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Leviticus 16:2-3

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.

Day of Atonement Offerings

16:3 “In this way Aaron is to enter into the sanctuary – with a young bull 3  for a sin offering 4  and a ram for a burnt offering. 5 

Leviticus 16:11-17

Context
The Sin Offering Sacrificial Procedures

16:11 “Aaron is to present the sin offering bull which is for himself, and he is to make atonement on behalf of himself and his household. He is to slaughter the sin offering bull which is for himself, 16:12 and take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord 6  and a full double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, 7  and bring them inside the veil-canopy. 8  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, 9  so that he will not die. 10  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, 11  and in front of the atonement plate he is to sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger. 12 

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, 13  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. 16:16 So 14  he is to make atonement for the holy place from the impurities of the Israelites and from their transgressions with regard to all their sins, 15  and thus he is to do for the Meeting Tent which resides with them in the midst of their impurities. 16:17 Nobody is to be in the Meeting Tent 16  when he enters to make atonement in the holy place until he goes out, and he has made atonement on his behalf, on behalf of his household, and on behalf of the whole assembly of Israel.

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 “with a bull, a son of the herd.”

4 sn See the note on Lev 4:3 regarding the term “sin offering.”

5 sn For the “burnt offering” see the note on Lev 1:3.

6 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.”

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

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

9 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.).

10 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).

11 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).

12 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.

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

14 tn Heb “And.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative or even inferential force here.

15 tn Heb “to all their sins.”

16 tn Heb “And all man shall not be in the tent of meeting.” The term for “a man, human being” (אָדָם, ’adam; see the note on Lev 1:2) refers to any person among “mankind,” male or female.



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