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The Secrets of the Daily Tamid Offering, Part 2 Dr. Terry Harman

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Exodus 29:38-42 and Numbers 28:2-8

Part 2: The Time of Sacrifice

Terry Harman, D.Min., PhD

The Time of the Tamid Sacrifice

The Hebrew word Tamid means “regular,” “constant,” or “continuous.” In the context of our primary study of Exodus 29:38-42 Tamid would be better understood as “daily” or “perpetual” offering. Tractate Tamid 3 reminds informs us that two lambs were offered up every day – one at dawn (3rd hour or 9:00 am) and one at mid-afternoon (9th hour or 3:00 pm).

This daily offering was dubbed “Tamid” to distinguish the daily offerings of lambs from the other, occasional offerings that were only offered during special festivals and seasons in the life of Israel. The Tamid was considered a “public sacrifice” in that the morning and evening offering was understood as being offered up by all of Israel even though everyone may not have been present at the time of offering at the Mishkan or the Temple.

“All Israel participated to the extent that all Jewish adults all over the world contributed funds with which the animals to be slaughtered were purchased and the Bet Mikdash as an organization was funded; . . . The private sacrifices were, of course, sacrifices brought by individuals for various reasons which do not concern us here” (Tractate Tamid 3:1). During the period of the Second Temple the public offerings were funded by an annual temple tax, collected by the temple administrators, from every adult make Jew. The biblical basis for this tax was drawn from Exodus 30:11-16.

11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 12 'When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, according to their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. 13 This they shall give, everyone that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary—the shekel is twenty gerahs—half a shekel for an offering to the LORD. 14 Everyone that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering of the LORD. 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the LORD, to make atonement for your souls. 16 And thou shalt take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for your souls.' JPS 1917

The unfailing regularity of the morning and evening Tamid offering consisted of two lambs that were offered without blemish and defect. No ill or sickly lamb would be selected. This public offering represented all of Israel and required the finest quality.

The Tamid offered by the whole congregation not an individual, was also considered a burnt or whole offering (olah – “that which goes up” in smoke from the verb alah, meaning “to cause to ascend”). Symbolically, the Tamid represented the congregation’s intention to revere the Lord and consecrate themselves to his service as the One and True God! This offering was completely consumed by the fires of the altar of burnt sacrifice. However, during the 1st and 2nd Temple periods the practice changed.

During the Temple periods the greed of the powerful gained a foothold among the priesthood. Although the Tamid was to be completely offered and consumed by the fires of the altar another practice took place. Every Friday the hides of the lambs were divided up equally and given to the priests who were on duty during the daily rotation of service.

“As the more prominent priests forcibly took possession of the skins,

it was decreed that the later should be sold and

the proceeds be given to the Temple.”

(Morris Jastrow, Jr., J. Frederic McCurdy, Kaufmann Kohler, Louis Ginzberg; et al., eds. (1901-1906). “Burnt Offering”. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.)

The Coordination of the Tamid

7 And Aaron shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices; every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it. 8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at dusk, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. 9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt offering, nor meal-offering; and ye shall pour no drink-offering thereon. Exodus 30:7-8 JPS 1917

Consistently, every morning and evening, when the Tamid lamb was being placed on the altar by assigned priests other priests were tending to the menorah – trimming the wicks, removing the soot and replenishing the olive oil to keep the menorah burning brightly until the next time of offering.

The coordination of preparing the lamb, the gathering and positioning of the hot coals, the tending to the wicks and oil and the placing of the of the incense on the golden altar were perfectly timed to be simultaneous. Keep in mind this was not done haphazardly but timed to consistently happen at the same time every day – the 3rd hour (9:00 am Tamid 3:7) and the 9th hour (3:00 pm Tamid 4:1; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14.4.3).

During the 1st C.E. there were approximately 7,000 Due to the number of priests available to serve at the Temple. The priests were divided up into 24 different clans. Each clan would be scheduled to serve at the Temple two times per year for a period of a week. With so many duties required service the Temple rituals it is possible that a priest might be selected by lot only once in their lifetime to offer the incense upon the golden altar!

Can you imagine what it was like to be a priest during the Tamid? Once selected you wait till the prescribed time as the glowing coals are removed from the base of the altar of sacrifice and travel past the glimmering water of the copper laver for washing. Ensuring no coals are dropped the priest navigates the first veil of the Mishkan. Here he enters the Holy Place whose walls are bathed in the radiance of pure gold. To your left is the Menorah with wicks being trimmed and soot gently being removed with the finish brush to allow the fresh olive oil to be replenished on each of the seven branches. Even though the Menorah is the only vessel to produce light you can easily see the table, gilded in gold, with twelve loaves of bread weekly proclaiming Israel’s trust that God will provide and sustain the nation from Shabbat to Shabbat.

The centerpiece if the golden altar of incense whereby the priest replaces the lightly glowing coals with fresh, brightly glowing coals just waiting for the offering of incense to be placed in its bowl. As the sweet-smelling incense waffles upward, it becomes a symbol of the people’s prayers. The Rabbis taught that a miracle occurred whereby the inhabitants of Jericho, which was twelve miles away from the Temple, could smell the sweet fragrance of the incensed burned upon the altar every morning and evening.

. . . events in the Temple were sensed a great distance away. And the sound of the doors of the Sanctuary opening was heard from a distance of eight Shabbat limits, which is eight mil. Furthermore, goats that were in Jericho would sneeze from smelling the fragrance of the incense that burned in the Temple; the women that were in Jericho did not need to perfume themselves, since they were perfumed by the fragrance of the incense, which reached there; a bride that was in Jerusalem did not need to adorn herself with perfumes, since she was perfumed by the fragrance of the incense, which filled the air of Jerusalem. Yoma 39b

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: One must be vigilant with regard to the evening prayer as well,

as it is stated: “Let my prayer come forth as incense before You,

the lifting of my hands as the evening offering.” Berakhot 6b:28

The Importance of the Timing of the Tamid (Jewish Insights)

Why was it so important to coordinate the timing of the of the two lambs of the Tamid? What is the significance behind the timing of the ritual of tending to the lamps of the Menorah, the exchange of hot coals and the burning of the incense on the Golden Altar? What is the implication of these rituals being performed precisely at the 3rd and 9th hours of the Jewish day? Understanding the timing of the morning and evening Tamid offers spiritual insights that warm the soul of both Christians and Jews.

During the time of public sacrifice at the Temple, in the morning and evening Tamid, regardless of where God’s people resided, Jews were reciting a series of blessings or prayers known as the Eighteen Benedictions. Accordingly, the whole of Israel was united in praising God as the mighty redeemer of Israel; pleading with the Lord to heal their afflictions; asking to be granted pardon and forgiveness for their transgressions; for the nation of Israel to flourish; for salvation to be realized; and for the resurrection of the dead. At 9:00 am and again at 3:00 pm the people lifted their voices toward heavens and asked God to intercede on their behalf as a nation.

The Psalms resonate with images of morning and evening prayers and praise to the Most High who neither forsakes nor abandons his children.

Psalm 42:8 KJV

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

Psalm 55:17 KJV

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

Psalm 59:16 KJV

But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Psalm 77:2 KJV

In the day of my trouble, I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

Psalm 91:5-6 KJV

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

Psalm 92:1-8 KJV

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High; To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed forever: But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore.

Psalm 141:2 KJV

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.


Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz offers this insight regarding morning and evening in his article, “The Burnt Offering in Your Life” the following:

Morning is symbolic of the good times when the light of G-d shines bright. At these times, things are easy; there are no obstacles to overcome. Afternoon is the hard times, when the sun is going down, and obstacles make G-d seem distant. Even in these dark times of exile, we need to come closer. The darker it is, the greater the effort we need to make to connect. The bond we forge in these dark times is beyond anything we could have created in times of light. Ultimately, the light will return. And because of the closeness we have developed in dark times, the light will be greater than anything we could have imagined.

As a side note, remember the battle between David and Goliath? Goliath came out every morning and evening hurling insults to taunt the people of God as he attempted to draw one out for battle.

1 Samuel 17:16 JPS 1917

And the Philistine drew near morning and evening and presented himself forty days.

The Importance of the Timing of the Tamid (Christian Insights)

Acts 3:1

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 10:9

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hours [noon].

The singing of Psalms, the tending the Menorah, the burning of incense and the corresponding rituals were conducted by the priests at the set times of the Tamid. During the 3rd hour or 9:00 am the trumpets would sound announcing the opening of the gates of the Temple and the morning lamb would be offered up to God for the congregation. Six hours later at the 9th hour or 3:00 pm the evening lamb would be offered up for the congregation. The people of God would be reciting the Eighteen Benedictions asking God for protection, forgiveness, blessing and salvation.

The Gospel writers do not offer a consistent timeline for the events that led up to the death of Jesus. Matthew and Luke do not state any specific time of the morning or evening for the crucifixion and death of Jesus. John indicates that Jesus is still before Pilate at the 6th hour or noon when the second lamb would have been brought out and secured to the altar of sacrifice (John 19:14).

However, the Gospel of Mark in particular, makes a connection between the set times of the morning and evening sacrifices and the death of Jesus upon the cross.

Specifically, Mark 15:25 records the crucifixion of Jesus takes place during the 3rd hour or 9:00 am and Jesus’ death at the 9th hour or 3:00 pm.

Mark 15:24-25

And when they crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. This would have been 9:00 am.

Mark 15:33-39

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried in a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave hin to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias come take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.


For me I see a different spiritual insight that appears to be applicable to my daily life. The Tamid was a public offering for the entire community. Every morning and evening the congregation offered up a lamb as a whole or burnt offering to symbolize their intention to be consecrated to God in everything they did. To love the Lord with all their heart, mind, and strength.

Once again in “The Burnt Offering in Your Life,” Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz goes on to say, “How do you get closer to G-d? By being a ‘burnt offering.’ While only parts of the other sacrifices were burnt on the altar, the burnt offering was entirely consumed. G-d wants us to give out total self to him – to be open and vulnerable, and to allow our entire being to be consumed, to become one with Him.”

Over the years I have learned that if I start my day with prayer and or the study of the Bible and conclude my day with prayer and or study of the Bible, I do much better at navigating the daily ups and downs of life. Two passages crystalize this for me: Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (JPS 1917) and Romans 12:1-2 (KJV).


And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Keep in mind the congregation at Rome included people from various backgrounds and religious understanding. During this time, Christianity as we know it today did not exist. The “parting of the ways” came later.

1. Jews born into Judaism and maintained Jewish way of life, who were did not believe Jesus was The Messiah.

2. Jews born into Judaism who still maintained a Jewish way of life while acknowledging Jesus as The Messiah.

  1. Gentiles who had fully converted to Judaism before this new movement began and then later believed Jesus was The Messiah.

  2. Gentiles who had been in the process of converting to Judaism, then came to believe Jesus was The Messiah.

  3. Gentiles who came out of a pagan background until hearing about Jesus as The Messiah and then became followers of this new movement within Judaism.

Paul’s letter would have been a “circular letter” that was passed around to the various members of the congregation. It is likely the letter would have been read aloud during small gatherings. These gatherings met in homes or within the context of the synagogue system. I am sure this created a lively discussion and debate!

Each day, regardless of whether we are Jews or Christians we must consider presenting ourselves as “living sacrifices” or a living “korban” each day. When we do this not only do we start the day off right, we will be open to the opportunities for service throughout the day.

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