29:12 and take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar 1 with your finger; all the rest of 2 the blood you are to pour out at the base of the altar.
29:36 Every day you are to prepare a bull for a purification offering 3 for atonement. 4 You are to purge 5 the altar by making atonement 6 for it, and you are to anoint it to set it apart as holy. 29:37 For seven days 7 you are to make atonement for the altar and set it apart as holy. Then the altar will be most holy. 8 Anything that touches the altar will be holy. 9
1 sn This act seems to have signified the efficacious nature of the blood, since the horns represented power. This is part of the ritual of the sin offering for laity, because before the priests become priests they are treated as laity. The offering is better described as a purification offering rather than a sin offering, because it was offered, according to Leviticus, for both sins and impurities. Moreover, it was offered primarily to purify the sanctuary so that the once-defiled or sinful person could enter (see J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB]).
2 tn The phrase “rest of” has been supplied in the translation for clarification.
3 tn The construction uses a genitive: “a bull of the sin offering,” which means, a bull that is designated for a sin (or better, purification) offering.
4 sn It is difficult to understand how this verse is to be harmonized with the other passages. The ceremony in the earlier passages deals with atonement made for the priests, for people. But here it is the altar that is being sanctified. The “sin [purification] offering” seems to be for purification of the sanctuary and altar to receive people in their worship.
5 tn The verb is וְחִטֵּאתָ (vÿhitte’ta), a Piel perfect of the word usually translated “to sin.” Here it may be interpreted as a privative Piel (as in Ps 51:7 ), with the sense of “un-sin” or “remove sin.” It could also be interpreted as related to the word for “sin offering,” and so be a denominative verb. It means “to purify, cleanse.” The Hebrews understood that sin and contamination could corrupt and pollute even things, and so they had to be purged.
6 tn The construction is a Piel infinitive construct in an adverbial clause. The preposition bet (ב) that begins the clause could be taken as a temporal preposition, but in this context it seems to express the means by which the altar was purged of contamination – “in your making atonement” is “by [your] making atonement.”
7 tn Once again this is an adverbial accusative of time. Each day for seven days the ritual at the altar is to be followed.
8 tn The construction is the superlative genitive: “holy of holies,” or “most holy.”
9 sn This line states an unusual principle, meant to preserve the sanctity of the altar. S. R. Driver explains it this way (Exodus, 325): If anything comes in contact with the altar, it becomes holy and must remain in the sanctuary for Yahweh’s use. If a person touches the altar, he likewise becomes holy and cannot return to the profane regions. He will be given over to God to be dealt with as God pleases. Anyone who was not qualified to touch the altar did not dare approach it, for contact would have meant that he was no longer free to leave but was God’s holy possession – and might pay for it with his life (see Exod 30:29; Lev 6:18b, 27; and Ezek 46:20).