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but when numbers were offered at the same time, and, consequently, when haste was required, and the largeness of the fire made delay insupportable, this rule was dispensed with, and the different parts were thrown carelessly upon the altar, yet so as to be completely consumed. Thus were the burnt-offerings properly called holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, for the priesthood received no part of them but the skin.*
Hitherto we have spoken only of the larger animals, or the manner in which the bullocks, rams, and he-goats were sacrificed, including the young of the several species. We are now to inquire how they sacrificed the two remaining kinds of animals, or the turtle-doves and young pigeons. Moses, in Lev. i. 14-17, says it was as follows :The person that brought the pair of either kind (for they were always brought in pairs,') gave them to the priest, who offered up one of them for a sin-offering in the manner we shall afterwards describe, and the other for a burnt-offering. That for the burntoffering was disposed of thus: it was carried by the priest to the circuit of the altar, who there wrung off its head, sprinkled the blood on the altar above the red line, which was the reverse of what was done with the beasts; turned to the south-east, by the place of ashes, during the Tabernacle,d and also during the Temple (for we have seen that such a closet was under the ascent on the east side;) pulled off its feathers, and tore out its crop; cast them both into that closet, or caused them to be cast; cleft it down the middle, but not asunder; salted both it and the head which had been wrung off with salt, and then laid it on the fire. The reason, perhaps, why Moses ordered two turtle-doves, or two
a Lev. vii, 8.
Ib. xiv. 30, 31; xv. 15. 30.
bib. v, 7; xii, 8; xiv. 22. d lb, i, 16.
young pigeons, was not merely according to the pleagure of the offerer, but according as they were in season, pigeons being sometimes quite hard and unfit for eating; at which time, Harmer remarks, turtle doves are very good in Egypt, and, as we may suppose, also in the Holy Land. The turtle doves are not restricted as to any age, because they are good always when they appear in these countries, being birds of passage ; but the “ young pigeons” are particularly marked, that they might not be given to God when they were despised by man."
Such was the nature, and such were the directions for the burnt-offerings; but we may remark, that they were not confined to the Mosaic dispensation, for we have frequent mention of them before it. Thus, Noah is said to have offered burnt-offerings after the flood:5 Isaac was ordered to be offered up as a burnt-offering : and Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, when he came to the Israelites, before they reached Sinai, offered a burntoffering and sacrifices to God."
Let us now inquire, in the second place, into the nature of the sin-offerings (nxon.) The law concerning sinofferings particularizes nothing respecting them but only this, that they were to be offered for sins ignorantly committed against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done; that is, they were offered for sins of ignorance against negative precepts. But the Hebrew doctors generally confine them to sins ignorantly committed against negative precepts; which, if they had been done wittingly, had deserved 66 cutting off:” and the reason of their limitation is in regard to the nature of the transgression ; for
a Harm. Ob. vol. ii. p. 342.
b Gen. viii, 20. c Ib. xxii. 2.
e Ley, iy. 2. 13, 22. 27. Tt
whereas they enumerate no fewer than three hundred and sixty-five negative precepts, yet they attach sinofferings only to forty-three of them; or to the particular cases which incurred the greatest punishment, if ignorance could not have been urged as a mitigation. It is true, indeed, that there are some sin-offerings appointed by name which cannot be exactly brought under this definition, such as the sin-offering of Aaron on his consecration;" the sin-offering of the woman at her purification; and the sin-offering of the leper at his cleansing ;' but particular exceptions do not invalidate general rules, and the cases mentioned are evidently intended to inculcate on the offerers the evil of sin, and the necessity of providing against the possibility of danger.
Having thus seen the reason of their appointment, let us next attend to the persons for whom the sin-offerings were offered; and these were of two kinds—either the whole congregation or particular individuals. When the whole congregation offered, it was either statedly every year on the day of expiation, as we shall see in the following part of this work, or occasionally, when they had done what was wrong ignorantly, and afterwards came to the knowledge of their offence. It is this occasional offering which is so fully described in Levit. iv. 13—21, where a young bullock was ordered to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation, or during the Temple, into the Court of the Priests, when the elders or heads of the tribes, as representing the people, having laid their hands upon its head, the bullock was killed according to the form mentioned for the burnt-offerings; the blood was taken by the priest into the Holy Place, where, having dipped his finger in it
• An account of these, with the two hundred and forty-eight affirmative, is given by Owen, in his Commentary on the Hebrews, vol. i, Esercit. 20. 6 Ley, ix, 2. < lb. xii. 6.
d lb, xiv. 19.
e Ib. xvi, 15.
seven times, he sprinkled what adhered to it seven times before the veil, after which he returned from the Holy Place into the Court of the Priests, went up the ascent of the altar, put some of the blood above the red line or upon the horns, and poured out the rest at the foot of the altar. The fat was the only part of the animal that was offered on the altar; for the rest, including the skin, inwards, and even the dung, were carried forth unto a clean portion of that place where the ashes of the altar were wont to be poured out, and there burnt completely with fire." Such was the sin-offering that was appointed for the congregation when they had ignorantly offended: but in process of time, when the decisions of the Sanhedrin were implicitly obeyed, it was considered also to apply to them when they erred in their explanation of any of the three hundred and sixty-five negative precepts, and had thereby misled the congregation, only in place of one bullock they were to bring twelve; and in the case of idolatry, which was considered as high treason against Jehovah their king, twelve goats were to be added to the twelve bullocks. This they grounded on Numb. xv. 22–26, although the case is not there particularly specified."
With regard to the manner in which sin-offerings were conducted in behalf of particular individuals, the Scriptures specify three cases in which they were to be brought. The first was, when the high priest had offended ignorantly: he was enjoined to bring a young bullock, and the same ceremonies were to be observed as in the case of the congregation, with this difference, however, that the priest, in returning from the sprinkling of the blood before the veil, should sprinkle some of
- Compare Levit. iv. 20, 21, with verses 11, 12.
it also upon the horns of the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place as he was on his way to the Court of the Priests. The second case was, when any of the rulers sinned through ignorance: they were to bring a kid of the goats, a male without blemish,b to the appointed place, to do with its blood as was done with that for the whole congregation; and to burn its fat and inwards, after being washed and salted, upon the altar; but the rest of the carcass was to be the priest's: all the males might eat of it, and the place of eating was appointed to be the court of the tabernacle of the congregation, while the Tabernacle stood, or the precincts of the Temple when it was erected. The third case was, when any of
. the common people sinned ignorantly: they were enjoined to bring a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, or a ewe lamb without blemish,a whose blood and fat were to be disposed of as before, and whose flesh was to be eaten exactly in the manner of that which was offered by the ruler. When birds were offered they were treated in the same way as in the burnt-offerings, only their blood was sprinkled beneath the red line that encompassed the altar. See cases of this sin by the common people mentioned in Lev. v. 1–13.
Of the various sin-offerings that were appointed to be offered, it will be observed, that some were expressly commanded, and some were offered upon the general principle of seeking atonement for sins unwittingly committed; but in corrupt times it was charged upon the priests, that they regarded their bellies more than the desire of promoting devotion ; and it is, perhaps, to this that Hosea refers, when he says, “ They eat up the sin
, (or sin-offerings, nxon) of my people, and set their
a Lev. iv. 7.
b lb. iv. 22-26. Ib, iy. 27 -35. Num. xv. 27--29.
c Ib. vi. 24-29. e Ch, iy. 8.