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