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Q: #452. What was the difference between a "sin offering" and a "trespass / guilt offering?"

     A: The differences between these two offerings has been debated for centuries. Some differences I ran across included:

Sin offering: sin itself / Trespass offering: effect or guilt of sin
Sin offering: evil nature / Trespass offering: fruits of evil nature
Sin offering: sin against God / Trespass offering: sin against man
Sin offering: wrong done / Trespass offering: right undone

     There are even some who say there are basically no differences at all between the two.

     In studying all of the Sin vs Trespass / Guilt offerings I could find in the Bible, I found that none of the above differences were really accurate. So, instead, let’s do what we should ALWAYS do anyway. Let’s let the Bible show us the differences!

     The primary section dealing with sin offerings is found in Leviticus Chapter 4, while trespass offerings are primarily spoken of in Leviticus Chapter 5 through (Lev 6:1-7).

Sin OfferingsTrespass / Guilt Offerings
Sacrificed: For a priest, a bull (Lev 4:3), for the congregation, a bull (Lev 4:14-15), for a ruler, a male goat (Lev 4:23), for an individual, a female goat or lamb (Lev 4:28-32). (Also see: Lev Ch. 16)Sacrificed: A female lamb or goat (Lev 5:6). However, if he could not afford this, he could bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons (Lev 5:7). If he could not bring this, he could bring one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour (Lev 5:11).
For unintentional sins only (Lev 4:1-3,13,22-23,27-28). This included the once a year sacrifice on the “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur) (Heb 9:7).Primarily for unintentional sins (Lev 5:2-4,15,17-18), but also for a few intentional sins (Lev 5:1)(Lev 6:1-7)(Lev 19:20-22). More on this here.
For sins against God only. No restitution.Some trespass offerings required restitution. For sins against “the holy things of the Lord,” a ram without blemish was to be offered (Lev 5:15), and one-fifth added to it (Lev 5:16). For those who sinned against God by doing harm to another person (intentionally) (Lev 6:1-5), he was to “restore its full value, and add one-fifth more to it (Lev 6:5). If these sins occurred, a ram was to be brought for a trespass offering (Lev 6:6-7).
If a priest or the congregation made a sin offering (a bull), no part of it could be eaten by the priests (Lev 4:8-12,19-21) because the blood of the sacrifice had been taken into the tabernacle of meeting (Lev 4:6-7,17-18). However, the sin offering could be eaten by the priests if it was a sacrifice from a ruler or the people because its blood had not been taken into the tabernacle of meeting (Lev 6:24-30).Any trespass offering could be eaten by the priests (Lev 7:1-10).
In a few instances, a turtledove or pigeon could be sacrificed: 1. If someone suddenly died beside a person under a Nazarite vow (Num 6:9-12), 2. For a bodily discharge (Lev 15:13-15,28-30), 3. For purification after childbirth (Lev 12:6-8). 4. For a leper who was healed (Lev 14:22,30-31).————————

Copyright: © Steve Shirley

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Thanks for stating the differences and clarification.

Bob Evans

All these sacrifices & instructions for them are very confusing to me, but your description was very clear. Thank you.


Thanks for sharing this fruit of your research. If I may ask, why do you list verses from Lev 5:1-13 as dealing with trespass offerings? My understanding is that the instructions for the sin (purification) offering run from 4:1–5:13, and the instructions for the trespass (guilt) offering run from 5:14–6:7. The terminology of “sin offering” is used up through 5:12 and the “guilt offering” language is not introduced until 5:15.… Read more »


I find this very interesting and I’m appalled that I have not heard this explanation or any preaching on this subject. Also, I have never heard it explained as to why the ‘sin’ offerings where female sacrifices, except in the case of a priest or a ruler. Maybe the explanation can be gleamed from the beginning fall of man…Adam being the priest ruler of his house i.e. a male sacrifice… Read more »


Amazing. Thank you for the light shone