Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures


















(וַיִּקְלָא; Λευιτικον; Leviticus.)


“THE Book of the Sacerdotal Theocracy, or of the Priesthood of Israel, to set forth its typical Holiness.”

“THE religious observances by which God’s people might be made holy, and kept holy.”—LANGE.




THE writings of Moses have reached us in a five-fold division, the several parts of which have come to be commonly known by the names given to them in the Septuagint and Vulgate. In the Hebrew the whole Pentateuch is divided, as one book, into sections (Parashiyoth) for reading in the synagogues on each Sabbath of the year, and the several books are called by the first word of the first section contained in them. Thus the present book is וַיִּקְרָא = and he called; it is also called by the Rabbins in the Talmud תּוֹרַת הַכֹּהֲנִים = Law of the Priests, and סֵפֶר תּוֹרַת קָרְבָּנוֹת = Book of the Law of offerings. In the Septuagint and Vulgate this central book of the Pentateuch is called Λευιτικὸν (βίβλιον) and Leviticus (liber) because it has to do with the duties of the priests, the sons of Levi. The Levites, as distinguished from the priests, are mentioned but once, and that incidentally, in the whole book (25:32, 33).

As appears from the Hebrew name, the connection of this book with the one immediately preceding is very close. The tabernacle had now been set up, and its sacred furniture arranged; the book of Exodus closes with the mention of the cloud that covered it, and the Glory of the Lord with which it was filled. Hitherto the Lord had spoken from the cloud on Sinai; now His presence was manifested in the tabernacle from which henceforth He made known His will. It is just at this point that Leviticus is divided from Exodus. The same Lord still speaks to the same people through the same mediator; but He had before spoken from the heights of Sinai, while now He speaks from the sacred tabernacle pitched among His people. At the close Leviticus is also closely connected with, and yet distinctly separated from, the book of Numbers. It embraces substantially the remaining legislation given in the neighborhood of Sinai, while Numbers opens with the military census and other matters preparatory to the march of the Israelites in the second year of the Exodus. Yet on the eve of that march a number of additional commands are given in Numbers intimately associating the two books together.

The whole period between the setting up of the tabernacle (Ex. 40:17) and the final departure from Mt. Sinai (Num. 10:11) was but one month and twenty days. Much of this was occupied by the events recorded in the earlier chapters of Numbers, especially the offerings of the princes on twelve days (Num. 7) which must have almost immediately followed the consecration of the priests and the tabernacle (Num. 7:1 with Lev. 8:10, 11), and the celebration of the second Passover (9:1–5) occupying seven days, and begun on the fourteenth day of the first month. All the events of Leviticus must therefore be included within less than the space of one month.

The object of the Book is apparent from its contents and the circumstances under which it was given, especially when considered in connection with the references to it in the New Testament. Jehovah, having now established the manifestation of His presence among His people, directs them how to approach Him. Primarily, this has reference, of course, to the then existing people, under their then existing circumstances; but as ages rolled away, and the people were educated to higher spiritual capacity, the spiritual meaning of these directions was more and more set forth by the prophets; until at last, when the true Sacrifice for sin had come, the typical and preparatory character of these arrangements was fully declared. LANGE (Hom. in Lev. General) says “Leviticus appears to be the most peculiarly Old Testament in its character of all the Old Testament books, since Christ has entirely removed all outward sacrifices. It may certainly be rightly said that the law of sacrifice, or the ceremonial law has been abrogated by Christianity. But if the law in general, in its outward historical and literal form has been abrogated, on the other hand, in its spiritual sense, it has been fulfilled (Gal. 2; Rom. 3; Matt 5); and so it must also be said in regard to the law of sacrifices. The sacrificial law in its idea has only been fully realized in Christianity;—in its principle fulfilled, realized, in Christ, to be realized from this as a basis, continually in the life of Christians.” In the Epistle to the Hebrews the character of the sacrificial system in general, and particularly of that part of it contained in Leviticus, is clearly set forth as at once imperfect and transitory in itself, and yet typical of, and preparatory for, “the good things to come.” A flood of light is indeed thrown back from the anti-type upon the type, and for this reason the Old Testament is always to be studied in connection with the New; yet on the other hand, the converse is also true, and Leviticus has still a most important purpose for the Christian Church in that it sets forth, albeit in type and shadow, the will of an unchangeable God in regard to all who would draw nigh to Him. Much of the New Testament, and especially of the Epistle to the Hebrews, can only be fully understood through a knowledge of Leviticus. To this general object of the book may be added the special purposes, already necessarily involved, of preserving the Israelites alike from idolatry by the multiform peculiarity of their ritual, and of saving them from indolence in their worship by the exacting character of the ceremonial. The Christian Fathers, as EUSEBIUS, SS. AUGUSTINE, LEO, CYRIL, as well as ORIGEN and many others, speak of the book as setting forth in types and shadows the sacrifice of Christ; while many of them also, as TERTULLIAN, SS. CLEMENT, JEROME, CHRYSOSTOM, and others, speak of the inferior purpose just mentioned.

Of the authorship of this book there is little need to speak, because there is really no room for doubt. This is not the place to combat the opinions of those critics who, like KALISCH, hold the whole Pentateuch to have been a very late compilation from fragments of various dates, and the Mosaic system to have been one of gradual human-development. The portions assigned by KNOBEL to another author than the “Elohist” are 10:16–20; 17–20; 23, part of 23:2 and 23:3, 23:18, 19, 22, 29–44; 24:10–23; 25:18–22; and 26; but the reasons given “are too transparently unsatisfactory to need serious discussion.” Generally, it may be said that even those critics who question most earnestly the Mosaic authorship of some other portions of the Pentateuch are agreed that Leviticus must have proceeded substantially from Moses. There is really no scope in this book for the Jehovistic and Elohistic controversy; for although KNOBEL delights to point out the distinct portions by each writer, yet the name אֱלֹהִים never occurs in Lev. absolutely, but only with a possessive pronoun marking the Deity as peculiarly Israel’s God. (It is however once used, 19:4, for false gods). The book contains every possible mark of contemporaneous authorship, and there are constant indications of its having been written during the life in the wilderness. The words used for the sanctuary are either טִשְׁכָּן (4 times) or אֹהֵל טוֹעֵד (35 times) and never any term implying a more permanent structure. For the dwellings of the people, בֵּית in the sense of a house, is never used except in reference to the future habitation of the promised land, which is the more striking because it occurs thirty-seven times in this sense, and in all of them with express reference to the future, except 27:14, 15, where this reference is implied; מָעוֹן ,זְבוּל, and נָוֶה do not occur at all; אֹהֶל tent, occurs once, while the indefinite word מוֹשָׁב is found eight times; סֻכָּה, which is neither house nor tent, but booth, occurs four times in the commands connected with the observance of the feast of tabernacles, and with especial reference to Israel’s having dwelt in booths at their first coming out from Egypt (23:43). The use of all these terms is thus exactly suited to the wilderness period, but not to any other. The use of הוּא for the feminine, so frequently changed in the Samaritan to הִיא, and so pointed by the Masorets; the use of עֵדֶה for the people, so common in Ex., Lev., Num., and Josh., and so infrequent elsewhere; the usual designation of them as the children of Israel, a phrase so largely exchanged for the simple Israel in later writers; and many other marks point to the earliest period of Hebrew literature as the time of the composition of this book. The book itself repeatedly claims to record the laws which were given to Moses in Mount Sinai, or in the wilderness of Sinai (7:38; 25:1; 26:46; 27:34), and in one instance (16:1), the time is sharply defined as after the death of Aaron’s two sons, and sometimes (21:24; 23:44) the immediate publication of the laws is mentioned. There are frequent references to the time “When ye be come into the land of Canaan” as yet in the future (14:34; 19:23; 23:10); and laws are given for use in the wilderness, as e.g., the slaughter of all animals intended for food at the door of the tabernacle as sacrifices (17:1–6), which would have been impossible to observe when the life in the camp was exchanged for that in the scattered cities of Canaan, and which was actually abrogated on the eve of the entrance into the promised land (Deut. 12:15, 20–22). In this abrogation no mention is made of the previous law, but its existence is implied, and the change is based on the distance of their future homes. There is frequent reference in the laws to the “camp” (4:12, 21; 6:11; 13:46; 14:3, 8; 16:26, 27, 28), so that in after times it became necessary to adopt as a rule of interpretation that this should always be understood in the law of the city in which the sanctuary stood. Throughout the book Aaron appears as the only high-priest (although this term is never used) and provision is repeatedly made for his son, who should be anointed, and should minister in his stead; and Aaron’s sons appear as the only priests. The Levites have not yet been appointed, nor are they ever mentioned except in one passage in reference to their cities in the future promised land (25:32, 33). Not to dwell further upon particulars, it may be said in a word that we have here, and here only, the full sacrificial and priestly system which is recognized as existing in the two following books of the Pentateuch, and all subsequent Hebrew literature. For an excellent summary of the evidence, see WARRINGTON’S “When was the Pentateuch written?” (London: Christian Evidence Com. of Soc. P. C. K.).

The only passage presenting any real difficulty in regard to the date of the book is 18:28, “That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.” For the true sense of these words, see the commentary; but even taking it as it stands in the A. V., and supposing the whole exhortation, 18:24–30, to have been added by divine direction when Moses made his final revision of the work on the plains of Moab, we can easily understand the language. Already, the conquest of the trans-Jordanic region was accomplished, and that of the rest of the land was to be immediately entered upon with the clearest promise of success. God warns the people through Moses, when all shall be done, not to follow in the ways of the Canaanites, lest they also themselves suffer as their predecessors had suffered. It is simply a case of the Lord’s speaking from the stand-point of an accomplished work, while the work was in progress, and assuredly soon to be completed. It is to be noted that in the book itself the claim to Mosaic authorship is distinctly made in the last verse of Leviticus 26, and again of the appendix, chap, 27 (comp. Num. 36:13).


The Book of Leviticus is marked on the surface with these elements of unity: it is all centred in the newly-erected tabernacle; and only a few weeks passed away between its beginning and its close. There is necessarily much variety in so considerable a collection of laws, and something of historical narrative in connection with the immediate application of those laws; but the main purpose is everywhere apparent and controlling—the arrangements whereby a sinful people may approach, and remain in permanent communion with a holy God. This will better appear in the following table of contents. The arrangement of the book is as systematic as the nature of its contents allowed. In regard to one or two alleged instances of repetition (11:39, 40 compared with 22:8, and 19:9 with 23:22) it is sufficient to say that they were intentional (see the commentary); and in regard to several chapters supposed to be placed out of their natural connection, (as e. g., Leviticus 12 and 15,) it simply does not appear that the thread of connection in the mind of Moses was the same as in that of the critic. In fact, in the instances alleged, the great Legislator seems to have taken especial pains to break that connection which is now spoken of as the natural one, and has thus, for important reasons, separated the purification after child-birth from all other purifications which might otherwise have seemed to be of the same character. Such points will be noticed in detail in the commentary. Nevertheless, it is to be remembered that Leviticus was given at Sinai in view of an immediate and direct march to Canaan, which should have culminated in the possession of the promised land. When this had been prevented in consequence of the sin of the people, a long time—above thirty-eight years—passed away before the encampment on the plains of Moab. During this period the law was largely in abeyance, as is shown by the fact that its most imperative requirement, circumcision, was entirely omitted to the close (Josh. 5:5–8). After this long interval, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the writings of Moses would have been revised before his death, and such clauses and exhortations added as the changed circumstances might require. These passages, however, if really written at that time, so far from being in any degree incongruous with the original work, do but fill out and emphasize its teachings.

The contents of Leviticus are arranged in the following table in such a way as to show something of the connection of its parts.

Book I.—Of approach to God. (Leviticus 1:1–16).

FIRST PART. (1–7) Laws of Sacrifice.

§ 1. General rules for the Sacrifices. (1:1–6:7).

A. Burnt offerings. Leviticus 1.

B. Oblations (Meat offerings). Leviticus 2.

C. Peace offerings. Leviticus 3.

D. Sin offerings. 4:1–5:13.

E. Trespass offerings. 5:14–6:7.

§ 2. Special instructions chiefly for the Priests. 6:8–7:38.

A. For Burnt offerings. 6:8–13.

B. “Oblations (Meat offerings). 6:14–23.

C. “Sin offerings. 6:24–30.

D. “Trespass offerings. 7:1–6.

E. “the Priests’ portion of the above. 7:7–10.

F. “Peace offerings in their variety. 7:11–21.

G. “the Fat and the Blood. 7:22–27.

H. “the priests’ portion of peace offerings. 7:28–36.

Conclusion of this Section. 7:37, 38.

SECOND PART. Historical. (Leviticus 8–10).

§ 1. The Consecration of the Priests. Leviticus 8.

§ 2. Entrance of Aaron and his sons on their office. Leviticus 9.

§ 3. The sin and punishment of Nadab and Abihu. Leviticus 10.

THIRD PART. The Laws of Purity. (Leviticus 11–15).

§ 1. Laws of clean and unclean food. Leviticus 11.

§ 2. Laws of purification after child-birth. Leviticus 12.

§ 3. Laws concerning Leprosy. (Leviticus 13, 14).

A. Examination and its result. 13:1–46.

B. Leprosy in clothing and leather. 13:47–59.

C. Cleansing and restoration of a Leper. 14:1–32.

D. Leprosy in a house. 14:33–53.

E. Conclusion. 14:54–57.

§ 4. Sexual impurities and cleansings. Leviticus 15.

FOURTH PART. The Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16.

Book II.—Of continuance in communion with God. (Leviticus 17–26).

FIRST PART. Holiness on the part of the people. (Leviticus 17–20).

§ 1. Holiness in regard to Food. Leviticus 17.

§ 2. Holiness of the Marriage relation. Leviticus 18.

§ 3. Holiness of Conduct towards God and man. Leviticus 19.

§ 4. Punishment for Unholiness. Leviticus 20.

SECOND PART. Holiness on the part of the Priests, and holiness of the Offerings. Leviticus 21, 22.

THIRD PART. Sanctification of Feasts. (Leviticus 23–25).

§ 1. Of the Sabbaths and Annual Feasts. Leviticus 23.

§ 2. Of the Holy lamps and Shew-bread. 24:1–9.

§ 3. Historical. The punishment of a Blasphemer. 24:10–23.

§ 4. Of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Leviticus 25.

FOURTH PART. Conclusion. Promises and Threats. 26. Appendix. Of vows. Leviticus 37.


Widely divergent views have been held by different writers upon this subject. SPENCER (De legibus Hebrœorum) was disposed to find an Egyptian origin for almost every Mosaic institution. BAEHR (Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus) has sought to disprove all connection between them. The à priori probability seems well expressed by MARSHAM (in Can. chron. Œgypt., p. 154, ed. Leips.) as quoted by ROSENMUELLER (Pref. in Lev., p. 5, note). “We know from Scripture that the Hebrews were for a long time inhabitants of Egypt; and we may suspect, not without reason, that they did not wholly cast off Egyptian usages, but rather that some traces of Egyptian habit remained. Many laws of Moses are from ancient customs. Whatever hindered the cultus of the true Deity, he strictly forbade. Moses abrogated most of the Egyptian rites, some he changed, some he held as indifferent, some he permitted, and even commanded.” Yet this legislation by its many additions and omissions, and the general remoulding of all that remained became, as ROSENMUELLER also remarks, peculiarly and distinctively Hebrew, adapted to their needs, and sharply separating them from all other people.

It can scarcely be necessary to speak of what the Mosaic law taught in common with the customs of all people at this period of the world’s history. The aim of the law was to elevate the Israelites to a higher and better standard, but gently, and as they were able to bear it. Certain essential laws were given, and these were insisted upon absolutely and with every varied form of command which could add to the emphasis. The unity of God, and His omnipotence, were taught with a distinctness which was fast fading out from the world’s recollection, and which we scarcely find elsewhere at this period, except in the book of Job, which may itself have been modified in Mosaic hands. So, too, the necessity of outward sacramental observances for the whole people, whereby communion with God through His Church should be maintained, were strongly insisted upon, as in circumcision and the Passover, and other sacrifices. But when we come to consider the conduct of the ordinary life, we find the universally received customs of the times not abrogated, but only restrained and checked according to the capacity of the people. All these checks and restraints were in the direction of, and looking towards, the higher standard of the morality of the Gospel, as may be seen in the law of revenge, where unlimited vengeance was restricted to a return simply equal to the injury received; in the laws of marriage, which imposed many restrictions on the freedom of divorce and of polygamy; in the laws of slavery, which so greatly mitigated the hardships of that condition. But in these, as in many other matters, their Heavenly Father dealt tenderly with His people, and “for the hardness of their hearts” suffered many things which were yet contrary to His will.

The same general principles apply to the retention among them of very much of Egyptian custom and law. It is more important to speak of these because the Israelites lived so long and in such close contact with the Egyptians from the very time of their beginning to multiply into a nation until the eve of the promulgation of the Sinaitic legislation. Particular points in which this legislation was adapted to the already acquired habits and ideas of the people, will be noticed in the commentary as occasion requires. It is only necessary here to point out on the one hand how apparent lacunœ in the Mosaic teaching may thus be explained, and on the other, how largely the Egyptian cultus itself had already been modified, in all probability, by the influence of the fathers of the Jewish people. By consideration of the former it is seen, e.g., why so little should have been said in the Mosaic writings of immortality and the future life. This doctrine was deeply engraven in the Egyptian mind, and interwoven as a fundamental principle with their whole theology and worship. It passed on to the Israelites as one of those elementary truths so universally received that it needed not to be dwelt upon. The latter is necessarily involved in more obscurity; but when we consider the terms on which Abraham was received by the monarch of Egypt; the position occupied at a later date by Jacob; the rank of Joseph, and his intermarriage with the high-priestly family; and remember at the same time that the priesthood of Egypt was still in possession of a higher and purer secret theology than was communicated to the people—we see how Israel could have accepted from the land of the Pharaohs an extent of customs, (to be purified, modified, and toned by their own Sinaitic legislation) which it might have been dangerous to receive from any other people. Yet plainly, whatever of detail may have been adopted from Egyptian sources, it was so connected and correlated in the Mosaic legislation that the whole spirit of the two systems became totally unlike.


The ancient versions are of great value in the interpretation of the technical language of the law. The Samaritan text and version (which however sometimes betray a want of familiarity in detail with the ritual as practised at Jerusalem) often give valuable readings; so also the Septuagint, the Chaldee Targums, and of later date, the Syriac and the Vulgate.

The New Testament, especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, supplies to a large extent an inspired commentary upon Leviticus. The various treatises of Philo, and the antiquities of Josephus, give also fully the ancient explanations of many single passages and views of larger sections.

Since their time the literature of Leviticus is voluminous, consisting of commentaries, of special treatises upon the subjects with which it is occupied, and of archæological investigations illustrating it. Of special treatises sufficient mention will be made in connection with the subjects to which they relate, and it is unnecessary here to particularize works of archæology. Of commentaries the following are those which have been chiefly used in the preparation of the present work: ORIGEN: Selecta in Lev. and Hom. in Lev. THEODORET, Quœst. in Lev. AUGUSTINE, Quœst. in Lev. BIBLIA MAX. VERSIONUM, containing the annotations of NICOLAS DE LYRA, TIRINUS, MENOCHIUS, and ESTIUS, Paris, 1660. CALVIN, in Pentateuchum. CRITICI SACRI, London, 1660. POLI, Synopsis, London, 1689. MICHAELIS, Bibl. Hebr., Halle, 1720. CALMET, Wircesburgii, 1789. PATRICK, London, 1842, and freq. ROSENMUELLER, Leipsic, 1824. Of more recent date, KNOBEL (of especial value), Leipsic, 1858. BOOTHROYD, Bibl. Hebr., Pontefract (no date). BARRETT’S Synopsis of Criticisms. London, 1847. KALISCH, Leviticus, London, 1872. OTTO VON GERLACH on the Pentateuch, translated by DOWNING, London, 1860. WORDSWORTH, London, 1865. KEIL and DELITZSCH on the Pentateuch; (KEIL), translated by MARTIN, Edinburgh, 1866. MURPHY on Leviticus, Am. Ed., Andover, 1872. CLARK, in the Speaker’s Commentary, New York, 1872. GIRDLESTONE, Synonyms of the Old Testament, London, 1871. To which must be added, as containing much of commentary on large portions of this book, BAEHR, Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus, Heidelberg, 1837–’39, 2 te Auflage, Erster Band, Heidelberg, 1874. OUTRAM on Sacrifices, translated by ALLEN, London, 1817. HENGSTENBERG, Die Opfer des heil. Schrift, Berlin, 1839. KURTZ on Sacrifice, Mitau, 1864. HERMANN SCHULTZ, Alttestamentliche Theologie, Frankfurt a M., 1869, 2 vols. ŒHLER, Theologie des Alten Testaments, 2 vols., Tübingen, 1873–74 (a translation is in the press of T. & T. Clark). Of LANGE’S own commentary (1874) as much as possible, and it is believed everything of importance, has been introduced into this work, which was already well advanced before its publication. Such portions are always distinctly marked. In several of the chapters his commentary is given in full; in others, nearly so.



Leviticus properly opens with the law of sacrifice, because this was the centre and basis of the Divine service in the newly-erected tabernacle. But since sacrifices have to do with the relations of man to God, they can only satisfactorily be considered in connection with the established facts of those relations. Of these facts three are fundamental: the original condition of man in a state of holiness and of communion with God; the fall, by which he became sinful, and thus alienated from God; and the promise, given at the very moment of man’s passing from the one state to the other. The promise was that in the future the woman’s Seed should bruise the serpent’s head—that in the long struggle between man and the power of evil, one born of woman should obtain the final victory. This promise was ever cherished by the devout in all the following ages as the anchor of their hope, and its realization, as seen at the birth of Cain and of Noah, was continually looked for. The expectation of a Deliverer, Redeemer, Messiah, became the common heritage of humanity, although as time rolled away, it tended to become faint and obscure. Therefore there came the call in Abraham of a peculiar people, in whom this hope should not only be kept alive, but, as far as possible, saved from distortion and misconception. It was distinctly the blessing of Abraham’s call, the birthright renewed to his son and grandson, and the reason for the choice and the care of a peculiar people.

From the circumstances under which this promise was given, and the way in which it is constantly treated in Revelation, it is plain that the restoration of man to full communion with God could only be brought about by the restoration of man’s holiness; it was only in obedience to the Divine will that man could obtain at-one-ment with his Maker. This might seem to be sufficiently plain as a truth of natural religion, but it was also abundantly taught in history and in Scripture. Not only was it shown by the great judgments upon transgression in the deluge, in Babel, in the overthrow of Sodom, etc., but constantly the relative and partial attainment of holiness, as in the case of Enoch, Noah, and others, was made the ground of a relatively larger bestowal of the Divine favor. Abraham’s acceptance was expressly grounded upon his faith—necessarily including those works without which faith is dead—and so with the other heroes recounted in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Later, Moses in his parting exhortations in Deuteronomy, constantly and strongly urges the necessity of a loving obedience springing from the heart, and this is more and more fully unfolded by the prophets from Samuel down, as the people were able to bear it.

Meantime from the first, in the case of Cain and Abel, and probably still earlier, and then among all nations as they arose, sacrifices were resorted to as a means of approach to God. From their universality, it is plain that they were looked upon as in some way helping to bring about that restoration of communion with God which should have been reached by a perfect holiness; but since man was conscious he did not possess this holiness, sacrifices were resorted to. As they never could have been offered by a sinless being, they necessarily involve confession of sin. Whether sacrifice in its origin was a Divine institution, or whether it sprang from a human consciousness of its propriety, is here immaterial. LANGE takes the latter view. It speedily received the Divine sanction and command. Theoretically the sacrifice could have had no intrinsic value for the forgiveness of sin. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (9:13; 10:4) has abundantly shown that while sacrifices might have in themselves a certain absolute value for purposes of ceremonial purification, there was yet no congruity or correlation between the blood of bulls and goats and the removal of human sin. Hence, theoretically also, sacrifices, while they received the Divine approbation, must have been a temporary institution, in some way useful to man for the time being, but looking forward to the true atonement by the victory of the woman’s Seed over evil. Thus sacrifices are in their very nature typical; having little force in themselves, and yet appointed for the accomplishment of a result which can only be truly attained in the fulfilment of the primeval promise. How far this true nature of sacrifices may have been more or less dimly perceived by man from the outset, it is not necessary here to inquire. It is obvious that from this point of view the intrinsic value of the sacrifices was entirely a secondary matter; their whole efficacy resulted from the Divine appointment or approbation of them.

The tendency of man apart from Revelation to corruption in his ideas of God and of the means of approaching Him is nowhere more marked than in regard to sacrifice. The gods of the heathen were, for the most part, deifications of nature or her powers; they represented natural forces, and instead of originating are themselves governed by natural laws. This is true, whether their creed were polytheistic, as that of the Greeks and Romans, or pantheistic, as that of Buddhism. In Hebrew law, on the other hand, God appears “as the Creator and omnipotent Ruler of the universe, a personal Lord of an impersonal world, totally distinct from it in essence, and absolutely swaying it according to His will; but also the merciful Father of mankind.” “Therefore the sacrifices of the Hebrews have a moral or ethical, those of other nations a purely cosmical or physical character; the former tend to work upon mind and soul, the latter upon fears and interests; the one strives to elevate the offerer to the sanctity of God, the other to lower the gods to the narrowness and selfishness of man.” KALISCH. Moreover, among the heathen, God was regarded as alienated, and to be propitiated in such ways as man could devise; sacrifices were considered as having a certain satisfying power in themselves, as in some sort a quid pro quo, and as an opus operatum, independent of the moral life of the offerer. Hence as the occasion rose in importance, the value of the sacrifice was increased even to the extent of sometimes using human victims. Among the Israelites, sacrifices were known to be of God’s own appointment as a means of approach to Him. They had a shadow, indeed, of the heathen character, as offering actual compensations for certain offences against the theocratic state, but this was very secondary. Their main object was to bridge over the gulf between sinful man and a holy God. Although the law of sacrifices necessarily stands by itself, yet the same Legislator everywhere insists upon the necessity of a loving obedience to God. Hence, however costly sacrifices might be allowed, and even encouraged as Free-will, and Peace, and Thank-offerings, and more numerous victims were required at the festivals and on other occasions for burnt-offerings, the Sin-offering must (except in certain specially defined cases) be of the commonest and cheapest of the domestic animals, and even this always, as nearly as might be, of a uniform value. There was no gradation in the value of the offering in proportion to the heinousness of the offence; the atonement for all sins, whatever the degree of their gravity, was the same. Even the morning and evening sacrifice for the whole people which, although not strictly a sin-offering, yet had a somewhat propitiatory character, was still the single lamb. By this the typical nature of sacrifice as a temporary and, in itself, ineffectual means, was strongly expressed.

That the ancients had the idea of sin as a moral offence against God, has indeed been called in question; but seems too certain, at least among the Egyptians, the Hindoos, and the Israelites, to require proof. It is abundantly expressed in the book of Job. It may be well, however, to point out some of the heads of the evidence that sacrifice was regarded as a propitiation for such sin, i. e., as a means for obtaining the Divine pardon for its guilt. Prominent in this evidence is the fact just mentioned, that there was no proportion between the offence and the value of the sacrifice; since the idea of compensation was thus excluded, it remains that what was sought for was forgiveness. CALVIN (in Lev. 1.) justly remarks that the idea of reconciliation with God was connected under the old dispensation with sacrifice after a sacramental fashion, as with baptism now. Historically, this idea of sacrifice as a means of obtaining forgiveness is clearly brought out in the sacrifices of Job, both for his children in the time of his prosperity (Job 1:5), and for his friends after his affliction (42:8). THOLUCK, following SCHOLL, has shown (Diss. II., App. Ep. Hebr.) that the idea of such propitiation was prevalent throughout all antiquity; that clean animals were changed in their status on the express ground of their being “a sin-offering,” “an atonement,” so that the parts of them not consumed upon the altar might be eaten only by the priests, and their remains must be burned, or else the whole burned, without the camp (Ex. 29:14; Lev. 4:11, 12, 21; 6:30; 16:27, 28, etc.); that the idea is distinctly brought out in Lev. 17:11, and in parallel passages. “The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls;” that in the case of a murder by unknown hands (Deut. 21:9) the guilt of the crime must rest upon the whole neighborhood until the people had symbolically transferred that guilt to a victim, and this had been offered in sacrifice; and finally, that the ritual of the day of atonement necessarily involves this idea. (See on Leviticus 16) “The notion of internal atonement.… formed a distinctive feature of the theology of the Pentateuch.” KALISCH, I. p. 161.

On passing from these more general considerations to the particular system of the Levitical sacrifices, it needs to be constantly borne in mind that these, far from being a new institution, were in fact a special arrangement and systematizing of one of the most ancient institutions known to man. The change from the one to the other was strictly parallel to the course of divine operations in nature. The earlier is ever the more general and comprehensive; the later the more specialized both in structure and functions. At the same time the law was not merely an evolution, a normal development of Divine teaching previously received, but it was distinctly “added because of transgressions until the promised seed should come.” We must therefore be prepared to find in it especial safeguards for the chosen people against those misconceptions which became common among the heathen, and also a constant relation to its final cause and its terminus when “the Seed should come.”

It will help materially to a clear idea of the Mosaic sacrificial system if we examine the various words used for sacrifice before and under the law, having regard also to the subsequent usage of the same words and to their various translations in the ancient versions.

The earliest word that occurs is also the most general in its original sense, though under the law it acquires a strictly technical signification: מִנְחָה, given by the lexicographers as from a root not used, מָנַח=מָנָה=to distribute, to deliver, and hence to make a present of, to give. In the LXX. it is translated before the law only by the words δῶρον (Gen. 4:4; 32:13, 18, 20, 21, etc.) and θυσία (Gen. 4:3, 5 only); in the law, where it occurs very frequently, only by θυσία or by the combination δῶρον θυσία, and this is the case also in Ezekiel (although twice, Lev. 2:13; Num. 17:9, the form is size:22pt">θυσίασμα), except in the single instance of σεμίδαλις, Lev. 9:4. After the books of the law both these translations are frequently employed, and also προσφορά once (Ps. 39:9), ξένιον three times, and frequently the Hebrew word is simply expressed in Greek letters μαναά. The Vulg. translates by munus, munusculum, oblatio, oblatio sacrificii, and sacrificium; but in the law oblatio and sacrificium are the terms commonly employed. In the A. V. meat-offering, or simply offering, is the only translation in Ex., Lev., Num. and Ezek.; but present, gift, sacrifice and oblation are used elsewhere as well as these, usually according to the sense implied by the context. The word is used outside of the law in the general sense of a propitiatory gift or tribute to any one, and hence of such a gift to God, or sacrifice in its most general sense. It is used of the offerings of both Cain and Abel, the one unbloody, the other bloody. In the prophets it is used as a word for sacrifice in general. It is used frequently in the historical books of gifts or tribute from man to man as from Jacob to Esau, to Joseph in Egypt, of the Moabites and Syrians to David, and distinctly of tribute, 2 Kings 17:3, 4, etc. In the law (Ex., Lev., Num., to which must be added Ezek.) it has a strictly defined technical signification, and is applied only to the oblation (A. V. meat-offering) except in Num. 5, where it is used (six times) of the unbloody jealousy-offering of barley. It is always therefore in the law a bloodless offering, and being nearly always an accompaniment of a bloody offering, may be regarded in its original sense of a gift to God, offered along with a sacrifice more strictly so called. In the few instances in which it stands alone it never appears as offered for the purpose of atonement. In the case of the sin-offering of flour allowed in extreme poverty (Lev. 5:11–13) this is expressly distinguished from the מִנְחָה in that the remainder should belong to the priest, כַּמִּנְחָה.

The word which comes next in the order of the record is עֹלָה, derived from עָלָה, to ascend, to glow, to burn. It means uniformly throughout the Old Testament: the whole burnt-sacrifice, so specifically indeed that twice (Deut. 33:10; Ps. 51:19 [21]) כָּלִיל= whole is substituted for it. In a few cases it is variously translated by the LXX. (once each ἀδικία, ἀνάβασις, ἀναφορά, six times θυσία, thirteen times κάρπωμα, three times κάρπωσις), but in the vast majority of cases by some term signifying the holocaust, ὁλοκάρπωμα (three times), ὁλοκάρπωσις (eleven times), ὁλοκάυτωμα (most frequently), ὁλοκαύτωσις (seventy-three times). In the Vulg. the only renderings are holocaustum (seldom holocautoma) and hostia, except a very few times oblatio; in the A. V., always either burnt-offering or burnt-sacrifice, which are used interchangeably, and seem to have been intended to convey the same meaning. It is first used in Gen. 8:20 for the sacrifices offered by Noah, and throughout Gen. 22. It is also used three times in Exodus (10:25; 18:12; 24:5) in relation to sacrifices previous to those of the Levitical system. In the law itself it occurs very frequently, and also in the subsequent books. It constitutes the daily morning and evening sacrifice for the congregation. It was always an animal sacrifice and was wholly consumed, except the skin, upon the altar. In signification it was the most general of all the sacrifices, and in fact was the only unspecialized bloody sacrifice of the law. It must be regarded therefore as including within itself, more or less distinctly, the idea of all other sacrifices; it was a means of approach to God in every way in which that approach could be expressed. It was not distinctly a sin-offering; yet the fact that it should be accepted for the offerer “to make atonement for him” (לְכַפֵר, Lev. 1:4) is prominent in its ritual, and the same idea is distinctly brought out in the (probably earlier) sacrifices of Job (Job 1:5; 42:8). There is a rabbinical maxim: “the burnt offering expiates the transgressions of Israel,” and this idea is fully expressed in the Targums. “The burnt-offering, as it is the most ancient, so also is it the most general and important in the Mosaic cultus, ἄριστη δ’ἐστιν ἡ ὁλόκαυτος (Philo de vict., p. 838).” THOLUCK (Diss. II. in Hebr.). Yet THOLUCK afterwards separates this sacrifice quite too absolutely from the sin-offering. The latter indeed, as specializing one feature of the burnt-offering, had a different ritual, and was without the oblation; as offered only for the expiation of sin, it carried with it to those who bore its unconsumed flesh a defilement which could not attach to the burnt-offering, since this included other ideas also within itself. But all this by no means forbids that in its general, comprehensive character, the burnt-offering should include the idea of expiation for sin which is distinctly attached to it in the law. It was often offered also as a praise or thank-offering (2 Sam. 7:17, etc.). As already said, it was the one comprehensive sacrifice daily offered upon the altar of the tabernacle (Ex. 29:38–42); it was doubled on the Sabbath (Num. 28:9, 10), and multiplied, with added victims of higher value, on the first of each month (ib. 11); and so also at the great yearly festivals (ib. 16–xxix. 39). So far as the burnt-offering had a specific signification of its own, its meaning is generally assumed by theologians to have been that of entire consecration to God. Such a meaning is certainly sufficiently appropriate; but is never distinctly attributed to it in the Scriptures either of the Old or New Testament. It is however constantly described in the more general sense of a means of approach to God.

זֶבַח is used not so much for any particular kind of sacrifice as for the victim for any sacrifice. It is frequently coupled with some other word determining the kind of sacrifice intended, especially זֶבַח שְׁלָמים. When not so identified, it may mean any kind of sacrifice (although most frequently used of the peace-offerings), and does not therefore require particular consideration. It occurs first in Gen. 31:54 and 46:1, and is generally rendered in the LXX. and Vulg. θύσια and hostia. The verb is the technical word for slaughtering animals in sacrifice, nor is it ever used in any other sense in the Pentateuch except in Deut. 12:15, 21, where permission is given to those at a distance from the sanctuary to slay sacrificial animals simply for food. In the later books there are very few other exceptions to this usage: 1 Sam. 28:24; 2 Chron. 18:2; Ezek. 34:3. From this word is derived the Hebrew name for the altar, מִזְבֵחַ, not, as sometimes asserted, because sacrifices were originally slain upon the altar; but because this was the place of destination for them.

No other words for sacrifice occur until the time of the Exodus. There the various specialized forms of the Mosaic sacrifices are described; but before speaking of these the word עָשָׁה must be mentioned, which is frequently rendered (chiefly in Lev. and Num.) offer or sacrifice. It is not, however, properly a sacrificial term; but merely a word of very broad signification—like size:22pt">ποίεω or do—which is adapted in sense to its connection. It first occurs in the meaning sacrifice in Ex. 29:36. Therefore passing by this, the earliest especial sacrificial term of the law is פֶּסַה, πάσχα, pascha, passover. It occurs first in Ex. 12:11, and frequently afterwards, although only once in Lev. (23:5). The noun always means the lamb slain by the head of each house in Israel on the 14th Nisan, and eaten by him and his family the following evening, or at least the seven days’ feast of which this was the beginning, and the characteristic feature. The history of its institution is fully given in Ex. 12. From the abundant references to it in the New Testament it was plainly designed as an especial type of Christ. It was distinctly a sacrifice, being reckoned a קָרְבָּן in Num. 9:7, 13, and slain in the place of sacrifice (Deut. 16:5, 6), and its blood, after the first institution, was sprinkled by the priests (2 Chron. 30:16; 35:11), as affirmed by all Jewish authorities; indeed, it is in connection with the Passover that the mention of the treatment of the blood of sacrifice first occurs. It is classed by OUTRAM among the Eucharistic sacrifices, and is assimilated to them by the fact that its flesh was eaten by the offerer and his household; but is distinguished from them in having nothing of it given to the priest. It was really a sacrifice appointed before the institution of the priesthood in which each head of the family offered, and thus it perpetuated the remembrance that, by their calling, the whole nation were a holy people, chosen “to draw near to God.” Its historic relations are always most prominent, and it was in fact the great sacrament of the covenant by which God had delivered Israel and constituted them His chosen people. Its celebration constituted the chief of the three great annual festivals, and was the only one of them having a fundamentally sacrificial character. It thus became a fit type of the new covenant and of the deliverance through Christ from the bondage of sin.

The שֶׁלֶם (from שָׁלַם) or peace-offering, is first mentioned Ex. 20:24, in reference to the future offerings of the law, but in a way that seems to imply a previous familiarity with this kind of sacrifice. It is rendered in the LXX. sometimes by εἰρηνικός, but more generally by σωτήριον, and in the Vulg. by pacificus and salutare; in the A. V. uniformly peace-offering. Under the law it was separated into three varieties: the thank, the vow, and the free-will offering. See under 7:12. In Lev. 7:12, 13, 15; 22:29, the thank-offering has the distinct name, תּוֹדָה, which does not elsewhere occur in the law, though frequent afterwards. This variety included all the prescribed thank-offerings. The idea of propitiation was less prominent in this than in any other sacrifice, although the sprinkling of the blood—which was always propitiatory—formed a part of its ritual; but it was especially the sacrifice of communion with God, in which the blood was sprinkled and the fat burned upon the altar, certain portions given to the priests, and the rest consumed by the offerer with his family and friends in a holy sacrificial meal. In the wilderness no sacrificial animal might be used for food except it had first been offered as a sacrifice. It naturally became one of the most common of all the sacrifices, and the victims for it were sometimes provided in enormous numbers, as at Solomon’s dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:63). Peace-offerings were, for the most part, voluntary, but were also prescribed on several occasions, as at the fulfillment of the Nazarite vow (Num. 6:17), and are constantly expected at the great festivals. “The peace-offering was always preceded by the piacular victim, whenever any person offered both these kinds of sacrifices on the same day. Ex. 29:14, 22; Num. 6:14, 16, 17.” OUTRAM. Although the שֶׁלֶם is not mentioned under its distinctive name before Ex. 20:24, yet it cannot be doubted that sacrifices of the same character are included in the more general term, זֶבַח, at a much earlier period (see Gen. 31:54; Ex. 10:25; 18:12), as they were certainly common at all times among the heathen. In the New Testament they are alluded to in Phil. 4:18 and Heb. 13:15, 16.

חַטָּאת (from the Pihel of חָטָא) in the sense of sin occurs in Gen. 4:7 and frequently; but in the sense of sin-offering is not found before the establishment of the Levitical system. The first instance of this sense is in Ex. 29:14, after which it is very frequent both in the law and in the later books. Besides a variety of occasional translations, the usual rendering in the LXX. is ἁμαρτία, and in the Vulg. peccatum. In the A. V. it is variously translated punishment, punishment of sin, purification for sin, purifying, sinner, sin and sin-offering; but the last two are by far the most common. It is the distinctive, technical word in the law for the piacular offering for sin. For its ritual see 4–5:13. The sin-offerings of which the blood was carried within the sanctuary, and whose bodies were burned without the camp, are particularly referred to in the New Testament as typical of Christ; but more general references to Him as our Sin-offering are frequent. Sin-offerings were prescribed (a) at each new moon, Num. 28:15; (b) at each of the three great festivals, Num. 28:22, 30; 29:16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38; (c) at the feast of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month, and on the tenth day of the same, ib. 5, 11; (d) the sin-offering, κατ’ ἐξοχήν on the great day of atonement, Lev 16; (e) private sin-offerings, for a woman after child-birth, 12:6, 8; for the leper at his cleansing, 14:19, 22, 31; for a person cleansed of an issue, 15:15, 30; for the Nazarite accidentally defiled, Num. 6:11, and at the time of the fulfillment of his vow, ib. 14, 16; and on other special occasions, Num. 7:16, 22, 28, 34, 40, etc.; besides the ordinary sin-offerings of Lev. 4. The ordinary victim was a she-goat or a ewe, replaced for the high-priest or for the whole congregation by a bullock, and for a prince by a he-goat for reasons given in the commentary on Lev. 4. In case of poverty, for the ordinary offering might be substituted turtle-doves or young pigeons, or even an offering of flour. But besides regular victims, there were various others prescribed for those exceptional occasions which from their nature required some such discrimination. Thus at Aaron’s entrance upon his sacred functions his sin-offering was a calf (Lev. 9:1–8); at the end of the Nazarite’s vow (Num. 6:14), and at the recovery of a leper able to bring this offering (Lev. 14:10, 19), a ewe-lamb was the prescribed victim. Though not strictly sin-offerings, yet to the same general category belong the red heifer whose ashes were used for purifications (Num. 19:2–22), and the heifer to be slain in case of an unknown murder (Deut. 21:1–9). Yet these were all peculiar and exceptional cases, and the rule remains that the ordinary sin-offering was always the same.

קָרְבָן is first used Lev. 1:2, occurs very frequently in Leviticus and Numbers, and is never used elsewhere except twice in Ezekiel. (With the pointing, קֻרְבַן, it is also found twice in Neh.) There are but one or two variations from the translation, δῶρον, in the LXX., and donum in the Vulg. In the A. V. it is generally translated offering, but sometimes oblation, and once (Lev. 27:11) sacrifice. Its meaning is perfectly clear—that which is offered (brought nigh) to God, whether as a sacrifice or as a dedicatory gift; if, however, the thing offered be a sacrificial animal, then of course it necessarily means a sacrifice. In either case, it is something given to God.

אָשָׁם, like the nearly related חַטָּאת, has the double sense of trespass or guilt and trespass-offering. It occurs once in Genesis (26:10) in the former sense, but is not found in the latter earlier than Lev. 5:6. It is frequent in Leviticus, and less so in subsequent books in both senses. In the LXX. and Vulg. it has a considerable variety of renderings; but the most frequent are LXX. πλημμέλεια, and Vulg. delictum. For the distinction between this and the sin-offering, see 4:1 and 5:14.

There remains, as belonging to the list of the sacrifices, the incense, for which two words are used, neither of which occur before the giving of the law. לְבוֹנָה first occurs Ex. 30:34, and is uniformly translated in the LXX. λίβανος (once, however, λιβανωτός), and in the Vulg. thus; it is always frankincense in the A. V. except in Isa. and Jer. where it is always incense. It is “a costly, sweet-smelling, pale-yellow resin, the milky exudation of a shrub” (FUERST). קְטֹרֶת, which first occurs Ex. 25:6, on the other hand, is an incense compounded of frankincense and various sweet spices (Ex. 30:34). It is usually translated in the LXX. and Vulg. θυμίαμα, thymiama, but sometimes σύνθεσις, compositio. In the A. V. it is rendered either incense, or sweet incense, or a few times perfume. This incense was to be burnt only within the sanctuary, twice daily on the golden altar (Ex. 30:7, 8), and also by the high-priest in the holy of holies on the day of atonement (Lev. 16:12, 13). The frankincense was offered by the people as a part of their oblations, and was mostly burnt in the court. The burning of all incense was a strictly priestly act, and is constantly spoken of in the Scriptures as symbolical of prayer (e.g. Rev. 5:8; 8:3, 4). Pre-eminently does it typify the intercession of the true High Priest in heaven itself.

The word אִשֶׁה=offerings made by fire, is not so much the name of a sacrifice as a description of all sacrifices burned upon the altar. It is applied to various kinds of sacrifices, Lev. 1:9; 2:3; 3:5, etc. נֶסֶךְ=drink-offering is first used Gen. 35:14, and is not properly a sacrifice itself, but an accompaniment of other sacrifices. תְנוּפָה=wave-offering, and תְרוּמָה=heave-offering, refer to particular modes of presentation of certain offerings.

The animals used for victims were either “of the flock or of the herd,” or in case of poverty, doves or pigeons. These were all clean animals, and were consequently among those commonly used for food; the quadrupeds were from domestic animals, and the birds those most easy of capture. (Domestic fowls are said not to have been known before the time of Solomon.) The ease and certainty of procuring these various victims seems a more likely reason for their selection than either their tameness—which certainly does not apply to the bull—or their value as property, since the cost of procuring wild animals would usually have been far greater. The idea that these animals were especially appointed for sacrificial victims because they were held sacred among heathen nations, and particularly among the Egyptians, although often advanced, is unsatisfactory for two reasons: first, because on this ground there is no reason why the number of sacrificial animals should not have been greatly enlarged; secondly, because these very animals, for the most part, were used in sacrifice by the nations that also worshipped them. Whatever typical significance they may have had, this can hardly be considered as the reason for their selection, since in the typical language of the prophets various other animals (e.g. the lion and the eagle) are so largely used. In fact the lamb seems to be the only one of the sacrificial animals typically employed in prophecy, the dove being only an alternative victim for the poor.

The public animal-sacrifices of the Israelites may be broadly separated into three great classes, according to the prominent purpose of each. I. The Burnt-offerings, or offerings of approach to God. The main idea of these, in so far as they had any especially distinctive idea, is generally considered to have been consecration to God’s service as the necessary condition of approaching Him, and yet also including in a subordinate way the idea of expiation, without which sinful men might not draw near to God at all. This idea is represented outwardly and once for all in the Christian Church by baptism, and in its continual repetition by the various acts of worship and efforts to conform the life to Christ’s example. With the burnt-offering belonged the unbloody, eucharistic oblation, together with its incense symbolizing prayer. II. The sin-offering, in its various forms, expressly provided for the purpose of atonement. Having no inherent efficacy, this yet clearly pointed forward to the only effectual atonement made by Christ Himself upon the cross. This sacrifice, as is most clearly shown in Hebrews, being efficacious for the forgiveness of all sin, can never be repeated; yet according to Christ’s own command, we are to show forth His death until He come again in the Lord’s supper, and thus historically the great sacrament of the Christian Church points back to that which the Levitical system prefigured. The central point of both dispensations is the same, but in the one case prophetic, in the other historic. III. The Peace-offerings were the ordinary means of communion with God through an external rite, and of expressing outwardly thanksgiving for His mercies, or supplication for His favors. They are to be considered not so much as typical definitely of any one thing in the new dispensation, but rather as meeting under the old a need which is now otherwise supplied; yet still in common with all sacrifices, they serve to set forth in shadow Him “who is our peace,” and on whom feeding by faith we now have peace with God.

Besides these great classes of sacrifices, there were a multitude of others, mostly for individuals, some of which are distinctly included under one or the other of these classes, while others share the character of more than one of them, and others, like the Passover, have a character peculiar to themselves. These will be treated in their appropriate places. There is one of them which must be mentioned on account of its great importance—the red heifer—but its treatment belongs in the following book, Num. 19:1–10. In general it may be said, that as God’s works will not conform very precisely to any human classification, since each creature is an individual entity to the Infinite, but always there will be characteristics in one group allying the genera in which it is found to some other widely se parated group so also in the works of the Divine word, we can only classify broadly and having regard to the most salient features, while, in view of less important characteristics, we might often be compelled to change the best classification that can be formed.

The vegetable sacrifices, or oblations, were correspondingly varied. These were usually accompaniments of the animal-offerings, but sometimes were independent. This was the case not only with the alternative sin-offering (Lev. 5:11), and the jealousy-offering (Num. 5:15), but also with the shew-bread, the Passover sheaf of barley and the Pentecostal wheaten loaves. Incense also was at times an independent offering. Drink-offerings appear exclusively as accompaniments of the animal sacrifices, and were of wine; but their ritual is nowhere prescribed.

The mineral kingdom was represented in the sacrifices only by the salt with which all other offerings were to be salted.

The ritual of the various sacrifices will be treated as they occur in the text. Suffice it here to say that three essential points are to be observed in all: First, that the victim should be solemnly offered to God. This, as OUTRAM clearly shows (I. xv. 4), was accomplished by presenting the living victim or the oblation before the altar, and was the act of the offerer. Second, that the offerer should lay his hand upon the head of the victim thereby personally identifying himself with what he did. The exceptions to this are in the case of birds, for obvious reasons, and in the case of the Paschal lamb, instituted before the Levitical system, and when this act was unnecessary as the offerer acted himself in some sort as priest. Third, the intervention of a priest, as the mediator between God and man, who must sprinkle the blood and burn the parts required upon the altar; and in the case of the ordinary sin-offering as well as of many of the oblations, he must himself, as the representative of God, consume the remainder.

It appears from constant Rabbinical tradition, as well as from the probability of the case, that prayer or confession on the part of the offerer always accompanied the sacrifice. Indeed, this is often spoken of in particular cases in Scripture itself, and language is there used in regard to the sacrifices which implies the universality of the custom. When the patriarchs built altars, they “called upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 12:8, etc.). Confession is required in connection with the sin and trespass-offerings (Lev. 5:5; Num. 5:7), and especially with the great propitiation on the day of atonement (Lev. 16:21). A form of prayer is prescribed for the oblation of the first fruits (Deut. 26:3–10), and of the tithes (ib. 13–15). Sacrificing and calling upon God are often used as equivalent terms (1 Sam. 13:12; Prov. 15:8, etc.), and the temple is indifferently called “the house of sacrifice” (2 Chron. 7:12, etc.), and “the house of prayer” (Isa. 56:7, etc.), and frequently prayer and confession are mentioned in connection with sacrifice on particular occasions, or in a general way as showing that the one accompanied the other as a matter of course (1 Sam. 7:9; Job 42:8; Ezra 6:10; 1 Chron. 21:26; 29:10–21; 2 Chron. 30:22; Ps. 66:13–20; 116:13, 17, etc.). For further details of the ritual, and especially for the Rabbinical traditions on the subject, the reader is referred to OUTRAM, KALISCH, and other special treatises on sacrifice.

Of the purpose and design of the whole sacrificial cultus, but little need be added to what has already been said. That in a theocratic state the expiatory offerings had, as an incidental object, the compensation for minor offences against that state, and the doing away with ceremonial hindrances to worship is undeniable; but that they had also a farther and higher object is plain both from the study of the Mosaic legislation itself and from their treatment throughout the New Testament, especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Besides their typical value, they had a powerful educational use. “As we survey the expiatory offerings of the Hebrews, which for purity stand unrivalled in the ancient world, we are bound to admit that they were pre-eminently calculated to keep alive among the nation those feelings on which all religious life depends, and from which it flows as its natural source, the feelings of human sinfulness and the conviction of the divine holiness, by the standard of which that sinfulness is to be measured; they fostered, therefore, at once humility and an ideal yearning; and they effectually counteracted that sense of self-righteousness natural indeed to the pride of man, but utterly destructive of all noble virtues. They were well suited to secure in the directest and completest manner that singleness of life and heart which is the true end of all sacrifices. * * * Though bearing the character of vicariousness, the sin-offerings were far from encouraging an external worship by lifeless ceremonies; in themselves the spontaneous offspring of religious repentance, and thus naturally helping to nourish the same beneficent feeling, they were the strongest guarantee for a life of honesty and active virtue.” KALISCH I., p. 187 sq.

It is, however, to be remembered that while sacrifices were abundantly provided for him who sinned inadvertently, on the other hand no sacrifice was allowed for him who sinned “presumptuously” (Num. 15:30, 31; Deut. 17:12), that is, with deliberate and high-handed purpose; for the offender thus declared that he did not desire to be at one with God; there was in him no internal disposition to correspond with the outward act of sacrifice. Certainly nothing could show more clearly that the efficacy of sacrifice is connected with the disposition of the heart. It was natural that many of the fathers, in the strong re-action of early Christianity from Judaism, should have thought the Jewish sacrifices were “instituted because the people, having been long accustomed to such modes of worship in Egypt, could scarcely have been confined to the worship of the one true God without the indulgence and introduction into their religion of those rites to which they had been long habituated and were exceedingly attached” (Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Theodoret, Cyril of Alexandria, as referred to by OUTRAM). Nevertheless, they saw in them distinctly a typical reference to Christ, and ORIGEN is elsewhere quoted as showing that this belonged to all the sacrifices because they all ceased with His sacrifice.

LANGE (Dogmatik in Lev.), after showing the connection between this and the preceding book, continues: “Leviticus then is right in treating first of the sacrifice. Nothing is clearer than that the sacrifice is not herein a new, positive, Divine command, but is a ground-form, true of natural religion, which as such depends originally on a spiritual impulse. It is said of Cain and Abel, that they offered sacrifice, but not that sacrifice was commanded them. Noah in the same way sacrificed from free inclination.” [Is not something more implied in the command to take into the ark of the clean animals by sevens?] “It seems significant that only after the performance of the sacrifice is the divine satisfaction mentioned. Thus the theocratic sacrifice is the consecration of the natural sacrifice existing before. * * * This then is the meaning of the symbolic sacrifice; it is the expression of the fact that the offerer, in his sin and sinfulness, feels his need of an inward resignation and confesses it with the offering of the symbolic sacrifice and requests that the grace of God may supply his need, i. e. may lead him by the sacrificial teaching to the completion of the sacrificial offering in faith. So there lies in the idea of sacrifice, as in the law, the spring of a positive movement; and as Christ is certainly the final cause of the law as the objective requirement of sacrifice, so is He of the sacrifice as the subjective law of life. The law and the sacrifice come together inseparably in the fulfillment which the life of Jesus Christ has brought. * * * * On the various theories which concern sacrifice, compare the dictionaries, particularly WINER; also the archæological works; especially also the article by OEHLER in HERZOG’S Realencyclopädie, entitled Opfercultus im Alten Testament. For more detailed treatment of the subject, see also my Positive Dogmatik. * * * First of all, the legal sacrifices are indeed, in the sacrificial system of worship, themselves real satisfactions, that is, the discharge of duties and the reparation for transgressions against the social law. But the social law would be entirely arbitrary if it had no higher sense; this sense is the prayer for grace to complete it, for perfection. It does not come finally to a satisfactory end if it does not attain to the granting of the prayer, to the peace of God, to expiation. In the first particular, the sacrifice is a real performance in the court, which can be misconceived to be self-righteousness; in the second, it is a symbolic treatment of prayer as incense in the temple; in the highest particular, it is an act of the typical hope of faith, of the atonement in the holy of holies, which the priest accomplished with hazard and inward resignation of his life under the fatal effect of the sight of the majesty of God.

“These three particulars are displayed in the three different forms of sacrifice, eucharistica, impetratoria, piacularia; but so that whatever form predominates, the others are supposed with it. The trunk-root or fundamental form, however, is furnished by the burnt-offering, for which reason all sacrifices are burnt-offerings in a narrower or wider sense; all are God’s fire, God’s bread, on the altar; hence, in the first case the Fire, as the symbol of the Divine power, may consume the whole sacrifice (כָּלִיל); in the second case the Blood may signify the prevailing thought in sacrifice, as the symbol of the resignation of the soul, the life; the third case is the Holy food, the sacrificial meal, as a symbol of the consecration of life’s enjoyment in the midst of life itself. These three particulars are found fully connected in the Passover, which forms the general theocratic hallowing of the natural principle of sacrifice, and pre-supposes the symbolical new birth, i. e. the circumcision or physical cleansing. So too in reference to the curse-sacrifice: cherem.” * * *

The sacrifices “are themselves divided into pure and applied forms of worship. The pure cultus-sacrifices are divided into universal, fixed and casual. The first are the Sabbath and the Feast-day sacrifices, normal sacrifices of all Israel; the last are those occasioned by and commanded in various circumstances. Both kinds, however, are often interchanged, absolutely as antitheses of the sacrifice of destruction, the Cherem.

“1. The hallowed fundamental form of the sacrifice—the Passover.

“2. The central point of all sacrifices, the imperishable symbolical idea, the burnt-offering.

“3. On the left hand of the burnt-sacrifice we find the sin and trespass-offerings, in which also the transition-forms come into consideration (see the Exegesis); on the right hand is the prosperity or salvation-offering—in the forms of the praise-offering, the votive (the prayer) offering, and that of the simple well-being—and besides generally, the hallowed slaying and the consecration of the blood.

“4. The summit of all sacrifices, the great propitiatory sacrifice, in which the antithesis of the salvation-offering with the curse-offering is rendered especially prominent in the he-goat of the Azazel.” [But on this see the Exegetical, Lev 16.]

“As forms of the applied sacrifice, appear the covenant-sacrifice, the sacrifices at the consecration of the priests, the various sacrifices of purification, the central sacrifice of purification, or the ashes of the red heifer, and in antithetical position the jealousy-sacrifice and the sacrifice at the festival of a completed vow.” * * *

LANGE then describes the sacrificial material and the sacrificial act, which are sufficiently treated in the commentary. In conclusion, he adds: “The line of the three altars, the altar of burnt-offering, the altar of incense, and the mercy-seat, is completed by still a fourth hallowed place of sacrifice without the camp, that is, the ash-heap of the red heifer, for the meaning of which Heb. 13:13 is a passage especially to be considered. Out beyond this place lay the wilderness, also the place of death for the cherem, the curse-sacrifice.

“With the gradations of the altar, the gradations of the sprinking of the blood are parallel even to the sprinkling” [before] “the mercy-seat in the holy of holies. They stand in contrast to the gradations of the burning whose minimum appears in the meat-offering” [which was, however, in some cases wholly consumed (Lev. 6:22)], “and whose maximum is in the burnt-offering. In the blood is expressed the entire resignation of man to death; in the fire, the complete consuming power of God over man’s strength of life.

“In the whole matter of sacrifice the idea of communion, of the feast of fellowship, between God and man becomes prominent in many ways, and is especially represented by the table of shew-bread, and by the portions of the priests. In reference to this communion, however, Jehovah has exclusively reserved to Himself the blood and the fat, and has exclusively forbidden leaven in the offering (though not in what was presented before God for the use of the priests) and honey. But the people are represented, too, in the whole priestly communion, and receive the whole effect of their service: the blessing of Jehovah, which also rises in distinct gradations, from the absolution in the court, the light in the temple, to the vision of God in the holy of holies; and thence comes back to the people under corresponding conditions: confession, prayer, consecration by means of death (Todeswiehe). Thus also the further relations of the sacrifice are explained. The sacrifice of the heart unfolds itself in the sacrifice of the lips, in prayer, and in the sacrifices of the respective death-consecrations, or of the renunciation and dedication in vows by which the Nazarite was connected with the priests.”

In his Homiletik in Lev., LANGE further says: “The Israelitish sacrifice is taken into the care of Jehovah, is the sanctified offering, the symbol of the internal sacrifice, the type of the future completed sacrifice, the instruction which prepared for the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifices of Christianity. The difference between the outward and the inward sacrifice, between the symbol and the thought it expresses, is rendered definitely prominent even in the Old Testament.

Literature.—See KEIL, Handbuch der biblischen Archäologie. Die gottesdienstlichen Verhältnisse der Israeliten, p. 47 ss. Das mosaische Opfer, p. 195 ss. BAEHR (see above). BRAMESFELD, Der alttestamentliche Gottesdienst in seiner sinndbildlichen und vorbildlichen Bedeutung. Gutersloh, 1864. HENGSTENBERG, Die Opfer der heil. Schrift. Berlin, 1859. KEIL, Die Opfer des Alten Bundes (GUERICKE’S Zeitschrift, 1836, 37). KLIEFOTH, Die ursprüngliche Gottesdienstordnung der deutschen Kirche. 1. Bel. Schwerin, 1858. KURTZ, Der alttestamentliche Opfercultus. Mittau, 1864. NEUMANN, Die Opfer des Alten Bundes. OEHLER, Der Opfercultus, in HERZOG’S Realencyclopädie. SARTORIUS, Ueber den alt-und neutestamentlichen Kultus. Stuttgart, 1852. THOLUCK, Das Alte Testament in Neuen Testament. Hamburg, 1849. LISKO, Das Ceremonialgesetz des Alten Testaments, seine Erfüllung im Neuen Testament. Berlin, 1842. WANGEMANN, Die Opfer der heiligen Schrift nach der Lehre des Alten Testaments. 2 Bde. Berlin, 1866. (Worthy of especial note is the catalogue of literature, Gen. Introd. A. § 5, B., and the statement in reference to the development of the ecclesiastical idea of sacrifice, ib. §6).” Add: PHILO de Victimis. OUTRAM, De sacrificiis. London, 1677 (translated by ALLEN, London, 1817). SPENCER, De legibus Hebrœorum, Tubingen, 1732. MAIMONIDES, De sacrificiis, London, 1683. CUDWORTH, De Cœna Domini, Leyden, 1773 (Vol. II., translation of Intel. System, Andover, 1837). A. A. SYKES, Essay on the Nature, Design and Origin of Sacrifices, 1748. J. D. MICHAELIS, Commentaries on the Laws of Moses (translated by A. SMITH, London, 1814). ROSENMUELLER, Excursus II. in Lev., Leipsic, 1824. FABER, On the Origin of Sacrifice, London, 1827. J. DAVISON, Inquiry into the Origin and Intent of Primitive Sacrifice (Remains). THOLUCK, Diss. II. in App. to Ep. to the Heb. (Trans, by RYLAND, Edinb., 1842). F. D. MAURICE, The Doctrine of Sacrifice deduced from Scripture, Cambrid4ge, 1854. KALISCH, Lev., Pt. I., London, 1867. CLARK, Introd. to Lev. (Speaker’s Com.), London and New York, 1872. Also further authorities cited by CONANT in SMITH’S Bib. Dict. Art. Lev., Am. Ed.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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