Monthly Archives: March 2013

Torah Portion: Vayikra and Tzav


Vayikra “And he called”  Lev. 1:1-5:26; Tzav “Command” Lev. 6:1- 8:36

I was inspired to do some further research on the sacrificial system after rereading parashot Vayikra and Tzav in the book of Leviticus. Both parashot give instructions for the five basic offerings (korbanot) burned on the Brazen Altar. Although I have studied these “sacrifices” in the past, a thought crossed my mind (lev) that we still lack a great deal of knowledge in this area.

If the foundation of our modern worship is the korbanot, then we should have more than a superficial or cursory understanding of them. If this is how we properly approach our king; if this how we “connect” to our Elohim, then I want to know more… much more. The following is my attempt to seek out these answers.

The Hebrew word tzav means more than to command, charge, or appoint. It also means to “connect”. Therefore, the Sage’s teach that the sacrifices are our connection to YHWH. Most believers in the Messiah have a vague grasp of this because they understand that Messiah died in their place. However, few can explain the significance of the sacrificial system’s various offerings; they are usually brushed over with a quick: “Messiah fulfilled them all” or “Messiah is pictured in each one”. And I don’t disagree with either statement. But, I believe there is more to the story. The ambiguity of the korbanot in the minds of modern believers is there for a reason. The enemy doesn’t want us to see with clarity; because if we did, we’d be more diligent, more careful, more accountable, more merciful, more patient, more loving, and far more thankful!

Since our generation is disconnected[1] from this system and way of life, we often find ourselves perplexed as to why YHWH instituted a seemingly barbaric form of worship. While the instructions for this service appear to be rote and perhaps dull or even gross, in actuality they are Spirit-filled, divine, and glorious. We need only to take ourselves back in time to this glorious act of worship smelling each aroma, feeling the heat from the fire on our faces, listening to the songs and psalms of praise, prayers, chants, and blessings (berachot) that surrounded these most holy rituals.

Each of our senses would be involved in worshiping YHWH. The Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob invites us into His presence with sacrifice; therefore, these ceremonial acts have much to teach us. Keep in mind that the sacrificial system was about life, not death.

Have you ever had an intense meeting with the Spirit of Yah in worship? I know some of my more memorable times in the Spirit involved physical elements. The sweet smell and feel of anointing oil on my skin, worship music and singing in the room that pricks my heart, the mumble of prayers echoing throughout the room that reminds me of our unity, the flutter of dancers engaged in worship leaping before YHWH, a gentle spiritual wind whisking around the room that causes my skin to goose bump, the warmth of the love of Yah that causes tears of joy and the desire to repent all at once…  I could go on (and I’m sure you could too).

My point is that these physical elements help us to see past our flesh and into the spirit. I can only imagine what it would have been like to see the blood, smell burning flesh, or feel the heat from the ever-burning fire on the Altar. Or to see the priest acting in my behalf! While some will argue that these elements were a mere shadow, I heartily disagree. The disciples experienced both. Paul experienced both. They constantly use the imagery of the Temple rituals as a guide in how we are to live. While most New Testament (Brit Chadashah) books were being written, the Temple still stood and sacrifices were still being made. We have record of Paul/Saul participating in them! (Acts 21:26-7)

My hope is to take us back there in order to experience the Tabernacle and Temple in all their fullness. If Yeshua is pictured in and is the fulfillment of these sacrifices, then I want to experience that. I want to know what it truly means for Him to be my sacrifice. I want to know what it truly means for Him to be my High Priest (Kohen HaGadol). I also want to understand why different sacrifices were required for different things and how Yeshua fulfills each one. You see, I can say that He is all these things to me, but that is figurative thinking and speaking; it’s not concrete. I can’t grab onto it. But, an unblemished animal I can touch. Blood, I can see. Burning flesh, I can smell. Berachot (blessings) and songs, I can hear. Sinking my teeth into charred meat, I can taste.

Although the idea of animal sacrifice may be revolting to you, our Messiah’s sacrifice was far more horrendous and we are meant to experience Him through each of the sacrifices with our senses. We can touch, see, smell, hear, and taste Him. One of the reasons the korbanot were instituted was so that we could know how to do just that. Let’s find out why.


It is impossible to understand the korbanot (sacrifices) without first understanding the biblical meaning of atonement. Many of you have heard that atonement makes us “at-one-ment” with God. And this is mostly true, but we need to know why. The idea of a korban being something that draws us near or connects us with the Creator is the key to atonement, propitiation, and redemption. Truly the price for coming near to a holy and righteous God is death. It is expensive. It will cost us something; it will cost us everything.

The Hebrew word for atonement is kaphar. While it does denote forgiveness of sin and removal of guilt, it also implies a “covering.” This covering was even required for the Tabernacle, its furnishing, the altar, and the priesthood. This wasn’t a covering for sin, but more of a shield of protection. After all, our Elohim (God) is a consuming fire! (Dt. 4:24)

Therefore, in order for a worshipper to “draw near” or “connect” with YHWH, a kaphar is required. Getting close to YHWH is dangerous! Our fragile flesh and blood bodies cannot survive the presence of a Holy God. We need a substitute.

This idea of covering in the Hebrew word kaphar is clearly seen in the fact that many sacrifices were brought voluntarily by a joyful worshipper, not as a ransom for life. I hope to show the reader that the sacrificial system was more than a means of expiation. It was and is worship. This shows us that even our modern worship should cost us something. It, too, is a sacrifice. Yet, this does not negate the fact that sin also requires bloodshed. At the heart of the korbanot is the awareness that we stand guilty and indebted to YHWH.

However, we must understand that sacrifices were not brought as a means for the Israelites (or us) to attain salvation. As the Book of Hebrews teaches, they could not and did not clear a sinner’s conscience nor were they intended to remove sin. Many mistakenly believe that before the death and resurrection of Yeshua, people were forgiven and “saved” by the sacrificial system. But if this were the case, Yeshua died needlessly. His sacrifice would be regulated to the convenience. In other words, we simply would no longer have to go through the trouble of offering animals. Yeshua’s sacrifice is infinitely more than that!

As we progress through the korbanot it will become abundantly clear that there wasn’t a sacrifice for intentional or willful sin. The ancient Rabbis also attest to this. They, like we, understand that only faith and repentance can sanctify or cleanse our spirit. Yeshua is not only our sacrifice for willful sin, but He is our covering. His blood is our shield of protection that we may “draw near” to our Holy Elohim. Yeshua is our High Priest and as such, He makes the perilous Way to the Father safe for all who believe. This was the point of the writer of the Book of Hebrews.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

The korbanot will open our eyes to the richness that is found in our Mashiach. His roles will come to life as we enter into the heavenly form of worship through sacrifice.


Most scholars teach that there are five basic categories of korbanot: olah, mincha, shlamim, chatat, and asham. We will explore each briefly. Some commentator’s condense these categories into three. Rabbi David Forman does so HERE in his wonderful exposition on Vayikra. One important fact to remember as we proceed is that all sacrifices were offered with salt.


Korban Olah (Burnt Offering) is the most basic of all the offerings. It is unique because it is the only offering completely dedicated to YHWH. The offering wasn’t for sin or guilt. The person who offers an Olah receives nothing in return. No meat, no expiation, no purification. As the word Olah suggests, it is a “rising” or “that which rises.” Thus, the olah is mystically connected resurrection. with It is completely consumed by the continual flames of the Brazen Alter. The smoke from this sacrifice would be immense as the fat, bone, and flesh char completely on the Alter. This smoke would rise into the heavens as a sweet savor before YHWH. Only the skins were reserved and they were for the priest (mediator) that performed the act. (Lev. 7:8)

More than any other sacrifice, the Olah represents complete surrender to YHWH. This unfettered devotion is a selfless portrait of one wholly dedicated to YHWH. In other words, a “tzaddik” or “righteous” person. A tzaddik has turned his or her will over to the Almighty. This is the picture Paul paints in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”.

The animal took the place of the offerer; it was his substitute. Because we are blemished and unfit to enter into the presence of our King, an unblemished animal is offered in our stead. Most often the Olah was a freewill offering made by a person that desired to become closer to YHWH. Ancient tradition tells us that the person offering an Olah did so with great joy. It would be offered with song, berachot (blessings), music, prayer, and worship.[2] We need to understand that this sacrifice had nothing to do with punishment or sin. The bringer experienced fulfillment and communion with Elohim.

There are some key points to remember about the Olah offering.

  • It is a free-will offering.
  • It is totally consumed by fire, save the hides (which were given to the priests and used for leather and parchment; ancient Torah scrolls were recorded on such skins.)
  • There were 2 types: 1) For the individual 2) For the community [The 2 lambs offered every morning and every evening were Olah offerings]
  • This offering had to be slaughtered by the individual and then offered by the priest, but not before the offerer had laid hands on the head of the animal (save if it were a bird, but the principle remained the same) as a transference of identity. The animal represented the offerer. The Hebrew word for “laying on of hands,” implies an act of leaning, not a mere touching.
  • The type of animal offered was according to wealth, but all tiers required an unblemished animal: a bull, a male goat or sheep, or a turtledove or young pigeon. YHWH respected all heartfelt offerings the same. A rich man’s bull was no better than the poor man’s pigeon. All animals were male offerings.
  • This offering was a “soothing aroma” to YHWH.
  • None of this offering was eaten.
  • Blood must touch the altar.

Korban Mincha (Grain Offering) is a bloodless offering. It was made from fine flour, olive oil, and frankincense, and it was always unleavened. This was the least expensive korbanot and was offered voluntarily. I personally find the Mincha offering the most intriguing. Tradition teaches that this offering was brought by the poorest of the poor as a type of Olah, though in reality it is a different offering altogether. If blood is an essential part of the korbanot ritual as the representation of the offerer’s life, then how does this soulless (bloodless) offering make kaphar (atonement)?

Moreover, the Torah appoints Mincha offerings to be brought with every Olah and Shalem (peace) offering (including the daily [tamid] offering of two lambs), and with every festival offering. Within the Holy Place, the Table of Showbread displayed a continual Mincha offering. These Mincha offerings also included a wine libation. Are you beginning to see the Father’s table described in the Mincha?

Bread is picture or idiom for life. When we combine the Mincha (bread) with the wine offering, we see that the altar is YHWH’s table! If we add the element of salt, the picture of covenant is unmistakable! Sharing a meal in ancient times was an intimate affair. Sharing “salt” placed one in covenant with another. Your life became as the one you partook with, and his life became as yours. The Mincha offering is all about relationship – an intimate and loving one.

While the offerer didn’t partake of the Mincha, the priests did. In Hebrew, it is called “kadosh kadoshor a thing most holy of the offerings to YHWH by fire. (Lev. 2:10) This designation meant that it could only be consumed by a son of Aaron, and within the confines of the Tabernacle or Temple courtyard. Most often this offering was baked before being offered to prevent natural leavening from taking place. It was then broken into pieces and a memorial portion was burned completely as sweet aroma to YHWH. The fact that the Mincha was smeared with oil means it was essentially anointed!

Here are the key points to remember about the Mincha.

  • This is a Most Holy Offering.
  • This is a voluntary offering.
  • The memorial portion was burned completely as sweet aroma to YHWH.
  • It was offered with olive oil and frankincense.
  • No leaven or sweetener, such as honey, could be offered with a Mincha. The only exception is the 2 baked leavened loaves of wheat offered on Shavuot (Pentecost).
  • The Olah and Shalem offerings require a Mincha offering to accompany them.
  • Minchot were offered with wine libations; this pictures for us YHWH’s table and Covenant.
  • Mincha is about relationship.
  • Portion must touch the altar.

Korban Shelamim (Peace Offering) is also a voluntary offering. These offerings could be brought for thanksgiving, to fulfill vows, or simply to rejoice before YHWH. Peace offerings are most often associated with celebration. They had nothing to do with sin or purification. However, some were required such as the Pesach lamb or the ram offered at the ordination of a priest. The animal offered could be male or female. The offerer laid hands on the animal and slaughtered it just like the Olah.

Unlike the Olah, the whole animal is not burned. The fat on the entrails, the two kidneys with their fat, the lobe of the liver, and the fat-tails from the flocks are all burned completely on the altar. The rest of the animal was shared between the offerer and the priest (the priest gets the breast and the right thigh). It is not a “most holy” offering, so the priest could share it with his family and the offerer could do the same. However, anyone that partook of it had to be in a state of ritual purity; otherwise, it was a sin to consume it.

This is the only korbanot from which the offerer receives a portion. Thus, we can see that the Shelamim is a fellowship meal between YHWH, the priests, and the offerer. Hence, some English translations call the Shelamim a “Fellowship” offering. As stated earlier, a Mincha and wine libation were always offered with the Shelamim.

While the Mincha pictures YHWH’s table and covenant relationship, it was lived out vicariously through a mediator, the priest. In the Shelamim, the average person physically participated by sitting, eating, and drinking in a covenantal meal with the priest and the Almighty. Anyone could share in this celebration. There can be no coincidence that Yeshua is our Pesach (Passover Lamb), a type of Shelamim offering!

Interestingly, any remaining flesh from a Shelamim had to be burned completely on the third day. As our Pesach Shelamim, Yeshua’s body was raised to life on the third day before any decay came to His flesh.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (Eph. 2:14)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Rom. 5:1)

Here are the key points to remember about the Shelamim.

  • Shelamim is a free will offering.
  • This is the ONLY offering that the offerer could partake of.
  • Only certain portions were burned completely; it is a sweet aroma to YHWH.
  • Offerings were appointed according to wealth, but could be male or female from the herd or flocks (sheep or goats).
  • This was an offering of celebration, not expiation for sin.
  • Offerer and family/friends had to be in a state of ritual purity to consume.
  • Left-overs were burned on third day.
  • In Lev. 3: 16-17, where the Shelamim is described, it says that, “all fat is YHWH’s” and that we are “not to consume any fat or any blood,” this is an everlasting commandment.
  • Blood must touch the altar.

Korban Chatat (Sin Offering) is unlike the Olah, Mincha, or the Shelamim. This type of korban was a required sacrifice brought by the offerer to restore relationship with YHWH. The only type of sins that could be rectified by Chatat offerings were those committed unintentionally or in ignorance.

If there had been a sacrifice for willful sin this would imply that the Sin Offering was a penalty for the sin. If you really wanted to sin, you could buy a goat, confess your sin on its head, and then slaughter it for the altar. And then, POOF!, you’d be magically clean again. This twisted way of thinking is likely why the early Catholic Church “sold” indulgences. But the truth is that the Sin or Chatat offering was NOT a penalty for sin – willful or not. Willful sin has always had the same remedy: REPENT!

Sin committed in ignorance could encompass the entire nation or one individual. For example, a leader, judge, or king could legislate that it is lawful to worship at a high place. Later, it could be discovered (by reading the Torah) that this is was a sin. This type of “ignorant” sin is the essence of the Chatat offering. Likewise, an individual may commit a sin by breaking a commandment in ignorance. Perhaps he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He is guilty of sin, though it was involuntary. A Chatat is required of him.

The Chatat is also required in some areas that seem to deal with purification and not sin. For example, a woman after childbirth, a nazarite that comes in contact with a dead body, or one that completes his vow, and a leper that has been cleansed all must bring a Chatat offering. None of those mentioned have committed a sin, so a Chatat cannot be understood as merely an offering for sin. Ritual uncleanliness or defilement is not a sin. It is impossible to avoid becoming “unclean.” This is human nature. Therefore, the Chatat has a cleansing purpose for the “flesh.” Scripture is clear that sin makes one “unclean,” but this is more than simple ritual impurity, for it also affects us spiritually. The Chatat offering appears to be one of several purification rites, but its emphasis is on the flesh. It is as though the offerer is “cleansed” by offering the Chatat.

The procedures for the Chatat offering are detailed and share many similarities and differences with the Olah and Mincha offerings. If the offering is for the priest or the entire congregation, then a male bull is offered. If the offering is for a king, then a male goat is offered. And if the offering is for a common person, a female goat or lamb is offered. The blood is sprinkled 7 times onto the veil in the holy place and then it is applied to the horns of the altar of incense if it is an offering of the priest or for all Israel. But, the blood is applied to the horns of the brazen altar if it is offered by a king or common person. The remainder of the blood is poured out at the base of the altar in each case.

While the choice fats are burned on the altar in every case, the procedure for the remains of the animal vary depending on who the sacrifice represents. If it is an offering for a priest or the whole congregation of Israel, then no part of the animal (or grain) is eaten; it is taken outside the camp and burned. But, if the offerer is a king or an individual, the remaining meat is eaten by the priests within the courtyard.

I cannot help but to wonder why the offering for a priest or all Israel is burned “outside” the camp. My mind immediately jumps to the fact that our Mashiach died “outside” the camp or the Temple proper. I understand that his “blood” most certainly cleanses us from sin. In this, He is a Chatat offering for “all Israel.”

Interestingly, the Chatat didn’t necessarily have to be an animal. In other words, “blood” could be substituted with grain in the case of extreme poverty. Like the Mincha, fine flour was used, but it was not accompanied with oil or frankincense. Whether it was an animal or a grain, it was considered “kadosh, kadosh” or most holy.

The key points of the Chatat are below.

  • It is a most holy offering.
  • It is a mandatory sacrifice.
  • It is NOT called a sweet aroma.
  • Though it is called a “sin” offering, it was for involuntary sin or sin committed in ignorance.
  • Certain circumstances of ritual uncleaniness required that a Chatat be offered. (Like childbirth, a cleansed leper, or a fulfilled nazerite vow.)
  • An animal or grain could be offered.
  • Blood was placed on the horns of the altar (of incense or brazen depending on the offerer).
  • Blood was sprinkled on the veil seven times in the case of a priest offerer or for all Israel.
  • The remainder of the animal was burned “outside” the camp in the case of a priest or all Israel.

Korbanot Asham (Guilt/Trespass Offering) is the last of the five major sacrifice categories. The word Asham means trespass, guilt, sin, or offense. The root word of Asham, Shem, means name, breath, or character. A man’s name is who he is, what he stands for or represents. It is his “breath.” In Hebrew thought, a man’s breath is akin to his spirit. Therefore, we can see that Asham implies the disposition, temperament, or “spirit” of a person when it is offensive.

We are told that the Asham shares the exact same laws as the Chatat offering (Lev. 7:7). In other words, they are the same sort of sacrifice. Many scholars believe that the Asham is a subclass of the Chatat offering that requires a payment or restitution along side of the sacrifice. For example, if a man forgot to bring in the first fruits offering, which were reserved for the priests, he not only committed sin but contracted guilt. This required more than a sacrifice; he also must make restitution by adding a fifth part (20%), which was given to the priests, and then atonement would be offered in his behalf.

Other areas that required an Asham were in cases of theft, perjury, or any situation where damages were deemed necessary. Full repayment plus one fifth more in addition to an Asham were required of the offerer. Even a person uncertain of whether or not he is “guilty” is required to bring an Asham.

This offering has more to do with offenses committed against “our neighbor,” which in essence is also an offense against Elohim (God). I believe this is Yeshua’s point in Matthew 5:23-24 when he mentions bringing a gift (korban) when we have something against our brother. We first make things right with our brother (added 20%), and then we bring our gift or sacrifice.

The Asham is best described as an “offence” offering in my estimation. Offenses whether they are against God or man require restitution. In both cases, these are offenses committed in ignorance or by accident. Yeshua said, “It is impossible but that offences will come.” (Luke 17:1) Offences are going to happen. What matters is how we deal with them. We should be looking for ways to make restitution even when we aren’t sure if we caused an offence! This is the heart of our Father. He is the Elohim of Restoration. As His people, we are to seek restoration in every area of our lives. This type of reconciliation is costly. It will cost more than the average sacrifice – 20% more to be exact.

Here are the key points of Asham.

  • This is a most holy offering.
  • It is a mandatory sacrifice.
  • It is NOT called a sweet aroma.
  • It is offered for involuntary sin or trespasses committed in ignorance.
  • This offering required a 20% payment in damages to God or man.
  • This offering was always a Ram.
  • Fatty portions were burned on the altar, priests could partake of remainder in a holy place.
  • Blood must touch the altar.


There are voluntary offerings and mandatory offerings. These two types of korbanot (sacrifices) are meant to draw us closer to God. They reflect two different aspects of our relationship with God. The Olah reflects “yirah” (fear of God), while the Shelamim represents “ahava” (love of God- relationship). Before the children of Israel committed the sin of the golden calf, they partook of the “table” of YHWH with these two sacrifices. In other words, they entered into covenant with the Almighty.

Ex. 24:4-12 Moses wrote down all the words of YHWH. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.  (5)  He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings [Olah] and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings [Shelamim] to YHWH.  (6)  Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.  (7)  Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that YHWH has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”  (8)  So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which YHWH has made with you in accordance with all these words.”  (9)  Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel,  (10)  and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.  (11)  Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.  (12)  Now YHWH said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the Torah and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.”

When Moses returned from the mountain and discovered the treachery of the golden calf, he called it a “Chatah,” a great sin, the root of the Chatat offering. Moses shattered the tablets, signifying the Israelite’s breaking their covenant with Adonai.

Ex. 32:30 On the next day Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to YHWH, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

As Moses prepares to receive the second set of the Ten Words (Ten Commandments), he requested to see the “glory” or kavod of Adonai. (Ex. 33:18) This Hebrew word implies weight or heaviness. YHWH agrees to allow Moses to see His “goodness.”

Ex. 34:6-7 Then YHWH passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “YHWH, YHWH God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth; (7) who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Did Moses see this as an example of God’s capacity and willingness to forgive? The Chatat and Asham serve as a vehicle by which one can ask forgiveness for sins committed in ignorance. If you read the account of the sin of the golden calf carefully, it is obvious that the people didn’t realize that they were dishonoring YHWH. In fact, they called the calf YHWH! But, it was a grave sin indeed. It is no coincidence that right after this account the children of Israel receive the instructions for the Tabernacle (Mishkan) followed by the laws for the korbanot.

Though this post is a bare bones run down on the sacrifices offered in the sacrificial system, I hope it sparked a desire in you to dig a little deeper this year into this form of worship. Since the daily liturgy services in Judaism are based on the korbanot, I encourage you to take some time to study it is well. The afternoon prayers are even named after the bloodless Mincha offerings. While this type of worship may seem foreign, rigid, or even too rote for your liking, I assure you that it has more depth, reverence, and beauty than you imagine. After all, Hosea said:

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.  I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein. (Hosea 14 KJV)

[1] This is a quandary considering that we are “disconnected” from the very system that is supposed to be our “connection” to YHWH!

[2] Ps. 27:6  And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto YHWH.

Categories: Biblical Symbols | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Women of Velour or Women of Valor?

I picked up my dear friend in St. Louis just before Thanksgiving. She had been travelling for over 15 hours from Hawaii and we hadn’t seen each other in over three years. We hugged as tears of joy welled in our eyes.

“Are you going to the Women of Velour Conference in January?” she asked me. We both began to roll with laughter!

Velour?” I exclaimed. “Well no, but I do plan on attending the Women of Valor conference.” I cackled.

It was obvious that her exhausted state had left her brain-mouth connection in less than perfect order. We got a great chuckle out of it nonetheless. But, her gaffe got my imagination going.

I could see a large conference room full of women all wearing colorful, long flowing velour dresses. The thought made me smile. “Do I have a velour skirt?” I wondered. “Do velour and valor have a connection other than similar spelling? No, not etymologically” I mused. I dismissed this whole inner discourse and drove my friend to Tennessee where I actually live.

As the time of the conference neared and my friend was long gone back to the paradise of Hawaii, the velour/valor blunder played back into my thoughts. It obviously drew out some snickers and smiles, but also a longing for my friend’s cheery face. You see, humor is one of her gifts and I marvel at even the unintentional quips the Father gives her.

So just for giggles I decided to entertain this valor/velour mystery. Sure, I could be grasping for straws and wasting my time. But something just kept bugging me about these two words.

Velour is a closely woven fabric with a thick soft feel. It typically has a side that catches the light and makes it appear shiny —— one reason why women tend to like it. Valor is really a special type of courage; the kind that enables one to go to war or battle.

Pondering these definitions once again stirred my imagination. How many of us actually identify much more with velour than valor? I mean isn’t that one reason for a conference such as Women of Valor —— we need to be encouraged in this narrow yet glorious journey we are all on?

But how many of us find ourselves feeling more like a heavy garment, catching light here and there as life twirls us about? Reading through Proverbs 31 and comparing ourselves to this woman of great virtue and valor makes most of us cringe just a little—— if we are honest. I, for one, do not measure up!

Perhaps that’s the point. The Sages likened the Eshet Chayil (Woman of Valor) as a reference to the Shekinah (Divine presence), the Shabbat, the Torah, wisdom, and the soul. All these ideas are greater than I am, so that’s somewhat of a relief. I’ve also heard it taught that this woman is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.

When we take each of this woman’s attributes into account, it makes perfect sense that THE woman of valor is indeed – our woman – the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) within us. And no, I’m not calling God a woman, but He does have both masculine and feminine characteristics.

If we look Proverbs 31 up in the Hebrew text, we can see that each verse is arranged in an acrostic to form the entire Hebrew aleph-bet. This type of prose in the bible has always fascinated me. Like with Psalm 119 (another Hebrew aleph-bet acrostic), my mind always thinks of the poem that says, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”

The poem is entitled: How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Reading about the author’s life led me to the fact that she chose to study Hebrew in order to read the Tanakh (O.T.) in its original language. Since Hebrew letters are also numbers, aleph-bet acrostics seem to be (re)counting the way of love. Did Mrs. Browning see this connection as well?

Regardless, Proverbs 31 enumerates the many virtues of the ideal woman; just as David enumerates the majesty and grace of the Torah in Psalm 119. “Let me count the ways…” Perhaps we as women should not only view the Woman of Valor as the ideal role model, but also as a way to recount the awesome comforts the Holy Spirit brings into our lives. For without Him, we are reduced to simple women of velour.

A woman of velour has forgotten who she is. She can only reflect light when she is seen at certain angles. She is struggling to make it through each day and is quite frankly, worn-out. She needs fresh garments and that is what the Women of Valor conference is all about.

We need each other. We need to be encouraged and challenged. We have a great responsibility to pass a life-filled baton to our children. Like the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs, we have much to do and when we unite together, we will see many great miracles to Adonai’s glory!

In closing, there is one other example of a woman of valor that I would like to examine. Her name was Ruth and she was given a new garment/covering. As I once again read these beloved passages, this time I couldn’t help but imagine that Boaz’s skirt or covering was made of beautiful shiny velour. Maybe velour isn’t so bad after all.

Ruth 3:9-11  And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.  (10)  And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.  (11)  And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman [Eshet Chayil; Woman of Valor].

We might be women that occasionally wear velour, but through God’s Spirit we are being ever changed into Women of Valor. The covering of the Holy Spirit prepares us for every possible battle and recharges our hearts to press onward.

Women have a special place in the heart of God and in scripture. The Women of Valor conference is a unique opportunity for us to learn about how the Father is restoring us to serve Him in Spirit and Truth. Come and join us and be revived and equipped to fulfill the awesome role that is biblical womanhood.

I can’t wait to see all of Adonai’s women of faith arrayed for battle in velour or otherwise on January 11-13, 2013.

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