Leviticus 5

Cases Requiring Sin Offerings

1 "When someone sins [in any of these ways]: [If] he has seen, heard, or known about something he has witnessed, and did not respond to a public call to testify, he is guilty.[a]
2 Or [if] someone touches anything unclean-a carcass of an unclean wild animal, or unclean livestock, or an unclean swarming creature[b] [c]-without being aware of it, he is unclean and guilty.
3 Or [if] he touches human uncleanness[d]-any uncleanness by which one can become defiled-without being aware of it, but [later] recognizes [it], he is guilty.
4 Or [if] someone swears rashly to do what is good or evil-concerning anything a person may speak rashly in an oath[e]-without being aware of it, but [later] recognizes it, he incurs guilt in such an instance.[f]
5 If someone incurs guilt in one of these cases, he is to confess he has committed that sin.
6 He must bring his restitution for the sin he has committed to the Lord: a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin.[g]
7 "But if he cannot afford an animal from the flock, then he may bring to the Lord two turtledoves or two young pigeons as restitution for his sin-one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering.
8 He is to bring them to the priest, who will first present the one for the sin offering. He must twist its head at the back of the neck without severing [it].[h]
9 Then he will sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood is to be drained out at the base of the altar;[i] it is a sin offering.
10 He must prepare the second [bird] as a burnt offering according to the regulation.[j] In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven.
11 "But if he cannot afford[k] two turtledoves or two young pigeons, he may bring two quarts[l] of fine[m] flour[n] as an offering for his sin. He must not put olive oil or frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.
12 He is to bring it to the priest, who will take a handful from it as its memorial portion and burn [it] on the altar along with the fire offerings to the Lord; it is a sin offering.
13 In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf concerning the sin he has committed in any of these cases, and he will be forgiven. The rest will belong to the priest, like the grain offering."[o]

The Restitution Offering

14 Then the Lord spoke to Moses:
15 "If someone offends by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord's holy things,[p] he must bring his restitution offering[q] to the Lord: an unblemished ram from the flock by your valuation in silver shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel, as a restitution offering.
16 He must make restitution for his sin regarding any holy thing, adding a fifth of its value to it, and give it to the priest. Then the priest will make atonement on his behalf with the ram of the restitution offering, and he will be forgiven.[r]
17 "If someone sins and without knowing [it] violates any of the Lord's commands concerning anything prohibited, he bears the consequences of his guilt.
18 He must bring an unblemished ram from the flock according to your valuation as a restitution offering to the priest. Then the priest will make atonement on his behalf for the error he has committed unintentionally, and he will be forgiven.
19 It is a restitution offering; he is indeed 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 18

  • [a]. Pr 29:24
  • [b]. a fish, insect, rodent, or reptile; Lv 11:20-23,29-31; Gn 1:20
  • [c]. Lv 11:24-40; Dt 14:8
  • [d]. Lv 12:2; 15:2,19; 18:19
  • [e]. Nm 30:2; Dt 23:21-22; Ec 5:5
  • [f]. Lit in one of such things
  • [g]. Lv 1:4; 4:20,31,35; 6:7
  • [h]. Lv 1:15,17
  • [i]. Lv 4:25,30
  • [j]. Lv 1:14-17
  • [k]. Lit if his hand is not sufficient for
  • [l]. Lit one-tenth of an ephah
  • [m]. Or wheat; Ex 29:2
  • [n]. Lit flour as a sin offering
  • [o]. Lv 2:3,10
  • [p]. Things dedicated to the Lord such as tabernacle furnishings, priestly portions of the sacrifices, tenths, firstfruits, and firstborn livestock
  • [q]. Lv 7:1-7; Isa 53:10
  • [r]. Lv 4:20,26,31,35; 6:7

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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