Offering (the general name for which in Hebrew is קָרבָן, korban', although several other words are so rendered) is anything presented to God as a means of conciliating his favor; which being in the Jewish, as well as in all other religions, considered as the one thing needful, has always constituted an essential part of public worship and private piety. In the treatment of this topic we bring together. the ancient information with whatever light modern research has thrown upon it.
Offerings have been divided into three kinds: 1. Impletratoria, denoting those which are designed to procure some favor or benefit; 2. Eucharistica, those which are expressive of gratitude for bounties or mercies received; 3. Piacularia, those which are meant to. atone for sins and propitiate the Deity. Porphyry also gives three reasons for making offerings to the gods (Abstinentia, 2:24) — in order to do them honor, to acknowledge a favor, or to procure a supply for human needs. Among the Hebrews we find a complex and multiform system of offerings extending through the entire circle of divine worship, and prescribing the minutest details. A leading distinction separates their offerings into unbloody (מַנחָה, minchah, προσφορά, δῶρον) and bloody (זֶבח, zebach, θυσία). Used in its widest sense, the term offering, or oblation, indicates in the Hebrew ritual a very great number of things — as the firstlings of the flock, first-fruits, tithes, incense, the shewbread, the wood for burning in the Temple (Ne 10:34). The objects offered were salt, meal, baked and roasted grain, olive-oil, clean animals, such as oxen, goats, doves, but not fish. The animals were required to be spotless (Le 22:20; Mal 1:8), and, with the exception of the doves, not under eight days old (Le 22:27), younger animals being tasteless and innutritious. The smaller beasts, such as sheep, goats, and calves, were commonly one year old (Ex 29:38; Le 9:3; Le 12:6; Le 14:10; Nu 15:27; Nu 28:9 sq.). Oxen were offered at three years of age; in Judges (Jg 6:25) one is offered which is seven years old. As to sex, an option was sometimes left to the offerer, especially in peace and sin offerings (Le 3:1,6; Le 12:5-6); at other times males were required, as in burnt sacrifices, for, contrary to classical usage, the male was considered the more perfect. In burnt-offerings and in thank-offerings the kind of animal was left to the choice of the worshipper (Le 1:3), but in trespass and sin offerings it was regulated by law (Le 4:5). If the desire of the worshipper was to express his gratitude, he offered a peace or thank offering; if to obtain forgiveness, he offered a trespass or sin offering. Burnt-offerings were of a general kind (Nu 15:3; De 12:6; Jer 17:26). Hecatombs or large numbers of cattle were sacrificed on special occasions. In 1Ki 8:5,63, Solomon is said to have "sacrificed sheep and oxen that could not be told or numbered for multitude," "two and twenty thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep" (see also 2Ch 29:32 sq.; 30:24; 35:7 sq.; comp. Herod. 7:43; Xenoph. Hellen. 6:4; Sueton. Calig. 14). Offerings were also either public or private, prescribed or free-will. Sometimes they were presented by an individual, sometimes by a family; once, or at regular and periodic intervals (1Sa 1:24; Job 1:5; Job 2 Maccabees 3:32). Foreigners were permitted to make offerings on the national altar (Nu 15:14; Nu 2 Maccabees 3:35; 13:23; Philo, Legat. p. 1014: Joseph. Apion, 2:5). Offerings were made by Jews fir heathen princes (1 Maccabees 7:33; Joseph. Ant. 12:2, 5). In the case of bloody- offerings, the possessor, after he had sanctified himself (1Sa 16:5), brought the victim, in case of.thank-offerings, with its horns gilded and with garlands, etc. (Joseph. Ant. 13:8, 2), to the altar (Le 3:1; Le 12:4; Le 14:17), where, laying his hand on the head of the animal (Le 1:4; Le 3:2; Le 4:4), he thus, in a clear and pointed way, devoted it to God. Having so done, he proceeded to slay the victim himself (Le 3:2; Le 4:4); which act might be, and in later times was done by the priests (2Ch 29:24), and probably by the Levites. (Hottinger, De Functionibus Sacerdot. circa iictinmam, Marb. 1706). The blood was taken, and, according to the kind of offering, sprinkled upon the altar, or brought into the Temple and there shed upon the ark of the covenant and smeared upon the horns of the altar of incense, and then the remainder poured forth at the foot of the altar of burnt-offerings. Having slain the animal, the offerer struck off its head (Le 1:6), which, when not burned (Le 4:11), belonged either to the priest (Le 7:8) or to the offerer (comp. Mishna, Zebach, 12:2). The victim was then cut into pieces (Le 1:6; Le 8:20), which were either all, or only the best and most tasty, set on fire on the altar by the priests or the offerer, or must be burned without the precincts of the holy city. The treatment of doves may be seen in Le 1:14 sq.; v. 8 (see Hottinger, De Sacrificiis Avium, Marb. 1706). In some sacrifices heaving (תרומה) and waving (תבוכה) were usual either before or after the slaying.
The annual expense of offerings, including those made by individuals as well as the nation, must have been considerable. It may, however, be said that the country produced on all sides in great abundance most of the required' objects, and that there were numerous forests whence. wood for use in sacrifice was procured. At later periods of the nation foreign princes, desirous of conciliating the good-will of the Jews, made large contributions both of natural objects and of money towards the support of the ceremonial of public worship (Ezr 6:9; Ezr 1 Maccabees 10:39, 2 Maccabees 3:3; 9:16; Joseph. Ant. 12:3, 3). The place where offerings were exclusively to be presented was the outer court of the national sanctuary, at first the Tabernacle, afterwards the Temple. Every offering made elsewhere was forbidden under penalty of death (Le 17:4 sq.; De 12:5 sq.; comp. 1Ki 12:27). The precise spot is laid down in Le 1:3; Le 3:2, "At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord." According to the Mishna (Zebach, ch. 5), offerings were to be slain partly on the north side of the altar, and, if they were inconsiderable, at any part of the outer court. The object of these regulations was to prevent any secret idolatrous rites from taking place under the mask of the national ritual; and a common place of worship must have tended considerably to preserve the unity of the people, whose constant disagreements required precautions of a special kind (1Ki 12:27). The oneness, however, of the place of sacrifice was not strictly preserved in the troubled period of the Judges, nor indeed till the time of David (1Ki 3:2-3). Offerings were made in other places besides the door of the Tabernacle (1Sa 7:17; Jg 2:5). High places, which had long been used by the Canaanites, retained a certain sanctity, and were honored with offerings (Jg 6:26; Jg 13:19). Even the loyal Samuel followed this practice (1 Samuel), and David tolerated it (1Ki 3:2). After Solomon these offerings on high places still continued. In the kingdom of Israel, cut off as its subjects were from the holy city, the national temple was neglected.
Offerings being regarded as an expression of gratitude and piety, and required as a necessary part of ordinary private life, were diligently and abundantly presented, failure in this point being held as a sign of irreligion (Ps 66:15; Ps 110:3; Jer 38:11; Mt 8:4; Ac 21:26; Isa 43:23). Offerings were sworn by, as being something in themselves holy, from the purpose to which they were consecrated (Mt 23:18). In the glowing pictures of religious happiness and national prosperity which the poets drew, there is found an ideal perfection of this essential element of Israelitish worship (Isa 19:21; Isa 56:7; Isa 60:7; Zec 14:21; Jer 17:26; Jer 33:18); and deprivation of this privilege was among the calamities of the period of exile (Ho 3:4).
Under the load and the multiplicity of these outward oblations, however, the Hebrews forgot the substance, lost the thought in the symbol, the thing signified in the sign; and, failing in those devotional sentiments and that practical obedience which offerings were intended to prefigure and cultivate, sank into the practice of mere dead works. Thereupon the prophets began to utter their admonitory lessons, to which the world is indebted for so many graphic descriptions of the real nature of religion and the only true worship of Almighty God (Isa 1:11; Jer 6:20; Jer 7:21 sq.; Ho 6:6; Am 5:22; Mic 6:6 sq.; comp. Ps 40:6; Ps 51:17 sq.; Pr 21:3). Thus the failures of one Church prepared the way for the higher privileges of another, and the law proved a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Mt 5:23; Ga 3:24). Even before the advent of our Lord pious and reflecting men, like the Essenes, discovered the lamentable abuses of the national ritual, and were led to abstain altogether from the customary forms of a mere outward worship (Joseph. Ant. 18:1, 5). The 50th Psalm must have had great influence in preparing the minds of thinking men for a pure and spiritual form of worship, the rather because some of its principles strike at the very root of all offerings of a mere outward kind: thus, "I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds; for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving." Indeed, the conception and composition of such a noble piece show what great progress the best-cultivated minds had made from the rudimental notions of primitive times; and may serve of themselves to prove that with all the abuses which had ensued, the Mosaic ritual and institutions were admirably fitted to carry forward the education of the mind of the people. Thus was the Hebrew nation, and through them the world, led on so as to be in some measure prepared for receiving the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, in which all outward offerings are done away, the one great offering being made, and all those who are members of the Church are required, to offer themselves, body, soul, and spirit, a holy offering to the Lord (Heb 10; Ro 12). "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit' of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb 13:15-16; Mt 9:13; Mt 12:7; Ro 15:16; Php 2:17; 2Ti 4:6). SEE MOSAISM.
Lightfoot's work, De Ministerio Templi, is especially to be recommended on this subject. See also — Outram, De Sacrif.; Reland, Ant. Sacr. 3:1; Bauer,-Gottesdiensil. Verjass. 1:80 sq.; Rosenmüller, Excurs. I ad Leviticus The Jewish doctrines on offerings may be found in the treatises Zebachim, Menachoth, and Temura, a selection from which, as well as from the Rabbins, is given in that useful little works Othon. Lex. Talnud. p. 621 sq.; see Ugolin. Thesaur. tom. 19. For a general view of the subject, SEE SACRIFICE; and for its different kinds, SEE BURNT-OFFERING; SEE CONSECRATION-OFFERING; SEE DAILY-OFFERING; SEE DRINK-OFFERING; SEE HEAVE-OFFERING; SEE JEALOUSY- OFFERING; SEE MEAT-OFFERING; SEE OBLATION; SEE PROPITIATORY-OFFERING; SEE PURIFICATION-OFFERING; SEE SIN-OFFERING; SEE WAVE-OFFERING.
OFFERING denotes whatever is sacrificed or consumed in the worship of God. In the Christian community there appears to have existed, from the earliest times, a practice of making voluntary offerings for purposes not directly connected with public worship. SEE OBLATION; SEE OFFERTORY.