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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Leviticus 1

 

 

Verses 1-17

LEVITICUS

THE THIRD BOOK OF MOSES

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BOOK I

OF APPROACH TO GOD

Leviticus 1-16

“FIRST DIVISION.—The sanctifying acts (or consecrations for God) to bring about typical holiness by means of various sacrifices, universally ordained for universal sin. The removal of the sinful condition incurred by inadvertence (pardonable sins בִשְׁגָגָה chaps1–16 [a. positive enactments, 1–10; b. negative, 11–16]).”—Lange.

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PART I. THE LAWS OF SACRIFICE

Chaps1–7

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FIRST SECTION

Leviticus 1:1 to Leviticus 6:7

[Lange makes the division “Personal Sacrifices” Chapters1–5.]

A.—BURNT-OFFERINGS

Leviticus 1:1-17

1And the Lord called[FN1] unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle[FN2] of the [omit the[FN3]] congregation, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord,[FN4] ye shall bring your offering[FN5] of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock [of the cattle unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the herd or of the flock].

3If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the[FN6]] congregation before the Lord[FN7] [offer it at the door of the tabernacle of congregation for his acceptance before the Lord]. 4And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him 5 And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon[FN8] the altar that is by [before] the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the3]6congregation. And Hebrews 9 shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces 7 And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: 8and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: 9but his inwards and his legs shall Hebrews 10 wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice,[FN11] an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

10And if his offering be of the flocks,[FN12] namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.[FN13] [FN14]11And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, 12shall sprinkle his blood round about upon7 the altar. And he[FN15] shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: 13but he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

14And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons 15 And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring [pinch] off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at [pressed out against] the side of the altar: 16and he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers [the filth thereof[FN16]], and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes: 17and he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but[FN17] shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: It is a burnt sacrifice, and offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Leviticus 1:1. וַיִּקְרָא in our text has the final א of smaller size than the other letters. The reason (leaving out of view Cabalistic interpretations) seems to be that suggested by Rosenmüller—that there was an ancient variation of the MSS, some having our present reading; while others, omitting the א, read וַיִּקָּר, Fut. Apoc. Niphal of קָרָה = and the Lord met (or appeared to) Moses. Comp. Numbers 23:4; Numbers 23:16.

Leviticus 1:1. אֹהֶל means strictly the covering of haircloth over the מִשְׁכָן of boards with linen curtains. Both occur together, Exodus 40:29. Both are translated in the A. V. alike by tent and by tabernacle, and both in the LXX. most frequently by σκηνή. In the original both are used to designate the structure in which the ark was placed. There is therefore no sufficient reason for changing the familiar name of Tabernacle.

Leviticus 1:1. מוֹעֵך is without the article, as always. The word is used very frequently ( Leviticus 23:2; Leviticus 23:4; Leviticus 23:37; Leviticus 23:44, etc.) of the religious festivals of the Law, of which the tabernacle was the centre, and perhaps both in the Heb. and the Chald. the “times of the festivals” is the most prominent idea of the word. Hence, as the place of assembly, the centre around which the congregation was at such times to gather, the Tabernacle came to be called אֹהֶל מוֹעֵר, as Jerusalem is called ( Isaiah 33:20) קִרְיַת מ֝. The proposal to translate Tent of meeting (Speaker’s Com, Kalisch, Murphy, and many others) as referring to God’s meeting with Moses, seems unsupported by the usage of the word, and is sustained by none of the ancient versions. (The LXX. and Vulgate take the word in the sense of covenant or law). The article, however, should be omitted. Nevertheless, Lange says “The Tabernacle is designated as the Tabernacle of the meeting. That the Israelites should assemble themselves in that place, is only the secondary result of the primary meeting with Jehovah.”

Leviticus 1:2. The Masoretic punctuation places the Athnach on לַיְהוֹה֑, and this is sustained by the Sam, Chald, LXX, Vulg, and followed by the A. V. Houbigant suggests that it should rather be placed on the next word, הַבְּהֵמָ֑ה as in the Syr. The latter sense is followed in the commentary.

Leviticus 1:1. מוֹעֵך is without the article, as always. The word is used very frequently ( Leviticus 23:2; Leviticus 23:4; Leviticus 23:37; Leviticus 23:44, etc.) of the religious festivals of the Law, of which the tabernacle was the centre, and perhaps both in the Heb. and the Chald. the “times of the festivals” is the most prominent idea of the word. Hence, as the place of assembly, the centre around which the congregation was at such times to gather, the Tabernacle came to be called אֹהֶל מוֹעֵר, as Jerusalem is called ( Isaiah 33:20) קִרְיַת מ֝. The proposal to translate Tent of meeting (Speaker’s Com, Kalisch, Murphy, and many others) as referring to God’s meeting with Moses, seems unsupported by the usage of the word, and is sustained by none of the ancient versions. (The LXX. and Vulgate take the word in the sense of covenant or law). The article, however, should be omitted. Nevertheless, Lange says “The Tabernacle is designated as the Tabernacle of the meeting. That the Israelites should assemble themselves in that place, is only the secondary result of the primary meeting with Jehovah.”

Leviticus 1:2. “Offerings” in the plural is read in the Sam, LXX, Vulg, and Syr.

Leviticus 1:3. לֶרצֹנוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה. The translation of the A. V. is defended by Grotius, but most interpreters follow the unanimous voice of the ancient versions in giving the sense as corrected above. Comp. Exodus 28:38; Leviticus 22:20-21, etc. The A. V. varies in the translation even in the same passage, as Leviticus 22:19-21; Leviticus 22:29.

Leviticus 1:5. The sense Isaiah, upon all the sides of the altar, not on its upper surface.

Leviticus 1:6. The Sam. and LXX. by reading the verbs of this verse in the plural, apparently make the flaying and cutting up of the victim the act of the priests.

Leviticus 1:9. The Sam. and the LXX. here also, by the use of the plural, make the washing the act of the priests.

Leviticus 1:9. The Sam. followed by the LXX. and Syr, read עֹלָה הִיא=this is the burnt-offering, i.e, the law of the burnt-offerings.

Leviticus 1:10. The Sam. followed by the LXX. reads וְאִס־מִן־הַצֹּאן עלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ לַיְהוָֹה, the Sam. omitting the subsequent עֹלָה, which makes the sense clearer.

Leviticus 1:10. The Sam. adds—at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation shall he offer it.

Leviticus 1:11. The LXX. prefixes from Leviticus 1:4, καὶ ἐπιθήσει τὴν χεῖρα ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ—which is of course to be understood.

Leviticus 1:12. The Sam. (now followed both by the LXX. and the Vulg.) here again as in Leviticus 1:6; Leviticus 1:9 reads the plural.

Leviticus 1:16. בְּנצָתָהּ (Sam. תו—) is variously translated. In the LXX. and Vulg, as in the A. V, it is rendered feathers; in the Sam. Vers, however, the Chald. of Onkelos, of Jonathan, and of Jerusalem, and in the Syr, the idea is the food in the crop, or the filth connected therewith, as is expressed in the margin of the A. V. By Gesenius and Fuerst it is translated as filth or excrement in the crop; they consider it a contracted form of Part. Niph. of יָצָא. This is probably the true sense. Lange explains it “the excrement from the crop yet to be found in the body.”

Leviticus 1:17. The Sam, 15 MSS, and all the versions supply the conjunction, which must of course be understood.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The Divine presence having now been manifested in the newly erected tabernacle ( Exodus 40:34), God according to His promise ( Exodus 25:22), there reveals Himself to Moses, and makes known through him His will to the people. As this was the place where they were to draw nigh to Him, the first commands uttered from the tabernacle relate to the means of this approach, and occupy the first sixteen chapters of Leviticus. Of these, seven are concerned with the general laws of sacrifice, of which it would appear some knowledge must have been previously communicated to Moses to make the directions of Exodus 29 intelligible to him, and also to guide him in the sacrifices offered by himself, Exodus 40:28-29; but now for the first time he is directed to proclaim these laws to the people. The law is first declared in regard to the people’s part in the offerings (1–6:7), although this involves incidentally something also of the duties of the priests; this is followed by special instructions chiefly for the priests ( Leviticus 6:8 to Leviticus 7:38), although the line cannot be so sharply drawn that this part shall not also contain something for the people. Each kind of offering is treated by itself, the first chapter being occupied with the whole burnt-offering, which must always be an animal, but might be either a quadruped (2–13), or a fowl (14–17). The former again, might be either “of the herd,” i.e, a bullock (3–9), or “of the flock.” i.e, a sheep or a goat (10–13). The directions for burnt-sacrifices are arranged under these three heads.

Leviticus 1:1 The Lord.—Jehovah is the distinctive Divine title throughout Leviticus; the names אֲדֹנָי (occurring so frequently elsewhere), שַׁךַּי, and the very common אֵל do not occur, nor even the ordinary אֱלֹהִים, except the last joined with a possessive pronoun or some other construction, to mark Him as in a peculiar sense the God of Israel.

Out of the tabernacle of congregation.—There can be no reasonable doubt that this is the newly-erected tabernacle; the attempt to prove that these laws were given from some other tent upon the slopes of Mt. Sinai by reference to Leviticus 7:38, has no foundation, as the parallelism of that ver. shows that mount is there only another expression for the place called the wilderness of Sinai.

Leviticus 1:2 ss. The common regulations concerning all the sacrifices. The whole motive of animal sacrifice is appropriately exhibited in the verb קָרַבto draw near; in the Hiphil to cause to draw near. The sense of the word is fully shown in Jeremiah 30:21. Sinful Prayer of Manasseh, as such, dares not draw near to Jehovah. But Jehovah forms one chosen out of His people (the Messiah) for the purpose of approach, until he draws nearest of all to Him, touches Him, yields up himself to Him, and becomes one with Him. With reverent dread Prayer of Manasseh, conscious of sin, pushes forward the guiltless animal as an offering of drawing near (Korban), as a symbol of his desire to draw near himself to Jehovah. As yet the sacrifice was not commanded in its particulars; but the general idea of sacrifice as now necessary was commanded, and in every case it must be of the cattle, either large or small, and thus of the clean domestic animals. The subsequent addition of pigeons and turtle-doves are as substitutes.” Lange.

If any man of you bring.—The sacrifices of the first three chapters were those of individuals, and were purely voluntary in so far as respects their being offered at all; when, however, the individual had determined to offer any of them, the instructions as to the selection of the victim, and the manner of offering, were minute and peremptory. The duty of the priests in regard to these offerings was simply ministerial.

Offering.—קָרְבָּן, always translated by the LXX. δῶρον, and most frequently by the Vulg. oblatio. Except in two instances in Ezek. ( Ezekiel 20:28; Ezekiel 40:43), and in two of the same consonants differently pointed in Neh. ( Nehemiah 10:34 (35); Leviticus 13:31), its use is confined to Lev. and Num. It is the technical word for an offering to the Lord, including sacrifices both bloody, as here, and unbloody as in Leviticus 2, and also dedicatory offerings for the sanctuary, as in Numbers 7.

Ye shall bring.—The Rabbins infer from this use of the plural that two or more persona might unite in the same offering. This was undoubtedly the fact; but does not seem to be the reason for the use of the plural here, which is rather required simply by the generality of the law. Comp. Leviticus 2:11-12, etc.

Of the cattle unto the Lord.—The Masoretic punctuation must here be modified in order to represent the systematic arrangement intended. See Textual Note4. The בְּהֵמָה = quadruped, is in contradistinction to the fowls of Leviticus 1:14; and the direction is that if an offering of this kind be brought, it shall be taken from the herd or the flock, not from wild animals. The word sometimes includes all quadrupeds, wild and tame ( Genesis 6:7; Exodus 9:25, etc.), but is more commonly used, according to the restriction here, of the domestic animals. It includes both the herd and the flock. The range of animals allowed for sacrifice was much narrower than that of those clean for food, and far narrower than among the heathen. See Knobel, p352. The Egyptians, among other victims, offered swine, and the Hindoos and Germans, horses.

Leviticus 1:3-9. The law of the burnt-offering of a bullock, עֹלָה = whole burnt-offering. Lange: “The names: עֹלָה the going up (in a specific sense, for all sacrifices were brought up on the altar), כָּלִיל the whole, the entirely finished, consumed, burned, holocaustum. Thus the burnt-offering, or the fire-offering in the most especial sense, which was entirely consumed in the fire, forms the central point of the whole sacrificial system.” “The New Testament antitype of the burnt-offering is expressed by Paul in Romans 12:1.” See the preliminary note on sacrifices, p12.

Leviticus 1:3. A male.—The burnt-offering, unlike the sin and peace-offering, must always be a male. The case of the cows offered in 1 Samuel 6:14, was altogether exceptional, and the red heifer ( Numbers 19:1-10) was not burned upon the altar at all.—Without blemish, LXX, ἄμωμος. The bullock, like all other victims, ( Leviticus 22:19-24) except in the case of free will offerings, must be free from bodily faults either of defect or redundancy; and it was provided that no victim obtained by the price of a dog, or of whoredom, might be offered to God ( Deuteronomy 23:18). It was the Jewish custom to appoint a priest as a special inspector of victims, to whose scrutiny every animal must be subjected before being offered.—At the door.—At the wide entrance of the court in which the great altar stood. Lange, however, considers that the door “not of the court, but of the Holy Place, is the boundary between the holy things and the region of that to be hallowed, and therefore the appropriate point for the meeting which in the name of Jehovah was obtained by the priests for the people through the sacrifice.” This presentation of the victim before the Lord was the technical offering, so essential a part of the sacrifice that it is often put for the sacrifice itself. The details of the sacrifice were so ordered that when occasion required, great multitudes of victims might be offered quickly and without confusion. After the erection of the temple, rings were fixed in the pavement, to which the victims were secured; with a sharp knife the throat was then cut at one stroke quite through the arteries and the jugular veins, so that the blood might flow rapidly into a vessel held underneath; this vessel was then (when there were many sacrifices) passed from hand to hand by a row of priests and Levites extending to the altar; meantime the flaying and cutting up of the victim was going on; on the north side of the altar there were eight stone pillars connected by three rows of beams, each bearing a row of hooks; upon these the victims were hung, the largest upon the highest hooks, the smaller upon the others. Outram I, xvi, and the authorities there cited. By such means an almost incredible number of victims are said to have been sacrificed with perfect order in a short time.—For his acceptance before the Lord.—It was the object of the burnt-offering, as of all sacrifices, to secure to the offerer the good pleasure of God. How far the burnt-offering partook of a strictly expiatory character has already been discussed in the preliminary essay; but that this, with all other voluntary offerings, sprang from a sense of need on the part of the worshipper, and a desire by some means to draw nearer to God, there can be no doubt. This expression, however, as Knobel notes, is never used in connection with the sin-offering, whose peculiar office was to obtain the pardon, rather than the gracious favor of God. Lange: “The sacrifices follow one another in a natural sequence. The burnt-offering denotes the giving up of life to God; the meat-offering, the giving up of life’s enjoyment. Both were offered for a covering for the universal sinfulness of man. Only the expiatory sacrifices relate to particular sins.”

Leviticus 1:4. And he shall put his hand upon the head.—This solemn and essential part of the ceremonial is always specified when the law is given in detail, not only in connection with the burnt-offerings, but also with the peace-offerings ( Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 3:13), and the sin-offerings ( Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33); where in the brevity of the description it is omitted ( Leviticus 1:11, Leviticus 5:6; Leviticus 5:15; Leviticus 5:18,) it is yet to be understood. As to the significance of the Acts, a great variety of opinions has been held; by many, both of the ancients and moderns, it has been understood to symbolize the transfer of his sins from the offerer to the victim, or the substitution of the victim to die in his stead (Theodoret, Quæst. 61in Exodus, and many others). This view has countenance from the laying on of both the hands of the high-priest on the head of the scape-goat on the day of atonement ( Leviticus 16:21) for the express purpose of “putting all their sins upon the head of the goat,” that he might “bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited;” but the ritual is here very different, and this goat was not burned upon the altar. On the other hand in the case of the blasphemer who was to be stoned ( Leviticus 24:14), all the witnesses were to lay their hands upon his head, clearly not for the purpose of transferring their sins to him. By others the act has been regarded as a surrender and dedication of the offerer’s property to God; by still others as a dedication of himself through the victim representing him; Lange: “The laying (pressing) on of the hand has the effect of substituting in a typical sense the animal to be offered for the offerer (for him לוֹ). It denotes the transferring of the individual life to the offering in a symbolical sense, not merely the giving up of this possession (as a gift) to Jehovah.” Various other views also have been advocated. None of them, however, can claim exclusively the sanction of Scripture, which prescribes the Acts, but does not define its significance. Neither do any of them rest upon evidence independent of preconceived views, and of the doctrinal interpretation of other Scriptures. This much will be generally admitted: That the act connected the offerer personally with the victim, and denoted that his sacrifice was offered solemnly and for the purpose of securing to himself that “covering” or atonement of which mention is immediately afterwards made. The connection of the two clauses shows that the laying on of the hand was directly connected with this atonement. It was certainly an expression of faith in the use of the means God had appointed for drawing near to Him, and the act may be beyond the reach of a closer analysis.

Accepted—the word is of the same root and sense as in Leviticus 1:3.

To make atonement for him.—לְבַפֵר עָלָיו. This verb is not used in the Kal. In the Piel the primary sense is to cover and hence to atone for. It is used sometimes simply with the accus. of the thing ( Psalm 65:4; Psalm 78:38; Daniel 9:24), but usually with עַל of the thing ( Psalm 79:9; Jeremiah 18:23, etc.), or of the person ( Leviticus 19:22), or with both ( Leviticus 5:18); less frequently with לְ, and more rarely with עַל of the person and מִן of the thing ( Leviticus 4:26, etc.); seldom with בְּ of the thing ( Leviticus 17:11). The phrase is used chiefly in reference to the sin and trespass-offerings ( Leviticus 4-6) and but rarely in connection with the burnt-offerings. It is here used in connection with the laying on of the hand of the offerer, not as in the case of the sin-offering ( Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:35) and the trespass-offering ( Leviticus 5:6; Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 5:13; Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 6:7, etc.), with the act of the priest, although in all cases the mediatorial function of the priest was, as here, necessarily involved.

Leviticus 1:5. He shall kill.—The killing, skinning, washing and preparation of the victim, were the duty of the offerer, or, according to Outram, of some clean person appointed by him. Lange: “This is also an expression of the freewill of the sacrificer. He must indeed slay his own offering himself, just as the devout can offer his will to God only in free self-determination. Only false priests took the sacrifice by craft or force into the court, and slew it themselves, or had it slain at their command.” The functions of the priest were concerned with the presentation and sprinkling of the blood, and the burning of the victim upon the altar. In the case, however, of national offerings, the offerer’s part also was undertaken by the priests assisted by the Levites ( 2 Chronicles 29:24; 2 Chronicles 29:34), apparently not in consequence of their office, but as representatives of the whole people. So also in the case of the Passovers of Hezekiah ( 2 Chronicles 30:17) and of Josiah (ib. 2 Chronicles 35:10-11) the Levites performed these duties on behalf of the people, because many of them were disqualified by uncleanness. Hence, as appears in the ancient versions, there has arisen a difference of opinion as to the part performed by the offerer.

Kill.—שָׁחַט is a general word exactly rendered, and is frequently used for killing in sacrifice. It does not therefore need to be changed. The technical word used only for sacrifice is זָבַח, while חֵמִית = to put to death is never used in this connection.

The bullock.—בֶן בָקָר = lit, son of an ox, applied to a calf ( Leviticus 9:2) and to a mature young bull (פַּר4:3, 14).

Before the Lordi.e, in immediate view of the place where His presence was especially manifested. Knobel (in loco) notes how the slaughtering of the victim where it might be considered ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ was provided for among the heathen.

And the priests.—With the blood began the exclusively priestly functions. In the case of very numerous sacrifices the Levites might catch the blood and pass it to the priests ( 2 Chronicles 30:16). but the “sprinkling” was always done by the priests alone.

Sprinkle.—The word זָרַק is a different one from the נָזָה (more common in the Hiphil form הִזָה) generally used of sprinkling with the finger or with hyssop, and refers to the throwing of the blood by a jerk against the sides of the altar from the מִזְרָק or bowl in which the blood of the victim was caught. Rosenmüller shows that the word cannot be translated, as some would have it. by pour. The LXX. usually, but not always, renders the former by προσχεῖν, the latter by ῤαίνειν. There seems, however, no sufficient reason for changing the translation of the A. V. The priest was to sprinkle the blood against all the sides of the altar: and this was done, according to Jewish tradition, by throwing it from the bowl successively against the opposite corners of the altar, so that it sprinkled against each of the adjoining sides. The same law held for the peace-offerings ( Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 3:13; Leviticus 9:18), and trespass-offerings ( Leviticus 7:2); but not for the sin-offering ( Leviticus 4:5-7). Lange: “The blood is the symbol of the spiritual life which is given up to Jehovah (at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation) but which may not be consumed with the body of mortality by the fire of God’s appointment. As it is said that it is ‘to be brought up,’ it follows that the slaying belongs between the altar and the door of the court, where the station of the sacrificer is. That it must be poured out on the altar before the burnt-offering can be kindled, tells us plainly that no offering up of life or body is profitable unless the soul has first been given to Jehovah. But this has been given up to the God of the altar, not surrendered to the altar-fire to destroy or change.”

Before the door of the tabernacle.—The altar was in full view of the gate-way or door, as it is expressed Exodus 40:6לִפְנֵי פֶתַח.

Leviticus 1:6. He shall flay.—The offerer skinned the animal, and the skin was the perquisite of the officiating priest ( Leviticus 7:8). Kalisch, however, says that “the flaying was probably performed by a Levite under the direction of the officiating priest.” Lange says. “With the slaying the life departs, with the skin goes the old appearance of life, under the conventionally commanded division disappears also the old figure of life, in the burning disappears the substance of the body itself. Only the blood, the soul, does not disappear, but passes through the purifying process of sacrifice, and goes hence into the invisible, to God. The pouring out of the blood at the foot of the altar round about, can in no case mean ‘the convenient disposal of the blood.’ The blood goes through the sanctified earth to God.”

Cut it into his piecesi.e, properly divide it according to custom.

Leviticus 1:7-9. The priests.—We here again come upon those essential parts of the sacrifice which could be performed by the priests alone. The direction to put fire upon the altar is understood by Knobel and others to refer only to the first sacrifice upon the newly-erected altar, as it was required afterwards ( Leviticus 6:13) that the fire should be kept always burning upon the altar; or it may be understood of so arranging the fire—when not in use, raked together—as to consume the sacrifice. The head is especially mentioned in order that the whole animal may be expressly included, since it would not be considered one of the “pieces” into which the animal was divided. The fatפֶךֶר used only in connection with burnt-offerings ( Leviticus 1:8; Leviticus 1:12; Leviticus 8:20) probably means the fat separated from the entrails and taken out to wash. Bochart, adeps a carne sejunctus. All was to be laid in order upon the wood; everything about the sacrifice must have that method and regard to propriety becoming in an act of worship. According to Jewish writers, the parts were so laid upon one another as to have the same relative positions as in the living animal. Outram I:16, § 13.

His inwards and his legs, which were to be washed, are generally understood of the lower viscera and the legs, especially the hind legs, below the knee; it is doubtful whether the washing was required for the heart, the lungs and the liver—LXX. ἐγκοίλια καὶ οἱ ποδές; Vulg, intestina et pedes. Lange: “Head and Fat. The knowledge of earth and its prosperity must first pass into the fiery death; then also the purified organs of growth, nourishment, and motion.”

Shall burn.—הִקְטִי‏‏ר = to cause to ascend in smoke, as incense. The word is used only of the burning of incense, of the sacred lamps, and of sacrifices, and is a very different one from שָּׂרַף the word for common burning, which is applied to the victims, or parts of victims burned without the camp ( Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 4:21, etc.). It connects the bloody sacrifice with the incense, and shows that the object of the burning was not to destroy the victim, but rather, as declared just below, to cause its essence to ascend as a sweet savor unto God.

An offering made by fire.—אִשֶׁה a word applied exclusively to sacrifices (although sometimes to the parts of them eaten by the priests. Deuteronomy 18:1; Joshua 13:14), in Leviticus 24:7 applied to the incense laid upon the shew-bread. The appearance of tautology, hardly to be avoided in the translation, does not exist in the original. The word is usually associated, as here, with the phrase “a sweet savour unto the Lord” (LXX. ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας). This phrase is applied to all sacrifices, but belongs peculiarly to the burnt-offering; as the phrase to make atonement belongs peculiarly, but not exclusively, to the sin-offering. Its intent is plainly to describe the divine pleasure in the sacrifice offered. Theodoret (Quæst. 62in Ex.): “By human things he teaches Divine. As we delight in sweet odors, so he calls the sacrifice made according to the law a sweet savor. But that this is not to be taken in the naked letter is shown both by the Divine nature which is incorporeal, and by the ill smell of the burnt bones. For what can smell worse than these?” Lange: “The conception is not exhausted in the conception of a sweet, pleasant smell. As in a pictorial sense, anger is represented by the snorting of the nostrils, so the resignation of self to God and His rule is called a savor well-pleasing to the nose.”

Leviticus 1:10-13. The burnt-offering from the flock. The law here being essentially the same as for the bullock is more briefly given, except in regard to the place of slaying. The offering might be either from the sheep or goats, but the former were probably more esteemed.

Leviticus 1:11. On the side of the altar northward.—So also the table of shew-bread with the continual meat-offering stood on the north side of the holy place ( Exodus 26:35). The east side of the altar was the place for the heap of ashes on the side towards the door by which they must be carried out; the west side would have been inconvenient, being towards the holy place with the laver between; the south side had probably (as Josephus says was the case in the second temple, Bell. Jud. V:5, 6, ἀπὸ μεσημβρίαςἐπ’ αὐτὸν ἄνοδος) the ascent to the altar which must be kept clear; so that the north side alone remained. Lange: “Death is something belonging to the mysterious night, and belongs as a night-side of life, to the night-side of the earth; just as also the priestly eating of the shew-bread must be considered as a night meal.” In the same place were also to be slain the sin-offerings ( Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33) and the trespass-offerings ( Leviticus 7:2). There being ample room in the court for the sacrifice of the smaller victims, which also required less time in their preparation, they were killed near the altar instead of at the door. Nothing is said of the peace-offerings which, according to Mishna, might be killed in any part of the court. When not too numerous, however, they would have been more conveniently slain in the same place.

Leviticus 1:12. His head,etc.—is to be connected per zeugma with he shall cut, i.e, he shall cut it into his pieces and (sever) his head and his fat.

Leviticus 1:14-17. The burnt-offering of fowls. From Leviticus 5:7-11; Leviticus 12:8, it is probable that this offering was for those who were unable to bring the more costly offerings. It might be either of turtledoves, or of young pigeons; but only one bird was required. The turtledoves (turtur auritus) appear in vast numbers in Palestine early in April, and are easily captured; later in the season they entirely disappear. The common pigeon has been bred in the country from time immemorial, and also is found wild, at all seasons, in great abundance; but when full-grown is difficult of capture. It has, however, in the course of the year, several broods of two each, which may be easily taken on the nest. Hence, in the case of the pigeon, the mention of the age. Knobel observes that the allowing of doves or pigeons in sacrifice was quite exceptional among the ancient Orientals, and distinguished the Hebrew law from others. We have then in this a fresh instance of the especial care for the poor in the Divine law.

Leviticus 1:15. And the priest shall.—In this case the offerer’s part must be performed by the priest to prevent the loss of the small quantity of blood contained in the bird. No mention is made of the laying on of hands which was perhaps omitted on account of the diminutive size of the victim.

Pinch off his head.—מָלַק occurs only here and in v8, and its precise meaning has been much questioned. In v8 it is expressly limited by the provision that the head was not to be entirely separated from the body in the case of the bird to be eaten by the priest; in regard to the other bird (v7, 10), it was to be treated as the bird for a burnt-offering. As there is no such limitation here, as it is implied that the treatment was different from that of the bird in v8, and as the head was to be immediately burned on the altar, while something further was to be done to the body, the precept must be understood to require an entire separation of the head. So Outram, following the Mishna and other Jewish authorities. Lange, however, considers from the analogy of v8, that the head was not to be disjoined from the body. He translates מַָלק, “cleave in two, so that death is produced and the blood can flow out as from a vessel. The closely related מָלַח means apparently to tear off; the closely related פָּלַח means to cleave, cut into.” The LXX. has ἀποκνίζειν in both places. The exact sense seems best expressed by the margin of the A. V.—pinch off the head with the nail.

Pressed out against.—The small quantity of blood made it practically impossible to deal with it as in the case of the larger sacrifices. The sense of נִמְצָה וגו֝ is that the blood of the bird should be thoroughly squeezed out against the side of the altar.

Leviticus 1:16. His crop with its filth. The obscure word בְּנֹצָתָהּ has occasioned much difference of opinion; see Textual Notes. The rendering here given is ably supported at length by Rosenmüller. This was to be flung on the heap of ashes and refuse east of the altar.

Leviticus 1:17. He shall cleave.—The priest was to split the bird open, (by its wings, or by means of its outspread wings, Lange), but so as not to separate the parts; in the same way a fowl is now prepared for broiling. Lange: “The direction was given to take the place, as far as possible, of the cutting in pieces of the burnt-offering, i.e, the destruction of the figure of the body.”

A sweet savour.—The repetition of the same words as in Leviticus 1:9 and Leviticus 1:13, shows that this humbler sacrifice of the poor was acceptable equally with the more costly sacrifice of the rich.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

I. The offerings mentioned in this chapter were purely voluntary; yet when offered, the law in regard to them was strict and sharply defined. In this the Israelites- were taught a general principle of the Divine will. Whoever seeks to draw near to God must do so in the way of God’s own appointment. That worship only is acceptable to Him which is in accordance with His will. Not that which may seem most effective, not that which may be thought best adapted to man’s needs; but simply that which God approves may be offered to Him.

II. These offerings must be “perfect,” i.e, without, blemish, and the most scrupulous cleanliness was required in offering them. These requirements were of course necessary in view of the typical relation of the sacrifices to Christ; but they also taught the general principle that in his offerings to God man may not try to put off upon Him what is of inferior value—the light coin, or the scraps of unoccupied time. God is to be served with the best that man can command. And in this service regard must be had to the infinite purity and holiness of Him with whom we have to do.

III. The sacrifice might not be completed by the offerer. Prayer of Manasseh, being sinful, was unworthy to offer propitiation to God for himself. The priest must intervene for the sprinkling of the blood and the burning of the victim. In view of the peculiar virtue everywhere attributed to blood as “the life” ( Genesis 9:4, etc.), and the especial office of that “life” in connection with the disturbed relations between God and man ( Leviticus 17:10-12, etc.), and of the appointment of the priest to this duty, it is plain that he here acts in a mediatorial capacity. As Calvin (in loco) notes, “ministers of reconciliation must be sought, made competent to their high function by Divine anointing. This points to Christ not only as the Victim offered for sin, but also (as is shown at length in the Ep. to the Heb.) as Himself the Priest.” In general it establishes the principle that they only may exercise authority on God’s behalf whom He has commissioned for the purpose.

IV. In the provision for a less costly burnt-offering, we see that while in His providence God distributes unequally the means of offering to Himself, He yet provides that an equally acceptable offering shall be within the reach of all. The poor widow’s two mites were greater in His eyes than the costly gifts of the rich. The same thing is true when the propitiatory character of the offering is considered. Before God all souls are alike precious, and all equally have the opportunity of drawing near to Him.

V. In the New Testament certain words and phrases are applied to Christ which are the Septuagint translations of the technical words here and elsewhere used of the sacrifices. Thus He is called ( Ephesians 5:2) προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας and in Hebrews 2:17 He is said to be πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ, and in 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10, He is described as our ἱλασμὸς περὶ τῶνἁμαρτιῶν. It seems impossible to suppose that the Apostles could have used these expressions and others like them without intending to point to Christ as the Antitype of the sacrifices, and as actually accomplishing that which they had prefigured. From the work of Christ, therefore, in effecting reconciliation between God and Prayer of Manasseh, light is thrown back upon the function of the sacrifices; and that function once established, we may learn again from the sacrifices something of the nature of the propitiatory work of Christ.

VI. Wordsworth notes that a new Parashah, or section of the law, as read in Synagogues, begins at Leviticus 1:1, and extends to Leviticus 6:7. “The parallel Haphtarah,” or Section of the Prophets, “is Isaiah 43:21 to Isaiah 44:23, where God reproves Israel for their neglect of His worship, and promises them forgiveness of sins, and comforts the church with the pledges of divine mercy. Thus the ancient Jewish church, when listening to the law concerning offerings for sin, declared its faith in a better Covenant, and in larger outpourings of divine favor and spiritual grace in Christ.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The course of God’s dealings with man always, since man’s fall, is to bring about a closer communion with Himself, as man is able to bear it. The legislation from Mt. Sinai was a great advance; but here there is a fresh advance. The Divine voice calls no longer from the Mount, but from the tabernacle in the midst of the congregation. Thus another step is taken towards God’s speaking “unto us by His Son.”

Provision is made in these three chapters for voluntary sacrifices. The definitely prescribed duties of man are always a minimum; God requires of man the absolute devotion of himself and all that he is and has; this is recognized in the law by the provision for voluntary sacrifices and free-will-offerings of every kind.

All sacrifices were types of Christ inasmuch as after His sacrifice all others ceased. Origen. No one sacrifice could express the manifoldness of that which He wrought; therefore the several aspects of His work are adumbrated by various types. In this chapter we have the whole burnt-offering, the most general and comprehensive, as the most ancient, of the sacrifices; it is therefore the one which in the most general way sets forth the sacrifice of Christ. In so far as it became specialized by the introduction of other kinds of sacrifice, it is thought to be a symbol of entire consecration. It therefore typifies the entire consecration of Christ to God, and through Him, that of His followers, according to the allusion in Romans 12:1, which probably has this sacrifice more particularly in view.

Whatever is offered to God must be perfect in its kind. The offering may be varied in value according to the ability of the offerer, for all souls are alike precious to God, and He provides that all may be able to draw near to Him. Still, from the largest to the smallest offering, none may be allowed with blemish or defect.

On each sacrifice the offerer must lay his hands: so must man identify himself with what he offers to God. Such offering is a serious and a personal matter, and one may not delegate such duty to another; but must give to it personal thought and care. Sinful man cannot directly approach the Majesty on high, before whom he stands as a sinner; he must come through a Mediator, typified of old by the priest, and He “makes atonement for him.”

As the law had but “a shadow of good things to come,” ( Hebrews 10:1), so do they who now consecrate themselves to God offer that real sacrifice which the Israelites, offering various animals under the law, did but prefigure. Theodoret.


Footnotes:

FN#1 - Leviticus 1:1. וַיִּקְרָא in our text has the final א of smaller size than the other letters. The reason (leaving out of view Cabalistic interpretations) seems to be that suggested by Rosenmüller—that there was an ancient variation of the MSS, some having our present reading; while others, omitting the א, read וַיִּקָּר, Fut. Apoc. Niphal of קָרָה = and the Lord met (or appeared to) Moses. Comp. Numbers 23:4; Numbers 23:16.

FN#2 - Leviticus 1:1. אֹהֶל means strictly the covering of haircloth over the מִשְׁכָן of boards with linen curtains. Both occur together, Exodus 40:29. Both are translated in the A. V. alike by tent and by tabernacle, and both in the LXX. most frequently by σκηνή. In the original both are used to designate the structure in which the ark was placed. There is therefore no sufficient reason for changing the familiar name of Tabernacle.

FN#3 - Leviticus 1:1. מוֹעֵך is without the article, as always. The word is used very frequently ( Leviticus 23:2; Leviticus 23:4; Leviticus 23:37; Leviticus 23:44, etc.) of the religious festivals of the Law, of which the tabernacle was the centre, and perhaps both in the Heb. and the Chald. the “times of the festivals” is the most prominent idea of the word. Hence, as the place of assembly, the centre around which the congregation was at such times to gather, the Tabernacle came to be called אֹהֶל מוֹעֵר, as Jerusalem is called ( Isaiah 33:20) קִרְיַת מ֝. The proposal to translate Tent of meeting (Speaker’s Com, Kalisch, Murphy, and many others) as referring to God’s meeting with Moses, seems unsupported by the usage of the word, and is sustained by none of the ancient versions. (The LXX. and Vulgate take the word in the sense of covenant or law). The article, however, should be omitted. Nevertheless, Lange says “The Tabernacle is designated as the Tabernacle of the meeting. That the Israelites should assemble themselves in that place, is only the secondary result of the primary meeting with Jehovah.”

FN#4 - Leviticus 1:2. The Masoretic punctuation places the Athnach on לַיְהוֹה֑, and this is sustained by the Sam, Chald, LXX, Vulg, and followed by the A. V. Houbigant suggests that it should rather be placed on the next word, הַבְּהֵמָ֑ה as in the Syr. The latter sense is followed in the commentary.

FN#5 - Leviticus 1:2. “Offerings” in the plural is read in the Sam, LXX, Vulg, and Syr.

FN#6 - Leviticus 1:1. מוֹעֵך is without the article, as always. The word is used very frequently ( Leviticus 23:2; Leviticus 23:4; Leviticus 23:37; Leviticus 23:44, etc.) of the religious festivals of the Law, of which the tabernacle was the centre, and perhaps both in the Heb. and the Chald. the “times of the festivals” is the most prominent idea of the word. Hence, as the place of assembly, the centre around which the congregation was at such times to gather, the Tabernacle came to be called אֹהֶל מוֹעֵר, as Jerusalem is called ( Isaiah 33:20) קִרְיַת מ֝. The proposal to translate Tent of meeting (Speaker’s Com, Kalisch, Murphy, and many others) as referring to God’s meeting with Moses, seems unsupported by the usage of the word, and is sustained by none of the ancient versions. (The LXX. and Vulgate take the word in the sense of covenant or law). The article, however, should be omitted. Nevertheless, Lange says “The Tabernacle is designated as the Tabernacle of the meeting. That the Israelites should assemble themselves in that place, is only the secondary result of the primary meeting with Jehovah.”

FN#7 - Leviticus 1:3. לֶרצֹנוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה. The translation of the A. V. is defended by Grotius, but most interpreters follow the unanimous voice of the ancient versions in giving the sense as corrected above. Comp. Exodus 28:38; Leviticus 22:20-21, etc. The A. V. varies in the translation even in the same passage, as Leviticus 22:19-21; Leviticus 22:29.

FN#8 - Leviticus 1:5. The sense Isaiah, upon all the sides of the altar, not on its upper surface.

FN#9 - Leviticus 1:6. The Sam. and LXX. by reading the verbs of this verse in the plural, apparently make the flaying and cutting up of the victim the act of the priests.

FN#10 - Leviticus 1:9. The Sam. and the LXX. here also, by the use of the plural, make the washing the act of the priests.

FN#11 - Leviticus 1:9. The Sam. followed by the LXX. and Syr, read עֹלָה הִיא=this is the burnt-offering, i.e, the law of the burnt-offerings.

FN#12 - Leviticus 1:10. The Sam. followed by the LXX. reads וְאִס־מִן־הַצֹּאן עלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ לַיְהוָֹה, the Sam. omitting the subsequent עֹלָה, which makes the sense clearer.

FN#13 - Leviticus 1:10. The Sam. adds—at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation shall he offer it.

FN#14 - Leviticus 1:11. The LXX. prefixes from Leviticus 1:4, καὶ ἐπιθήσει τὴν χεῖρα ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ—which is of course to be understood.

FN#15 - Leviticus 1:12. The Sam. (now followed both by the LXX. and the Vulg.) here again as in Leviticus 1:6; Leviticus 1:9 reads the plural.

FN#16 - Leviticus 1:16. בְּנצָתָהּ (Sam. תו—) is variously translated. In the LXX. and Vulg, as in the A. V, it is rendered feathers; in the Sam. Vers, however, the Chald. of Onkelos, of Jonathan, and of Jerusalem, and in the Syr, the idea is the food in the crop, or the filth connected therewith, as is expressed in the margin of the A. V. By Gesenius and Fuerst it is translated as filth or excrement in the crop; they consider it a contracted form of Part. Niph. of יָצָא. This is probably the true sense. Lange explains it “the excrement from the crop yet to be found in the body.”

FN#17 - Leviticus 1:17. The Sam, 15 MSS, and all the versions supply the conjunction, which must of course be understood.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 1:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/leviticus-1.html. 1857-84.

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Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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