What is a…
burnt offering

Hebrew olah; i.e., “ascending”

A burnt offering is one that is consumed by fire, and regarded as ascending to God while being consumed.

Part of every offering was burnt in the sacred fire, but this was wholly burnt, a “whole burnt offering.” It was the most frequent form of sacrifice, and apparently the only one mentioned in the book of Genesis. Such were the sacrifices offered by Abel (Genesis 4:3-4, here called minhah; i.e., “a gift”), Noah (Genesis 8:20), Abraham (Genesis 22:2, 7-8, 13), and by the Hebrews in Egypt (Exodus 10:25).

The law of Moses afterwards prescribed the occasions and the manner in which burnt sacrifices were to be offered. There were “the continual burnt offering” (Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 6:9-13), “the burnt offering of every sabbath,” which was double the daily one (Numbers 28:9-10), “the burnt offering of every month” (28:11-15), the offerings at the Passover (19-23), at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16), the feast of Trumpets (23:23-25), and on the day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

On other occasions special sacrifices were offered, as at the consecration of Aaron (Exodus 29) and the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:5, 62-64).

Free-will burnt offerings were also permitted (Leviticus 1:13), and were offered at the accession of Solomon to the throne (1 Chronicles 29:21), and at the reformation brought about by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:31-35).

These offerings signified the complete dedication of the offerers unto God. This is referred to in Romans 12:1.

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