The fat portions of animals offered in sacrifice were always to be consumed, as being the choice part and especially sacred to the Lord. The blood was also sacred, as containing the life of the animal. The Jews were forbidden to eat either, Le 3:16-17; 7:23-27.
(Heb heleb) denotes the richest part of the animal, or the fattest of the flock, in the account of Abel's sacrifice (Ge 4:4). It sometimes denotes the best of any production (Ge 45:18; Nu 18:12; Ps 81:16; 147:20). The fat of sacrifices was to be burned (Le 3:9-11; 4:8; 7:3; 8:25; Nu 18:17. Comp. Ex 29:13-22; Le 3:3-5).
It is used figuratively for a dull, stupid state of mind (Ps 17:10).
Closely associated with the blood in sacrifices, and as being the richest part, appropriated peculiarly to God (Le 3:16-17); i.e. the internal fat, the "sweet fat" or suet, chelev; the fat of the kidneys, the sign of the animal's excellence and vigor. As of all produce the first-fruits were offered to Jehovah, so of sacrifices the blood and the fat. Hence the choicest are expressed by "the fat of the earth," "the fat of the wheat," etc., "the fat of the mighty" (Ge 45:18; De 32:14; Nu 18:12 margin; 2Sa 1:22). The fat mixed with lean, mishman or shameen (Nu 13:20; Ps 78:31; Isa 10:16), was lawful to eat; so also the peder or fat of the burnt offering, burned along with the flesh. The proper development of fat in the animal marked its perfection, it being the source of nutriment of which the animal economy avails itself in emergency; hence, its appropriateness as the offering to Jehovah.
The whole fat tail was taken off hard by the backbone where the pad of fat begins (Le 3:9), for an offering by fire to Jehovah. The broad-tailed sheep of the East has an apron of marrowy fat as wide as the hind quarters, and trailing on the ground unless when artificially supported by a small truck (Herod., 3:113). The choicest of all that we have and are is to be presented to God (Ro 12:1; Php 4:18). Fat, i.e. vat. Hebrew gath is the upper receptacle or "press" in which the grapes were trod. The yeqeb or "vat" was on a lower level, into it the juice flowed from above. The root means to hollow; for the winepress and vat were dug out of the rocks of the hills whereon were the vineyards. Compare Mr 12:1; Isa 5:2, margin.
This portion of the sacrifices was to be burned on the altar. "All the fat is the Lord's. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood." Le 3:16-17. Apparently, as to the fat, this refers to that "of ox, or of sheep, or of goat," the animals of sacrifice, and to the fat of any animal that died of itself, or was torn of beasts. Le 7:23-24. In Ne 8:10 it was proclaimed, "eat the fat," without any restriction; but here the Hebrew word is different, and refers more to 'dainties.' In Isa 25:6 is another Hebrew word, and is 'fat or rich things.' The 'fat' signifies the best part, the inward energy and will: cf. Nu 18:29 margin; Ps 73:4 margin. It is typical of the inward energy of the Lord Jesus in the offering of Himself to God.
The Hebrews distinguished between the suet or pure fat of an animal and the fat which was intermixed with the lean.
Certain restrictions were imposed upon them in reference to the former; some parts of the suet, viz., about the stomach, the entrails, the kidneys, and the tail of a sheep, which grows to an excessive size in many eastern countries, and produces a large quantity of rich fat, were forbidden to be eaten in the case of animals offered to Jehovah in sacrifice.
The ground of the prohibition was that the fat was the richest part of the animal, and therefore belonged to him.
The burning of the fat of sacrifices was particularly specified in each kind of offering.
FAT. God forbade the Hebrews to eat the fat of beasts: "All the fat is the Lord's. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations, throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood," Le 3:17. Some interpreters understand these words literally, and suppose fat as well as blood to be forbidden. Josephus says, Moses forbids only the fat of oxen, goats, sheep, and their species. This agrees with Le 7:23: "Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat." This is observed by the modern Jews, who think that the fat of other sorts of clean creatures is allowed them, even that of beasts which have died of themselves, conformably to Le 7:24: "And the fat of the beast that dieth of itself, and the fat of that which is torn with beasts, may be used in any other use; but ye shall in nowise eat of it." Others maintain that the law which forbids the use of fat, should be restrained to fat separated from the flesh, such as that which covers the kidneys and the intestines: and this only in the case of its being offered in sacrifice. This is confirmed by Le 7:25: "Whosoever eateth of the fat of the beast of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people." In the Hebrew style, fat signifies not only that of beasts, but also the richer or prime part of other things: "He should have fed them with the finest" (in Hebrew the fat) "of the wheat." Fat denotes abundance of good things: "I will satiate the souls of the priests with fatness," Jer 31:14. "My soul shall be satisfied with marrow and fatness," Ps 63:5. The fat of the earth implies its fruitfulness: "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine," Ge 27:28.