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Leviticus 1:14-17

From the Birds

1:14 “‘If his offering to the Lord is a burnt offering from the birds, 1  he must present his offering from the turtledoves or from the young pigeons. 2  1:15 The priest must present it at the altar, pinch off 3  its head and offer the head 4  up in smoke on the altar, and its blood must be drained out against the side of the altar. 1:16 Then the priest 5  must remove its entrails by cutting off its tail feathers, 6  and throw them 7  to the east side of the altar into the place of fatty ashes, 1:17 and tear it open by its wings without dividing it into two parts. 8  Finally, the priest must offer it up in smoke on the altar on the wood which is in the fire – it is a burnt offering, a gift of a soothing aroma to the Lord.

1 tn Heb “from the [category] ‘bird.’”

2 tn Heb “from the sons of the pigeon,” referring either to “young pigeons” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT) or “various species of pigeon” (contrast J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:168, with J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 14).

3 tn The action here seems to involve both a twisting action, breaking the neck of the bird and severing its vertebrae, as well as pinching or nipping the skin to sever the head from the main body. Cf. NASB, NRSV “wring off its head”; NAB “snap its head loose”; NLT “twist off its head.”

4 tn Many English versions have “it” here, referring to the head of the bird, which the priest immediately tossed on the altar fire. However, “it” could be misunderstood to refer to the bird’s body, so “head” is repeated in the present translation for clarity. As the following lines show, certain things needed to be done to the body of the bird before it could be placed on the altar.

5 tn Heb “Then he”; the referent (apparently still the priest) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 tn This translation (“remove its entrails by [cutting off] its tail feathers”) is based on the discussion in J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:169-71, although he translates, “remove its crissum by its feathers.” Others possibilities include “its crop with its contents” (Tg. Onq., cf. NIV, NRSV; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 23) or “its crop with its feathers” (LXX, NASB, RSV; “crop” refers to the enlarged part of a bird’s gullet that serves a pouch for the preliminary maceration of food).

7 tn The pronoun “them” here is feminine singular in Hebrew and refers collectively to the entrails and tail wing which have been removed.

8 tn Heb “he shall not divide it.” Several Hebrew mss, Smr, LXX, and Syriac have a vav on the negative, yielding the translation, “but he shall not divide it into two parts.” Cf. NIV “not severing it completely” (NRSV similar).

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