Let me first start by saying, I am a student of the Torah. But I am, by no means, an expert in any way. I have been reading Torah for six years or so and do not have all of it figured out. Period. So, everything I write or say, you need to study out for yourself. Be a Berean. I am reading the Torah daily again and this week’s parsha is Emor. I have read Emor at least six other times… but, as always, I found something this week that I have never seen before… and is the point of this post.. This verse. Leviticus 22:23. Where has this verse been hiding the last six years? Wow… is this a contradiction? Does an offering always have to be perfect? Let’s dive in and see what we can learn here.
First let’s get the various translations of this verse.
(Bishops) A bullocke or a sheepe that hath any member superfluous or lackyng, mayest thou offer for a freewyll offering: but for a vowe it shall not be accepted.
(Geneva) Yet a bullocke, or a sheepe that hath any member superfluous, or lacking, such mayest thou present for a free offring, but for a vowe it shall not be accepted.
(KJV-1611) Either a bullocke, or a lambe that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a free will offring: but for a vow it shal not be accepted.
(KJV) Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
(KJV+) Either a bullockH7794 or a lambH7716 that hath any thing superfluousH8311 or lacking in his parts,H7038 that mayest thou offerH6213 for a freewill offering;H5071 but for a vowH5088 it shall notH3808 be accepted.H7521
(KJVA) Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
(WoY) Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
(The Scriptures 1998+) ‘As for a bull or a lamb that has any limb deformed or dwarfed you do prepare as a voluntary offering, but for a vow it is not accepted.
(NET) As for an ox48 or a sheep with a limb too long or stunted,49 you may present it as a freewill offering, but it will not be acceptable for a votiveoffering.50
(ASV) Either a bullock or a lamb that hath anything superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill-offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
(ESV) You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted.
(YLT) `As to an ox or a sheep enlarged or dwarfed–a willing-offering ye do make it, but for a vow it is not pleasing.
(LBP) A bullock or a lamb which has the ear or the tail cut off you may offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
What I gather from these verses is that indeed there is an offering that can be less than perfect… a freewill offering. But emphasis is placed always on the fact that it is not allowed for a vow. The difference is apparently very important.
What is a vow offering?
Gesenius is my go-to resource usually and he defines it as:
A vow is a promise to God.
What is a freewill offering?
Again, here is Gesenius’ definition:
Freewill is voluntary.
As I study this out, both of these offerings are Peace Offerings. In researching Peace offering, I read that they are unique because it is the only one that provides for a portion of the sacrifice to go to the person offering it. (How cool is that?) Another interesting aspect about the peace offering was that it was placed on top of the burnt offering (Leviticus. 3:5 and Leviticus 6:12).
It appears that Vow offerings were offered only after the vow had been fulfilled. This offering was not given to lure God into helping… it was actually to thank Him!
Jdg 11:30 And Jephthah vowed a vow to the LORD, and said, If thou wilt surely deliver the children of Ammon into my hands,
Jdg 11:31 Then whosoever comes forth of the door of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering.
Vows were voluntary (freewill also), but once they were made, they became obligatory to complete.
Deu 23:21 When you shall vow a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not be slack to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you; and it would be a sin in you.
The freewill offering (or voluntary offering) seems to be one that is spontaneous in nature and expresses thankfulness to God. As we see in Gesenius’ definition above, the Hebrew word actually means spontaneous. Being grateful and thankful. Isn’t it just like our God to make it easy to show that?
I hope I have caused you to dig deeper. To jump in to scripture to see if I’m understanding this right. Please don’t take my word for it and if you understand it differently, please leave a comment for me below. I am teachable 🙂
In the meantime, Shalom!!