Drink offering

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The drink offering (Hebrew ְנֶסֶך, nesekh) was a form of libation forming one of the sacrifices and offerings of the Law of Moses.


The Hebrew noun nesekh is formed from the Qal form of the verb nasakh, "to pour," hence "thing poured." The verb and the noun frequently come together, such as nasakh [aleha] nesekh, literally "pour [on it] a poured thing" as in the only pre-Exodus use, that of Jacob's libation at a pillar in Genesis 35:14. The etymology "poured thing" explains the existence of the rarer secondary use of the verb nasakh for "cast" (an idol), and the noun nesekh for a "thing poured" (also an idol).[1]

Hebrew Bible[edit]

The drink offering accompanied various sacrifices and offerings on various feast days. Usually the offering was of wine, but in one instance also of "strong drink" (Numbers 28:7).[2] This "strong drink" (Hebrew shekhar שֵׁכָר, Septuagint sikera σίκερα as Luke 1:15, but also methusma in Judges 13:4 and Micah 2:11) is not identified.

Ancient Near East parallels[edit]

In Akkadian texts, and Ugaritic epics there are references to libations, and sometimes the same verb stem N-S-K "to pour" is used. Psalm 16:4 gives reference to a "drink offering" of blood among pagans, but generally in ANE religions libations were also of wine.[3]

Rabbinical interpretation[edit]

In the Talmud the view of Rabbi Meir was that the blood of the sacrifices permits the drink offering to the altar (B. Zeb. 44a).[4]


  1. ^ Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon nesek
  2. ^ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible 2000 p357 "Beer was also consumed widely in the ancient Near East as early as the Early Bronze Age. ... A drink offering (Heb. nesek) was poured out to the Lord at the sanctuary during many of the festival offerings (e.g., Num. 28:7-8, 10 "
  3. ^ Article spendo (Greek "to pour"). Theological dictionary of the New Testament: V7 p532 Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, Geoffrey William Bromiley - 1971 "In these passages the original purpose is clear: God needs drink as well as food , Aqhat, II, 6, 29 f.; cf. also II, 2, 18 f., 28. ^ The drink offering plays a particularly important role in fertility cults.28 In Israel there were ..."
  4. ^ Jacob Neusner A history of the Mishnaic law of holy things 1978 p77 "Meir's view is that the blood of the sacrifices permits the drink-offering to the altar (B. Zeb. 44a) . Sages point out that the drink-offering may come later ( = Meir, G.)"