A sin offering (Hebrew: קרבן חטאת) is a Biblical sacrifice offered to achieve atonement for the committing of an unintentional sin.
Types and occasions of offering
The sacrificial animal for sin offerings depended on the status of the sinner offering the sacrifice;
Like all types of sacrifices offered on the Mizbeach, the animal had to be completely unblemished.
Apart from such general offerings for an unintended sin, the offering was also made on the following:
- on Yom Kippur - one bull as the high priest's offering, and a young male goat on behalf of the community
- on the appointment of a priest - a calf as the priest's offering, and a small young goat on behalf of the community
- on the termination of a Nazirite's vow - a year old ewe as the Nazirite's offering
- after recovery from Tzaraas - a ewe as the former leper's offering
- shortly after childbirth - a dove as the woman's offering
- after Niddah (temporary marital separation due to menstruation) or recovery from zivah (abnormal bodily discharges) - the offering in both cases being a dove or young pigeon.
The ritual of the sin offering began with the offerer confessing his/her unintentional sin while placing his/her hands and pushing his/her full weight over the head of the animal. In the case of community offerings the elders performed this function, in the case of Yom Kippur, the high priest performs this task. The animal would then be slaughtered by a Shochet, the blood carefully collected by the Kohen in an earthen vessel and sprayed/thrown on the two outer corners of the Mizbeach, while the fat, liver, kidneys, and caul, were burnt on the roof of the Mizbeach.
On Yom Kippur, some of the blood would be sprinkled in front of the veil covering the entrance to the Holy of Holies when the blood would be sprinkled in front of the mercy seat; this was done seven times. The remainder of the blood was poured out at the base of the altar, and the earthen vessel that had contained it would be smashed.
The remaining flesh of the animal -as one of The twenty-four Kohanic gifts was later consumed by the Kohen and his family, except when the priest himself was the offerer (such as in community offerings, and in the case of Yom Kippur), when it would be burnt outside the sanctuary.
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