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Adam Clarke Commentary

Leviticus 6

Introduction

Laws relative to detention of property entrusted to the care of another, to robbery, and deceit, Leviticus 6:1 , Leviticus 6:2 ; finding of goods lost, keeping them from their owner, and swearing falsely, Leviticus 6:3 . Such a person shall not only restore what he has thus unlawfully gotten, but shall add a fifth part of the value of the property besides, Leviticus 6:4 , Leviticus 6:5 ; and bring a ram without blemish, for a trespass-offering to the Lord, Leviticus 6:6 , Leviticus 6:7 . Laws relative to the burnt-offering and the perpetual fire, Leviticus 6:8 -13. Law of the meat-offering, and who may lawfully eat of it, Leviticus 6:14 -18. Laws relative to the offerings of Aaron and his sons and their successors, on the day of their anointing, Leviticus 6:19 -23. Laws relative to the sin-offering, and those who might eat of it, Leviticus 6:24 -30.

Verse 2

Lie unto his neighbor, etc. - This must refer to a case in which a person delivered his property to his neighbor to be preserved for him, and took no witness to attest the delivery of the goods; such a person therefore might deny that he had ever received such goods, for he who had deposited them with him could bring no proof of the delivery. On the other hand, a man might accuse his neighbor of detaining property which had never been confided to him, or, after having been confided, had been restored again; hence the law here is very cautious on these points: and because in many cases it was impossible to come at the whole truth without a direct revelation from God, which should in no common case be expected, the penalties are very moderate; for in such cases, even when guilt was discovered, the man might not be so criminal as appearances might intimate. See the law concerning this laid down and explained on Exodus 22:7 (note), etc.

Verse 3

Have found that which was lost - The Roman lawyers laid it down as a sound maxim of jurisprudence, "that he who found any property and applied it to his own use, should be considered as a thief whether he knew the owner or not; for in their view the crime was not lessened, supposing the finder was totally ignorant of the right owner." Qui alienum quid jacens lucri faciendi causa sustulit, furti obstringitur, sive scit, cujus sit, sive ignoravit; nihil enim ad furtum minuendum, facit, quod, cujus sit, ignoret - Digestor, lib. xlvii., Tit. ii., de furtis, Leg. xliii., sec. 4. On this subject every honest man must say, that the man who finds any lost property, and does not make all due inquiry to find out the owner, should, in sound policy, be treated as a thief. It is said of the Dyrbaeans, a people who inhabited the tract between Bactria and India, that if they met with any lost property, even on the public road, they never even touched it. This was actually the case in this kingdom in the time of Alfred the Great, about a. d. 888; so that golden bracelets hung up on the public roads were untouched by the finger of rapine. One of Solon's laws was, Take not up what you laid not down. How easy to act by this principle in case of finding lost property: "This is not mine, and it would be criminal to convert it to my use unless the owner be dead and his family extinct." When all due inquiry is made, if no owner can be found, the lost property may be legally considered to be the property of the finder.

Verse 5

All that about which he hath sworn falsely - This supposes the case of a man who, being convicted by his own conscience, comes forward and confesses his sin.Restore it in the principal - The property itself if still remaining, or the full value of it, to which a fifth part more was to be added.

Verse 6

With thy estimation - See Clarke's note on Leviticus 5:15 .

Verse 8

And the Lord spake unto Moses - At this verse the Jews begin the 25th section of the law; and here, undoubtedly, the 6th chapter should commence, as the writer enters upon a new subject, and the preceding verses belong to the fifth chapter. The best edited Hebrew Bibles begin the 6th chapter at this verse.

Verse 9

This is the law of the burnt-offering - This law properly refers to that burnt-offering which was daily made in what was termed the morning and evening sacrifice; and as he had explained the nature of this burnt-offering in general, with its necessary ceremonies, as far as the persons who brought them were concerned, he now takes up the same in relation to the priests who were to receive them from the hands of the offerer, and present them to the Lord on the altar of burnt-offerings.Because of the burning upon the altar all night - If the burnt-offering were put all upon the fire at once, it could not be burning all night. We may therefore reasonably conclude that the priests sat up by turns the whole night, and fed the fire with portions of this offering till the whole was consumed, which they would take care to lengthen out till the time of the morning sacrifice. The same we may suppose was done with the morning sacrifice; it was also consumed by piecemeal through the whole day, till the time of offering the evening sacrifice. Thus there was a continual offering by fire unto the Lord; and hence in Leviticus 6:13 it is said: The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar, it shall never go out. If at any time any extraordinary offerings were to be made, the daily sacrifice was consumed more speedily, in order to make room for such extra offerings. See more on this subject in Clarke's note on Leviticus 6:23 (note). The Hebrew doctors teach that no sacrifice was ever offered in the morning before the morning sacrifice; and none, the passover excepted, ever offered in the evening after the evening sacrifice; for all sacrifices were made by day-light. The fat seems to have been chiefly burned in the night season, for the greater light and convenience of keeping the fire alive, which could not be so easily done in the night as in the day time.

Verse 11

And put on other garments - The priests approached the altar in their holiest garments; when carrying the ashes, etc., from the altar, they put on other garments, the holy garments being only used in the holy place.Clean place - A place where no dead carcasses, dung, or filth of any kind was laid; for the ashes were holy, as being the remains of the offerings made by fire unto the Lord.

Verse 13

The fire shall ever be burning - See on Leviticus 6:9 (note) and Leviticus 6:20 (note). In imitation of this perpetual fire, the ancient Persian Magi, and their descendants the Parses, kept up a perpetual fire; the latter continue it to the present day. This is strictly enjoined in the Zend Avesta, which is a code of laws as sacred among them as the Pentateuch is among the Jews. A Sagnika Brahmin preserves the fire that was kindled at his investiture with the poita, and never suffers it to go out, using the same fire at his wedding and in all his burnt-offerings, till at length his body is burnt with it - Ward's Customs.

Verse 14

The meat-offering - See Clarke on Leviticus 2:1 (note), etc.

Verse 15

His handful of the flour - An omer of flour, which was the tenth part of an ephah, and equal to about three quarts of our measure, was the least quantity that could be offered even by the poorest sort, and this was generally accompanied with a log of oil, which was a little more than half a pint. This quantity both of flour and oil might be increased at pleasure, but no less could be offered.

Verse 20

In the day when he is anointed - Not only in that day, but from that day forward, for this was to them and their successors a statute for ever. See Leviticus 6:22 .

Verse 23

For every meat-offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt - Whatever the priest offered was wholly the Lord's, and therefore must be entirely consumed: the sacrifices of the common people were offered to the Lord, but the priests partook of them; and thus they who ministered at the altar were fed by the altar. Had the priests been permitted to live on their own offerings as they did on those of the people, it would have been as if they had offered nothing, as they would have taken again to themselves what they appeared to give unto the Lord. Theodoret says that this marked "the high perfection which God required in the ministers of his sanctuary," as his not eating of his own sin-offering supposes him to stand free from all sin; but a better reason is given by Mr. Ainsworth: "The people's meat-offering was eaten by the priests that made atonement for them, Leviticus 6:15 , Leviticus 6:16 , Leviticus 7:7 ; but because no priest, being a sinner, could make atonement for himself, therefore his meat-offering might not be eaten, but all burnt on the altar, to teach him to expect salvation, not by his legal service or works, but by Christ; for the eating of the sin-offering figured the bearing of the sinner's iniquity;" Leviticus 10:17 .

Verse 25

In the place where the burnt-offering is killed, etc. - The place here referred to was the north side of the altar. See Leviticus 1:11 .

Verse 26

The priest - shall eat it - From the expostulation of Moses with Aaron, Leviticus 10:17 , we learn that the priest, by eating the sin-offering of the people, was considered as bearing their sin, and typically removing it from them: and besides, this was a part of their maintenance, or what the Scripture calls their inheritance; see Ezekiel 44:27 -30. This was afterwards greatly abused; for improper persons endeavored to get into the priest's office merely that they might get a secular provision, which is a horrible profanity in the sight of God. See 1 Samuel 2:36 ; Jeremiah 23:12 ; Ezekiel 34:2 -4; and Hosea 4:8 .

Verse 27

Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy - The following note of Mr. Ainsworth is not less judicious than it is pious: -

Verse 28

The earthen vessel - shall be broken - Calmet states that this should be considered as implying the vessels brought by individuals to the court of the temple or tabernacle, and not of the vessels that belonged to the priests for the ordinary service. That the people dressed their sacrifices sometimes in the court of the tabernacle, he gathers from 1 Samuel 2:13 , 1 Samuel 2:14 , to which the reader is desired to refer. In addition to what has been already said on the different subjects in this chapter, it may be necessary to notice a few more particulars. The perpetual meat-offering, מנחה תמיד minchah tamid, Leviticus 6:20 , the perpetual fire, אש תמיד esh tamid, Leviticus 6:13 , and the perpetual burnt-offering, עלת תמיד olath tamid, Exodus 29:42 , translated by the Septuagint θυσια διαπαντος, πυο διαπαντος, and ὁλοκαυτωσις and ὁλοκαυτωμα διαπαντος, all cast much light on Hebrews 7:25 , where it is said, Christ is able to save them to the uttermost (εις το παντελες, perpetually, to all intents and purposes) that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth (παντοτε ζων, he is perpetually living) to make intercession for them; in which words there is a manifest allusion to the perpetual minchah, the perpetual fire, and the perpetual burnt-offering, mentioned here by Moses. As the minchah, or gratitude-offering should be perpetual, so our gratitude for the innumerable mercies of God should be perpetual. As the burnt-offering must be perpetual, so should the sacrifice of our blessed Lord be considered as a perpetual offering, that all men, in all ages, should come unto God through him who is ever living, in his sacrificial character, to make intercession for men; and who is therefore represented even in the heavens as the Lamb just slain, standing before the throne, Revelation 5:6 ; Hebrews 10:19 -22. And as the fire on the altar must be perpetual, so should the influences of the Holy Spirit in every member of the Church, and the flame of pure devotion in the hearts of believers, be ever energetic and permanent. A continual sacrifice for continual successive generations of sinners was essentially necessary. Continual influences of the Holy Spirit on the souls of men were essentially necessary to apply and render effectual this atonement, to the salvation of the soul. And incessant gratitude for the ineffable love of God, manifested by his unspeakable gift, is surely required of all those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Reader, dost thou feel thy obligations to thy Maker? Does the perpetual fire burn on the altar of thy heart? Art thou ever looking unto Jesus, and beholding, by faith, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world? And dost thou feel the influences of his Spirit, at all times witnessing with thy spirit that thou art his child, and exciting thee to acts of gratitude and obedience? If not, of what benefit has the religion of Christ been to thee to the present day? Of a contrary state to that referred to above, it may be well said, This is not the way to heaven, for the way of life is above to the wise, that they may depart from the snares of death beneath. Arise, therefore, and shake thyself from the dust; and earnestly call upon the Lord thy God, that he may save thy soul, and that thou fall not into the bitter pains of an eternal death.

Leviticus 6


  1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  2 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;
  3 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:
  4 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,
  5 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.
  6 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:
  7 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.
  8 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  9 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.
  10 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.
  11 And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.
  12 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.
  13 The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.
  14 And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.
  15 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.
  16 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.
  17 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.
  18 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.
  19 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  20 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.
  21 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.
  22 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.
  23 For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.
  24 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  25 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.
  26 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.
  27 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.
  28 But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brazen pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.
  29 All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.
  30 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.

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