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Leviticus 4:1-35

Context
Sin Offering Regulations

4:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 1  4:2 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When a person sins by straying unintentionally 2  from any of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, and violates any 3  one of them 4 

For the Priest

4:3 “‘If the high priest 5  sins so that the people are guilty, 6  on account of the sin he has committed he must present a flawless young bull to the Lord 7  for a sin offering. 8  4:4 He must bring the bull to the entrance of the Meeting Tent before the Lord, lay his hand on the head of the bull, and slaughter the bull before the Lord. 4:5 Then that high priest must take some of the blood 9  of the bull and bring it to the Meeting Tent. 4:6 The priest must dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle 10  some of it 11  seven times before the Lord toward 12  the front of the veil-canopy 13  of the sanctuary. 4:7 The priest must put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the Lord in the Meeting Tent, and all the rest of the bull’s blood he must pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.

4:8 “‘Then he must take up all the fat from the sin offering bull: 14  the fat covering the entrails 15  and all the fat surrounding the entrails, 16  4:9 the two kidneys with the fat on their sinews, and the protruding lobe on the liver (which he is to remove along with the kidneys) 17  4:10 – just as it is taken from the ox of the peace offering sacrifice 18  – and the priest must offer them up in smoke on the altar of burnt offering. 4:11 But the hide of the bull, all its flesh along with its head and its legs, its entrails, and its dung – 4:12 all the rest of the bull 19  – he must bring outside the camp 20  to a ceremonially clean place, 21  to the fatty ash pile, 22  and he must burn 23  it on a wood fire; it must be burned on the fatty ash pile.

For the Whole Congregation

4:13 “‘If the whole congregation of Israel strays unintentionally 24  and the matter is not noticed by 25  the assembly, and they violate one of the Lord’s commandments, which must not be violated, 26  so they become guilty, 4:14 the assembly must present a young bull for a sin offering when the sin they have committed 27  becomes known. They must bring it before the Meeting Tent, 4:15 the elders of the congregation must lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and someone must slaughter 28  the bull before the Lord. 4:16 Then the high priest 29  must bring some of the blood of the bull to the Meeting Tent, 4:17 and that priest must dip his finger in the blood 30  and sprinkle 31  some of the blood seven times 32  before the Lord toward 33  the front of the veil-canopy. 34  4:18 He must put some of the blood on the horns of the altar 35  which is before the Lord in the Meeting Tent, and all the rest of the blood he must pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.

4:19 “‘Then the priest 36  must take all its fat 37  and offer the fat 38  up in smoke on the altar. 4:20 He must do with the rest of the bull just as he did with the bull of the sin offering; this is what he must do with it. 39  So the priest will make atonement 40  on their behalf and they will be forgiven. 41  4:21 He 42  must bring the rest of the bull outside the camp 43  and burn it just as he burned the first bull – it is the sin offering of the assembly.

For the Leader

4:22 “‘Whenever 44  a leader, by straying unintentionally, 45  sins and violates one of the commandments of the Lord his God which must not be violated, 46  and he pleads guilty, 4:23 or his sin that he committed 47  is made known to him, 48  he must bring a flawless male goat as his offering. 49  4:24 He must lay his hand on the head of the male goat and slaughter 50  it in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the Lord – it is a sin offering. 4:25 Then the priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and he must pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 4:26 Then the priest 51  must offer all of its fat up in smoke on the altar like the fat of the peace offering sacrifice. So the priest will make atonement 52  on his behalf for 53  his sin and he will be forgiven. 54 

For the Common Person

4:27 “‘If an ordinary individual 55  sins by straying unintentionally 56  when he violates one of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, 57  and he pleads guilty 4:28 or his sin that he committed 58  is made known to him, 59  he must bring a flawless female goat 60  as his offering for the sin 61  that he committed. 4:29 He must lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter 62  the sin offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 4:30 Then the priest must take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and he must pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 4:31 Then he must remove all of its fat (just as fat was removed from the peace offering sacrifice) and the priest must offer it up in smoke on the altar for a soothing aroma to the Lord. So the priest will make atonement 63  on his behalf and he will be forgiven. 64 

4:32 “‘But if he brings a sheep as his offering, for a sin offering, he must bring a flawless female. 4:33 He must lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it for a sin offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 4:34 Then the priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and he must pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 4:35 Then the one who brought the offering 65  must remove all its fat (just as the fat of the sheep is removed from the peace offering sacrifice) and the priest must offer them up in smoke on the altar on top of the other gifts of the Lord. So the priest will make atonement 66  on his behalf for his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven. 67 

1 sn The quotation introduced here extends from Lev 4:2 through 5:13, and encompasses all the sin offering regulations. Compare the notes on Lev 1:1 above, and 5:14 and 6:1 [5:20 HT] below.

2 tn Heb “And a person, when he sins in straying.” The English translation of “by straying” (בִּשְׁגָגָה [bishgagah] literally, “in going astray; in making an error”) varies greatly, but almost all suggest that this term refers to sins that were committed by mistake or done not knowing that the particular act was sinful (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:228-29). See, e.g., LXX “involuntarily”; Tg. Onq. “by neglect”; KJV “through ignorance”; ASV, RSV, NJPS “unwittingly”; NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “unintentionally”; NAB, NEB “inadvertently”; NCV “by accident.” However, we know from Num 15:27-31 that committing a sin “by straying” is the opposite of committing a sin “defiantly” (i.e., בְּיַד רָמָה [bÿyad ramah] “with a raised hand,” v. 30). In the latter case the person, as it were, raises his fist in presumptuous defiance against the Lord. Thus, he “blasphemes” the Lord and has “despised” his word, for which he should be “cut off from among his people” (Num 15:30-31). One could not bring an offering for such a sin. The expression here in Lev 4:2 combines “by straying” with the preposition “from” which fits naturally with “straying” (i.e., “straying from” the Lord’s commandments). For sins committed “by straying” from the commandments (Lev 4 throughout) or other types of transgressions (Lev 5:1-6) there was indeed forgiveness available through the sin offering. See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:94-95.

3 tn This is an emphatic use of the preposition מִן (min; see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 56-57, §325).

4 tn The “when” clause (כִּי, ki) breaks off here before its resolution, thus creating an open-ended introduction to the following subsections, which are introduced by “if” (אִם [’im] vv. 3, 13, 27, 32). Also, the last part of the verse reads literally, “which must not be done and does from one from them.”

5 tn Heb “the anointed priest” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). This refers to the high priest (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).

6 tn Heb “to the guilt of the people”; NRSV “thus bringing guilt on the people.”

7 tn Heb “and he shall offer on his sin which he sinned, a bull, a son of the herd, flawless.”

8 sn The word for “sin offering” (sometimes translated “purification offering”) is the same as the word for “sin” earlier in the verse. One can tell which rendering is intended only by the context. The primary purpose of the “sin offering” (חַטָּאת, khattat) was to “purge” (כִּפֶּר, kipper, “to make atonement,” see 4:20, 26, 31, 35, and the notes on Lev 1:4 and esp. Lev 16:20, 33) the sanctuary or its furniture in order to cleanse it from any impurities and/or (re)consecrate it for holy purposes (see, e.g., Lev 8:15; 16:19). By making this atonement the impurities of the person or community were cleansed and the people became clean. See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:93-103.

9 tn Heb “from the blood of the bull” (and similarly throughout this chapter).

10 tn The Hebrew verb וְהִזָּה (vÿhizzah, Hiphil of נָזָה, nazah) does indeed mean “sprinkle” or “splatter.” Contrast the different Hebrew verb meaning “splash” in Lev 1:5 (זָרָק, zaraq).

11 tn Heb “of the blood.” The relative pronoun (“it”) has been used in the translation here for stylistic reasons.

12 tn The particle here translated “toward” usually serves as a direct object indicator or a preposition meaning “with.” With the verb of motion it probably means “toward,” “in the direction of” (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:234; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 60); cf. NAB, CEV.

13 tn The Hebrew term פָּרֹכֶת (parokhet) is usually translated “veil” (e.g., ASV, NAB, NASB) or “curtain” (e.g., NIV, NRSV), but it seems to have stretched not only in front of but also over the top of the ark of the covenant which stood behind and under it inside the most holy place (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 3:687-89).

14 tn Heb “all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall take up from it.”

15 tc The MT has here the preposition עַל (’al, “on, upon” [i.e., “which covers on the entrails,” as awkward in Hebrew as it is in English]), but Smr, LXX, Syriac, and Targums read אֶת (’et), which is what would be expected (i.e., “which covers the entrails”; cf. Lev 3:3, 9, 14). It may have been mistakenly inserted here under the influence of “on (עַל) the entrails” at the end of the verse.

16 tn Heb “and all the fat on the entrails.” The fat layer that covers the entrails as a whole (i.e., “that covers the entrails”) is different from the fat that surrounds and adheres to the various organs (“on the entrails,” i.e., surrounding them; J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:205-7).

17 tn Heb “and the protruding lobe on the liver on the kidneys he shall remove it.”

18 tn Heb “taken up from”; KJV, ASV “taken off from”; NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “removed.” See the notes on Lev 3:3-4 above (cf. also 3:9-10, 14-15).

19 tn All of v. 11 is a so-called casus pendens (also known as an extraposition or a nominative absolute), which means that it anticipates the next verse, being the full description of “all (the rest of) the bull” (lit. “all the bull”) at the beginning of v. 12 (actually after the first verb of the verse; see the next note below).

20 tn Heb “And he (the offerer) shall bring out all the bull to from outside to the camp to a clean place.”

21 tn Heb “a clean place,” but referring to a place that is ceremonially clean. This has been specified in the translation for clarity.

22 tn Heb “the pouring out [place] of fatty ash.”

23 tn Heb “burn with fire.” This expression is somewhat redundant in English, so the translation collocates “fire” with “wood,” thus “a wood fire.”

24 tn Heb “strays”; KJV “sin through ignorance.” The verb “strays” here is the verbal form of the noun in the expression “by straying” (see the note on Lev 4:2 above).

25 tn Heb “is concealed from the eyes of”; NASB, NRSV, NLT “escapes the notice of.”

26 tn Heb “and they do one from all the commandments of the Lord which must not be done” (cf. v. 2).

27 tn Heb “and the sin which they committed on it becomes known”; KJV “which they have sinned against it.” The Hebrew עָלֶיהָ (’aleha, “on it”) probably refers back to “one of the commandments” in v. 13 (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:243).

28 tn Heb “and he shall slaughter.” The singular verb seems to refer to an individual who represents the whole congregation, perhaps one of the elders referred to at the beginning of the verse, or the officiating priest (cf. v. 21). The LXX and Syriac make the verb plural, referring to “the elders of the congregation.”

29 tn Heb “the anointed priest” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). This refers to the high priest (cf. TEV).

30 tn The words “in the blood” are not repeated in the Hebrew text at this point, but must be supplied in the English translation for clarity.

31 tn The Hebrew verb וְהִזָּה (vÿhizzah, Hiphil of נָזָה, nazah) does indeed mean “sprinkle” or “splatter.” Contrast the different Hebrew verb translated “splash” in Lev 1:5 (זָרָק, zaraq).

32 tc The MT reads literally, “and the priest shall dip his finger from the blood and sprinkle seven times.” This is awkward. Compare v. 6, which has literally, “and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle from the blood seven times.” The MT appears to be corrupt by haplography (i.e., assuming v. 6 to be the correct form, in v. 17 the scribe skipped from “his finger” to “from the blood,” thus missing “in the blood”) and metathesis (i.e., this also resulted in a text where “from the blood” stands before “sprinkle” rather than after it; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 47).

33 tn See the note on v. 6 above.

34 tn See the note on v. 6 above.

35 sn See v. 7, where this altar is identified as the altar of fragrant incense.

36 tn Heb “Then he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. Based on the parallel statement in 4:10 and 4:31, it is the priest who performs this action rather than the person who brought the offering.

37 tn Heb “take up all its fat from it”; NASB “shall remove all its fat from it.”

sn See the full discussion of the fat regulations in Lev 4:8-9 above.

38 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the fat) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Only the fat is meant here, since the “rest” of the bull is mentioned in v. 21.

39 sn Cf. Lev 4:11-12 above for the disposition of “the [rest of] the bull.”

40 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

41 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to them” or “it shall be forgiven to them.”

42 sn See the note on the word “slaughter” in v. 15.

43 tn Heb “And he shall bring out the bull to from outside to the camp.”

44 tn This section begins with the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (’asher) which usually means “who” or “which,” but here means “whenever.”

45 tn See the Lev 4:2 note on “straying.”

46 tn Heb “and does one from all the commandments of the Lord his God which must not be done”; cf. NRSV “ought not to be done”; NIV “does what is forbidden in any of the commands.”

47 tn Heb “or his sin which he sinned in it is made known to him”; NAB “if he learns of the sin he committed.”

48 tn Lev 4:22b-23a is difficult. The present translation suggests that there are two possible legal situations envisioned, separated by the Hebrew אוֹ (’o, “or”) at the beginning of v. 23. Lev 4:22b refers to any case in which the leader readily admits his guilt (i.e., “pleads guilty”), whereas v. 23a refers to cases where the leader is convicted of his guilt by legal action (“his sin…is made known to him”). See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:95-96; Lev 4:27-28; and esp. the notes on Lev 5:1 below.

49 tn Heb “a he-goat of goats, a male without defect”; cf. NLT “with no physical defects.”

50 tn The LXX has a plural form here and also for the same verb later in the verse. See the note on Lev 1:5a.

51 tn Heb “Then he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. Based on the parallel statements in 4:10 and 4:31, it is the priest who performs this action rather than the person who brought the offering.

52 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

53 tn Heb “from.” In this phrase the preposition מִן (min) may be referring to the reason or cause (“on account of, because of”; GKC 383 §119.z). As J. E. Hartley (Leviticus [WBC], 47) points out, “from” may refer to the removal of the sin, but is an awkward expression. Hartley also suggests that the phrasing might be “an elliptical expression for יְכַפֵּר עַל־לְטַהֵר אֶת־מִן, ‘he will make expiation for…to cleanse…from…,’ as in 16:30.”

54 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him” (KJV similar).

55 tn Heb “an individual from the people of the land”; cf. NASB “anyone of the common people” (KJV, ASV both similar); NAB “a private person.”

56 tn Heb “If one person sins by straying, from the people of the land.” See Lev 4:2 for a note on “straying.”

57 tn Heb “by doing it, one from the commandments of the Lord which must not be done.”

58 tn Heb “or his sin which he sinned is made known to him”; cf. NCV “when that person learns about his sin.”

59 tn Lev 4:27b-28a is essentially the same as 4:22b-23a (see the notes there).

60 tn Heb “a she-goat of goats, a female without defect”; NAB “an unblemished she-goat.”

61 tn Heb “on his sin.”

62 tc The LXX has a plural form here (see v. 24 above and the note on Lev 1:5a).

63 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

64 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him” (KJV similar).

65 tn Heb “Then he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here “he” refers to the offerer rather than the priest (contrast the clauses before and after).

66 sn The focus of sin offering “atonement” was purging impurities from the tabernacle (see the note on Lev 1:4).

67 tn Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him” (KJV similar).



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