A commentary on the book of

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"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever

things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report .... think on these things. ... and

the God of peace shall be with you."--Phil. iv. 8, 9
Ver. 14. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul

commit a trespass,--
MANY of the best writers, such as Outram, come to no

definite conclusion as to the difference between the sin-

offering and the trespass-offering. But we are satisfied,

on the whole, that the trespass-offering (MwAxA) was offered

in cases where the sin was more private, and confined to

the individual's knowledge. The sin was known only to

the man himself; and hence it was less hurtful in its

effects. We have seen that chapter v. 6 is no contradic-

tion tion to this especial use of the word, as MwAxA was origi-

nally as general in its sense as xFAHA; and in Isaiah liii.

10, either it is used in that same general way, or, if

meant to be more special, the sense will be, "When thou

shah make his soul an offering for sins which no one

ever saw him commit; for he had done no violence, nor

was deceit in his mouth."
The sin-offering, being of a more public nature, was on

that account more fitted to be the usual type of Christ's

offering. It was both public and definite.

The trespass-offering was always a ram. It was thus

fitted to remind Israel of Abraham's offering Isaac, when

the ram was substituted. The blood of it was always

put "on the sides" of the altar; not on the horns, as in

the case of the sin-offering, where the offering was more

of a public nature, and needed to be held up to all.

The cases here are--

1. Fraud toward God in respect to things in his worship.

2. Fraud towards man. The instances given are speci-

mens of wrong done by the trespasser to the first and

second tables of the law.

Perhaps it was too much for a frail mortal to hear the

Lord speak long. There was a short interval between

the last revelation of the will of the Lord, and this that

followed it. Silence reigned through the Holy Place; and

under the beams of the bright cloud of glory, Moses

would sit down, and trace on his tablets the directions

just received. And now the voice of the Lord spoke

again--the same voice that afterwards said to John in

Patmos, "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the

things which are, and the things which shall be here-

after."It then declared of each church of Asia, "I

know thy works." It is the voice of the same holy and

jealous, yet gracious and tender Priest, the same true and

faithful Witness. The voice said--

Ver. 15. If a soul commit a trespass, and Sin through ignorance,

in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his

trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks,

with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the

sanctuary, for a trespass-offering.


That we may see the sort of sins meant here, let us

refer to a special case. The class of sins here is transgres-

sions in regard to the holy things of the Lord. Now, in

Ecclesiastes v. 6, we have such a case. "Suffer not thy

mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before

the angel, that it was an error (hgAgAw;,, as here): wherefore

should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of

thine hands?" The wish to be spoken well of, and to be-

come eminent for piety in the eyes of the people and priest,

led this man, while attending public worship in the temple,

to vow with his lips more than he could, or more than he

really wished to give. By this rash vow, he came under

the sin mentioned in this chapter, ver. 4. But this is not

all. When the priest* came (see 1 Sam. ii. 13) to take

his share of the offering according to the law, the man

was tempted to deny that he had vowed so much; and

thus he fell into the sin of trespass; mentioned in ver. 15

of this chapter, inasmuch as he withholds what he promised

to the house of God. God will destroy his prosperity,

unless such a man forthwith bring the trespass-offering.

Similar cases might be given; thus, if a man eat the

first-fruits (Exod. xxxiv. 26), or shear the first-born

sheep (Deut. xv. 19)--(Ainsworth), he is to bring "a

ram without blemish out of the flock." He is to choose

one of the most valuable of his flock, a type of him who

was "chosen out of the people," "one that was mighty"

(Ps. lxxxix. 19). It was to be costly; it must not be

of an inferior sort, but (Deut. xxxii. 14) of that sort which

were "rams of the breed of Bashan." The priest is to

estimate the value according to the standard of the sanc-

* The angel or messenger seems to be the priest himself. So he is called in

Malachi ii. 7. And if so, is it not with a reference to the jealous angel in Exod.

xxxii. 34? The priest is his representative, presiding over the temple.
tuary. Probably we are hereby taught the costliness of

the Redeemer's offering.

Consider the "estimation." It was not every offering

that would answer the great end; it must be a costly,

precious offering--the precious blood of the Son of God

(2 Pet. i. 19). Who can tell how high it was estimated

in the sanctuary above, where not one spot of sin ever

found a rest in the most secret heart of one ministering

spirit? The question is asked, Is this one offering suffi-

cient for the sinner? The Holy One applies the test of

his law, and measures it by his own holy nature, and finds

it such that he declares, "I am well pleased;" "I lay in

Zion a tried stone;" "He hath magnified the law, and

made it honourable."

But, 2. Was it such as reached the case of others?

Yes; it was meant for others. He who wrought it out

was a surety. His body was "prepared" for the sake of

others. His eye ran down with tears for others. The

words such as never man spake, were for others, "He

suffered, the Just for the unjust."

3. But may I use it? Yes, not only you may, but you

must use it, or perish.

Ver. 16. And he shall make amends for the harm that he bath

done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto,

and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an

atonement for him with the ram of the trespass-offering, and it

shall be forgiven him.
The trespasser is to be no gainer by defrauding God's

house. He is to suffer, even in temporal things, as a

punishment for his sin. He is to bring, in addition to

the thing of which he defrauded God, money to the

extent of one-fifth of the value of the thing. This was

given to the priest as the head of the people in things of

God, and representative of God in holy duties. It was

to be a double tithe because of the attempt to defraud

God.* We shall never be gainers by stinting our time

and service in the worship of God. What we withdraw

from him, he will withdraw from us in another way.

Besides, the very fact of cherishing such an idea in our

minds will cause the Lord to veil his grace and glory

from our view until we have anew sought him by the

blood of Jesus. And in the meantime, the sorrow and

darkness of our heart will teach us that it is a bitter

thing to depart from the Lord.

But there is something in this part of the ordinance

far more significant still. It seems to exhibit the require-

ments ments of God in order to a true atonement. Atonement

must consist--

1. Of restitution of the principal--restoring all that

was lost. The injury done is to be made up by the per-

son submitting to give back every item he took away.

2. Of the addition of more. There must be also a

making up of the wrong done, by the person suffering

loss, as a recompence for the evil. In these two pro-

visions, do we not see set forth in symbol the great fact

that God in atonement must get back all the honour that

his law lost for a time by man's fraud; and also must

have the honour of his law vindicated by the pay-

ment of an amount of suffering? The active obedience

of Christ gave the one ; his passive obedience provided

the other.

These principles being thus set forth and agreed to, the

ram was brought forward, wherein was exhibited the per-

* The tithe regularly paid was an acknowledgment that God had a right to

the things tithed; and this double tithe was an acknowledgment, that in conse-

quence of this attempt to defraud him, his right must be doubly acknowledged.


son that was to be the giver of atonement. A ram "out

of the flock," even as Christ was "one chosen out of the

people" (Ps. lxxxix. 19).
Ver. 17. And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which

are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord;

though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his;

This is a remarkable passage in proof of the awful

sin that may be committed through ignorance--"Though

he wist it not, yet is he guilty." Knowledge was within

his reach in this case; for the things spoken of are mat-

ters connected with sanctuary worship. It is even such a

case as Paul's, whose ignorance was no excuse for his sin,

since he might have inquired and known.*

The cases referred to here are evidently those wherein

holy things, or things connected with worship, were neg-

lected or defectively performed. It is that class of cases

wherein--it may be through ignorance--the Lord was

defrauded of what was due in his worship.

Ver. 18, 19. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of

the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass-offering, unto the

priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him con-

cerning his ignorance wherein he erred, and wilt it not; and it

shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass-offering: he hath cer-

tainly trespassed against the Lord.
How emphatic is the rehearsal of his sin--"Atonement

for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred, and

wist it not;" and again, "He hath certainly trespassed

against the Lord;" though men would have been ready to

treat it as a light matter!
* Evidently, in 1 Tim. i. 13, we are to read thus: “Putting me into the

ministry, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, though

I obtained mercy. For I did all this ignorantly in unbelief," q.d. for my igno-

rance and unbelief (both equally inexcusable) led me to these excesses.

Israel was thus shut up to the solemn duty of inquiring

into the Lord's revealed will. By treating ignorance as a

sin of such magnitude, the Lord made provision among

his people for securing a thorough and continual search

into his mind and will; and thus, no doubt, family

instruction was universal in every tent in the wilderness,

and the nation were an intelligent as well as a peculiar

(CHAP. VI. 1-7 )

Ver. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,--
There was silence again in the Holy Place, until Moses

had recorded the above precepts bearing on Jehovah's

own special worship. And when these trespasses against

the first table of the law had been declared and marked,

the voice of the Lord was again heard. We may recog-

nise the same voice that spoke on that mountain of Galilee;

for here is the same principle of broad, holy exactness in

applying the law as in Matt. v. The mind of the Father

and of his Son is one and the same as to the extent of

the law, even as it is alike in love to the transgressor.

Ver. 2, 3. 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; or hath found that which was lost,

and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all

these that a man doeth, sinning therein:--
Here is a specimen selected of the common forms in

which defrauding others may occur. There is first a

temptation mentioned, to which friends are exposed with

one another in private intercourse. A man asks his

friend to keep something for him; or, in the wider accep-
tation of the original term (NOdqAp;), gives a neighbour a

trust to manage for him of any kind, or commits to his

care for the time, any article. The LXX have used the

word "paraqhkh," which, in 2 Tim. i. 12, is rendered,

“What I have committed to him." Anything lent to

another is included; a tool, like the prophet's borrowed

axe (2 Kings vi. 5), or a sum of money left in a neigh-

bour's keeping (Exod. xxii. 7); in short, any "stuff"

(Exod. xxii. 7), or articles (MyliKe). A lent book, or bor-

rowed umbrella, would come under this law; and how

few have the sincere honesty of that son of the prophets,

in 2 Kings vi. 5, vexed because the thing injured in their

hands was a borrowed thing!--"Alas! my master, for it

was borrowed!" The Lord expects, in such case, com-

plete disinterestedness; the man is to do to others as he

would have others do to him. Any denial of having

received the thing, any appropriation of it to himself, any

carelessness in the keeping of it, is a trespass in the eye

of God. You have wronged God in wronging your


The case of "fellowship," or partnership, refers to the

transactions of public life; not, however, to openly un-

lawful acts, but to acts lawful in appearance, while selfish

in reality. This points specially to business transactions,

where there ought to be the utmost disinterestedness, one

partner giving more scrupulous attention to the interests

of the other than to his own, mortifying his jealous self-

love by his regard to his partner's concerns. This is the

generous morality of the God of Israel. The same head

would include the conscientious observances of government

regulations or commercial laws, as to taxes on goods.

These regulations being understood principles on which

trade is carried on, are really of the nature of "fellow-
ship." So also bargains in trade; though not many are

so jealous as Abraham in Gen. xxiii., to avoid even the

appearance of wronging others. Most are as Prov. xx. 14.

“A thing taken by violence,” includes cases of oppres-

sion or hardship, where mere power deals with weakness.

Such was Naboth's case (1 Kings xxi. 2); such was Isaac's

(Gen. xxvi. 4).

"Or hath deceived his neighbour.” The word qwafA is

rightly rendered, in the Septuagint, h]dikhse. It speaks of

another form of oppression--"hath deceitfully oppressed."

There are cases of strong, but secret terror, as when a

landlord uses his pecuniary superiority to constrain a

tenant's vote, or force a dependant to attend a particular

place of worship. It exists, too, where a mistress thought-

lessly gives too much work to her servants, or where a

farmer exacts unceasing labour, from morning to night,

at the hands of his ploughmen, or where a shopkeeper's

business is carried on at such a rate that his apprentices

have no calm rest of body or soul. In another shape, a

Jew was guilty of this trespass if, in using the permission

(Deut. xxiii. 24, 25) to pluck grapes, or ears of corn, as

he passed his neighbour's grounds, he took more than he

would have done had he been in his own vineyard or

corn fields.

“Or hath found that which was lost, and lieth concern-

ing it.” Unconcerned at the anxiety it may have given

to the loser, the man refuses to part with what he has

found. This is surely selfishness in the extreme. But it

is so, also, if the finder is not willing to hear of an owner,

glad only at his own advantage, and saying, "The owner

may never miss it--God has thrown it into my hands."

The Lord teaches us not to build up our joy on the loss

or sorrow of others.
Such is the kind care of the God of Israel. Is he not

still "The Eagle" over them, stirring up her nest, and flut-

tering over her young? He teaches his family to be full

of love-superiors, inferiors, equals. He would infuse the

holy feelings of heaven into the camp of Israel. Truly,

society regulated by the Lord is blessed society, for his

own love flows through it all, and is the very joints and

bands. Hence it is that a sin against a neighbour, in one

of these points, is a "trespass against the Lord" (ver. 1).

The selfish man is an unholy man, altogether unlike God.

Yet earth is full of such. When men are happy them-

selves, they take no thought of others' misery. When at

ease, they disregard the pain of others. Some even relieve

distress out of subtle selfishness, seeking thereby to be

free to indulge themselves with less compunction. Not so

the Lord. The eternal Son comes forth from the bosom

of the Blessed, and, for the sake of the vilest, dives

into the depths of misery. "He restored what he took

not away," and "delivered him that without cause was

his enemy." And in proportion as we feel much of this

love of God to us, we shall feel much love to him, and to

our brother also (1 John iv. 20).

Ver. 4, 5. 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 deli-

vered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, 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

Patrick renders ver. 4, "If he sin and acknowledge his

guilt;" for if his case were one where witnesses convicted

him, then Exod. xxii. 7-9 held good. The case of
Zaccheus, on the day of his, coming to Jesus ("the day

of his trespass-offering" surely), illustrates this restitution

as an attendant upon forgiveness. When the Lord forgave

him, the same Lord also inclined him to restore what he

had unjustly taken, and to give back far more than he

had taken.

The fifth part is given, in addition to the principal,

just as in the case of holy things being; fraudulently with-

held. It is a double tithe (two-tenths), and so is equiva-

lent to a double acknowledgment of the person's right to

the thing, of which he had been, for a time, unjustly de-

prived. See chap. v. 15, 16.

No doubt this exceeding jealousy on the part of God

in maintaining the rights of men, and exhibiting such

strict equity, was intended to display to the world what

his own holy character is. The most impartial and ex-

tensive justice is here exhibited. And his demand for

restitution shews that the Lord will maintain his violated

rights to the uttermost. It further proves, that while he

requires (as John proclaimed, Luke iii. 8, 10-14) repent-

ance and amendment, still it is not these that in any degree

satisfy the Lord; for there is, in addition to the restoring of

the principal, a new demand by the law, for the very act of

attempting to defraud it--one-fifth part beyond the former

demand! Thus was Israel prepared for an awful enforce-

ment of Divine claims in the person of Immanuel; and

thus were they shewn what must be the infinite merit of

him who should be able to restore all that had been taken

away from his God!
Ver. 6, 7. 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: and the priest shall make

an atonement for him before the Lord; and it shall be for-
given him, for any thing of all that he hath done, in trespassing

"For any of all the things"--thus proclaiming that

"the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin." The case of

presumptuous sins is not referred to here, for these in-

volved a disregard, in the offender, to the very offerings

that could exhibit pardon to his conscience. But this

section ends with the proclamation of free forgiveness

from all manner of sin. The Lord would thus at once

allure the sinner from his transgression, and lead him to

the immediate joy of reconciliation. It is the surest and

speediest way to lead him out of his former path of guilt.

“There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be


With Israel, as with us, there were many who saw no

meaning or reason in God's appointments. Want of true

conviction of sin made them despise these types, while the

godly, who felt their loins filled with a grievous disease,

found therein their daily refreshment. This is the true.

sense of Prov. xiv. 9, when properly rendered--"Fools

make a mock of the trespass-offering, but with the righ-

teous it is in esteem." The Septuagint seem to have had a

glimpse of this meaning, for they use "kaqarismo>j" for

MwAxA, and they render NOcrA, "dekto>j." The godly cherished

these typical delineations of atonement, while the careless,

earthly-minded Israelite saw nothing in them to desire.

None go to the hiding-place who fear no storm. The

stream flows by unheeded when the traveller on its banks

is not thirsty. The whole will not use the physician.

Sense of sin renders Jesus precious to the soul. How

Peter loved the risen Saviour, who relieved him of the

load of his denial! A sight of wrath to come gives a new

aspect to every spiritual thing. In Egypt, a sight of the
destroying angel's sword would make Israel prize the

blood. Ishmael might have mocked at the ram caught in

the thicket; but not so Isaac, who had been bound with

the cords of death. It is only "fools" that will "mock

at the trespass-offering;" with the righteous it is held in

unspeakable esteem. Their song is, "Thanks be unto

God for his unspeakable gift!"

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