Leviticus 1:15
And the priest shall bring it to the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) And the priest.—It was probably out of consideration for the feelings of the poor offerer, and to increase the importance of the otherwise small offering, that the priest himself brought the victim to the altar and slew it instead of the worshipper performing these acts, as in the case of quadrupeds. The imposition of hands upon the victim was dispensed with, both because the bird was too small for this ceremony, and because the offerer brought it in his hands to the place of sacrifice, thus conveying by this act the idea involved in the imposition of hands.

And wring off his head.—When the bird is handed to him, the priest is not to use any knife, but is to nip off its head with his nails, throw the severed head on the altar fire, and thus cause it to ascend in the sweet smelling savour. As the small quantity of blood could not be caught in a bowl, and would not suffice for throwing it or pouring it on the four walls, as was the case in the offering of quadrupeds, he pressed it out from the headless body, and let it run on the walls.

Leviticus 1:15. His head — From the rest of the body; as sufficiently appears, because this was to be burned by itself, and the body afterward, Leviticus 1:17. And whereas it is said, (Leviticus 5:8,) He shall — wring his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder, that is spoken not of the burnt- offering as here, but of the sin-offering.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. Wring off his head, to wit, from the rest of the body; as sufficiently appears, because this was to be burnt by itself, as it here follows, and the body afterwards, Leviticus 1:17. And whereas it is said, Leviticus 5:8, he shall wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder, that is spoken not of the burnt-offering, as here, but of the sin-offering, in which there might be a differing rite. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar,.... The southeast horn of it; near which was the place of the ashes, into which the crop and its feathers were cast (n):

and wring off his head; by twisting it back as it should seem; the word used is only to be found here, and in Leviticus 5:8 the Jews say, it signifies to cut with the nail, and that the priest did this, not with a knife or any other instrument, but with his nail; so Jarchi and Gersom on the place observe: some think he only let out the blood this way, but did not separate the head from the body, which seems to be favoured by Leviticus 5:8 though Maimonides and Bartenora (o) conclude the reverse from the same place; and that the meaning is, that he should cut off the head and divide it asunder at the time he cuts with the nail: the manner of cutting with the nail was this (p), the priest held both the feet of the bird with his two fingers of his left hand, and the wings between two other fingers, and the bird upon the back of his hand, that it might not be within the palm of it; then he stretches out its neck upon the thumb about two fingers' breadth, and cuts it over against the neck with his nail, and this is one of the hardest services in the sanctuary:

and burn it on the altar; that is, the head, after squeezing out the blood, and rubbing it with salt:

and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar: or "the wall" of it: this, though mentioned last, must be done before, and immediately upon the wringing of the head, and between that and the burning it on the altar: this wringing off the head, and wringing out the blood, denote violence, and show that Christ's death, which this was a type of, was a violent one; the Jews laid violent hands upon him, and pursued his life in a violent manner, were very pressing to have it taken away, and his life was taken away in such a manner by men, though not without his Father's secret will, and his own consent.

(n) Misn. Zebachim, c. 6. sect. 5. & Bartenora in ib. (o) In Misn. ib. (p) Maimon. in Misn. ib. sect. 4. & Bartenora. in ib.

And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and {i} wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:

(i) The Hebrew word signifies to pinch off with the nail.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. wring off] Or, pinch off the head with the nail, as A.V. mg., a word used here and Leviticus 5:8 only. The head is burnt after being removed, and the remainder of the bird is burnt afterwards. This burning of the parts separately is in marked contrast with the burning of the whole together in the two preceding sections (Leviticus 1:9 and Leviticus 1:13).

drained out on the side of the altar] The blood is too small in quantity to be treated as in the previous cases.Verse 15. - The priest shall bring it unto the altar. The difference in the ritual for the burnt sacrifice of fowls is:

1. That the offerer is not commanded to lay his hand on the bird.

2. That the altar is the place of maciation, instead of the space on the north side of the altar.

3. That the priest slays it instead of the offerer.

4. That the blood (owing to its smaller quantity) is pressed out against the side of the altar instead of being caught in a vessel and thrown on it. There is no essential variation here; the analogy of the sacrifice of the animal is followed so far as circumstances permit. It is not certain that the word malak, translated wring off his head, means more than "make an incision with the nail;" but in all probability the head was to be severed and laid on the fire separately, after the manner of the other sacrifices. It was the duty of the sons of Aaron, i.e., of the priests, to offer the sacrifice upon the altar. To this end they were to "put fire upon the altar" (of course this only applies to the first burnt-offering presented after the erection of the altar, as the fire was to be constantly burning upon the altar after that, without being allowed to go out, Leviticus 6:6), and to lay "wood in order upon the fire" (ערך to lay in regular order), and then to "lay the parts, the head and the fat, in order upon the wood on the fire," and thus to cause the whole to ascend in smoke. פּדר, which is only used in connection with the burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:8, Leviticus 1:12, and Leviticus 8:20), signifies, according to the ancient versions (lxx στέαρ) and the rabbinical writers, the fat, probably those portions of fat which were separated from the entrails and taken out to wash. Bochart's explanation is adeps a carne sejunctus. The head and fat are specially mentioned along with the pieces of flesh, partly because they are both separated from the flesh when animals are slaughtered, and partly also to point out distinctly that the whole of the animal ("all," Leviticus 1:9) was to be burned upon the altar, with the exception of the skin, which was given to the officiating priest (Leviticus 7:8), and the contents of the intestines. הקטיר, to cause to ascend in smoke and steam (Exodus 30:7), which is frequently construed with המּזבּחה towards the altar (ה local, so used as to include position in a place; vid., Leviticus 1:13, Leviticus 1:15, Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 2:2, Leviticus 2:9, etc.), or with המּזבּח (Leviticus 6:8), or על־המּזבּח (Leviticus 9:13, Leviticus 9:17), was the technical expression for burning the sacrifice upon the altar, and showed that the intention was not simply to burn those portions of the sacrifice which were placed in the fire, i.e., to destroy, or turn them into ashes, but by this process of burning to cause the odour which was eliminated to ascend to heaven as the ethereal essence of the sacrifice, for a "firing of a sweet savour unto Jehovah." אשּׁה, firing ("an offering made by fire," Eng. Ver.), is the general expression used to denote the sacrifices, which ascended in fire upon the altar, whether animal or vegetable (Leviticus 2:2, Leviticus 2:11, Leviticus 2:16), and is also applied to the incense laid upon the shew-bread (Leviticus 24:7); and hence the shew-bread itself (Leviticus 24:7), and even those portions of the sacrifices which Jehovah assigned to the priests for them to eat (Deuteronomy 18:1 cf. Joshua 13:14), came also to be included in the firings for Jehovah. The word does not occur out of the Pentateuch, except in Joshua 13:14 and 1 Samuel 2:28. In the laws of sacrifice it is generally associated with the expression, "a sweet savour unto Jehovah" (ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας: lxx): an anthropomorphic description of the divine satisfaction with the sacrifices offered, or the gracious acceptance of them on the part of God (see Genesis 8:21), which is used in connection with all the sacrifices, even the expiatory or sin-offerings (Leviticus 4:31), and with the drink-offering also (Numbers 15:7, Numbers 15:10).
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