Leviticus 6
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
(c) Leviticus 6:1-7 [Heb. 5:20–26]. Damage done to the property of another by fraud or violence

This section of the laws regulating the Guilt-Offering has a special heading like that in Leviticus 5:14, introducing those laws, whereas the whole of the legislation with respect to the Sin-Offering has but one introductory heading in Leviticus 4:1. Many of these offences are dealt with in Exodus 22:7-13 where the legal procedure is set forth; here they are regarded as a trespass against the Lord, and a sacrifice is demanded. It is thought that the cases treated here are those which are disclosed by the evil doer voluntarily because he has repented of his sin. The actions in question are not done ‘unwittingly’ and if discovered are liable to be punished by the judges (Exodus 22). Hence it is supposed that the cases here referred to are those which would not have been discovered but for the offender’s own confession.

If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;
2. a matter of deposit] if he has taken anything which was delivered him to keep. In ancient times when there were no banks or safe places where a man might deposit his private property, he was obliged to conceal anything of value which he possessed; sometimes he entrusted it to a friend for safe custody. Cp. Sir 42:7 with note (C. B.).

or of bargain] lit. something placed in the hand, pledge R.V. mg. The difference between this and the preceding is slight, and this latter expression is omitted in the recapitulation of Leviticus 6:4. The rendering of A.V., fellowship, is supported by LXX. and Syr., and means partnership in any transaction agreed to by placing the hand in that of another.

The next two offences are direct attacks on a neighbour’s goods.

Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:
3. that which was lost] See Exodus 22:8-9.

The two characteristics of the Guilt-Offering are (1) the sacrifice is the same for all classes, (2) restitution is required in full, together with a fifth part more.

Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,
Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.
And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, 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 before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
(1) The Burnt-Offering (8–13)

9. the burnt offering shall be on the hearth] It is clear that the Burnt-Offering must rest on the wood that is kindled in order to consume it, and that some further support for both is needed. In the description of the altar in Exodus 27:1-8 no provision is made for a top on which the sacrifices can be placed, but an altar hearth (i.e. a place whereon the sacrifices are burnt) is mentioned in the description of Ezekiel 43:13-17. A ‘hearth’ is a ‘place of burning’; if the Heb. word be so translated, or the rendering of R.V. mg., ‘on its firewood,’ be adopted, the passage adds nothing to the incomplete description of the altar in Exodus 27.

and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning thereon] i.e. on the hearth; for ‘thereon’ A.V. has ‘in it,’ referring to the altar, but the fire burns upon the altar (Leviticus 6:13); it is perhaps better to render by it, i.e. by that which is burnt. The meaning of the verse is: the Burnt-Offering shall remain in the place where it is burnt all night, and the fire of the altar shall be kept up by the wood and the material of the sacrifice.

The sacrifice is that enjoined in Exodus 29:38-42, Numbers 28:3-8, which consisted of two lambs, the one offered in the morning, the other in the evening. It is here provided that the daily evening burnt sacrifice should be kept burning during the night until the priest kindled from it the wood for the morning burnt sacrifice. Thus by means of the two daily sacrifices (described in the singular as ‘a continual burnt offering,’ Numbers 28:6) a perpetual fire was kept burning on the altar. This double daily sacrifice is always described by Jewish tradition as the Tamid, i.e. the continual offering, and is the subject of a special section of the Mishna. Before the exile, as appears from 2 Kings 16:15, a Burnt-Offering was brought only in the morning, and a minḥah or Meal-Offering in the evening; for the restored temple Ezek. prescribes a lamb with a Meal-Offering each morning but makes no provision for an evening sacrifice; even in Ezra’s time the pre-exilic custom of offering a minḥah for the evening oblation appears to be continued (Ezra 9:4-5). The Tamid, as prescribed Exodus 29 and Numbers 28, with the law for the maintenance of a continuous fire on the altar as here enjoined in Leviticus 6:9; Leviticus 6:12, is part of the Priestly Code, and was observed in the second temple from the time that the law which Ezra ‘brought before the congregation’ (Nehemiah 8:2) was accepted by the people.

Chs. Leviticus 6:8 to Leviticus 7:38 [Hebrews 6:1-20; Hebrews 6:7]. The Second Part of the Law of Offerings

See the analysis of this portion in Appendix I (a) where are given reasons for concluding that this group of laws is not by the same hand as the first, and that they have been collected by one who may or may not be identical with the compiler of P, in order to supplement Leviticus 1:1 to Leviticus 6:7. In the main they are concerned with priestly duties and dues.

Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it.
9. The instructions under eight heads are given through Moses to Aaron and his sons, here and in Leviticus 6:25. The commands in Leviticus 7:23; Leviticus 7:29 are addressed to the children of Israel.

This is the law of] here and Leviticus 6:14; Leviticus 6:25, Leviticus 7:1; Leviticus 7:11. The regulations for each sacrifice are introduced by this formula. Note that in this section the Peace-Offering comes last in order.

And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.
10. the priest shall put on] in the morning.

his linen garment] Perhaps the ‘coat of (in) chequer work’ mentioned Exodus 28:4; Exodus 28:39.

his linen breeches] Exodus 28:42.

and he shall take up] The removal of the ashes was regarded as the completion of the sacrifice of the preceding day, and for it priestly garments were necessary: the Heb. verb is hçrîm (see note on Leviticus 7:14). The Jewish commentators, taking the word as implying a heave offering, have based on this word a ceremony observed in the second temple. The priest took a handful of the ashes as in the Meal-Offering (Leviticus 2:2) and laid it aside as a memorial of the preceding day’s service. This was called tĕrûmath haddéshçn, the heave offering of the ashes, and was part of the daily ritual. But this action would be described by ‘he shall take up from’ as in Leviticus 2:9.

And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.
11. beside the altar] on the east part (Leviticus 1:16, there called the place of the ashes).

put off his garments] Cp. Ezekiel 44:19 for the reason. For the danger to unconsecrated persons arising from what has been called ‘contagious holiness’ as a feature of early religions see Rob.-Sm. Rel. Sem.2 pp. 46 ff. See further on Leviticus 6:18.

put on other garments] The priestly garments were worn only at the altar and in the tabernacle. On going without the sacred precincts they were removed. Cp. Ezekiel 44:19.

without the camp] to the place whither parts of the Sin-Offering for ‘the anointed priest’ and for ‘the whole congregation’ were taken (Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 4:21).

And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings.
12. Further directions for keeping the fire continually burning. The first clause repeats the last of Leviticus 6:9 (see note there). The wood for the Burnt-Offering of the morning is kindled from the fire which has been kept in all night. It is clear that this instruction refers to the daily Burnt-Offering, and not to those brought by private persons (cp. ch. 1).

A continuous fire was maintained on certain heathen altars. See Dillm. ad loc. who adduces among others that of Demeter (Ceres) at Mantinea.

The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.
And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.
(2) The Meal-Offering (14–18)

The injunctions of Leviticus 2:2-3 are repeated, almost in the same words in Leviticus 6:15-16 (as far as ‘his sons eat’): in what follows, the place of eating is fixed—the court of the tent of meeting. In Leviticus 6:17 note the use of the first person, and the reference to the Sin-Offering and Guilt-Offering.

The Meal-Offering was ‘most holy,’ and could be eaten only by the male descendants of Aaron.

And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the LORD.
And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.
It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.
All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy.
18. whosoever toucheth them shall be holy] This does not mean that only priests who have properly purified themselves may touch the most holy things, but that anyone, priest or layman, who inadvertently comes in contact with anything that is ‘most holy,’ becomes holy (i.e. dedicated to God, and put at His disposal), cp. Joshua 6:18; Joshua 7:15. No rule is given here about the treatment of such persons; for inanimate things which are brought into contact with the ‘most holy,’ see Leviticus 6:27-28. According to Haggai 2:12, the garment in which ‘holy flesh’ is carried, does not communicate holiness to the food which it may happen to touch.

Holiness is here regarded as a contagious quality; contact with holy things must be avoided, just as contact with things that are considered unclean is forbidden. This similarity in the treatment of things which from the levitical standpoint are so widely separated as the holy and the unclean is a survival of primitive modes of expression, due to imperfect conception of the gods, and of their relations to men. For further discussion of this subject see Driver (C. B.) on Exodus 29:37, with quotation from Frazer, G. B., G. B. Gray on Num. (Intern. Crit. Comm.) pp. 209–211, Rob.-Sm. Rel. Sem.2 p. 152, and the note B, pp. 446 f., and HDB. Art. Uncleanness, iv. 826 f. Cp. notes on ch. 11.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
(3) The Meal-Offering of the high priest (19–23) 1[48]

[48] This section is omitted by the Alexandrine MS. of the LXX. The omission is probably accidental, and caused by the fact that sections 19–23 and 24–30 begin with the same words.

These verses differ from the other precepts with reference to sacrifice in Leviticus 6:7 to Leviticus 7:21. They are not introduced by the words ‘This is the law of …,’ and addressed through Moses to Aaron and his sons, but are spoken directly to Moses (note the verbs in the 2nd person in Leviticus 6:21). The command to present the Meal-Offering implies that Moses was officiating as priest, and he is represented as discharging this function during the seven days in which Aaron and his sons were consecrated; after that period all sacrificial acts were performed by Aaron and his sons (cp. chs. 8 and 9). The words ‘in the day when he [Aaron] is anointed’ (19) also connect the offering with the ceremony of consecration, and with the first of the seven days, or, if the words ‘in the day when’ be taken as ‘at the time when’ (cp. Genesis 2:4), with the period of seven days. Neither in the detailed account of this consecration given in ch. 8 nor in the directions contained in Exodus 29 is there any reference to the offering enjoined in Leviticus 6:21.

Note on Leviticus 6:19-23

According to Jewish practice in the second temple, the high priest offered a minḥah every day during his tenure of office (Sir 45:14) at his own expense (Jos. Ant. iii. 10. 7). He brought the whole tenth part in the morning and divided it into two portions for the morning and evening. If the high priest after offering the morning portion were to die the remaining evening portion was not to be offered, but a fresh whole tenth part was to be brought, from which the half for the evening was taken, and the two unused halves were to be destroyed (Tal. Bab. Menaḥoth 50 b). This offering of the high priest was regarded as made, not on his behalf alone, but for himself and the priesthood. It was called minḥath ḥǎbittîm, ‘the minchah of baked pieces.’ The word ḥǎbittîm occurs once in 1 Chronicles 9:31, and is from the same root as maḥǎbath, the ‘baking pan’ of Leviticus 2:5, Leviticus 6:21 [Heb. 14], and Leviticus 7:9, used for the Meal-Offering.

Beside this daily offering of the high priest, every priest, at the commencement of his ministry, used to offer a Meal-Offering like that of the high priest, but instead of dividing it into two parts, to be offered in the morning and in the evening, it was offered all at one time. This oblation was called minḥath ḥinnûḳ, ‘meal offering of initiation.’

In the present state of the text, reference is made to two offerings:

(1)  An offering to be brought by Moses (cp. Leviticus 6:19; Leviticus 6:21).

(2)  An offering to be brought by Aaron’s successors in the high priestly office (Leviticus 6:22).

If two such offerings are enjoined, it seems probable that some further discrimination between them would have been made. Two suggestions may be offered, each involving a slight modification of the text:

(a) The introductory sentence in Leviticus 6:19 may have contained the additional clause ‘Speak unto’ or ‘Command Aaron and his sons, saying,’ as in Leviticus 6:9; Leviticus 6:25. The instructions in Leviticus 6:21 would then be addressed to Aaron, and the change of person in the verbs, though abrupt, is not without parallels in other parts of the legislation.

(b) The verbs in Leviticus 6:21 may have been originally in the third person, and the verse would then refer to an offering by Aaron.

In either case, the whole passage would be interpreted with reference to an offering brought by Aaron and his successors, such as that described in Josephus and in the Mishna. Whether in Leviticus 6:22 (the general rule about the Meal-Offering of the priest) there is any reference to the minḥath ḥinnûḳ is a question to which no definite answer can be given.

The difficulty raised by the words ‘in the day when he is anointed’ (see note introducing these four verses) is increased if the text be amended as suggested above. It is very doubtful whether these words can be considered as equivalent to ‘at the commencement of his ministry,’ and even if such an interpretation (admitted by some commentators) be allowed, the account of Aaron’s first sacrifices as recorded in ch. 9 makes no mention of an offering such as that here described. Moreover the words imply an offering brought once rather than perpetually (Leviticus 6:20 and see note there). Most modern commentators reject the words, considering them as a later gloss, and inconsistent with the description of the offering as perpetual. Some who retain them interpret ‘in the day when’ as ‘from the time that,’ i.e. in the day when and after.

This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the LORD in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night.
20. the oblation of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer] Heb. bring near as in Leviticus 1:2; not a priestly action, for that is assigned to Moses in the next verse.

in the day when he is anointed] See above, and in the additional note on Leviticus 6:19-23.

the tenth part of an ephah] See Leviticus 5:11. An ephah was about a bushel.

fine flour] See introd. note on ch. 2.

perpetually] Heb. tâmîd, a term applied to the daily Burnt-Offering (Exodus 29:38-42 where it is translated continually in Exodus 29:38, continual in Exodus 29:42) and to the lamp (Leviticus 24:2-3 continually), though how the epithet is suitable for an offering brought on one occasion is not made clear. Accordingly Dillm. suggests that either ‘in the day when he is anointed’ or ‘perpetually’ is a later addition. Cp. add. note, p. 31.

In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
21. a baking pan] See note on Leviticus 2:5.

when it is soaked] baken A.V. The Heb. word occurs only here and in Leviticus 7:12 (where see note), 1 Chronicles 23:29 (fried A.V.), and means something mixed.

in baken pieces shalt thou offer the meal offering] lit. —— a meal offering in pieces (cp. Leviticus 2:6 ‘Thou shalt part it in pieces’) shalt thou offer. The first word is uncertain, and is left blank. The Oxf. Lex. suggests, with a slight change of letters and vocalisation, to render ‘thou shalt break’ (it into a Meal-Offering of pieces and offer etc.), thus making the word a verb, and the root from which the following substantive ‘pieces’ is formed. If the description of Josephus and the Mishna (see additional note) be accepted as determining the meaning, then the word (? slightly amended) might be translated ‘baken pieces.’ The word is in appearance similar to that immediately preceding; perhaps it should be omitted as due to a scribal error. That the offering is baked is already indicated in the first part of the verse.

And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt.
22. the anointed priest that shall be in his stead] The successors of Aaron in the high priestly office are to be anointed. In the ceremonial of Leviticus 8:12 f. (Exodus 29:7 f.) Aaron only is anointed; ‘the high priest among his brethren’ is distinguished as the one ‘upon whose head the anointing oil is poured’ (Leviticus 21:10); ‘the anointed priest’ officiates in the first and second of the four Sin-Offerings prescribed in Leviticus 4:3-21 (Leviticus 6:3; Leviticus 6:16). Other passages (Exodus 28:41; Exodus 30:30; Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 7:36; Leviticus 10:7; Numbers 3:3) either contain instructions to anoint the sons of Aaron, as well as their father, or refer to them as anointed.

For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
(4) The Sin-Offering (24–30)

Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.
25. The Sin-Offering must be killed in the same place as the Burnt-Offering (cp. Leviticus 1:11). This precept has already been given in Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33, and is here extended to all Sin-Offerings.

The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.
26. What remains after the sacrifice has been offered (except in the cases specified in Leviticus 6:30 and Leviticus 4:3-21) is ‘most holy’—to be eaten in the same place and manner as the Meal-Offering (Leviticus 6:16-18).

in a holy place] Here and in Leviticus 6:16 further designated as ‘the court of the tent of meeting’ and prescribed for the Guilt-Offering in Leviticus 7:6. Cp. the command to eat the flesh of the ram of consecration at ‘the door of the tent of meeting’ (Exodus 29:32). The remainder belongs to the priest who officiates, but any male among the priests may join in eating it (Leviticus 6:29).

The passages which assign a portion of the sacrifice to the officiating priest are Leviticus 6:26 a, Leviticus 7:7-10; Leviticus 7:33. May these be parts of a law of sacrifice which has been combined with rest of Leviticus 6:8 to Leviticus 7:38? If on a particular occasion the priestly dues of a sacrifice fell to any one priest, he might invite his fellow priests to share in the meal, and the custom of eating these portions of the sacrifice together would be embodied in a law which asserted the right of all priests to partake of the sacrificial meal.

Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, thou shalt wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place.
27. Whatsoever] As rules for contact with a garment or vessels follow, the clause should probably be rendered as R.V. mg. Whosoever. So the LXX.

shall be holy] shall become holy, as in Leviticus 6:18, where see note.

But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brasen pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.
28. The reason for breaking the earthen vessel was that, not being glazed as in modern fashion, it was absorbent; a brazen pot could be scoured, and all trace of the substance with which it had been in contact removed (cp. Leviticus 11:33, Leviticus 15:12). The remains of the broken earthen vessels were buried.

All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.
29. Every male] Even those disqualified by reason of a blemish from offering sacrifice might eat of it (cp. Leviticus 21:22-23).

And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.
30. The rule here laid down applies to: (1) the first two cases of the Sin-Offering in Leviticus 4:3-21, where the place and manner of burning are specified in Leviticus 6:11-12; Leviticus 6:21; (2) the Sin-Offering on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:27-28). See note on Leviticus 10:16-20.

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