Hence Orpheus, in beginning his hymns, calls the infernal gods μειλιχιοι θεοι, and the souls of the dead, μελισσαι. The origin of which custom is thus explained by Porphyry, "They made honey a symbol of death; and therefore poured out a libation of honey to the terrestrial gods" (see Brown's 'Antiquities,' volume 1, page 381).
(2) The Hebrews were instructed scrupulously to avoid the customs of the pagans (see Deuteronomy 12:29-31). Let Protestants studiously avoid the abominations of the Romish Antichrist (Revelation 18:4).
(3) Leaven and honey might be offered with the oblation of the firstfruits; but they must not come upon God's altar. This is the teaching of verse 12. The loaves of the firstfruits, which were perquisites of the priests, were even ordered to be baken with leaven (chapter 23:17). So in like manner honey was to be offered to them (2 Chronicles 31:5). There are things which may be lawfully offered to man that may not be offered to God. As leaven and honey mingled with. the bread, even of the priests, so human conversation, at its best, is but imperfect.
III. THE REQUISITION OF SALT (verse 13). The reason of this appears in the many excellent things of which salt was the symbol.
1. It was a symbol of purity.
(1) Hence it is described as "the salt of the covenant of God." The Hebrew term for covenant (ברית, berith) literally signifies purification; and the covenant of God is the gospel which is instituted of God for our purification from sin.
(2) Perhaps it was religiously, viz. in relation to the covenant, rather than for hygienic purposes, that infants were rubbed with salt (see Ezekiel 16:4).
2. It was a symbol of friendship.
(1) The effect of a covenant to the faithful is friendship. So, in token of friendship, the ancient Greeks ate bread and salt together. And the Russian emperors had a custom, derived to them from antiquity, of sending bread and salt from their tables to persons they intended to honour.
(2) The delights of friendship are also set forth in this symbol. The following is rendered by Dr. A. Clarke from Pliny: - "So essentially necessary is salt that without it human life cannot be preserved: and even the pleasures and endowments of the mind are expressed by it; the delights of life, repose, and the highest mental serenity are expressed by no other term than sales among the Latins. It has also been applied to designate the honourable rewards given to soldiers, which are called salarii or salaries. But its importance may be further understood by its use in sacred things, as no sacrifice was offered to the gods without the salt-cake."
(3) But that "conversation" of Christians is best "seasoned" that has the "salt of the covenant" (see Job 6:6; Colossians 4:5, 6).
3. It was a symbol of perpetuity.
(1) This is suggested by its preserving properties. It is used to preserve meat and other things from decomposing. It is in this the very opposite of leaven; so, the reason which includes the one excludes the other.
(2) Hence by the symbol of salt the perpetuity of God's covenant is expressed. Thus, "It is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord" (Numbers 18:19; see also 2 Chronicles 13:5).
(3) Christians, who are the people of the covenant, are the preservers of the earth (see Matthew 5:13). Take the Christians out of the world, and it will rot.
4. The qualities of salt should distinguish all sacrifices.
(1) They do distinguish the Great Sacrifice of Calvary.
(2) All Christian offerings should resemble that. In allusion to the salting of sacrifices preparatory to their being offered up in the flames of the altar, our Lord says," Every one shall be salted with fire," or rather, "salted for the fire," viz. of the altar, "and," or rather, "as every sacrifice is salted with salt" (Mark 9:49, 50). "We may reasonably infer, that as salt has two qualities - the one to season meat, the other to preserve it from corruption; so it fitly denotes that integrity and incorruptness which season every sacrifice, and render men's persons and services grateful to God" (Old Bible). - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.