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
15:32 When the Israelites were 12 in the wilderness they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 13 15:33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to the whole community. 15:34 They put him in custody, because there was no clear instruction about what should be done to him. 15:35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; the whole community must stone 14 him with stones outside the camp.” 15:36 So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, 15 just as the Lord commanded Moses.
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
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
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.
12 tn The preterite of the verb “to be” is here subordinated to the next, parallel verb form, to form a temporal clause.
13 sn For this brief passage, see A. Phillips, “The Case of the Woodgatherer Reconsidered,” VT 19 (1969): 125-28; J. Weingreen, “The Case of the Woodgatherer (Numbers XV 32-36),” VT 16 (1966): 361-64; and B. J. Bamberger, “Revelations of Torah after Sinai,” HUCA 16 (1941): 97-113. Weingreen argues that there is something of the Rabbinic method of setting a fence around the Law here; in other words, if this sin were not punished, the Law would have been violated in greater ways. Gathering of wood, although seemingly harmless, is done with intent to kindle fire, and so reveals a culpable intent.
14 tn The sentence begins with the emphatic use of the infinitive absolute with the verb in the Hophal imperfect: “he shall surely be put to death.” Then, a second infinitive absolute רָגוֹם (ragom) provides the explanatory activity – all the community is to stone him with stones. The punishment is consistent with other decrees from God (see Exod 31:14,15; 35:2). Moses had either forgotten such, or they had simply neglected to (or were hesitant to) enact them.
15 tn Heb “stoned him with stones, and he died.”