Leviticus 5:15
If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:
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(15) If a soul commit a trespass.—The word used here for trespass is not the same which is so rendered in Leviticus 5:19, and from which the noun rendered in this very chapter by trespass offering (Leviticus 5:6-7; Leviticus 5:15-16; Leviticus 5:19), is derived. It literally denotes to cover, then to act covertly, to be faithless, especially in matters of a sacred covenant made either with God (Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 31:16; Deuteronomy 32:51, &c.), or between husband and wife (Numbers 5:12; Numbers 5:27).

And sin through ignorance.—If at the time of its committal he did not know that it was a transgression. (See Leviticus 4:2.)

In the holy things of the Lord.—That is, inadvertently keeping back the things which belong to the sanctuary, and to the service of the Lord, as, for instance, the tithes, the firstfruits, or not consecrating or redeeming his firstborn (Exodus 28:38; Numbers 5:6-8).

A ram without blemish.—For committing any of these transgressions presumptuously, the transgressor incurred the punishment of excision (Numbers 15:30; Hebrews 10:28); but when they were done unawares, he was to bring a ram as a sacrifice. According to the rules which obtained during the second Temple, it must be over thirty-one days in the second year of its age. It was of greater value than the female sheep. The sacrifice for a trespass in holy things, though ignorantly committed, was therefore more costly than for the sin of ignorance mentioned in Leviticus 5:6.

With thy estimation by shekels of silver.—That is, according to the valuation of Moses, to whom this was primarily addressed, the ram is to be so grown up as to be worth several, or at least two shekels. The act of valuing was transferred by Moses to the officiating priests. (See Leviticus 27:8; Leviticus 27:12; Numbers 18:16.) For the shekels of the sanctuary see Exodus 30:13.

Leviticus 5:15. A trespass — Against the Lord and his priests. Through ignorance — For if a man did it knowingly, he was to be cut off, Numbers 15:30. In the holy things — In things consecrated to God, and to holy uses; these were many, and by various ways a man might be guilty, even unwittingly, with respect to them; such as tithes and first-fruits, or any thing due or devoted to God, which possibly a man might either withhold, or employ to some common use. A ram — A more chargeable sacrifice than the former, as the sin of sacrilege was greater. With thy estimation — As thou, O priest, shalt esteem or rate it; and at present, thou, O Moses, for he as yet performed the priest’s part. And this was an additional charge and punishment to him; besides the ram, he was to pay for the holy thing which he had withheld or abused, so many shekels of silver as the priests should esteem proportionable to it.

5:14-19 Here are offerings to atone for trespasses against a neighbour. If a man put to his own use unwittingly, any thing dedicated to God, he was to bring this sacrifice. We are to be jealous over ourselves, to ask pardon for the sin, and make satisfaction for the wrong, which we do but suspect ourselves guilty of. The law of God is so very broad, the occasions of sin in this guilty of. The law of God is so very broad, the occasions of sin in this world are so numerous, and we are so prone to evil, that we need to fear always, and to pray always, that we may be kept from sin. Also we should look before us at every step. The true Christian daily pleads guilty before God, and seeks forgiveness through the blood of Christ. And the gospel salvation is so free, that the poorest is not shut out; and so full, that the most burdened conscience may find relief from it. Yet the evil of sin is so displayed as to cause every pardoned sinner to abhor and dread it.Commit a trespass - Rather, here and in Leviticus 6:2, perpetrate a wrong. The word is different from that rendered trespass elsewhere in these chapters.

Through ignorance - Through inadvertence. See Leviticus 4:2 note.

In the holy things of the Lord - The reference is to a failure in the payment of firstfruits, tithes or fees of any kind connected with the public service of religion by which the sanctuary suffered loss; compare Numbers 5:6-8.

Shekel of the sanctuary - See Exodus 38:24 note.

15, 16. sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord, &c.—This is a case of sacrilege committed ignorantly, either in not paying the full due of tithes, first-fruits, and similar tribute in eating of meats, which belonged to the priests alone—or he was required, along with the restitution in money, the amount of which was to be determined by the priest, to offer a ram for a trespass offering, as soon as he came to the knowledge of his involuntary fraud. If a soul commit a trespass against the Lord and his priests.

And sin through ignorance; for if a man did it knowingly, he was to be cut off, Numbers 15:30.

In the holy things of the Lord; in things consecrated to God, and to holy uses; of which see Leviticus 22:2; such as tithes and first-fruits, or any things due, or devoted, or offered to God, which possibly a man might either withhold, or employ to some common use. See Exodus 34:26 Deu 12:17,18 15:19 Jeremiah 2:3.

A ram was a more chargeable sacrifice than the former, as the sin of sacrilege was greater. With thy estimation; as thou shalt esteem or rate it, thou, O priest, as appears from Leviticus 5:16,18 6:6 22:14 27:2,3; and at present, thou, O Moses, Leviticus 27:3, for he as yet performed the priest’s part. And this either,

1. May be referred to the ram, which was to be of such a price and worth as the priest should appoint. Or rather,

2. Is an additional charge and punishment to him, which, besides the ram, he was to pay for the holy thing which he had withheld or abused, so many shekels of silver ms the priest should esteem proportionable to it; which was, as it were, another part or branch of his trespass-offering.

The shekel of the sanctuary; of which see Poole "Genesis 23:15".

If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance in the holy things of the Lord,.... In the payment of tithes, or offering first fruits as he ought, by withholding them, or any part of them, or through eating of sacred things he ought not:

then shall he bring for his trespass unto the Lord; for it being a trespass in holy things, it might be properly called a trespass to or against the Lord; unless this is rather to be understood of the offering brought to the Lord for his trespass as follows:

a ram without blemish out of the flocks; out of the sheep and not the goats, as Ben Gersom observes; and this being for sacrifice, or for a trespass in holy things though ignorantly done, an offering of more value is required than for sins of ignorance in other cases, Leviticus 5:6 a type of Christ, who for his strength may be compared to a ram, and to one without blemish, for his purity and holiness, and to a choice one, selected out of the flock, for his being chosen out from among the people:

with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering; that is, either an estimation was to be taken of the damage done in the holy things, an account of which was to be brought along with the ram, and the cost paid; or else the ram brought was to be of the value of, or worth shekels of silver; and the least of many being two, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom observe, the sense is, that the ram brought for the trespass offering should be at least worth two shekels of silver; so Jarchi and Ben Gersom.

If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, {g} in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, {h} with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:

(g) Concerning the first fruits or tithes, due to the priests and Levites.

(h) By the estimation of the priest, Le 27:12.

Chs. Leviticus 5:14 to Leviticus 6:7. The Guilt-Offering

Three cases where a Guilt-Offering should be brought are here specified:

(a) 15, 16; if part of what is due to the Lord has been withheld.

15. commit a trespass] The Heb. word (mâ‘al) here and in Leviticus 6:2 is different from that which is rendered ‘be guilty,’ ‘bring guilt,’ and ‘guilt offering’ (trespass offering A.V.) in Leviticus 4:3 to Leviticus 5:7 (’âshâm). It means ‘to deal deceitfully.’

in the holy things of the Lord] i.e. by keeping back what is His due (e.g. tithes or firstfruits). The offender shall make restitution of what he has kept back unwittingly, adding a fifth part, and shall also bring as a Guilt-Offering a ram of sufficient value estimated after the shekel of the sanctuary. According to tradition this shekel was double the value of the ordinary shekel, but see A. R. S. Kennedy’s Art. Money, in HDB. iii. 422, or Lev. (Cent. Bible) p. 58, where he makes it to be ‘the so-called Phœnician silver shekel of 224 grains, and its value about 2 Samuel 9 d.’ It thus would weigh but little more than the Jewish shekels now extant.

according to thy estimation] also in Leviticus 5:18 and Leviticus 6:6.

in silver by shekels] i.e. the ram must be worth at the least two shekels. According to Tal. Bab. (Zebâḥîm 90 b) it must be two years old.

Verses 15, 16 refer to sins of omission, offenses in the holy things of the Lord; that is, withholding tithes and offerings. The non-payment of tithes and offerings was looked upon as robbing Jehovah (Malachi 3:8), and therefore it is that a trespass offering, involving compensation, and not only a sin offering, is required to atone for the offense. The ram that is to be offered is to be of a value fixed by the priest (with thy estimation, i.e., according to the estimation of the priest), and the priest is to estimate it by shekels of silver; implying that its value must amount at least to shekels (in the plural), meaning two shekels (see Ezekiel 47:13, where "portions" means "more than one portion," i.e., "two portions"). The shekel is considered to be equal to 2s. 7d. The shekel of the sanctuary means the shekel according to its exact weight and value, while still unworn by traffic and daily use. Beside offering the rain, he is to make amends for the harm (or rather sin) that he hath clone in the holy thing, and.. . add the fifth part. The fifth part is probably appointed as being the same as two-tenths of the principal sum. Full satisfaction is the marked feature of the trespass offering. In Luke 19:8, "Zacchaeus stood, and said,... Behold, Lord,... if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore fourfold." He went far beyond his legal obligation in respect to compensation. (Cf. 2 Samuel 12:6, "He shall restore the lamb fourfold.") Leviticus 5:15(Ch. 5:14-6:7)

(Note: In the original the division of verses in the Hebrew text is followed; but we have thought it better to keep to the arrangement adopted in our English version. - Tr.)

The Trespass-Offerings. - These were presented for special sins, by which a person had contracted guilt, and therefore they are not included in the general festal sacrifices. Three kinds of offences are mentioned in this section as requiring trespass-offerings. The first is, "if a soul commit a breach of trust, and sin in going wrong in the holy gifts of Jehovah." מעל, lit., to cover, hence מעיל the cloak, over-coat, signifies to act secretly, unfaithfully, especially against Jehovah, either by falling away from Him into idolatry, by which the fitting honour was withheld from Jehovah (Leviticus 26:40; Deuteronomy 32:51; Joshua 22:16), or by infringing upon His rights, abstracting something that rightfully belonged to Him. Thus in Joshua 7:1; Joshua 22:20, it is applied to fraud in relation to that which had been put under the ban; and in Numbers 5:12, Numbers 5:27,it is also applied to a married woman's unfaithfulness to her husband: so that sin was called מעל, when regarded as a violation of existing rights. "The holy things of Jehovah" were the holy gifts, sacrifices, first-fruits, tithes, etc., which were to be offered to Jehovah, and were assigned by Him to the priests for their revenue (see Leviticus 21:22). חטא with מן is constructio praegnans: to sin in anything by taking away from Jehovah that which belonged to Him. בּשׁגגה, in error (see Leviticus 4:2): i.e., in a forgetful or negligent way. Whoever sinned in this way was to offer to the Lord as his guilt (see Leviticus 5:6) a ram from the flock without blemish for a trespass-offering (lit., guilt-offering), according to the estimate of Moses, whose place was afterwards taken by the officiating priest (Leviticus 27:12; Numbers 18:16). שׁקלים כּסף "money of shekels," i.e., several shekels in amount, which Abenezra and others have explained, no doubt correctly, as meaning that the ram was to be worth more than one shekel, two shekels at least. The expression is probably kept indefinite, for the purpose of leaving some margin for the valuation, so that there might be a certain proportion between the value of the ram and the magnitude of the trespass committed (see Oehler ut sup. p. 645). "In the holy shekel:" see Exodus 30:13. At the same time, the culprit was to make compensation for the fraud committed in the holy thing, and add a fifth (of the value) over, as in the case of the redemption of the first-born, of the vegetable tithe, or of what had been vowed to God (Leviticus 27:27, Leviticus 27:31, and Leviticus 27:13, Leviticus 27:15, Leviticus 27:19). The ceremony to be observed in the offering of the ram is described in Leviticus 7:1. It was the same as that of the sin-offerings, whose blood was not brought into the holy place, except with regard to the sprinkling of the blood, and in this the trespass-offering resembled the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings.

The second case (Leviticus 5:17-19), from its very position between the other two, which both refer to the violation of rights, must belong to the same category; although the sin is introduced with the formula used in Leviticus 4:27 in connection with those sins which were to be expiated by a sin-offering. But the violation of right can only have consisted in an invasion of Jehovah's rights with regard to Israel, and not, as Knobel supposes, in an invasion of the rights of private Israelites, as distinguished from the priests; an antithesis of which there is not the slightest indication. This is evident from the fact, that the case before us is linked on to the previous one without anything intervening; whereas the next case, which treats of the violation of the rights of a neighbour, is separated by a special introductory formula. The expression, "and wist it not," refers to ignorance of the sin, and not of the divine commands; as may be clearly seen from Leviticus 5:18 : "the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his error, which he committed without knowing it." The trespass-offering was the same as in the former case, and was also to be valued by the priest; but no compensation is mentioned, probably because the violation of right, which consisted in the transgression of one of the commands of God, was of such a kind as not to allow of material compensation. The third case (Leviticus 6:1-7) is distinguished from the other two by a new introductory formula. The sin and unfaithfulness to Jehovah are manifested in this case in a violation of the rights of a neighbour. "If a man deny to his neighbour (כּחשׁ with a double ב obj., to deny a thing to a person) a pikkadon (i.e., a deposit, a thing entrusted to him to keep, Genesis 41:36), or יד תּשׂוּמת, "a thing placed in his hand" (handed over to him as a pledge) "or גּזל, a thing robbed" (i.e., the property of a neighbour unjustly appropriated, whether a well, a field, or cattle, Genesis 21:25; Micah 2:2; Job 24:2), "or if he have oppressed his neighbour" (i.e., forced something from him or withheld it unjustly, Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14; Joshua 12:8; Malachi 3:5), "or have found a lost thing and denies it, and thereby swears to his lie" (i.e., rests his oath upon a lie), "on account of one of all that a man is accustomed to do to sin therewith:" the false swearing here refers not merely to a denial of what is found, but to all the crimes mentioned, which originated in avarice and selfishness, but through the false swearing became frauds against Jehovah, adding guilt towards God to the injustice done to the neighbour, and requiring, therefore, not only that a material restitution should be made to the neighbour, but that compensation should be made to God as well. Whatever had been robbed, or taken by force, or entrusted or found, and anything about which a man had sworn falsely (Leviticus 6:4, Leviticus 6:5), was to be restored "according to its sum" (cf. Exodus 30:12; Numbers 1:2, etc.), i.e., in its full value; beside which, he was to "add its fifths" (on the plural, see Ges. 87, 2; Ew. 186 e), i.e., in every one of the things abstracted or withheld unjustly the fifth part of the value was to be added to the full amount (as in Leviticus 5:16). "To him to whom it (belongs), shall he give it" אשׁמתו בּיום: in the day when he makes atonement for his trespass, i.e., offers his trespass-offering. The trespass (guilt) against Jehovah was to be taken away by the trespass-offering according to the valuation of the priest, as in Leviticus 5:15, Leviticus 5:16, and Leviticus 5:18, that he might receive expiation and forgiveness on account of what he had done.

If now, in order to obtain a clear view of the much canvassed difference between the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings,

(Note: For the different views, see Bhr's Symbolik; Winer's bibl. R. W.; Kurtz on Sacrificial Worship; Riehm, theol. Stud. und Krit. 1854, pp. 93ff.; Rinck, id. 1855, p. 369; Oehler in Herzog's Cycl.)

we look at once at the other cases, for which trespass-offerings were commanded in the law; we find in Numbers 5:5-8 not only a trespass against Jehovah, but an unjust withdrawal of the property of a neighbour, clearly mentioned as a crime, for which material compensation was to be made with the addition of a fifth of its value, just as in Leviticus 5:2-7 of the present chapter. So also the guilt of a man who had lain with the slave of another (Leviticus 19:20-22) did not come into the ordinary category of adultery, but into that of an unjust invasion of the domain of another's property; though in this case, as the crime could not be estimated in money, instead of material compensation being made, a civil punishment (viz., bodily scourging) was to be inflicted; and for the same reason nothing is said about the valuation of the sacrificial ram. Lastly, in the trespass-offerings for the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:12.), or of a Nazarite who had been defiled by a corpse (Numbers 6:12), it is true we cannot show in what definite way the rights of Jehovah were violated (see the explanation of these passages), but the sacrifices themselves served to procure the restoration of the persons in question to certain covenant rights which they had lost; so that even here the trespass-offering, for which moreover only a male sheep was demanded, was to be regarded as a compensation or equivalent for the rights to be restored. From all these cases it is perfectly evident, that the idea of satisfaction for a right, which had been violated but was about to be restored or recovered, lay at the foundation of the trespass-offering,

(Note: Even in the case of the trespass-offering, which those who had taken heathen wives offered at Ezra's instigation (Ezra 10:18.), it had reference to a trespass (cf. vv. 2 and 10), an act of unfaithfulness to Jehovah, which demanded satisfaction. And so again the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:3.), when presenting gifts as a trespass-offering for Jehovah, rendered satisfaction for the robbery committed upon Him by the removal of the ark of the covenant.)

and the ritual also points to this. The animal sacrificed was always a ram, except in the cases mentioned in Leviticus 14:12. and Numbers 6:12. This fact alone clearly distinguishes the trespass-offerings from the sin-offerings, for which all kinds of sacrifices were offered from an ox to a pigeon, the choice of the animal being regulated by the position of the sinner and the magnitude of his sin. But they are distinguished still more by the fact, that in the case of all the sin-offerings the blood was to be put upon the horns of the altar, or even taken into the sanctuary itself, whereas the blood of the trespass-offerings, like that of the burnt and peace-offerings, was merely swung against the wall of the altar (Leviticus 7:2). Lastly, they were also distinguished by the fact, that in the trespass-offering the ram was in most instances to be valued by the priest, not for the purpose of determining its actual value, which could not vary very materially in rams of the same kind, but to fix upon it symbolically the value of the trespass for which compensation was required. Hence there can be no doubt, that as the idea of the expiation of sin, which was embodied in the sprinkling of the blood, was most prominent in the sin-offering; so the idea of satisfaction for the restoration of rights that had been violated or disturbed came into the foreground in the trespass-offering. This satisfaction was to be actually made, wherever the guilt admitted of a material valuation, by means of payment or penance; and in addition to this, the animal was raised by the priestly valuation into the authorized bearer of the satisfaction to be rendered to the rights of God, through the sacrifice of which the culprit could obtain the expiation of his guilt.

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