Leviticus 4:15
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.
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(15) And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands.—As the whole congregation could not lay their hands on the victim, their representatives had to perform this act. (See Leviticus 4:4.) But as the elders also were far too many to do it, since they were seventy in number, it was ordained during the second Temple that three of their members should lay their hands upon the sacrifice. Besides this sin offering there was only one other congregational offering upon which there was this laying of hands: i.e., the scape-goat (Leviticus 16:21).

Leviticus 4:15. The elders — Who here acted in the name of all the people, who could not possibly perform this act in their own persons.

4:13-21 If the leaders of the people, through mistake, caused them to err, an offering must be brought, that wrath might not come upon the whole congregation. When sacrifices were offered, the persons, on whose behalf they were devoted, were to lay their hands on the heads of the victims, and to confess their sins. The elders were to do so, when the sacrifices were offered for the whole congregation. The load of sin was supposed then to be borne by the guiltless animal. When the offering is completed, it is said, atonement is made, and the sin shall be forgiven. The saving of churches and kingdoms from ruin, is owing to the satisfaction and mediation of Christ.In this case the imposition of hands is performed by the elders in behalf of the nation. But in other respects the rites were performed by the high priest in the same manner as in the sin-offering for himself. 13-21. if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance—In consequence of some culpable neglect or misapprehension of the law, the people might contract national guilt, and then national expiation was necessary. The same sacrifice was to be offered as in the former case, but with this difference in the ceremonial, that the elders or heads of the tribes, as representing the people and being the principal aggressors in misleading the congregation, laid their hands on the head of the victim. The priest then took the blood into the holy place, where, after dipping his finger in it seven times, he sprinkled the drops seven times before the veil. This done, he returned to the court of the priests, and ascending the altar, put some portion upon its horns; then he poured it out at the foot of the altar. The fat was the only part of the animal which was offered on the altar; for the carcass, with its appurtenances and offals, was carried without the camp, into the place where the ashes were deposited, and there consumed with fire. The elders of the congregation, i.e. the rulers of the people, of whom see Exodus 3:16 24:1, who here acted in the name of all the people, who could not possibly perform this act in their own persons.

And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord,.... These must be two at least, some say three, and some say five (h); the more generally received notion is, that they were three of the sanhedrim (i); though the Targum of Jonathan makes them to be the twelve rulers of the twelve tribes:

and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord; in the court near the altar of burnt offering, either by a priest, or Levite, or by a butcher, as the above Targum expresses it.

(h) Misn. Sotah, c. 9. sect. 1.((i) Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Menachot, c. 9. sect. 7. Maimon. Hilchot Maaseh Hakorbanot, c. 3. sect. 10.

And the {g} 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.

(g) For all the people could not lay on their hands: therefore it was sufficient that the elders of the people did it in the name of all the congregation.

15. the elders] This expression, common in JE and Deut., occurs in P here and in Leviticus 9:1, Joshua 20:4 only.

Leviticus 4:15Sin 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).

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