Why do some korbanot need to be brought as male animals, and some as female animals?

  • 1
    Some can be brought as either FWIW. Also FWIW female animals are only found in private offerings, never communal ones.
    – Double AA
    Dec 31, 2017 at 20:51
  • "Because the Torah said so" - is that a valid answer? Jan 1, 2018 at 9:06
  • More general: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/13310
    – msh210
    Jan 1, 2018 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


Rambam explains that the animal brought, and its gender, corresponds to the greatness of the sin committed:

Guide for the Perplexed 3:46

The greater the sin which a person had committed, the lower was the species from which the sin-offering was brought. The offering for worshipping idols in ignorance was only a she-goat, whilst for other sins an ordinary person brought either a ewe-lamb or a she-goat (Lev. iv. 27-35), the females bring, as a rule, in every species, inferior to the males. There is no greater sin than idolatry, and also no inferior species than a she-goat. The offering of a king for sins committed ignorantly was a he-goat (ibid. vers. 22-26), as a mark of distinction. The high priest and the Synhedrion, who only gave a wrong decision in ignorance, but have not actually committed a sin, brought a bull for their sin-offering (ibid. ver. 3-21), or a he-goat, when the decision referred to idolatry (Num. xv. 27-26). The sins for which guilt-offerings were brought were not as bad as transgressions that required a sin-offering. The guilt-offering was therefore a ram, or a lamb, so that the species as well as the sex were superior in this latter case, for the guilt-offering was a male sheep. For the same reason we see the burnt-offering, which was entirely burnt upon the altar, was selected from the superior sex; for only male animals were admitted as burnt-offerings. (Friedlander translation)

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