Even when a man unwittingly breaks the laws of God, full restitution must be made,
which is possible only through the presentation of the sacrifice.
1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
3 Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.
4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.
5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:
6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.
7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.
8 And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:
9 And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.
10 And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.
11 ¶ But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.
12 Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: it is a sin offering.
13 And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest’s, as a meat offering.
14 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
15 If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:
16 And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.
17 ¶ And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.
18 And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.
19 It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD.
Leviticus 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Leviticus 5:1-13 – Trespass-Offerings for Various Sins
The sin-offering was closely resembled by the trespass-offering; but they differed in this: that the former was meant to fix the thought of the sinner rather on the evil of his character, and that there was within him a root of bitterness and a poisonous fountain. But the latter deals with the acts of transgression to which this evil character gives rise, and more especially with the harm which it inflicts on others. We need to confess our trespasses as often as we eat our daily bread; and it is very reassuring that, through the blood of Jesus, God forgives all our trespasses. See Colossians 2:13.
It is very touching to notice the provision made for the very poor. Mary, the mother of our Lord, had to content herself with the two pigeons or turtle doves of Leviticus 5:11. But none of us are exempted. We cannot come to the close of any day without kneeling to confess our sins and asking that we may be sprinkled from an evil conscience. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Leviticus 5:5-6 – He shall confess that he hath sinned: and bring his Trespass offering.
It is said that sometimes a soldier will come from the battle bleeding from a hidden wound which he has received without knowing it. So in the rush of life we may contract defilement by touching uncleanness, or speaking rashly, which in the sight of God will leave a foul stain upon the white robe of the soul.
The presence of unconscious sin with us is the reason why we are often unable to pray or read the Word of God at night. We are aware of a certain distance, a vail, a cloud, which has settled down between us and the beatific vision. At such times we do well to examine ourselves and the past more critically; for probably we shall be able to detect the hidden cause, which, when we know it, must be confessed and placed on the head of our guilt-offering, we yield ourselves to God as a whole burnt-offering, in a new act of self-surrender.
But confession is all important. We must confess our sins, if the faithful Lord is to forgive them. Confession is taking God’s side against ourselves. It is the act of judging evil in the light of the Throne. It is like the unpacking of a box, in which one begins with the lighter things at the top, and works steadily down to the heavy articles underneath. It is the repetition in the heart of Joshua’s calling the roll of Israel until Achan, the son of Carmi, was taken.
When the atonement has been made as touching sin “in any of these things”, there is forgiveness (Leviticus 18:24). Dare to believe that this is so, O penitent soul, who hast made Christ’s soul an offering for thy sin. He says (Isaiah 44:22): “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.” Go thy way, and sin no more. —Our Daily Homily
Leviticus 5:14-19 – Trespass-Offerings and Restitution
The root idea of the Hebrew word for trespass is “failure of duty through negligence.” In addition to the sin itself, which is against God, as the august Custodian of the law and order of the universe, the injury, which such negligence inflicts upon one’s neighbor, must be met by a compensation and fine. Any sum which another has lost through us should, of course, be repaid, and a fifth part added, if required. But probably, the main lesson of the trespass-offering is that we cannot injure any fellow-creature without offending against God. Our offence penetrates beyond the thin veil of humanity and the visible universe into the unseen Holy. – Through the Bible Day by Day