What is the “purtenance?”

WHAT IS THE “PURTENANCE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The word appears only once in the King James Bible. It is found specifically in Exodus 12:9: “Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.” What is the “purtenance” though?

Our English term “purtenance” has the following etymology: “Middle English portenaunce, literally, appurtenance, from Anglo-French partenance, from partenir “to belong.” (The word “pertain” also originated from here.) Using this information, and the surrounding words in the verse, we can get a general sense of “purtenance” as pertaining to the body of an animal (especially the Passover lamb, or goat—see verse 5). Notice the references to the head and legs of the creature.

The underlying Hebrew word (Strong’s #H7130, קֶרֶב, qereb) was rendered in the Authorized Version as follows: “among” (76 times), “midst” (73 times), “within” (24 times), “inwards” (22 times), “in” (6 times), and 26 miscellaneous occurrences. For example, Sarah laughed “within” herself (Genesis 18:12), Abraham dwelt “among” the Canaanites (Genesis 24:3), Rebekah’s twins struggled “within” her womb (Genesis 25:22), and so on. So, we get the general idea of something internal.

In the case of Exodus 12:9, “purtenance” is really the entrails or guts of the Passover animal. Again, this is the only time the word is used. However, the idea is frequent in Scripture. Our 1611 translators usually employed the word “inwards”—not “purtenance” —when referring to sacrificial animals. Notice:

  • Exodus 29:13: “And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar.”
  • Exodus 29:17: “And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”] of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head.”
  • Exodus 29:22: “Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:….”
  • Leviticus 1:13: “But he shall wash the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”] and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.”
  • Leviticus 3:3: “And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and all the fat that is upon the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”],….”
  • Leviticus 3:9: “And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and all the fat that is upon the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”],….”
  • Leviticus 3:14: “And he shall offer thereof his offering, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and all the fat that is upon the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”],….”
  • Leviticus 4:8: “And he shall take off from it all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering; the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and all the fat that is upon the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”],….”
  • Leviticus 4:11: “And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and his dung,….”
  • Leviticus 7:3: “And he shall offer of it all the fat thereof; the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”],….”
  • Leviticus 8:16: “And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar.”
  • Leviticus 8:21: “And he washed the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”] and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.”
  • Leviticus 8:25: “And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”], and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder:….”
  • Leviticus 9:14: “And he did wash the inwards [qereb, “purtenance”] and the legs, and burnt them upon the burnt offering on the altar.”

Also see:
» What is the “caul?”
» Why did God demand the blood sacrifices?
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?

One response to “What is the “purtenance?”

  1. Pingback: What is the “caul?” | For What Saith the Scriptures?

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