Leviticus 4: Laws for Sin Offerings

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, 3 if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the Lord for a sin offering. 4 He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the Lord. 5 And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7 And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the Lord that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall remove from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 9 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys 10 (just as these are taken from the ox of the sacrifice of the peace offerings); and the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering. 11 But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung—12 all the rest of the bull—he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, to the ash heap, and shall burn it up on a fire of wood. On the ash heap it shall be burned up.

-Rather than as a re-dedication as with the burnt offering, this time the blood is sprinkled in front of the veil. This offering is to cover an unintentional sin rather than a dedication as with the burnt offering. The burnt offering is like coming to God for the first time or rededicating one’s life after a pattern of sin or a time of disobedience. This is to cover a direct sin that was committed by accident or ignorance. In each case when an animal is killed, it is covering a sin. But in the three we have talked about so far, a burnt offering is to cover a sin pattern, peace offering is to “make peace” with God and seek His protection, and the sin offering is to cover a specific accidental sin. The head and skin are sent outside the camp and burned separately because the sin has been covered and is no longer counted against the offender. This particular set of instructions is if a priest sins though it is almost the same regardless of the offender.  Notice to that there is no frankencense, this is not a sweet-smelling sacrifice pleasing to God but something that is necessary.

13 “If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and they realize their guilt, 14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting. 15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and the bull shall be killed before the Lord. 16 Then the anointed priest shall bring some of the blood of the bull into the tent of meeting, 17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord in front of the veil. 18 And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is in the tent of meeting before the Lord, and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 19 And all its fat he shall take from it and burn on the altar. 20 Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. 21 And he shall carry the bull outside the camp and burn it up as he burned the first bull; it is the sin offering for the assembly.

-This is the same only the elders of Israel represent the people and all put their hands on the bull to transfer sin onto the animal.

22 “When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, 24 and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering. 25 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26 And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

-This is similar except this time it is a male goat and not a bull and there is no mention of removing the husk to be burnt outside the camp.

27 “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. 29 And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. 30 And the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 31 And all its fat he shall remove, as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

-Same as for a leader except this time a female goat. The obvious question is why does a leader sacrifice a male goat and a common person a female goat? The answer has to do with the role a leader has compared to a common citizen. A leader has the masculine role in a relationship to the people’s feminine role in a relationship. We see this relationship clearly in God’s relationship to Jesus. God is the masculine and issues the commands while Jesus is the feminine and submits perfectly. Jesus is the head of the church and sacrifices Himself for it, the masculine, whereas the church must submit to His authority, the feminine. In a marriage, the husband loves his wife by sacrificing for her while the wife loves her husband through obedience and respect. So in the case of the leader-citizen relationship, the leader is the masculine authority who issues the commands and sacrifices for his people and the people must obey and submit to his authority, the feminine. Quite remarkable just in the selection of the gender of animal how much is crammed into the symbolism. It makes one wonder just how deep and true the symbolism goes that even biblical experts and theologians are not yet aware of. We just know that if God initiated it and commanded it, it is perfect and He does nothing “just because”.

32 “If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish 33 and lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the Lord’s food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

-a common person has the option of a goat or lamb but it still must be female. A lamb represents innocence and so it is very fitting for an offering intended for unintentional sin.

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