Leviticus 4

The Sin Offering

1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses:
2 "Tell the Israelites: When someone sins unintentionally against any of the Lord's commands and does anything prohibited by them-
3 "If the anointed priest[a] sins, bringing guilt on the people, he is to present to the Lord a young, unblemished bull as a sin[b] offering for the sin he has committed.
4 He must bring the bull to the entrance to the tent of meeting before the Lord, lay his hand on the bull's head, and slaughter it before the Lord.
5 The anointed priest must then take some of the bull's blood and bring it into the tent of meeting.
6 The priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary.
7 The priest must apply some of the blood to the horns of the altar of fragrant incense[c] that is before the Lord in the tent of meeting. He must pour out the rest of the bull's blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
8 He is to remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering: the fat surrounding the entrails; all the fat that is on the entrails;
9 and the two kidneys with the fat on them at the loins. He will also remove the fatty lobe of the liver with the kidneys,
10 just as the fat is removed from the ox of the fellowship sacrifice.[d] The priest is to burn them on the altar of burnt offering.
11 But the hide of the bull and all its flesh, with its head and shanks, and its entrails and dung-
12 all [the rest] of the bull-he must bring to a ceremonially clean place outside the camp[e] to the ash heap, and must burn it on a wood fire. It is to be burned at the ash heap.
13 "Now if the whole community of Israel errs, and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, so that they violate any of the Lord's commands and incur guilt[f] by doing what is prohibited,
14 then the assembly must present a young bull as a sin offering. When the sin they have committed in regard to the command becomes known, they are to bring it before the tent of meeting.
15 The elders of the assembly are to lay their hands on the bull's head before the Lord and it is to be slaughtered before the Lord.
16 The anointed priest will bring some of the bull's blood into the tent of meeting.
17 The priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle [it] seven times before the Lord in front of the veil.
18 He is to apply some of the blood to the horns of the altar that is before the Lord in the tent of meeting. He must pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
19 He is to remove all the fat from it and burn it on the altar.
20 He is to offer this bull just as he did with the bull in the sin offering; he will offer it the same way. So the priest will make atonement on their behalf, and they will be forgiven.[g]
21 Then he will bring the bull outside the camp and burn it just as he burned the first bull. It is the sin offering for the assembly.
22 "When a leader[h] sins and unintentionally violates any of the commands of the Lord his God by doing what is prohibited, and incurs guilt,
23 or someone informs him about the sin he has committed, he is to bring an unblemished male goat[i] as his offering.
24 He is to lay his hand on the head of the goat and slaughter it at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the Lord. It is a sin offering.
25 Then the priest must take some of the blood from the sin offering with his finger and apply it to the horns of the altar of burnt offering. The rest of its blood he must pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering.
26 He must burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the fellowship sacrifice. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for that person's sin, and he will be forgiven.
27 "Now if any of the common people[j] sins unintentionally by violating one of the Lord's commands, does what is prohibited, and incurs guilt,
28 or if someone informs him about the sin he has committed, then he is to bring an unblemished female goat as his offering for the sin that he has committed.
29 He is to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering.
30 Then the priest must take some of its blood with his finger and apply it to the horns of the altar of burnt offering. He must pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.
31 He is to remove all its fat just as the fat is removed from the fellowship sacrifice. The priest is to burn [it] on the altar as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf, and he will be forgiven.
32 "Or if the offering that he brings as a sin offering is a lamb, he is to bring an unblemished female.
33 He is to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it as a sin offering at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered.
34 Then the priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and apply it to the horns of the altar of burnt offering. He must pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.
35 He is to remove all its fat just as the fat of the lamb is removed from the fellowship sacrifice.[k] The priest will burn it on the altar along with the fire offerings to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven.

Leviticus 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The sin-offering of ignorance for the priest. (1-12) For the whole congregation. (13-21) For a ruler. (22-26) For any of the people. (27-35)

Verses 1-12 Burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and peace-offerings, had been offered before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai; and in these the patriarchs had respect to sin, to make atonement for it. But the Jews were now put into a way of making atonement for sin, more particularly by sacrifice, as a shadow of good things to come; yet the substance is Christ, and that one offering of himself, by which he put away sin. The sins for which the sin-offerings were appointed are supposed to be open acts. They are supposed to be sins of commission, things which ought not to have been done. Omissions are sins, and must come into judgment: yet what had been omitted at one time, might be done at another; but a sin committed was past recall. They are supposed to be sins committed through ignorance. The law begins with the case of the anointed priest. It is evident that God never had any infallible priest in his church upon earth, when even the high priest was liable to fall into sins of ignorance. All pretensions to act without error are sure marks of Antichrist. The beast was to be carried without the camp, and there burned to ashes. This was a sign of the duty of repentance, which is the putting away sin as a detestable thing, which our soul hates. The sin-offering is called sin. What they did to that, we must do to our sins; the body of sin must be destroyed, ( Romans 6:6 ) . The apostle applies the carrying this sacrifice without the camp to Christ, ( Hebrews 13:11-13 ) .

Verses 13-21 If the leaders of the people, through mistake, caused them to err, an offering must be brought, that wrath might not come upon the whole congregation. When sacrifices were offered, the persons, on whose behalf they were devoted, were to lay their hands on the heads of the victims, and to confess their sins. The elders were to do so, when the sacrifices were offered for the whole congregation. The load of sin was supposed then to be borne by the guiltless animal. When the offering is completed, it is said, atonement is made, and the sin shall be forgiven. The saving of churches and kingdoms from ruin, is owing to the satisfaction and mediation of Christ.

Verses 22-26 Those who have power to call others to account, are themselves accountable to the Ruler of rulers. The sin of the ruler, committed through ignorance, must come to his knowledge, either by the check of his own conscience, or by the reproof of his friends; both which even the best and greatest, not only should submit to, but be thankful for. That which I see not, teach thou me, and, Show me wherein I have erred, are prayers we should put up to God every day; that if, through ignorance, we fall into sin, we may not through ignorance abide in it.

Verses 27-35 Here is the law of the sin-offering for a common person. To be able to plead, when charged with sin, that we did it ignorantly, and through the surprise of temptation, will not bring us off, if we have no interest in that great plea, Christ hath died. The sins of ignorance committed by a common person, needed a sacrifice; the greatest are not above, the meanest are not below Divine justice. None, if offenders, were overlooked. Here rich and poor meet together; they are alike sinners, and welcome to Christ. From all these laws concerning the sin-offerings, we may learn to hate sin, and to watch against it; and to value Christ, the great and true Sin-offering, whose blood cleanses from all sin, which it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away. For us to err, with the Bible in our hands, is the effect of pride, sloth, and carelessness. We need to use frequent self-examination, with serious study of the Scriptures, and earnest prayer for the convincing influences of God the Holy Spirit; that we may detect our sins of ignorance, repent, and obtain forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

Footnotes 11

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO LEVITICUS 4

This chapter contains the law of the sin offering, which was offered for sins committed through ignorance, error, and mistake, Le 4:1,2 and gives an account of the matter of them, and the rites belonging thereunto, which were different according to the persons for whom it was made, as for the anointed priest, Le 4:3-12 for the whole congregation, Le 4:13-21 and for the ruler, Le 4:22-26 and for any of the common people, Le 4:27-35.

Leviticus 4 Commentaries