Leviticus 5



                                    THE SIN OFFERING (con’t – vs. 1-13)


The subject of the next thirteen verses is still the sin offering, not the trespass offering,

as has been supposed by some. The first six verses state three specific cases for which

sin offerings are required, and the remaining seven verses detail the concessions made

to poverty in respect to the offerings required. The cases are those of a witness, of one

ceremonially defiled, and of one who had sworn thoughtlessly. The concessions

granted are two: two turtledoves or young pigeons are allowed instead of a lamb, and

the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, is allowed instead

of the two turtle-doves or young pigeons. The latter concession is the more

remarkable as the sacrifice by its means changes its character from a bloody to an

unbloody offering.


1  And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he

hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.

2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast,

or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it

be hidden from him; (that is, if he had done it unwittingly, or from forgetfulness or

neglect, had failed to purify himself immediately, he must offer his sin offering , as

above) - he also shall be unclean, and guilty.  3 Or if he touch the uncleanness of

man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be

hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.  4 Or if a soul swear,

pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man

shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it,

then he shall be guilty in one of these.” -  The ease of a man who had neglected to

fulfill a thoughtless oath. If he sware to do evil, or to do good, that is, to do anything

whatever, good or bad (see Numbers 24:13), and failed to fulfill his oath from carelessness

or negligence, he too must bring his offering, as above.  5 And it shall

be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he

hath sinned in that thing:  6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the

LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid

of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him

concerning his sin.” - In the four cases last mentioned there is first to be an

acknowledgment of guilt,  he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing, and then

the sin offering is to be made. Confession of sin probably preceded or accompanied all

sin offerings. The use of the word asham, translated trespass offering in v. 6, and the

character of the four cases have led many commentators to regard vs. 1-13 as dealing

with the trespass offering rather than the sin offering. But if this were so, the words

trespass offering and sin offering would be used synonymously in this verse, which

is very unlikely, when they are immediately afterwards carefully distinguished. It is best

to render asham “for his trespass,” that is, in expiation of his guilt, as in the next

verse, in place of a trespass offering.  7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, -

Sin offerings being not voluntary sacrifices but required of all that were guilty, and the

four last named cases being of common occurrence amongst the poor and ignorant,

two concessions are made to poverty: two birds (one to be offered with the ritual of

the sin offering, the other with that of the burnt offering), or even some flour (either three

pints and a half or three quarts and a half, according as we adopt the larger or smaller

estimate of the amount of the ephah), are allowed when the offerer cannot provide a

lamb or a kid. There is thus typically set forth the freedom with which acceptance through

the great propitiation is offered to all without respect of persons. The non-bloody substitute,

being permitted only as an exception for the benefit of the very poor and only in the four

cases above specified, does not invalidate the general rule that without the shedding of

blood there is no remission of sin – “then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath

committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin

offering, and the other for a burnt offering.  8 And he shall bring them unto the

priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his

head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:  9 And he shall sprinkle of the

blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall

be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.  10 And he shall offer

the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make

an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. 

11 But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he

that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for

a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense

thereon: for it is a sin offering.  12 Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the

priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the

altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: it is a sin offering. 

13 And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath

sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him:  and the remnant shall be the

priest’s, as a meat offering.”



                                                Confession of Sin


Confession of sin is required of the man who is allowed to offer a sin offering. It is likewise

required before a trespass offering is accepted, as appears from Numbers 5:6-7. “When

 a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the

 Lord, and that person be guilty, then they shall confess their sin that they have done.”


  • TRADITIONAL FORM OF CONFESSION. “The sacrifice was so set, as that the

      offerer, standing with his face towards the west, laid his two hands between his horns

      and confessed his sin over a sin offering and his trespass over a trespass offering; and

      his confession was on this wise: ‘ I have sinned, I have done grievously, I have rebelled

      and done thus and thus; but I return by repentance before thee, and let this be my

      expiation ‘“  (Lightfoot, ‘Temple Service,’ chapter 8). “I beseech thee, O Lord; I

      have sinned, I have transgressed, I have rebelled, I have (here the person

      specified the particular sin which he had committed, and for which he wanted

      expiation); but now I repent, and let this be my expiation  (Outram, ‘De Sacrificiis,’

      I. 15:9). That some such form as this     was used, according to the universal

      tradition of the Jews, we may conclude with tolerable certainty from the present

      passage in Leviticus and that in Numbers 5:6-7.



      OF REPENTANCE. All that could be enforced as a common and public         

      discipline was the open confession of the sin. But no Israelite could have

      believed that the confession would be acceptable unless it proceeded from a     

      penitent heart. This was left, as it must be left, to the individual conscience,

      but it was suggested and morally demanded by the injunction to confess.




            ONLY, BUT A SPIRITUAL PENITENTIAL ACT. As the offering of the

            burnt offering implied the spiritual act of self-surrender, and of the meat

            offering the spiritual act of submission, and of the peace offering the

            spiritual act of holy joy, so the offering of the sin and trespass offering

            implies the spiritual act of repentance, None of these sacrifices perform

            their work as opera operata, without reference to the religious state of the

            offerer’s mind and soul.


The sacrifices to be offered as sin offerings are specified, nor may they be multiplied.

They do not differ according to the heinousness of the offense which they are to atone for,

but according to the means of the offerer. The moral reason of this was probably to prevent

he idea arising that the costliness of the sacrifice might compensate for the greater sin, and

that men might sin the more if they were willing to pay for it by more sacrifices.

The difference in the sacrifice appointed for each class might serve to point out that a sin

is greater in a man of prominent position than in a man of less influence, owing to its

effects upon a larger circle. The concession made to the poor shows that none are to

be shut out from communion with God for their want of worldly means.

The expiation must be made, that the sinner may recover his covenant relations with

God; but it shall be of such a nature that none shall be prevented from making it

by their poverty. Here then is a foreshadowing of the free grace of God in

the gospel dispensation. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the

waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy

wine and. milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). And in the

last chapter of the Bible, one more plea from God - “Let him that is athirst come.

And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).



                        THE TRESPASS OFFERING (vs. 14-19)


(The trespass offering is dealt with here an through ch.6:1-7). The new heading with

which v. 14 begins indicates that it is here and not at v.1 that the section on trespass

offerings commences. Sin offerings and trespass offerings are not distinguished from

each other in Psalm 40:6; Hebrews 10:8; and the classification of the sins which

require one or the other offering has caused great perplexity to commentators. It

would appear that, primarily, the trespass offering was reserved for those cases in

which reparation had to be made. Thus, if a man failed to pay his tithes and

offerings to the Lord (v. 14), he must bring his trespass offering; or if he refused to

restore a deposit to his neighbors (ch. 6:2), he must bring his trespass offering; and

his trespass offering is not received until he has made satisfaction to the party

wronged, and paid, as a fine, one-fifth of the value of the thing that he had

appropriated. But the class of crimes for which the trespass offering was required

came to be enlarged by the addition of other eases, similar in character to the first,

but not identical, whereby wrong was done to the Lord (as by transgressing his

commands otherwise than by withholding tithes and offerings, v. 17), or to man

(as by wronging a female slave, ch. 19:20, where the wrong is not estimated by

money). These eases are distinguished with difficulty from those for which a sin

offering is required. The same act might render it incumbent on a man to offer either

a sin offering or a trespass offering, or both: the sin offering would teach the need of,

and would symbolically effect, expiation for sin; the trespass offering would teach

the necessity of, and would require at the offerer’s hands, reparation for wrong. While

the sin offering typified the expiation wrought upon the cross, the trespass offering typified

the satisfaction for sin effected by the perfect life and voluntary death of the Savior.


14 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  15 If a soul commit a trespass” –

Two previous conditions were required of the Israelite before he might offer his

trespass offering:


  • He must make compensation for any harm or injury that he had done.
  • He must give to the injured party a fine equal to one-fifth (i.e., two-tenths)

            of the value of the thing of which he had deprived him, if the wrong

            was capable of being so estimated. In performing his sacrifice, he had:


ü      to bring a ram to the court of the tabernacle;

ü      to present and to kill it:


While the priest:


  • cast the blood on the inner sides of the altar;
  • burnt the internal fat and the tail;
  • took the remainder to be eaten by himself and his brother priests

            and their sons in the court of the tabernacle (Leviticus 7:2-7).


The special lesson of the trespass offering is the need of satisfaction as well as of oblation,

and thus it supplies a representation of one feature in the great Antitype,

Jesus Christ, who was the “full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation,

and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.”15 (con’t) –and sin

through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his

trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy

estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass

offering.  16 And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the

holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and

the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering,

and it shall be forgiven him.” – these two verses refer to sins of omission, offenses in

the holy things of the Lord; that is, withholding tithes and offerings. The non-payment

of tithes and offerings was looked upon as robbing Jehovah (Malachi 3:8), and

therefore it is that a trespass offering, involving compensation, and not only a sin offering, is

required to atone for the offense. The ram that is to be offered is to be of a value

fixed by the priest (with thy estimation, i.e., according to the estimation of the priest),

and the priest is to estimate it by shekels of silver; implying that its value must amount at

least to shekels (in the plural), meaning two shekels (see Ezekiel 47:13,

where “portions” means “more than one portion,” i.e., “two portions”). The shekel is

considered to be equal to 2s. 7d. The shekel of the sanctuary means the shekel

according to its exact weight and value, while still unworn by traffic and daily use. Beside

offering the ram, he is to make amends for the harm (or rather sin) that he

 hath done in the holy thing, and.. . add the fifth part. The fifth part is probably

appointed as being the same as two-tenths of the principal sum. Full satisfaction is

the marked feature of the trespass offering. In Luke 19:8, Zacchaeus stood,

and said,… Behold, Lord,… if I have taken anything from any man by false

accusation, I restore fourfold.” He went far beyond his legal obligation in respect to

compensation. (II Samuel 12:6, “He shall restore the lamb fourfold.”)  17 And if a

soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the

commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall

bear his iniquity.  18 And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock,

with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest

shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and

wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.  19 It is a trespass offering: he hath

certainly trespassed against the LORD.”  Sins of commission may be atoned for by

the trespass offering as well as sins of omission.



                                    The Trespass Offering


The trespass offering differs from the sin offering in that it was not allowed to be

presented until reparation had been made for the evil done by him who desired to

offer it.  Its special lesson to the Israelite was that satisfaction for sin is necessary

for restoration to communion as well as sacrifice.


  • ITS TYPICAL LESSON. Satisfaction implies that there is a debt due

            which must be paid. The debt is due to God; the debtor is man. Christ took

            upon Himself the payment of the debt, which man could not pay. He  paid

            it in two ways:


ü      By bearing the punishment due for its non-payment by man.

ü      By rendering in His own person that perfect obedience which man had

                        failed to render, and by that failure had become a helpless debtor.

                        Having compensated for man’s disobedience by the perfect obedience

                        of His life, He bore the punishment still due for that previous

                        disobedience by the sacrifice of His death. Thus man’s forgiveness                                   

                        became not only a matter of mercy on God’s part, but of His justice.



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