Add a bookmarkAdd and edit notesShare this commentary

Leviticus 4:32-35 meaning

Sin offerings in the case of a common person committing a sin, where a female lamb is the offering.

Leviticus 4:32-35 continues the prescription of sacrifice for the common people. The previous section dealt with the sacrifice of a goat as a sacrifice for unintentional sin. This section provides further instruction on the sin offering, detailing the use of a lamb as an alternative sacrificial animal.

As with the previous section, this sacrifice is to cover unintentional sins for common people living within the community (Leviticus 4:27). This passage demonstrates the allowance for variability in offerings, which could reflect different personal or economic circumstances within the community. This reflects the biblical principle that God’s primary focus is upon the heart (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring it, a female without defect. (v. 32) Here, the option is for the common person to bring a female lamb as opposed to a female goat (Leviticus 4:28). This indicates flexibility within the sacrificial system. A female lamb without defect is specified, continuing the theme of offering a blemish-free animal as a symbol of the purity and wholeness required to approach God. The requirement of a pure animal foreshadows Jesus, the sinless man, offering Himself for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Next, He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they slay the burnt offering (v. 33)

The sinner's act of laying hands on the head of the sin offering indicates identification with the sacrifice and the transference of sin. The lamb is slain in the same sacred space as the burnt offering, underscoring the solemnity of the ritual and its importance in the religious life of the Israelite community.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would perform the most anticipated sin offering of the year. In this case, lots were casts upon two goats, one lot for “Azazel” (sometimes translated “scapegoat”) and the other lot for “Yahweh.” The goat upon which the lot for Azazel fell was released into the wilderness after the high priest would lay his hand on the head of the goat and confess all the sins of the people over it.

Afterward, the goat upon which the lot for Yahweh fell would be slain as a special sin offering for the sins of the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:8-9). It would be the blood of this special sin offering that would be brought inside the veil of the tabernacle and sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:15). This was a foreshadowing of Christ going inside the veil as the perfect offering for sin, not with the blood of goats but His own blood (Hebrew 9:24-25).

To learn more about how the two goats on the Day of Atonement foreshadow the work of Jesus on the cross, see our article—“Ransom and Redemption: Jesus and Barabbas as Day of Atonement Symbols.

Once the animal was deceased, The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar" (v. 34).

In these actions, the blood of the lamb, the sin offering, represented life. The blood was used to sanctify the altar, symbolizing the cleansing of the sinner before God. This allowed fellowship with God to be restored. In the New Testament, restoration of fellowship is gained through confession before God (1 John 1:9, Hebrews 9:14, 10:19).

In preparation for the offering by fire, he shall remove all its fat, just as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offerings, and the priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar, on the offerings by fire to the LORD" (v. 35).

Fat is often used as a picture of abundance and prosperity (Genesis 45:18). Perhaps the offering of the fat is a recognition that God is the only true source of our blessings and prosperity. The picture could be one of offering back to God thanksgiving for our lives and blessings, by burning them and having the aroma ascend to Him.

Leviticus 3:16 says that “all fat is the LORD’s.” The burning of the fat causes the smoke to rise, which signifies a soothing aroma going up to God, indicative of divine acceptance and favor. The term burnt offering in Hebrew is “oleh” which means “to ascend.” As the offerers watched their gifts become smoke and go up to the sky, it would have provided them with a visible representation of a spiritual truth.

Abel, the son of Adam, who lived many centuries before these laws were given, also offered the fat from his flock, likely indicating that he offered up the prosperity with which God had blessed him (Genesis 4:4).

"Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven" (v. 35). This verse concludes the process with the crucial role of the priest as mediator and the result of the ritual: atonement and forgiveness for the sinner. It reaffirms the effectiveness of the sin offering in reconciling the fellowship of the individual with God and restoring them to fellowship within the community.

The inclusion of a lamb as well as a goat as an acceptable offering for sin reinforces the law's flexibility and God’s mercy. It allows those who may not have access to one sort of animal to still fulfill the requirements for atonement with what they have access to.

Every person, regardless of social standing or wealth, has the means to seek and receive forgiveness from God. This passage, like others in Leviticus, underscores the gracious provision God gives for all people to be made right with Him, maintaining the purity and holiness of the community. God is not partial, and desires that all come to Him (1 Peter 1:17). The ground is level at the foot of the cross. 

Select Language
AaSelect font sizeDark ModeSet to dark mode
This website uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalized content. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies as described in our Privacy Policy.