Further thoughts and teaching on the Guilt or Trespass Offering

As North has split the passage 5:14-6:7 into 2 chapters, what has been included under the previous chapter’s ‘further teaching’ may be of equal relevance here.

Double Restitution

Exodus 22:1,4,7-9 (the RSV emends the first two verses mentioned to cause them to run successively with verse 2 following 4) relates circumstances where restitution is commanded to be made at double the price of the value of the object in question. This is clearly in contradiction to the restitution commanded in the Levitical passages concerning the guilt offering (5:14-6:7).

The point of the Exodus passages seem to be that, should an infringement of law take place and the offender does not come forward to confess his sin, then the forfeit is that restitution must be made at a far higher rate than if his conscience was troubling him and he voluntarily confessed his sin, sacrificed and made voluntary restitution to the injured party.

There is, then, encouragement provided to the thief to come forward and restore what he’s illegally stolen before he’s found out and has to forfeit twice the value of his gain.

Provision for Weakness

The Law makes provision for man’s weakness in the atonement that’s possible following public confession of sin and restitution (Num 5:5-10 - confession is here made along with the guilt offering. There appears to be no mention of this confession of sin in the legislation in Leviticus because the guilt offering was similar on undetailed points to that of the sin offering - Lev 7:7) but, under the New Covenant, that weakness is dealt with through the cross - whether that be crucifixion of the old nature that leads us astray (Rom 6:6, Gal 2:20, 5:24) or through the power that’s now available to us to put to death those former ways of life (Rom 8:13, Col 3:5).

Restitution still needs to be made should there be personal acts of theft carried out while a christian (or even outstanding matters of theft that need to be addressed that took place before becoming a christian) but the command remains to all thieves who are now believers (Eph 4:28)

‘Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need’

The Purpose of the Guilt or Trespass Offering

The function and purpose of the guilt offering has already been explained under a similar heading in the previous chapter and the differentiating characteristics of 6:1-7 have been dealt with in the discussion on North’s text.

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