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scripture

 

CHAPTER 4

Purification Offerings. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2a Tell the Israelites: When a person inadvertently* does wrong by violating any one of the LORD’s prohibitions—

For the Anointed Priest. 3If it is the anointed priest* who thus does wrong and thereby makes the people guilty, he shall offer to the LORD an unblemished bull of the herd as a purification offering for the wrong he committed. 4Bringing the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting, before the LORD, he shall lay his hand on its headb and slaughter it before the LORD. 5* The anointed priest shall then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6where, dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD, toward the veil of the sanctuary.c 7The priest shall also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense which stands before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar for burnt offerings which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8He shall remove all the fat of the bull of the purification offering: the fat that covers the inner organs, and all the fat that adheres to them, 9as well as the two kidneys, with the fat on them near the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which is removed with the kidneys, 10just as the fat pieces are removed from the ox of the communion sacrifice.d The priest shall burn these on the altar for burnt offerings. 11* But the hide of the bull and its meat, with its head, shanks, inner organs and dung, 12that is, the whole bull, shall be brought outside the camp to a clean place* where the ashes are deposited and there be burned in a wood fire. At the place of the ash heap, there it must be burned.e

For the Community. 13If the whole community of Israel errs* inadvertently and without even being aware of it violates any of the LORD’s prohibitions, and thus are guilty, 14when the wrong that was committed becomes known, the community shall offer a bull of the herd as a purification offering. They shall bring it before the tent of meeting. 15The elders of the community shall lay their hands on the bull’s head before the LORD. When the bull has been slaughtered before the LORD, 16the anointed priest shall bring some of its blood into the tent of meeting, 17and dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, toward the veil. 18He shall also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar for burnt offerings which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 19He shall remove all of its fat and burn it on the altar, 20doing with this bull just as he did with the other bull of the purification offering; he will do the same thing. Thus the priest shall make atonementf on their behalf, that they may be forgiven. 21This bull shall also be brought outside the camp and burned,g just as the first bull. It is a purification offering for the assembly.

For the Tribal Leader. 22Should a tribal leaderh do wrong inadvertently by violating any one of the prohibitions of the LORD his God, and thus be guilty, 23when he learns of the wrong he committed, he shall bring as his offering an unblemished male goat. 24He shall lay his hand on its head and it shall be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, before the LORD. It is a purification offering. 25The priest shall then take some of the blood of the purification offering on his finger and put it on the hornsi of the altar for burnt offerings. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 26All of its fat he shall burn on the altar like the fat of the communion sacrifice. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the tribal leader’s behalf for his wrong, that he may be forgiven.

For the General Populace. 27If anyone of the general populace does wrong inadvertently by violating one of the LORD’s prohibitions, and thus is guilty, 28upon learning of the wrong committed, that person shall bring an unblemished she-goat as the offering for the wrong committed. 29The wrongdoer shall lay a hand on the head of the purification offering, and the purification offering shall be slaughtered at the place of the burnt offerings. 30The priest shall then take some of its blood on his finger and put it on the horns of the altar for burnt offerings. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 31He shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the communion sacrifice. The priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet odor to the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement, so that the individual may be forgiven.

32If, however, a person brings a lamb as a purification offering, that person shall bring an unblemished female, and 33lay a hand on its head. It shall be slaughtered as a purification offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34The priest shall then take some of the blood of the purification offering on his finger and put it on the horns of the altar for burnt offerings. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 35He shall remove all its fat just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the communion sacrifice. The priest shall burn these on the altar with the other oblations for the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf for the wrong committed, that the individual may be forgiven.

* [4:2] Inadvertently: the concern in this chapter, and much of chap. 5, is wrongs done unintentionally. Intentional (“high-handed”) sins are punished with being “cut off” from the people (Nm 15:3031). See note on Lv 7:20. LORD’s prohibitions: not included in the faults figured here is failure to perform positive commandments. Failing to perform positive commands, however, still renders the individual liable to other punishment (e.g., failing to observe the Passover, Nm 9:13). Cf. Nm 15:2231.

* [4:3] The anointed priest: the chapter presents four cases of inadvertent wrong, arranged in descending order according to the status of the wrongdoer: high priest (vv. 312), entire community (vv. 1321), tribal leader (vv. 2226), and general populace (vv. 2735). The higher one’s position, the more deeply the sin affects the sanctuary (vv. 57, 1718 versus vv. 25, 29, 34). See note on 16:6. Purification offering: the Hebrew verb ḥiṭṭē’ means “remove sin, purify” (Lv 8:15; Ez 43:2023; 45:1819; cf. Ex 29:36). The offering cleansed the various places to which the blood was applied or the rooms in which it was sprinkled.

* [4:57] On the structure of the sanctuary, see Ex 2627.

* [4:1112] See note on 6:1723.

* [4:12] Clean place: i.e., ritually “clean” or pure. It has nothing to do with the presence of dirt or waste. See 6:4.

* [4:13] Whole community…errs: this case probably complements that of vv. 312. There the high priest sins so that the people become guilty. Those verses deal with his requirements for atonement; vv. 1321 deal with the people’s requirements.

a. [4:2] Lv 6:1723; Nm 15:2231.

b. [4:4] Lv 1:4.

c. [4:67] Lv 4:1718; 16:16; cf. 4:25.

d. [4:10] Lv 3:3.

e. [4:12] Lv 6:23.

f. [4:20] Lv 1:4.

g. [4:21] Lv 6:23.

h. [4:22] Nm 10:4; 25:14.

i. [4:25] Lv 4:30, 34; 8:15; 9:9; 16:18; Ex 29:12; Ez 43:20; cf. Lv 4:7.




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