When a ruler has 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;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When a ruler hath sinned.—The third instance adduced is that of a ruler sinning inadvertently (Leviticus 4:22-26). As the word here translated “ruler” is used for a king (1Kings 11:34; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 46:2), the head of a tribe (Numbers 1:4-16) or of the division of a tribe (Numbers 34:18), opinions differ as to the exact position of the personage here meant. Now, in comparing the phrase used with regard to the sin of ignorance in the case of the high priest, the congregation, and any one of the people, it will be seen that in all the three instances it is simply described as a sin “against any commandments of the Lord”(comp. Leviticus 4:2; Leviticus 4:13; Leviticus 4:27), whereas in the case of the ruler, we have the exceptional phrase, “against any of the commandments of the Lord his God.” Hence the interpretation obtained during the second Temple that the addition of the phrase his God, which shows a peculiar relationship to his God, denotes here one over whom God alone is exalted—the sovereign who is only responsible to his God.
And is guilty.—Rather, and acknowledges his guilt, as the Authorised Version rightly translates it in Hosea 5:15. (Comp. also Zechariah 11:5.) This sense is not only required by the disjunctive particle or, with which the next verse begins, but by the fact that the declaration in the present rendering, “When men sin they are guilty,” is a truism. The sinner is guilty whether he sins advertently or inadvertently. The case here supposed is that the prince had himself come to the knowledge that what he had done was a sin, and had acknowledged it as such.Leviticus 4:22; Leviticus 4:24. A ruler — Of the people, or a civil magistrate. Where they kill the burnt-offering — So called by way of eminence, to wit, the daily burnt-offering. It is a sin-offering — And therefore to be killed where the burnt-offering is killed; whereby it is distinguished from the peace- offerings, which were killed elsewhere.Numbers 1:4-16, or the head of a division of a tribe (Numbers 34:18; compare Joshua 22:30). A ruler, to wit, of the people, or a civil magistrate.
Through ignorance; either not knowing it to be sin, or not observing and considering it till it be done. See before on Leviticus 4:22. Ezekiel 34:24.
and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God; the phrase, "his God", is here added, and is not used neither of the anointed priest, nor of the congregation, nor of one of the common people; only of the prince, to show, that though he is above others, God is above him, and he is accountable to him; he is his God, of whom he is, and by whom he rules; wherefore if he breaks any of his commandments, though ignorantly, he must bring a sacrifice for it:
concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; of transgressing negative precepts, which are as binding on him as others.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;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)The Sin-Offering for the ruler, a he-goat
The blood in this case is not brought into the tent of meeting but put upon the horns of the altar of Burnt-Offering, and poured out at the base of the altar. The fat and inwards are removed and burnt on the altar as in the two preceding cases. An ordinary priest officiates.Verses 22-26. - The case of a ruler or nobleman. The clause, Or if his sin... come to his knowledge, should be rather translated, If perhaps his sin come to his knowledge. He is to offer a kid of the goats, or rather a he-goat. The blood is not to be carried into the tabernacle, as in the two previous cases, but put upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, which stood outside in the court, and, as a consequence of the blood not having been taken into the tabernacle, the flesh is not to be burnt outside the camp, but to be eaten by the priests in the court of the tabernacle (see Leviticus 6:26).
(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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