Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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LEVITICUS - Chapter 5

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Leviticus v.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Swearing. We are accountable for the sins of others, to which we are accessory, as appears from this and part of the following chapter. No distinction of persons is here noticed. If any one, therefore, be witness to another's promise, confirmed by oath, and, being cited to the bar, refuse to speak, he shall be guilty of sin, and offer the sacrifice proscribed (ver. 6,) for all the preceding cases. Restitution must also be made to the injured person. (Menochius) --- But others suppose that no sacrifice was allowed for such an obstinate wretch as when not answered when the judge swore or adjured him. He was liable to be put to death. The associate of the thief fell under the like punishment as the thief himself, when he would not reveal the theft to the judge, Proverbs xxix. 24. Others again understand this swearing to mean blaspheming God. If the hearer do not reprehend him, he shall suffer as his accomplice. (Origen; Philo) --- Junius thinks that the neglect of fraternal correction, was to be expiated by the sacrifice prescribed for the sins of ignorance, concerning which Moses is treating. But it seems that the person here mentioned was to die, as the words he shall bear his iniquity, commonly denote, chap. xix. 8.; &c. (Calmet) --- When perjury prejudiceth another's cause, we are bound to reveal what we know to the judge, if it can be done so as to avoid scandal. (Worthington) --- Not. Hebrew editions read loa, instead of la, both here and in 34 other places; an irregularity unknown in some manuscripts, and to the Samaritan copy. Perhaps it may have been occasioned by lu, "to him," being of the same sound with la. (Kennicott)

Ver. 2. Beast. All wild beasts were deemed unclean; but domestic clean cattle, though slain, did not defile; (Calmet) while some of the unclean did, even alive, chap. xi. 26, 31. (Haydock) --- Fishes are comprised under the name of reptiles; yet some were not unclean, chap. xi. 9. The Septuagint neglect reptiles, and put "the carcasses of impure abominations;" by which they probably mean dogs, and such things as the Egyptians adored. This verse does not regard those who had only touched something unclean, as such were to be purified at night, by washing their garments; but it refers to those who, having neglected that ordinance, had still ventured to touch something sacred, and were therefore required to offer the sacrifice, assom, (Calmet) as for an irreligious behaviour towards God. (Tirinus)

Ver. 3. Of man, who may be in a state of legal uncleanness. If he neglect or forget to purify himself, he must offer a sacrifice, either such as he may choose, (St. Augustine, q. 2.) or such as the priest may require. (Lyranus) (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Lips. This is necessary before he can be punished by men; but every secret promise binds before God. (Tostat) --- Evil or good: any thing whatsoever, whether favour or punishment, whether the completion of it be difficult or easy. (Calmet) --- Thus parents sometimes foolishly swear that they will chastise their children unmercifully; libertines that they will live in luxuries as long as they have any money; ill-natured people that they will never speak to such a one, that they will murder, &c. To execute such promises, even confirmed by an oath, would be a double crime. Let them ask pardon of God for their rash oath. (Philo) --- Herod made his oath a pretext for killing John the Baptist, deluding himself, perhaps, with a false interpretation of this law. (Haydock) --- As such hasty oaths are easily forgotten, when the guilty person recollected himself, he was bound to confess his fault to the priest in the following manner, according to the Rabbins: Placing his hands between the horns of his victim, he shall say, "I beseech you, Lord, I have sinned; I have committed iniquity and prevarication; I have committed such a fault. I repent, I am filled with sorrow and confusion for having done so; I will relapse no more." These doctors teach, that without confession and sorrow no sacrifice will remit sin. (Calmet) --- To preserve the secret of confession, the priests were ordered to eat the victims alone. (Philo, &c.) (Tirinus)

Ver. 5. Let, &c. Hebrew, "and surely when he is guilty in one of these things, he shall confess that he hath sinned therein; (ver. 6.) and he shall bring his sin-offering unto the Lord, for his transgression," &c. Confession to the priest was requisite, before all the other sacrifices for sin. See Josephus, [Antiquities?] iii. 10. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Sin. The flesh belonged to the priest, chap. vi. 26.

Ver. 11. Ephi, or a gomor, which is the tenth part of three pecks and three pints, English. (Arbuthnot.) --- For sin, and therefore to shew how odious sin is to God, he will not allow any frankincense to be offered. (Menochius)

Ver. 12. Memorial. See chap. ii. 2. At the end, the Hebrew and Septuagint add, "It is a sin-offering;" peccatum. (Calmet) --- Hence the priests are said to eat the sins of the people, Osee iv. 8.

Ver. 15. The ceremonies: omitted in Hebrew and Septuagint --- Sanctified[Sacrificed?], neglecting to pay the first-fruits; or, by mistake, eating any of the victims reserved for God, or for the priests. --- Two sicles. St. Jerome seems to have read in the dual number, whereas the Hebrew pointed copies have sicles indefinitely; and the Rabbins understand two, when the word is plural and undetermined. Theodoret reads fifty, which some maintain is the ancient translation of the Septuagint, though it is not found in any of our copies. Hebrew may be rendered "a ram (or) according to thy estimation, sicles of silver." The particle or is sometimes understood. It is probable that when the fault was considerable, a ram was to be sacrificed, and restitution made of what was due with the fifth part besides; but if the fault was small, the priest determined how many sicles were to be presented for sacred purposes. --- Sanctuary. See Exodus xxx. 13.

Ver. 17. Through ignorance. These words are not found in the Hebrew or Septuagint; but the context shews, that they must be understood. Some pretend that the ignorance here spoken of, is that by which a person doubts whether the thing which he touched was unclean or not. But we may explain these last verses as a recapitulation of what had been already ordered. (Calmet)

Ver. 18. Sin. If it were grievous, the priest required a more valuable victim, ver. 15.

Ver. 19. Lord. Hebrew, "It is a victim for the sin which he has committed against the Lord." From this chapter, as well as from Numbers v. 7, it is obvious that a special confession was necessary, not only for those who had fallen into the disorder of leprosy, which was a figure of sin, and often inflicted by God in punishment of it; but also, when they had given way to the smallest transgression against the commands and ceremonies of the Lord. (Haydock) --- This custom is still observed by the Jews. (Galatinus x. 3.)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Of other sacrifices for sins.

1 If any one sin, *and hear the voice of one swearing, and is a witness either because he himself hath seen, or is privy to it: if he do not utter it, he shall bear his iniquity.

2 Whosoever toucheth any unclean thing, either that which hath been killed by a beast, or died of itself, or any other creeping thing: and forgetteth his uncleanness, he is guilty, and hath offended:

3 And if he touch any thing of the uncleanness of man, according to any uncleanness wherewith he is wont to be defiled, and having forgotten it, come afterwards to know it, he shall be guilty of an offence.

4 The person that sweareth, and uttereth with his lips, that he would do either evil or good, and bindeth the same with an oath, and his word, and having forgotten it afterwards understandeth his offence,

5 Let him do penance for his sin,

6 And offer of the flocks an ewe-lamb, or a she-goat, and the priest shall pray for him and for his sin:

7 But if he be not able to offer a beast, let him offer two turtles, *or two young pigeons to the Lord, one for sin, and the other for a holocaust,

8 And he shall give them to the priest: who shall offer the first for sin, and twist back the head of it to the little pinions, so that it stick to the neck, and be not altogether broken off.

9 And of its blood he shall sprinkle the side of the altar, and whatsoever is left, he shall let it drop at the bottom thereof, because it is for sin.

10 And the other he shall burn for a holocaust, as is wont to be done: and the priest shall pray for him, and for his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.

11 And if his hand be not able to offer two turtles, or two young pigeons, he shall offer for his sin the tenth part of an ephi of flour. He shall not put oil upon it, nor put any frankincense thereon, because it is for sin:

12 And he shall deliver it to the priest: who shall take a handful thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar for a memorial of him that offered it:

13 Praying for him and making atonement: but the part that is left, he himself shall have for a gift.

14 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

15 If any one shall sin through mistake, transgressing the ceremonies in those things that are sacrificed to the Lord, he shall offer for his offence a ram without blemish out of the flocks, that may be bought for two sicles, according to the weight of the sanctuary:

16 And he shall make good the damage itself which he hath done, and shall add the fifth part besides, delivering it to the priest, who shall pray for him, offering the ram, and it shall be forgiven him.

17 If any one sin through ignorance, and do one of those things which by the law of the Lord are forbidden, and being guilty of sin, understand his iniquity,

18 He shall offer of the flocks a ram without blemish to the priest, according to the measure, and estimation of the sin; and the priest shall pray for him, because he did it ignorantly: and it shall be forgiven him,

19 Because by mistake he trespassed against the Lord.



1: Year of the World 2514.

7: Leviticus xii. 8.; Luke ii. 14.