Leviticus 4

1 The Lord said to Moses,
2 "Tell the people of Israel this: 'When a person sins by accident and does some things the Lord has commanded not to be done, that person must do these things:
3 "'If the appointed priest sins so that he brings guilt on the people, then he must offer a young bull to the Lord, one that has nothing wrong with it, as a sin offering for the sin he has done.
4 He will bring the bull to the entrance of the Meeting Tent in front of the Lord, put his hand on its head, and kill it before the Lord.
5 Then the appointed priest must bring some of the bull's blood into the Meeting Tent.
6 The priest is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord in front of the curtain of the Most Holy Place.
7 The priest must also put some of the blood on the corners of the altar of incense that stands before the Lord in the Meeting Tent. The rest of the blood he must pour out at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.
8 He must remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering -- the fat on and around the inner organs,
9 both kidneys with the fat that is on them near the lower back muscle, and the best part of the liver which he will remove with the kidneys.
10 (He must do this in the same way the fat is removed from the bull of the fellowship offering.) Then the priest must burn the animal parts on the altar of burnt offering.
11 But the priest must carry off the skin of the bull and all its meat, along with the rest of the bull -- its head, legs, intestines, and other inner organs.
12 He must take it outside the camp to the special clean place where the ashes are poured out. He must burn it on a wood fire on the pile of ashes.
13 "'If the whole nation of Israel sins accidentally without knowing it and does something the Lord has commanded not to be done, they are guilty.
14 When they learn about the sin they have done, they must offer a young bull as a sin offering and bring it before the Meeting Tent.
15 The older leaders of the group of people must put their hands on the bull's head before the Lord, and it must be killed before the Lord.
16 Then the appointed priest must bring some of the bull's blood into the Meeting Tent.
17 Dipping his finger in the blood, he must sprinkle it seven times before the Lord in front of the curtain.
18 Then he must put some of the blood on the corners of the altar that is before the Lord in the Meeting Tent. The priest must pour out the rest of the blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance to the Meeting Tent.
19 He must remove all the fat from the animal and burn it on the altar;
20 he will do the same thing with this bull that he did with the first bull of the sin offering. In this way the priest removes the sins of the people so they will belong to the Lord and be forgiven.
21 Then the priest must carry the bull outside the camp and burn it, just as he did with the first bull. This is the sin offering for the whole community.
22 "'If a ruler sins by accident and does something the Lord his God has commanded must not be done, he is guilty.
23 When he learns about his sin, he must bring a male goat that has nothing wrong with it as his offering.
24 The ruler must put his hand on the goat's head and kill it in the place where they kill the whole burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering.
25 The priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering on his finger and put it on the corners of the altar of burnt offering. He must pour out the rest of the blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.
26 He must burn all the goat's fat on the altar in the same way he burns the fat of the fellowship offerings. In this way the priest removes the ruler's sin so he belongs to the Lord, and the Lord will forgive him.
27 "'If any person in the community sins by accident and does something which the Lord has commanded must not be done, he is guilty.
28 When the person learns about his sin, he must bring a female goat that has nothing wrong with it as an offering for his sin.
29 He must put his hand on the animal's head and kill it at the place of the whole burnt offering.
30 Then the priest must take some of the goat's blood on his finger and put it on the corners of the altar of burnt offering. He must pour out the rest of the goat's blood at the bottom of the altar.
31 Then the priest must remove all the goat's fat in the same way the fat is removed from the fellowship offerings. He must burn it on the altar as a smell pleasing to the Lord. In this way the priest will remove that person's sin so he will belong to the Lord, and the Lord will forgive him.
32 "'If this person brings a lamb as his offering for sin, he must bring a female that has nothing wrong with it.
33 He must put his hand on the animal's head and kill it as a sin offering in the place where the whole burnt offering is killed.
34 The priest must take some of the blood from the sin offering on his finger and put it on the corners of the altar of burnt offering. He must pour out the rest of the lamb's blood at the bottom of the altar.
35 Then the priest must remove all the lamb's fat in the same way that the lamb's fat is removed from the fellowship offerings. He must burn the pieces on the altar on top of the offerings made by fire for the Lord. In this way the priest will remove that person's sins so he will belong to the Lord, and the Lord will forgive him.

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.

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