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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 4

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



The sin-offering of ignorance for the priest, the congregation, the ruler, or for any one of the people, is enjoined.

Before Christ 1490.

Verse 2

Leviticus 4:2. If a soul shall sin through ignorance, &c.— Sacrifices, called sin-offerings, are next appointed for such involuntary transgressions, as men might ignorantly and unknowingly be guilty of. And as such sins were attended with worse consequences in some than in others, therefore different offerings are appointed for different persons; as will appear in the course of this chapter.

Verse 3

Leviticus 4:3. The priest that is anointed That is, the high-priest. The phrase that is anointed, specifies no more than holy; if the holy priest. It is used for the common priests, Numbers 3:3. According to the sin of the people, is rendered by Houbigant and many others, if he shall lead the people to sin, i.e. drawing them into error by his example or misinformation. The Hebrew literally is, if the holy priest shall sin to the sin of the people, that is, to the causing the people to sin also; see Heb 5:2 and compare with Hebrews 7:26-28.

Verse 12

Leviticus 4:12. The whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp To express the heinousness of his guilt, the high-priest was not allowed to taste any part of his own sin-offering, though of other sin-offerings he was allowed to eat; ch. Leviticus 6:26.

REFLECTIONS.—The wages of sin, wherever it is found, is death: even sins of ignorance are mortal without an atonement. We have here, therefore, an express appointment of a sin-offering for the soul that sins through ignorance. The sin is supposed to be an outward act, committed either through ignorance of the law, or surprise. There may be alleviations of guilt, but no excuse for sin.

The sacrifice for the sin of the high-priest is first appointed. He was a man, and, therefore, compassed about with infirmity. Note; 1. We must not expect too much from sinful men, however holy their calling, or high their attainments. 2. Yet a priest's sin is ever most aggravated, since he who is appointed to guide others, is peculiarly bound to set them an example.

The sin-offering is a bullock, to be offered with the usual form. Confession of guilt, and dependence on that blood without which there is no remission, is the only way of obtaining pardon for sin. The blood was sprinkled before the vail, and put on the horns of the golden altar; to signify, that all his services were polluted, till his iniquity was done away. The fat, &c. as in the peace-offering, was burned on the altar; to signify, that God accepted the sacrifice, and was reconciled to the offender; and the whole of the beast that remained, was burned without the camp as a detestable thing. Thus Jesus, when he made his soul an offering for sin, suffered without the camp; and, in the sharpness of his sorrows, and the ignominy that he endured, shewed us the dreadful evil of sin, while he thus took it away by the sacrifice of himself.

Verse 15

Leviticus 4:15. The elders of the congregation They were to do this as representatives of the whole people, from whom they are plainly distinguished; see Leviticus 4:13. It is to be observed, that the same ceremonies are prescribed for the sins of the high-priest and of the whole congregation. The altar of sweet incense, in particular, Leviticus 4:7; Lev 4:18 was to be atoned for each; to remind them, that they were each unworthy to offer prayers to God, while in a state of sin, which polluted in a certain sense the very altar and sanctuary itself; see ch. Leviticus 16:9.

Verse 21

Leviticus 4:21. It is a sin-offering for the congregation Whatever is human, is liable to error. Nations and churches are all fallible, and, therefore, an atonement for national sins of ignorance is provided. The offering is the same as for the priest, as, most likely, their sins would be the same. Note; If the people live in ignorance and sin, much is to be feared for their teachers.

Verse 22

Leviticus 4:22. When a ruler i.e. Any person of superior rank and authority; a magistrate. The Hebrew word נשׂיא nasi, is a ruler or prince; one that lifteth up or easeth the burdens of the people by governing them, Numbers 11:17. Exo 18:22 and is a common name both for inferior rulers, as Numbers 16:2. Exo 16:22 and for the chief, as the king, Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 38:2; Ezekiel 45:7.—Is guilty, at the end of this verse, is understood by some to signify conscious of his guilt; see Hos 5:15 but, rendering the or if, in the next verse, by when (as the original will well bear), the passage is sufficiently clear: is guilty, signifying, hath contracted guilt.

REFLECTIONS.—However sin comes to our knowledge, we should be thankful for the notice. Rulers, as well as other men, have need often to open their ears to admonition; they may, even when they mean well, do ill. A kid sufficed for the atonement; intimating, that though the offence were the same, the crime was not so aggravated, nor pernicious in its consequence, as that of the high-priest or congregation. Note; Though all sins are not alike evil in their effects to others, they are all mortal to the sinful soul without an atonement.

Verse 35

Leviticus 4:35. It shall be forgiven him The great design of sin-offerings, says one, was to imprint the remembrance of guilt upon the heart; and to preserve from offending for the future. The words according to, upon, or with, says Dr. Beaumont, have reference either to the fat of the peace-offering, according as that was burned; or to the daily burnt-offering, which was first offered; and other sacrifices after, and, as it were, upon, or with the same.

REFLECTIONS.—The offering of a private person resembles the ruler's, save that he may use a lamb or a kid, and it must be a female instead of a male. Note; 1. No sinner is so little as to be overlooked, or so great as to be excused. 2. All alike (we can hardly too often repeat it) need the atoning blood of Christ. 3. Every application to Christ for pardon of sin, lays an obligation upon us to forsake sin. 4. The sense of the desert of sin will affect our hearts with deep sorrow for it. The tears of penitence should always mingle with the blood of atonement.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Leviticus 4". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/leviticus-4.html. 1801-1803.
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