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Numbers 5:7-8

Context
5:7 then he must confess 1  his sin that he has committed and must make full reparation, 2  add one fifth to it, and give it to whomever he wronged. 3  5:8 But if the individual has no close relative 4  to whom reparation can be made for the wrong, the reparation for the wrong must be paid to the Lord 5  for the priest, in addition to the ram of atonement by which atonement is made for him.

1 tn The verb is the Hitpael perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive from the verb יָדָה (yadah), which in this stem means “acknowledge, confess sin,” but in the Hiphil (primarily) it means “praise, give thanks.” In both cases one is acknowledging something, either the sin, or the person and work of the Lord. Here the verb comes in the apodosis: “when…then he must confess.”

2 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of שׁוּב (shuv, “return”). Here it has the sense of “repay” with the word “reparation” (traditionally rendered “guilt offering,” but now is understood to refer to what was defrauded). The Levitical rulings called for the guilty to restore what was taken, if it could be made right, and pay a fifth more as a surcharge.

3 tn This is now the third use of אָשָׁם (’asham); the first referred to “guilt,” the second to “reparation,” and now “wronged.” The idea of “guilt” lies behind the second two uses as well as the first. In the second “he must repay his guilt” (meaning what he is guilty of); and here it can also mean “the one against whom he is guilty of sinning.”

4 sn For more information on the word, see A. R. Johnson, “The Primary Meaning of גאל,” VTSup 1 (1953): 67-77.

5 tc The editors of BHS prefer to follow the Greek, Syriac, and Latin and not read “for the Lord” here, but read a form of the verb “to be” instead. But the text makes more sense as it stands: The payment is to be made to the Lord for the benefit of the priests.



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