Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. And the LORD spakeunto Moses, saying,
1. Alloquutus est praeterea Jehova Mosen, dicendo:
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:
2. Loquere ad filius Israel, dicendo, Anima quum peccaverit per errorem ab omnibus praeceptis Jehovae qusa non sunt facienda, feceritque quidpiam de uno ex illis:
3. If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering.
3. Si sacerdos unctus peccaverit secundum delictum populi, offeret sacrificium pro peccato suo quod peccavit, juvencum vitulum immaculatum Jehovae pro peccato.
4. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.
4. Adducetque juvencum ilum ad ostium tabernaculi conventionis in conspectu Jehovae, et admovebit manum suare super caput juvenci, mactabitque juvencum in conspectu Jehovah.
5. And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock’s blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation:
5. Accipietque sacerdos unctus de sanguine juvenci, et inferet eum in tabernaculum conventionis.
6. And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, before the vail of the sanctuary.
6. Dein sacerdos tinget digitum suum in sanguine, aspergetque de sanguine illo septem vicibus coram Jehova:
7. And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7. Ponetque sacerdos de sanguine isto super cornua altaris suffimenti aromataci coram Jehova, quod est in tabernaculo conventionis: totum autem sanguinem reliquum juvenci effundet ad basin altaris holocausti quod est ad ostium tabernaculi conventionis.
8. And he shall take off from it all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,
8. Totum praeterea adipem juvenci oblati pro peccato tollet ab eo: nempe adipem operientem intestina, et totum adipem qui est super ca.
9. And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away,
9. Duos quoque renes, et adipem qui est super eos, et qui est super ilia, et fibram quae est super jecur, cum renibus auferet:
10. As it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of the burnt offering.
10. Quemadmodum tollitur a bove sacrificii prosperitatum: adolebitque ea sacerdos super altare holocausti.
11. And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung,
11. Pellem praeterea juvenci, et omnem carnem ejus, cum capite ejus, et cruribus, et intestina ejus, et timum ejus.
12. Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.
12. Educetque totum juveneum extra castra ad locum mundum, ad locum ubi effundetur cinis: et comburet eum super ligna igni: in loco inquam ubi effunditur cinis, comburetur.
13. And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty;
13. Quod si tota synagoga Israel erraverit, et latuerit res in oculis congregationis, et fecerit unum ab omnibus praeceptis Jehovae qum non sunt facienda, et deliquerit:
14. When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernale of the congregation.
14. Notum autem fuerit peccatum quod peceaverunt: tune offeret congregatio juvencum filium bovis in sacrificium pro peccato, adducetque ilium ante tabernaculum conventionis,
15. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the LORD: and the bullock shall be killed before the LORD.
15. Ponentque seniores synagogae marius suas super caput juvenci coram Jehova: tune mactabit juvencum coram Jehova.
16. And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation:
16. Inferetque sacerdos unctus de sanguine juvenci in tabernaculum conventionis.
17. And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, even before the vail.
17. Et intinget sacerdos digitum suum in ipso sanguine, aspergetque septem vicibus coram Jehova ante velum.
18. And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the LORD, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
18. De sanguine quoque illo ponet super cornua altaris, quod est coram Jehova, quod est inquam in tabernaculo conventionis, posthaec totum sanguinem reliquum effundet ad basin altaris holocausti quod est ad ostium tabernaculi conventionis.
19. And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar.
19. Totum autem adipem ejus tollet ab eo, et adolebit super altare.
20. And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
20. Juvenco vero faciet quemadmodum fecit juvenco oblato pro peccato, sic faciet ei: atque expiabit eos sacerdos, et remittetur eis.
21. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn him as he burned the first bullock: it is a sin offering for the congregation.
21. Deinde juvencum educet extra castra, et comburet eum quemadmodum combussit juvencum priorem: oblatio pro peccato congregationis est.
22. When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty;
22. Si princeps peccaverit, feceritque unum ab omnibus praeceptis Jehovae Dei sui quae non sunt facienda, et id fecerit per errorem, et deliquerit:
23. Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:
23. Si innotuerit ei peccatum suum quod peccavit: tunc offeret oblationem suam hircum caprarum masculum immaculatum.
24. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD: it is a sin offering.
24. Ponetque manum suam super caput hirci, et mactabit eum in loco in quo mactari solet holocaustum coram Jehova: oblatio pro peccato est.
25. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.
25. Tolletque sacerdos de sanguine oblationis pro peccato digito suo, et ponet super corrina altaris holocausti: reliquum autem sanguinem ejus effundet ad basin altaris holocausti.
26. And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
26. Totum vero adipem ejus adolebit super altare, sicut adipem sacrificii prosperitatum: et ita expiabit ilium sacerdos a peccato ejus, et remittetur ei.
27. And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;
27. Quod si anima aliqua peccaverit per errorem de populo terrae, faciendo unum a praeceptis Jehova quae non sunt facienda, et deliquerit:
28. Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
28. Si innotuerit ei peccatum suum quod peccavit: afferet oblationem suam capellam caprarum immaculatam foeminam pro peccato suo quod peccavit.
29. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.
29. Admovebitque manum suam super caput oblationis pro peccato, et mactabit oblationem illam pro peccato in loco holocausti.
30. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar.
30. Dein tollet sacerdos de sanguine ejus digito suo, ponetque super cornua altaris holocausti: totum vero reliquum sanguinem ejus effundet ad basin altaris.
31. And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shalt make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
31. Totum praeterea adipem ejus auferet, quemadmodum ablatus fuit adeps a sacrificio prosperitatum: adolebitque sacerdos super altare in odorem quietis Jehovae: atque ita expiabit eum sacerdos, et remittetur ei.
32. And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.
32. Quod si pecudem obtulerit oblationem suam pro peccato, foeminam immaculatam afferet.
33. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.
33. Ponetque manum suam super caput illius oblationis pro peccato, et mactabit illam pro sacrificio peccati, in loco in quo mactare solet holocaustum.
34. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:
34. Deinde accipiet sacerdos de sanguine oblationis pro peccato digito suo, ponetque super cornua altaris holocausti: totum vero reliquum sangninem ejus effundet ad basin altaris.
35. And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.
35. Totum praeterea adipem qius auferet, quemadmodum auferri solet adeps agni a sacrificio prosperitatum: adolebitque illa sacerdos super altare in oblationem ignitam Jehovae: atque expiabit eum sacerdos a peccato suo quod peccavit, et remittetur el.
After Moses had treated of the offerings and other sacrifices, which were testimonies of gratitude and exercises of piety, he now descends to the sin-offering (expiationem) which held the chief place amongst the sacrifices, inasmuch as, without reconciliation, there could never be any intercourse between men and God; for since He deservedly abominates the whole human race on account of the corruption of our nature, and because we all continually provoke His wrath, the whole hope of salvation must needs be founded on the remedies provided for propitiating Him. This principle, being established, we must remember that Moses will henceforth speak of the expiatory sacrifices which propitiate God to men by the removal of their guilt. He here shews how God is to be appeased, where a man shall have sinned through ignorance or inconsiderateness; wherein too a distinction is laid down between different persons, since one kind of victim is required of a king, another of the priests, and another of ordinary persons; whilst regard is had to the poor, that they may not be burdened by so great an expense as the rich. But, since it will appear from the context that all kinds of ignorance are not here included, we must see what the word שגגה, shegagah, 256 means, which I have preferred rendering error rather than ignorance; for Moses does not refer to those transgressions into which we are ensnared, when we are led astray by the appearance of rectitude, so as to think ourselves without blame; but to those of which we take no heed, and whereby our minds are not pricked; or to those sudden falls, wherein the infirmity of the flesh so stifles the reason and the judgment as to blind the sinner. It is of such that Paul speaks when he bids us
"restore in the spirit of meekness those who
are overtaken in a fault,” (Ga 6:1;)
for he does not mean those who are deceived by their good intentions (as they call it,) or rather by their foolish opinion, so as to be unconscious of their sin; but those who fall through the infirmity of their flesh, and whom Satan catches unawares in his snares; or who, at any rate, do not perceive the evil they have done, so as immediately to apply the remedy. This will be more clearly understood from Ps. 19:12, 13, where David, having asked pardon for his errors, seeks to be kept free from presumptuous sins. 257 The antithesis between שגיאות, shegioth, 258 and זדים, zedim, shews that those transgressions are called errors, in which there is no criminal pride against God. “If a soul shall sin — from all the commandments,” 259 is a harsh expression; and therefore some refer it to sins of omission, but I interpret it more simply, “If he sin by turning away from the commandments,” or “if he commit any thing opposed (alienum)to the commandments."
3. If the priest that is anointed. He now distinguishes between different persons, and begins with the high priest, who alone bore the high distinction of the holy unction, unless it be thought better to apply it to the whole supreme class. 260 It is probable, however, that it only refers to one. The more illustrious was his dignity, the more diligently and zealously ought his life to be confirmed to the model of holiness; and therefore the infirmity which was more tolerable in others, was more exceedingly reprehensible in him. This is the reason why it was required that he should atone for himself with a greater victim. But this in some measure related to all the Levites, inasmuch as they were chosen to be of the sacred class; and it now extends to all the ministers and pastors of the Church, not that they should ransom themselves by the sacrifice of a calf, but that they should diligently beware of every sin, and be more intent in their endeavors after holiness. The clause “according to the sin of the people,” might be also rendered “unto the sin,” etc., as though Moses had said that the priest through sin corrupted the people by his bad example; for, since his life is the rule of holiness and righteousness, so his faults give occasion to the errors of others. The sense, however, that I have followed is simpler, i.e., that though the transgression of the priest may be an ordinary one, yet in consideration of his office it becomes more weighty, and deserving of greater punishment.
5. And the priest that is anointed shall take. It is well known that what is here prescribed as to the sprinkling of blood, and its pouring out, as well as to the burning of the fat and the kidneys, is the same as in the other sacrifices; and the comparison in the 10th verse sufficiently proves that, the ordinary forms were observed in other particulars. But inasmuch as it might seem absurd that the priest, who was himself guilty, should come before God to perform the office of reconciliation, it was necessary to prescribe the details more accurately, to obviate all doubt. Although, therefore, he was unworthy to approach God, yet, since the law of the priesthood was inviolable, he was admitted to the discharge of his duties; for it was not lawful that more mediators should be appointed. In order, then, that more reverence should be paid to the rites of the Law, and that men should seek after no other way of reconciliation, God extended His grace to the fault of the priest. The blood was sprinkled before the Lord, that the people might learn that through the sight of the sacrifice sins were hidden and buried, so as to come no more into remembrance before God; but the rest of the blood was poured before the altar, because it was holy, and therefore ought by no means to be cast elsewhere like anything profane.
13. And if the whole congregation. The very same sacrifice which was enjoined on the priest is required of the people; since he who went into the sanctuary in the name of all to present all the tribes before God, represented the whole body. It seems indeed that the kind of ignorance here spoken of is different from the former kind; since it was said “if the thing be hid;” yet I think that these infirmities are comprised, in which it often happens that men are blinded for a time. 261 For many do not search into themselves, and therefore slumber in their sins; whereas if they honestly examined their doings, their conscience would straightway smite them. It might, then, happen that the whole people should fail to be aware of their sin, whilst dealing with themselves too gently and indulgently. The meaning therefore is, that although no sense of sin should at first arouse them to repentance, yet, if afterwards they should be awakened so as to begin to acknowledge their crime, God must be propitiated by sacrifices; for otherwise the people might make a cloak for themselves of their error.
22. When a ruler hath sinned. A peculiar atonement is also appointed for the transgression of the rulers; and, although he speaks of the ruler in the singular number, yet inasmuch as the law was not yet enacted that one individual should bear rule, he undoubtedly designates the heads and governors generally, because they who bear rule do more injury by their bad example than private persons. If, then, any of the judges or governors had sinned through error, he might indeed be set free by a lesser victim than the priest or the whole people, yet there was individually this difference between them, that they were to offer she-goats or lambs, and the ruler a he-goat; and the object of this was that those in authority should more carefully keep themselves pure from every transgression, whereas otherwise they are wont to indulge themselves more freely, as if their rank and dignity allowed them greater license. Where we have given as our translation, “If (the sin) shall have become known,” (si innotuerit,) translators are not agreed. 262 The word used is properly a disjunctive particle Or; 263 but it is sometimes used for the conditional particle, as we shall see in the next chapter. Those who retain the primary and genuine meaning of the word do violence to the signification of the last word of the foregoing verse, and translate it, “shall have offended” instead of “shall have felt that he has offended;” but since it appears from many passages that או, o, is equivalent to אם, im, there is no need of wresting the words to an improper sense. The word הודע, hodang, which they render transitively “to make known,” may fitly bear my translation, unless this is preferred, “if he shall have known,” (si cognoverit) The words which Moses continually repeats, “the priest shall make an atonement for him, and his; iniquity shall be forgiven him,” some coldly restrict to external and civil cleansing, as if Moses only removed his condemnation before men; but God rather offers pardon to sinners, and assures them that He will be favorable to them, lest fear or doubt should prevent them from freely calling upon Him. And assuredly those who do not acknowledge that the legal rites were sacraments, are not acquainted with the very rudiments of the faith. Now to all sacraments, at any rate to the common sacraments of the Church, a spiritual promise is annexed: it follows, therefore, that pardon was truly promised to the fathers, who reconciled themselves to God by the offering of sacrifices, not because the slaying of beasts expiated sins, but because it was a certain and infallible symbol, in which pious minds might acquiesce, so as to dare to come before God with tranquil confidence. In sum, as now in baptism sins are sacramentally washed away, so under the Law also the sacrifices were means of expiation, though in a different way; since baptism sets Christ before us as if He were present, whilst under the Law He was only obscurely typified. Figuratively indeed what applies to Christ only is transferred to the signs, for in Him alone was manifested to us the fulfillment of all spiritual blessings, and He at length blotted out sins by His one and perpetual sacrifice; but since the question here is not as to the value of the legal ceremonies in themselves, let it suffice that they truly testified of the grace of God, of which they were the types; and so let not that profane imagination be listened to, that the sacrifices only politically and as far as regarded men absolved those by whom they were offered from guilt and condemnation.
S.M. says the word means, “a sin into which the perplexed mind has been driven under the impulse of some passion, through thoughtlessness, imprudence, or error, when inattentive to the dictates of reason and of the Spirit.” — W.
“A superbiis.” — Lat. “De ses fiertes, et rebellions.” — Fr.
Lexicographers make no distinction between the approximate roots שגג and שגה. Hence שגיאות, is regarded as meaning the same as the word used in Le 4:2. By זדים, are understood sins committed with a high hand and rebellious spirit. — W.
A. V., “against any of the commandments.” Ainsworth’s version is, “A soule, when it shall sin through ignorance of all the commandments,” etc.; and his Gloss. “of all, understand, by doing any one of all the commandments. So Moses himself explaineth it in the words here following, and in Lev. 4:13, 22, 27."
“Sur toute la maison d’Aaron.” — Fr.
“D’estre comme estourdis pour un temps, et n’y voir goutte;” are, as it were, stupified for a time, and cannot see a wink. — Fr.
Instead of this and the following sentences, the Fr. says, “Les expositeurs font bien ici quelques difficultez literales, mais pource que la deduction ne serviroit rien a ceux, qui ne sont point lettrez, je les passe.” Commentators certainly make some literal difficulties here, but since the statement of them would be useless to the unlearned, I pass them by.
או, Or. Noldius, in his Concord. particularum, cites instances, such as 1Sa 20:10, in which this conjunction is equivalent to If. אשם is that last word of Le 4:22 which S.M. has rendered deliquerit; but A. V. more happily, is guilty, הודע, says S.M., is here used for נודע, the niphal of ידע, but it is simpler to regard it as a not unusual variation of הורע, the hophal, strictly meaning, caused to become known. — W.