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The Five Types of Sacrifices

by Bobby Bruno  
5/30/2014 / Bible Studies

In the textbook "Handbook of the Pentateuch," Victor P, Hamilton lists the five types of sacrifices the Old Testament Israelites had to perform and what their connections in similarities and differences are to each other. First, Hamilton groups the five sacrifices by what he considers types. The first type includes the whole burnt offering, the cereal offering, and the peace offering. The second type includes the sin and guilt offerings.

The first type of offerings is grouped together because they end with a pleasing odor to God. These sacrifices are spontaneous acts done by the individual and, according to Hamilton, are not the kind of sacrifices that beget forgiveness for sins because the "phrase 'shall be forgiven' is absent (p. 234)" in the scripture that pertains to the sacrifice of the first type. Also, the first type of sacrificed is not the kind of sacrifice that requires blood being shed, but requires the individual to bring a sacrifice of food or crops as an offering. These three sacrifices were done in worship and devotion to God.

The second type of offerings is much different than the first type. These types of sacrificed require the shedding of blood for the remission of sins and wrong-doing. These sacrifices end with the forgiveness of the individual and/or his family either for sins committed in violation of God's law or sins of omission. With blood sacrifices only the priest is involved in the performing of the sacrifice because each type of sin had a corresponding procedure that the priest had perform to God's exacting specifications. If any procedure is done incorrectly the sacrifice is void and must be done again.

Both of these types together round out the sacrificial system that God had put into place through Moses. All of them must be done by all Israelites regardless of where they live and must be performed only at the Temple in Jerusalem by the priests from the tribe of Levi. God requires all of these sacrifices to be done so that His people may remain holy before His eyes. Even though these are "offerings" they must be done by every individual of the nation.

A deficiency within the sacrificial system was that not all individuals could afford to offer as much as another. Someone well-off could offer bulls and sheep for their sacrifice, but not all Israelites were well-to-do and could only offer a much smaller amount than the rich could. But God being a God of love made it possible for those with little to still offer an acceptable sacrifice and be forgiven off their sins. As Victor P. Hamilton states it: "the principle seems to be this: not equal offering, but equal sacrifice. The widow's mites may be every bit as sacrificial as the philanthropist's millions" (p. 240).


Hamilton, V. (1982, 2005). Handbook of the Pentateuch, second edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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