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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Leviticus 5

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. V.

Of him who concealeth his knowledge when adjured: who toucheth an unclean thing; and who maketh an oath or vow. Of the trespass-offering in sacrilege, and in sins of ignorance.

Before Christ 1490.


Verse 1

Leviticus 5:1. And if a soul sin, &c.— This verse maybe translated in the following manner, which clearly explains it: If any person, being adjured as a witness, shall offend in not discovering what he has seen or known, he shall bear his iniquity. Houbigant, however, is of opinion, that this is not a just interpretation; and, accordingly, he translates it thus: If any man shall sin, using words of execration, and if any one shall hear him using them, or shall be a proper witness, whether he himself hath heard, or hath certainly known, and shall not discover the matter, he shall be esteemed guilty of the iniquity; see Matthew 26:63.


Verse 4

Leviticus 5:4. Or if a soul shall swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, &c.— This seems to refer to the case of rash or hasty vows or oaths; as the word which we render pronouncing, signifies to speak rashly, foolishly, or unadvisedly. If a man forgot such rash oaths or vows, yet at length recollected them, he was to bear the guilt of them, and to acknowledge it by a trespass-offering. Then he shall be guilty in one of these, at the end of the verse, signifies, according to Houbigant, in either or any one of those matters specified in the preceding verses; see Leviticus 5:17.


Verse 5

Leviticus 5:5. It shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these Read, when he shall be sensible of his guilt in any one of these things, he shall confess, &c. To the confession, the Hebrew rabbis say, the usual forms in sacrifice were added: and Maimonides acquaints us, that the words of confession were these "O God! I have sinned, I have done perversely; I have trespassed before thee, and have done so and so! Lo! I repent, and am ashamed of my doings, and will no more act after the same manner."


Verse 6

Leviticus 5:6. His trespass-offering The original word אשׁם asham, trespass, extends further than חטא cheit, sin, even to sins against knowledge: but the precise difference between them it is not easy to settle: we refer to Outram de Sacrificiis, as before. Dr. Beaumont observes, that "these trespass-offerings were for sins of less importance, as omission of some duties, and not observing the legal washings and purifications, &c. whereas the sin-offerings in ch. 4 were for greater offences, in doing of things forbidden of God: and, therefore, these oblations for trespasses of this kind were made less, if the sinner were poor, (see Leviticus 5:11.) which, in the former, were never lessened; see ch. 4"

REFLECTIONS.—Three instances of trespass are mentioned; 1. Concealing the truth, when adjured by the judges. In all cases of an oath, we must speak the whole truth, as well as nothing but the truth: to hide it, is as criminal as to add to it. 2. Contracting ceremonial uncleanness, and not washing according to law before they came to the tabernacle. When it came to their knowledge, they were to confess their sin, and bring their offering. Note; When God's spirit awakens the conscience, we begin to see ourselves guilty, where we never suspected harm. 3. Rashly swearing, either to do what is unlawful or impracticable. Though a rash vow may be better broken than kept, yet, like a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways. No member needs stricter government than the tongue.

An offering in these cases must be brought, accompanied with humble and particular confession of the sin. True penitents never deal in merely general acknowledgments, but in a distinct and particular enumeration of their sins. Then the priest made the atonement, and the sin was pardoned. Though our repentance be not the cause of our acceptance, but Christ's blood alone, yet they are inseparable: true faith ever produces true penitence.


Verse 7

Leviticus 5:7. One for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering It appears from the following verses, that the sin-offering was first to be offered, in order to reconcile the sinner with God: and then the burnt-offering or gift might be accepted. In Matthew 5:23-24 our Saviour refers to this custom.


Verse 10

Leviticus 5:10. According to the manner "The manner or ordinance," says Dr. Beaumont. Heb. the judgment; which word is here, and often elsewhere, used for the manner or rite of doing a thing, and has reference to the law in ch. Leviticus 1:15.


Verse 11

Leviticus 5:11. Tenth part of an ephah of fine flour That is, an omer. No oil or frankincense was to be put upon this gift, as these were appropriated to joyful occasions; and, consequently, unfit for offerings expressive of humiliation and grief; see Numbers 5:15. Note: Sin must be as unsavoury to the soul, as this offering was on the altar.


Verse 15

Leviticus 5:15. With thy estimation Though the sin here mentioned may refer to the holy things in general, yet it is commonly thought to refer particularly to the eating that part of the sacrifice which belonged to the priest; at least, so we are led to think, from ch. Leviticus 22:14 as well as from the expression, with thy estimation by shekels of silver; whereby, it is supposed, the sacred writer means, that the priest should estimate the damage sustained by this trespass; in consequence whereof, the person trespassing should not only bring for his offering a ram, but the estimation or value of his trespass made by the priest, in shekels of silver: see the next verse. Though Moses is spoken of as the estimator, it is to be referred to the priests in general, who usually made these rates; see ch. Leviticus 27:8; Leviticus 27:12-13, &c. Houbigant renders this, at the estimation or value of two shekels of silver; in which he follows St. Jerome; with whom he thinks that this is a specification of the value of the ram; and he defends this interpretation very ably.


Verse 17

Leviticus 5:17. Though he wist it not Though he knew it not. It is the same word as has been used throughout the chapter, and refers to sins of ignorance.


Verse 19

Leviticus 5:19. It is a trespass-offering Houbigant renders this, such shall be the trespass-offering: whosoever shall [thus] sin against the Lord, shall offer a trespass-offering. Those who refer to the Hebrew here, will not wonder to find a variety in the versions of it.

REFLECTIONS.—As sacrilege is a very heinous sin, a more costly atonement is enjoined for it. Whoever through ignorance withheld the tythes or offerings due to the sanctuary, or any holy things dedicated to God;—when he found it out, he was required to bring a ram for an offering, and the whole value of the thing in money, and a fifth part over. Note; To make restitution for injustice, is a very mortifying exercise: but there can be no hope of pardon, while the wages of unrighteousness is kept back.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Leviticus 5:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/leviticus-5.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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