If you cannot afford two doves or two pigeons, you shall bring two pounds of flour as a sin offering. You shall not put any olive oil or any incense on it, because it is a sin offering, not a grain offering. You shall bring it to the priest, who will take a handful of it as a token that it has all been offered to the Lord, and he will burn it on the altar as a food offering. It is an offering to take away sin. In this way the priest shall offer the sacrifice for your sin, and you will be forgiven. The rest of the flour belongs to the priest, just as in the case of a grain offering.
— Leviticus 5:11‭–‬13 GNT

If flour can be accepted, why did Jesus have to die for the wicked?

  • 3
    Since it seems no one has mentioned (noticed?)... flour is the main component in bread. Bread is the symbol for Christ's body. That flour is the alternative for those unable to offer blood is probably no mere coincidence!
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 2:30
  • hm.. indeed. but the context still remains as it is... blood to atone for sin isnt a must and jesus doesnt need to die on a cross
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 6:14
  • 2
    @VNPython The only blood acceptable is Jesus Christ's. Jesus most certainly had to die. e.g. "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.", Heb 4:10 "Since we have now been justified by His blood", Rom 5:9
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 13:36
  • 4
    No, flour is insufficient. Blood (at least in the sense of "just any blood" is insufficient. The OT rituals are not actually enough to atone for sin. I don't feel the need to post a full Answer, as the others are sufficient, but your premise is wrong.
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 14:07
  • 1
    ...and you haven't read the answers?
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 15:20

11 Answers 11


From a Christian viewpoint, the Jewish sacrificial system was a metaphor pointing to Christ's sacrifice as the ultimate fulfilment. The concessions concerning what was acceptable to offer in sacrifice were to not place an undue burden on the poor. No sacrifice made by people, whether of rams or goats or grain, removed the necessity of Christ dying for our sins. They just pointed to it.

Each of the Levitical sacrifices tells part of the story of redemption, not the whole.

The necessity of Christ's sacrifice and the inadequacy of all others is expressed in Hebrews 10:1-7:

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. 2 Otherwise, 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. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’ "

A New Covenant

Part of the confusion seems to stem from the covenantal nature of the sacrificial system. The offer to forgive sins if the ritual sacrifices were performed was contingent upon keeping the first covenant, made in the time of Moses. That covenant was broken, so that promise was voided. The basis for forgiveness is now the new covenant in Christ's blood.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Here is where Jesus proclaimed the new covenant:

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-27)

  • the text did clearly says 'you will be forgiven' and if so, that why i couldn't think why jesus has to shed the blood? something isnt right... logically...
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 14:12
  • 1
    You must take into consideration all of the Bible. I added a quote from Hebrews 10. One could also find similar analysis of the place of the Law in the writings of Paul, such as Romans, Galatians, or 1 & 2 Timothy. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 14:27
  • 2
    @VNPython says "something isn't right... logically". Compare the situation with a child that has broken a window. What happens next depends on the parent, but whatever it is the child will soon be forgiven for what happened. Even so, in the bigger picture the window is still broken, and someone still has to pay for that. The child can't, so the parent does. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 15:58
  • @RayButterworth i recall this verse from Ezekiel // The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4 GNT // hence your window example wouldnt be valid: the child still have to be responsible!
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 5:19
  • 3
    @VNPython The manner of forgiveness is what resolves the difference. The OT sacrifices forgave the individual in the sense that they didn't have to die in this life under the physical punishments prescribed by the OT law; it did not however remove the guilt we all must bear for our sins before God in the final judgement. Only Jesus' blood can do that, through our faith in him.
    – bob
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 17:25

Blood, flour, or whatever was offered in the temple didn't "actually" take away sin. It was faith directed toward God in participation of the process that God had instituted which covered sin until the promised One had come.

The process is no longer faithful temple worship. The process is now belief in the Son of God unto new birth. It has always and only ever been the shed blood of Jesus Christ which takes away sin. Before He came and died it was faith in the promise and now it is faith in the actuality.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, shed his blood at a specific temporal point on earth but, in God's eternal economy the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. All of the forgiveness available through repentance, prayer, temple ritual, etc. is based upon the shed blood of the Son of God.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. - John 1:29

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:14-15

  • 1
    it seem that you didnt read or miss this sentence: 'and you will be forgiven'. of course you're right that one should be sincere and truly repentance then God will forgive with just that...
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 6:18
  • 1
    Psalm 32. Yes, there is forgiveness in the OT but it is not brought about by anything other than the shed blood of Christ promised from the very beginning (Gen. 3:15). The temple sacrifices were instituted as imperfect signifiers of the perfect which was to come. God was able to forgive in the OT because He foreknew that Jesus would make atonement (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Think about why Moses was commanded to lift up a bronze image of what was killing the people. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 12:05
  • 1
    @VNPython "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." This speaks of an individual not a collective. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 12:48
  • 1
    @VNPython Two verses later we read, "And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him. Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 13:41
  • 1
    Clearly the nation of Israel is not in view. How can Israel bring Jacob back to God or raise up the tribes of Judah or restore the preserved of Israel? No, the Servant in view here is the Messiah and the New Testament reveals Jesus Christ as that Messiah. He will restore the preserved of Israel when and if they turn to Him. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 13:44

To quote from Dr Brown's Answering Jewish Objections book series:

CLAIM: Orthodox Jewish interpreters often argue that the NT authors often overemphasize the importance of blood sacrifices in the OT. In particular, the author of Hebrews writes, “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Is this true, or does the OT offer other means of forgiveness besides blood sacrifice?

RESPONSE: Blood sacrifices were central to religious worship in the book of Genesis (e.g. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob). In the book of Exodus, the center of the Passover was a blood sacrifice (Ex. 12:13), and Moses later ratified the covenant by sprinkling blood on the people (Ex. 24:5-8). Moreover, the first reference to annual atonement in the Bible mentions the necessity of blood—not prayer or repentance or good deeds (Ex. 30:10).
ARGUMENT #3: Psalm 141:2 states that PRAYER replaces blood sacrifices.

RESPONSE: David writes, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Ps. 141:2). However, this statement does not replace blood atonement. David is merely making an analogy regarding his prayer life—not a complete overhaul of blood atonement sacrifices. The original meaning had nothing to do with replacing blood sacrifice with prayer.

ARGUMENT #4: Leviticus 5:11-13 states that FLOUR replaces blood sacrifices.

RESPONSE: Verse 12 explains that the flour was added to the blood already on the altar. Moreover Brown writes, “Nowhere is it written that ‘the flour will make atonement’ or that ‘the life of a creature is in the flour.’ Rather, the whole basis for atonement was in the sacrificial blood on the altar, and through a flour offering, even poor Israelites could participate in the atoning power of the altar.”

Also read detailed quotes and explanations from the Jewish sources refuting the Jewish modern objection against the whole sacrificial system, here on biblestudying.net. Moreover, note that the red wine at the Passover Seder symbolizes blood:

This point about the slaughtered children is also mentioned in the Ohr Zaruah, Vol. II, Siman 256 (Left column, bottom quarter) and he adds two other symbolic cases of blood. He writes:

יין אדום זכר לדבר שהיה פרעה שוחט תינוקות כשנצטרע ועוד זכר לדם פסח ולדם מילה

Red wine as a remembrance for Pharoah who slaughtered the babies (and bathed in their blood) when he was suffering with leprosy. And furthermore, it is a remembrance for the blood of the Korban Pesach (the Paschal Lamb) and the blood of milah (circumcision).

  • i think you just copied pasted without actually reading the passage: 'if you cannot afford' (aka no money to buy animal) so where is the blood 'added' on the flour?🤔
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 6:21
  • Flour was added to the blood that poor also contribute in the offering through flour. Blood from animals offered by others, not the poor.
    – Michael16
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 6:58
  • 1
    i dont see or read that other's sacrificial stuff is shared across. if so, then the poor just need to stand near / or within certain distance to piggyback and gets forgiven. unless you can provide a verse(s) to support your claim.
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 12:45
  • The altar of sacrifice is always bloody, so the flour is just added and burnt into it symbolically, the rest of the flour is a meal offering. It is just a means to symbolically join in the sacrifices for forgiveness. Blood always remains the only key means of atonement, as you can read from the biblestudying link. It is obvious that flour cannot replace it, but it's only a provision for the poor.
    – Michael16
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 14:30

The idea that "without shedding of blood there is no remission from sin" is a Christian concept expressed in Hebrews 9:22.

According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Traditional Christian theology teaches that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Sin brought death into the world, and God sent Jesus to die so that people can be reborn into eternal life. Since "the is no remission without the shedding of blood," Jesus became a the sacrificial lamb for the sins of all humankind.

However, Jews do not share the attitude that blood must be shed for a person to be forgiven of sin. The OP rightly cites Leviticus 5:11‭-‬13 as one example. It should also be noted that in Leviticus 6, the person also had to make restitution to the one who had been wronged. The Christian sense of atonement has more to do with the concept of original sin, which brought death into the world, rather than specific sins against other people. Another example is found in Leviticus 16, where the scapegoat is offered as a living offering:

The goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness... The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

Even in the New Testament, the ritual of purification performed by John the Baptist was characterized in the gospels as a means of obtaining remission from sin with no bloodshed:

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3)

More important for Jews, since the Temple was destroyed in 70 c.e., Jews have not ben able to avail themselves of receiving God's forgiveness through sacrificial offerings. Prayer and repentance are now seen as sufficient, even without making offerings in the Temple. The holiday of Yom Kippur is especially significant in this context:

According to tradition, prayer and fasting on Yom Kippur will provide forgiveness for those offenses committed against God, [but] not against other people. ...Yom Kippur is a day of repentance and reconciliation for Jews and is held on the tenth day of the tenth month in the Jewish calendar—in September or October. The ten days leading up to Yom Kippur are called the Ten Days of Repentance, and during this time Jews are encouraged to seek out anyone they might have offended and to sincerely request forgiveness. ( from "the Jewish Concept of Sin")

Ultimately the issue boils down to a matter of doctrine. Christians believe that shedding blood is necessary for the remission of sins. Jews do not.

  • if NT is 'part 2' of OT, and is not inline with the OT's teachings or concept, shouldnt be NT as standalone of OT? i believe jewish people still seek forgiveness by just sincere repentance (truly of course) and not following the NT since technically blood isnt a must as flour 'also' can do... 😬
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 14:23
  • @VNPython, Believing that the NT can stand on its own is why so many people don't understand it and misinterpret it. One can't understand it without first understanding the OT. The NT is simply a continuation of the OT, supplying the spiritual meaning that underlies so much of the teachings of the OT and fulfilling many of its prophesies. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 16:03
  • 1
    I don't think that's a good argument. Blood is always being shed for sin through the other offerings. It's just an accommodation for the very poor. As for John's baptism, it's a sign of faith, but not the means of propitiation, as explained in Romans 3:21-26. Everyone who is saved, from Adam to the last human, is saved by the work of Christ.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 23:14
  • @RayButterworth Absolutely. Also, people insisting that the NT requires the OT to interpret is why so many people don't understand the NT. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 0:57
  • 1
    "Ultimately the issue boils down to a matter of doctrine. Christians believe that shedding blood is necessary for the remission of sins. Jews do not." Doesn't it ultimately boil down to which doctrine represents truth? I mean, atonement doesn't happen based upon how fervently a doctrine is believed but upon which doctrine is correct, right? Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 1:18

Turtledoves, pigeons, or flour are only conditionally acceptable:

7 “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.

11 “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.

Lesser sacrifices, like flour are acceptable only if one cannot afford the other. Since God can meet any requirement, for Him flour would not be an acceptable offering.

The principle which considers a lesser offering acceptable works in the other direction as well. Since God owns it all, a lamb fails as a true value offering.

God's best is Himself in accordance with the principle given in Leviticus.


17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9

The flour offering is an exception. God showed His great mercy to the dirt poor. But to be able to offer the flour, the altar had to be first purified and sanctified. With what? Blood. And it was then annually repurified by blood again on Yom Kippur. So when one came to offer his/hers flour, the blood was already on the altar.

14 And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering. 15 And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it. Leviticus 8

15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: 16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. 18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an 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. 19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. Leviticus 16

The altar, the animals, the blood, the tenth part of an epha (one omer) of fine flour... the whole sacrificial system were physical shadows and pictures of spiritual things in Christ. ”Without shedding of blood is no remission”. Just like the author of Hebrews says.

  • if what you said is true, what happen when the temple is gone like as of today? Israelites never got forgotten? and when at the end days, Ezekiel's last temple is rebuild, and sacrifice resumed, then the jesus death is wasted?
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 6:54
  • God newer wanted the temple. He told that to David in 2 Samuel 7. In Isaiah 66:1-2 He says the same. Stephen in Acts 7:47-51 repeats Isaiah's words as a proof of Israel's disobedience. Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 20:30
  • Ezekiel's temple has all kind of hyperlinks with the Jubilee and is probably an allegory of the Messiah. Also, there are other problems with literal interpretation. Passover and Sukkot in Ezekiel have the same sacrifices, which is different from the Torah. Because of that, some ancient rabbis wanted to remove this book from the Tanakh. In the Book of Revelation, many features of the New Jerusalem are based on Ezekiel. Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 20:30
  • John through his gospel shows Jesus as the real temple. John 20:12 shows the place where Jesus' body was put as the true mercy seat (kaporet). Paul in Romans 3:25 calls Jesus the mercy seat (hilasterion), too. Hilasterion in Septuagint is the Greek translation of Hebrew kaporet. Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 20:31
  • long answer short, please read Ezekiel 40 again. as real as it can be. If jesus is the temple, then Ezekiel will be wasting ink and label him as false prophet.
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:57

OP: If flour can be accepted [as a sin offering], why did Jesus have to die [atoning with blood] for the wicked?

There are a number of quantitative problems.

The sin offering of flour only was designed for and would have only covered the very poor. Christ, however, died for the sins of all (Rom 14:9).

In addition to the sin offering, there's the burnt offering, grain offering, burnt offering, ordination offering, and peace offering (Lev 7:37). Flour alone would not suffice for the list of required offerings. Christ's offering covered it all.

There's also the qualitative differences.

The flour offering had to be repeated for each incidence. Christ died once forever.

The Levitical priests offered blood not their own. Christ offered His own.

The annual atonement was also repeated, showing that sins were only covered, not fully forgiven. Christ's offering was done once to permanently pay for our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).

So, to answer the OP, the flour offering was limited, temporary, restricted; it only "worked" for maybe a day or two. Christ's offering covered it all forever.

  • if j die once for all, why Ezekiel says sacrificial will continue when the Jewish Messiah finally arrives? Please read Ezekiel 18 carefully then you understand how God's forgiveness work...
    – VNPython
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 10:33
  • @VNPython Ezekiel prophesied under the terms of the Old Covenant. IF you do all that the LORD commands, then it will be your righteous (Deut 6:25). The New is not like the Old (Jer 31:31-34). Remember your sins no more, thus no need for sacrifice. Please read the New Testament.
    – SLM
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 20:50
  • Hi SLM, there was never a 'old' or a date of expiry to God's law (is forever. Is all over the place inside the Jewish Scripture). The work of roman emperor took Jewish stuff and decided that the Hebrew God should be 3 (just just pagan deities in the greek tradition) instead of ONE and produced the 'new' book for the whole empire to read and become the strong delusion for people seeking the Creator of Heaven and Earth. It is in the history and you can read how NT comes about. Exodus 20 is good reminder for all who wish to get to know the REAL God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    – VNPython
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 0:35

Judaism deals with physical actions and their resulting physical consequences during one's physical life. The sin offerings cancel the immediate physical consequences of sin.

On a larger scale, the entire nation of Israel was chosen to set an example to the world. Whenever the country's leader and the people followed God's laws, they prospered; whenever they didn't they suffered. Most of the historical part of the Hebrew scriptures is a record of the alternating periods of physical prosperity and captivity.

Christianity expands the concept of sin and forgiveness to the spiritual realm, where it is one's thoughts that matter and where the consequences of sin extend into the afterlife.

Depending on each denomination's doctrines, for those that sin there will either be no afterlife or there will be an unpleasant afterlife. The spiritual consequence of sin is physical death, which is symbolized by the shedding of blood.

Those that have sinned are already obliged to die, so only Jesus's undeserved death can be used to pay the cost of their sin.

  • The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4 GNT God said one who sin who will die. you cant have someone die for you...
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 5:35
  • 1
    @VNPython says "you can't have someone die for you". That is the fundamental concept of Christianity. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 13:56
  • If God already said 'one who sin who will die' and the whole Ezekiel 18 having context that everyone will be judged accordingly to their deeds, good or bad. Concept of Christianity is jesus died for the wicked (on behalf). // It is the one who sins who will die. A son is not to suffer because of his father's sins, nor a father because of the sins of his son. Good people will be rewarded for doing good, and evil people will suffer for the evil they do. Ezekiel 18:20 GNT//
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 10:54
  • @VNPython been interesting reading, but you seem to overlook that all creation is corrupted in Adam. It is not about personal guilt, all are needing the ultimate salvation in/through Jesus. That’s the reason Jesus needed to be conceived of a virgin to separate him from inherited sin, enabling a holy and pure beginning as the last Adam. Those ‘forgiven’ as you say are still dead and will remain so until raised in Christ. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27275/… might be useful.
    – steveowen
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 22:46

Offering fine flour is part of the theme in scripture regarding seeds. In short, fine flour is ground-up seed. The implication being that we, as seeds, are broken so that we are acceptable to God. The old man's nature is not acceptable to God. Rather, not until we are broken, yielded, repentant are we then acceptable.

In this particular case, it is not mixed with oil, because oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit throughout scripture.

Good starting references in scripture:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.", Jn 12:24

and, we are all seeds, too:

"But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.", 1 Cor 15:38

Then, the grain offering itself - which is always fine-ground flour:

"Now this is the law of the grain offering: Aaron’s sons shall present it before the LORD in front of the altar. The priest is to remove a handful of fine flour and olive oil, together with all the frankincense from the grain offering, and burn the memorial portion on the altar as a pleasing aroma to the LORD.", Lev 6:14-15

other references to the grain offering all say fine flour. To make fine flour out of grain, which is a seed, you have to crush it and grind it thoroughly.

The analogy is we must have the old nature crushed, killed off,

"We are those who have died to sin;", Rom 6:2

and, many more.

Since the Holy Spirit cannot abide in the presence of un-atoned for sin, oil is not mixed with this fine flour sin offering.

If a person cannot afford a blood offering, God still accepts a repentant heart. Thus, the fine flour offering is acceptable. The implication being God offers forgivenness, atonement not based on our ability, but on the condition of a repentant heart, e.g.

"“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.", Isa 66:2

  • 1
    i must say the link to the wheat (?) and not seed (right?) indeed is new, never heard it anywhere. so u do agree that God looks what's in the heart of men in order to forgive, right?
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 13:19
  • @VNPython, yes. God looks at the heart. The offerings are prophesies that would be the case under a New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, they are physical rituals. But, under the New Covenant they are spiritual/relationship realities. For example, one still has to offer the grain offering: fellowship (all the seeds in one pan, we are commanded to fellowship), mixed with the Holy Spirit, a bit of salt (believers are to be 'salt of the earth') and frankincense (a fragrance of Christ). See Matt 5:18.
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 13:28
  • 1
    I'm getting downvotes with no explanation? "Add citations from reputable sources", isn't scripture a reputable source?
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 1:20
  • Okay, taking a look at this answer now. You're presenting what seems to be a novel allergorical interpretation. There are... seeds of an idea here (pun intended), but it's not very convincing yet. I don't think the idea that the old sinful nature is ground up to make it acceptable is one I've ever seen before; instead it's usually that the old nature is killed, crucified, taken off, etc. But the Gospel says that happens by the Spirit, so if ground flour represents redeemed humans, then why not mix it with oil?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 3:07
  • But the real big problem here is that you've basically completely ignored the actual question: "why is blood needed/why did Jesus have to die for the wicked?"
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 3:08

This chapter of Leviticus deals with unintentional sins. The different sacrifices are for different purposes and it is not valid to lump them all together.

In the earlier verses of Leviticus 5 (vv2-6) we read:

If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty — if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean ... and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness ... even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt; or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything... even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt — when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.

So this is a sin offering, but not only that, it is specifically an atonement for unintentional sin. (Note also that those who can afford it should bring a female lamb or goat, whereas most other sacrifices require a male animal.)

So in fielding this question, we must ask ourselves, was the sacrifice of Jesus an atonement for unintentional sins only? Or does his sacrifice cover much more than that?

There are many parallels drawn in the New Testament between the crucifixion and the various sacrificial rites in the law. There are particularly powerful parallels with the Yom Kippur sacrifice, the 'red heifer' sacrifice, the burnt offering (Hebrews 13 & Leviticus 4), and most obviously the Passover sacrifice.

But before drawing a parallel here we must be aware of what we are comparing. This grain sacrifice, as a concession to the poor to atone for an unintentional transgression of the law, clearly implies a lesser degree of offense than an intentional sin. To my eyes this does not carry a strong enough parallel to the cross so as to present a difficulty.

That the law provides an atonement for unintentional sins does not negate the potency of the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for our intentional sins. In fact, there is no provision at all in the Law for a sacrifice to atone for intentional sin! It is a well understood gap. For this reason Paul writes, "the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). The Law says only that certain sacrifices "cover" sins, but the prophets revealed that Messiah would "remove" them. Most of the discussion in Hebrews is an exploration of this and other similar themes.


The confusion here probably comes a likely misunderstanding of Hebrews 9:22. God does not require blood to forgive sin; this verse is more likely dealing with the initiation of the covenant. So, Jesus'death is not equitable to a sin offering, which were only for unintentional sins anyway, as I understand it. Instead, just as Moses offered the blood of an animal to initiate God's covenant with Israel as they were bought out of slavery to Egypt, Jesus offered his own blood to initiate his new, perfect covenant to buy us out of slavery to sin. This is more than just the forgiveness of sin, it is the mark of God's ownership of us so that we are no longer under the power of sin and death.

This is also why Jesus says to drink his blood and eat his flesh, even though Israel was commanded not to so because life is in the blood. Though he is speaking figuratively or spiritually, the point is clear that he is giving us his own life so we can become one with him. Through Jesus' sacrifice we are more than forgiven, we are set free and made co-heirs with him in a new covenant far superior to the Levitical one which only emphasized the death that sin brings with it.

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    – agarza
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 3:07
  • indeed God of Heaven and Earth does not requires blood to forgive. Read what Nathan said to David when he confront David. Hope you review your beliefs with j and return to God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    – VNPython
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 10:36

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