Monday, March 24, 2014

Korihor’s Objection to the Priests’ Portion of the Sacrifice

In the Law of Moses, the Lord provided for the priests to have a portion of certain sacrifices:

The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Lev. 6:26)

7 As the sin offering is, so is the trespass offering: there is one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith shall have it.
 8 And the priest that offereth any man’s burnt offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered.
 9 And all the meat offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is dressed in the fryingpan, and in the pan, shall be the priest’s that offereth it.
 10 And every meat offering, mingled with oil, and dry, shall all the sons of Aaron have, one as much as another. (Lev. 7:7-10)

I think this portion for the priests was for the time they spent ministering for the Israelites in the temple.  They would still be able to live though they sacrificed time that would otherwise go to other profit-making business.  If you remember, they didn’t have land to raise crops on, only cities to live in.

It is likely that some unbelievers viewed this portion the priests took as unjustified and parasitic.  In the Book of Mormon we find the anti-Christ Korihor accusing the priests:

And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands.. (Alma 30:27)

He may have seen those portions and decided the priests had quite a racket going.

However, Alma, the high priest, set him straight:

32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.
33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time. (Alma 30:32-33)

Alma can point to the fact that he has not received any money for laboring in the church as proof that he is not glutting himself.  Any wages he received were for working as a judge and only according to the time he worked. Of the sacrifices, he and his fellow priests can only eat so much and there is an additional commandment in the Law of Moses that the offerings can’t be stored or kept more than two days (see Lev 7:15-18). This means they are only a temporary source of food.  Thus sacrificial offerings could not be a source of personal gain or wealth to the priests.