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More literally, “If a person swear, blabbing with his lips”-rashly uttering his vow. The careless way of doing even what is right is here condemned. Inconsiderateness is a heinous crime, for the man is appealing to God; and especially so when the thing vowed is evil. The case of man inadvertently swearing to do evil, is a case like Jephtha's. Jephtha meant good, but it turned out to be evil of a flagrant nature. The clause, “And it be hid from him,” is equivalent to “ And did not rightly understand the thing about which he swore.” There is a solemn lesson taught us in regard to the mode of doing even right things. Approach the Holy One with fear and reverence. But alas! how plentiful is the flow of hidden sin committed in our dedications to God, or in resolutions to be his, expressed to him in prayer and praise. Even in saying or writing “ God willing” (p.v.) this secret sin may be oftentimes chargeable upon our unconscious souls !
“In one of these," i. e., any of the cases mentioned; the adjuration ; touching the dead body, or other uncleanness; and rash vows.
Vers. 5, 6. “And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these
things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing. And he shall bring his trespass-offering unto the Lord, for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin-offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him
concerning his sin.” The first thing that strikes us here as very noticeable, is the injunction, " He shall confess that he hath sinned.” Abarbinel, on the sixteenth chapter, says, that confession necessarily accompanied every sacrifice for sin. But we have not met this duty before in the express form of a command, because hitherto the sins brought to the altar were open and admitted sins.* But here the sins are "hidden;" and therefore the offerer must openly confess them, that so God may be honored—“That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (Psalm li. 4.) This is the end of confession; it vindicates God, preclaiming him just in the penalty he inflicts. We see this in Achan's case, when Joshua said, "My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him, and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.” (Josh. vii. 19.) It is thus that, when we truly confess, we become witnesses for God-we testify that we have come to see the sin and its evil which he declar. ed that his pure eye saw. The original uses a word for confess, which in another form means to praise (nan and 17710); and in the New Testament as well as the Old, the two acts are often reckoned the same. (See the use of louoloyoquar.) The tribute to the holiness of the Lord, paid in confession, is praise to his name. We decrease; he increases.
“ He shall bring his trespass-offering.” Some suppose that there were on this occasion, first, the trespassoffering, and then a sin-offering. But not so: it ought to be rendered, “He shall bring his offering,” the word DUN being used not as a specific term, but as a general term for any offering on account of sin. And it is thus that it is used by Isaiah (liii. 10), “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin" (IRD DN bun).
* There is no doubt but that the laying on of the hand on the animal's head involved confession of sin. So common was confession, that John the Baptist's practice of insisting on confession of sin from all that came to his baptism, excited no opposition. They were thus naturally led to lay their sins on the “Coming One."
The offering is to be “a female from the flock.” It is a less glaring sin than some other, such as chap. iv. 127, and therefore a female, and a young one, is taken. And either a female kid, or a female lamb, may be chosen; the object being to fix the offerer's attention upon the blood shed for his sin, and not upon any quality in the victim, as might have been the result had only the lamb been allowed. His sin and its atonement is all that must engage the offerer.
Ver. 7. "And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring,
for his trespass which he hath committed, two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord : one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering."
Here, again, we see the God of Israel manifesting himself to be that very Saviour who“ preached glad tidings to the poor.” The two doves are allowed for their sake.
But why two? Is this not equivalent to an intimation that one turtle-dove or pigeon would not represent the Saviour ? Is this not attaching importance to the mere material of the sacrifice ? The answer to these questions leads us to a very interesting view of the Lord's tender regard to the feelings of the poor of his people.
There is no importance attached to the mere number; for in chap. i. 15, there was only one turtle-dove sacrificed ; and it was sufficient as a type, and equivalent to the one bullock or lamb.
But here and elsewhere, where two doves are offered, there is a special reason why two are chosen. The one is always for a sin-offering, and the other for a burntoffering. Now, in the sin-offering, when it was a lamb or the like, there were portions left for the use of the priest, after the sacrifice was offered, and these portions, received and feasted on by the priest, were equivalent to a declaration of the complete removal of the sin, since the priest himself could thus fearlessly use them. But there was no room for this being done when a turtle-dove was offered. There were no portions for the priest to feast upon. Hence, in order that the poor worshipper might not lose this consoling part of the type, he is told to offer a second turtle-dove as a burnt-offering. And in this latter offering, the Lord himself directly receives all, and pronounces all to be " a sweet savor” (chap. i. 17). So that the poor saint gets even a more hearty assurance of his offering being accepted, than does another who only gets this assurance by means of the priest's receiving his portion to feast upon, and seeing the priest's household feast thereon.
Ver. 8. "And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that
which is for the sin-offering first, and wring off his head from his Deck, but shall not divide it asunder: And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin-offering upon the side of the altar : and the rest of
the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar." There is some difference in the ceremony observed here in slaying the turtle-dove from that of chap. i. 14. The head is to be wrung off, yet so as not to separate it from the body. It would hang down upon the lifeless body, the blood also dropping upon its white clean plumage.
Was it meant to be a type of Jesus bowing his head as he gave up the ghost? His head, bleeding with the thorns that had crowned him, dropped upon his bosom as the sting of death entered his holy frame.
There may be a farther type. The Passover lamb, of which not a bone was broken, prefigured Jesus as one, “not a bone of whose body should be broken;" and yet,
at the same time, it prefigured the complete keeping and safety of Christ's body—the Church; as it is written in Psalm xxxiv. 20, “He keepeth all his bones ; not one of them is broken." So also here; the bowing of the Saviour's head seems prefigured—not too small a circumstance for an evangelist to record, and for the Father to remember regarding the well-beloved son—but there may also be herein a type of the glorious truth, that Christ and his body—the Church——cannot be separated. The head and the body must be left undivided.
In chapter i. 15, there is no mention of the “ sprinkling of any of the blood upon the altar.” But here some of it is first sprinkled on the side of the altar, then the rest wrung out at the bottom. The sprinkling on the altar's side was quite sufficient to declare life taken; and as the second dove would have its blood wrung out over the side of the altar, there was a fitness in making this difference. At the same time, it shows us how sprinkling a part or pouring out the whole, express equally the same truth; just as in baptism the symbol is equally significant whether the water be sprinkled on the person or the person plunged into the water.
Ver. 10. “ And he shall offer the second for a burnt-offering, according
to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, for
his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.” “ Thus shall the priest make an atonement for him (cleansing him] from the sin which he hath sinned."* The poor saint has full and ample testimony given to the completeness of his offering. The one great ocean -“Christ once suffered”—“one sacrifice” (Heb. x. 12)
* This seems to be the force of innunn here, and ver. 6. It is a constructio prægnans, as in ver. 16, 9. 91: