Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Sin Offering

Posted by Chris on May 28, 2008

This is part of a series. See the description and introduction and glossary.

As the last post on regular offerings indicated, the sin offering was a part of the special monthly offering. I have chosen, however, to put it with the second group of offerings that are usually only offered regularly during holidays and festivals (thus with less frequency than what I called the “regular offerings”—daily, weekly, and monthly). The sin and guilt offerings are also given in response to certain sins. Later, I will present a third group of offerings that are never given regularly but only for specific situations.

This overview of the sin offering will introduce several themes of the Law and offerings. Notice that the Lord required different offerings depending upon the offending party and the provision for the poor, that they too could present acceptable offerings to God.

General characteristics

  • For unintentional sins (Lev 4:2-27; Num 15:22-29); repeated emphasis that if you sin unintentionally, one is guilty, even “though the community is unaware of the matter” (Lev 4:13)
  • Through the sin offering, the priest makes atonement for the sin committed

MATTHEW HENRY concise commentary gives 3 traits of the sins discussed: overt acts… against the commandments—to give a sacrifice for every sinful thought or word would be an endless task; sins of commission; and committed through ignorance—if they were done presumptuously, and with an avowed contempt of the law and the Law-maker, the offender was to be cut off, and there remained no sacrifice for the sin.

  • Num 15:30-31: “anyone who sins defiantly… blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people… his guilt remains on him”
  • It belongs to the priest who makes atonement; he eats in a holy place, courtyard of ToM; any male in the family may eat it (Lev 6:26, 29; Lev 7:7)

Guilty Person: Anointed Priest (or whole Israelite Community)

  • Sin of the high priest brings guilt on the people (Lev 4:3)
  • Sacrifice: young bull (Lev 4:3)
  • After slaughtering, high priest dips finger into blood and sprinkles it 7 times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary (Lev 4:6)
  • Rest of blood: put some on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense, then pour out remainder at the base of the altar of burnt offering (Lev 4:7)
  • The rest of the parts of bull are taken outside the camp to a clean place, where ashes are thrown, and burned (Lev 4:11-12)
  • For entire community, might add a male goat (see Num 15:24)


Guilty Person: A Leader

  • Sacrifice: male goat (Lev 4:23)
  • Blood: priest puts on the horns of the altar and pours out at base, but no sprinkling (Lev 4:25)


Guilty Person: Member of the Community

  • Sacrifice: a female goat (Lev 4:28, Num 15:27) or a female lamb (Lev 4:32)
  • Slaughter, blood, atonement: same as male goat/leader’s ofg (Lev 4:29-31, 33-35)

Guilty of sins of carelessness

  • Lev 5:1-4 gives four additional sins, which could all be called careless, which call for a sin offering
    • These are: not speaking up in public when one has knowledge about a charge levied against someone; touching something ceremonially unclean, unaware; touching human uncleanness , unaware; thoughtlessly taking an oath
  • Must confess your sins (Lev 5:5)
  • As a penalty, bring a female lamb or goat as sin offering; this makes atonement (Lev 5:6)

First explicit provision for poverty offering

  • This occurs in the context of the sins of carelessness, Lev 5:1-13
  • If cannot afford a lamb: may bring 2 doves or young pigeons as a penalty (Lev 5:7)
    • one bird for sin ofg, other for burnt ofg (Lev 5:7)
    • First, sin ofg bird: offered by priest; wring its head but not sever completely; sprinkle blood against side of altar; rest drained out at base of alter (Lev 5:8-9)
    • This differs from prescription for birds in Lev 1: crop/contents/feathers not removed; normally, head is separated, bird not severed completely when it’s torn in half by its wings
    • Burnt ofg is offered by priest in prescribed way (Lev 5:10); see Lev 1:14-17
  • If cannot afford 2 birds: tenth of an ephah [1/10eph] of fine flour (Lev 5:11)
    • Offer w/o oil and incense; bring to priest who takes handful as memorial portion and burns on altar on top of offerings; the rest of the offering belongs to the priest (Lev 5:12-13)
    • This is the process of a grain offering, but different ingredients
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One Response to “Sin Offering”

  1. […] no sacrifice which can atone for intentional sin (see the Matthew Henry commentary I quote in the Sin Offering study). This view is contrasted with Henry. It is not surprising that Henry would not find this to be an […]

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