Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that there are 5 types of offerings in the bible:

1) Burnt offering

2) Grain offering

3) Peace offering

4) Sin offering

5) Guilt offering

As I read through the Leviticus and Numbers Books of the bible, I find it difficult to understand the differences between Sin offering and Guilt offering.

Also, is it possible for the 2 offerings to overlap? ( In other words, can a sin offering also be a guilt offering in some cases or vice versa? ) Could someone please elaborate on the differences between sin offering and guilt offering?

Update: @tblue Thanks for bringing up the following journal article: ( https://www.jstor.org/stable/1516520?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A78b92bc8dabc4f10d0bb780f9986ec1f&seq=1 ) Journal Article The Sin-Offering and the Guilt-Offering N. H. Snaith Vetus Testamentum Vol. 15, Fasc. 1 (Jan., 1965), pp. 73-80 Published by: Brill DOI: 10.2307/1516520 https://www.jstor.org/stable/1516520 Page Count: 8

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2 Answers 2


In order to distinguish between the sin offering and the guilt offering, we need to recognize the differences between the two.

The sin offering seems to have dealt with any unintentional violation of the first five commandments which governed man's relation to God.

  1. “You will have no other gods before me.”
  2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol.”
  3. “You shall not take the name of the lord your God in vain.”
  4. “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy,”
  5. “Honor your father and your mother.”

The guilt offering was for matters of uncleanness whether intentional or unintentional. It was also for intentional sins against one’s neighbor. This was more applicable to the last five commandments which governed man’s relationship to man.

  1. “You shall not murder.”
  2. “You shall not commit adultery.”
  3. “You shall not steal.”
  4. “You shall not bear false witness.” This is specifically dealt with in 6:1, for the person who refused to testify to what one had seen or heard in a criminal matter. “Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.” 6:1. Whether one refused to testify against someone who was guilty of a crime or, if he refused to testify to a person’s innocence, in either case, justice has been denied.
  5. “You shall not covet.”

In all of these cases, sacrifice was made toward God because whether the offense was against God directly or against one's neighbor, it was still sin against God and the Law of God.

Ignorance did not excuse the offender nor did it dismiss his guilt. Sacrifice was still demanded by the Lord for satisfaction. The sacrifice was to be made

“when the sin becomes known.”

Any such sin that did not become known to the violator was later dealt with on the Great Day of Atonement on the 10th day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar.

  • Atonement was central to both, and the level of guilt or offense was demonstrated by where the blood was applied.

  • Both sacrifices were offered to reestablish fellowship with God. Because sin hindered one's fellowship, the violator could not offer a burnt offering, a peace offering, or a meal offering until the sin
    was properly atoned for once the sin became known.

  • Guilt offerings were in effect designed to restore ceremonial
    cleanness or to right a wrong against one’s neighbor. In this
    offense, God was not the only one offended.

  • In the guilt offering, restitution was always required to be made as far as possible, to the injured party. If the offense was against God alone, no restitution could be made to God for any affront to his holiness. Only in the shedding of blood could satisfaction be made to God.


This article goes into detail about the confusion of Hebrew terms and gives examples.

The Sin-Offering and the Guilt-Offering

N. H. Snaith

Vetus Testamentum Vol. 15, Fasc. 1 (Jan., 1965), pp. 73-80 (8 pages)

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