Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
I’ve read through Leviticus quite a few times and the sacrifices start to blur together after you’ve read over them a few times. It’s a refrain of take this and this thing and bring it to the priests and the priests will do this with it and these are the things that do not get done with this sacrifice and it’s this kind of sacrifice. Along comes the grain offering. Suddenly, the pattern breaks and I’m left staring at “Oh, and add salt to this kind of offering.” What’s the deal?
Two thoughts on this.
One, salt is a preservative. If anyone were sitting at the table with me, I’d be hearing them say, “Well, duh.” right about now. But salt being a preservative is important. We’re talking about a culture that lives in a very warm, very dry place. It’s not like some of the northern countries where stuff can be placed in an underground room and that room will border on an icebox. Israel and Southern California, I’m told, have similar climates. That means that Israel does not get a lot of cool weather, mostly hot weather with bits of warm mixed in to lull people into a false sense of comfort. Weather is tricky that way. Back to the sacrifices. Adding salt would have been necessary with regard to preserving the food offered. Since the priests would keep some of any bread or wafers offered up, it makes sense that there would be some kind of preservative in the breads. In a similar vein, salt enhances flavor. Used judiciously, salt will bring out the goodness of good food.
Two, salt was currency. In the ancient world, a man being “worth his salt” meant he was worth the price one might pay for his labor as some people were paid in salt rather than money. More, the process of getting salt was laborious so salt was on the expensive side. I mean, anyone can plant an herb garden and grow fennel and rosemary and so on, but salt had to be mined or extracted from sea water.
Right. So how can this possibly be applied to me? Curiously (or not so much), I think God gave a bit of insight there. First, every sacrifice outlined in the first few chapters of Leviticus is something connected with the livelihood—the work; the living—of an agrarian society. The flock and the herd and the fruits of the land would all be things that a wise, land-owning farmer would be raising. That said, the sacrifices outlined include bits from every potential part of the livelihood of the Israelites at the time. The principle I take from that (since I don’t raise livestock and have no dirt in which to raise crops of any kind) is that some of my labor; my work; my service should be given to God. While the ancient Israelites gave of the produce of their flocks and herds and vineyards and such, I can give of my time and energy and the resources God gives me. The grain offering was required to be seasoned with salt — possibly as a preservative and possibly to enhance flavor. Jesus compared the believer to salt. Maybe this offering is what He expected His audience to think of when He drew that comparison. However, if I am salt and salt must be included in the offering then I think it follows that there must be something of me in everything I offer to God. Everyone can serve God, but no one else can flavor that offering in quite the same way as anyone else. My service will be “flavored” by who and what I am as will the service of everyone else who chooses to serve God.
So, there are the principles from this morning’s reading: I should be offering God some (the best) of my energy and efforts and service and that offering should be flavored by who I am — I should be invested in the work.