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For a Priest
v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
v. 2. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, if a soul shall sin through ignorance, in an unintentional offense, against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them; (the sacrifices enumerated till now were free-will offerings and could be brought even when there was no specific occasion, whenever the heart of the individual prompted him to seek the Lord's fellowship in sacrifice, prayer, and sacrificial meal; but there were times and occasions when certain sacrifices had to be made, as when an unintentional trespass had occurred. This included all sins of weakness, not only such as had been committed in ignorance, haste, and negligence, but also such in which the weakness of the flesh had overcome the good intention of the believer);
v. 3. if the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people, the reference here very probably being to the high priest, who was in a special sense the anointed of the Lord among the priests; if this high priest in his official capacity, as the representative of the people, should become guilty of such an unintentional sin, then let him bring for his sin which he hath sinned a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin-offering, the most conspicuous sacrificial animal because of the priest's high position.
v. 4. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, where all the sacrificial animals were officially delivered, before the Lord, and shall lay his hand up on the bullock's head, in the gesture signifying the transmission of his own guilt upon the substitute victim, and kill the bullock before the Lord, the animal taking the place of the guilty man.
v. 5. And the priest that is anointed, the high priest, shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to the Tabernacle of the Congregation, into the Holy Place;
v. 6. and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the Sanctuary, the heavy curtain that screened the ark in the Most Holy Place.
v. 7. And the priest shall put some of the blood up on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the horns of the golden altar being used only in this case and when the entire nation was concerned, since the offense was considered especially grave; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock, the great bulk of it, but little haying been used for the ceremonies of the Holy Place, at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, out in the open court. The sacrificial blood, which was to expiate the sin, was thus placed very prominently before the eyes of the Lord, in order to plead for His forgiveness.
v. 8. And he shall take off from it all the fat of the bullock for the sin-offering; the fat that covereth the inwards, the large net of adipose membrane in the abdominal cavity, and all the fat that is up on the inwards, the loose fat along the intestines,
v. 9. and the two kidneys, and the fat that is up on them, which is by the flanks, attached to the muscles of the upper pelvic region, and the caul above the liver, the small net of adipose membrane which extends from the liver to the kidneys, with the kidneys, it shall he take away,
v. 10. as it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, Leviticus 3:3-Numbers :; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of the burnt offering.
v. 11. And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung,
v. 12. even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out when they were carried out from time to time out of the court of the Tabernacle, and burn him on the wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out shall he be burned. This complete removal of the sacrifice of sin-offering signified that the sin for which it was brought was now put away entirely, and the whole ceremony was intended to express the fact that the fellowship with God, which had been disturbed or severed by the sinful act, was now once more restored to its original integrity.
For the Whole Congregation
v. 13. And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, that is, through inadvertence due either to unconsciousness of the act's sinfulness or to lack of information on certain points of the Law, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat (something) against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty, although, for the time being, still in ignorance of that fact;
v. 14. when the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation, as a body, shall offer a young bullock For the sin, and bring him before the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
v. 15. And the elders of the congregation, as the representatives of the entire people, shall lay their hands up on the head of the bullock before the Lord, both in confessing the sin and expressing the transfer of the sin to the sacrificial animal; and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord.
v. 16. And the priest that is anointed, the high priest, shall bring of the bullock's blood, which was caught up as usual, to the Tabernacle of the Congregation, to the Holy Place;
v. 17. and the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, even before the veil, behind which was the throne of the Lord, the mercy-seat of the ark.
v. 18. And he shall put some of the blood up on the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the golden altar of incense, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
v. 19. And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it up on the altar.
v. 20. And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin-offering, that offered by the high priest, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make an atonement For them, and it shall be forgiven them.
v. 21. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp and burn him as he burned the first bullock, it is a sin-offering for the congregation, The high priest here acted as the mediator of the people, and the meaning of the entire ceremony was this, that the sin was covered, put out of sight, not, of course, as if the wrong could be undone, but that God had so hidden it as to have the sinner stand in His presence without fault. The sin-offering, in this case especially, was a symbol of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as He gave Himself for the sins of the whole world, and of the atonement which He gained by it. At the same time we Christians must riot lose sight of the fact that, if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, Hebrews 10:26.
For a Ruler
v. 22. When a ruler, one of the princes of the people, hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord, his God, concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty;
v. 23. or if his sin wherein he hath sinned come to his knowledge, if someone point out to him his deviation from the exact line of God's will, he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a Male without blemish, a sacrifice which later, Numbers 15:24, is enumerated with that of the whole congregation;
v. 24. and he shall lay his hand up on the head of the goat, as the substitute victim, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin-offering.
v. 25. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin-offering with his finger, and put it up on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. In this case the ceremonies of sprinkling before the veil of the Most Holy Place and of smearing the blood on the horns of the golden altar of incense were omitted.
v. 26. And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, Leviticus 3:5; and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. The ordinance concerning the disposition of the flesh is given Leviticus 6:26-Joel :.
For the Common People
v. 27. And if any one of the common people, any person, man or woman, native Jew or sojourning foreigner, Numbers 15, sin through ignorance, in the same inadvertent manner as in the cases considered till now, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;
v. 28. or if his sin which he hath sinned come to his knowledge, if some one informs him of the wrong which he has committed, then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, the shaggy variety being specified here, as above, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned, to make atonement for him.
v. 29. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and slay the sin-offering in the place of the burnt offering, on the north side of the large altar in the court.
v. 30. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar.
v. 31. And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace-offerings, the same loose pieces of fat from the various parts of the abdominal cavity; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him, the Lord accepting the sacrifice in mercy, as an offering of propitiation.
v. 32. And if he bring a lamb for a sin-offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish; this was the alternative for a sacrificial animal.
v. 33. And he (the worshiper) shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and slay it for a sin-offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.
v. 34. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin-offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar;
v. 35. and he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace-offerings, Leviticus 3:9-2 Samuel :; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, of burnt offering, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. Thus the Lord in mercy provided a way for the believers of the Old Testament by which, although in a symbolical manner, they received the assurance of the forgiveness of their sins, the blood of their sacrifices foreshadowing the greater, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who has found an eternal redemption for us.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12