The complexity of the sacrifices that are described in Vaykira boggles the mind. How did the ancient Israelites heed the commandments? Probably, they were instructed by the priests. I digress . . . .
Animal sacrifices were common in the ancient world. You needed, following Vayikra, to bring an animal “without blemish” to the Mishkan and later to the Temple. If you brought a meal offering, you needed to bring “choice flour” to the Mishkan and later to the Temple, and you needed to bring frankincense.
Frankincense, according to one article I read, in the ancient world was worth its weight in gold. Another article that I read put the value of frankincense in perspective, by looking at the value of other items.
In the fourth century c.e., the Roman emperor decreed the value of coins: a silver coin was valued at 100 d.c., and a gold coin was valued at 1200 d.c.
Clothing was expensive: a soldier’s tunic cost 75 d.c., his boots cost 100 d.c., and a good cloak cost 500 d.c.
Food ranged from inexpensive to expensive: meat was sold by the Roman pound or libra of 12 ounces (326 grams), and pork and lamb for 12 d.c., and beef cost 8 d.c., and chicken cost 60 d.c.
You can tell by the numbers that frankincense was costly, especially the 15th century b.c.e.
Day laborers, craftsmen, and farmers must have struggled to relinquish animals “without blemish,” “choice flour.” To buy frankincense must have been extremely burdensome. What sacrifices do we make analogously?
The war in Ukraine brought home to us the sacrifices that people make. One million refugees. No food. No water. No hospitals. No electricity. (Not to mention the Syrian refugees.)
Let us make sacrifices for the needy, destitute, and homeless. We don’t need to buy frankincense, animals “without blemish,” and “choice flour.” Every dollar counts.