1sn The wilderness wandering officially having begun, these rules were then given for the people to be used when they finally entered the land. That they would be provided here would be of some encouragement to the nation after their great failure. God still spoke of a land that was to be their land, even though they had sinned greatly. This chapter collects a number of religious rules. The first 16 verses deal with rulings for sacrifices. Then, vv. 17-36 concerns sins of omission. Finally, rules concerning tassels are covered (vv. 37-41). For additional reading, see G. B. Gray, Sacrifice in the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925); B. A. Levine, In the Presence of the Lord (SJLA); D. J. McCarthy, “The Symbolism of Blood and Sacrifice,” JBL 88 (1969): 166-76; “Further Notes on the Symbolism of Blood and Sacrifice,” JBL 92 (1973): 205-10; J. Milgrom, “Sin Offering or Purification Offering,” VT 21 (1971): 237-39; N. H. Snaith, “Sacrifices in the Old Testament,” VT 7 (1957): 308-17; R. J. Thompson, Penitence and Sacrifice in Early Israel; R. de Vaux, Studies in Old Testament Sacrifice. The Lord spoke to Moses:
2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land where you are to live,tn Heb “the land of your habitations.” which I am giving you,tn The Hebrew participle here has the futur instans use of the participle, expressing that something is going to take place. It is not imminent, but it is certain that God would give the land to Israel.
3 and you make an offering by fire to the Lord from the herd or from the flock (whether a burnt offering or a sacrifice for discharging a vow or as a freewill offering or in your solemn feasts) to create a pleasing aroma to the Lord,
4 then the one who presents his offering to the Lord must bringtn The three words at the beginning of this verse are all etymologically related: “the one who offers his offering shall offer.” a grain offering of one-tenth of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with one fourth of a hin of olive oil.sn Obviously, as the wording of the text affirms, this kind of offering would be made after they were in the land and able to produce the grain and oil for the sacrifices. The instructions anticipated their ability to do this, and this would give hope to them. The amounts are difficult to determine, but it may be that they were to bring 4.5 liters of flour and 1.8 liters each of oil and wine.
5 You must also prepare one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offeringsn The drink-offering was an ancient custom, mentioned in the Ugaritic tablets of Ras Shamra (14th century b.c.). The drink offering was poured out at the base of the altar (see Sir 50:15 and Josephus, Ant. 3.9.4 [3.234]). with the burnt offering or the sacrifice for each lamb.tn Heb “for the one lamb,” but it clearly means “for each lamb.”
6 Or for a ram, you must prepare as a grain offering two-tenths of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with one-third of a hin of olive oil,
7 and for a drink offering you must offer one-third of a hin of wine as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
8 And when you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or a sacrifice for discharging a vow or as a peace offering to the Lord,
9 then a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with half a hin of olive oil must be presentedtn The text changes from direct address here to the third person form of the verb. If the MT is correct, then to make a smooth translation it would need to be made a passive (in view of the fact that no subject is expressed). with the young bull,
10 and you must present as the drink offering half a hin of wine with the fire offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
11 This is what is to be donetn Heb “according to thus shall it be done.” for each ox, or each ram, or each of the male lambs or the goats.
12 You must do so for each one according to the number that you prepare.
13 “‘Every native-born person must do these things in this way to present an offering made by fire as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
14 If a resident foreigner is livingtn The word גּוּר (gur) was traditionally translated “to sojourn,” i.e., to live temporarily in a land. Here the two words are from the root: “if a sojourner sojourns.” with you – or whoever is among youtn Heb “in your midst.” in future generationstn The Hebrew text just has “to your generations,” but it means in the future. – and prepares an offering made by fire as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he must do it the same way you are to do it.tn The imperfect tenses must reflect the responsibility to comply with the law, and so the classifications of instruction or obligation may be applied.
15 One statute must applytn The word “apply” is supplied in the translation. to you who belong to the congregation and to the resident foreigner who is living among you, as a permanenttn Or “a statute forever.” statute for your future generations. You and the resident foreigner will be aliketn Heb “as you, as [so] the alien.” before the Lord.
16 One law and one custom must apply to you and to the resident foreigner who lives alongside you.’”
Rules for First Fruits
17 The Lord spoke to Moses:
18 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land to which I am bringing youtn The relative clause is literally, “which I am causing you to enter there.” The final adverb is resumptive, and must be joined with the relative pronoun.
19 and you eattn The verse has a temporal clause that actually continues or supplements the temporal clause of the preceding verse. It is made up of the temporal indicator, the infinitive construct with the preposition, and the suffixed subjective genitive: “and it shall be when you eat.” Here it is translated simply “and eat” since the temporal element was introduced in the last verse. some of the food of the land, you must offer up a raised offeringtn This is the תְּרוּמָה (tÿrumah), the “raised offering” or “heave offering” (cf. KJV, ASV). It may simply be called a “contribution” (so NAB). The verb of the sentence is from the same root: “you shall lift up/raise up.” It was to be an offering separated from the rest and raised up to the Lord in the sight of all. It was designed to remind the Israelites that the produce and the land belonged to God. to the Lord.
20 You must offer up a cake of the first of your finely ground flourtn Or “the first of your dough.” The phrase is not very clear. N. H. Snaith thinks it means a batch of loaves from the kneading trough – the first batch of the baking (Leviticus and Numbers [NCB], 251). as a raised offering; as you offer the raised offering of the threshing floor, so you must offer it up.
21 You must give to the Lord some of the first of your finely ground flour as a raised offering in your future generations.
Rules for Unintentional Offenses
22sn 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. “‘If youtn The verb is the plural imperfect; the sin discussed here is a sin committed by the community, or the larger part of the community. sin unintentionally and do not observe all these commandments that the Lord has spoken to Moses –
23 all that the Lord has commanded you by the authoritytn Heb “hand.” of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses and continuing through your future generations –
24 then if anything is done unintentionallytn 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. without the knowledge oftn Heb “[away] from the eyes of the community.” 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.
25 And the priest is to make atonementtn 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. for the whole community of the Israelites, and they will be forgiven,tn Or “they will be forgiven.” 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.
26 And the whole communitytn 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. of the Israelites and the resident foreigner who lives among them will be forgiven, since all the people were involved in the unintentional offense.
27 “‘If any persontn The Hebrew text hasוְאִם־נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת (vÿ’im-nefesh ’akhat), 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. sins unintentionally, then he must bring a yearling female goat for a purification offering.
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.
29 You must have one law for the person who sins unintentionally, both for the native-born among the Israelites and for the resident foreigner who lives among them.
30 “‘But the persontn Heb “soul.” who acts defiantly,tn The sin is described literally as acting “with a high hand” – בְּיָד רָמָה (bÿyad ramah). The expression means that someone would do something with deliberate defiance, with an arrogance in spite of what the Lord said. It is as if the sinner was about to attack God, or at least lifting his hand against God. The implication of the expression is that it was done in full knowledge of the Law (especially since this contrasts throughout with the sins of ignorance). Blatant defiance of the word of the Lord is dealt with differently. For similar expressions, see Exod 14:8 and Num 33:3. whether native-born or a resident foreigner, insultstn The verb occurs only in the Piel; it means “to blaspheme,” “to revile.” the Lord.tn The word order in the Hebrew text places “Yahweh” first for emphasis – it is the Lord such a person insults. That persontn Heb “soul.” must be cut offtn The clause begins with “and” because the verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. As discussed with Num 9:13, to be cut off could mean excommunication from the community, death by the community, or death by divine intervention. from among his people.
31 Because he has despisedtn The verb בָּזָה (bazah, “to despise”) means to treat something as worthless, to treat it with contempt, to look down the nose at something as it were. the word of the Lord and has brokentn The verb פָּרַר (parar, “to break”) can mean to nullify, break, or violate a covenant. his commandment, that persontn Heb “soul.” must be completely cut off.tn The construction uses the Niphal imperfect with the modifying Niphal infinitive absolute. The infinitive makes the sentence more emphatic. If the imperfect tense is taken as an instruction imperfect, then the infinitive makes the instruction more binding. If it is a simple future, then the future is certain. In either case, there is no exclusion from being cut off. His iniquity will be on him.’”sn The point is that the person’s iniquity remains with him – he must pay for his sin. The judgment of God in such a case is both appropriate and unavoidable.
32 When the Israelites weretn The preterite of the verb “to be” is here subordinated to the next, parallel verb form, to form a temporal clause. in the wilderness they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day.sn For this brief passage, see A. Phillips, “The Case of the Woodgatherer Reconsidered,” VT 19 (1969): 125-28; J. Weingreen, “The Case of the Woodgatherer (Numbers XV 32-36),” VT 16 (1966): 361-64; and B. J. Bamberger, “Revelations of Torah after Sinai,” HUCA 16 (1941): 97-113. Weingreen argues that there is something of the Rabbinic method of setting a fence around the Law here; in other words, if this sin were not punished, the Law would have been violated in greater ways. Gathering of wood, although seemingly harmless, is done with intent to kindle fire, and so reveals a culpable intent.
33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to the whole community.
34 They put him in custody, because there was no clear instruction about what should be done to him.
35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; the whole community must stonetn The sentence begins with the emphatic use of the infinitive absolute with the verb in the Hophal imperfect: “he shall surely be put to death.” Then, a second infinitive absolute רָגוֹם (ragom) provides the explanatory activity – all the community is to stone him with stones. The punishment is consistent with other decrees from God (see Exod 31:14,15; 35:2). Moses had either forgotten such, or they had simply neglected to (or were hesitant to) enact them. him with stones outside the camp.”
36 So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death,tn Heb “stoned him with stones, and he died.” just as the Lord commanded Moses.
Rules for Tassels
37 The Lord spoke to Moses:
38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them to maketn The construction uses the imperative followed by perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives. The first perfect tense may be translated as the imperative, but the second, being a third common plural form, has to be subordinated as a purpose clause, or as the object of the preceding verb: “speak…and say…that they make.” tasselssn This is a reference to the צִיצִת (tsitsit), the fringes on the borders of the robes. They were meant to hang from the corners of the upper garment (Deut 22:12), which was worn on top of the clothing. The tassel was probably made by twisting the overhanging threads of the garment into a knot that would hang down. This was a reminder of the covenant. The tassels were retained down through history, and today more elaborate prayer shawls with tassels are worn during prayer. For more information, see F. J. Stephens, “The Ancient Significance of Sisith,” JBL 50 (1931): 59-70; and S. Bertman, “Tasselled Garments in the Ancient East Mediterranean,” BA 24 (1961): 119-28. for themselves on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and put a blue threadsn The blue color may represent the heavenly origin of the Law, or perhaps, since it is a royal color, the majesty of the Lord. on the tassel of the corners.
39 You must have this tassel so that you may look at it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and obey them and so that you do not followtn Heb “seek out, look into.” after your own heart and your own eyes that lead you to unfaithfulness.tn This last clause is a relative clause explaining the influence of the human heart and physical sight. It literally says, “which you go whoring after them.” The verb for “whoring” may be interpreted to mean “act unfaithfully.” So, the idea is these influences lead to unfaithful activity: “after which you act unfaithfully.”
40 Thustn This clause also serves as a purpose/result clause of the preceding – “in order that you may remember….” But because the line is so long, it is simpler to make this a separate sentence in the translation. you will remember and obey all my commandments and be holy to your God.
41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.”
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