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Leviticus 4:1-2

Context
Sin Offering Regulations

4:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 1  4:2 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When a person sins by straying unintentionally 2  from any of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, and violates any 3  one of them 4 

1 sn The quotation introduced here extends from Lev 4:2 through 5:13, and encompasses all the sin offering regulations. Compare the notes on Lev 1:1 above, and 5:14 and 6:1 [5:20 HT] below.

2 tn 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 [bÿyad 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.

3 tn This is an emphatic use of the preposition מִן (min; see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 56-57, §325).

4 tn 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.”



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