Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,The Expiatory Sacrifices. - The sacrifices treated of in ch. 1-3 are introduced by their names, as though already known, for the purpose of giving them a legal sanction. But in ch. 4 and 5 sacrifices are appointed for different offences, which receive their names for the first time from the objects to which they apply, i.e., from the sin, or the trespass, or debt to be expiated by them: viz., חטּאת sin, i.e., sin-offering (Leviticus 4:3, Leviticus 4:8, Leviticus 4:14, Leviticus 4:19, etc.), and אשׁם debt, i.e., debt-offering (Leviticus 5:15-16, Leviticus 5:19); - a clear proof that the sin and debt-offerings were introduced at the same time as the Mosaic law. The laws which follow are distinguished from the preceding ones by the new introductory formula in Leviticus 4:1-2, which is repeated in Leviticus 5:14. This repetition proves that Leviticus 4:2-5:13 treats of the sin-offerings, and Leviticus 5:14-19 of the trespass-offerings; and this is confirmed by the substance of the two series of laws.
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:The Sin-Offerings. - The ritual prescribed for these differed, with regard to the animals sacrificed, the sprinkling of the blood, and the course adopted with the flesh, according to the position which the person presenting them happened to occupy in the kingdom of God. The classification of persons was as follows: (1) the anointed priest (Leviticus 4:2-12); (2) the whole congregation of Israel (Leviticus 5:13 -21); (3) the prince (vv. 22-26); (4) the common people (v. 27- Leviticus 5:13). In the case of the last, regard was also paid to their circumstances; so that the sin-offerings could be regulated according to the ability of the offerer, especially for the lighter forms of sin (Leviticus 5:1-13).
"If a soul sin in wandering from any (מכּל in a partitive sense) of the commandments of Jehovah, which ought not to be done, and do any one of them" (מאחת with מן partitive, cf. Leviticus 4:13, Leviticus 4:22, Leviticus 4:27, lit., anything of one). This sentence, which stands at the head of the laws for the sin-offerings, shows that the sin-offerings did not relate to sin or sinfulness in general, but to particular manifestations of sin, to certain distinct actions performed by individuals, or by the whole congregation. The distinguishing characteristic of the sin is expressed by the term בּשׁגגה (in error). No sins but those committed בּשׁגגה could be expiated by sin-offerings; whilst those committed with a high hand were to be punished by the extermination of the sinner (Numbers 15:27-31). שׁגגה, from שׁגג equals שׁגה to wander or go wrong, signifies mistake, error, oversight. But sinning "in error" is not merely sinning through ignorance (Leviticus 4:13, Leviticus 4:22, Leviticus 4:27, Leviticus 5:18), hurry, want of consideration, or carelessness (Leviticus 5:1, Leviticus 5:4, Leviticus 5:15), but also sinning unintentionally (Numbers 35:11, Numbers 35:15, Numbers 35:22-23); hence all such sins as spring from the weakness of flesh and blood, as distinguished from sins committed with a high (elevated) hand, or in haughty, defiant rebellion against God and His commandments.
If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering.The sin of the high priest. - The high priest is here called the "anointed priest" (Leviticus 4:3, Leviticus 4:5, Leviticus 4:16, Leviticus 6:15) on account of the completeness of the anointing with which he was consecrated to his office (Leviticus 8:12); in other places he is called the great (or high) priest (Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 35:25, etc.), and by later writers הראשׁ כּהן, the priest the head, or head priest (2 Kings 25:18; 2 Chronicles 19:11). If he sinned העם לאשׁמת, "to the sinning of the nation," i.e., in his official position as representative of the nation before the Lord, and not merely in his own personal relation to God, he was to offer for a sin-offering because of his sin an ox without blemish, the largest of all the sacrificial animals, because he filled the highest post in Israel.
And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.The presentation, laying on of hands, and slaughtering, were the same as in the case of the other sacrifices (Leviticus 1:3-5). The first peculiarity occurs in connection with the blood (Leviticus 4:5-7). The anointed priest was to take (a part) of the blood and carry it into the tabernacle, and having dipped his finger in it, to sprinkle some of it seven times before Jehovah "in the face of the vail of the Holy" (Exodus 26:31), i.e., in the direction towards the curtain; after that, he was to put (נתן) some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of incense, and then to pour out the great mass of the blood, of which only a small portion had been used for sprinkling and smearing upon the horns of the altar, at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering. A sevenfold sprinkling "in the face of the vail" also took place in connection with the sin-offering for the whole congregation, as well as with the ox and he-goat which the high priest offered as sin-offerings on the day of atonement for himself, the priesthood, and the congregation, when the blood was sprinkled seven times before (לפני) the capporeth (Leviticus 16:14), and seven times upon the horns of the altar (Leviticus 16:18-19). So too the blood of the red cow, that was slaughtered as a sin-offering outside the camp, was sprinkled seven times in the direction towards the tabernacle (Numbers 19:4). The sevenfold sprinkling at the feast of atonement had respect to the purification of the sanctuary from the blemishes caused by the sins of the people, with which they had been defiled in the course of the year (see at ch. 16), and did not take place till after the blood had been sprinkled once "against (? upon) the capporeth in front" for the expiation of the sin of the priesthood and people, and the horns of the altar had been smeared with the blood (Leviticus 16:14, Leviticus 16:18); whereas in the sin-offerings mentioned in this chapter, the sevenfold sprinkling preceded the application of the blood to the horns of the altar. This difference in the order of succession of the two manipulations with the blood leads to the conclusion, that in the case before us the sevenfold sprinkling had a different signification from that which it had on the day atonement, and served as a preliminary and introduction to the expiation. The blood also was not sprinkled upon the altar of the holy place, but only before Jehovah, against the curtain behind which Jehovah was enthroned, that is to say, only into the neighbourhood of the gracious presence of God; and this act was repeated seven times, that in the number seven, as the stamp of the covenant, the covenant relation, which sin had loosened, might be restored. It was not till after this had been done, that the expiatory blood of the sacrifice was put upon the horns of the altar, - not merely sprinkled or swung against the wall of the altar, but smeared upon the horns of the altar; not, however, that the blood might thereby be brought more prominently before the eyes of God, or lifted up into His more immediate presence, as Hoffmann and Knobel suppose, but because the significance of the altar, as the scene of the manifestation of the divine grace and salvation, culminated in the horns, as the symbols of power and might. In the case of the sin-offerings for the high priest and the congregation, the altar upon which this took place was not the altar of burnt-offering in the court, but the altar of incense in the holy place; because both the anointed priest, by virtue of his calling and consecration as the mediator between the nation and the Lord, and the whole congregation, by virtue of its election as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), were to maintain communion with the covenant God in the holy place, the front division of the dwelling-place of Jehovah, and were thus received into a closer relation of fellowship with Jehovah than the individual members of the nation, for whom the court with its altar was the divinely appointed place of communion with the covenant God. The remainder of the blood, which had not been used in the act of expiation, was poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering, as the holy place to which all the sacrificial blood was to be brought, that it might be received into the earth.
And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation:
And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, before the vail of the sanctuary.
And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And he shall take off from it all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,The priest was to lift off "all the fat" from the sacrificial animal, i.e., the same fat portions as in the peace-offering (Leviticus 3:3-4, כּל־חלב is the subject to יוּרם in Leviticus 3:10), and burn it upon the altar of burnt-offering.
And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away,
As it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of the burnt offering.
And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung,The skin of the bullock, and all the flesh, together with the head and the shank and the entrails (Leviticus 1:9) and the foeces, in fact the whole bullock, was to be carried out by him (the sacrificing priest) to a clean place before the camp, to which the ashes of the sacrifices were carried from the ash-heap (Leviticus 1:16), and there burnt on the wood with fire. (On the construction of Leviticus 4:11 and Leviticus 4:12 see Ges. 145, 2).
The different course, adopted with the blood and flesh of the sin-offerings, from that prescribed in the ritual of the other sacrifices, was founded upon the special signification of these offerings. As they were presented to effect the expiation of sins, the offerer transferred the consciousness of sin and the desire for forgiveness to the head of the animal that had been brought in his stead, by the laying on of his hand; and after this the animal was slaughtered, and suffered death for him as the wages of sin. But as sin is not wiped out by the death of the sinner, unless it be forgiven by the grace of God, so devoting to death an animal laden with sin rendered neither a real nor symbolical satisfaction or payment for sin, by which the guilt of it could be wiped away; but the death which it endured in the sinner's stead represented merely the fruit and effect of sin. To cover the sinner from the holiness of God because of his sin, some of the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled seven times before Jehovah in the holy place; and the covenant fellowship, which had been endangered, was thereby restored. After this, however, the soul, which was covered in the sacrificial blood, was given up to the grace of God that prevailed in the altar, by means of the sprinkling of the blood upon the horns of the altar of incense, that it might receive the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God, and the full enjoyment of the blessings of the covenant be ensured to it once more. But the sin, that had been laid upon the animal of the sin-offering, lay upon it still. The next thing done, therefore, was to burn the fat portions of its inside upon the altar of burnt-offering. Now, if the flesh of the victim represented the body of the offerer as the organ of his soul, the fat portions inside the body, together with the kidneys, which were regarded as the seat of the tenderest and deepest emotions, can only have set forth the better part or inmost kernel of the man, the ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (Romans 7:22; Ephesians 3:16). By burning the fat portions upon the altar, the better part of human nature was given up in symbol to the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit of God, that it might be purified from the dross of sin, and ascend in its glorified essence to heaven, for a sweet savour unto the Lord (Leviticus 4:31). The flesh of the sin-offering, however, or "the whole bullock," was then burned in a clean place outside the camp, though not merely that it might be thereby destroyed in a clean way, like the flesh provided for the sacrificial meals, which had not been consumed at the time fixed by the law (Leviticus 7:17; Leviticus 8:32; Leviticus 19:6; Exodus 12:10; Exodus 29:34), or the flesh of the sacrifices, which had been defiled by contact with unclean objects (Leviticus 7:19); for if the disposal of the flesh formed an integral part of the sacrificial ceremony in the case of all the other sacrifices, and if, in the case of the sin-offerings, the blood of which was not brought into the interior of the sanctuary, the priests were to eat the flesh in a holy place, and that not "as a portion assigned to them by God as an honourable payment," but, according to the express declaration of Moses, "to bear and take away (לשׂאת) the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them" (Leviticus 10:17), the burning of the flesh of the sin-offerings, i.e., of the animal itself, the blood of which was not brought into the holy place, cannot have been without significance, or simply the means adopted to dispose of it in a fitting manner, but must also have formed one factor in the ceremony of expiation. The burning outside the camp was rendered necessary, because the sacrifice had respect to the expiation of the priesthood, and the flesh or body of the bullock, which had been made חטּאת by the laying on of the hand, could not be eaten by the priests as the body of sin, that by the holiness of their official character they might bear and expiate the sin imputed to the sacrifice (see at Leviticus 10:17). In this case it was necessary that it should be given up to the effect of sin, viz., to death or destruction by fire, and that outside the camp; in other words, outside the kingdom of God, from which everything dead was removed. But, inasmuch as it was sacrificial flesh, and therefore most holy by virtue of its destination; in order that it might not be made an abomination, it was not to be burned in an unclean place, where carrion and other abominations were thrown (Leviticus 14:40, Leviticus 14:45), but in the clean place, outside the camp, to which the ashes of the altar of burnt-offering were removed, as being the earthly sediment and remains of the sacrifices that had ascended to God in the purifying flames of the altar-fire.
(Note: The most holy character of the flesh of the sin-offering (Leviticus 6:18.) furnishes no valid argument against the correctness of this explanation of the burning; for, in the first place, there is an essential difference between real or inherent sin, and sin imputed or merely transferred; and secondly, the flesh of the sin-offering was called most holy, not in a moral, but only in a liturgical or ritual sense, as subservient to the most holy purpose of wiping away sin; on which account it was to be entirely removed from all appropriation to earthly objects. Moreover, the idea that sin was imputed to the sin-offering, that it was made sin by the laying on of the hand, has a firm basis in the sacrifice of the red cow (Numbers 19), and also occurs among the Greeks (see Oehler in Herzog's Cycl.).)
Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.
And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty;Sin of the whole congregation. - This is still further defined, as consisting in the fact that the thing was hid (נעלּם)
(Note: In the correct editions נעלּם has dagesh both here and in Leviticus 5:2, Leviticus 5:4, as Delitzsch informs me, according to an old rule in pointing, which required that every consonant which followed a syllable terminating with a guttural should be pointed with dagesh, if the guttural was to be read with a quiescent sheva and not with chateph. This is the case in ויּאסּר in Genesis 46:29; Exodus 14:6, תּעלּים in Psalm 10:1, and other words in the critical edition of the Psalter which has been carefully revised by Bהr according to the Masora, and published with an introduction by Delitzsch. In other passages, such as בּכל־לּבּי Psalm 9:2, על־לּשׁנו Psalm 15:3, etc., the dagesh is introduced to prevent the second letter from being lost in the preceding one through the rapidity of reading. - Ewald's conjectures and remarks about this "dagesh, which is found in certain MSS," is a proof that he was not acquainted with this rule which the Masora recognises.)
from the eyes of the congregation, i.e., that it was a sin which was not known to be such, an act which really violated a commandment of God, though it was not looked upon as sin. Every transgression of a divine command, whether it took place consciously or unconsciously, brought guilt, and demanded a sin-offering for its expiation; and this was to be presented as soon as the sin was known. The sin-offering, which the elders had to offer in the name of the congregation, was to consist of a young ox, and was to be treated like that of the high priest (Leviticus 4:14-23 compared with Leviticus 4:3-12), inasmuch as "the whole congregation" included the priesthood, or at any rate was on an equality with the priesthood by virtue of its calling in relation to the Lord. חטא with על signifies to incur guilt upon (on the foundation of) sin (Leviticus 5:5, etc.); it is usually construed with an accusative (Leviticus 4:3, Leviticus 4:28; Leviticus 5:6, Leviticus 5:10, etc.), or with בּ, to sin with a sin (Leviticus 4:23; Genesis 42:22). The subject of ושׁחט (Leviticus 4:15) is one of the elders. "The bullock for a sin-offering:" sc., the one which the anointed priest offered for his sin, or as it is briefly and clearly designated in Leviticus 4:21, "the former bullock" (Leviticus 4:12).
When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation.
And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the LORD: and the bullock shall be killed before the LORD.
And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock's blood to the tabernacle of the congregation:
And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, even before the vail.
And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the LORD, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar.
And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them."And let the priest make an atonement for them, that it may be forgiven them," or, "so will they be forgiven." This formula recurs with all the sin-offerings (with the exception of the one for the high priest), viz., Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35, Leviticus 5:10, Leviticus 5:13; Numbers 15:25-26, Numbers 15:28; also with the trespass-offerings, Leviticus 5:16, Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 19:22, - the only difference being, that in the sin-offerings presented for defilements cleansing is mentioned, instead of forgiveness, as the effect of the atoning sacrifice (Leviticus 12:7-8; Leviticus 13:20, Leviticus 13:53; Numbers 8:21).
And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn him as he burned the first bullock: it is a sin offering for the congregation.
When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty;The sin of a ruler. - Leviticus 4:22. אשׁר: ὅτε, when. נשׂיא is the head of a tribe, or of a division of a tribe (Numbers 3:24, Numbers 3:30, Numbers 3:35).
Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:"If (או, see Ges. 155, 2) his sin is made known to him," i.e., if any one called his attention to the fact that he had transgressed a commandment of God, he was to bring a he-goat without blemish, and, having laid his hand upon it, to slay it at the place of burnt-offering; after which the priest was to put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering, and pour out the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar, and then to burn the whole of the fat upon the altar, as in the case of the peaceoffering (see Leviticus 3:3-4), and thus to make atonement for the prince on account of his sin. עזים שׂעיר, or שׂעיר alone (lit., hairy, shaggy, Genesis 27:11), is the buck-goat, which is frequently mentioned as the animal sacrificed as a sin-offering: e.g., that of the tribe-princes (Numbers 7:16., Leviticus 15:24), and that of the nation at the yearly festivals (Leviticus 16:9, Leviticus 16:15; Leviticus 23:19; Numbers 28:15, Numbers 28:22, Numbers 28:30; Numbers 29:5, Numbers 29:16.) and at the consecration of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:3, Leviticus 9:15; Leviticus 10:16). It is distinguished in Numbers 7:16. from the attudim, which were offered as peace-offerings, and frequently occur in connection with oxen, rams, and lambs as burnt-offerings and thank-offerings (Psalm 50:9, Psalm 50:13; Psalm 66:15; Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 34:6; Ezekiel 39:18). According to Knobel, עזים שׂעיר, or שׂעיר, was an old he-goat, the hair of which grew longer with age, particularly about the neck and back, and עזים שׂעירת (Leviticus 4:28; Leviticus 5:16) an old she-goat; whilst עתּוּד was the younger he-goat, which leaped upon the does (Genesis 31:10, Genesis 31:12), and served for slaughtering like lambs, sheep, and goats (Deuteronomy 32:14; Jeremiah 51:40). But as the עזים שׂעיר was also slaughtered for food (Genesis 37:31), and the skins of quite young he-goats are called שׂעירת (Genesis 27:23), the difference between שׂעיר and עתּוּד is hardly to be sought in the age, but more probably, as Bochart supposes, in some variety of species, in which case seir and seirak might denote the rough-haired, shaggy kind of goat, and attud the buck-goat of stately appearance.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD: it is a sin offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.
And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;In the case of the sin of a common Israelite ("of the people of the land," i.e., of the rural population, Genesis 23:7), that is to say, of an Israelite belonging to the people, as distinguished from the chiefs who ruled over the people (2 Kings 11:18-19; 2 Kings 16:15), the sin-offering was to consist of a shaggy she-goat without blemish, or a ewe-sheep (Leviticus 4:32). The ceremonial in both cases was the same as with the he-goat (Leviticus 4:23.). - "According to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord" (Leviticus 4:35): see at Leviticus 3:5.
Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar.
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.