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Numbers 6:9-12

Context
Contingencies for Defilement

6:9 “‘If anyone dies very suddenly 1  beside him and he defiles 2  his consecrated head, 3  then he must shave his head on the day of his purification – on the seventh day he must shave it. 6:10 On the eighth day he is to bring 4  two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6:11 Then the priest will offer one for a purification offering 5  and the other 6  as a burnt offering, 7  and make atonement 8  for him, because of his transgression 9  in regard to the corpse. So he must reconsecrate 10  his head on that day. 6:12 He must rededicate 11  to the Lord the days of his separation and bring a male lamb in its first year as a reparation offering, 12  but the former days will not be counted 13  because his separation 14  was defiled.

1 tn The construction uses the imperfect tense followed by the infinitive absolute, יָמוּת מֵת (yamut met). Because the verb is in a conditional clause, the emphasis that is to be given through the infinitive must stress the contingency. The point is “if someone dies – unexpectedly.” The next words underscore the suddenness of this.

2 tn The verb is the Piel perfect with a vav (ו) consecutive; it continues the idea within the conditional clause.

3 sn The expression is figurative for the vow that he took; the figure is the metonymy because the reference to the head is a reference to the long hair that symbolizes the oath.

4 tn The imperfect tense in this verse is still instructional rather than a simple future. The translations can vary, but the point that it is directive must be caught.

5 tn The traditional translation of חַטָּאת (khattat) is “sin offering,” but it is more precise to render it “purification offering” (as with the other names of sacrifices) to show the outcome, not the cause of the offering (see Lev 4). Besides, this offering was made for ritual defilements (for which no confession was required) as well as certain sins (for which a confession of sin was required). This offering restored the person to the ritual state of purity by purifying the area into which he would be going.

6 tn The repetition of “the one…and the one” forms the distributive sense of “the one…and the other.”

7 tn The burnt offering (Lev 1) reflects the essence of atonement: By this sacrifice the worshiper was completely surrendering to God, and God was completely accepting the worshiper.

8 tn The verb וְכִפֶּר (vÿkhipper) is the Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive. The meaning of the verb is “to expiate, pacify, atone.” It refers to the complete removal of the barrier of fellowship between the person and God, and the total acceptance of that person into his presence. The idea of “to cover,” often linked to this meaning, is derived from a homonym, and not from this word and its usage.

9 tn The verb “to sin” has a wide range of meanings, beginning with the idea of “missing the way or the goal.” In view of the nature of this case – the prescribed ritual without confession – the idea is more that he failed to keep the vow’s stipulations in this strange circumstance than that he committed intentional sin.

10 tn The verb simply means “to consecrate,” but because it refers to a vow that was interrupted, it must here mean to “reconsecrate.”

11 tn The same idea is to be found now in the use of the word נָזַר (nazar), which refers to a recommitment after the vow was interrupted.

12 tn The necessity of bringing the reparation offering was due to the reinstatement into the vow that had been interrupted.

13 tn Heb “will fall”; KJV “shall be lost”; ASV, NASB, NRSV “shall be void.”

14 tc The similar expression in v. 9 includes the word “head” (i.e., “his consecrated head”). The LXX includes this word in v. 12 as well.



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