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Numbers 15:30-31

Context
Deliberate Sin

15:30 “‘But the person 1  who acts defiantly, 2  whether native-born or a resident foreigner, insults 3  the Lord. 4  That person 5  must be cut off 6  from among his people. 15:31 Because he has despised 7  the word of the Lord and has broken 8  his commandment, that person 9  must be completely cut off. 10  His iniquity will be on him.’” 11 

1 tn Heb “soul.”

2 tn The sin is described literally as acting “with a high hand” – בְּיָד רָמָה (bÿyad ramah). The expression means that someone would do something with deliberate defiance, with an arrogance in spite of what the Lord said. It is as if the sinner was about to attack God, or at least lifting his hand against God. The implication of the expression is that it was done in full knowledge of the Law (especially since this contrasts throughout with the sins of ignorance). Blatant defiance of the word of the Lord is dealt with differently. For similar expressions, see Exod 14:8 and Num 33:3.

3 tn The verb occurs only in the Piel; it means “to blaspheme,” “to revile.”

4 tn The word order in the Hebrew text places “Yahweh” first for emphasis – it is the Lord such a person insults.

5 tn Heb “soul.”

6 tn The clause begins with “and” because the verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. As discussed with Num 9:13, to be cut off could mean excommunication from the community, death by the community, or death by divine intervention.

7 tn The verb בָּזָה (bazah, “to despise”) means to treat something as worthless, to treat it with contempt, to look down the nose at something as it were.

8 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar, “to break”) can mean to nullify, break, or violate a covenant.

9 tn Heb “soul.”

10 tn The construction uses the Niphal imperfect with the modifying Niphal infinitive absolute. The infinitive makes the sentence more emphatic. If the imperfect tense is taken as an instruction imperfect, then the infinitive makes the instruction more binding. If it is a simple future, then the future is certain. In either case, there is no exclusion from being cut off.

11 sn The point is that the person’s iniquity remains with him – he must pay for his sin. The judgment of God in such a case is both appropriate and unavoidable.



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