Matthew Poole's Commentary
And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,God commands Moses concerning free-will burnt.offerings of bullock or sheep; male without blemish, Lev 1:1-3. The offerer to lay his hand on the head of the offering, that it might be accepted for him, Lev 1:4. The bullock to be slain, and its blood sprinkled on the altar, Lev 1:5. Its parts to be consumed by fire, Lev 1:7-9. Of sheep or goats, Lev 1:10-13. Of fowls, as turtledoves and young pigeons; their blood to be wrung out at the side of the altar, Lev 1:14-17
Moses stood without, Exo 40:35, waiting for God's call.
Out of the tabernacle of the congregation; from the mercyseat in the tabernacle.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.There are divers kinds of sacrifices here prescribed; some by way of acknowledgment to God for mercies either desired or received; others by way of satisfaction to God for men’s sins; others were mere exercises of piety and devotion. And the reason why there are so many kinds of them was, partly respect to the childish estate of the Jews, who by the custom of nations, and their own natural inclinations, were much addicted to outward rites and ceremonies, that they might have full employment of that kind in God’s service, and thereby be kept from temptations to idolatry; and partly to represent as well the several perfections of Christ, be true sacrifice, and the various benefits of his death, as the several duties which men owe to their Creator and Redeemer, all which could not be so well expressed by one sort of sacrifices.
Of the flock, or, of the sheep; though the Hebrew word contains both the sheep and goats, as appears both from the use of the word, Genesis 12:16 27:9 38:17 and from Leviticus 1:10, and other places of Scripture. Now God chose these kinds of creatures for his sacrifices, either,
1. In opposition to the Egyptian idolatry, to which divers of the Israelites had been used, and were still in danger of revolting to again, that the frequent destruction of these creatures might bring such silly deities into contempt. Or,
2. Because these are the fittest representations both of Christ and of true Christians, as being gentle, and harmless, and patient, and most useful to men. Or,
3. As the best and most profitable creatures, with which it is fit God should be served, and which we should be ready to part with, when God requires us to do so. Or,
4. As things most common and obvious, that men might never want a sacrifice when they needed or God required it.
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.A burnt sacrifice, strictly so called, was such as was to be all burnt, the skin excepted, Leviticus 7:8 Genesis 8:20 1 Kings 3:15. For Otherwise every sacrifice was burnt, more or less. The sacrifices did partly signify that the whole man, in whose stead the sacrifice was offered, was to be entirely and unreservedly offered or devoted to God’s service; and that the whole man did deserve to be utterly consumed, if God should deal severely with him; and directed us to serve the Lord with all singleness of heart, without self-ends, and to be ready to offer to God even such sacrifices or services wherein we ourselves should have no part nor benefit.
A male, as being more perfect than the female, Malachi 1:14, and more truly representing Christ.
Without blemish; of which see Exodus 29:1 Leviticus 23:22, &c.; to signify,
1. That God should be served with the best of every kind.
2. That man, represented by these sacrifices, should aim at all purity and perfection of heart and life, and that Christians should one day attain to it, Ephesians 5:27.
3. The spotless and complete holiness of Christ, Hebrews 9:13,14 1 Peter 1:18,19 2:22. Of his own voluntary will. According to this translation, the place speaks only of free-will offerings, or such as were not prescribed by God to be offered in course, but were offered at the pleasure and by the voluntary devotion of any person, either by way of supplication for any mercy which he needed or desired, or by way of thanksgiving for any favour or blessing received. But it may seem improper to restrain the rules here given to free will offerings, which were to be observed in other offerings also. And the Hebrew word is by the LXX. Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, and others, rendered to this purpose, for his acceptation, or that he may be accepted with God, or that God may be atoned, as it is Leviticus 1:4. And so this phrase is used Leviticus 23:11. At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; in the court near to the door, where the altar stood, Leviticus 1:5. For here it was to be sacrificed, and here also the people might behold the oblation of it. And this further signified, that men could have no entrance, neither into the earthly tabernacle, the church, nor into the heavenly tabernacle of glory, but by Christ, who is the door, John 10:7,9, by whom alone we have access to God.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.His hand, i.e. both his hands, Leviticus 8:14,18 16:21; a common enallage.
Upon the head of the burnt-offering; whereby he signified,
1. That he willingly gave it to the Lord.
2. That he did legally unite himself with it, and judged himself worthy of that death which it suffered in his stead; and that he laid his sins upon it in a ceremonial way, and had an eye to him upon whom God would lay the iniquity of us all, Isaiah 53:6; and that together with it he did freely offer up himself to God.
To make atonement for him, to wit, ceremonially and sacramentally; as directing his faith and thoughts to that true propitiatory sacrifice which in time was to be offered up for him. See Romans 3:25 Hebrews 9:15,25,26. And although burnt-offerings were commonly offered by way of thanksgiving, Genesis 8:20 Psalm 51:16,17, yet they were sometimes offered by way of atonement for sin, to wit, for sins in general, as appears from Job 1:5, but for particular sins there were special sacrifices, as we shall see.
And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.He shall kill; either,
1. The offerer, who is said to do it, to wit, by the priest; for men are commonly said to do what they cause others to do, as John 4:1,2. Or,
2. The priest, as it follows, or the Levite, whose office this was. See Exodus 29:11 Leviticus 8:15 Numbers 8:19 1 Chronicles 23:28,31 2 Chronicles 20:16 35:11.
Sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar; which was done in a considerable, quantity, as may be gathered from Zechariah 9:15; and whereby was signified,
1. That the offerer deserved to have his blood spilt in that manner.
2. That the blood of Christ should be poured forth for sinners, and that that was the only mean of their reconciliation to God, and acceptance with him.
And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.He shall flay the burnt-offering; partly for decency, because the sacrifices being as it were God’s food and feast, it was incongruous to offer to God that which men refused to eat; and partly to signify that the great thing which God required and regarded in men was, not their outward appearance, but their inside; and that as he doth see all men’s insides, Hebrews 4:13, so he will one day make them visible to others.
Into his pieces, to wit, the head, and fat, and inwards, and legs, Leviticus 1:8,9.
And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:Or,
dispose the fire, i.e. blow it up, and put it together, so as it might be fit for the present work. For the fire there used and allowed came down from heaven, Leviticus 9:24, and was to be carefully preserved there, and all other fire was forbidden, Leviticus 10:1, &c.
And the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:The fat; all the fat, which was to be separated from the flesh, and to be put together, to increase the flame, and to consume the other parts of the sacrifice more quickly. Others translate it,
the trunk of the body, as distinguished from the head, and joints, and inward parts.
But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.His inwards and his legs shall he wash, to signify the universal and perfect purity both of the inwards, or the heart, and of the legs, or ways, or actions, which was in Christ, and which should be in all Christians.
The priest shall burn all; not only the parts now mentioned, but all the rest, the trunk of the body, and the shoulders, as is apparent from the practice or execution of these precepts.
Of a sweet savour; not in itself, for so it rather caused a stink, but as it represented Christ’s offering up himself to God as a sweet-smelling savour, Ephesians 5:2; and to admonish us of the excellent virtue of Divine institution, without which God values no worship, though never so glorious, and by which even the meanest things, are precious and acceptable to God.
And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.This and other kinds of sacrifices were killed
on the side of the altar northward, Leviticus 6:25 7:2, because here seems to have been the largest and most convenient place for that work, the altar being probably near the middle of the east end of the building, and the entrance being on the south side; so the north side was the only vacant place. Besides, this might design the place of Christ’s death, both more generally, to wit, in Jerusalem, which was
in the sides of the north, Psalm 48:2; and more specially, to wit, on Mount Calvary, which was on the north and west side of Jerusalem.
And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:No text from Poole on this verse.
But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.No text from Poole on this verse.
And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.These birds were appointed for the relief of the poor who could not bring better. And these birds are preferred before others, partly because they were easily gotten, and partly because they are fit representations of Christ’s chastity, and meekness, and gentleness, for which these birds are remarkable. The pigeons must be young, because then they are best; but the turtle-doves are better when they are more grown up, and therefore they are not confined to that age.
And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:Wring off his head, to wit, from the rest of the body; as sufficiently appears, because this was to be burnt by itself, as it here follows, and the body afterwards, Leviticus 1:17. And whereas it is said, Leviticus 5:8, he shall wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder, that is spoken not of the burnt-offering, as here, but of the sin-offering, in which there might be a differing rite.
And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes:With his feathers, or, with its dung or filth, to wit, contained in the crop, and in the guts.
On the east part, to wit, of the tabernacle. Here the filth was cast, because this was the remotest place from the holy of holies, which was in the west end; to teach us, that impure things and persons should not presume to approach to God, and that they should be banished from his presence.
By the place of the ashes; the place where the ashes fell down and lay, whence they were afterwards removed without the camp. See Leviticus 4:12 6:10,11 8:17.
And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.Shall not divide it asunder; shall cleave the bird through the whole length, yet so as not to separate the one side from the other, and so as there may be a wing left on each side. See Genesis 15:10.