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Numbers 15:22-28

Context
Rules for Unintentional Offenses

15:22 1 “‘If you 2  sin unintentionally and do not observe all these commandments that the Lord has spoken to Moses – 15:23 all that the Lord has commanded you by the authority 3  of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses and continuing through your future generations – 15:24 then if anything is done unintentionally 4  without the knowledge of 5  the community, the whole community must prepare one young bull for a burnt offering – for a pleasing aroma to the Lord – along with its grain offering and its customary drink offering, and one male goat for a purification offering. 15:25 And the priest is to make atonement 6  for the whole community of the Israelites, and they will be forgiven, 7  because it was unintentional and they have brought their offering, an offering made by fire to the Lord, and their purification offering before the Lord, for their unintentional offense. 15:26 And the whole community 8  of the Israelites and the resident foreigner who lives among them will be forgiven, since all the people were involved in the unintentional offense.

15:27 “‘If any person 9  sins unintentionally, then he must bring a yearling female goat for a purification offering. 15:28 And the priest must make atonement for the person who sins unintentionally – when he sins unintentionally before the Lord – to make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven.

1 sn These regulations supplement what was already ruled on in the Levitical code for the purification and reparation offerings. See those rulings in Lev 4-7 for all the details. Some biblical scholars view the rules in Leviticus as more elaborate and therefore later. However, this probably represents a misunderstanding of the purpose of each collection.

2 tn The verb is the plural imperfect; the sin discussed here is a sin committed by the community, or the larger part of the community.

3 tn Heb “hand.”

4 tn The idea of לִשְׁגָגָה (lishgagah) seems to be that of “inadvertence” or “without intent.” The text gives no indication of how this offense might be committed, or what it might include. It probably describes any transgressions done in ignorance of the Law that involved a violation of tabernacle procedure or priestly protocol or social misdemeanor. Even though it was done unintentionally, it was still a violation and called for ritual purification.

5 tn Heb “[away] from the eyes of the community.”

6 tn The verb is the Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive (וְכִפֶּר, vÿkhipper) to continue the instruction of the passage: “the priest shall make atonement,” meaning the priest is to make atonement for the sin (thus the present translation). This verb means “to expiate,” “to atone for,” “to pacify.” It describes the ritual events by which someone who was separated from the holy Lord God could find acceptance into his presence through the sacrificial blood of the substitutionary animal. See Lev 1 and Num 17:6-15.

7 tn Or “they will be forgiven.”

8 tn Again, rather than translate literally “and it shall be forgiven [to] them” (all the community), one could say, “they (all the community) will be forgiven.” The meaning is the same.

9 tn The Hebrew text hasוְאִם־נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת (vÿim-nefeshakhat), sometime translated “and if any soul.” But the word describes the whole person, the soul in the body; it refers here to the individual who sins.



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