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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 5

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

Verses 1-19

Leviticus 5:1. He shall bear his iniquity. Proverbs 29:24, seems to refer to this passage. “He that hears cursing, and betrays it not, hates his own soul.” The sons of Belial said, that they heard Naboth blaspheme God and the king. Both Satan and his servants will cite the scriptures to impose and deceive.

Leviticus 5:2. If a soul touch any unclean thing. The carcase of a reptile, of an unclean beast, or a dead body. The daily impurities of the Hebrews were cleansed by washing, and by the evening sacrifice. But the law here respected a man’s approach to the sanctuary, or the eating of holy things.

Leviticus 5:4. If a soul swear, that is lightly and foolishly, or pronounce a rash word. Rash vows of hurting ourselves, or our neighbours, are here declared to be very sinful. Men had better repent of the rashness, than have bitter cause to repent of the vow and the sin.

Leviticus 5:5. Confess that he hath sinned. So in Numbers 5:7. The papists turn this to their own purpose. Agat pœnitentiam pro peccato. He shall do penance for his sin; whereas Leviticus 5:6 prescribes no penance, except a lamb from the flock. Repentance must be “towards God.”

Leviticus 5:15. If a soul commit a trespass in holy things. The LXX read πλημμελεια , which refers to some fraud, by withholding the tenths for the support of the sanctuary and its ministers, whether of corn or of the firstlings of his flock, he was here not only enjoined to restore it, but to add a fifth part as a fine for his fault. The whole tribe of Levi gave up their land; they had no lot but forty eight cities. Hence in fact, the people only cultivated the lands of the levites, while the levites, in return, devoted their lives to the instruction of the people: to rob the levites therefore was to rob the Lord. Malachi 3:8.


The first object which presents itself in this chapter, is a caveat against perjury. If any Israelite heard it, and did not bear his testimony against it, he participated of the crime; and in fact, it is so with almost every other sin. For we have all one Father, even God; and if we see or hear iniquity committed against him, and do not testify against it, how can he regard us as his friends? This is a striking argument against being partakers of other mens’ sins.

If a man had defiled himself with touching a dead body, and had neglected to cleanse himself and had eaten of holy things, or approached the sanctuary of God, so defiled, he is declared to have sinned; and atonement must be made for him. Let us beware of approaching the Lord with any defilement, either of body or mind, unrenounced and unabhorred. And as to the sins of which we may not be properly aware, let us pray the Lord to search and cleanse us from every secret fault.

Rash words, oaths and vows, being sinful in their nature, and the effect rather of passion than of judgment, all need atonement in the sight of God. Man, who is lord neither of life nor limb, but a mere creature dependant every moment on his Maker’s pleasure, should make no vows but in submission to his will: but if he have uttered an indiscreet word, or made a rash vow, he had better desist from keeping it, and repent before the Lord: for it is a gross mistake to suppose, that a holy God will accept the payment of any vow, where the motive is not pure and holy. A bad vow has been regarded as a sword with two edges, which cuts both ways: either payment or repentance will wound the mind.

Observe the gracious condescension of the Lord; if the offender was poor, and could not bring the prescribed victim, two doves or a little flour would be accepted. The Father of mercies will never spurn the poor and the needy from his presence, nor from the atonement of Christ Jesus. What a pity that the wicked should remain in sin and alienated from God, seeing the way is applained, and access made easy. Surely if men knew the riches of his mercy, they would revere his justice and adore his grace.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-5.html. 1835.
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