Leviticus 4:22 MEANING

Leviticus 4:22
(22) When a ruler hath sinned.--The third instance adduced is that of a ruler sinning inadvertently (Leviticus 4:22-26). As the word here translated "ruler" is used for a king (1 Kings 11:34; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 46:2), the head of a tribe (Numbers 1:4-16) or of the division of a tribe (Numbers 34:18), opinions differ as to the exact position of the personage here meant. Now, in comparing the phrase used with regard to the sin of ignorance in the case of the high priest, the congregation, and any one of the people, it will be seen that in all the three instances it is simply described as a sin "against any commandments of the Lord"(comp. Leviticus 4:2; Leviticus 4:13; Leviticus 4:27), whereas in the case of the ruler, we have the exceptional phrase, "against any of the commandments of the Lord his God." Hence the interpretation obtained during the second Temple that the addition of the phrase his God, which shows a peculiar relationship to his God, denotes here one over whom God alone is exalted--the sovereign who is only responsible to his God.

And is guilty.--Rather, and acknowledges his guilt, as the Authorised Version rightly translates it in Hosea 5:15. (Comp. also Zechariah 11:5.) This sense is not only required by the disjunctive particle or, with which the next verse begins, but by the fact that the declaration in the present rendering, "When men sin they are guilty," is a truism. The sinner is guilty whether he sins advertently or inadvertently. The case here supposed is that the prince had himself come to the knowledge that what he had done was a sin, and had acknowledged it as such.

Verses 22-26. - The case of a ruler or nobleman. The clause, Or if his sin... come to his knowledge, should be rather translated, If perhaps his sin come to his knowledge. He is to offer a kid of the goats, or rather a he-goat. The blood is not to be carried into the tabernacle, as in the two previous cases, but put upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, which stood outside in the court, and, as a consequence of the blood not having been taken into the tabernacle, the flesh is not to be burnt outside the camp, but to be eaten by the priests in the court of the tabernacle (see Leviticus 6:26).

4:22-26 Those who have power to call others to account, are themselves accountable to the Ruler of rulers. The sin of the ruler, committed through ignorance, must come to his knowledge, either by the check of his own conscience, or by the reproof of his friends; both which even the best and greatest, not only should submit to, but be thankful for. That which I see not, teach thou me, and, Show me wherein I have erred, are prayers we should put up to God every day; that if, through ignorance, we fall into sin, we may not through ignorance abide in it.When a ruler hath sinned,.... Or "prince", the "nasi", one that is lifted up above others in honour, power, and authority, or that bears the weight of government: the word comes from one which signifies to lift up, or to bear; it may be understood of a governor of a family, or of a tribe, as Aben Ezra observes; and so in the Talmud (k) it is said, it means the prince of a tribe, such as Nachson the son of Amminadab, prince of the tribe of Judah. Maimonides (l) says a king is designed, over whom none has power; and so Gersom on the place, who observes, that David the king is called a prince, Ezekiel 34:24.

and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God; the phrase, "his God", is here added, and is not used neither of the anointed priest, nor of the congregation, nor of one of the common people; only of the prince, to show, that though he is above others, God is above him, and he is accountable to him; he is his God, of whom he is, and by whom he rules; wherefore if he breaks any of his commandments, though ignorantly, he must bring a sacrifice for it:

concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; of transgressing negative precepts, which are as binding on him as others.

(k) T. Bab. Horayot, fol. 11. 1.((l) Hilchot Shegagot, c. 15. sect. 6.

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