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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

the Lord ... spake ... out of the tabernacle. The laws that are contained in the previous record were delivered either to the people publicly from Sinai, as was the decalogue, or to Moses privately, on the summit of that mountain; but on the completion of the tabernacle, the remainder of the law was announced to the Hebrew leader by an audible voice from the divine glory which surmounted the mercyseat.

Verse 2

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.

Speak unto the children of Israel. If the subject of communication were of a temporal nature, the Levites were excluded; but if it were a spiritual matter, the whole tribes were comprehended under this name (Deuteronomy 27:12-14).

If any man ... The directions given here relate solely to voluntary or free-will offerings-those rendered over and above such as, being of standing and universal obligation, could not be dispensed with or commuted for any other kind of offering, (Exodus 29:38; Leviticus 23:37; Numbers 28:3; Numbers 28:11-27; etc.)

Bring your offering ... - i:e., those animals that were not only tame, innocent, and gentle, but useful, adapted for food, and consequently costly sacrifices. This rule excluded horses, dogs, swine, camels, and asses-which were used in sacrifice by some pagan nations-beasts and birds of prey, as also hares and deers.

Verse 3

If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.

A burnt sacrifice, [ `olaah (H5930)] - so called from its being carried up and laid on the altar [and in Greek, holokautooma, from its being wholly consumed on the altar]: no part of it was eaten either by the priests or the offerer. It was designed to propitiate the anger of God incurred by original sin, by sin in general, or by particular transgressions, and on special occasions (which will be noticed as they occur); and its entire combustion indicated the self-dedication of the offerer-his whole nature-his body and soul-as necessary to form sacrifice acceptable to God (Romans 12:1; Philippians 1:20). This was the most ancient (cf. Genesis 8:20; Genesis 20:7-8; Genesis 20:13; Job 1:5), as well as the most conspicuous, mode of sacrifice.

A male without blemish. The male was considered more perfect than the female (Isaiah 1:11; Malachi 1:14), and was more fully typical of Christ (see an exception to this rule in the offering of females, 1 Samuel 6:14). No animal was allowed to be offered that had any deformity or defect. Among the Egyptians a minute inspection was made by the priest, and the bullock having been declared perfect, a certificate to that effect being fastened to its horns with wax, was sealed with his ring, and no other might be substituted. A similar process of examining the condition of the beasts brought as offerings seems to have been adopted by the priests in Israel (Job 6:27). This was a most stringent rule, the rationale of which was, that sacrifices were considered either:

(1) As gifts; and as gifts presented by subjects to their king were in value and completeness proportioned to their sense of the dignity and worth of the sovereign, so the animal offerings made by the Israelites should be in such a state of physical perfection as should express their feelings of devoted loyalty to the King of Israel; or,

(2) As oblations to testify gratitude for benefits received, or to expiate sins committed. In either case, propriety as well as the hope of acceptance dictated a careful observance of the rule, that the animal offered should be in every respect "without blemish" (Malachi 1:8.)

Offer it ... at the door of the tabernacle. This phrase is tantamount to bring it to the altar, which was situated at the door or entrance. The specification of the door of the tabernacle may have been intended to prevent the notion being entertained that the rite could be duly performed at whatever altar it might be presented. The phraseology, "the door of the tabernacle," was, in the later times of the temple, exchanged for that of 'the gate of Jerusalem.' The oblation was made by, and properly consisted in, placing the living animal at the entrance of God's house. But other ceremonies entered into the idea of an offering relative to the disposal of the separate parts. The burnt offering was also distinguished from all the sacrifices prescribed by the Hebrew ritual, that it might be offered by foreigners as well as native Jews. The burnt offering expressed those general sentiments of acknowledgment to God as Creator and Benefactor, as well as that propitiation to Him as an offended Sovereign, which nature instinctively awakens in the breasts of all, and which rendered it therefore proper to be rendered by all.

At the door of the tabernacle - where stood the altar of burnt offering (Exodus 40:6), and every other place was forbidden; under the highest penalty (Leviticus 17:4).

Verse 4

And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

Shall put his hand upon the head. This was a significant act, which implied not only that the offerer devoted the animal to God, but that he confessed his consciousness of sin, and prayed that his guilt and its punishment might be transferred to the victim; in other words, the sacrifice was vicarious. Bahr, in accordance with his non-substitutional views, considers that the imposition of the hand signified merely the offerer's ownership of the animal, and his willingness to surrender it to Yahweh in death.

And it shall be - rather, 'that it may be an acceptable atonement;' and so the Septuagint, dekton autoo ezilasasthai, accepted for him to make atonement.

To make atonement for him, [ kapeer (H3722)] - to cover him.

Verse 5

And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And he shall kill ... - meaning not the priest, because it was not his official duty in case of voluntary sacrifices, but the offerer; in later times, however, the office was generally performed by Levites (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:24; Ezra 6:24 ).

Before the Lord - on the spot where the hands had been laid upon the animal's head, on the north side of the altar.

Sprinkle the blood. This was to he done by the priests, who received the blood of the slain animal in brasen bowls, and sprinkled or poured it upon the altar near the offering, but apart from it. The blood being considered the life, the effusion of it was the essential part of the sacrifice, and the sprinkling of it, the application of the atonement-which made the person and services of the offerer acceptable to God. The skin having been stripped off and the carcass cut up, the various pieces were disposed on the altar in the manner best calculated to facilitate their being consumed By the fire.

This act, according to Bahr, symbolizes the offerer's readiness to yield his life-his all-himself, in faith, repentance, and devotedness, to God. But it denotes much more than that; for to this the offering and the killing of the animal is merely introductory [and even had there been no mention of kapeer (H3722) in the burnt offering, the special ceremony of the sprinkling of the blood would have shown that expiation was connected with it.]

Verse 6

And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 7

And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:

The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar - i:e., stir or rouse the fuel; because the fire made use of there descended from heaven (Leviticus 9:24), and all other fire was prohibited (Leviticus 10:1).

Verse 8

And the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:

The fat - the fat covering the intestines, that about the kidneys especially, which is called 'suet.'

Verse 9

But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

But his inward ... This part of the ceremony was symbolical of the inward purity and the holy walk that became acceptable worshippers.

A sweet savour unto the Lord - is an expression of the offerer's piety, but especially as a sacrificial type of Christ.

Verses 10-13

And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.

If his offering be of the flocks. Those who could not afford the expense of a bullock might offer a ram or a he-goat; and the same ceremonies were to be observed in the act of offering. In sheep, the fat of the tail was also burnt.

Verses 14-17

And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.

If the burnt sacrifice ... be of fowls. The gentle nature and cleanly habits of the dove led to its selection, while all other fowls were rejected, either for the fierceness of their disposition or the grossness of their taste; and in this case there being, from the smallness of the animal, no blood for waste, the priest was directed to prepare it at the altar, and sprinkle the blood. This was the offering appointed for the poor.

The fowls were always offered in pairs; and the reason why Moses ordered two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, was not merely to suit the convenience of the offerer, but according as the latter was in season; because pigeons are sometimes quite hard and unfit for eating, at which time turtle-doves are very good in Egypt and Palestine. The turtle-doves are not restricted to any age, because they are always good when they appear in those countries, being birds of passage; but the age of the pigeons is particularly marked, that they might not be offered to God at times when they are rejected by men (Harmer). It is obvious, from the varying scale of these voluntary sacrifices, that the disposition of the offerer was the thing looked to-not the costliness of his offering.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/leviticus-1.html. 1871-8.
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