Leviticus 4: Sin Offerings

March 13, 2024 ·

Summary:
If a priest unintentionally sins, then a bull is to be sacrificed. Its blood is to be sprinkled around, and its fats and other parts are to be burnt on the altar. The rest is to be burnt outside the camp.

The same is to be done if the whole community sins unintentionally.

If a community leader sins, he is to bring a male goat to be sacrificed. The blood is to be splattered, and its fats burnt.

If a member of the community sins, the same procedure is to be followed, except a female goat or lamb is to be brought.

Then they will be forgiven.

Key verses:
3. if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.

27. If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt,

My thoughts:
There is a clear distinction between unintentional sin and intentional sin. In the Old Testament law, unintentional sin can be reconciled with a sacrifice, but intentional sin results in death or exile. ‘Real’ or intentional sin could not be tolerated by God.

In Western Protestant Christianity, we often see sin as simply an individual matter. People sin; communities cannot (though they may contain sinful people). However, this is not a biblical mindset. The Bible recognizes both individual sin and communal sin, with punishment for both being just. Here, though only the priest sins, the community is deemed guilty. Similarly, Jeremiah personally repents for the sin of Israel, despite being blameless himself. God seems to reserve the right to punish a sinful community, though there may be innocent people within it. However, He also respects individual morality, as He did when He saved Lot from the destruction of sinful Sodom.

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