on Leviticus 1 :2
Bring an offering - The word קרבן korban, from קרב karab, to approach or draw near, signifies an offering or gift by which a person had access unto God: and this receives light from the universal custom that prevails in the east, no man being permitted to approach the presence of a superior without a present or gift; and the offering thus brought was called korban, which properly means the introduction-offering, or offering of access. This custom has been often referred to in the preceding books. See also Leviticus 7.
Of the cattle - הבהמה habbehemah, animals of the beeve kind, such as the bull, heifer, bullock, and calf; and restrained to these alone by the term herd, בקר bakar, which, from its general use in the Levitical writings, is known to refer to the ox, heifer, etc. And therefore other animals of the beeve kind were excluded.
Of the flock - צאן tson. Sheep and Goats; for we have already seen that this term implies both kinds; and we know, from its use, that no other animal of the smaller clean domestic quadrupeds is intended, as no other animal of this class, besides the sheep and goat, was ever offered in sacrifice to God. The animals mentioned in this chapter as proper for sacrifice are the very same which God commanded Abraham to offer; see Genesis 15:9. And thus it is evident that God delivered to the patriarchs an epitome of that law which was afterwards given in detail to Moses, the essence of which consisted in its sacrifices; and those sacrifices were of clean animals, the most perfect, useful, and healthy, of all that are brought under the immediate government and influence of man. Gross-feeding and ferocious animals were all excluded, as were also all birds of prey. In the pagan worship it was widely different; for although the ox was esteemed among them, according to Livy, as the major hostia; and according to Pliny, the victima optima, et laudatis sima deorum placatio, Plin. Hist. Nat., lib. viii., c. 45, "the chief sacrifice and the most availing offering which could be made to the gods;" yet obscene fowls and ravenous beasts, according to the nature of their deities, were frequently offered in sacrifice. Thus they sacrificed horses to the Sun, wolves to Mars, asses to Priapus, swine to Ceres, dogs to Hecate, etc., etc. But in the worship of God all these were declared unclean, and only the three following kinds of Quadrupeds were commanded to be sacrificed:
1. The bull or ox, the cow or heifer, and the calf.
2. The he-goat, she-goat, and the kid.
3. The ram, the ewe, and the lamb.
Among Fowls, only pigeons and turtle-doves were commanded to be offered, except in the case of cleansing the leper, mentioned Leviticus 14:4, where two clean birds, generally supposed to be sparrows or other small birds, though of what species is not well known, are specified.
Fish were not offered, because they could not be readily brought to the tabernacle alive.
on Leviticus 1 :2
Speak unto the children of Israel - It is important to observe that these first instructions Leviticus 1:2-3:17 are addressed expressly to the individual who felt the need of sacrifice on his own account. They were not delivered through the priests, nor had the officiating priest any choice as to what he was to do. He was only to examine the victim to see that it was perfect Leviticus 22:17-24, and to perform other strictly prescribed duties Leviticus 6:8-7:21. The act of offering was to be voluntary on the part of the worshipper, but the mode of doing it was in every point defined by the Law. The presenting of the victim at the entrance of the tabernacle was in fact a symbol of the free will submitting itself to the Law of the Lord. Such acts of sacrifice are to be distinguished from the public offerings, and those ordained for individuals on special occasions (see Leviticus 4:2 note), which belonged to the religious education of the nation.
Offering - Hebrew: קרבן qorbân - the general name for what was formally given up to the service of God (compare Mark 7:11), and exactly corresponding to the words "offering" and "oblation."
on Leviticus 1 :2