“"You shall take the breast of the ram of Aaron's ordination and wave it for a wave offering before the Lord, and it shall be your portion.” ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭29:26‬ ‭ESV

Why the waving?

“And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.” ‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭23:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s not limited to meat, nor even to priestly offerings.

“And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand and shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar.” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭5:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What they all have in common is waving before God. It hardly seems as trivial that waving was specifically given as an instruction. Why would God request the waving?

I’ve not been able to find its significance or it’s NT counterpart. Any clue to the significance would be highly appreciated.

  • 1
    One possibility is that the waving is a silent thank you to God. A sign of gratefulness, in other words. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 11:26
  • The other 4? passages unrelated to sacrifices where nuph is used that doesn’t seem to be the case nor the context. It’s definitely a gesture, possibly a signaling of some kind... maybe in regards to sacrifices it has an element of gratitude though I don’t make the connect how or why. Thank you though. If you have some verses that would indicate waving and gratitude are linked I would welcome them. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:58
  • The physical act will have consequences. Anything that is not secure to the object/s being waved will fall to the ground from the mere agitation, be it excess blood, impurities, chaff and so on. Also it will spread its fragrances in the air, scenting the air with that which is being waved. It would also signify a portion or weight that was light enough and compact enough for the priests to wave. It draws attention to the priests because it’s a signaling gensture and depending on how pronounced the movement it will attract more or less. Visually it’s from extreme to extreme (i.e. east to west) Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:11
  • I think your guess was is as good as mine. In fact your guess was probably better than mine. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


Three commentaries I looked at associated the wave offering as a way to show that the ownership of the offering had been transferred to the priests as a gift from God.

For example in Lev. 7:30-35 the emphasis is that these wave offerings were to be a gift to the sons of Aaron.

Lev. 7:30-35 KJV 30 His own hands shall bring the offerings of the LORD made by fire, the fat with the breast, it shall he bring, that the breast may be waved for a wave offering before the LORD. 31 And the priest shall burn the fat upon the altar: but the breast shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. 32 And the right shoulder shall ye give unto the priest for an heave offering of the sacrifices of your peace offerings. 33 He among the sons of Aaron, that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part. 34 For the wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons by a statute for ever from among the children of Israel. 35 This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the LORD in the priest’s office;

This answer focuses not on the significance of the wave so much as it focuses on the purpose of the offering as a whole. Looking at the purpose of the offering as a whole it establishes the Biblical principle that God servants are worthy of an earthly benefit. We see that principle at work in the New Testament when the Bible says that those who have the office of pastor are worthy to receive pay for their work of the ministry.

That is shown in the New Testament in 1 Tim 5:17

1 Tim 5:17-18 17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

I know some have tried to argue wrongly that double honor means a pastor should be paid twice what other people my be paid. It is their way of being wolves who are fleecing the sheep. The double honor is that they are to be respected and honored one hand and on the other they are to receive double honor by also be paid. He is worthy to receive money from because a pastor is a servant to the people.

  • Thank you for the response. I don’t agree with what you’ve responded on the basis of “And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water.” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭5:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬ the priest only keeps a ‘handful’. The waves portion is sacrificed and burned up. Also are you saying Acts 7 is about paying deacons a salary? Deacons were merely servants as their Greek name describes. Off topic but I want to see what verse you deduced that from. Thank you +1 Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 0:57
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    Probably should have put more. Deacons are there so the pastor can do the work of the ministry. Praying and preaching the word. I was rushed so I don't know what I was trying to link to in this case
    – Ken Banks
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 4:21

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