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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 5

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-13

Special Cases of Sin-offerings.

v. 1. And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. This is the first of several special cases in which a sin-offering was commanded. In the Jewish forms of trial the judge adjured those present, those summoned for that purpose, to tell the whole truth concerning the case, as they knew it, whether their knowledge was that of eye-witnesses or had been derived from other reliable sources. To feign ignorance at such a time and not to perform one's duty as required of witnesses made a person guilty before God, and unless this guilt was removed, the person in question had to suffer the consequences. Among these are mentioned sickness, childlessness, and even total extirpation of the family.

v. 2. Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, of some wild animal, or a carcass of unclean cattle, of domestic animals, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, of reptiles, and if it be hidden from him, if he is not aware of it at the time, he also shall be unclean and guilty.

v. 3. Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, anything which caused a man to be ceremonially unclean, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, that is, when he finds out about the defilement and yet omits the simple forms of purification which were provided in such cases, Leviticus 11:24-40; Leviticus 15:5-8; Numbers 19:22, then he shall be guilty, atonement should be made for the sin which he committed, for the guilt which he heaped upon himself.

v. 4. Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; this is said of oaths as they are often made in trivial, foolish, unimportant matters, in heedlessness, recklessness, or passion, the person afterward forgetting or neglecting to keep the solemn promises and lightly disregarding the fact that such playing with sacred matters is sinful; when he knoweth of it, when it is brought to his attention and he does nothing to remove the sin, then he shall be guilty in one of these, in one of the three cases here enumerated.

v. 5. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing, acknowledge the particular fault concerned before presenting the sacrificial animal.

v. 6. And he shall bring his trespass-offering (or guilt-offering) unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, for the expiation of the guilt which he has loaded upon himself, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin-offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin, cause his sin to be covered over before the face of the just and righteous God by virtue of the sacrifice which pointed forward to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

v. 7. And if he be not able to bring a lamb, if, on account of poverty, he cannot afford the more expensive animal, then he shall bring for his trespass which he hath committed two turtle-doves or two young pigeons unto the Lord, one for a sin-offering and the other for a burnt offering, the two together forming a full sin-offering, and being given different names only on account of the different treatment which they received.

v. 8. And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin-offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, kill the bird by pinching off his neck immediately behind his head, but shall not divide it asunder, not sever it entirely;

v. 9. and he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin-offering upon the side of the altar, none of it, in this case, being smeared on the horns, probably because the amount was so small; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar; it is a sin-offering.

v. 10. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner, as the ordinance of the Lord prescribed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. The ritual in this case was the same as when birds were offered for a burnt offering, Leviticus 1:15-17. Through the symbolic rite of the atonement by blood the forgiveness of sins was secured for the believer.

v. 11. But if he be not able to bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, if the condition of poverty be very extreme, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour (about two and one half quarts) for a sin-offering. He shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon, as in the case of the meat-offerings; for it is a sin-offering and, although offered without blood, was permitted in exceptional instances, since it was supplemented by the annual sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

v. 12. Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, the intention being to bring the worshiper into remembrance before God, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord; it is a sin-offering, and such an offering must not be mingled with the symbols of the Spirit and of the praise of God.

v. 13. And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, in the instances named above, and it shall be forgiven him; and the remnant shall be the priest's, as a meat-offering. This part was consecrated or set apart to be food for the priests in the holy place of the Sanctuary.

Verses 14-19

Trespass-offerings in Case of Ignorance.

v. 14. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

v. 15. if a soul commit a trespass, break the faith, neglect to discharge a debt due to God or man, the former sins only being considered here, and sin through ignorance in the holy things of the Lord, then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the Sanctuary, for a trespass-offering. The sin consisted here in withholding from the Lord the things that were consecrated to Him, first-fruits, tithes, or any gifts connected with the service of the Sanctuary. In the wilderness it was Moses, and afterward it was the officiating priest, who estimated the sacrificial animal, for its value had to be at least two shekels.

v. 16. And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, in neglecting to perform the services which were due to the Lord, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest, as a penalty or forfeit for neglecting so important a duty toward the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass-offering, and it shall be forgiven him, the ceremony being performed as described in Leviticus 7-1-6.

v. 17. And if a soul sin and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; the previous case was one of omission, the present case one of commission; though he wist it not, was not aware or did not realize the sinfulness of the act as it was being done, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. By breaking a commandment of the Lord he had infringed upon some of the Lord's sovereign rights, and the guilt would rest upon him until such a time as atonement would be made,

v. 18. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass-offering, unto the priest; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, the transgressions of inadvertence, and it shall be forgiven him.

v. 19. It is a trespass-offering; he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord. The sacrifice served for satisfaction, to make good the injury which had been inflicted. So far as the believers of the New Testament are concerned, they will take occasion regularly to examine their lives, and if they have become guilty of any transgression in word or deed, they will confess their sin to the Lord, asking forgiveness for the sake of Jesus.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/leviticus-5.html. 1921-23.
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