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Leviticus 5:1-13

Context
Additional Sin Offering Regulations

5:1 “‘When a person sins 1  in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify 2  and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened 3 ) and he does not make it known, 4  then he will bear his punishment for iniquity. 5  5:2 Or when there is 6  a person who touches anything ceremonially 7  unclean, whether the carcass of an unclean wild animal, or the carcass of an unclean domesticated animal, or the carcass of an unclean creeping thing, even if he did not realize it, 8  but he himself has become unclean and is guilty; 9  5:3 or when he touches human uncleanness with regard to anything by which he can become unclean, 10  even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty; 5:4 or when a person swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly 11  with his lips, whether to do evil or to do good, with regard to anything which the individual might speak thoughtlessly in an oath, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty with regard to one of these oaths 12 5:5 when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things 13  he must confess how he has sinned, 14  5:6 and he must bring his penalty for guilt 15  to the Lord for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering. So the priest will make atonement 16  on his behalf for 17  his sin.

5:7 “‘If he cannot afford an animal from the flock, 18  he must bring his penalty for guilt for his sin that he has committed, 19  two turtledoves or two young pigeons, 20  to the Lord, one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering. 5:8 He must bring them to the priest and present first the one that is for a sin offering. The priest 21  must pinch 22  its head at the nape of its neck, but must not sever the head from the body. 23  5:9 Then he must sprinkle 24  some of the blood of the sin offering on the wall of the altar, and the remainder of the blood 25  must be squeezed out at the base of the altar – it is a sin offering. 5:10 The second bird 26  he must make a burnt offering according to the standard regulation. 27  So the priest will make atonement 28  on behalf of this person for 29  his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven. 30 

5:11 “‘If he cannot afford 31  two turtledoves or two young pigeons, 32  he must bring as his offering for his sin which he has committed 33  a tenth of an ephah 34  of choice wheat flour 35  for a sin offering. He must not place olive oil on it and he must not put frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering. 5:12 He must bring it to the priest and the priest must scoop out from it a handful as its memorial portion 36  and offer it up in smoke on the altar on top of the other gifts of the Lord – it is a sin offering. 5:13 So the priest will make atonement 37  on his behalf for his sin which he has committed by doing one of these things, 38  and he will be forgiven. 39  The remainder of the offering 40  will belong to the priest like the grain offering.’” 41 

1 tn Heb “And a person when he sins.” Most English versions translate this as the protasis of a conditional clause: “if a person sins” (NASB, NIV).

sn The same expression occurs in Lev 4:2 where it introduces sins done “by straying unintentionally from any of the commandments of the Lord which must not be done” (see the notes there). Lev 5:1-13 is an additional section of sin offering regulations directed at violations other than those referred to by this expression in Lev 4:2 (see esp. 5:1-6), and expanding on the offering regulations for the common person in Lev 4:27-35 with concessions to the poor common person (5:7-13).

2 tn The words “against one who fails to testify” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied to make sense of the remark about the “curse” (“imprecation” or “oath”; cf. ASV “adjuration”; NIV “public charge”) for the modern reader. For the interpretation of this verse reflected in the present translation see J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:292-97.

3 tn The words “what had happened” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.

4 tn Heb “and hears a voice of curse, and he is a witness or he saw or he knew, if he does not declare.”

5 tn Heb “and he shall bear his iniquity.” The rendering “bear the punishment (for the iniquity)” reflects the use of the word “iniquity” to refer to the punishment for iniquity (cf. NRSV, NLT “subject to punishment”). It is sometimes referred to as the consequential use of the term (cf. Lev 5:17; 7:18; 10:17; etc.).

6 tc The insertion of the words “when there is” is a reflection of the few Hebrew mss, Smr, and LXX that have כִּי (ki, “when, if”; cf. vv. 3 and esp. 4) rather than the MT’s אֲשֶׁר (’asher, “who”). Many English versions render this as a conditional clause (“if”).

7 tn The word “ceremonially” has been supplied in the translation to clarify that the uncleanness involved is ritual or ceremonial in nature.

8 tn Heb “and it is hidden from him,” meaning that the person who contracted the ceremonial uncleanness was not aware at the time what had happened, but later found out that he had become ceremonially unclean. This same phrase occurs again in both vv. 3 and 4.

9 sn Lev 5:2-3 are parallel laws of uncleanness (contracted from animals and people, respectively), and both seem to assume that the contraction of uncleanness was originally unknown to the person (vv. 2 and 3) but became known to him or her at a later time (v. 3; i.e., “has come to know” in v. 3 is to be assumed for v. 2 as well). Uncleanness itself did not make a person “guilty” unless he or she failed to handle it according to the normal purification regulations (see, e.g., “wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening,” Lev 15:5 NIV; cf. Lev 11:39-40; 15:5-12, 16-24; Num 19, etc.). The problem here in Lev 5:2-3 is that, because the person had not been aware of his or her uncleanness, he or she had incurred guilt for not carrying out these regular procedures, and it would now be too late for that. Thus, the unclean person needs to bring a sin offering to atone for the contamination caused by his or her neglect of the purity regulations.

10 tn Heb “or if he touches uncleanness of mankind to any of his uncleanness which he becomes unclean in it.”

11 tn Heb “to speak thoughtlessly”; cf. NAB “rashly utters an oath.”

12 tn Heb “and is guilty to one from these,” probably referring here to any of “these” things about which one might swear a thoughtless oath (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 45), with the word “oath” supplied in the translation for clarity. Another possibility is that “to one from these” is a dittography from v. 5 (cf. the note on v. 5a), and that v. 4 ends with “and is guilty” like vv. 2 and 3 (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:300).

13 tn Heb “and it shall happen when he becomes guilty to one from these,” referring to any of “these” possible transgressions in Lev 5:1-4. Tg. Onq., the original Greek translation, and the Latin Vulgate omit this clause, possibly due to homoioteleuton because of the repetition of “to one from these” from the end of v. 4 in v. 5a (cf. the note on v. 4b).

sn What all the transgressions in Lev 5:1-4 have in common is that the time is past for handling the original situation properly (i.e., testifying in court, following purity regulations, or fulfilling an oath), so now the person has become guilty and needs to follow corrective sacrificial procedures.

14 tn Heb “which he sinned on it”; cf. ASV “confess that wherein he hath sinned”; NCV “must tell how he sinned.”

15 tn In this context the word for “guilt” (אָשָׁם, ’asham) refers to the “penalty” for incurring guilt, the so-called consequential אָשָׁם (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:303; cf. the note on Lev 5:1).

16 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

17 tn See the note on 4:26 regarding the use of מִן (min).

18 tn Heb “and if his hand does not reach enough of a flock animal” (see the note on v. 11 below). The term translated “animal from the flock” (שֶׂה, seh) is often translated “lamb” (e.g., KJV, NASB, NIV, NCV) or “sheep” (e.g., NRSV, TEV, NLT), but it clearly includes either a sheep or a goat here (cf. v. 6), referring to the smaller pasture animals as opposed to the larger ones (i.e., cattle; cf. 4:3). Some English versions use the more generic “animal” (e.g., NAB, CEV).

19 tn Heb “and he shall bring his guilt which he sinned,” which is an abbreviated form of Lev 5:6, “and he shall bring his [penalty for] guilt to the Lord for his sin which he committed.” The words “for his sin” have been left out in v. 7, and “to the Lord” has been moved so that it follows the mention of the birds.

20 tn See the note on Lev 1:14 above.

21 tn Heb “he.” The subject (“he”) refers to the priest here, not the offerer who presented the birds to the priest (cf. v. 8a).

22 sn The action seems to involve both a twisting action, breaking the neck of the bird and severing its vertebrae, as well as pinching or nipping the skin, but in this case not severing the head from the main body (note the rest of this verse).

23 tn Heb “he shall not divide [it]” (see J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:305).

24 tn The Hebrew verb וְהִזָּה (vÿhizzah, Hiphil of נָזָה, nazah) does indeed mean “sprinkle” or “splatter” (cf. Lev 4:6, 17). Contrast “splash” in Lev 1:5, etc. (זָרָק, zaraq).

25 tn Heb “the remainder in the blood.” The Heb. preposition “in” (בְּ, bÿ) is used here to mean “some among” a whole collection of something.

26 tn The word “bird” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

27 sn The term “[standard] regulation” (מִשְׁפָּט, mishppat) here refers to the set of regulations for burnt offering birds in Lev 1:14-17.

28 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

29 tn See the note on 4:26 with regard to מִן, min.

30 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him” (KJV similar).

31 tn Heb “and if his hand does not reach [or is not sufficient] to”; cf. NASB “if his means are insufficient for.” The expression is the same as that in Lev 5:7 above except for the verb: נָשַׂג (nasag, “to collect, to reach, to be sufficient”) is used here, but נָגַע (nagah, “to touch, to reach”) is used in v. 7. Smr has the former in both v. 7 and 11.

32 tn See the note on Lev 1:14 above (cf. also 5:7).

33 tn Heb “and he shall bring his offering which he sinned.” Like the similar expression in v. 7 above (see the note there), this is an abbreviated form of Lev 5:6, “and he shall bring his [penalty for] guilt to the Lord for his sin which he committed.” Here the words “to the Lord for his sin” have been left out, and “his [penalty for] guilt” has been changed to “his offering.”

34 sn A tenth of an ephah would be about 2.3 liters, one day’s ration for a single person (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:306). English versions handle the amount somewhat differently, cf. NCV “about two quarts”; TEV “one kilogramme”; CEV “two pounds.”

35 tn See the note on Lev 2:1 above.

36 sn The “memorial portion” (אַזְכָּרָה, ’azkkarah) was the part of the grain offering that was burnt on the altar (Lev 2:2), as opposed to the remainder, which was normally consumed by the priests (Lev 2:3; see the full regulations in Lev 6:14-23 [6:7-16 HT]). It was probably intended to call to mind (i.e., memorialize) before the Lord the reason for the presentation of the particular offering (see the remarks in R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 1:335-39).

37 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

38 tn Heb “from one from these,” referring to the four kinds of violations of the law delineated in Lev 5:1-4 (see the note on Lev 5:5 above and cf. Lev 4:27).

39 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him” (KJV similar).

40 tn Heb “and it”; the referent (the remaining portion of the offering) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

41 tn Heb “and it shall be to the priest like the grain offering,” referring to the rest of the grain that was not offered on the altar (cf. the regulations in Lev 2:3, 10).



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