Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The Lord - In the Hebrew text of Leviticus, Jehovah יהוה yehovâh is the name by which God is usually called. Where אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym occurs, it is generally with a possessive pronoun, so as to designate Him as the God of the chosen people (Lev 2:13; Lev 11:45; Lev 18:21; Lev 19:12, Lev 19:14, Lev 19:32, etc.).
The tabernacle of the congregation - Rather, the tent of meeting. See Exo 22:21 note. When Jehovah (Yahweh) was about to give His people the Law of the Ten Commandments Exo 19:3 He called to Moses from the top of Mount Sinai in thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud. When He was now about to give them the laws by which their formal acts of worship were to be regulated, He called to Moses out of the tabernacle which had just been constructed at the foot of the mountain. Exo 25:22.
Speak unto the children of Israel - It is important to observe that these first instructions Lev. 1:2-3:17 are addressed expressly to the individual who felt the need of sacrifice on his own account. They were not delivered through the priests, nor had the officiating priest any choice as to what he was to do. He was only to examine the victim to see that it was perfect Lev 22:17-24, and to perform other strictly prescribed duties Lev. 6:8-7:21. The act of offering was to be voluntary on the part of the worshipper, but the mode of doing it was in every point defined by the Law. The presenting of the victim at the entrance of the tabernacle was in fact a symbol of the free will submitting itself to the Law of the Lord. Such acts of sacrifice are to be distinguished from the public offerings, and those ordained for individuals on special occasions (see Lev 4:2 note), which belonged to the religious education of the nation.
Offering - Hebrew: קרבן qorbân - the general name for what was formally given up to the service of God (compare Mar 7:11), and exactly corresponding to the words "offering" and "oblation."
burnt - literally, that (offering) which ascends (as a flame).
A male without blemish - Males were required in most offerings, since the stronger sex which takes precedence of the other. But females were allowed in peace-offerings Lev 3:1, Lev 3:6, and were expressly prescribed in the sin-offerings of the common people Lev 4:28, Lev 4:32; Lev 5:6.
At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation - Wherever these words occur, they should be rendered: "at the entrance of the tent of meeting." The place denoted is that part of the court which was in front of the tabernacle, in which stood the brass altar and the laver, and where alone sacrifices could be offered. See Cut to Exo. 26.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering - The usual ceremony. By it the sacrificer identified himself with his victim Lev 3:2, Lev 3:8; Lev 4:15; Lev 8:14; Rom 12:1.
To make atonement for him - This phrase belongs more especially to the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings (compare Lev 4:20, Lev 4:26, Lev 4:31, Lev 4:35; Lev 5:16, Lev 5:18; Lev 6:7, etc.) It is not used in reference to the peace-offerings, and but rarely in reference to the burnt-offerings. It should be noticed that it is here introduced in close connection with the imposition of hands by the worshipper, not, as it is when it refers to the sin-offering, with the special functions of the priest, Lev 4:26, Lev 4:35; Ch2 29:23.
And he shall kill the bullock - Tradition states that before the laying on of the hand, the victim was bound by a cord to a ring on the north side of the altar; as the words of the prayer were ended, the throat was cut and the blood received into a bowl held by an assistant.
Sprinkle the blood - Rather, throw the blood, so as to make the liquid cover a considerable surface. (The Christian significance of this typical action is referred to in Heb 12:24; Pe1 1:2.)
By the door of the tabernacle - At the entrance of the tent.
And he shall flay - The sacrificer, or his assistant, had to skin and cut up the victim. The hide was the gratuity of the officiating priest. Lev 7:8.
His pieces - That is, its proper pieces, the parts into which it was usual for a sacrificed animal to be divided.
Put fire upon the altar - This must specifically refer to the first burnt-offering on the newly-constructed altar. The rule was afterward to be, "it shall never go out," Lev 6:13.
The parts of the victim were then salted by the priest in conformity with the rule, Lev 2:13; Eze 43:24; Mar 9:49, and placed IN ORDER upon the wood, i. e. in the same relation to each other that they had in the living animal.
The parts which were washed were the stomach, and bowels, and feet, divided from the carcass at the knee-joint.
The priest shall burn - The verb here translated burn, is applied exclusively to the burning of the incense, to the lights of the tabernacle, and to the offerings on the altar. The primary meaning of its root seems to be to exhale odor. (See the margin of Lev 24:2; Exo 30:8). The word for burning in a common way is quite different, and is applied to the burning of those parts of victims which were burned without the camp (Lev 4:12, Lev 4:21; Num 19:5, etc.). The importance of the distinction is great in its bearing on the meaning of the burnt-offering. The substance of the victim was regarded not as something to be consumed, but as an offering of a sweet-smelling savor sent up in the flame to Yahweh.
Of the flocks - These directions are more brief than those for the bullock. The burnt-offering of the sheep must have been that with which the people were most familiar in the daily morning and evening service. Exo 29:38-42. Sheep were preferred for sacrifice when they could be obtained, except in some special sin-offerings in which goats were required Lev 4:23; Lev 9:3; Lev 16:5. The lamb "without blemish" is a well-known type of Christ. Heb 9:14; Pe1 1:19.
Northward before the Lord - That is, on the north side of the altar. See also Lev 4:24, Lev 4:29, Lev 4:33; Lev 7:2. This was probably an arrangement of some practical convenience. On the west side of the altar stood the laver; on the east side was the place of ashes (see Lev 1:16 note); and the south side, where appears to have been the slope by which the priests went up to the altar, must have been left clear for a path.
Of turtledoves, or of young pigeons - The offering of a bird was permitted to one who was too poor to offer a quadruped. (Compare the marginal references.) But in certain rites of purification birds were appointed for all, whatever might be their circumstances. See Lev 15:14, Lev 15:29; Num 6:10. The limitation of the age of the pigeons may be accounted for by the natural habits of the birds. It would seem that the species which are most likely to have been the sacrificial dove and pigeon are the common turtle and the bluerock pigeon, a bird like our stock-dove, and considerably larger than the turtle. The turtles come in the early part of April, but as the season advances they wholly disappear. The pigeons, on the contrary, do not leave the country; and their nests, with young ones in them, may be easily found at any season of the year. Hence, it would appear, that when turtledoves could not be obtained, nestling pigeons were accepted as a substitute.
His crop with his feathers - The weight of authority is in favor of the marginal rendering. It is most probable that the feathers were burned with the body, and that the wings, mentioned in Lev 1:17, were not mutilated.
The place of the ashes - The ashes were daily removed from the altar (except on certain holy days) and thrown into a heap on its eastern side. When the heap became inconveniently large, it was removed in vessels appropriated to the purpose (see Exo 27:3) to a spot without the camp. Lev 4:12; Lev 6:11.