Sin Offering Regulations1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: ▼ 2 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When a person sins by straying unintentionally ▼
▼ Heb “And a person, when he sins in straying.” The English translation of “by straying” (בִּשְׁגָגָה [bishgagah] literally, “in going astray; in making an error”) varies greatly, but almost all suggest that this term refers to sins that were committed by mistake or done not knowing that the particular act was sinful (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:228–29). See, e.g., LXX “involuntarily”; Tg. Onq. “by neglect”; KJV “through ignorance”; ASV, RSV, NJPS “unwittingly”; NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “unintentionally”; NAB, NEB “inadvertently”; NCV “by accident.” However, we know from Num 15:27–31 that committing a sin “by straying” is the opposite of committing a sin “defiantly” (i.e., בְּיַד רָמָה [beyad ramah] “with a raised hand,” v. 30). In the latter case the person, as it were, raises his fist in presumptuous defiance against the Lord. Thus, he “blasphemes” the Lord and has “despised” his word, for which he should be “cut off from among his people” (Num 15:30–31). One could not bring an offering for such a sin. The expression here in Lev 4:2 combines “by straying” with the preposition “from” which fits naturally with “straying” (i.e., “straying from” the Lord’s commandments). For sins committed “by straying” from the commandments (Lev 4 throughout) or other types of transgressions (Lev 5:1–6) there was indeed forgiveness available through the sin offering. See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:94–95.from any of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, and violates any ▼
▼ This is an emphatic use of the preposition מִן (min; see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 56–57, #325).one of them ▼
▼ The “when” clause (כִּי, ki) breaks off here before its resolution, thus creating an open-ended introduction to the following subsections, which are introduced by “if” (אִם [’im] vv. 3, 13, 27, 32). Also, the last part of the verse reads literally, “which must not be done and does from one from them.”–
For the Priest3 “‘If the high priest ▼
▼ Heb “the anointed priest” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). This refers to the high priest (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).sins so that the people are guilty, ▼
▼ Heb “to the guilt of the people”; NRSV “thus bringing guilt on the people.”on account of the sin he has committed he must present a flawless young bull to the Lord ▼
▼ Heb “and he shall offer on his sin which he sinned, a bull, a son of the herd, flawless.”for a sin offering. ▼
▼ The word for “sin offering” (sometimes translated “purification offering”) is the same as the word for “sin” earlier in the verse. One can tell which rendering is intended only by the context. The primary purpose of the “sin offering” (חַטָּאת, khatta’t) was to “purge” (כִּפֶּר, kipper, “to make atonement,” see 4:20, 26, 31, 35, and the notes on Lev 1:4 and esp. Lev 16:20, 33) the sanctuary or its furniture in order to cleanse it from any impurities and/or (re)consecrate it for holy purposes (see, e.g., Lev 8:15; 16:19). By making this atonement the impurities of the person or community were cleansed and the people became clean. See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:93–103.4 He must bring the bull to the entrance of the Meeting Tent before the Lord, lay his hand on the head of the bull, and slaughter the bull before the Lord. 5 Then that high priest must take some of the blood ▼
▼ Heb “from the blood of the bull” (and similarly throughout this chapter).of the bull and bring it to the Meeting Tent. 6 The priest must dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle ▼ some of it ▼
▼ Heb “of the blood.” The relative pronoun (“it”) has been used in the translation here for stylistic reasons.seven times before the Lord toward ▼
▼ The particle here translated “toward” usually serves as a direct object indicator or a preposition meaning “with.” With the verb of motion it probably means “toward,” “in the direction of” (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:234; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 60); cf. NAB, CEV.the front of the veil-canopy ▼
▼ The Hebrew term פָּרֹכֶת (parokhet) is usually translated “veil” (e.g., ASV, NAB, NASB) or “curtain” (e.g., NIV, NRSV), but it seems to have stretched not only in front of but also over the top of the ark of the covenant which stood behind and under it inside the most holy place (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 3:687–89).of the sanctuary. 7 The priest must put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the Lord in the Meeting Tent, and all the rest of the bull’s blood he must pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.
8 “‘Then he must take up all the fat from the sin offering bull: ▼
▼ Heb “all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall take up from it.”the fat covering the entrails ▼
▼ The MT has here the preposition עַל (’al, “on, upon” [i.e., “which covers on the entrails,” as awkward in Hebrew as it is in English]), but Smr, LXX, Syriac, and Targums read אֶת (’et), which is what would be expected (i.e., “which covers the entrails”; cf. Lev 3:3, 9, 14). It may have been mistakenly inserted here under the influence of “on (עַל) the entrails” at the end of the verse.and all the fat surrounding the entrails, ▼
▼ Heb “and all the fat on the entrails.” The fat layer that covers the entrails as a whole (i.e., “that covers the entrails”) is different from the fat that surrounds and adheres to the various organs (“on the entrails,” i.e., surrounding them; J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:205–7).9 the two kidneys with the fat on their sinews, and the protruding lobe on the liver (which he is to remove along with the kidneys) ▼
▼ Heb “and the protruding lobe on the liver on the kidneys he shall remove it.”10 – just as it is taken from the ox of the peace offering sacrifice ▼ – and the priest must offer them up in smoke on the altar of burnt offering. 11 But the hide of the bull, all its flesh along with its head and its legs, its entrails, and its dung – 12 all the rest of the bull ▼
▼ All of v. 11 is a so-called casus pendens (also known as an extraposition or a nominative absolute), which means that it anticipates the next verse, being the full description of “all (the rest of) the bull” (lit. “all the bull”) at the beginning of v. 12 (actually after the first verb of the verse; see the next note below).– he must bring outside the camp ▼
▼ Heb “And he (the offerer) shall bring out all the bull to from outside to the camp to a clean place.”to a ceremonially clean place, ▼
▼ Heb “a clean place,” but referring to a place that is ceremonially clean. This has been specified in the translation for clarity.to the fatty ash pile, ▼
▼ Heb “the pouring out [place] of fatty ash.”and he must burn ▼
▼ Heb “burn with fire.” This expression is somewhat redundant in English, so the translation collocates “fire” with “wood,” thus “a wood fire.”it on a wood fire; it must be burned on the fatty ash pile.
For the Whole Congregation13 “‘If the whole congregation of Israel strays unintentionally ▼ and the matter is not noticed by ▼
▼ Heb “is concealed from the eyes of”; NASB, NRSV, NLT “escapes the notice of.”the assembly, and they violate one of the Lord’s commandments, which must not be violated, ▼ so they become guilty, 14 the assembly must present a young bull for a sin offering when the sin they have committed ▼ becomes known. They must bring it before the Meeting Tent, 15 the elders of the congregation must lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and someone must slaughter ▼
▼ Heb “and he shall slaughter.” The singular verb seems to refer to an individual who represents the whole congregation, perhaps one of the elders referred to at the beginning of the verse, or the officiating priest (cf. v. 21). The LXX and Syriac make the verb plural, referring to “the elders of the congregation.”the bull before the Lord. 16 Then the high priest ▼
▼ Heb “the anointed priest” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). This refers to the high priest (cf. TEV).must bring some of the blood of the bull to the Meeting Tent, 17 and that priest must dip his finger in the blood ▼
▼ The words “in the blood” are not repeated in the Hebrew text at this point, but must be supplied in the English translation for clarity.and sprinkle ▼ some of the blood seven times ▼
▼ The MT reads literally, “and the priest shall dip his finger from the blood and sprinkle seven times.” This is awkward. Compare v. 6, which has literally, “and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle from the blood seven times.” The MT appears to be corrupt by haplography (i.e., assuming v. 6 to be the correct form, in v. 17 the scribe skipped from “his finger” to “from the blood,” thus missing “in the blood”) and metathesis (i.e., this also resulted in a text where “from the blood” stands before “sprinkle” rather than after it; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 47).before the Lord toward ▼ the front of the veil-canopy. ▼ 18 He must put some of the blood on the horns of the altar ▼ which is before the Lord in the Meeting Tent, and all the rest of the blood he must pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.
19 “‘Then the priest ▼ must take all its fat ▼
▼ Heb “take up all its fat from it”; NASB “shall remove all its fat from it.”▼ and offer the fat ▼ up in smoke on the altar. 20 He must do with the rest of the bull just as he did with the bull of the sin offering; this is what he must do with it. ▼ So the priest will make atonement ▼ on their behalf and they will be forgiven. ▼
▼ Heb “there shall be forgiveness to them” or “it shall be forgiven to them.”21 He ▼ must bring the rest of the bull outside the camp ▼
▼ Heb “And he shall bring out the bull to from outside to the camp.”and burn it just as he burned the first bull – it is the sin offering of the assembly.
For the Leader22 “‘Whenever ▼
▼ This section begins with the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (’asher) which usually means “who” or “which,” but here means “whenever.”a leader, by straying unintentionally, ▼ sins and violates one of the commandments of the Lord his God which must not be violated, ▼
▼ Heb “and does one from all the commandments of the Lord his God which must not be done”; cf. NRSV “ought not to be done”; NIV “does what is forbidden in any of the commands.”and he pleads guilty, 23 or his sin that he committed ▼
▼ Heb “or his sin which he sinned in it is made known to him”; NAB “if he learns of the sin he committed.”is made known to him, ▼
▼ Lev 4:22b–23a is difficult. The present translation suggests that there are two possible legal situations envisioned, separated by the Hebrew אוֹ (’o, “or”) at the beginning of v. 23. Lev 4:22b refers to any case in which the leader readily admits his guilt (i.e., “pleads guilty”), whereas v. 23a refers to cases where the leader is convicted of his guilt by legal action (“his sin…is made known to him”). See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:95–96; Lev 4:27–28; and esp. the notes on Lev 5:1 below.he must bring a flawless male goat as his offering. ▼
▼ Heb “a he-goat of goats, a male without defect”; cf. NLT “with no physical defects.”24 He must lay his hand on the head of the male goat and slaughter ▼ it in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the Lord – it is a sin offering. 25 Then the priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and he must pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26 Then the priest ▼ must offer all of its fat up in smoke on the altar like the fat of the peace offering sacrifice. So the priest will make atonement ▼ on his behalf for ▼
▼ Heb “from.” In this phrase the preposition מִן (min) may be referring to the reason or cause (“on account of, because of”; GKC 383 #119.z). As J. E. Hartley (Leviticus [WBC], 47) points out, “from” may refer to the removal of the sin, but is an awkward expression. Hartley also suggests that the phrasing might be “an elliptical expression for יְכַפֵּר עַל־לְטַהֵר אֶת־מִן, ‘he will make expiation for…to cleanse…from…,’ as in 16:30.”his sin and he will be forgiven. ▼
For the Common Person27 “‘If an ordinary individual ▼
▼ Heb “an individual from the people of the land”; cf. NASB “anyone of the common people” (KJV, ASV both similar); NAB “a private person.”sins by straying unintentionally ▼ when he violates one of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, ▼
▼ Heb “by doing it, one from the commandments of the Lord which must not be done.”and he pleads guilty 28 or his sin that he committed ▼
▼ Heb “or his sin which he sinned is made known to him”; cf. NCV “when that person learns about his sin.”is made known to him, ▼ he must bring a flawless female goat ▼
▼ Heb “a she-goat of goats, a female without defect”; NAB “an unblemished she-goat.”as his offering for the sin ▼
▼ Heb “on his sin.”that he committed. 29 He must lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter ▼ the sin offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 30 Then the priest must take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and he must pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 31 Then he must remove all of its fat (just as fat was removed from the peace offering sacrifice) and the priest must offer it up in smoke on the altar for a soothing aroma to the Lord. So the priest will make atonement ▼ on his behalf and he will be forgiven. ▼
32 “‘But if he brings a sheep as his offering, for a sin offering, he must bring a flawless female. 33 He must lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it for a sin offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34 Then the priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and he must pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 Then the one who brought the offering ▼
▼ Heb “Then he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here “he” refers to the offerer rather than the priest (contrast the clauses before and after).must remove all its fat (just as the fat of the sheep is removed from the peace offering sacrifice) and the priest must offer them up in smoke on the altar on top of the other gifts of the Lord. So the priest will make atonement ▼ on his behalf for his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven. ▼
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