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Leave Your QORBAN at the Altar (Yeshua’s teachings on Anger, Part 4)

Let’s review Yeshua has made the following points about the different types of offenses related to anger, from the least to the most serious:

Offense #1: Anger is equivalent to murder.

Offense #2:An angry person that says the person he is angry with is useless, empty and of no value commits a more serious offense than Offense #1.

Offense #3: An angry person that says the person he is angry with denies that there is a Creator and that YAHWEH does not do acts of TOV commits a more serious offense than Offense #2.

Now Yeshua continues his lesson:

Therefore if you bring your QORBAN to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your QORBAN there, before the altar, and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your QORBAN. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Yeshua was clearly addressing people who understood what he was talking about because it was something they did. The Temple’s sacrificial rituals were part of all of their lives. In an earlier blog I provided an overview of the layout of the Temple (click on Experiencing the Temple Yeshua Knew & print the first diagram). Find the location of the altar where the QORBAN was taken. There are many different types of QORBAN, and the laws related to them are detailed and complicated.

Olah (Burnt Offering)
Zebach Sh'lamim (Peace Offering)
Chatat (Sin Offering)
Asham (Guilt Offering)
Food and Drink Offerings

In ancient times, a major component of Jewish ritual was the offering of QORBANOT (plural of QORBAN). An entire order of the Talmud (Kodashim, that is, Holy Things) is devoted to the subject. It is very important to understand what QORBAN meant in Yeshua’s Jewish culture.  QORBAN is usually translated as "sacrifice" or "offering.” Both translations suggest a loss of something or a giving up of something. In a world in which the food we eat has been completely separated from killing and butchering animals, what took place at the altar is often viewed as horrible and gruesome. It is an unknown experience in the lives of most Bible readers today. But in the world in which Yeshua lived and his Jewish culture, the procedure for slaughtering livestock for sacrificial purposes was the same procedure they used in their villages for slaughtering animals to produce the food they ate. It was a procedure designed to be as quick and painless as possible for the animals. The slaughtering of animals was not the focus of those presenting QORBAN at the Temple.

In order to understand what their focus was, we must turn to the meaning of QORBAN, which comes from this root:

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The meaning of the root QRB is "to draw near." The person brought the QORBAN to the Temple so he could “draw near to YAHWEH.” The closest ritual that we have today that is similar to that experience is probably prayer. We pray to thank God, to ask for forgiveness, to seek his help, to praise him – to draw near God. But there is one very important difference -- all we have to do is bow our heads and start praying where ever we are.

In our culture and realities, we view the presence of God being everywhere, but in Yeshua’s world YAHWEH’s presence was located in a specific place – the Temple. The layout of the Temple reveals not only who has a place in YAHWEH’s sacred space, but also defines how close they can draw near him. Look at the Temple diagram again and find the following areas.

Court of the Gentiles – Area for anyone of either gender from any nation.
Court of the Women – Only Jewish women and men.
Court of Israel – Only Jewish men.
Holy Place – Only priests (Jewish males).
Holy of Holies – YAHWEH’s place (only high priest once per year).

Everyone had a place in the Temple, but not everyone could draw as near to YAHWEH as Jewish males bringing QORBAN. However, they couldn’t just walk in and drop it off. Follow the steps of a Jewish man doing what was required to drawing near YAHWEH.

● He would first take his QORBAN to a priest at the Double Gates on the south to be examined.
● He would have seen and smelled the Valley of Hinnom as he stood there.
● Next he would have to go to the ritual immersion bath complex, also on the south side and ritually immerse himself under the supervision of priests.
● After leaving the bath complex, he would enter the Temple complex probably on the southwest corner.
● He would then walk across the Court of the Gentiles and walk through the Beautiful Gate.
● He would then walk across the Court of the Women and enter the Nicanor Gate.
● He would stand in the Court of Israel and wait until he was called by a priest.
● He would then take his QORBAN to the altar and prepare to do his part of the ritual.

Now grasp the impact of Yeshua’s message:

“. . . and there (at the altar in the Court of Israel) you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your QORBAN there, before the altar, and first be reconciled to your brother. . .”

Put yourself in the shoes of that person. After doing all of the things above, you have finally been called by a priest and are standing next to the altar preparing to do your part of the ritual, standing physically as close to the presence of YAHWEH as you possibly could – and then you remember that you are angry with your brother (and may have called him RAQA or NAVAL). Imagine what those listening to Yeshua thought when he told them to -- “STOP! Leave your QORBAN right there at the altar! Go find your brother and be reconciled with him! Then comeback and finish presenting your QORBAN to YAHWEH!”

Let’s put it in a setting that we can better understand, even though the magnitude of the event cannot come close to what Yeshua described. You are attending a church service and the minister asks you to come up to the pulpit and lead the congregation in the “Lord’s Prayer,” which contains -- and forgive us our debts (sins), as we have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us). As you open the Bible to read the prayer – right there -- you remember that you have sinned again your brother and have not received his forgiveness – you stop and immediately leave the pulpit, leave the church, go find your brother and be reconciled to him. Then you come back and finish reading the prayer.

Why would Yeshua tell someone to leave the presence of YAHWEH at that specific moment and go find a person he had committed an offense against? Wasn’t being in the presence of YAHWEH more important? Or did YAHWEH consider something to be more important than the QORBAN and the ritual? We will continue this amazing lesson of Yeshua on anger in the next blog.

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