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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 1

 

 

Introduction

Leviticus 1-7. The Law of Sacrifices: Burnt Offering (1), Meal Offering (2), Peace Offering (3), Sin Offering (Leviticus 4:1 to Leviticus 5:13), Trespass Offering (Leviticus 5:14-19), Directions chiefly for Priests (Leviticus 6:8 to Leviticus 7:38).

I. Burnt Offering or Whole Burnt Offering.—This is η constant element in the worship of the community; it is too solemn for the victim to be shared by the offerer. In the historical books, we find it practised before some great occasion or enterprise or after a reverse (Genesis 8:20, Judges 6:26, 2 Samuel 24:25). Only domestic and "clean" animals and birds could be offered (a restriction peculiar to Heb. practice). The part of the worshipper is to lay his hand on the victim, kill, flay, cut it up, and wash it, on the N. side of the altar; the priest does the rest at the altar itself—pouring out the blood, bringing the fire, arranging the parts of the victim. For further sacrificial arrangements, see Numbers 15:1-16.


Verses 1-9

Leviticus 1-7. The Law of Sacrifices: Burnt Offering (1), Meal Offering (2), Peace Offering (3), Sin Offering (Leviticus 4:1 to Leviticus 5:13), Trespass Offering (Leviticus 5:14-19), Directions chiefly for Priests (Leviticus 6:8 to Leviticus 7:38).

I. Burnt Offering or Whole Burnt Offering.—This is η constant element in the worship of the community; it is too solemn for the victim to be shared by the offerer. In the historical books, we find it practised before some great occasion or enterprise or after a reverse (Genesis 8:20, Judges 6:26, 2 Samuel 24:25). Only domestic and "clean" animals and birds could be offered (a restriction peculiar to Heb. practice). The part of the worshipper is to lay his hand on the victim, kill, flay, cut it up, and wash it, on the N. side of the altar; the priest does the rest at the altar itself—pouring out the blood, bringing the fire, arranging the parts of the victim. For further sacrificial arrangements, see Numbers 15:1-16.

Leviticus 1:1 f. Introductory formula, common throughout P. The original of "oblation" is a technical and general word, identical with "Korban" (Mark 7:11); "brought near."

Leviticus 1:3-9. First Kind of Burnt Offering: Cattle.—The two conditions (male, and without blemish) are indispensable for all burnt offerings, cf. Leviticus 22:17-25; contrast for peace offerings, Leviticus 3:1. For the laying on of hands, cf. Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 8:22, Leviticus 16:21, Leviticus 24:14, Exodus 29:15. It denotes, not substitution, but responsibility and sharing; it is a solemn declaration, and the gesture itself has its importance. P does not remove this element in the sacrifice from the laity. References in the Law to sacrifice as atoning are peculiar to P. The term is nowhere explained; it is evidently of far wider application than an act of personal renunciation for another's wilful disobedience; it is used for all those acts which are regarded in the cultus as putting the individual into the right relation with Yahweh. The layman kills, as in older Heb. and Arab practice; but the blood is regarded in P as too sacred (and dangerous) for the layman to manipulate. It is presented, or brought near (the root is that of the word "oblation"); and sprinkled from a bowl (for sprinkling from the fingers, another word is used, Leviticus 16:14). The skin is flayed, because it is the perquisite of the priests (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:34). The parts are arranged on the altar, as if a meal for the Godhead were being prepared. The fat, or the suet round the entrails, is a special delicacy. The entrails themselves and the legs must be washed as being the unclean parts. The text does not make it clear whether this is to be done by priest or offerer. "Sweet savour" is a term almost confined to P it is used of offerings made by fire, and suggests a smell of rest and contentment, almost as if it were a narcotic. The hint of archaism here, as in the sprinkling and laying in order, will be noted. Certain elements in the cultus must be retained, however completely their original purpose may be forgotten or even repudiated. Note also that Levites are not mentioned here, or elsewhere in Lev. Contrast Ezra 8:15, Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 11:18, etc., and note Ezekiel 44:11.


Verses 10-13

Leviticus 1:10-13. Offering of Sheep or Goat.—The ritual is identical. The choice of victim—more or less expensive—is left to the worshipper, Leviticus 1:11 adds the detail of "northward" (cf. Leviticus 4:24, and Leviticus 7:2). Eastward is the "tent" or Temple building (the whole sanctuary lies E. and W.); W. is the "laver," S. is the approach.


Verses 14-17

Leviticus 1:14-17. Birds.—This class is not mentioned in Leviticus 1:2, and may be a later addition to the list of possible offerings (it is not referred to in the narrative books of OT) for the sake of the poor (Luke 2:24). Turtle doves and pigeons are always mentioned together in Lev., and no other birds are allowed. Doves have a sacred character in both Babylonian and Greek rituals. The head of the bird is to be nipped off (cf. RVm), not wholly severed; separate parts of a bird (so 17) are too small to lay on the altar. The blood is drained off, as there will not be enough for sprinkling from a bowl. II. The Meal Offering.—In Leviticus 7:1-11 the meal offering is regarded as the regular accompaniment of the peace offering, as bread is naturally eaten with meat. Here it is apparently an independent offering; note also the use of the second personal pronoun in Leviticus 1:4 ff., not in the other chapters. Probably we have here an older ritual (cf. 2 Kings 16:15). Ch. 1 is naturally followed by ch. 3. This offering is not eaten by laymen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Leviticus 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/leviticus-1.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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