The division of the subject of the trespass offering made at this point by the unwise arrangement of the chapters in the Authorized Version is very much to be regretted. The Jews, who, with a few variations, have adopted the modern chapters and verses, have here very wisely retained their ancient division of the sections of the law by extending chapter 5 to Leviticus 6:7, the end of the trespass offering. We perceive that the recent revisers of our English Bible have so far corrected the arrangement of this chapter as, by a marginal note, to intimate the true ending of the chapter: so conforming it to the division of the Hebrew Bible.
(1.) Modern scepticism finds a difficulty in that portion of the ritual of the altar which requires that the priest should eat in the sanctuary those sacrifices pronounced “most holy.” They were of eight kinds: 1.) The flesh of the sin offering for private individuals and princes. Leviticus 6:25; Leviticus 26:2.) The flesh of the trespass offering. Leviticus 7:1 to Leviticus 6:3.) The peace offering of the whole congregation. Leviticus 23:19; Leviticus 20:4.) The remainder of the sheaf. Leviticus 23:10. 5.) The remnant of the meat offering. Leviticus 6:16. 6.) The two loaves. Leviticus 23:17. 7.) The show-bread. Leviticus 24:9. 8.) The log of oil offered by the leper. Leviticus 14:10. There were at least fifteen other sources of revenue; some to be eaten by the priest’s family and others which might be sold. The chief difficulty arises from the offerings to be eaten by the males only while they were very few in number, Aaron, his two sons, three in all, as Colenso assumes. The following considerations may throw some light upon this subject: 1.) In the natural order of events Aaron, the older brother of Moses, would have had grandsons when he was approaching ninety years. These, though not consecrated priests, were permitted to eat the most holy things. Leviticus 7:6. 2.) The sacrifices were probably very infrequent till after the conquest of Canaan. Some writers infer from Amos 5:25-26, the omission of all legal sacrifices in the wilderness. 3.) There is positive proof that the Levites, numbering more than eight thousand, (Numbers 4:48,) did eat of the fire-sacrifices, by some broad construction of the law. Joshua 13:14. Possibly the tasting of each sacrifice by the priest, and its assignment to the Levites on guard about the tabernacle, was a constructive priestly eating of the offerings. 4.) It seems to have been overlooked by all the objectors that “the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank,” (Genesis 32:32,) and that the modern Jews not knowing what sinew this was, nor even which thigh was dislocated, judge it obligatory upon them to abstain from both the hind-quarters, the largest portion of the animal. It is reasonable to suppose that the modern Israelites are copying the practice of their fathers in the days of Moses, which, by virtue of its traditional authority, did not need to be enforced by a positive statute.
These suggestions, while they do not entirely remove all objections, very much alleviate the difficulties of this subject.
(2.) A careful study of the law of sacrifices, in which provisions so ample are made for those who minister about holy things, would enforce upon the Christian Church the duty of affording an adequate support to the Gospel ministry, in accordance with St. Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14, showing that in this particular Judaism was an exemplar to Christianity.
WILFUL FRAUD — TRESPASS OFFERING AND FINE,Leviticus 6:1-7.
2.Trespass — See Leviticus 5:15, note.
Against the Lord — Every crime against man is also a sin against God, his Creator. The creature cannot be wronged without offending his Maker. Every violation of the second table of the law by acts flowing from a lack of love to our neighbour transgresses also the requirement of the first table, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.”
And lie — Or deny that the goods or money were delivered him to keep as a trust, or in fellowship — As a pledge or security. The Hebrew word improperly translated fellowship, is used in the Bible only in this verse. It is followed by the word hand, and is a deposit in the hand, that is, in pledge. Two kinds of deposit are practised by man, both of which are spoken of here. We deposit money with the banker because we trust him, or securities with the money-lender, because we wish him to trust us. Deceived his neighbour — This means oppressed, as the violence in the preceding clause signifies downright robbery.
3.Found’ lost — The Roman code was evidently the voice of the same Divine Legislator speaking the same words through nature as he spake to Moses in the tabernacle. By that code he who found and appropriated any property was punished as a thief, whether he knew the owner or not. A brief statute of Solon was, “Take not up what you laid not down.”
Property as a natural right, without which civilization would be annihilated and the human race become extinct, finds ample safeguards in the Holy Scriptures.
Sweareth falsely — Avarice is the mother of lying and perjury.
4.He shall restore — Fruits mete for repentance are required before ceremonialism; mercy, or a right state of heart, before sacrifice. Thus the Philippian jailer washed the stripes of Christ’s ambassadors before he received baptism at their hands. Where restitution is possible, it must be immediately made; where it is not immediately possible, it must be solemnly promised, and the promise must be performed as soon as practicable.
5.In the principal — The property itself or its full value must be restored, with the addition of the fifth part, as a compensation to the injured party, as a penalty for the unjust deed, and as a motive to honesty in the future.
In the day of his trespass offering — In the day his offering is to be presented. The reconciliation with the injured party must be made before the offering can be accepted. See note on Matthew 5:23-24. The marginal reading of the Authorized Version, “in the day of his being found guilty,” is barely possible according to the Hebrew, but it is not suitable to this passage. No reference is had here to conviction by a criminal court, but to a conviction by the condemning voice of conscience.
6.Unto the Lord — Much the most solemn aspect of every evil deed is the side which is contemplated by the moral Governor of the world. The offender must be brought to a vivid realization of the damage done to the cause of religion and the reproach which he has cast upon his God. There must be an atonement to Jehovah as well as a compensation to his fellow-man.
Estimation — See note on Leviticus 5:15.
7.It shall be forgiven him — After voluntary confession, restitution, compensation, and presentation of his trespass offering for a propitiation for his sin, he might trust in the mercy of God for forgiveness. For the nature of this forgiveness, see Introduction, (7.)
ORDINANCES APPERTAINING TO THE PRIESTS, Leviticus 6:8-30.
We now come to what might be appropriately styled the priest’s rubric of sacrifice, or altar-book, in which his duties are minutely specified, in order that the ritual might be performed with the uniformity and decency becoming the majesty and holiness of Jehovah. In the best Hebrew Bibles chapter vi begins here.
9.The law of the burnt offering — The rules for offering this sacrifice were laid down for the priests and for individual worshippers in chapter 1. But the following rules are for the guidance of the priests in the national morning and evening sacrifice. At about sunrise incense was burnt upon the golden altar, before any other sacrifice, beautifully teaching that prayer and praise should be the first employment of our waking moments. One lamb was then offered as a whole burnt offering, and another at the close of the day. These were burned with a slow fire, so that the sweet-smelling savour was going up continually in the morn, atoning for the sins of the night; at the evening, for those of the day. A bread offering and a drink offering immediately followed each of these sacrifices. The drink offering, (Numbers 28:5-7,) which consisted of strong wine, was not to be drank by the priest, for this was prohibited, (Leviticus 10:9;) but it was to be freely poured out around the altar as a libation, symbolizing the overflowing joy of a soul conscious of forgiveness and fully consecrated to God. The whole service, of which the burnt offering was the principal part, was a daily expression of the nation’s entire devotion to Jehovah.
Because of the burning upon the altar — Here we have a mistranslation in the Authorized Version leading the reader to suppose that the etymology of olah is attempted by the sacred writer. The only difficulty is in the word rendered burning, used only here, signifying hearth, according to Furst.
The whole burnt offering shall be upon the hearth upon the altar all night.
10.Linen breeches — Or drawers. These and the rest of the sacerdotal apparel are described in Exodus 28:39-43. See notes. To symbolize holiness, the robe was to be composed of only one material. Mixed materials, as wool and flax, were forbidden to the common people.
Revelation 19:19. Garments wholly of wool would not have suited the climate; and moreover, from their animal origin, were not regarded as pure. Linen robes are emblematical of purity. Revelation 19:14. From immemorial antiquity Egypt was the great centre of the linen manufacture in the world. The verecundia of the Hebrew ritual in this and other places was a protest against some of the shameless forms of nature-worship prevalent among the idolatrous nations, and especially in some Egyptian rites according to the father of history (Herodotus, 2: 60) and the pictures still visible on the monuments. Over the drawers was worn the cethoneth, or close-fitting cassock, also of fine linen, white, but with a diamond or chess-board pattern on it. This came nearly to the feet, and was woven without seam.
11.Put on other garments — This change was required because the priest was to go forth from the consecrated enclosure of the tabernacle and to come in contact with things unsanctified. The ashes must be deposited in a clean place, because they were regarded as a part of the holy offering.
See note on Leviticus 4:12.
13.The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar — This altar-fire was of a supernatural origin, (Leviticus 9:24,) as the fire of love to God in a fallen soul is not spontaneously ignited, but is a spark dropped from above. The fire on the altar, as the symbol of Jehovah’s holiness and the instrument of his purifying or destroying power, was the only fire permitted to be used in the tabernacle. That obtained elsewhere for sacred purposes was called “strange.” Leviticus 10:1. According to the Gemera the sacred fire was divided into three parts, one for burning victims, one for incense, and one for the supply of the other portions. “According to the Jewish legends, this sacred fire was kept up without interruption till the Babylonian captivity, and, according to 2 Maccabees 1:19, till a period later.
The Talmud and many rabbins reckon it as one of the five things which were wanting in the second temple — the fire, the ark, the urim and thummim, the anointing oil, and the spirit of holiness.” — Kurtz. The injunction to keep the fire always burning enforces the duty of undying zeal in the service of Christ through the Holy Spirit ever abiding within as a refiner’s fire. The wood laid on the fire every morning typifies the means of grace daily used, the Holy Scriptures, prayer and praise.
14.The meat offering — See Leviticus 2:1, note.
16.The remainder’ shall Aaron and his sons eat — The reason of this requirement is “because it is most holy.” For a discussion of the question whether the priests were able to eat all the most holy things commanded them, see Concluding Note, chap. 7.
17.Not be baken with leaven — See Leviticus 2:4, note.
18.Statute for ever — Chap. 17, note.
Every one that toucheth them shall be holy — This applies to persons and to things. The priest is forbidden to eat these oblations while ceremonially defiled, and the sacred utensils brought in contact with them must not be put to any secular use. Every layman who touched the most holy things became holy through contact, so that he must henceforth guard against defilement as scrupulously as the priests, but without their rights and prerogatives. This placed him in an awkward relation to secular things.
20.The offering of Aaron — Aaron, at his induction into the high priest’s office, and, according to Josephus, on every day of his continuance therein, and his successors, as we here interpret the words his sons, must offer three quarts of fine flour, half in the morning and half at night, as an oblation appropriate to the high priesthood.
In the day — Some understand this to be only a consecratory oblation limited to one day; but those who credit the testimony of Josephus construe these words to signify from the day, or day by day.
21.In a pan’ with oil — See Leviticus 2:5.
22.The priest of his sons — This justifies our note on Leviticus 6:20, limiting the expression “his sons” to Aaron’s successors in the office of high priest as heads of the hierarchy. They had no technical designation in the Pentateuch — the word gadhol, great, in Leviticus 21:10, is not yet wholly technical — but were defined by the definite article the and the following relative clause.
That is anointed — In the books subsequent to the Pentateuch we find the high priest indicated by the Hebrew words for great, or head. All the priests were anointed, but the high priest received a more copious unction. Leviticus 16:32; Psalms 133:1.
23.Wholly burnt’ not be eaten — Since it was a thank offering to Jehovah it would be improper for the priest to eat it. To appropriate it to himself after presenting it to the Lord would destroy the vital element of sacrifice, self-denial. This law applies to all offerings of the priest, especially to his sin offering, the eating of which would imply that he could atone for his own sins, and that he had no need of a substitute prefiguring “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The sin offering for a private individual or for a prince was to be eaten by the priesthood. That for the whole nation, since the priests were included, could not be eaten.
25.Sin offering — See Leviticus 4, notes.
Before the Lord — See Leviticus 1:3, note.
It is most holy — Literally, it is holiness of holinesses; a strong form of Hebrew superlative. See Leviticus 2:3, note.
26.The priest’ shall eat — God required the priests to eat the flesh in order that they might “bear (away, or expiate) the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them.” Leviticus 10:17. Eating symbolizes the complete reception of any thing. Jeremiah 15:16; John 6:51. Hence the priests, as God’s representatives, by their incorporation with the sin offering gave assurance of the completeness of the reconciliation, and demonstrated that the sacrifice which entirely removes guilt, is converted even into the nutriment of the holiest life. Jesus is both our propitiation and our bread of life.
That offereth it for sin —
Or expiates sin by it. The word expiates sin, in the Hebrew, is from the same radicals with sin offering. See 2 Corinthians 5:21.
27.Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof — Of this “most holy” sacrifice. No one but a consecrated person was knowingly allowed “to touch” or handle the offering.
Shall be holy — Be deemed devoted to God’s service.
When there is sprinkled upon any garment — Not intentionally, but accidentally, in the slaying of the sacrifice or otherwise. So sacred was the blood of the sin offering that not a drop was to be treated as common.
Thou shalt wash’ in the holy place — So that nothing connected with, or any wise belonging to, this holy service should be contaminated by contact with unsanctified persons or things. “As the sin offering in special sort figured Christ, who was made sin for us, (2 Corinthians 5:21,) so this ordinance taught a holy use of the mystery of our redemption.” The sacredness which was deemed to appertain to “the blood” of this most holy offering is strikingly typical of that most “precious blood” of our great sacrificial Victim of which Peter speaks in his epistle. 1 Peter 1:18-19.
30.Blood’ brought into the tabernacle — This refers to the sin offerings for the high priest and for the whole congregation, Leviticus 4:5; Leviticus 4:16, the blood of which was brought into the tabernacle and the bodies burnt without the camp. The complete propitiation symbolized by the sprinkled blood and the flesh eaten by the priest could not be effected under the Levitical dispensation. When the flesh was eaten, the blood-sprinkling within the tabernacle was lacking; and when the blood was thus sacrificially treated, eating the flesh was prohibited. For the imperfection in the Old Testament remission of sins, see Introduction, (7.) Jesus Christ made a complete atonement, having carried his blood into the holy place, “the true tabernacle,” and given his flesh to be the bread of eternal life to all believers. John 6:32-58.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Leviticus 6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany