Leviticus 1:14
And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Be of fowls.—The fowls here are in contrast to the cattle in Leviticus 1:2. And as the quadrupeds there are immediately defined to consist of bullocks, sheep and goats, so the generic term winged creature is here restricted to the dove and pigeon. It will thus be seen that five different kinds are allowed for the burnt offering, viz., the bullock, lamb, goat, dove and pigeon, the same that Abram was commanded to offer (Genesis 15:9).

Of turtledoves.—Though in the case of the burnt offering, as well as of the sin offering, pigeons were permitted to those who were too poor to offer quadrupeds, yet in certain other cases birds were prescribed for all irrespective of their circumstances. Not only did turtledoves regularly come in large flocks (Song of Solomon 2:11-12; Jeremiah 8:7) into Palestine at certain periods, but owing to these sacrifices the Jews have always kept dove-cots and reared pigeons (2Kings 6:25; Isaiah 60:8; Joseph. Wars, v. 4, 4). To supply the demand for them, dealers in these birds sat about with them in cages on stalls in the Temple court (Matthew 21:2; John 11:16, &c.).

Leviticus 1:14. Turtle-doves — Those who were not able to go to the charge of a sheep or goat might offer a bird. And these birds were preferred before others, 1st, Because they were easily obtained; for Maimonides observes, that they were so plenteous in Canaan, and consequently so cheap, that the poorer sort could easily afford to bring this oblation. 2d, Because they fitly represented Christ’s chastity, meekness, and gentleness, and that purity of mind which becomes every worshipper of God. Hence birds of prey, and those of a coarser kind, were not to be offered. The pigeons were to be young, because then they are best; but the turtle-doves are better when they are grown up, and therefore they are not confined to that age.

1:10-17 Those who could not offer a bullock, were to bring a sheep or a goat; and those who were not able to do that, were accepted of God, if they brought a turtle-dove, or a pigeon. Those creatures were chosen for sacrifice which were mild, and gentle, and harmless; to show the innocence and meekness that were in Christ, and that should be in Christians. The offering of the poor was as typical of Christ's atonement as the more costly sacrifices, and expressed as fully repentance, faith, and devotedness to God. We have no excuse, if we refuse the pleasant and reasonable service now required. But we can no more offer the sacrifice of a broken heart, or of praise and thanksgiving, than an Israelite could offer a bullock or a goat, except as God hath first given to us. The more we do in the Lord's service, the greater are our obligations to him, for the will, for the ability, and opportunity. In many things God leaves us to fix what shall be spent in his service, whether of our time or our substance; yet where God's providence has put much into a man's power, scanty offerings will not be accepted, for they are not proper expressions of a willing mind. Let us be devoted in body and soul to his service, whatever he may call us to give, venture, do, or suffer for his sake.Of turtledoves, or of young pigeons - The offering of a bird was permitted to one who was too poor to offer a quadruped. (Compare the marginal references.) But in certain rites of purification birds were appointed for all, whatever might be their circumstances. See Leviticus 15:14, Leviticus 15:29; Numbers 6:10. The limitation of the age of the pigeons may be accounted for by the natural habits of the birds. It would seem that the species which are most likely to have been the sacrificial dove and pigeon are the common turtle and the bluerock pigeon, a bird like our stock-dove, and considerably larger than the turtle. The turtles come in the early part of April, but as the season advances they wholly disappear. The pigeons, on the contrary, do not leave the country; and their nests, with young ones in them, may be easily found at any season of the year. Hence, it would appear, that when turtledoves could not be obtained, nestling pigeons were accepted as a substitute. 14-17. if the burnt sacrifice … be of fowls—The gentle nature and cleanly habits of the dove led to its selection, while all other fowls were rejected, either for the fierceness of their disposition or the grossness of their taste; and in this case, there being from the smallness of the animal no blood for waste, the priest was directed to prepare it at the altar and sprinkle the blood. This was the offering appointed for the poor. The fowls were always offered in pairs, and the reason why Moses ordered two turtledoves or two young pigeons, was not merely to suit the convenience of the offerer, but according as the latter was in season; for pigeons are sometimes quite hard and unfit for eating, at which time turtledoves are very good in Egypt and Palestine. The turtledoves are not restricted to any age because they are always good when they appear in those countries, being birds of passage; but the age of the pigeons is particularly marked that they might not be offered to God at times when they are rejected by men [Harmer]. It is obvious, from the varying scale of these voluntary sacrifices, that the disposition of the offerer was the thing looked to—not the costliness of his offering. These birds were appointed for the relief of the poor who could not bring better. And these birds are preferred before others, partly because they were easily gotten, and partly because they are fit representations of Christ’s chastity, and meekness, and gentleness, for which these birds are remarkable. The pigeons must be young, because then they are best; but the turtle-doves are better when they are more grown up, and therefore they are not confined to that age.

And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls,.... As it might be for the poorer sort, who could not offer a bullock, nor a sheep, or a lamb, Leviticus 5:7,

then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons; the Jewish writers all agree, that the turtles should be old, and not young, as the pigeons young, and not old; so the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, Aben Ezra and Gersom (l); the latter gives two reasons for it, because then they are the choicest and easiest to be found and taken: no mention is made of their being male or female, either would do, or of their being perfect and unblemished, as in the other burnt offerings; but if any part was wanting, it was not fit for sacrifice, as Maimonides (m) observes. These creatures were proper emblems of Christ, and therefore used in sacrifice, whose voice is compared to the turtle's, and his eyes to the eyes of doves, Sol 2:12 and who is fitly represented by them for his meekness and humility, for his chaste and strong affection to his church, as the turtledove to its mate, and for those dove like graces of the Spirit which are in him.

(l) Vid. T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 22. 1, 2.((m) Issure Mizbeach, c. 3. sect. 1, 2. Vid. Misn. Zebachim, c. 7. sect. 5. & Maimon. & Bartenora, in ib.

And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
(c) Fowls (14–17)

This kind of offering is not included in the general introduction in Leviticus 1:2. The ritual is slightly altered; the laying the hand on the victim is omitted, the bringing in the hand being equivalent; and the priest performs all the ceremonial.

Verse 14. - If the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls. A comparison of Leviticus 12:8 leads us to infer that the permission to offer a bird was a concession to poverty. The pigeon and the turtle-dove were the most easy to procure, as the domestic fowl was at this time unknown to the Hebrews. The first and only allusion in the Bible to the hen occurs in the New Testament (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:30, nor is there any representation of the domestic fowl in ancient Egyptian paintings. The domicile of the bird was still confined to India. A single pigeon or turtle-dove formed a sacrifice, and there was no rule in respect to sex, as there was in the case of the quadrupeds. Leviticus 1:14The burnt-offering of fowls was to consist of turtle-doves or young pigeons. The Israelites have reared pigeons and kept dovecots from time immemorial (Isaiah 60:8, cf. 2 Kings 6:25); and the rearing of pigeons continued to be a favourite pursuit with the later Jews (Josephus, de bell. jud. v. 4, 4), so that they might very well be reckoned among the domesticated animals. There are also turtle-doves and wild pigeons in Palestine in such abundance, that they could easily furnish the ordinary animal food of the poorer classes, and serve as sacrifices in the place of the larger animals. The directions for sacrificing these, were that the priest was to bring the bird to the altar, to hip off its head, and cause it to ascend in smoke upon the altar. מלק, which only occurs in Leviticus 1:15 and Leviticus 5:8, signifies undoubtedly to pinch off, and not merely to pinch; for otherwise the words in Leviticus 5:8, "and shall not divide it asunder," would be superfluous. We have therefore to think of it as a severance of the head, as the lxx (ἀποκνίζειν) and Rabbins have done, and not merely a wringing of the neck and incision in the skin by which the head was left hanging to the body; partly because the words, "and not divide it asunder," are wanting here, and partly also because of the words, "and burn it upon the altar," which immediately follow, and which must refer to the head, and can only mean that, after the head had been pinched off, it was to be put at once into the burning altar-fire. For it is obviously unnatural to regard these words as anticipatory, and refer them to the burning of the whole dove; not only from the construction itself, but still more on account of the clause which follows: "and the blood thereof shall be pressed out against the wall of the altar." The small quantity that there was of the blood prevented it from being caught in a vessel, and swung from it against the altar.
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