Attention! has pledged to build one church a year in Uganda. Help us double that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Leviticus 6


2. Special Instructions Concerning the Sacrifices for the Priests - Leviticus 6-7

The instructions contained in these two chapters were made known to “ Aaron and his sons ” (Leviticus 6:9, Leviticus 6:20, Leviticus 6:25), i.e., to the priests, and relate to the duties and rights which devolved upon, and pertained to, the priests in relation to the sacrifices. Although many of the instructions are necessarily repeated from the general regulations, as to the different kinds of sacrifice and the mode of presenting them; most of them are new, and of great importance in relation to the institution of sacrifice generally.

Verses 1-7

(Ch. 5:14-6:7)

(Note: In the original the division of verses in the Hebrew text is followed; but we have thought it better to keep to the arrangement adopted in our English version. - Tr.)

The Trespass-Offerings. - These were presented for special sins, by which a person had contracted guilt, and therefore they are not included in the general festal sacrifices. Three kinds of offences are mentioned in this section as requiring trespass-offerings. The first is, “ if a soul commit a breach of trust, and sin in going wrong in the holy gifts of Jehovah.מעל , lit., to cover, hence מעיל the cloak, over-coat, signifies to act secretly, unfaithfully, especially against Jehovah, either by falling away from Him into idolatry, by which the fitting honour was withheld from Jehovah (Leviticus 26:40; Deuteronomy 32:51; Joshua 22:16), or by infringing upon His rights, abstracting something that rightfully belonged to Him. Thus in Joshua 7:1; Joshua 22:20, it is applied to fraud in relation to that which had been put under the ban; and in Numbers 5:12, Numbers 5:27,it is also applied to a married woman's unfaithfulness to her husband: so that sin was called מעל , when regarded as a violation of existing rights. “ The holy things of Jehovah ” were the holy gifts, sacrifices, first-fruits, tithes, etc., which were to be offered to Jehovah, and were assigned by Him to the priests for their revenue (see Leviticus 21:22). חטא with מן is constructio praegnans: to sin in anything by taking away from Jehovah that which belonged to Him. בּשׁגגה , in error (see Leviticus 4:2): i.e., in a forgetful or negligent way. Whoever sinned in this way was to offer to the Lord as his guilt (see Leviticus 5:6) a ram from the flock without blemish for a trespass-offering (lit., guilt-offering), according to the estimate of Moses, whose place was afterwards taken by the officiating priest (Leviticus 27:12; Numbers 18:16). שׁקלים כּסף money of shekels, ” i.e., several shekels in amount, which Abenezra and others have explained, no doubt correctly, as meaning that the ram was to be worth more than one shekel, two shekels at least. The expression is probably kept indefinite, for the purpose of leaving some margin for the valuation, so that there might be a certain proportion between the value of the ram and the magnitude of the trespass committed (see Oehler ut sup. p. 645). “ In the holy shekel: ” see Exodus 30:13. At the same time, the culprit was to make compensation for the fraud committed in the holy thing, and add a fifth (of the value) over, as in the case of the redemption of the first-born, of the vegetable tithe, or of what had been vowed to God (Leviticus 27:27, Leviticus 27:31, and Leviticus 27:13, Leviticus 27:15, Leviticus 27:19). The ceremony to be observed in the offering of the ram is described in Leviticus 7:1. It was the same as that of the sin-offerings, whose blood was not brought into the holy place, except with regard to the sprinkling of the blood, and in this the trespass-offering resembled the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings.

The second case (Leviticus 5:17-19), from its very position between the other two, which both refer to the violation of rights, must belong to the same category; although the sin is introduced with the formula used in Leviticus 4:27 in connection with those sins which were to be expiated by a sin-offering. But the violation of right can only have consisted in an invasion of Jehovah's rights with regard to Israel, and not, as Knobel supposes, in an invasion of the rights of private Israelites, as distinguished from the priests; an antithesis of which there is not the slightest indication. This is evident from the fact, that the case before us is linked on to the previous one without anything intervening; whereas the next case, which treats of the violation of the rights of a neighbour, is separated by a special introductory formula. The expression, “ and wist it not, ” refers to ignorance of the sin, and not of the divine commands; as may be clearly seen from Leviticus 5:18: “the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his error, which he committed without knowing it.” The trespass-offering was the same as in the former case, and was also to be valued by the priest; but no compensation is mentioned, probably because the violation of right, which consisted in the transgression of one of the commands of God, was of such a kind as not to allow of material compensation. The third case (Leviticus 6:1-7) is distinguished from the other two by a new introductory formula. The sin and unfaithfulness to Jehovah are manifested in this case in a violation of the rights of a neighbour. “ If a man deny to his neighbour ( כּחשׁ with a double ב obj., to deny a thing to a person) a pikkadon (i.e., a deposit, a thing entrusted to him to keep, Genesis 41:36), or יד תּשׂוּמת , “ a thing placed in his hand ” (handed over to him as a pledge) “or גּזל , a thing robbed ” (i.e., the property of a neighbour unjustly appropriated, whether a well, a field, or cattle, Genesis 21:25; Micah 2:2; Job 24:2), “ or if he have oppressed his neighbour ” (i.e., forced something from him or withheld it unjustly, Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14; Joshua 12:8; Malachi 3:5), “ or have found a lost thing and denies it, and thereby swears to his lie ” (i.e., rests his oath upon a lie), “ on account of one of all that a man is accustomed to do to sin therewith: ” the false swearing here refers not merely to a denial of what is found, but to all the crimes mentioned, which originated in avarice and selfishness, but through the false swearing became frauds against Jehovah, adding guilt towards God to the injustice done to the neighbour, and requiring, therefore, not only that a material restitution should be made to the neighbour, but that compensation should be made to God as well. Whatever had been robbed, or taken by force, or entrusted or found, and anything about which a man had sworn falsely (Leviticus 6:4, Leviticus 6:5), was to be restored “ according to its sum ” (cf. Exodus 30:12; Numbers 1:2, etc.), i.e., in its full value; beside which, he was to “ add its fifths ” (on the plural, see Ges. §87, 2; Ew. §186 e), i.e., in every one of the things abstracted or withheld unjustly the fifth part of the value was to be added to the full amount (as in Leviticus 5:16). “ To him to whom it (belongs), shall he give itאשׁמתו בּיום : in the day when he makes atonement for his trespass, i.e., offers his trespass-offering. The trespass (guilt) against Jehovah was to be taken away by the trespass-offering according to the valuation of the priest, as in Leviticus 5:15, Leviticus 5:16, and Leviticus 5:18, that he might receive expiation and forgiveness on account of what he had done.

If now, in order to obtain a clear view of the much canvassed difference between the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings,

(Note: For the different views, see Bähr's Symbolik; Winer's bibl. R. W.; Kurtz on Sacrificial Worship; Riehm, theol. Stud. und Krit. 1854, pp. 93ff.; Rinck, id. 1855, p. 369; Oehler in Herzog's Cycl.)

we look at once at the other cases, for which trespass-offerings were commanded in the law; we find in Numbers 5:5-8 not only a trespass against Jehovah, but an unjust withdrawal of the property of a neighbour, clearly mentioned as a crime, for which material compensation was to be made with the addition of a fifth of its value, just as in Leviticus 5:2-7 of the present chapter. So also the guilt of a man who had lain with the slave of another (Leviticus 19:20-22) did not come into the ordinary category of adultery, but into that of an unjust invasion of the domain of another's property; though in this case, as the crime could not be estimated in money, instead of material compensation being made, a civil punishment (viz., bodily scourging) was to be inflicted; and for the same reason nothing is said about the valuation of the sacrificial ram. Lastly, in the trespass-offerings for the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:12.), or of a Nazarite who had been defiled by a corpse (Numbers 6:12), it is true we cannot show in what definite way the rights of Jehovah were violated (see the explanation of these passages), but the sacrifices themselves served to procure the restoration of the persons in question to certain covenant rights which they had lost; so that even here the trespass-offering, for which moreover only a male sheep was demanded, was to be regarded as a compensation or equivalent for the rights to be restored. From all these cases it is perfectly evident, that the idea of satisfaction for a right, which had been violated but was about to be restored or recovered, lay at the foundation of the trespass-offering,

(Note: Even in the case of the trespass-offering, which those who had taken heathen wives offered at Ezra's instigation (Ezra 10:18.), it had reference to a trespass (cf. vv. 2 and 10), an act of unfaithfulness to Jehovah, which demanded satisfaction. And so again the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:3.), when presenting gifts as a trespass-offering for Jehovah, rendered satisfaction for the robbery committed upon Him by the removal of the ark of the covenant.)

and the ritual also points to this. The animal sacrificed was always a ram, except in the cases mentioned in Leviticus 14:12. and Numbers 6:12. This fact alone clearly distinguishes the trespass-offerings from the sin-offerings, for which all kinds of sacrifices were offered from an ox to a pigeon, the choice of the animal being regulated by the position of the sinner and the magnitude of his sin. But they are distinguished still more by the fact, that in the case of all the sin-offerings the blood was to be put upon the horns of the altar, or even taken into the sanctuary itself, whereas the blood of the trespass-offerings, like that of the burnt and peace-offerings, was merely swung against the wall of the altar (Leviticus 7:2). Lastly, they were also distinguished by the fact, that in the trespass-offering the ram was in most instances to be valued by the priest, not for the purpose of determining its actual value, which could not vary very materially in rams of the same kind, but to fix upon it symbolically the value of the trespass for which compensation was required. Hence there can be no doubt, that as the idea of the expiation of sin, which was embodied in the sprinkling of the blood, was most prominent in the sin-offering; so the idea of satisfaction for the restoration of rights that had been violated or disturbed came into the foreground in the trespass-offering. This satisfaction was to be actually made, wherever the guilt admitted of a material valuation, by means of payment or penance; and in addition to this, the animal was raised by the priestly valuation into the authorized bearer of the satisfaction to be rendered to the rights of God, through the sacrifice of which the culprit could obtain the expiation of his guilt.

Verses 8-11

(Heb. vv. 1-6). The Law of the Burnt-Offering commences the series, and special reference is made to the daily burnt-offering (Exodus 29:38-42).

Leviticus 6:8

It, the burnt-offering, shall (burn) upon the hearth upon the altar the whole night till the morning, and the fire of the altar be kept burning with it.” The verb תּוּקד is wanting in the first clause, and only introduced in the second; but it belongs to the first clause as well. The pronoun הוא at the opening of the sentence cannot stand for the verb to be in the imperative. The passages, which Knobel adduces in support of this, are of a totally different kind. The instructions apply primarily to the burnt-offering, which was offered every evening, and furnished the basis for all the burnt-offerings (Exodus 29:38-39; Numbers 33:3-4).

Leviticus 6:10-11

In the morning of every day the priest was to put on his linen dress (see Exodus 28:42) and the white drawers, and lift off, i.e., clear away, the ashes to which the fire had consumed the burnt-offering upon the altar ( אכל is construed with a double accusative, to consume the sacrifice to ashes), and pour them down beside the altar (see Leviticus 1:16). The ו in מדּו is not to be regarded as the old form of the connecting vowel, as in Genesis 1:24 ( Ewald, §211 b; see Ges. §90, 3 b), but as the suffix, as in 2 Samuel 20:8, although the use of the suffix with the governing noun in the construct state can only be found in other cases in the poetical writings (cf. Ges. §121 b; Ewald, 291 b). He was then to take off his official dress, and having put on other (ordinary) clothes, to take away the ashes from the court, and carry them out of the camp to a clean place. The priest was only allowed to approach the altar in his official dress; but he could not go out of the camp with this.

Verse 12

The fire of the altar was also to be kept burning “ with it ” ( בּו , viz., the burnt-offering) the whole day through without going out. For this purpose the priest was to burn wood upon it (the altar-fire), and lay the burnt-offering in order upon it, and cause the fat portions of the peace-offerings to ascend in smoke, - that is to say, whenever peace-offerings were brought, for they were not prescribed for every day.

Verse 13

Fire was to be kept constantly burning upon the altar without going out, not in order that the heavenly fire, which proceeded from Jehovah when Aaron and his sons first entered upon the service of the altar after their consecration, and consumed the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, might never be extinguished (see at Leviticus 9:24); but that the burnt-offering might never go out, because this was the divinely appointed symbol and visible sign of the uninterrupted worship of Jehovah, which the covenant nation could never suspend either day or night, without being unfaithful to its calling. For the same reason other nations also kept perpetual fire burning upon the altars of their principal gods. (For proofs, see Rosenmller and Knobel ad h. l.)

Verses 14-18

The Law of the Meat-Offering. - The regulations in Leviticus 6:14, Leviticus 6:15, are merely a repetition of Leviticus 2:2 and Leviticus 2:3; but in Leviticus 6:16-18 the new instructions are introduced with regard to what was left and had not been burned upon the altar. The priests were to eat this as unleavened, i.e., to bake it without leaven, and to eat it in a holy place, viz., in the court of the tabernacle. תּאכל מצות in Leviticus 6:16 is explained by “ it shall not be baken with leaven ” in Leviticus 6:17. It was the priests' share of the firings of Jehovah (see Leviticus 1:9), and as such it was most holy (see Leviticus 2:3), like the sin-offering and trespass-offering (Leviticus 6:25, Leviticus 6:26; Leviticus 7:6), and only to be eaten by the male members of the families of the priests. This was to be maintained as a statute for ever (see at Leviticus 3:17). Every one that touches them (the most holy offerings) becomes holy.” יקדּשׁ does not mean he shall be holy, or shall sanctify himself (lxx, Vulg., Luth., a Lap., etc.), nor he is consecrated to the sanctuary and is to perform service there ( Theodor., Knobel, and others). In this provision, which was equally applicable to the sin-offering (Leviticus 6:27), to the altar of the burnt-offering (Exodus 29:37), and to the most holy vessels of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:29), the word is not to be interpreted by Numbers 17:2-3, or Deuteronomy 22:9, or by the expression “shall be holy” in Leviticus 27:10, Leviticus 27:21, and Numbers 18:10, but by Isaiah 65:5, “touch me not, for I am holy.” The idea is this, every layman who touched these most holy things became holy through the contact, so that henceforth he had to guard against defilement in the same manner as the sanctified priests (Leviticus 21:1-8), though without sharing the priestly rights and prerogatives. This necessarily placed him in a position which would involve many inconveniences in connection with ordinary life.

Verses 19-23

The Meat-Offering of the Priests is introduced, as a new law, with a special formula, and is inserted here in its proper place in the sacrificial instructions given for the priests, as it would have been altogether out of place among the general laws for the laity. In “ the day of his anointing ” ( המּשׁח , construed as a passive with the accusative as in Genesis 4:18), Aaron and his sons were to offer a corban as “ a perpetual meat-offering ” ( minchah , in the absolute instead of the construct state: cf. Exodus 29:42; Numbers 28:6; see Ges. §116, 6, Note b); and this was to be done in all future time by “ the priest who was anointed of his sons in his stead, ” that is to say, by every high priest at the time of his consecration. “ In the day of his anointing: ” when the anointing was finished, the seven were designated as “the day,” like the seven days of creation in Genesis 2:4. This minchah was not offered during the seven days of the anointing itself, but after the consecration was finished, i.e., in all probability, as the Jewish tradition assumes, at the beginning of the eighth day, when the high priest entered upon his office, viz., along with the daily morning sacrifices (Exodus 29:38-39), and before the offering described in Lev 9. It then continued to be offered, as “a perpetual minchah ,” every morning and evening during the whole term of his office, according to the testimony of the book of Wis. (45:14, where we cannot suppose the daily burnt-offering to be intended) and also of Josephus ( Ant. 3:10, 7).

(Note: Vid., Lundius, jüd. Heiligthümer, B. 3, c 9, §17 and 19; Thalhofer ut supra, p. 139; and Delitzsch on the Epistle to the Hebrews. The text evidently enjoins the offering of this minchah upon Aaron alone; for though Aaron and his sons are mentioned in Leviticus 6:13, as they were consecrated together, in Leviticus 6:15 the priest anointed of his sons in Aaron's stead, i.e., the successor of Aaron in the high-priesthood, is commanded to offer it. Consequently the view maintained by Maimonides, Abarbanel, and others, which did not become general even among the Rabbins, viz., that every ordinary priest was required to offer this meat-offering when entering upon his office, has no solid foundation in the law (see Selden de success. in pontif. ii. c. 9; L' Empereur ad Middoth 1, 4, Not. 8; and Thalhofer, p. 150).)

It was to consist of the tenth of an ephah of fine flour, one half of which was to be presented in the morning, the other in the evening; - not as flour, however, but made in a pan with oil, “ roasted ” and פּתּים מנחת ני תּפי (“ broken pieces of a minchah of crumbs ”), i.e., in broken pieces, like a minchah composed of crumbs. מרבּכת (Leviticus 6:14 and 1 Chronicles 23:29) is no doubt synonymous with מרבּכת סלת , and to be understood as denoting fine flour sufficiently burned or roasted in oil; the meaning mixed or mingled does not harmonise with Leviticus 7:12, where the mixing or kneading with oil is expressed by בּשּׁמן בּלוּלת . The hapax legomenon תּפיני signifies either broken or baked, according as we suppose the word to be derived from the Arabic 'afana diminuit, or, as Gesenius and the Rabbins do, from אפה to bake, a point which can hardly be decided with certainty. This minchah , which was also instituted as a perpetual ordinance, was to be burnt entirely upon the altar, like every meat-offering presented by a priest, because it belonged to the category of the burnt-offerings, and of these meat-offerings the offerer himself had no share (Leviticus 2:3, Leviticus 2:10). Origen observes in his homil. iv. in Levit.: In caeteris quidem praeceptis pontifex in offerendis sacrificiis populo praebet officium, in hoc vero mandato quae propria sunt curat et quod ad se spectat exequitur . It is also to be observed that the high priest was to offer only a bloodless minchah for himself, and not a bleeding sacrifice, which would have pointed to expiation. As the sanctified of the Lord, he was to draw near to the Lord every day with a sacrificial gift, which shadowed forth the fruits of sanctification.

Verses 24-27

The Law of the Sin-Offering, which is introduced with a new introductory formula on account of the interpolation of Leviticus 6:19-23, gives more precise instructions, though chiefly with regard to the sin-offerings of the laity, first as to the place of slaughtering, as in Leviticus 4:24, and then as to the most holy character of the flesh and blood of the sacrifices. The flesh of these sin-offerings was to be eaten by the priest who officiated at a holy place, in the fore-court (see Leviticus 6:16). Whoever touched it became holy (see at Leviticus 6:18); and if any one sprinkled any of the blood upon his clothes, whatever the blood was sprinkled upon was to be washed in a holy place, in order that the most holy blood might not be carried out of the sanctuary into common life along with the sprinkled clothes, and thereby be profaned. The words “thou shalt wash” in Leviticus 6:20 are addressed to the priest.

Verse 28

The flesh was equally holy. The vessel, in which it was boiled for the priests to eat, was to be broken in pieces if it were of earthenware, and scoured ( מרק Pual) and overflowed with water, i.e., thoroughly rinsed out, if it were of copper, lest any of the most holy flesh should adhere to the vessel, and be desecrated by its being used in the preparation of common food, or for other earthly purposes. It was possible to prevent this desecration in the case of copper vessels by a thorough cleansing; but not so with earthen vessels, which absorb the fat, so that it cannot be removed by washing. The latter therefore were to be broken in pieces, i.e., thoroughly destroyed. On the other hand, earthen vessels that had been defiled were also ordered to be broken to pieces, though for the very opposite reason (see Leviticus 11:33, Leviticus 11:35).

Verses 29-30

The flesh of the sin-offering was to be eaten after it had been boiled, like the meat-offering (Leviticus 6:16 and Leviticus 6:18), by the males among the priests alone. But this only applied to the sin-offerings the laity (Lev 4:22-5:13). The flesh of the sin-offerings for the high priest and the whole congregation (Lev 4:1-21), the blood of which was brought into the tabernacle “to make atonement in the sanctuary,” i.e., that the expiation with the blood might be completed there, was not to be eaten, but to be burned with fire (Leviticus 4:12, Leviticus 4:21). - On the signification of this act of eating the flesh of the sin-offering, see at Leviticus 10:17.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Leviticus 6". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.