Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Leviticus 1:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering - By the imposition of hands the person bringing the victim acknowledged,

  1. The sacrifice as his own.
  • That he offered it as an atonement for his sins.
  • That he was worthy of death because he had sinned, having forfeited his life by breaking the law.
  • That he entreated God to accept the life of the innocent animal in place of his own.
  • And all this, to be done profitably, must have respect to Him whose life, in the fullness of time, should be made a sacrifice for sin.
  • The blood was to be sprinkled round about upon the altar, Leviticus 1:5, as by the sprinkling of blood the atonement was made; for the blood was the life of the beast, and it was always supposed that life went to redeem life.
  • See Clarke on Exodus 29:10; (note). On the required perfection of the sacrifice see Clarke on Exodus 12:5; (note). It has been sufficiently remarked by learned men that almost all the people of the earth had their burnt-offerings, on which also they placed the greatest dependence. It was a general maxim through the heathen world, that there was no other way to appease the incensed gods; and they sometimes even offered human sacrifices, from the supposition, as Caesar expresses it, that life was necessary to redeem life, and that the gods would be satisfied with nothing less. "Quod pro vita hominis nisi vita hominis redditur, non posse aliter deorum immortalium numen placari arbitrantur." - Com. de Bell. Gal., lib. vi. But this was not the case only with the Gauls, for we see, by Ovid, Fast., lib. vi., that it was a commonly received maxim among more polished people: -

    " - Pro parvo victima parva cadit.

    Cor pro corde, precor, pro fibris sumite fibras.

    Hanc animam vobis pro meliore damus."

    See the whole of this passage in the above work, from ver. 135 to 163.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering - The usual ceremony. By it the sacrificer identified himself with his victim Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 8:14; Romans 12:1.

    To make atonement for him - This phrase belongs more especially to the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings (compare Leviticus 4:20, Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35; Leviticus 5:16, Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 6:7, etc.) It is not used in reference to the peace-offerings, and but rarely in reference to the burnt-offerings. It should be noticed that it is here introduced in close connection with the imposition of hands by the worshipper, not, as it is when it refers to the sin-offering, with the special functions of the priest, Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:35; 2 Chronicles 29:23.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    In the due performance of the Levitical ordinances, the mysteries of the spiritual world are represented by corresponding natural objects; and future events are exhibited in these rites. Without this, the whole will seem unmeaning ceremonies. There is in these things a type of the sufferings of the Son of God, who was to be a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world? The burning body of an animal was but a faint representation of that everlasting misery, which we all have deserved; and which our blessed Lord bore in his body and in his soul, when he died under the load of our iniquities. Observe, 1. The beast to be offered must be without blemish. This signified the strength and purity that were in Christ, and the holy life that should be in his people. 2. The owner must offer it of his own free will. What is done in religion, so as to please God, must be done by love. Christ willingly offered himself for us. 3. It must be offered at the door of the tabernacle, where the brazen altar of burnt-offerings stood, which sanctified the gift: he must offer it at the door, as one unworthy to enter, and acknowledging that a sinner can have no communion with God, but by sacrifice. 4. The offerer must put his hand upon the head of his offering, signifying thereby, his desire and hope that it might be accepted from him, to make atonement for him. 5. The sacrifice was to be killed before the Lord, in an orderly manner, and to honour God. It signified also, that in Christians the flesh must be crucified with its corrupt affections and lust. 6. The priests were to sprinkle the blood upon the altar; for the blood being the life, that was it which made atonement. This signified the pacifying and purifying of our consciences, by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ upon them by faith. 7. The beast was to be divided into several pieces, and then to be burned upon the altar. The burning of the sacrifice signified the sharp sufferings of Christ, and the devout affections with which, as a holy fire, Christians must offer up themselves, their whole spirit, soul, and body, unto God. 8. This is said to be an offering of a sweet savour. As an act of obedience to a Divine command, and a type of Christ, this was well-pleasing to God; and the spiritual sacrifices of Christians are acceptable to God, through Christ, 1Pe 2:5.
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