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LEVITCUS CHAPTER 4
Of sins of ignorance, and their sacrifice, Leviticus 4:1,Leviticus 4:2; committed by the priest according to the guilt of the people; he must offer a perfect young bullock, and sprinkle the blood seven times before the veil of the holy place, and upon the horns of the incense altar, Leviticus 4:3-12.
Or by the whole congregation, when their sin is known, the elders of the congregation to lay their hands on the head of the offering, to be offered in the same manner with that of the priest, Leviticus 4:13-21.
Or by a ruler, he, when his sin is made known to him, must offer a he-goat, Leviticus 4:22-26.
Or by a private person, must offer a female goat, Leviticus 4:27-35; the sin is forgiven him.
This must necessarily be understood of more than common sins and daily infirmities; for if every such sin had required an offering, it had not been possible either for most sinners to bear such a charge, or for the altar to receive so many sacrifices, or for the priests to manage so infinite a work. And for ordinary sins, they were ceremonially expiated by the daily offering, and by that on the great day of atonement, Leviticus 16:30.
Through ignorance; or, error; either not knowing his fact to be sinful, as appears by comparing Leviticus 4:13,Leviticus 4:14, or not considering it, but rashly and unadvisedly falling into sin through the power of some sudden passion or temptation, as the Hebrew word signifies, Psalms 119:67. Compare Job 19:4; Psalms 19:13.
Against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done: the words may be thus rendered, in or about every, or any of the commandments of the Lord which should not be done; or, which concern things that should not be done, to wit, in any negative commands. And there is great reason why a sacrifice should be more necessary for these than for other sins, because affirmative precepts do not so strictly and constantly bind men as the negative do; and if a man through ignorance have neglected them, he may yet recover his error, and fulfil them.
And shall do against any of them; then he shall offer according to his quality, which is here to be understood out of the following verses.
The priest that is anointed, i.e. the high priest, who only was anointed after the first time. See Exodus 29:7; Exodus 30:30; Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 10:7; Numbers 3:3. His anointing is mentioned, because he was not complete high priest till he was anointed.
Do sin, either in doctrine or practice, which it is here supposed he may do. And this is noted as a blot and character of imperfection in the priesthood of the law, whereby the Israelites were directed to expect another and better High Priest, even one who is holy, harmless, and separate from sinners, Hebrews 7:26.
According to the sin of the people; in the same manner as any of the people do, which implies that God expected more circumspection and care from him than from the people. But the words may be rendered, to the sin or guilt of the people, which may be mentioned as a reason of the law, and an aggravation of his sin, that by it he commonly brings sin, and guilt, and punishment upon the people, who are infected or scandalized by his example.
A young bullock; the same sacrifice which was offered for all the people, to show how much his sin was aggravated by his quality.
For a sin-offering, Heb. sin, which word is oft taken in that sense, as Exodus 29:14.
He shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, to testify both his acknowledgment of his sin, and his faith in God’s promise for the expiation of his sins through Christ, whom that sacrifice typified.
And kill the bullock, to wit, by one of the priests, whom he shall cause to do it; for this priest is distinguished from the anointed priest, Leviticus 4:5.
Into the tabernacle; which was not required nor allowed in any other sacrifice, possibly to show the greatness of the high priest’s sin, which needed more than ordinary diligence in him and favour from God to expiate it.
Seven times; a number much used in Scripture, as a number of perfection; and here prescribed, either to show that his sins needed more than ordinary purgation, and more frequent and manifest exercises of his faith and repentance, both which graces he was obliged to join with that ceremonial rite.
Before the veil, to wit, the second veil dividing between the holy of holies, which is generally called by the name here used, as Exodus 26:31; Exodus 35:12; Exodus 40:3,Exodus 40:21; Numbers 4:5.
The altar of sweet incense which is in the tabernacle; the altar of burnt-offerings was without the tabernacle.
All the blood; so also below, Leviticus 4:18,Leviticus 4:30,Leviticus 4:34, to wit, all the rest, as it is expressed Leviticus 5:9, for part was disposed elsewhere.
So no part of this was to be eaten by the priests, as it was in other sin-offerings, Leviticus 6:26. The reason is plain, because the offerer might not eat of his own sin-offering, and the priest was the offerer in this case, as also in the sin-offering for the whole congregation below, Leviticus 4:21, of which the priest himself was a member.
Shall he carry forth; not himself, which would have defiled him, but by another whom he shall appoint for that work, as may be gathered from Leviticus 16:27,Leviticus 16:28.
Without the camp, to signify either,
1. The horrible and abominable nature of sin, especially in high and holy persons, or when it overspreads a whole people. Or,
2. The removing of the guilt and punishment of that sin from the people, and their duty of keeping such wickedness out of the camp for time to come. Or,
3. That Christ should suffer without the camp or gate, as he did. See Hebrews 13:11,Hebrews 13:12. Where the ashes are poured out; for the ashes, though at first they were thrown down near the altar, Leviticus 1:16, yet afterwards they, together with the filth of the sacrifices, were carried into a certain place without the camp. See Leviticus 6:10,Leviticus 6:11.
The whole congregation; the body of the people, or the greater part of them, their rulers concurring with them.
Against it; against any one of the said commandments.
A young bullock; but if the sin of the congregation was only the omission of some ceremonial duty, a kid of the goats was to be offered, Numbers 15:24.
The elders of the congregation, i.e. the rulers of the people, of whom see Exodus 3:16; Exodus 24:1, who here acted in the name of all the people, who could not possibly perform this act in their own persons.
Before the Lord; that is, before the holy of holies, where the Lord was in a more special manner present; namely, the altar of incense, as before, Leviticus 4:7.
For a sin-offering, to wit, for the priest’s sin-offering, called the first bullock. Leviticus 4:21.
A ruler, to wit, of the people, or a civil magistrate.
Through ignorance; either not knowing it to be sin, or not observing and considering it till it be done. See before on Leviticus 4:22.
The disjunctive or is here put for the copulative and, as it is 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 15:11; for it is evident that he speaks of the same person, and of the same sin.
The burnt-offering is so called by way of eminency, to wit, the daily burnt-offering, of which Exodus 29:38, of which place see Leviticus 1:11. It is a sin-offering, and therefore to be killed where the burnt-offering is killed, as is expressed Leviticus 6:25; Leviticus 7:2; whereby it is distinguished from the peace-offerings, which were killed elsewhere, Leviticus 3:2.
Both ceremonially and judicially, as to all ecclesiastical censures or civil punishments; and really, upon condition of their repentance and faith in the Messias to come.
The common people, whether Israelites, or strangers embodied with them and proselytes; for both were under one and the same law, Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:16.
A female was here sufficient, because the sin of one of those was less than the sin of the ruler, for whom a male was required, Leviticus 4:21.
He, to wit, the offerer. And slay, not by himself, but by the hands of the priest.
Shall burn them, i.e. the fat; but he useth the plural number, because the fat was of several kinds, as we saw Leviticus 4:8,Leviticus 4:9.
According to the offerings made by fire; Heb. upon the offerings, together with them, or after them; because the burnt-offerings were to have the first place. See Poole "Leviticus 3:5".
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Leviticus 4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29