What is a burnt offering?

BibleAsk Team

A Burnt Offering

A burnt offering was the slaying of an animal to draw closer to God. The word offering is from the Hebrew word “qorban” which means “to draw near” or “to approach.” The practice of these offering appears in the Bible from the beginning of time. We read about it at the time of Cain and Able (Gen. 4), at the time of Noah (Gneiss 8:20), at the time of  Abraham (Gen. 22), and at the time of the Exodus (Ex. 10:24-29).

In the wilderness, God gave the Israelites specific guidelines as to the types of burnt offerings and what they represented. There were two types of offerings, mandatory and voluntary:


First-The mandatory offerings were also divided to 2 kinds:

  1. Those that were done at set times and were presented by the priests on behalf of the whole nation. Such were:
  2. Those that were done at occasional times. Such were:
    • The offerings at the consecration of a priest (Ex. 29:15–18; Lev. 8:18–21; 9:12–14).
    • The offerings at childbirth (Lev. 12:6–8).
    • The offerings at the cleansing of a leper (Lev. 14:19, 20).
    • The offerings at the purifying from ceremonial defilement (Lev.15:14, 15, 30).
    • The offerings at the taking of a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:13–16).


Second- The voluntary offerings which were presented by a person at any time. However, these conformed in all aspects to the same rules that ruled the obligatory burnt offerings (Num. 7; 1 Kings 8:64). Leviticus chapter one is concerned specifically with voluntary offerings.

Animal sacrifices only pointed forward to the supreme sacrifice of the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Thus, the altar of burnt offering, with its shed blood, represents the great gospel truth of atonement for sin through the vicarious sacrifice of Christ.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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