Leviticus 4

Chapter 4[a]

Sin Offerings.[b] 1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel and say: If anyone unknowingly sins against one of the commandments of the Lord, doing one of the things he was not supposed to do,

For an Anointed Priest. 3 “if it be an anointed priest who has sinned, thus bringing guilt upon the people, let him offer up a young bull without defect as a sin offering to the Lord. 4 He shall bring the young bull before the Lord at the entrance to the meeting tent, and will lay his hand on the head of the young bull and slay it before the Lord. 5 The priest who has been anointed shall take the blood of the young bull and carry it into the meeting tent. 6 He will dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the Lord in front of the sanctuary veil. 7 The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of incense which is before the Lord in the meeting tent. He shall pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar of burnt offerings which is at the entrance to the meeting tent. 8 He shall take all of the fat that is around the entrails and all the fat that is above, 9 the two kidneys and their fat, the fat around the loins, and the lobe of the liver that he will detach along with the kidneys. 10 He shall do just as he does with the ox of the sacrifice of a peace offering. He shall burn it all upon the altar of burnt offerings. 11 But as to the skin of the young bull, the meat with its head, the entrails, the legs and the dung, 12 that is, the young bull, he shall carry it outside of the camp to a pure place,[c] where they throw the ashes. He shall burn it upon a wood fire, in the place where they throw the ashes.

13 For the Whole Assembly.“If the whole assembly of Israel unknowingly commits a sin, for the thing was not clear to them, and they do one of the things that they were commanded by the Lord not to do and they incur guilt, 14 when they realize their sin, the assembly shall offer as a sin offering a young bull and bring it in front of the meeting tent. 15 The elders of the community shall lay their hands on the head of the young bull and they shall slay it before the Lord. 16 The priest who has been anointed shall take the blood of the young bull inside of the tent of meeting. 17 The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle the blood seven times before the Lord in front of the veil. 18 He shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of incense which is before the Lord in the meeting tent. He will pour the rest of the blood at the base of the altar of burnt offerings which is at the entrance to the meeting tent. 19 He shall take all of its fat and burn it on the altar. 20 He shall perform the same ceremony with this young bull as with the offering of a sin offering: all done the same way. The priest shall make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven.[d] 21 Then he shall carry the young bull outside the camp and burn it as he burned the first young bull. It is a sin offering for the assembly.

22 For a Leader.“When a leader has sinned, unknowingly doing any one of the things that the Lord God has commanded not to do, and he is guilty, 23 when he comes to know of the sin that he has committed, he shall bring as an offering a kid he-goat without defect. 24 He shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and slay it in the place where they slay burnt offerings before the Lord. It is a sin offering. 25 The priest shall take the blood of the sin offering with his finger and he shall put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offerings. He shall pour the rest of the blood at the base of the altar of burnt offerings. 26 He shall then burn every fat part on the altar like the fat of a peace offering. The priest shall make atonement for his sin and he shall be forgiven.

27 For the Common People.“If any of the common people has unknowingly sinned, doing any one of the things that the Lord has commanded them not to do, and he is guilty, 28 when he comes to know of the sin that he has committed, he shall bring a she-goat as an offering, without defect, for the sin that he has committed. 29 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay it in the place of burnt offerings. 30 The priest shall take a bit of its blood with his finger and place it on the horns of the altar of burnt offerings. He shall then pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. 31 He shall take out all of the fat parts, as one takes out all of the fat parts of a peace offering, and the priest shall burn them on the altar, a pleasing fragrance in honor of the Lord. The priest will make atonement for him and he shall be forgiven. 32 If he brings a lamb as a sin offering, he is to bring a female without defect. 33 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and he shall slay it in the place of burnt offerings. 34 The priest shall take a bit of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and he shall place it on the horns of the altar of burnt offerings. He shall then pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. 35 He shall take out all of the fat parts, as one takes out the fat parts of a lamb in a peace offering, and he shall burn them on the altar upon the burnt offerings in honor of the Lord. The priest shall make atonement for him and the sin that he committed and he shall be forgiven.

Footnotes

  1. Leviticus 4:1 Anyone who sinned unintentionally became unclean. To atone for the defect a sacrifice was offered; this rule held for everyone, but the offering varied according to the character of the guilty party. A sin of the high priest, who was leader of the people of God, especially after the Exile, rested on the entire community; consequently, the expiation for it was celebrated in a solemn fashion. The blood rite, the expiatory value of which will be seen further on (ch. 17), was the central point of the sacrifice; for the sins of the high priest as well as for the sins of the community, the blood was poured out inside the sanctuary. What remained of the victim was consumed by fire outside the encampment; the priests, being themselves sinners, had no right to eat of this sacred offering, since the sacrifice was for the entire community (v. 12). This type of sacrifice makes clear the ritual aspect of the fault, that is, it reflects a more primitive and less interior concept of sin.
  2. Leviticus 4:1 Whereas burnt offerings, cereal offerings, and peace offerings were voluntary acts of worship, atonement for sins committed unintentionally was mandatory and usually involved faults concerning worship. As soon as one became aware of such a fault, one was required to bring a sin offering to the Lord. For those who were unaware of a fault, an annual Day of Atonement provided reconciliation for sins that had not been atoned for.
  3. Leviticus 4:12 Pure place: this was a place that was considered to be ritually clean and was not concerned with dirt or physical cleanliness.
  4. Leviticus 4:20 Will be forgiven: this phrase, emphasizing God’s forgiveness, is repeated numerous times in this section and reinforces the repeated assurance of God’s mercy needed by all God’s children throughout the ages.

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