Numbers 15:24
Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.
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(24) By ignorance.—The word shegagah is used to denote transgressions committed unwittingly in contrast to sins committed presumptuously (Numbers 15:30). (See Leviticus 4:2 and Note.) Provision had already been made in Leviticus 4 for sins of commission committed unwittingly by the whole congregation, but no provision appears to have been made for the guilt contracted in the case of sins of omission. It is possible, also, that in this place transgressions committed by an individual, but affecting the whole of the congregation, may be included. In Leviticus 4:14 a young bullock is appointed as a sin offering; in the present case a young bullock is appointed for a burnt offering and a kid of the goats for a sin offering. It must be remembered, moreover, that the commandments delivered in this chapter have express reference to the land of Canaan, whereas many of the commandments previously delivered had already become obligatory.

15:22-29 Though ignorance will in a degree excuse, it will not justify those who might have known their Lord's will, yet did it not. David prayed to be cleansed from his secret faults, those sins which he himself was not aware of. Sins committed ignorantly, shall be forgiven through Christ the great Sacrifice, who, when he offered up himself once for all upon the cross, seemed to explain one part of the intention of his offering, in that prayer, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. It looked favourably upon the Gentiles, that this law of atoning for sins of ignorance, is expressly made to extend to those who were strangers to Israel.Without the knowledge of the congregation - literally, as marginal. The words point to an error of omission which escaped notice at the time: i. e. to an oversight.24-26. if aught be committed by ignorance—The Mosaic ritual was complicated, and the ceremonies to be gone through in the various instances of purification which are specified, would expose a worshipper, through ignorance, to the risk of omitting or neglecting some of them. This law includes the stranger in the number of those for whom the sacrifice was offered for the sin of general ignorance. In Le 4 the bullock is for a sin-offering, here it is for a burnt-offering, either because they are different laws, as hath been said; or because here is added a new penalty, to breed the greater caution and diligence in the Israelites, who had given many instances, and now a fresh and eminent instance, of their heedlessness in observing the commands of God; and so, besides that bullock for a sin-offering, which he leaves to be gathered out of Leviticus 4:11, he now requires another bullock for a burnt-offering.

Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance,.... Of the law of God, not clearly understanding the meaning of it, or not knowing of the several precepts of it, and the circumstances of each, and the manner of performing obedience thereunto:

without the knowledge of the congregation; or they being ignorant of the true intent of the law and form of obeying it; for this is to be understood not of the sin of a private person through ignorance, but of the body of the people; or of a congregation of them in some particular place, ignorantly and unawares falling into idolatry, or rather into a breach of any of the laws of God, moral or ceremonial:

that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the Lord; as an acceptable sacrifice to him; by which it appears that this law is different from that in Leviticus 4:13; since the bullock there was for a sin offering, this for a burnt offering; and besides another creature was to be for a sin offering, as after expressed:

with his meat offering and his drink offering, according to the manner; a meat offering, consisting of such a quantity of flour and oil, and a drink offering of such a quantity of wine as directed to, Numbers 15:9,

and one kid of the goats for a sin offering; which though mentioned last was offered first, as an expiatory sacrifice for sin, typical of Christ, who was made an offering for sin, and then the burnt offering by way of thankfulness for the acceptance of the other.

Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savor unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.
24. The offering is a young bullock for a burnt-offering, together with the proper meal-offering and libation, and a he-goat for a sin offering.

Verse 24. - If ought be committed. Rather, "if it be committed," i.e., the non-observance of "all these commandments." It cannot, however, be necessary to suppose that a falling away from the whole body of the Mosaic legislation is here intended; such an apostasy could not happen by oversight, and if it did, the remedy provided would seem much too slight for the occasion. The analogy of the provision which follows (verse 27), and of the parallel provisions in Leviticus 4:2, 13, points clearly to the neglect of any one of the Divine commandments. One young bullock for a burnt offering. In the case of a sin of commission done ignorantly, the bullock was treated as a sin offering (Leviticus 4:14, 20), for in that case the expiation of guilt incurred is the prominent point in the atonement; in this case it is the necessity of a fresh self-dedication to the Lord. According to the manner, כַּמִּשְׁפָט, according to the ordinance given above. One kid of the goats for a sin offering. This was no doubt offered first, because expiation must precede self-oblation, but the bullock is mentioned first as forming the principal part of the sacrifice. The kid was probably treated according to the regulations of Leviticus 4:14, sq. Numbers 15:24"As for the assembly, there shall be one law for the Israelite and the stranger, eternal ordinance...before Jehovah." הקּהל, which is construed absolutely, refers to the assembling of the nation before Jehovah, or to the congregation viewed in its attitude with regard to God.

A second law (Numbers 15:17-21) appoints, on the ground of the general regulations in Exodus 22:28 and Exodus 23:19, the presentation of a heave-offering from the bread which they would eat in the land of Canaan, viz., a first-fruit of groat-meal (עריסת ראשׁית) baked as cake (חלּה). Arisoth, which is only used in connection with the gift of first-fruits, in Ezekiel 44:30; Nehemiah 10:38, and the passage before us, signifies most probably groats, or meal coarsely bruised, like the talmudical ערסן, contusum, mola, far, and indeed far hordei. This cake of the groats of first-fruits they were to offer "as a heave-offering of the threshing-floor," i.e., as a heave-offering of the bruised corn, in the same manner as this (therefore, in addition to it, and along with it); and that "according to your generations" (see Exodus 12:14), that is to say, for all time, to consecrate a gift of first-fruits to the Lord, not only of the grains of corn, but also of the bread made from the corn, and "to cause a blessing to rest upon his house" (Ezekiel 44:30). Like all the gifts of first-fruits, this cake also fell to the portion of the priests (see Ezek. and Neh. ut sup.).

To these there are added, in Numbers 15:22, Numbers 15:31, laws relating to sin-offerings, the first of which, in Numbers 15:22-26, is distinguished from the case referred to in Leviticus 4:13-21, by the fact that the sin is not described here, as it is there, as "doing one of the commandments of Jehovah which ought not to be done," but as "not doing all that Jehovah had spoken through Moses." Consequently, the allusion here is not to sins of commission, but to sins of omission, not following the law of God, "even (as is afterwards explained in Numbers 15:23) all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses from the day that the Lord hath commanded, and thenceforward according to your generations," i.e., since the first beginning of the giving of the law, and during the whole of the time following (Knobel). These words apparently point to a complete falling away of the congregation from the whole of the law. Only the further stipulation in Numbers 15:24, "if it occur away from the eyes of the congregation through error" (in oversight), cannot be easily reconciled with this, as it seems hardly conceivable that an apostasy from the entire law should have remained hidden from the congregation. This "not doing all the commandments of Jehovah," of which the congregation is supposed to incur the guilt without perceiving it, might consist either in the fact that, in particular instances, whether from oversight or negligence, the whole congregation omitted to fulfil the commandments of God, i.e., certain precepts of the law, sc., in the fact that they neglected the true and proper fulfilment of the whole law, either, as Outram supposes, "by retaining to a certain extent the national rites, and following the worship of the true God, and yet at the same time acting unconsciously in opposition to the law, through having been led astray by some common errors;" or by allowing the evil example of godless rulers to seduce them to neglect their religious duties, or to adopt and join in certain customs and usages of the heathen, which appeared to be reconcilable with the law of Jehovah, though they really led to contempt and neglect of the commandments of the Lord.

(Note: Maimonides (see Outram, ex veterum sententia) understands this law as relating to extraneous worship; and Outram himself refers to the times of the wicked kings, "when the people neglected their hereditary rites, and, forgetting the sacred laws, fell by a common sin into the observance of the religious rites of other nations." Undoubtedly, we have historical ground in 2 Chronicles 29:21., and Ezra 8:35, for this interpretation of our law, but further allusions are not excluded in consequence. We cannot agree with Baumgarten, therefore, in restricting the difference between Leviticus 4:13. and the passage before us to the fact, that the former supposes the transgression of one particular commandment on the part of the whole congregation, whilst the latter (Numbers 15:22, Numbers 15:23) refers to a continued lawless condition on the part of Israel.)

But as a disregard or neglect of the commandments of God had to be expiated, a burnt-offering was to be added to the sin-offering, that the separation of the congregation from the Lord, which had arisen from the sin of omission, might be entirely removed. The apodosis commences with והיה in Numbers 15:24, but is interrupted by מעי אם, and resumed again with ועשׂוּ, "it shall be, if...the whole congregation shall prepare," etc. The burnt-offering, being the principal sacrifice, is mentioned as usual before the sin-offering, although, when presented, it followed the latter, on account of its being necessary that the sin should be expiated before the congregation could sanctify its life and efforts afresh to the Lord in the burnt-offering. "One kid of the goats:" see Leviticus 4:23. כּמּשׂפּט (as in Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 9:16, etc.) refers to the right established in Numbers 15:8, Numbers 15:9, concerning the combination of the meat and drink-offering with the burnt-offering. The sin-offering was to be treated according to the rule laid down in Leviticus 4:14.

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