"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, 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 before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein." — Leviticus 6:1-7 KJV.
The division of the subject of the trespass offering made at this point by the unwise arrangement of the chapters in the Authorized Version is very much to be regretted. The Jews, who, with a few variations, have adopted the modern chapters and verses, have here very wisely retained their ancient division of the sections of the law by extending chapter 5 to Leviticus 6:7, the end of the trespass offering. We perceive that the recent revisers of our English Bible have so far corrected the arrangement of this chapter as, by a marginal note, to intimate the true ending of the chapter: so conforming it to the division of the Hebrew Bible.
WILFUL FRAUD — TRESPASS OFFERING AND FINE, 1-7.
2. Trespass — See Leviticus 5:15, note. Against the Lord — Every crime against man is also a sin against God, his Creator. The creature cannot be wronged without offending his Maker. Every violation of the second table of the law by acts flowing from a lack of love to our neighbour transgresses also the requirement of the first table, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” And lie — Or deny that the goods or money were delivered him to keep as a trust, or in fellowship — As a pledge or security. The Hebrew word improperly translated fellowship, is used in the Bible only in this verse. It is followed by the word hand, and is a deposit in the hand, that is, in pledge. Two kinds of deposit are practised by man, both of which are spoken of here. We deposit money with the banker because we trust him, or securities with the money-lender, because we wish him to trust us. Deceived his neighbour — This means oppressed, as the violence in the preceding clause signifies downright robbery.
3. Found… lost — The Roman code was evidently the voice of the same Divine Legislator speaking the same words through nature as he spake to Moses in the tabernacle. By that code he who found and appropriated any property was punished as a thief, whether he knew the owner or not. A brief statute of Solon was, “Take not up what you laid not down.” Property as a natural right, without which civilization would be annihilated and the human race become extinct, finds ample safeguards in the Holy Scriptures. Sweareth falsely — Avarice is the mother of lying and perjury.
4. He shall restore — Fruits mete for repentance are required before ceremonialism; mercy, or a right state of heart, before sacrifice. Thus the Philippian jailer washed the stripes of Christ’s ambassadors before he received baptism at their hands. Where restitution is possible, it must be immediately made; where it is not immediately possible, it must be solemnly promised, and the promise must be performed as soon as practicable.
5. In the principal — The property itself or its full value must be restored, with the addition of the fifth part, as a compensation to the injured party, as a penalty for the unjust deed, and as a motive to honesty in the future. In the day of his trespass offering — In the day his offering is to be presented. The reconciliation with the injured party must be made before the offering can be accepted. See note on Matthew 5:23, 24. The marginal reading of the Authorized Version, “in the day of his being found guilty,” is barely possible according to the Hebrew, but it is not suitable to this passage. No reference is had here to conviction by a criminal court, but to a conviction by the condemning voice of conscience.
6. Unto the Lord — Much the most solemn aspect of every evil deed is the side which is contemplated by the moral Governor of the world. The offender must be brought to a vivid realization of the damage done to the cause of religion and the reproach which he has cast upon his God. There must be an atonement to Jehovah as well as a compensation to his fellow-man. Estimation — See note on Leviticus 5:15.
7. It shall be forgiven him — After voluntary confession, restitution, compensation, and presentation of his trespass offering for a propitiation for his sin, he might trust in the mercy of God for forgiveness. For the nature of this forgiveness, see Temporal and Spiritual Benefits of Sacrifices.