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.
Verse 1. - The case of a witness on oath. If a man hear the voice of swearing, that is, if he was one of a number of persons adjured to speak according to the manner in which oaths were administered in Jewish courts of justice (see Matthew 26:63; 2 Chronicles 18:15), and he did not give evidence of what he had seen or heard, he had to bear his iniquity, that is, he was regarded as guilty; and as this was an offense which could be atoned for by a sacrifice, he was to offer as a sin offering a ewe lamb, or a female kid, or two turtle-doves, or two pigeons, or the tenth part of an ephah of flour. This injunction is a direct condemnation of the approved teaching of Italian moral theologians of paramount authority throughout the Roman Church, who maintain that, in case a crime is not known to others, a witness in a court of justice "may, nay, he is bound to, say that the accused has not committed it" (St. Alfonso de' Liguori, 'Theol. Mor.,' 4:154).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Verse 4. - The ease of a man who had neglected to fulfill a thoughtless oath. If he sware to do evil, or to do good, that is, to do anything whatever, good or bad (see Numbers 24:13), and failed to fulfill his oath from carelessness or negligence, he too must bring his offering, as above.
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:
Verses 5, 6. - In the four cases last mentioned there is first to be an acknowledgment of guilt, he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing, and then the sin offering is to be made. Confession of sin probably preceded or accompanied all sin offerings. The use of the word asham, translated trespass offering in verse 6, and the character of the four cases have led many commentators to regard verses 1-13 as dealing with the trespass offering rather than the sin offering. But if this were so, the words trespass offering and sin offering would be used synonymously in this verse, which is very unlikely, when they are immediately afterwards carefully distinguished. It is best to render asham "for his trespass," that is, in expiation of his guilt, as in the next verse, in place of a trespass offering.
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.
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.
Verses 7-13. - If he be not able to bring a lamb. Sin offerings being not voluntary sacrifices but required of all that were guilty, and the four last-named cases being of common occurrence amongst the poor and ignorant, two concessions are made to poverty: two birds (one to be offered with the ritual of the sin offering, the other with that of the burnt offering), or even some flour (either three pints and a half or three quarts and a half, according as we adopt the larger or smaller estimate of the amount of the ephah), are allowed when the offerer cannot provide a lamb or a kid. There is thus typically set forth the freedom with which acceptance through the great propitiation is offered to all without respect of persons. The non-bloody substitute, being permitted only as an exception for the benefit of the very poor and only in the four cases above specified, does not invalidate the general rule that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 14, 15. - If a soul commit a trespass. Two previous conditions were required of the Israelite before he might offer his trespass offering.
1. He must make compensation for any harm or injury that he had done.
2. He must give to the injured party a fine equal to one-fifth (i.e., two-tenths) of the value of the thing of which he had deprived him, if the wrong was capable of being so estimated. In performing his sacrifice, he had
(1) to bring a ram to the court of the tabernacle;
(2) to present and to kill it:
while the priest
(1) cast the blood on the inner sides of the altar;
(2) burnt the internal fat and the tail;
(3) took the remainder to be eaten by himself and his brother priests and their sons in the court of the tabernacle (Leviticus 7:2-7).
The special lesson of the trespass offering is the need of satisfaction as well as of oblation, and thus it supplies a representation of one feature in the great Antitype, who was the "full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." Through ignorance (see note on Leviticus 4:2).
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:
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.")
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.
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.
Verses 17-19. Sins of commission may be atoned for by the trespass offering as well as sins of omission.
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.
It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD.