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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-17

Leviticus 1:4. Make atonement for him, he having first laid his hand on the head of the bullock, and confessed his sin. A burnt-offering for sin is here mentioned as the first of all the sacrifices, because deliverance from guilt, and reconciliation with God, should ever be our great and principal concern. It must be offered at the door of the tabernacle, then slain and cut in pieces, and its parts conveyed to and burnt upon the altar, for there is no entrance into this holy habitation without the shedding of blood.

Leviticus 1:5. Sprinkle the blood round about the altar; and elsewhere, pour the blood at the foot of the altar; to prefigure the blood of our Saviour poured out at the foot of the cross.

Leviticus 1:6. He shall flay. The priest, aided by the levites, 2 Chronicles 29:34. They cut the victim’s throat across, separating the windpipe at a single stroke.

Leviticus 1:7. Put fire; that is, increase the fire by fresh wood, which was always kept burning.


God being high and holy, and his people corrupt and sinful, there was no access to him but by a hallowing process of mediation and sacrifice. The animals selected for the altar were bulls, sheep and doves. The latter were received principally in behalf of the poor, who could not bring a richer gift. These oblations were not for individuals only; but sometimes large burnt- offerings were presented in favour of the nation, when afflicted with grievous calamities, or when anxious to obtain some signal mercy. So Israel, when twice defeated by Benjamin, in the wicked affair of the Levite’s concubine; and the Lord heard their prayers. So Samuel, when the Philistines invaded the land, and the Lord drove them back by the terrors of supernatural thunder. So David, during the plague, and the Lord stayed it; and so Solomon, when he sought wisdom to govern the kingdom.

The sin-offering must be a male, without spot or blemish; and in that view we have a more striking figure of the Lamb of God, who was holy and undefiled. The animal must be tied to a convenient place; so was the Saviour bound for us. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

The offender laid his hand on the head of the victim. This was a most significant action. Hereby he acknowledged his sin, and his worthiness to die; and if he had the shadowy light which irradiated some of the prophets, he desired that the Messiah’s atonement and death might procure his life and salvation; and if he was ignorant, as was generally the case, a sincere heart was accepted. By putting his hand on the head of the victim, we learn that it is not sufficient to approve of Christ and his gospel, we must actually put forth the hand of faith to lay hold of the benefits of his sufferings and death. It marked also, that the worshipper brought his beast with a willing and a contrite heart; and with a firm purpose not to return to his sins. If these dispositions were wanting, the richest offerings were but an abomination to the Lord.

The victim so presented was slain, flayed, and burnt on the altar, with the blood; and so consumed, it was a sweet savour to God, and made atonement for the sin of the soul. Here we have the holy and immaculate Lamb of God evidently set forth before our eyes. His back was flayed with the scourges, his whole humanity endured the sorrows of death, and sustained the fire of divine justice for our redemption. All his merits were a sweet savour unto God, and life and salvation are obtained by the blood of the cross.

Having therefore redemption in his blood, let us think of making some returns to heaven for the great riches of its grace; let us present our bodies to the Lord, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. Let us devote that life to his glory which has been so dearly ransomed by the oblation of the Son of God. Thus purged in conscience, and sanctified in heart, we poor sinners shall be counted worthy to enter the congregation of the Lord, and to dwell in his presence for ever.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-1.html. 1835.
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