Leviticus 1:4 KJV

And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

It is said the offender shall lay his hand upon the head of his sacrifice and it shall be accepted for atonement,but atonement is said to be in the blood

Leviticus 17:11 KJV

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul

Was the laying of hand upon the sacrifice essential in making atonement for the soul?.

2 Answers 2


Here we must tread very carefully and not confuse the shadow with the reality in Christ.

  1. Heb 10:4 - because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
  2. Rom 3:25 - God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand.
  3. Heb 9:22 - According to the law, in fact, nearly everything must be purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
  4. Heb 9:12 - He did not enter by the blood of goats and calves, but He entered Sanctuary once for all by His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption.
  5. Heb 9:23 - So it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
  • Heb 8:5 - The place where they serve is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
  • Col 2:17 - These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts it belongs to Christ.
  • Heb 10:1 - For the law is only a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. It can never, by the same sacrifices offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Again, the OT sacrificial system could not atone for sin. it was a teaching device to teach about the atonement of the coming Messiah. Thus, placing the hand on the head of the animal was a reminder that the person's sin had caused the death of the animal which represented Jesus the Messiah.

  • John 1:29 - The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
  • 1 Cor 5:7 - Get rid of the old leaven, that you may be a new unleavened batch, as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
  • 1 Peter 1:19 - but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.

Note the comments of Ellicott on Lev 1:4 -

(4) And he shall put his hand.—Or, lay his hand, as the same phrase is rendered in Leviticus 3:2-3; Leviticus 3:17, &c. The laying on of hands by the offerer on the victim was enjoined not only in the case of burnt offerings, but also in peace offerings (Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:7; Leviticus 3:13; Leviticus 8:22, &c.) and in sin offerings (Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33; Leviticus 8:14, &c.). The offerer indicated thereby both the surrender of his ownership of the victim, and the transfer to it of’ the feelings by which he was influenced in performing this act of dedication to the Lord. From the practice which obtained during the second Temple, we know that the offerer himself laid both his hands between the two horns of the animal whilst alive, and that no proxy could do it. If several offered one sacrifice, each one laid his hand separately on the victim, confessing his sins and saying, “I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed and I have done this and this, but I repent before Thee, and this is my atonement.”

Similarly, the Cambridge commentary says this:

In all these passages the Heb. word for ‘lay’ is ṣâmak, and the action was called in post-Biblical Heb. ṣěmîkah. Something more than a mere putting of the hand on the head is intended; the word implies pressure or leaning upon an object. Targ. Jon. translates Leviticus 1:3 he shall lay his right hand with firmness and Tal. Bab. Zebâhîm 33 a enjoins the exercise of ‘all his strength.’ Cp. Chagîgah 16 b, where Ramai bar Chama says, ‘We require the laying on to be done with all one’s strength.’ According to Jewish tradition a confession of sin accompanied the laying on of hands. It does not seem probable that sacrificial acts were performed altogether in silence; special liturgical forms are prescribed in Deuteronomy 26 for two occasions; and it may be that the offerer made some statement of his intention in bringing his oblation, and prayed that the sacrifice might be graciously accepted. The expression ‘all his strength’ might then refer to mental as well as physical energy.

Benson is also Similar:

Leviticus 1:4. He shall put his hand — Both his hands; Leviticus 8:14; Leviticus 8:18; Leviticus 16:21; whereby he signified, 1st. That he willingly gave it to the Lord; 2d, That he judged himself worthy of that death which it suffered in his stead; and that he laid his sins upon it with an eye to him upon whom God would lay the iniquity of us all, (Isaiah 53:6,) and that together with it he did freely offer up himself to God.

Similarly, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

  1. shall put his hand upon the head—This was a significant act which implied not only that the offerer devoted the animal to God, but that he confessed his consciousness of sin and prayed that his guilt and its punishment might be transferred to the victim.

All these acts anticipated the great atonement offered by Jesus:

  • Isa 53:6 - We all like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.
  • 1 John 2:2 - And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

The Burnt-Offering (Ha-Olah) of [Leviticus 1:1-17] was select [male בָּקָר Bull (from the herd) or male Sheep/Goat (from the flock) or male יּוֹנָה Dove/Pigeon] which an Israelite criminal would not eat but instead present to The-Kohanim הַכֹּֽהֲנִים with his-hand (יָד֔וֹ) to acknowledge intentional sins by the Elevated smell of his lost sustainability. The edible resource used to sustain the sinful life of the Israelite is now gone. Punishment for violating Torah, Burnt-Offerings (עֹלוֹת) Cost (עֲלוּת) a lot of food.

Regular Practitioner of Burnt-Offerings (to Elevate intentional sins based on [Leviticus 1]) was Job (אִיּוֹב Iyov) referenced in [Iyov 1:5] - "Iyov said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and blasphemed Elohim in their hearts." So would Job do all the days." ( אָמַר אִיּוֹב אוּלַי חָטְאוּ בָנַ֔י וּבֵֽרְכוּ אֱלֹהִים בִּלְבָבָם כָּכָה יַֽעֲשֶׂה אִיּוֹב כָּל־הַיָּמִֽים )

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