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Leviticus 16:20-34

Context
The Live Goat Ritual Procedures

16:20 “When he has finished purifying the holy place, 1  the Meeting Tent, and the altar, he is to present the live goat. 16:21 Aaron is to lay his two hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins, 2  and thus he is to put them 3  on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man standing ready. 4  16:22 The goat is to bear on itself all their iniquities into an inaccessible land, 5  so he is to send the goat away 6  in the wilderness.

The Concluding Rituals

16:23 “Aaron must then enter 7  the Meeting Tent and take off the linen garments which he had put on when he entered the sanctuary, and leave them there. 16:24 Then he must bathe his body in water in a holy place, put on his clothes, and go out and make his burnt offering and the people’s burnt offering. So he is to make atonement 8  on behalf of himself and the people. 9 

16:25 “Then he is to offer up the fat of the sin offering 10  in smoke on the altar, 16:26 and the one who sent the goat away to Azazel 11  must wash his clothes, bathe his body in water, and afterward he may reenter the camp. 16:27 The bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought to make atonement in the holy place, must be brought outside the camp 12  and their hide, their flesh, and their dung must be burned up, 13  16:28 and the one who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may reenter the camp.

Review of the Day of Atonement

16:29 “This is to be a perpetual statute for you. 14  In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you must humble yourselves 15  and do no work of any kind, 16  both the native citizen and the foreigner who resides 17  in your midst, 16:30 for on this day atonement is to be made for you to cleanse you from all your sins; you must be clean before the Lord. 18  16:31 It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must humble yourselves. 19  It is a perpetual statute. 20 

16:32 “The priest who is anointed and ordained to act as high priest in place of his father 21  is to make atonement. He is to put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 16:33 and he is to purify 22  the Most Holy Place, 23  he is to purify the Meeting Tent and the altar, 24  and he is to make atonement for 25  the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 16:34 This is to be a perpetual statute for you 26  to make atonement for the Israelites for 27  all their sins once a year.” 28  So he did just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 29 

1 tn Heb “And he shall finish from atoning the holy place.” In this case, the “holy place” etc. are direct objects of the verb “to atone” (cf. v. 33a below). In this case, therefore, the basic meaning of the verb (i.e., “to purge” or “wipe clean”) comes to the forefront. When the prepositions עַל (’al) or בֲּעַד (baad) occur with the verb כִּפֶּר (kipper) the purging is almost always being done “for” or “on behalf of” priests or people (see the note on Lev 1:4 as well as R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:698, the literature cited there, and B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 110, for more details).

2 tn Heb “transgressions to all their sins.”

3 tn Heb “and he shall give them.”

4 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term עִתִּי (’itti) is uncertain. It is apparently related to עֵת (’et, “time”), and could perhaps mean either that he has been properly “appointed” (i.e., designated) for the task (e.g., NIV and NRSV) or “ready” (e.g., NASB and NEB).

5 tn The Hebrew term rendered “inaccessible” derives from a root meaning “to cut off” (cf. NAB “an isolated region”). Another possible translation would be “infertile land” (see HALOT 187 s.v. *גָּזֵּר and cf. NRSV “a barren region”; NLT “a desolate land.”

6 tn Heb “and he [the man (standing) ready, v. 21] shall send the goat away.”

7 tn Heb “And Aaron shall enter.”

8 tn Heb “And he shall make atonement.”

9 tn Heb “on behalf of himself and on behalf of the people.” After “on behalf of himself” the LXX adds the expected “and on behalf of his household” (cf. vv. 6, 11, and 17).

10 tn Heb “And the fat of the sin offering he is to offer up.”

11 tn For “Azazel” see the note on v. 8 above.

12 tn Heb “he shall bring into from outside to the camp.”

13 tn Heb “they shall burn with fire”; KJV “burn in the fire.” Because “to burn with fire” is redundant in contemporary English the present translation simply has “must be burned up.”

14 tn Heb “And it [feminine] shall be for you a perpetual statute.” Verse 34 begins with the same clause except for the missing demonstrative pronoun “this” here in v. 29. The LXX has “this” in both places and it suits the sense of the passage, although both the verb and the pronoun are sometimes missing in this clause elsewhere in the book (see, e.g., Lev 3:17).

15 tn Heb “you shall humble your souls.” The verb “to humble” here refers to various forms of self-denial, including but not limited to fasting (cf. Ps 35:13 and Isa 58:3, 10). The Mishnah (m. Yoma 8:1) lists abstentions from food and drink, bathing, using oil as an unguent to moisten the skin, wearing leather sandals, and sexual intercourse (cf. 2 Sam 12:16-17, 20; see the remarks in J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:1054; B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 109; and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 242).

16 tn Heb “and all work you shall not do.”

17 tn Heb “the native and the sojourner who sojourns.”

18 tn The phrase “from all your sins” could go with the previous clause as the verse is rendered here (see, e.g., B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 109, and J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:1011), or it could go with the following clause (i.e., “you shall be clean from all your sins before the Lord”; see the MT accents as well as J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 221, and recent English versions, e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV).

19 tn See the note on v. 29 above.

20 tn Compare v. 29a above.

21 tn Heb “And the priest whom he shall anointed him and whom he shall fill his hand to act as priest under his father.” Imperfect active verbs are often used as passives (see, e.g., v. 27 above and the note on Lev 14:4).

22 tn Heb “to atone” (also later in this verse); see the note on “purifying the holy place” in 16:20.

23 tn Heb “the sanctuary of the holy place.” Although this is the only place this expression occurs in the OT, it clearly refers to the innermost shrine behind the veil-canopy, where the ark of the covenant was located.

24 tn Heb “and the tent of meeting and the alter he shall atone.” The repetition of the verb כִּפֶּר (kipper, “to atone”) at the beginning and end of the sequence appears to be strange, but the MT accents suggest that only “the Most Holy Place” goes with the verb at the beginning of the verse. Of course, the purging of “the Most Holy Place” has been the main emphasis of this chapter from the start (see vv. 2-3 and 11-17).

25 tn At this point in the verse the verb כִּפֶּר (kipper, “to make atonement”) takes its object with the preposition עַל (’al, “for”; literally, “upon”; contrast the first part of the verse and cf. the notes on Lev 1:4 and 16:20 above).

26 tn Heb “And this shall be for you to a statute of eternity” (cf. v. 29a above). cf. NASB “a permanent statute”; NIV “a lasting ordinance.”

27 tn Heb “from”; see note on 4:26.

28 tn Heb “one [feminine] in the year.”

29 tn The MT of Lev 16:34b reads literally, “and he did just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” This has been retained here in spite of the fact that it suggests that Aaron immediately performed the rituals outlined in Lev 16 (see, e.g., J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 224 and 243; J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:1059; note that Aaron was the one to whom Moses was to speak the regulations in this chapter, v. 2). The problem is that the chapter presents these procedures as regulations for “the tenth day of the seventh month” and calls for their fulfillment at that time (Lev 16:29; cf. Lev 23:26-32 and the remarks in P. J. Budd, Leviticus [NCBC], 237), not during the current (first) month (Exod 40:2; note also that they left Sinai in the second month, long before the next seventh month, Num 10:11). The LXX translates, “once in the year it shall be done as the Lord commanded Moses,” attaching “once in the year” to this clause rather than the former one, and rendering the verb as passive, “it shall be done” (cf. NAB, NIV, etc.). We have already observed the passive use of active verbs in this context (see the note on v. 32 above). The RSV (cf. also the NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT) translates, “And Moses did as the Lord commanded him,” ignoring the fact that the name Moses in the Hebrew text has the direct object indicator. Passive verbs, however, regularly take subjects with direct object indicators (see, e.g., v. 27 above). The NIV renders it “And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses,” following the LXX passive translation. The NASB translates, “And just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so he did,” transposing the introductory verb to the end of the sentence and supplying “so” in order to make it fit the context.



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