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Leviticus 1:2-3

Context
1:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When 1  someone 2  among you presents an offering 3  to the Lord, 4  you 5  must present your offering from the domesticated animals, either from the herd or from the flock. 6 

Burnt Offering Regulations: Animal from the Herd

1:3 “‘If his offering is a burnt offering 7  from the herd he must present it as a flawless male; he must present it at the entrance 8  of the Meeting Tent for its 9  acceptance before the Lord.

1 tn “When” here translates the MT’s כִּי (ki, “if, when”), which regularly introduces main clauses in legislative contexts (see, e.g., Lev 2:1, 4; 4:2, etc.) in contrast to אִם (’im, “if”), which usually introduces subordinate sections (see, e.g., Lev 1:3, 10, 14; 2:5, 7, 14; 4:3, 13, etc.; cf. כִּי in Exod 21:2 and 7 as opposed to אִם in vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11).

sn Lev 1:1-2 serves as a heading for Lev 1-3 (i.e., the basic regulations regarding the presentation of the burnt, grain, and peace offerings) and, at the same time, leads directly into the section on “burnt offerings” in Lev 1:3. In turn, Lev 1:3-17 divides into three subsections, all introduced by אִם “if” (Lev 1:3-9, 10-13, and 14-17, respectively). Similar patterns are discernible throughout Lev 1:2-6:7 [5:26 HT].

2 tn Heb “a man, human being” (אָדָם, ’adam), which in this case refers to any person among “mankind,” male or female, since women could also bring such offerings (see, e.g., Lev 12:6-8; 15:29-30; cf. HALOT 14 s.v. I אָדָם); cf. NIV “any of you.”

3 tn The verb “presents” is cognate to the noun “offering” in v. 2 and throughout the book of Leviticus (both from the root קרב [qrb]). One could translate the verb “offers,” but this becomes awkward and, in fact, inaccurate in some passages. For example, in Lev 9:9 this verb is used for the presenting or giving of the blood to Aaron so that he could offer it to the Lord. The blood is certainly not being “offered” as an offering to Aaron there.

4 tn The whole clause reads more literally, “A human being (אָדָם, ’adam), if he brings from among you an offering to the Lord.”

5 tn The shift to the second person plural verb here corresponds to the previous second person plural pronoun “among you.” It is distinct from the regular pattern of third person singular verbs throughout the rest of Lev 1-3. This too labels Lev 1:1-2 as an introduction to all of Lev 1-3, not just the burnt offering regulations in Lev 1 (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:146; cf. note 3 above).

6 tn Heb “from the domesticated animal, from the herd, and from the flock.” It is clear from the subsequent division between animals from the “herd” (בָּקָר, baqar, in Lev 1:3-9) and the “flock” (צֹאן, tson; see Lev 1:10-13) that the term for “domesticated animal” (בְּהֵמָה, bÿhemah) is a general term meant to introduce the category of pastoral quadrupeds. The stronger disjunctive accent over בְּהֵמָה in the MT as well as the lack of a vav (ו) between it and בָּקָר also suggest בְּהֵמָה is an overall category that includes both “herd” and “flock” quadrupeds.

sn The bird category (Lev 1:14-17) is not included in this introduction because bird offerings were, by and large, concessions to the poor (cf., e.g., Lev 5:7-10; 12:8; 14:21-32) and, therefore, not considered to be one of the primary categories of animal offerings.

7 sn The burnt offering (עֹלָה, ’olah) was basically a “a gift of a soothing aroma to the Lord” (vv. 9, 13, 17). It could serve as a votive or freewill offering (e.g., Lev 22:18-20), an accompaniment of prayer and supplication (e.g., 1 Sam 7:9-10), part of the regular daily, weekly, monthly, and festival cultic pattern (e.g., Num 28-29), or to make atonement either alone (e.g., Lev 1:4; 16:24) or in combination with the grain offering (e.g., Lev 14:20) or sin offering (e.g., Lev 5:7; 9:7). See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 4:996-1022.

8 tn Heb “door” (so KJV, ASV); NASB “doorway” (likewise throughout the book of Leviticus). The translation “door” or “doorway” may suggest a framed door in a casing to the modern reader, but here the term refers to the entrance to a tent.

9 tn The NIV correctly has “it” in the text, referring to the acceptance of the animal (cf., e.g., RSV, NEB, NLT), but “he” in the margin, referring to the acceptance of the offerer (cf. ASV, NASB, JB). The reference to a “flawless male” in the first half of this verse suggests that the issue here is the acceptability of the animal to make atonement on behalf of the offerer (Lev 1:4; cf. NRSV “for acceptance in your behalf”).



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