The Torah in Parashat Pinchas introduces the mitzva of the korban tamid – the daily sacrifice which was to be offered each morning and afternoon in the Beit Ha-mikdash. In the midst of its discussion of this obligation, the Torah adds a curious description of the tamid sacrifice: “A daily burnt-offering, which was performed at Mount Sinai…” (28:6). For some reason, the tamid is depicted as the sacrifice which was offered at Mount Sinai.
Rashi explains that this hearkens back to the seven-day miluim period, when the Mishkan and the kohanim were formally consecrated back at Sinai. As we read in Sefer Shemot (29:38-42), the miluim included the offering of a daily tamid sacrifice, and so Rashi explains that the Torah here commands offering this sacrifice each day just as it was offered then. Rashi then cites a different explanation from Torat Kohanim (Parashat Tzav), stating that the Torah refers here to the sacrifices that were offered at the time of Matan Torah, as we read in Sefer Shemot (24:5): “He [Moshe] send the Israelite youth to offer burnt-sacrifices…” The Torah links the daily tamid with these offerings, Rashi explains, to instruct that the blood of the daily sacrifices must be collected in a vessel, just as was done at the time of Matan Torah (“Va-yasem ba-aganot” – Shemot 24:6).
Seforno explains that this verse introduces the next verse, which adds the requirement to include a nesekh – wine libation – along with the tamid animal sacrifice. At the time of Matan Torah, Seforno writes, libations were not required; it was only after the sin of the golden calf that God required more elaborate sacrifices (and an elaborate Mishkan). Therefore, the Torah here describes the tamid as the sacrifice which was offered at the time of Matan Torah at Sinai, and then adds that it must also include the libation.
A much different approach is taken by Ibn Ezra, in his Peirush Ha-arokh to Sefer Shemot (29:42), where he controversially asserts that Benei Yisrael did not offer sacrifices in the wilderness once they journeyed from Mount Sinai. Sacrifices were offered after the Mishkan’s construction at Sinai until the nation departed, and they were not offered again until Benei Yisrael crossed the Jordan River into the Land of Israel. Ibn Ezra draws numerous proofs to support his theory, including the verse here in Parashat Pinchas. This command was issued at the very end of Benei Yisrael’s sojourn in the wilderness (immediately following Yehoshua’s formal appointment as successor of Moshe, who died soon thereafter), just before they crossed into Eretz Yisrael, and God instructed to offer daily sacrifices just as they had briefly done back at Sinai, 39 years earlier.
Ibn Ezra draws further proof from the fact that Benei Yisrael journeyed through an uninhabited an uninhabitable desert, and it is thus inconceivable that they had enough animals, oil and wine needed for all the various offerings that are normally required. He also cites the verse in Sefer Amos (5:25), in which God asks Benei Yisrael, “Did you, the House of Israel, present to me sacrifices and meal offerings for forty years in the desert?!” – indicating that Benei Yisrael did not offer sacrifices in the desert, and the commands regarding the sacrifices were applicable only at Sinai and after Benei Yisrael entered the Land of Israel.