21:27 The wicked person’s sacrifice 1 is an abomination;
how much more 2 when he brings it with evil intent! 3
1 tn Heb “the sacrifice of the wicked” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). This is a subjective genitive. The foundational clause states that ritual acts of worship brought by the wicked (thus a subjective genitive) are detestable to God. The “wicked” refers here to people who are not members of the covenant (no faith) and are not following after righteousness (no acceptable works). But often they participate in sanctuary ritual, which amounts to hypocrisy.
2 sn This rhetorical device shows that if the act is abomination, the wicked heart is an even greater sin. It argues from the lesser to the greater.
3 tn The noun זִמָּה (zimmah) means “plan; device; wickedness”; here it indicates that the person is coming to the ritual with “sinful purpose.” Some commentators suggest that this would mean he comes with the sacrifice as a bribe to pacify his conscience for a crime committed, over which he has little remorse or intent to cease (cf. NLT “with ulterior motives”). In this view, people in ancient Israel came to think that sacrifices could be given for any reason without genuine submission to God.