|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:3-9 In the due performance of the Levitical ordinances, the mysteries of the spiritual world are represented by corresponding natural objects; and future events are exhibited in these rites. Without this, the whole will seem unmeaning ceremonies. There is in these things a type of the sufferings of the Son of God, who was to be a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world? The burning body of an animal was but a faint representation of that everlasting misery, which we all have deserved; and which our blessed Lord bore in his body and in his soul, when he died under the load of our iniquities. Observe, 1. The beast to be offered must be without blemish. This signified the strength and purity that were in Christ, and the holy life that should be in his people. 2. The owner must offer it of his own free will. What is done in religion, so as to please God, must be done by love. Christ willingly offered himself for us. 3. It must be offered at the door of the tabernacle, where the brazen altar of burnt-offerings stood, which sanctified the gift: he must offer it at the door, as one unworthy to enter, and acknowledging that a sinner can have no communion with God, but by sacrifice. 4. The offerer must put his hand upon the head of his offering, signifying thereby, his desire and hope that it might be accepted from him, to make atonement for him. 5. The sacrifice was to be killed before the Lord, in an orderly manner, and to honour God. It signified also, that in Christians the flesh must be crucified with its corrupt affections and lust. 6. The priests were to sprinkle the blood upon the altar; for the blood being the life, that was it which made atonement. This signified the pacifying and purifying of our consciences, by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ upon them by faith. 7. The beast was to be divided into several pieces, and then to be burned upon the altar. The burning of the sacrifice signified the sharp sufferings of Christ, and the devout affections with which, as a holy fire, Christians must offer up themselves, their whole spirit, soul, and body, unto God. 8. This is said to be an offering of a sweet savour. As an act of obedience to a Divine command, and a type of Christ, this was well-pleasing to God; and the spiritual sacrifices of Christians are acceptable to God, through Christ, 1Pe 2:5.
Verse 4. - And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering. This putting, or forcibly leaning, the hand on the victim's head, which is the most essential part of the oblation of the victim, was a symbolical act implying "This animal is now for present purposes myself, and its life is my life." It was this act of identification with the offerer which made it be accepted for him to make atonement (literally, covering) for him. The sin offering is the sacrifice which especially symbolizes and ceremonially effects atonement, but the idea of atonement is not absent from the burnt sacrifice. The aspect under which atonement is presented here and elsewhere in the Old Testament is that of covering. But it is not the sin that is covered, but the sinner. Owing to his sin, the latter is exposed to the wrath of a just God, but something intervenes whereby he is covered, and he ceases, therefore, to attract the Divine anger and punishment. No longer being an object of wrath, he becomes at once an object of benevolence and mercy. The covering provided by a sacrifice is the blood or life of an animal, symbolically representing the offerer's own life freely surrendered by him for his acceptance, and typically foreshadowing the blood of Christ.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering,.... According to the Targum of Jonathan, it was his right hand; but it is generally thought by the Jewish writers that both hands were laid on; so Ben Gersom and Aben Ezra, with whom Maimonides (e) agrees, who says, he that lays on hands ought to lay on with all his strength, with both his hands upon the head of the beast, as it is said, "upon the head of the burnt offering": not upon the neck, nor upon the sides; and there should be nothing between his hands and the beast: and as the same writer says (f), it must be his own hand, and not the hand of his wife, nor the hand of his servant, nor his messenger; and who also observes (g), that at the same time he made confession over the burnt offering both of his sins committed against affirmative and negative precepts: and indeed by this action he owned that he had sinned, and deserved to die as that creature he brought was about to do, and that he expected pardon of his sin through the death of the great sacrifice that was a type of. Moreover, this action signified the transferring of his sins from himself to this sacrifice, which was to be offered up to make atonement for them; so Gersom observes; see Leviticus 16:21. This denotes the translation of our sins from us, and the imputation of them to Christ, who was offered up in our room and stead, to make atonement for them, as follows:
and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him: that is, the burnt offering should be accepted in his room and stead, and hereby an atonement of his sins should be made for him, typical of that true, real, and full atonement made by the sacrifice of Christ, which this led his faith unto.
(e) Hilchot Maaseh Hakorbanot, c. 3. sect. 13. (f) Hilchot Maaseh Hakorbanot, c. 3. sect. 8. Vid. T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 93. 2.((g) Ib. sect. 14.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. shall put his hand upon the head—This was a significant act which implied not only that the offerer devoted the animal to God, but that he confessed his consciousness of sin and prayed that his guilt and its punishment might be transferred to the victim.
and it shall be—rather, "that it may be an acceptable atonement."
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