Leviticus 5

Unintentional sin

1 If you sin: by not providing information after hearing a public solemn pledge even though you are a witness, knowing something, or having seen something so that you become liable to punishment;
2 or by touching some unclean thing—the dead body of an unclean wild animal, unclean livestock, or unclean swarming creature—but the fact goes unknown so that you become unclean and guilty of sin;
3 or by touching human uncleanness—any uncleanness that makes one unclean—and the fact goes unknown, but you later learn of it and become guilty of sin;
4 or by carelessly swearing to do something, whether bad or good—whatever one might swear carelessly—and the fact goes unknown, but you later learn of it and become guilty of sin concerning one of these things—
5 at that point, when you have become guilty of sin in one of these ways, you must confess how you have sinned
6 and bring to the LORD as compensation for the sin that was committed a female from the flock, either a sheep or goat, as a purification offering. The priest will then make reconciliation for you, to remove your sin.

Alternative offerings

7 If you can't afford an animal from the flock, you can bring to the LORD as compensation for your sin two doves or two pigeons, one as a purification offering and the other as an entirely burned offering.
8 You will bring them to the priest, who will first present the one for the purification offering. He will pinch off its head at the back of its neck without splitting it.
9 Then he will sprinkle some of the blood of the purification offering on the side of the altar. The rest of the blood will be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a purification offering.
10 Then, with the second bird, the priest will perform an entirely burned offering according to the regulation. In this way, the priest will make reconciliation for you because of the sin you committed, and you will be forgiven.
11 If you cannot afford two doves or two pigeons, you can bring as the offering for your sin a tenth of an ephah of choice flour as a purification offering. You must not put any oil on it, nor any frankincense, because it is a purification offering.
12 You will bring it to the priest, and the priest will take a handful from it—the token portion—and will burn it completely on the altar along with the food gifts for the LORD. It is a purification offering.
13 In this way, the priest will make reconciliation for you for whichever one of the sins you committed, and you will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest like the grain offering.

The compensation offering

14 The LORD said to Moses,
15 Whenever you commit wrongdoing, unintentionally sinning against any of the LORD's holy things, you must bring to the LORD as your compensation a flawless ram from the flock, its value calculated in silver shekels according to the sanctuary's shekel, as a compensation offering.
16 You will make amends for the way you have sinned against the holy thing: you will add one-fifth to its value and give it to the priest. Then the priest will make reconciliation for you with the ram for the compensation offering, and you will be forgiven.
17 If you sin by breaking any of the LORD's commands, but without realizing it, doing something that shouldn't be done, and then become guilty and liable to punishment,
18 you must bring a flawless ram from the flock, at the standard value, as a compensation offering to the priest. The priest will make reconciliation for you for the unintentional fault that you committed, even though you didn't realize it, and you will be forgiven.
19 It is a compensation offering. You have definitely become guilty before the LORD.

Leviticus 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

Concerning various trespasses. (1-13) Concerning trespasses against the Lord. (14-19)

Verses 1-13 The offences here noticed are, 1. A man's concealing the truth, when he was sworn as a witness to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If, in such a case, for fear of offending one that has been his friend, or may be his enemy, a man refuses to give evidence, or gives it but in part, he shall bear his iniquity. And that is a heavy burden, which, if some course be not taken to get it removed, will sink a man to hell. Let all that are called at any time to be witnesses, think of this law, and be free and open in their evidence, and take heed of prevaricating. An oath of the Lord is a sacred thing, not to be trifled with. 2. A man's touching any thing that was ceremonially unclean. Though his touching the unclean thing only made him ceremonially defiled, yet neglecting to wash himself according to the law, was either carelessness or contempt, and contracted moral guilt. As soon as God, by his Spirit, convinces our consciences of any sin or duty, we must follow the conviction, as not ashamed to own our former mistake. 3. Rash swearing, that a man will do or not do such a thing. As if the performance of his oath afterward prove unlawful, or what cannot be done. Wisdom and watchfulness beforehand would prevent these difficulties. In these cases the offender must confess his sin, and bring his offering; but the offering was not accepted, unless accompanied with confession and humble prayer for pardon. The confession must be particular; that he hath sinned in that thing. Deceit lies in generals; many will own they have sinned, for that all must own; but their sins in any one particular they are unwilling to allow. The way to be assured of pardon, and armed against sin for the future, is to confess the exact truth. If any were very poor, they might bring some flour, and that should be accepted. Thus the expense of the sin-offering was brought lower than any other, to teach that no man's poverty shall ever bar the way of his pardon. If the sinner brought two doves, one was to be offered for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering. We must first see that our peace be made with God, and then we may expect that our services for his glory will be accepted by him. To show the loathsomeness of sin, the flour, when offered, must not be made grateful to the taste by oil, or to the smell by frankincense. God, by these sacrifices, spoke comfort to those who had offended, that they might not despair, nor pine away in their sins. Likewise caution not to offend any more, remembering how expensive and troublesome it was to make atonement.

Verses 14-19 Here are offerings to atone for trespasses against a neighbour. If a man put to his own use unwittingly, any thing dedicated to God, he was to bring this sacrifice. We are to be jealous over ourselves, to ask pardon for the sin, and make satisfaction for the wrong, which we do but suspect ourselves guilty of. The law of God is so very broad, the occasions of sin in this guilty of. The law of God is so very broad, the occasions of sin in this world are so numerous, and we are so prone to evil, that we need to fear always, and to pray always, that we may be kept from sin. Also we should look before us at every step. The true Christian daily pleads guilty before God, and seeks forgiveness through the blood of Christ. And the gospel salvation is so free, that the poorest is not shut out; and so full, that the most burdened conscience may find relief from it. Yet the evil of sin is so displayed as to cause every pardoned sinner to abhor and dread it.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Two quarts; one ephah is approximately twenty quarts dry.

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of the trespass offering, points at the sins for which it was to be made, and the matter of it; it was for secret sins, and sins of ignorance, such as refusing to bear witness in a known case, Le 5:1 touching unclean things and false swearing, Le 5:2-4 the things directed to in such cases are confession, Le 5:5 sacrifice of a lamb, or kid of the goats, Le 5:6 and in case of poverty, two turtle doves, or two young pigeons; concerning the offering of which instructions are given, Le 5:7-10 and if not able to bring them, then a meat offering of fine flour, about which rules are laid down, Le 5:11-13 and for sins committed through ignorance in holy things or sacrileges, the sacrifice of a ram is enjoined, and satisfaction ordered to be made for the injury done in the holy thing, by adding a fifth part to it, Le 5:14-16 and for sins committed ignorantly against negative precepts, only a ram is appointed for the trespass offering, Le 5:17-19.

Leviticus 5 Commentaries

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