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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 4

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-35

The Sin Offering (4:1-5:13) and the Guilt Offering (5:14-6:7)

These are later and specialised forms of the Burnt Offering. They presuppose a state of matters in which the good relationship between God and the offerer has been interrupted by sin, and the purpose of both is to make atonement for, or cover, the sin of the guilty person or persons. The difference between the two seems to be that while the sin offering is provided for those offences which could not be undone or repaired, the guilt offering is provided for those cases where reparation and restitution are possible, a fine or penalty being imposed on the transgressor in the latter instance (Leviticus 5:16; Leviticus 6:4-5). The ritual of the two sacrifices is different. While the victim of the guilt offering is usually a ram (Leviticus 5:15) and sometimes a he-lamb (Numbers 15:24), the victim of the sin offering varies according to the rank of the offender. For the high priest it is a young bullock (Leviticus 4:3), for the congregation the same (Leviticus 4:14) or a he-goat (Numbers 15:24), for a ruler a he-goat (Leviticus 4:23), and for an ordinary person a she-goat (Leviticus 4:28), a ewe-lamb (Leviticus 4:32), a pigeon (Leviticus 5:7), or a meal offering (Leviticus 5:11). The important feature of the sin offering is the manipulation of the blood. Part of it is applied to the horns of the altar of incense and the rest poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering. But when the sin offering is on behalf of the high priest or congregation, part of the blood is also carried into the tent and sprinkled seven times before the veil of the sanctuary (Leviticus 4:5-6, Leviticus 4:16-17). On the great Day of Atonement the sprinkling takes place within the veil, on or before the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14: see notes on that chapter).

2. Through ignorance] RV ’unwittingly.’ The word applies to sins not only of ignorance but also of weakness and rashness. It must, however, be observed that the Levitical law provides no sacrifice for deliberate or presumptuous sins, sins committed ’with a high hand’ (Numbers 15:30, cp. Hebrews 10:26).

3. The priest that is anointed] i.e. the high priest: see on Exodus 29:21. According to the sin of the people] RV ’so as to bring guilt on the people.’

Horns] see on Exodus 27:2. Altar of sweet incense] see on Exodus 30:1-10.

15. Elders of the congregation] The representatives of the people.

26. The flesh of the sin offering for a ruler or ordinary person is eaten by the priests (Leviticus 6:26), who, however, must not eat their own sin offering nor that of the congregation which is to be entirely burned (Leviticus 4:11-12, Leviticus 4:21; Leviticus 6:30).

35. According to] RV ’upon’: see on Leviticus 3:5.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/leviticus-4.html. 1909.
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