Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Ignorance. To be ignorant of what we are bound to know is sinful: and for such culpable ignorance, these sacrifices, prescribed in this and the following chapter, were appointed. (Challoner) — Not to be done. Hence the Rabbins admit sins of ignorance, only against the negative precepts. But when God forbids one thing, he commands the contrary; and we may sin by ignorance against any of his ordinances. If the ignorance be voluntary, it enhances the crime; and Aristotle well observes that drunkards, who do an injury, are to be doubly punished, because their fault is voluntary in its cause, (ad Nicom. iii. 7). But if the ignorance were perfectly involuntary, and inculpable, no sacrifice was required; so that God here speaks only of that sort of ignorance which involved some degree of negligence. This fault could not be forgiven without interior good dispositions. The sacrifice only reached to the cleansing of the flesh, (Hebrews ix. 13,) or to screen the culprit from the severity of the law and of the magistrates; (Calmet) though they might help the inward dispositions of the heart, and thus contribute to obtain God’s pardon. (Origen; St. Augustine, q. 20) The difference between peccatum and delictum, is not perfectly ascertained. Some think the former word denotes sins of malice, and the latter those of ignorance. Tirinus maintains the contrary, as a more costly sacrifice, he says, is required for the latter. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Anointed. That is, “the high priest,” Septuagint. Inferior priests were not anointed, except the sons of Aaron, at the beginning. (Calmet) — Ignorance in such a one is greatly to be avoided, as it tends to scandalize the people. (Haydock) — The same ceremonies are prescribed, as on the day of expiation; only the priest did not enter the most holy place. — Offend, in some smaller matter. If he engaged his brethren in the crime of idolatry, he should die, Deuteronomy xiii. 15. (Calmet) — Before the solemn unction, he might be expiated, like one of the princes. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Calf. Hebrew par, does not specify the age. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. The blood. As the figure of the blood of Christ shed for the remission of our sins; and carried by him into the sanctuary of heaven.
Ver. 6. Seven. A number consecrated in Scripture, (Calmet) and not superstitious. (Worthington) — Apuleius (Met. xi.) mentions it. Septies submerso fluctibus capite. (Calmet) — Sanctuary, or most holy place. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Ashes of the victims. They were first laid beside the altar of holocausts. By this ceremony, the priest begged that his sins might be removed from the sight of God, (Menochius) by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, who suffered out of the gate of Jerusalem, Hebrews xiii. 13. The high priest was obliged to offer this sacrifice himself, to expiate his own sin, as well as that of the people, Hebrews ix. 7.
Ver. 13. Multitude assembled. Septuagint add, “be involuntarily ignorant, and no one of the congregation perceive the truth, (or word,) and shall transgress, by commission or omission, one of all the precepts of the Lord.” Such was the offence of Saul and the people, 1 Kings xiv. 33. On these occasions, the elders were to put their hands on the victim, to acknowledge the general offence, if it were not of too heinous a nature to be expiated by sacrifice. See Deuteronomy xiii. 12.
Ver. 22. A prince. King, magistrate, general, chief of a tribe, or great family; in a word, one elevated above the rest (Nasi), as appears, Numbers i. 4. and vii. 2.
Ver. 24. He. Samaritan and Septuagint read, “they shall have,” referring it to the priests.
Ver. 26. Him. Moses does not here specify what was to be done with the flesh. But (chap. vi. 26,) he commands it to be given to the priests. (Calmet) — In the sacrifices for the sins of the multitude, or of the priest, all was consumed; to express a greater detestation of such offences, (Tirinus) and that the priests might derive no benefit from them. (Theodoret, q. 3.; St. Thomas Aquinas i. 2, q. 102, a. 3.) (Worthington) — Those who offered these victims received no part of them again, nor were oil or incense used; as all delicacies must be rejected by penitents. (Tirinus)
Ver. 27. The land. A rustic or plebeian. (Menochius) — The offences of such might be expiated by the sacrifice of a goat, ewe, lamb, ram, two pigeons, or flour, chap. v. 7. and xi. 15. (Calmet)
Ver. 29. Of, &c. One Hebrew manuscript, the Septuagint, and Syriac read, “in the place in which he shall slay the holocaust.” The Samaritan has they slay, both here and ver. 24. and 33, which seems the truer reading. (Kennicott)
Ver. 35. For a. Hebrew may be “according to, like (Haydock) upon, besides, after the holocausts.” (Calmet) See chap. iii. 5.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Of offerings for sins of ignorance.
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses,* saying:
2 Say to the children of Israel: The soul that sinneth through ignorance, and doth any thing concerning any of the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded not to be done:
3 If the priest that is anointed shall sin, making the people to offend, he shall offer to the Lord for his sin, a calf without blemish.
4 And he shall bring it to the door of the testimony before the Lord, and shall put his hand upon the head thereof, and shall sacrifice it to the Lord.
5 He shall take also of the blood of the calf, and carry it into the tabernacle of the testimony.
6 And having dipped his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle with it seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary.
7 And he shall put some of the same blood upon the horns of the altar of the sweet incense most acceptable to the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of the testimony. And he shall pour all the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar of holocaust in the entry of the tabernacle.
8 And he shall take off the fat of the calf for the sin-offering, as well that which covereth the entrails, as all the inwards:
9 The two little kidneys, and the caul that is upon them which is by the flanks, and the fat of the liver, with the little kidneys,
10 As it is taken off from the calf of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, and he shall burn them upon the altar of holocaust.
11 But the skin and all the flesh, with the head and the feet, and the bowels, and the dung,
12 And the rest of the body, he shall carry forth without the camp into a clean place, where the ashes are wont to be poured out: and he shall burn them upon a pile of wood, they shall be burnt in the place where the ashes are poured out.
13 And if all the multitude of Israel shall be ignorant, and through ignorance shall do that which is against the commandment of the Lord,
14 And afterwards shall understand their sin, they shall offer for their sin a calf, and shall bring it to the door of the tabernacle.
15 And the ancients of the people shall put their hands upon the head thereof before the Lord. And the calf being immolated in the sight of the Lord,
16 The priest that is anointed, shall carry of the blood into the tabernacle of the testimony.
17 And shall dip his finger in it and sprinkle it, seven times before the veil.
18 And he shall put of the same blood on the horns of the altar that is before the Lord, in the tabernacle of the testimony: and the rest of the blood, he shall pour at the foot of the altar of holocaust, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the testimony.
19 And all the fat thereof he shall take off, and shall burn it upon the altar:
20 Doing so with this calf, as he did also with that before: and the priest praying for them, the Lord will be merciful unto them.
21 But the calf itself he shall carry forth without the camp, and shall burn it as he did the former calf: because it is for the sin of the multitude.
22 If a prince shall sin, and through ignorance do any one of the things that the law of the Lord forbiddeth,
23 And afterwards shall come to know his sin, he shall offer a buck-goat without blemish, a sacrifice to the Lord.
24 And he shall put his hand upon the head thereof; and when he hath immolated it in the place where the holocaust is wont to be slain before the Lord, because it is for sin,
25 The priest shall dip his finger in the blood of the victim for sin, touching therewith the horns of the altar of holocaust, and pouring out the rest at the foot thereof.
26 But the fat he shall burn upon it, as is wont to be done with the victims of peace-offerings: and the priest shall pray for him, and for his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
27 And if any one of the people of the land shall sin through ignorance, doing any of those things that by the law of the Lord are forbidden, and offending,
28 And shall come to know his sin, he shall offer a she-goat without blemish.
29 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the victim that is for sin, and shall immolate it in the place of the holocaust.
30 And the priest shall take of the blood with his finger, and shall touch the horns of the altar of holocaust, and shall pour out the rest at the foot thereof.
31 But taking off all the fat, as is wont to be taken away of the victims of peace-offerings, he shall burn it upon the altar, for a sweet savour to the Lord: and he shall pray for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
32 But if he offer of the flock a victim for his sin, to wit, an ewe without blemish:
33 He shall put his hand upon the head thereof, and shall immolate it in the place where the victims of holocausts are wont to be slain.
34 And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and shall touch the horns of the altar of holocaust, and the rest he shall pour out at the foot thereof.
35 All the fat also he shall take off, as the fat of the ram that is offered for peace-offerings is wont to be taken away: and shall burn it upon the altar, for a burnt-sacrifice of the Lord: and he shall pray for him and for his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.