Leviticus 1:4
And he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
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(4) And he shall put his hand.—Or, lay his hand, as the same phrase is rendered in Leviticus 3:2-3; Leviticus 3:17, &c. The laying on of hands by the offerer on the victim was enjoined not only in the case of burnt offerings, but also in peace offerings (Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:7; Leviticus 3:13; Leviticus 8:22, &c.) and in sin offerings (Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33; Leviticus 8:14, &c.). The offerer indicated thereby both the surrender of his ownership of the victim, and the transfer to it of’ the feelings by which he was influenced in performing this act of dedication to the Lord. From the practice which obtained during the second Temple, we know that the offerer himself laid both his hands between the two horns of the animal whilst alive, and that no proxy could do it. If several offered one sacrifice, each one laid his hand separately on the victim, confessing his sins and saying, “I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed and I have done this and this, but I repent before Thee, and this is my atonement.”

Accepted for him.—That is, his offer will be acceptable before the Lord, when the offerer thus complies with the prescribed sacrificial regulations. (Comp. Leviticus 1:3.)

To make atonement for him.—As the imposition of hands, confession, repentance, and prayer accompanied this sacrifice, and, moreover, as these acts secure for the offerer acceptance with God, hence expiatory virtue is here and elsewhere ascribed to this burnt offering (Leviticus 14:20; Leviticus 16:24; Micah 6:6; Job 1:5; Job 42:8), which belongs more especially to sin and trespass offerings (Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:31; Leviticus 4:35; Leviticus 5:16; Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 7:7, &c.).

Leviticus 1:4. He shall put his hand — Both his hands; Leviticus 8:14; Leviticus 8:18; Leviticus 16:21; whereby he signified, 1st. That he willingly gave it to the Lord; 2d, That he judged himself worthy of that death which it suffered in his stead; and that he laid his sins upon it with an eye to him upon whom God would lay the iniquity of us all, (Isaiah 53:6,) and that together with it he did freely offer up himself to God. To make atonement — Sacramentally; as directing his faith and thoughts to that true propitiatory sacrifice which in time was to be offered up for him. And although burnt-offerings were commonly offered by way of thanksgiving, yet they were sometimes offered by way of atonement for sin, that is, for sins in general, as appears from Job 1:5; but for particular sins there were special sacrifices.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.And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering - The usual ceremony. By it the sacrificer identified himself with his victim Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 8:14; Romans 12:1.

To make atonement for him - This phrase belongs more especially to the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings (compare Leviticus 4:20, Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35; Leviticus 5:16, Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 6:7, etc.) It is not used in reference to the peace-offerings, and but rarely in reference to the burnt-offerings. It should be noticed that it is here introduced in close connection with the imposition of hands by the worshipper, not, as it is when it refers to the sin-offering, with the special functions of the priest, Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:35; 2 Chronicles 29:23.

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."

His hand, i.e. both his hands, Leviticus 8:14,18 16:21; a common enallage.

Upon the head of the burnt-offering; whereby he signified,

1. That he willingly gave it to the Lord.

2. That he did legally unite himself with it, and judged himself worthy of that death which it suffered in his stead; and that he laid his sins upon it in a ceremonial way, and had an eye to him upon whom God would lay the iniquity of us all, Isaiah 53:6; and that together with it he did freely offer up himself to God.

To make atonement for him, to wit, ceremonially and sacramentally; as directing his faith and thoughts to that true propitiatory sacrifice which in time was to be offered up for him. See Romans 3:25 Hebrews 9:15,25,26. And although burnt-offerings were commonly offered by way of thanksgiving, Genesis 8:20 Psalm 51:16,17, yet they were sometimes offered by way of atonement for sin, to wit, for sins in general, as appears from Job 1:5, but for particular sins there were special sacrifices, as we shall see. 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.

And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
4. he shall lay his hand upon] This ceremony is prescribed for animal sacrifices generally (1) for the Burnt-Offering here and Leviticus 8:18; Exodus 29:15; (2) for the Peace-Offering Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 3:13; (3) for the Sin-Offering Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33, Leviticus 8:14; Exodus 29:10; 2 Chronicles 29:23; (4) for both Burnt-Offering and Sin-Offering Numbers 8:12; (5) for the ram of consecration Leviticus 8:22; Exodus 29:19; (6) for the Levites when presented as a wave-offering Numbers 8:10. There is no mention of the ceremony in connexion with the Guilt-Offering, but from the statement in Leviticus 7:7 that there is one law for the Sin-Offering and the Guilt-Offering, and the absence of ritual detail in Leviticus 5:14 to Leviticus 6:7, it seems probable that the ceremony was not omitted when a Guilt-Offering was brought. On the Day of Atonement Aaron laid both his hands on the live goat which was sent away into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21); when a blasphemer was put to death by stoning, all those that heard him were to lay their hands upon him (Leviticus 24:14 and cp. the story of Susanna 5:34); Moses appointed his successor Joshua by laying his hands upon him (Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9).

In all these passages the Heb. word for ‘lay’ is ṣâmak, and the action was called in post-Biblical Heb. ṣěmîkah. Something more than a mere putting of the hand on the head is intended; the word implies pressure or leaning upon an object. Targ. Jon. translates Leviticus 1:3 he shall lay his right hand with firmness and Tal. Bab. Zebâhîm 33 a enjoins the exercise of ‘all his strength.’ Cp. Chagîgah 16 b, where Ramai bar Chama says, ‘We require the laying on to be done with all one’s strength.’ According to Jewish tradition a confession of sin accompanied the laying on of hands. It does not seem probable that sacrificial acts were performed altogether in silence; special liturgical forms are prescribed in Deuteronomy 26 for two occasions; and it may be that the offerer made some statement of his intention in bringing his oblation, and prayed that the sacrifice might be graciously accepted. The expression ‘all his strength’ might then refer to mental as well as physical energy.

The rabbinic opinion is that the ṣĕmîkah was performed with both hands, but Targ. Jon. quoted above shews that the tradition varied.

and it shall be accepted for him] See on Leviticus 1:3.

to make atonement for him] Either the sacrifice will make atonement (Leviticus 17:11; Exodus 30:15-16), or the priest, by offering the sacrifice (Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:31; Leviticus 4:35). An atoning effect is attributed to the Burnt-Offering here and in Leviticus 14:20, Leviticus 16:24 (cp. Ezekiel 45:15; Ezekiel 45:17; Micah 6:6; Job 1:5; Job 42:8), but more often to the Sin-Offering and Guilt-Offering.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. When the sanctuary, that had been built for the Lord for a dwelling in Israel, had been set up with all its apparatus, "the cloud covering the tabernacle, and the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling," so that Moses was unable to enter. The cloud, in which Jehovah had hitherto been present with His people, and guided and protected them upon their journeying (see at Exodus 13:21-22), now came down upon the tabernacle and filled the dwelling with the gracious presence of the Lord. So long as this cloud rested upon the tabernacle the children of Israel remained encamped; but when it ascended, they broke up the encampment to proceed onwards. This sign was Jehovah's command for encamping or going forward "throughout all their journeys" (Exodus 40:36-38). This statement is repeated still more elaborately in Numbers 9:15-23. The mode in which the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling, or in which Jehovah manifested His presence within it, is not described; but the glory of Jehovah filling the dwelling is clearly distinguished from the cloud coming down upon the tabernacle. It is obvious, however, from Leviticus 16:2, and 1 Kings 8:10-11, that in the dwelling the glory of God was also manifested in a cloud. At the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) the expression "the cloud filled the house of Jehovah" is used interchangeably with "the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah." To consecrate the sanctuary, which had been finished and erected as His dwelling, and to give to the people a visible proof that He had chosen it for His dwelling, Jehovah filled the dwelling in both its parts with the cloud which shadowed forth His presence, so that Moses was unable to enter it. This cloud afterwards drew back into the most holy place, to dwell there, above the outspread wings of the cherubim of the ark of the covenant; so that Moses and (at a later period) the priests were able to enter the holy place and perform the required service there, without seeing the sign of the gracious presence of God, which was hidden by the curtain of the most holy place. So long as the Israelites were on their journey to Canaan, the presence of Jehovah was manifested outwardly and visibly by the cloud, which settled upon the ark, and rose up from it when they were to travel onward.

With the completion of this building and its divine consecration, Israel had now received a real pledge of the permanence of the covenant of grace, which Jehovah had concluded with it; a sanctuary which perfectly corresponded to the existing circumstances of its religious development, and kept constantly before it the end of its calling from God. For although God dwelt in the tabernacle in the midst of His people, and the Israelites might appear before Him, to pray for and receive the covenant blessings that were promised them, they were still forbidden to go directly to God's throne of grace. The barrier, which sin had erected between the holy God and the unholy nation, was not yet taken away. To this end the law was given, which could only increase their consciousness of sin and unworthiness before God. But as this barrier had already been broken through by the promise of the Lord, that He would meet the people in His glory before the door of the tabernacle at the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 29:42-43); so the entrance of the chosen people into the dwelling of God was effected mediatorially by the service of the sanctified priests in the holy place, which also prefigured their eventual reception into the house of the Lord. And even the curtain, which still hid the glory of God from the chosen priests and sanctified mediators of the nation, was to be lifted at least once a year by the anointed priest, who had been called by God to be the representative of the whole congregation. On the day of atonement the high priest was to sprinkle the blood of atonement in front of the throne of grace, to make expiation for the children of Israel because of all their sin (Leviticus 16), and to prefigure the perfect atonement through the blood of the eternal Mediator, through which the way to the throne of grace is opened to all believers, that they may go into the house of God and abide there for ever, and for ever see God.

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