Matthew Poole's Commentary
And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.If a man heard or knew of blasphemy, and concealed it, he must atone it, Leviticus 5:1. Or if he touch any unclean thing, and is made sensible of it, or have sworn rashly, he is guilty, must confess it, and offer a lamb or goat, female; in case of poverty, two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, one for a sin, and one for a burnt-offering, Leviticus 5:2-10. But if this were too much, the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, Leviticus 5:11-13. He that purloineth holy things must offer a ram, and the worth in silver, shekel according to the weight of the sanctuary, Leviticus 5:14-16. Sins of ignorance again mentioned, and a perfect ram, with the estimation, for a sin-offering, Leviticus 5:17-19.
And hear; and for that is, as that particle is often used, as Genesis 13:15 1 Chronicles 21:12, compared with 2 Samuel 24:13; for this declares in particular what the sin was. The voice of swearing; either,
1. Of adjuration upon oath, when the judge adjures a witness to speak the whole truth; of which see Matthew 26:63. But this seems too much to narrow the sense; and this and the other laws, both before and after it, speak of private sins committed through ignorance. Or,
2. Of false swearing before a judge. But that is expressly forbidden, Leviticus 6:3. Or rather,
3. Of cursing, or blasphemy, or execration, as the word commonly signifies; and that either,
1. Against one’s neighbour, as 2 Samuel 16:7; or,
2. Against God, as Leviticus 24:10,11; which may seem to be principally intended here, because the crime here spoken of is of so high a nature, that he who heard it was obliged to reveal it, and prosecute the guilty. And though God be not here mentioned, yet the general word is here to be understood of the most famous particular, as it is frequently in all authors, of which there are many instances.
Whether he hath seen; being present when it was said.
Or known, by sufficient information from others. He shall bear his iniquity, i.e. the punishment of it, as that word is oft used, as Genesis 19:15 Numbers 18:1. See of this phrase Leviticus 17:16 20:20 Isaiah 53:11.
Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.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 he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.As soon as he knoweth it, he must not delay to make his peace with God. And though it was sin before, though not known, yet the knowledge of it made it worse, and therefore required the more speedy repentance.
He shall be guilty, not only ceremonially by that touch, but morally for his violation and contempt of God’s authority and command.
Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.If a soul swear, to wit, rashly, without consideration, either of God’s law, or his own power or right, as David did, 1 Samuel 25:22.
To do evil; either,
1. To himself, to wit, to punish himself, either in his body, or estate, or something else which is dear to him. Or rather,
2. To his neighbour, as 1 Samuel 25:22 Acts 23:12.
Or to do good, to wit, to his neighbour, as Mark 6:23, when a man either may not or cannot do it, which may frequently happen.
And it be hid from him, i.e. he did not know, or not consider, that what he swore to do, was or would be impossible or unlawful.
When he knoweth of it; when he discovers it to be so, either by his own consideration, or by information from others.
In one of these; either in the good or evil which he swore to do.
And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:In one of these things; in one of the three forementioned cases, either by sinful silence and compliance with others in their sin, Leviticus 4:1; or by an unclean touch, as Leviticus 4:2,3; or by rash swearing, Leviticus 4:4.
He shall confess before the Lord in the place of public worship. And this confession is not to be restrained to the present case, but by a parity of reason, and comparing of other scriptures, to be extended to other sacrifices for sin, to which this was a constant companion; and as it was signified by the guilty person’s laying his hand upon his offering, so it is probable it was expressed in words. See Numbers 5:6,7.
And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.Quest. How comes confession and a sacrifice to be necessary for him that touched an unclean thing, when such persons were cleansed with simple washing, as appears from Le 11 Num 19?
Answ. This place speaks of him that being so unclean did come into the tabernacle, as may be gathered by comparing this place with Numbers 19:13, which if any man did, knowing himself to be unclean, which was the case there, he was to be cut off for it; and if he did it ignorantly, which is the case here, Leviticus 4:2, he was upon discovery of it to offer this sacrifice. Interpreters dispute much what the difference is between sins and trespasses, and between sin-offerings and trespass-offerings. Some make the one for omissions, the other for commissions; the one for greater, the other for lesser sins; the one for known sins, the other for sins of ignorance; in all which there seems to be more curiosity than solidity. Either they seem to be the same, as may be gathered from Leviticus 4:6, where those two words, asham and theta, which they so carefully and critically distinguish, are both used concerning the trespass-offerings, and from Leviticus 4:9; or the difference may be this, that sin-offerings were more indefinite or general, being for any particular sin, and trespass-offerings more restrained and particular, for such sins as were more scandalous and injurious, either to God by blasphemy, as Leviticus 4:1, or to his sanctuary, by approaching to it in one’s uncleanness, Leviticus 4:2,3, as hath been now said; or to one’s neighbour, by swearing to do to them either the good which we afterwards cannot or do not, or the evil which we should not; or to the priests and holy things of God, Leviticus 4:15.
A female; because those sins were less than others, as being committed ignorantly or unwittingly, and therefore God would accept a meaner sacrifice for them.
And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.If he be not able, through poverty, as Leviticus 4:11. And this exception was allowed also in other sin-offerings.
Two young pigeons, of which see Leviticus 1:14.
One for a sin-offering, which was for that particular sin, and therefore is offered first before the burnt-offering, which was for sins in general to teach us not to rest in general confessions and repentances for sin, as hypocrites commonly do, but distinctly and particularly, as far as we can, to search out, and confess, and loathe, and leave our particular sins, without which God will not accept our other religious services. Note that the burnt-offering was for the expiation of sin as well as the sin-offering, Leviticus 1:4, only that was for sin in general, and this for particular sins.
And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:No text from Poole on this verse.
And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.This is added as the reason why its blood was so sprinkled and spilt. See Leviticus 4:7,8,30,34.
And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.According to the manner or order appointed by God.
The priest shall make an atonement for him; either declaratively, he shall pronounce him to be pardoned; or typically, with respect to Christ.
But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.The tenth part of an ephah, about a pottle of our measure. See Exodus 16:36.
He shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon; either to distinguish these from the meat-offerings, Leviticus 2:1; or as a fit expression of their true sorrow for their sins, in the sense whereof they were to abstain from things pleasant and delightful; see Numbers 5:15; or to signify that by his sins he deserved to be utterly deprived both of the oil of gladness, the gifts, graces, and comforts of the Holy Ghost, and of God’s gracious acceptance of his prayers and sacrifices, which is signified by incense, Psalm 141:2; or to teach them how evil a thing sin was, how hateful to God, and how uncomfortable to themselves.
Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: it is a sin offering.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest's, as a meat offering.As it was in the meat-offering, where all, except one handful, fell to the share of the priests. See Leviticus 2:3 7:9. And this is the rather mentioned here, because in the foregoing sacrifices, Leviticus 4:3 13, &c., the priest had no part reserved for him.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
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: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".
And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.Shall add the fifth part; so much they were to add to holy things redeemed, Leviticus 27:13,15,19.
And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.Any of these things, to wit, concerning holy things, of which he is yet speaking, though with some difference and addition, as it may seem. The former law concerns the alienation of holy things from the sacred to a common use; and this may concern other miscarriages about holy things and holy duties, as may be gathered from Leviticus 5:19, where this is said to be a trespass against the Lord, not in a general sense, for so every sin war, but in a proper and peculiar sense.
Though he wist it not; for if he did it knowingly, he must die, Numbers 15:30.
And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.No text from Poole on this verse.
It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD.No text from Poole on this verse.