Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Leviticus 4:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If the priest that is anointed - Meaning, most probably, the high priest. According to the sin of the people; for although he had greater advantages than the people could have, in being more conversant with the law of God, and his lips should understand and preserve knowledge, yet it was possible even for him, in that time in which the word of God had not been fully revealed, to transgress through ignorance; and his transgression might have the very worst tendency, because the people might be thereby led into sin. Hence several critics understand this passage in this way, and translate it thus: If the anointed priest shall lead the people to sin; or, literally, if the anointed priest shall sin to the sin of the people; that is, so as to cause the people to transgress, the shepherd going astray, and the sheep following after him.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The priest that is anointed - i. e. the high priest. (Compare Leviticus 8:12; Leviticus 21:10; Exodus 29:7). On the anointing of the other priests see the note at Leviticus 8:13.

The graduation of the sin-offerings is remarkable. It might seem that the distinction addressed itself more pointedly to each individual according to his rank and consequent responsibility (see Leviticus 4:32).

According to the sin of the people - Rather, to bring guilt on the people. The whole nation is concerned in every transgression of its representative.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and peace-offerings, had been offered before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai; and in these the patriarchs had respect to sin, to make atonement for it. But the Jews were now put into a way of making atonement for sin, more particularly by sacrifice, as a shadow of good things to come; yet the substance is Christ, and that one offering of himself, by which he put away sin. The sins for which the sin-offerings were appointed are supposed to be open acts. They are supposed to be sins of commission, things which ought not to have been done. Omissions are sins, and must come into judgment: yet what had been omitted at one time, might be done at another; but a sin committed was past recall. They are supposed to be sins committed through ignorance. The law begins with the case of the anointed priest. It is evident that God never had any infallible priest in his church upon earth, when even the high priest was liable to fall into sins of ignorance. All pretensions to act without error are sure marks of Antichrist. The beast was to be carried without the camp, and there burned to ashes. This was a sign of the duty of repentance, which is the putting away sin as a detestable thing, which our soul hates. The sin-offering is called sin. What they did to that, we must do to our sins; the body of sin must be destroyed, Ro 6:6. The apostle applies the carrying this sacrifice without the camp to Christ, Heb 13:11-13.