Free US Shipping On Orders Over $99
Free US Shipping On Orders Over$99

The Crucifixion, the Eucharist and the Tamid

by Brant Pitre July 18, 2019 0 Comments




The Tamid is described in a couple of places in the Old Testament. I’ve given you the passages right here, so let’s see what the Bible has to say about this ancient feast and how Jesus might have fulfilled it. The first quote here at the bottom says this.  Tis is from the book of Exodus 29, describing this daily sacrifice that the Jews would make in the Temple. It says this:

“Now this is what you shall offer upon the altar: two lambs a year old day by day continually. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening; and with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a libation. 

What’s a libation? It’s a drink sacrifice. It’s a liquid sacrifice that the priest would pour out on the altar in the Temple. It usually consisted of wine. So it was a wine sacrifice. So that’s what you would do in the morning. And then:

…the other lamb you shall offer in the evening, and shall offer with it a cereal offering and its libation, as in the morning, for a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Lord. It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tent of meeting

Does anybody remember what the tent of meeting was? It was the tabernacle of Moses. Remember that pitched tent, that portable temple that the Israelites would worship in when they were traveling through the desert at the time of the exodus, that became a kind of prototype for the Temple? That’s what Moses is saying here, that every day, every morning, every evening, the Jews were going to offer a perpetual sacrifice, a daily feast that would never ever stop, and it would consist of three basic components: a lamb, a bread offering, and a wine offering. Is this ringing any bells already? We’ve got the flesh of a lamb and bread and wine. Now some translations when you see…I put “bread offering” there…the Hebrew word is mincha, which sometimes gets translated as “cereal offering”. You may have heard of the cereal offering. Unfortunately modern Americans sometimes think that the cereal offering was like a big bowl of Fruit Loops that the high priest would bring in to the Temple and offer on behalf of the people. But in fact, it’s a grain offering that would usually consist of these unleavened cakes of bread that would be anointed with oil in the shape of a cross and offered in the Temple with this drink offering of wine. Anybody seen any circular unleavened wafers anointed in the shape of a cross? Anybody seen this lately? Okay, yeah. This is where we’re getting all of this Eucharistic imagery from; it’s coming from the Old Testament. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So in the Old Testament you had this daily sacrifice of the Tamid, and then again, at the bottom of the page, Numbers 28 repeats the description of the sacrifice because it was a very significant commandment. The Lord says to Moses:

And you shall say to them, This is the offering by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish…

So notice, it couldn’t be just any lamb that you offered for the Tamid, it had to be an unblemished lamb:

…day by day, as a continual offering [a tamid]. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening; also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a cereal offering, mixed with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil. It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Lord. Its drink offering shall be a fourth of a hin for each lamb; in the holy place you shall pour out…

Notice this

…you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord.

Now again, this is just talking about wine. It doesn’t mean like Jack Daniels or anything like that; strong drink is just an offering of wine to the Lord.

The other lamb you shall offer in the evening; like the cereal offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord.

Alright, so what the Old Testament is describing here is an essential sacrifice. It was something that was absolutely required to be offered in the Temple from the moment that the Temple was constructed all the way until the destruction of the Temple. Every single day the priest’s primary job in the Temple would be to offer the Tamid, every morning, every evening, a sacrifice of lamb and bread and wine, a a sacrifice of lamb and bread and wine, morning, evening, morning, evening, for all eternity, for everlasting generations. This was their primary duty. The annual feast, as one was expect, only came around once a year and even the various seasonal feasts were something you would wait for. But if you were a Jew and you wanted to participate in the liturgy of the Temple, you would go down to the Temple at the hours of sacrifice, every morning and evening, and pray in union with this offering of the bread and wine and of the sacrificial Tamid lamb. And in fact, you’ll notice that the quote we just read said it would be an offering by fire. What does that mean? Well in the Temple, outside of the Holy Place, there was a giant bronze altar of sacrifice in the 1st Century A.D. And that was where the Tamid would be offered. The lamb would be sacrificed and then it would be offered on that bronze altar of sacrifice.

Now sometimes when we Catholics think of an altar, what do we think of? Maybe a small table, whether made of marble or stone or even maybe some kind of hard wood or whatnot. But for the Jews, the bronze altar of sacrifice was twelve feet high and twenty feet in diameter, this enormous cube by the time you got down to the 1st Century in the time of Jesus, that the priest would actually have to ascend by a ramp in order to offer the sacrifice. In fact, the Mishnah tells us that it was an obligation every time the Tamid was offered, that in the morning one priest would be selected to carry a long wooden beam on his shoulders up the ramp to light the fire of the altar of sacrifice. It was meant to be paralleled with an Old Testament practice. Does anyone remember? Who carried the wood if his own sacrifice up a mountain? Who was it? Isaac, exactly. See, the Jews saw every daily sacrifice as a kind of recapitulation of the sacrifice of Isaac. So the priest would enact that by carrying a beam of wood up the ramp and then lighting the fire with the wood, and then bringing the lamb to be offered as a burnt offering to God while the bread and wine were being poured out as a food and drink offering to God in the Holy Place. This was the daily Jewish life, this was what the liturgy was all about.

While that would happen, while the priests were doing that in the Temple, the people would gather, the lay people would gather and they would do two things. First of all, they would pray what the Jews call the Shema. Anybody ever heard of the Shema? Okay yeah, Deuteronomy 6. Shema in Hebrew means “hear.” It’s the famous Jewish prayer:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

So they would pray that prayer of the Shema and they would also pray this long litany of benedictions, known as the Eighteen Benedictions, eighteen blessings of God, which were prayers that were memorized; repeated prayers. It wasn’t a kind of extemporaneous prayer, it was a formalized prayer. And this practice of going up to the Temple to pray in union with the sacrifice of the Tamid was standard Jewish custom. It happened every single day at two very specific times: 9 AM in the morning and 3 PM in the afternoon. Every day; 9AM in the morning, which the Jews would have called the 3rd hour, and then 3 PM in the afternoon, which they would call the 9th hour. They judge the hours differently than we would do it today. So every day, 9 AM, 3 PM, 9 AM, 3 PM, an unblemished male lamb and bread and wine were offered.

You can actually see this in the book of Acts. I don’t have the quotes on the page for you here, but in Acts 2:15 and 3:1 that I mentioned there, do you remember that account on Pentecost when all the Apostles are gathered, and they’re praying together, and the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and they begin to speak in tongues? Does everybody remember this? What happens? Some people begin to say, “They haven’t been anointed by the Holy Spirit.” They actually accuse them of what? “They’re drunk!” Does anyone remember this? And what does Peter say? “These men are not drunk, because we would never drink alcohol. We’re Catholics”. Right? No. What does he say? “These people are not drunk; it’s only 9 in the morning”. Does anyone remember that? In other words, it’s far too early to be drunk. But why does he say it’s only nine in the morning? What are they doing? They’ve gathered in the Temple to pray in union with the Tamid. They’ve gathered there at the hour of prayer and that’s precisely when the Holy Spirit comes down upon them and Peter begins to preach his famous sermon at Pentecost. So, 9 AM and 3 PM every single day. Now if you’re a Catholic, and you have any familiarity with when the death of Jesus took place, you should already see what’s going on here, because Jesus fulfills the sacrifice of the Tamid, not just down to the day, but to the very hour itself.


Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre


Also in Blog

The Mass of the Roman Rite
The Mass of the Roman Rite

by Michael Madere November 28, 2023 0 Comments

Continue Reading

Is the Mass a Sacrifice?
Is the Mass a Sacrifice?

by Brant Pitre April 06, 2022 0 Comments

Continue Reading

The Sanctuary: A Sacrament of Heaven
The Sanctuary: A Sacrament of Heaven

by Michael Madere January 06, 2022 0 Comments

Continue Reading