Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 5

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-13

The sin offering: its uses (5:1-13)

Sin offerings could be offered only for those sins that people committed unintentionally, such as through carelessness, haste, accident or weakness. When people realized they were guilty of such sins, they had to make confession and bring a sin offering (5:1-6; cf. 4:13,22,27). No sacrifice was available for deliberate or premeditated sins (Numbers 15:30). The sin offering therefore showed up the weakness of the sacrificial system. It provided only for those sins that people might have thought excusable, but provided no way of dealing with the sins that troubled them most. (See further comment below: ‘Limitations of the offerings’.)

There were grades in the offerings made by various classes of people. The sin offering for a priest or for the whole nation had to be a young bull (4:3,14); for a ruler, a male goat (4:23); and for the common people, either a female goat (4:28), a female lamb (4:32), two birds (5:7), or cereal (5:11), depending on the financial ability of the offerer. In each of the above cases there was a sin offering for atonement and the miniature burnt offering, usually referred to as the Lord’s portion. In the case of the sin offering for a private citizen, there was also a sacrificial meal for the priests.
In the special offering available for the poor, two birds were offered instead of one. The reason for this was that one bird was not large enough to divide between the two parts of the ritual. The first bird provided the blood for the atonement ritual (the sin offering), and the second was wholly burnt on the altar (the Lord’s portion, or miniature burnt offering) (7-10).
A bloodless offering (flour) was available for those who were virtually destitute. It had to be offered humbly and plainly, so that offerers might understand clearly that their atonement did not depend on any trimmings they might add, but on the sacrificial blood with which the offering was mixed when placed on the altar (11-13).

Verses 14-19

The guilt offering (5:14-6:7)

Regulations concerning the guilt offering (GNB: repayment offering) were similar to those for the sin offering made by non-priestly individuals, except that no gradations were allowed (7:1-10; see notes on 4:22-35).
Like the sin offering, the guilt offering was offered when people realized they had committed sin unknowingly. But the guilt offering differed from the sin offering in that it was offered in cases where the wrongdoing involved money or things of monetary value and therefore could be measured. For example, people may have forgotten to present firstlings or tithes, things that rightly belonged to God. In such cases they had to pay the money or goods to the priests (God’s representatives) along with an additional twenty percent as a fine, before presenting the guilt offering (5:14-19).
A similar rule applied in cases where people unintentionally caused others to suffer some loss of money, goods or property. The full loss had to be paid back, along with a fine amounting to one fifth of its value. This fine compensated the owner and punished the offender (6:1-7).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Leviticus 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/leviticus-5.html. 2005.
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