The first two words are used in the Bible for sacrifice of animals while the third word indicates gifts and general offerings, mainly meal offering consisting on plants. Later in history, the word kor•ban received another meaning that was derived from a humanistic point of view – victim. The sacrifice which is, of course, innocent is viewed from a new perspective that puts value to the animal’s mere life.
The meaning of the word kor•ban is a twofold: 1. It comes from the word ‘kir•va’ which means ‘proximity.’ People brought their offerings to the place where they believed God (or their gods) dwelt. 2. ‘Kir•va’ can also relate to the spiritual ‘closeness’ to God.
The ze•bach refers to an animal sacrifice where the person who offers it and his guests would also eat from its flesh. This was carried out during feasts and ceremonial events.
During the Temple era the practice of sacrifice was very detailed and was one of the main tasks performed by the priests. The Torah details the various names of each type of sacrifice but this is not the place to discuss them.
The idea behind the sacrificial practice is that that people needed to pay with a valuable property to show their devotion to God. This practice seems to be cross cultural and was carried out by both polytheistic and monotheistic faiths.
Scarifying was abolished in Israel after the destruction of the Temple during the first century and surprisingly it was also stopped among all other idolatrous nations in the region.