4 He must lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted for him to make atonement[a] on his behalf.
Leviticus 1:4tn “To make atonement” is the standard translation of the Hebrew term כִּפֶּר, (kipper); cf. however TEV “as a sacrifice to take away his sins” (CEV similar). The English word derives from a combination of “at” plus Middle English “one[ment],” referring primarily to reconciliation or reparation that is made in order to accomplish reconciliation. The primary meaning of the Hebrew verb, however, is “to wipe [something off (or on)]” (see esp. the goal of the sin offering, Lev 4, “to purge” the tabernacle from impurities), but in some cases it refers metaphorically to “wiping away” anything that might stand in the way of good relations by bringing a gift (see, e.g., Gen 32:20 [21 HT], “to appease; to pacify” as an illustration of this). The translation “make atonement” has been retained here because, ultimately, the goal of either purging or appeasing was to maintain a proper relationship between the Lord (who dwelt in the tabernacle) and Israelites in whose midst the tabernacle was pitched (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:689-710 for a full discussion of the Hebrew word meaning “to make atonement” and its theological significance).
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