Messiah 201
Messiah in the Temple Offerings
R' Richard Pustelniak
January 2, 2001

The Korban Olah
The Korban Minchah
The Zevach Shelamim
The Chatat
The Asham
The Source Texts
Important Terms
The Missing "Process" Elements
The Essential Asham
The Asham's Position in "The Process"
The Preparation of the Asham
A Special AshamKorban Oleh vYoreid (The Rising and Falling Offering)
Important Considerations
Applications of Interest
The Asham, Fulfilled in Messiah

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Warning: The truths contained in this teaching are not for the faint of heart, or the lukewarm! You can be sure that haSatan (the adversary) will do all he can to keep you from understanding and applying the concepts and truths contained herein, but it is our prayer that every one who receives these notes will carefully consider and apply the contents to their lives.

VIII. The Asham

VIII-A. The Source Texts
bible icon"If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter — if he does not tell it, he bears guilt. Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty. Or if he touches human uncleanness — whatever uncleanness with which a man may be defiled, and he is unaware of it — when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty. Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it — when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; and he shall bring his trespass offering to the L_RD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin. If he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the L_RD, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. And he shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off its head from its neck, but shall not divide it completely. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. And he shall offer the second as a burnt offering according to the prescribed manner. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him. But if he is not able to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he who sinned shall bring for his offering one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it, nor shall he put frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. Then he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as a memorial portion, and burn it on the altar according to the offerings made by fire to the L_RD. It is a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for him, for his sin that he has committed in any of these matters; and it shall be forgiven him. The rest shall be the priest's as a grain offering." Then the L_RD spoke to Moses, saying: "If a person commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally in regard to the holy things of the L_RD, then he shall bring to the L_RD as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering. And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the L_RD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the L_RD." (Lev 5:1-19, emphasis and emendation added)
bible iconLikewise this is the law of the trespass offering (it is most holy): In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the trespass offering. And its blood he shall sprinkle all around on the altar. And he shall offer from it all its fat. The fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; and the priest shall burn them on the altar as an offering made by fire to the L_RD. It is a trespass offering. Every male among the priests may eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. The trespass offering is like the sin offering; there is one law for them both: the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it. (Lev 7:1-7, emphasis and emendation added)
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VIII-B. Important Terms

Asham ( ) normally translated "guilt," or "trespass" offering, but better translated "indemnity," or "compensation" offering.

This offering is generally required when a individual has committed a sin which causes some kind of loss or damage to another. In such cases, one must make an asham to the Holy One (always numbered among the offendees). If someone other than the Holy One is among the offendees, the other offendees must be compensated first, then the asham is made to the Holy One.

Asheim ( ): normally translated, "guilty," but more succinctly translated "liable"

Korban Oleh v'Yoreid ( ): literally, "the rising and falling offering," fits in the category of an asham, but its valuation is allowed to vary.

This korban is generally applicable to low impact trespasses, such as becoming tamei (contaminated), and communicating that contamination to others, unwittingly. In such cases, the asham is allowed to increase or decrease ("rise or fall"), according to the offender's means.

Ma'al ( ): an "unfaithful" or "treacherous" act, a "trespass" against the Holy One or against man (one created in the image of the Holy One).

This is the kind of sin requiring an asham, including some kinds of willful sin against a brother, as well as inadvertent sins against G_d's "holy things."

This term can be applied to the case, where, an offense is committed by a person who knows better but who, for selfish motives , acts in bad faith.

Avon ( or ): normally translated, "guilt" or "iniquity."

This is the state of being that "attaches," when one has committed a ma'al.
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VIII-C. The Missing "Process" Elements

As stated in the introduction to this series, there are five types of korbanot, only two of which have anything whatsoever to do with sin. The other three are making completely different statements, expressing completely different ideas. Unfortunately, the only thing that most believers know, about our Messiah's korban, is that it atones for sin. If that is all our Messiah has done for us, we have only been brought back to where we first came in, and there are three essential korbanot still due. Actually, only one of the remaining korbanot is an offering made to the Holy One. The korban olah is an expression of whole-hearted, unreserved devotion and dedication to the Holy One, including all that one is, and all of that one's potential. The korban minchah, is an expression of relief, quietness of spirit, and peace that ensues when one has laid his own agenda at the altar, and has set off on G_d's path, responsible only for faithfulness. The zevach shelamim, is actually a celebration of the state of intimacy with our Creator — the goal of the process, and our reason for living, as well as an expression of our desire to share what we have gained with others.

The korban in view, the asham, completes the set of propitiatory offerings, of which, most believers are aware. When one has missed the mark, in any way, one has become stained, or defiled. Purification (chatat), restores purity, re-opening the way to intimacy with our Creator. When one has caused damage or loss, one must take steps to make the damaged party "whole," via an asham and its valuations and assessments.

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VIII-D. The Essential Asham

As previously stated, asham is normally translated "guilt," or "trespass" offering, but is better translated "indemnity," or "compensation" offering. This offering is generally required when a individual has committed a sin which causes some kind of loss or damage to another. Such loss can be inadvertent, or intentional, as to severity and commensurate compensation level. The damaged party can be the Holy One, alone, or can include one or more fellow humans. If the damaged party is one or more humans or group, the Holy One is also included in the list of damaged parties, requiring an asham to be offered, in addition to any compensatory and punitive damages to be rendered to others.

All offerings involve a rather significant level of complexity and diversity. But, the asham is particularly diverse and complex, since it could involve much of what constitutes modern criminal and civil law: burdens of proof, sufficiency of evidence, elements of claims, weight of evidence and testimony, conduct of trials, etc. In many cases, in addition to the compensation required to make an offended party "whole," compensation can include "exemplary" or "punitive" damages, intended to dissuade others from perpetrating similar offenses. Additionally, liability payments can, and generally do, include amounts intended to compensate for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of expected future benefit, etc. The Torah is not comprehensive in application, but it is quite comprehensive in principle.

As with the other korbanot, this is not intended to be a detailed examination. Rather, it is intended as a familiarization and overview, exposing the student to the basic principles associated with this korban.

It is sometimes difficult to differentiate, between violations requiring a korban chatat (a simple purification offering) and a korban asham (an indemnity offering). Some cases are relatively obvious. From those we can distill some guiding principles.

An asham is essentially a supplemented chatat, having the added element of indemnity, compensation, and/or restitution. Hence, in general, sins requiring a korban asham are likely distinguished from sins requiring a korban chatat, by the degree of severity, and cases where the offense causes loss or damages. As the name implies, the offender deserves to be ruined and destroyed because of it, unless dealt with properly. If "restitution" not made, one is liable to "retribution."

bible iconLead me, O L_RD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty ( , ha-ashimeim) O G_d! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You. (Ps 5:8-10, emphasis and emendation added)

bible iconSamaria is held guilty ( , tesham, held liable), For she has rebelled against her G_d. They shall fall by the sword, Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open. (Hos 13:16, emphasis and emendation added)

bible iconThen they said to one another, "We are truly guilty ( , asheimim) concerning our brother (Joseph), for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us." (Gen 42:21, emphasis and emendation added)
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VIII-E. The Asham's Position in "The Process"

The following diagram shall serve to encapsulate our study of this offering:

package image

The relationship status, with the Holy One, where the asham becomes necessary, is indicated by the highlighted (yellow) area on the map. The actual offering is represented by the emphasized ring, just inside the highlighted area. The center area of the map represents the essential goal of the whole korbanot process, "intimacy with our Creator," which is the very reason we were all created; the reason for life, if you will.

The initial pass, though the olah with its minchah, forges a permanent relationship with our Creator, establishing citizenship in the Commonwealth of Believing Israel, and the eternal economy to come (the olam haba). As previously shown, these initial stages correspond to the New Birth process in the current, Messianic, economy. The relationship thus forged is represented by one's subsequent presence in the zevach shelamim range of the map, which represents a state of access and intimacy with the Holy One, in both, the Mosaic and Messianic, economies.

While the relationship with the Holy One is permanent, and incorruptible, regarding membership in the eternal economy, in actual practice, our relationship waxes and wains. This is due to there being imperfect entities, humans, on one side of that relationship. Missing the mark creates a condition that hinders intimacy with our Creator. This condition requires recognition, and corrective action, to alleviate it.

In some minor cases, generally those that are unavoidable, all that is needed is the passage of a specified period of time, followed by the rite of tevilah (ceremonial immersion), to put the hindering state behind. After which, one is able to return directly to the zevach shelamim range.

In other cases, a more formal purification rite, the chatat, is required. After which, one is able to return directly to the zevach shelamim range.

In other cases, where some kind of damages have been caused (spiritual and frequently corporeal), a liability, or sin debt, has been incurred, requiring various forms of indemnification, or restitution, completed by an asham (indemnity offering). Frequently, after a korban asham has been made, a chatat will also be required, purifying one of the stain of the triggering sin.

In cases of leadership, or corporate action or representation (priests, kings, etc.), once a chatat has been completed (alone, or following a korban asham), one must re-ratify one's whole-hearted devotion and submission to the Holy One, and his ways, via korban olah and its minchah.

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VIII-F. The Prepration of the Asham

As previously stated, an asham is essentially a supplemented chatat, having the added element of indemnity, compensation, and restitution. As such, its preparation is accomplished in the same way as the chatat is offered. There are a couple of essential differences:

  1. The korban is accompanied by a restitution valuation, and a punitive supplement: generally 1/5th - 25%.

  2. The sins giving rise to a need for an asham are verbally named and confessed, at the time when the offender is establishing a relationship of mutual agency, via the rite of s'michat yadayim (the laying on of hands).
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VIII-G. A Special AshamKorban Oleh vYoreid (The Rising and Falling Offering)

This is a special asham, made in cases typified by the following:

  • Failure to testify in a case where evidence is possessed (one saw, but not heard; heard but not saw, or obtained evidence outside the event itself, such as hearing an admission)

  • Becoming tamei (contaminated) and communicating that to others, or to G_d's holy things, while the condition was not known, or when one forgot about the condition.

  • Swearing an oath that something happened when it didn't (via inadvertence), or vice versa. Or taking a vow, and not fulfilling it because of forgetfulness or lack of ability.

The asham penalty goes up or down according to the means of the guilty party. The initial valuation is a female lamb of the sheep or goats, and the offering is actually classified as a chatat (purification), and offered accordingly. If the offender cannot afford a lamb, the valuation is downgraded to two turtledoves, one for a chatat, and the other one for a korban olah (dedication offering). These are offered in accordance with their individual types. If the offender cannot afford the turtledoves, the valuation is downgraded further, to a korban minchah (meal or grain offering), offered in accordance with its type, except that no oil is put upon it.

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VIII-H. Important Considerations

While damaging acts against the Holy One can be rectified via confessions and sacrificial offerings in the temple, damages and loss caused to a brother or neighbor must be restored to him.

Jewish tradition: The Holy One can, and does, forgive sins against Him. But the portion of the sin that is against your brother, only your brother can forgive.

bible iconTherefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift (korban) there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23-24, emphasis and emendation added)

Biblical "blamelessness," is a state or condition, where, no one can claim that we have wronged them, and have not "made it right."

bible iconDo all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of G_d without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Php 2:14-15, emphasis and emendation added)

bible iconA bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach... (1Tim 3:2, emphasis and emendation added)

bible iconTherefore, beloved, looking forward to these things (eternal bliss), be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider {that} the longsuffering of our L_rd {is} salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you... (2Pet 3:14-15, emphasis and emendation added)

Will the failure to make things right with an offended brother inhibit/degrade an intimate relationship with the Holy One? Yes, if one refuses to engage in the process of making things right. If the brother refuses, the token of responsibility passes to the offended party. If the opportunity to make things right passes, one should seek to rectify the situation as close to what is right as possible.

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VIII-I. Applications of Interest

The typical compensation for willful transgression (i.e., theft, fraud, etc.) is twice the original value of damages or loss. For willful transgression that affects what is needed for the offendee's livelihood, compensation is four to five times the original value of damages or loss. If the severity is low, or intent cannot be proven, compensation is generally full restitution, plus twenty-five percent.

bible iconIf a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double. If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard. If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution. If a man delivers to his neighbor money or articles to keep, and it is stolen out of the man's house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor's goods. For any kind of trespass (pesha, transgression), whether it concerns an ox, a donkey, a sheep, or clothing, or for any kind of lost thing which another claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whomever the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. (Ex 22:1-9, emphasis and emendation added)

Messiah, himself, recognized the value of a true asham:

bible iconThen Y'shua entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Y'Shua was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Y'Shua came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner." Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the L_rd, "Look, L_rd, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And Y'Shua said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luk 19:1-10, emphasis and emendation added)

A nazir (nazarite) pledges to avoid ritual defilement during the term of his vow. If he becomes inadvertently or willfully defiled, he must re-serve the entire period — repay the full term that he originally pledged. In addition to the restitution of the full pledge, he must offer an asham. (Num 6:12)

An asham is due, in addition to the restoration of the value of the damages, resulting from the misuse of sanctified objects (holy things). This is only possible when the sin is inadvertent, or committed in error. If committed willfully, the penalty is karet (being cut off from one's people). (Ex 5:15-16). Even though inadvertent, the action is still called a me'ilah (treachery).

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VIII-J. The Asham Fulfilled in Messiah
bible icon Yet it pleased the L_RD to bruise Him; He has put {Him} to grief. When You make (appoint, consider) His soul an offering for sin (im-tashim asham nafsho). He shall see {His} seed, He shall prolong {His} days, And the pleasure of the L_RD shall prosper in His hand. (Isa 53:10, emendation added)
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