The law concerning the sin-offering for transgressions committed through ignorance, 1, 2. For the priest thus sinning, 3-12. For the sins of ignorance of the whole congregation, 13-21. For the sins of ignorance of a ruler, 22-26. For the sins of ignorance of any of the common people, 27-35.
2Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORDconcerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:
2 Verse 2. If a soul shall sin through ignorance] That is, if any man shall do what God has forbidden, or leave undone what God has commanded, through ignorance of the law relative to these points; as soon as the transgression or omission comes to his knowledge, he shall offer the sacrifice here prescribed, and shall not suppose that his ignorance is an excuse for his sin. He who, when his iniquity comes to his knowledge, refuses to offer such a sacrifice, sins obstinately and wilfully, and to him there remains no other sacrifice for sin-no other mode by which he can be reconciled to God, but he has a certain fearful looking for of judgment-which shall devour such adversaries; and this seems the case to which the apostle alludes, , &c., in the words above quoted. There have been a great number of subtle questions started on this subject, both by Jews and Christians, but the above I believe to be the sense and spirit of the law.
3If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering.
3 Verse 3. If the priest that is anointed] Meaning, most probably, the high priest. According to the sin of the people; for although he had greater advantages than the people could have, in being more conversant with the law of God, and his lips should understand and preserve knowledge, yet it was possible even for him, in that time in which the word of God had not been fully revealed, to transgress through ignorance; and his transgression might have the very worst tendency, because the people might be thereby led into sin. Hence several critics understand this passage in this way, and translate it thus: If the anointed priest shall lead the people to sin; or, literally, if the anointed priest shall sin to the sin of the people; that is, so as to cause the people to transgress, the shepherd going astray, and the sheep following after him.
6And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, before the vail of the sanctuary.
6 Verse 6. Seven times] . The blood of this sacrifice was applied in three different ways: 1. The priest put his finger in it, and sprinkled it seven times before the veil, . 2. He put some of it on the horns of the altar of incense. 3. He poured the remaining part at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offerings, .
7And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
12Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.a, b
12 Verse 12. Without the camp] This was intended figuratively to express the sinfulness of this sin, and the availableness of the atonement. The sacrifice, as having the sin of the priest transferred from himself to it by his confession and imposition of hands, was become unclean and abominable, and was carried, as it were, out of the Lord's sight; from the tabernacle and congregation it must be carried without the camp, and thus its own offensiveness was removed, and the sin of the person in whose behalf it was offered. The apostle () applies this in the most pointed manner to Christ: "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore JESUS also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach."
13 ¶ And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORDconcerning things which should not be done, and are guilty;
13 Verse 13. If the whole congregation of Israel sin] This probably refers to some oversight in acts of religious worship, or to some transgression of the letter of the law, which arose out of the peculiar circumstances in which they were then found, such as the case mentioned , &c., where the people, through their long and excessive fatigue in their combat with the Philistines, being faint, flew on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground, and did eat with the blood; and this was partly occasioned by the rash adjuration of Saul, mentioned : Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening.
The sacrifices and rites in this case were the same as those prescribed in the preceding, only here the elders of the congregation, i. e., three of the sanhedrim, according to Maimonides, laid their hands on the head of the victim in the name of all the congregation.
18And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the LORD, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
22 ¶ When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty;
22 Verse 22. When a ruler hath sinned] Under the term nasi, it is probable that any person is meant who held any kind of political dignity among the people, though the rabbins generally understand it of the king.
A kid of the goats was the sacrifice in this case, the rites nearly the same as in the preceding cases, only the fat was burnt as that of the peace-offering. See , and .
25And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.
27 ¶ And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORDconcerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;c, d
27 Verse 27. The common people] am haarets, the people of the land, that is, any individual who was not a priest, king, or ruler among the people; any of the poor or ordinary sort. Any of these, having transgressed through ignorance, was obliged to bring a lamb or a kid, the ceremonies being nearly the same as in the preceding cases. The original may denote the very lowest of the people, the labouring or agricultural classes.
The law relative to the general cases of sins committed through ignorance, and the sacrifices to be offered on such occasions, so amply detailed in this chapter, may be thus recapitulated. For all sins and transgressions of this kind committed by the people, the prince, and the priest, they must offer expiatory offerings. The person so sinning must bring the sacrifice to the door of the tabernacle, and lay his hands upon its head, as in a case already referred to, acknowledging the sacrifice to be his, that he needed it for his transgression; and thus he was considered as confessing his sin, and the sin was considered as transferred to the animal, whose blood was then spilt to make an atonement. .
Such institutions as these could not be considered as terminating in themselves, they necessarily had reference to something of infinitely higher moment; in a word, they typified Him whose soul was made an offering for sin, . And taken out of this reference they seem both absurd and irrational. It is obviously in reference to these innocent creatures being brought as sin-offerings to God for the guilty that St. Paul alludes , where he says, He (God) made him to be sin (αμαρτιαν, a sin-offering) for us WHO KNEW NO SIN, that we might be made the righteousness of God-holy and pure by the power and grace of God, in or through him. And it is worthy of remark, that the Greek word used by the apostle is the same by which the Septuagint, in more than fourscore places in the Pentateuch, translate the Hebrew word hattaah, sin, which in all those places our translation renders sin-offering. Even sins of ignorance cannot be unnoticed by a strict and holy law; these also need the great atonement: on which account we should often pray with David, Cleanse thou me from secret faults! . How little attention is paid to this solemn subject! Sins of this kind-sins committed sometimes ignorantly, and more frequently heedlessly, are permitted to accumulate in their number, and consequently in their guilt; and from this very circumstance we may often account for those painful desertions, as they are called, under which many comparatively good people labour. They have committed sins of ignorance or heedlessness, and have not offered the sacrifice which can alone avail in their behalf. How necessary in ten thousand cases is the following excellent prayer! "That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, to amend our lives according to thy HOLY WORD."-Litany.
31And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
34And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:
35And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.