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Leviticus 5:2-5

5:2 Or when there is 1  a person who touches anything ceremonially 2  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, 3  but he himself has become unclean and is guilty; 4  5:3 or when he touches human uncleanness with regard to anything by which he can become unclean, 5  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 6  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 7 5:5 when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things 8  he must confess how he has sinned, 9 

Leviticus 5:17

Unknown trespass

5:17 “If a person sins and violates any of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated 10  (although he did not know it at the time, 11  but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity 12 

1 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”).

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

3 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.

4 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.

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

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

7 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).

8 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.

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

10 tn Heb “and does one from all of the commandments of the Lord which must not be done.”

11 tn The words “at the time” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.

12 tn Heb “and he did not know, and he shall be guilty and he shall bear his iniquity” (for the rendering “bear his punishment [for iniquity]”) see the note on Lev 5:1.) This portion of v. 17 is especially difficult. The translation offered here suggests (as in many other English versions) that the offender did not originally know that he had violated the Lord’s commandments, but then came to know it and dealt with it accordingly (cf. the corresponding sin offering section in Lev 5:1-4). Another possibility is that it refers to a situation where a person suspects that he violated something although he does not recollect it. Thus, he brings a guilt offering for his suspected violation (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:331-34, 361-63). See also R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 1:561-62.

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