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Leviticus 16:2

Context
16:2 and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother that he must not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil-canopy 1  in front of the atonement plate 2  that is on the ark so that he may not die, for I will appear in the cloud over the atonement plate.

Leviticus 16:12-15

Context
16:12 and take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord 3  and a full double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, 4  and bring them inside the veil-canopy. 5  16:13 He must then put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of incense will cover the atonement plate which is above the ark of the testimony, 6  so that he will not die. 7  16:14 Then he is to take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the eastern face of the atonement plate, 8  and in front of the atonement plate he is to sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger. 9 

16:15 “He must then slaughter the sin offering goat which is for the people. He is to bring its blood inside the veil-canopy, 10  and he is to do with its blood just as he did to the blood of the bull: He is to sprinkle it on the atonement plate and in front of the atonement plate.

1 tn Heb “into the holy place from house to the veil-canopy.” In this instance, the Hebrew term “the holy place” refers to “the most holy place” (lit. “holy of holies”), since it is the area “inside the veil-canopy” (cf. Exod 26:33-34). The Hebrew term פָּרֹכֶת (parokhet) is usually translated “veil” or “curtain,” 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, and thus formed more of a canopy than simply a curtain (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 3:687-89).

2 tn Heb “to the faces of the atonement plate.” The exact meaning of the Hebrew term כַּפֹּרֶת (kapporet) here rendered “atonement plate” is much debated. The traditional “mercy seat” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) does not suit the cognate relationship between this term and the Piel verb כִּפֶּר (kipper, “to make atonement, to make expiation”). The translation of the word should also reflect the fact that the most important atonement procedures on the Day of Atonement were performed in relation to it. Since the Lord would “appear in the cloud over the atonement plate,” and since it was so closely associated with the ark of the covenant (the ark being his “footstool”; cf. 1 Chr 28:2 and Ps 132:7-8), one could take it to be the place of his throne at which he accepts atonement. See J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:1014; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 234-35; and R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:691, 699. Cf. NIV “the atonement cover”; NCV “the lid on the Ark”; NLT “the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement.”

3 tn Heb “and he shall take the fullness of the censer, coals of fire, from on the altar from to the faces of the Lord.”

4 tn Heb “and the fullness of the hollow of his two hands, finely ground fragrant incense.”

5 tn Heb “and he shall bring from house to the veil-canopy.”

6 tn The text here has only “above the testimony,” but this is surely a shortened form of “above the ark of the testimony” (see Exod 25:22 etc.; cf. Lev 16:2). The term “testimony” in this expression refers to the ark as the container of the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them (see Exod 25:16 with Deut 10:1, 5, etc.).

7 tn Heb “and he will not die,” but it is clear that the purpose for the incense cloud was to protect the priest from death in the presence of the Lord (cf. vv. 1-2 above).

8 tn Heb “on the faces of the atonement plate toward the east.” Some have taken this to mean that the ark was stationed just behind the veil-canopy on the eastern side of the most holy place. Thus, the high priest would need to enter and walk toward the west end of the most holy place and then turn eastward in order to face the ark and sprinkle the blood in an eastward direction. The rendering here, however, requires that the ark was stationed on the western end, or perhaps in the middle of the area, so that as the priest entered he was already facing the ark and would sprinkle the blood on the eastern face of the atonement plate, in a westward direction (see, e.g., J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 239 versus J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:1032).

9 sn Presumably in this case the blood was sprinkled seven times on the ground in front of the ark on which the atonement plate was mounted.

10 tn Heb “and he shall bring its blood into from house to the veil-canopy.”



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