Leviticus 5:2
Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
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(2) Or if a soul touch any unclean thing.—The second instance adduced which requires this sacrifice is the case of any one touching the dead body of a clean animal, or the living or dead body of an unclean animal or reptile.

And if it be hidden from him.—That is, if he, through carelessness, forgot all about it that he had contracted this defilement; as the Vulgate rightly paraphrases it, “and forgetteth his uncleanness.” The touching of a carcase simply entailed uncleanness till evening, which the washing of the person and his garments thus defiled sufficed to remove (Leviticus 11:24; Leviticus 11:31). It was only when thoughtlessness made him forget his duty, and when reflection brought to his mind and conscience the violation of the law, that he was required to confess his sin, and bring a trespass offering.

He also shall be unclean, and guilty.—Better, and he is unclean, and acknowledgeth that he is guilty. (See Leviticus 4:13; Leviticus 4:22.) The Greek Version, called the Septuagint, which is the most ancient translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, omits altogether the latter part of this verse, which is represented in the Authorised Version by “and if it be hidden from him, he also shall be unclean and guilty,” thus showing that the Hebrew manuscript, or manuscripts, from which this old version was made, had not this clause. This is, moreover, supported by the fact that it needlessly anticipates the summary formula of the next verse, which continues the subject, and where it appears in its proper place.

Leviticus 5:2-3. If it be hidden from him — If he did it unawares, yet that would not excuse him, because he should have been more circumspect to avoid all unclean things. Hereby God designed to awaken men to watchfulness against, and repentance for, their unknown, or unobserved sins. He shall be unclean — Not morally, for the conscience was not directly polluted by these things, but ceremonially. When he knoweth — As soon as he knoweth it, he must not delay to make his peace with God. Otherwise he shall be guilty — For his violation and contempt of God’s authority and command.5:1-13 The offences here noticed are, 1. A man's concealing the truth, when he was sworn as a witness to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If, in such a case, for fear of offending one that has been his friend, or may be his enemy, a man refuses to give evidence, or gives it but in part, he shall bear his iniquity. And that is a heavy burden, which, if some course be not taken to get it removed, will sink a man to hell. Let all that are called at any time to be witnesses, think of this law, and be free and open in their evidence, and take heed of prevaricating. An oath of the Lord is a sacred thing, not to be trifled with. 2. A man's touching any thing that was ceremonially unclean. Though his touching the unclean thing only made him ceremonially defiled, yet neglecting to wash himself according to the law, was either carelessness or contempt, and contracted moral guilt. As soon as God, by his Spirit, convinces our consciences of any sin or duty, we must follow the conviction, as not ashamed to own our former mistake. 3. Rash swearing, that a man will do or not do such a thing. As if the performance of his oath afterward prove unlawful, or what cannot be done. Wisdom and watchfulness beforehand would prevent these difficulties. In these cases the offender must confess his sin, and bring his offering; but the offering was not accepted, unless accompanied with confession and humble prayer for pardon. The confession must be particular; that he hath sinned in that thing. Deceit lies in generals; many will own they have sinned, for that all must own; but their sins in any one particular they are unwilling to allow. The way to be assured of pardon, and armed against sin for the future, is to confess the exact truth. If any were very poor, they might bring some flour, and that should be accepted. Thus the expense of the sin-offering was brought lower than any other, to teach that no man's poverty shall ever bar the way of his pardon. If the sinner brought two doves, one was to be offered for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering. We must first see that our peace be made with God, and then we may expect that our services for his glory will be accepted by him. To show the loathsomeness of sin, the flour, when offered, must not be made grateful to the taste by oil, or to the smell by frankincense. God, by these sacrifices, spoke comfort to those who had offended, that they might not despair, nor pine away in their sins. Likewise caution not to offend any more, remembering how expensive and troublesome it was to make atonement.Hid from him - Either through forgetfulness or indifference, so that purification had been neglected. In such a case there had been a guilty negligence, and a sin-offering was required. On the essential connection between impurity and the sin-offering, see Leviticus 12:1.Le 5:2, 3. Touching Any Thing Unclean.

2. if a soul touch any unclean thing—A person who, unknown to himself at the time, came in contact with any thing unclean, and either neglected the requisite ceremonies of purification or engaged in the services of religion while under the taint of ceremonial defilement, might be afterwards convinced that he had committed an offense.

Touch any unclean thing, to wit, ceremonially; of which see more fully Leviticus 11:24, &c.; Deu 14.

If it be hidden from him; if he do it unwittingly, yet that would not excuse him, because he should have been more diligent and circumspect to avoid all unclean things. Hereby God designed to awaken men to watchfulness against, and repentance for, their unknown or unobserved sins. See Psalm 19:12 1Jo 3:20.

Guilty; not morally, for the conscience was not directly polluted by these things, Matthew 15:11,18, but ceremonially. Or if a soul touch any unclean thing,.... Meaning an Israelite, for only such were bound by this law, which pronounced a person unclean that touched anything that was so in a ceremonial sense; this is the general, including whatsoever by the law was unclean; the particulars follow:

whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, as the camel, the coney, the hare, and the swine, Leviticus 11:2.

or a carcass of unclean cattle; as the horse, and the ass, which were unclean for food, and their dead carcasses not to be touched, Leviticus 11:26.

or the carcass of unclean creeping things: such as are mentioned in Leviticus 11:29.

and if it be hidden from him; that he has touched them; or the uncleanness contracted by touching, he having inadvertently done it; or being ignorant of the law concerning such uncleanness:

he also shall be unclean; in a ceremonial sense, by thus touching them:

and guilty; of a breach of the command which forbids the touching of them: this is by way of prolepsis or anticipation; for as yet the law concerning unclean beasts, and creeping things, and pollution by touching them, was not given: Jarchi and Gersom interpret this guilt, of eating of holy things, and going into the sanctuary when thus defiled: in the Jewish Misnah (w) it is said, the word "hidden" is twice used, to show that he is guilty, for the ignorance of uncleanness, and for the ignorance of the sanctuary.

(w) Misn. Shebuot, c. 2. sect. 5.

Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
2, 3. The second case—when anyone unwittingly touches an unclean thing. By ‘beast’ is meant a wild animal, by ‘cattle’ one of the herd or of the flock (Leviticus 1:2).

unclean creeping things] swarming things; cp. Leviticus 11:29; Leviticus 11:31. On the distinction between ‘creeping’ and ‘swarming’ things, and the confusion in the renderings of EVV, see Intr. to Pent. App. II, pp. 209 f., and HDB. i. 518.

the uncleanness of man] Particular cases are specified in chs. 12–15. For all contact with uncleanness, washing the clothes and bathing the body in water are prescribed in the chapters referred to and also in Leviticus 11:24-40. The same purification is ordered for eating unclean food in Leviticus 17:15, and in the following verse is added—if he does not wash and bathe, he shall bear his iniquity, i.e. if the proper purification is omitted he is liable to punishment. The cases supposed in Leviticus 5:2-3 are those where, through ignorance, the purification has been omitted, and a sacrifice is necessary to avert punishment. The traditional explanation is that a Sin-Offering is necessary if, while unclean, a person has done something which may be done only by those who are clean, such as eating of the holy things etc., but there is nothing in the text to support this view. The Sin-Offering seems to be required from anyone in the condition described in Leviticus 17:16, of whom it may be said ‘he shall bear his iniquity.’Verses 2, 3. - Two cases of a man ceremonially defiled. If he had touched a dead body or any other substance conveying uncleanness, and it were hidden from him, that is, if he had done it unwittingly, or from forgetfulness or neglect, had failed to purify himself immediately, he must offer his sin offering, as above. In the case of the sin of a common Israelite ("of the people of the land," i.e., of the rural population, Genesis 23:7), that is to say, of an Israelite belonging to the people, as distinguished from the chiefs who ruled over the people (2 Kings 11:18-19; 2 Kings 16:15), the sin-offering was to consist of a shaggy she-goat without blemish, or a ewe-sheep (Leviticus 4:32). The ceremonial in both cases was the same as with the he-goat (Leviticus 4:23.). - "According to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord" (Leviticus 4:35): see at Leviticus 3:5.
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