Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
lev 5:1And hear - And for that is, as that particle is often used. For this declares in particular what the sin was. Or, namely, that of cursing, or blasphemy, or execration, as the word commonly signifies, and that either against one's neighbour, or against God. This may seem to be principally intended here, because the crime spoken of is of so high a nature, that he who heard it, was obliged to reveal it, and prosecute the guilty. He hath seen - Been present when it was said. Or known - By sufficient information from others. His iniquity - That is, the punishment of it; so that word is oft used, as Gen 19:15, Num 18:1.
lev 5:2If it be hidden from him - If he do it unawares, yet that would not excuse him, because he should have been more circumspect to avoid all unclean things. Hereby God designed to awaken men to watchfulness against, and repentance for, their unknown, or unobserved sins. He shall be clean - Not morally, for the conscience was not directly polluted by these things, but ceremonially.
lev 5:3When he knoweth - As soon as he knoweth it, he must not delay to make his peace with God. Otherwise he shall be guilty - For his violation and contempt of God's authority and command.
lev 5:4If a soul swear - Rashly, without consideration either of God's law, or his own power or right, as David did, Sa1 25:22. To do evil - To himself, to punish himself either in his body, or estate, or something else which is dear to him. Or rather to his neighbour. And it be hid from him - That is, he did not know, or not consider, that what he swore to do, was or would be impossible, or unlawful: When he discovers it to be so, either by his own consideration, or by information from others, whether it was good or evil which he swore to do.
lev 5:5In one of these things - In one of the three forementioned cases, either by sinful silence, or by an unclean touch, or by rash swearing. He shall confess - Before the Lord in the place of public worship. And this confession is not to be restrained to the present case, but by a parity of reason, and comparing of other scriptures, to be extended to other sacrifices for sin, to which this was a constant companion.
lev 5:6His trespass - offering - But how comes confession and a sacrifice to be necessary for him that touched an unclean thing, when such persons were cleansed with simple washing, as appears from Lev 11:25, Lev 11:28, Lev 11:32, Lev 11:40, Lev 11:43, and Num 19:7-8, Num 19:10, Num 19:19? This place speaks of him that being so unclean did come into the tabernacle, as may be gathered by comparing this place with Num 19:13, which if any man did, knowing himself to be unclean, which was the case there, he was to be cut off for it; and if he did it ignorantly, which is the case here, he was upon discovery of it to offer this sacrifice.
lev 5:7Not able - Through poverty. And this exception was allowed also in other sin - offerings. For a sin - offering - Which was for that particular sin, and therefore offered first: before the burnt - offering, which was for sins in general; to teach us not to rest in general confessions and repentance, but distinctly and particularly, as far as we can, to search out, and confess, and loath, and leave our particular sins, without which God will not accept our other religious services.
lev 5:9It is a sin - offering - This is added as the reason why its blood was so sprinkled and spilt.
lev 5:10According to the manner - Or order appointed by God. The priest shall make an atonement - Either declaratively, he shall pronounce him to be pardoned; or typically, with respect to Christ.
lev 5:11The tenth part of an ephah - About six pints. He shall put no oil, neither frankincense - Either to distinguish these from the meal - offerings, Lev 2:1, or as a fit expression of their sorrow for their sins, in the sense whereof they were to abstain from things pleasant; or to signify that by his sins he deserved to be utterly deprived both of the oil of gladness, the gifts, graces and comforts of the Holy Ghost; and of God's gracious acceptance of his prayers and sacrifices, which is signified by incense, Psa 141:2.
lev 5:13As a meal offering - As it was in the meal - offering, where all, except one handful, fell to the share of the priests. And this is the rather mentioned here, because in the foregoing sacrifices, Lev 4:3, &c. Lev 4:13, &c. the priest had no part reserved for him.
lev 5:15A trespass - Against the Lord and his priests. Through ignorance - For if a man did it knowingly, he was to be cut off, Num 15:30. In the holy things - In things consecrated to God, and to holy uses; such as tithes and first - fruits, or any things due, or devoted to God, which possibly a man might either with - hold, or employ to some common use. A ram - A more chargeable sacrifice than the former, as the sin of sacrilege was greater. With thy estimation - As thou shalt esteem or rate it, thou, O priest; and at present, thou, O Moses, for he as yet performed the priest's part. And this was an additional charge and punishment to him; besides the ram, he was to pay for the holy thing which he had with - held or abused, so many shekels of silver as the priest should esteem proportionable to it.
lev 5:17The former law concerns the alienation of holy things from sacred to common use; this may concern other miscarriages about holy things, and holy duties, as may be gathered from Lev 5:19, where this is said to be a trespass against the Lord, not in a general sense, for so every sin was; but in a proper and peculiar sense.