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Leviticus 4:1-5:13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

Purification Offerings. The Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites: When a person inadvertently[a] does wrong by violating any one of the Lord’s prohibitions—

For the Anointed Priest. If it is the anointed priest[b] 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. Bringing the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting, before the Lord, he shall lay his hand on its head and slaughter it before the Lord. [c]The anointed priest shall then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting, where, dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, toward the veil of the sanctuary. The 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. He 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, as 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, 10 just as the fat pieces are removed from the ox of the communion sacrifice. The priest shall burn these on the altar for burnt offerings. 11 [d]But the hide of the bull and its meat, with its head, shanks, inner organs and dung, 12 that is, the whole bull, shall be brought outside the camp to a clean place[e] 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.

For the Community. 13 If the whole community of Israel errs[f] inadvertently and without even being aware of it violates any of the Lord’s prohibitions, and thus are guilty, 14 when 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. 15 The 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, 16 the anointed priest shall bring some of its blood into the tent of meeting, 17 and dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, toward the veil. 18 He 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. 19 He shall remove all of its fat and burn it on the altar, 20 doing 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 atonement on their behalf, that they may be forgiven. 21 This bull shall also be brought outside the camp and burned, just as the first bull. It is a purification offering for the assembly.

For the Tribal Leader. 22 Should a tribal leader do wrong inadvertently by violating any one of the prohibitions of the Lord his God, and thus be guilty, 23 when he learns of the wrong he committed, he shall bring as his offering an unblemished male goat. 24 He 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. 25 The 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. 26 All 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. 27 If anyone of the general populace does wrong inadvertently by violating one of the Lord’s prohibitions, and thus is guilty, 28 upon learning of the wrong committed, that person shall bring an unblemished she-goat as the offering for the wrong committed. 29 The 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. 30 The 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. 31 He 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.

32 If, however, a person brings a lamb as a purification offering, that person shall bring an unblemished female, and 33 lay a hand on its head. It shall be slaughtered as a purification offering in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34 The 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. 35 He 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.

Chapter 5

Special Cases for Purification Offerings.[g] If a person, either having seen or come to know something, does wrong by refusing as a witness under oath to give information, that individual shall bear the penalty; or if someone, without being aware of it, touches any unclean thing, such as the carcass of an unclean wild animal, or an unclean domestic animal, or an unclean swarming creature,[h] and thus is unclean and guilty; or if someone, without being aware of it, touches some human uncleanness, whatever kind of uncleanness this may be, and then subsequently becomes aware of guilt; or if someone, without being aware of it, rashly utters an oath with bad or good intent, whatever kind of oath this may be, and then subsequently becomes aware of guilt in regard to any of these matters— when someone is guilty in regard to any of these matters, that person shall confess the wrong committed, and make reparation to the Lord for the wrong committed: a female animal from the flock, a ewe lamb or a she-goat, as a purification offering. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the individual’s behalf for the wrong.

If, however, the person cannot afford an animal of the flock, that person shall bring to the Lord as reparation for the wrong committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a purification offering and the other for a burnt offering. The guilty party shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer the one for the purification offering first. Wringing its head at the neck, yet without breaking it off, he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the purification offering against the side of the altar. The rest of the blood shall be drained out against the base of the altar. It is a purification offering. 10 The other bird he shall offer as a burnt offering according to procedure. Thus the priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf for the wrong committed, so that the individual may be forgiven.

11 If the person is unable to afford even two turtledoves or two pigeons, that person shall bring as an offering for the wrong committed one tenth of an ephah[i] of bran flour for a purification offering. The guilty party shall not put oil or place frankincense on it, because it is a purification offering. 12 The individual shall bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful as a token of the offering and burn it on the altar with the other oblations for the Lord. It is a purification offering. 13 Thus the priest shall make atonement on the person’s behalf for the wrong committed in any of the above cases, so that the individual may be forgiven. The rest of the offering, like the grain offering, shall belong to the priest.

Reparation Offerings.[j]

Footnotes:

  1. 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 15:30–31). 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 15:22–31.
  2. 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. 3–12), entire community (vv. 13–21), tribal leader (vv. 22–26), and general populace (vv. 27–35). The higher one’s position, the more deeply the sin affects the sanctuary (vv. 5–7, 17–18 versus vv. 25, 29, 34). See note on 16:6. Purification offering: the Hebrew verb ḥiṭṭē’ means “remove sin, purify” (Lv 8:15; Ez 43:20–23; 45:18–19; cf. Ex 29:36). The offering cleansed the various places to which the blood was applied or the rooms in which it was sprinkled.
  3. 4:5–7 On the structure of the sanctuary, see Ex 26–27.
  4. 4:11–12 See note on 6:17–23.
  5. 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.
  6. 4:13 Whole community…errs: this case probably complements that of vv. 3–12. There the high priest sins so that the people become guilty. Those verses deal with his requirements for atonement; vv. 13–21 deal with the people’s requirements.
  7. 5:1–13 This differs from the prescriptions for purification offerings in chap. 4 by listing four specific wrongs for which a purification offering is brought and allowing the substitution of birds and grain offerings in the case of poverty.
  8. 5:2 Swarming creature: a rather imprecise categorization that includes various small creatures in the seas, such as fish that go about in large groups or swarms (Gn 1:20; Lv 11:10); or, similarly, various winged insects that mass in the skies (Lv 11:20; Dt 14:19); and, finally, various small creatures that move in swarms on land, whether crawlers, quadrupeds, or of the multilegged variety (Lv 11:41–42). According to 11:29–30, even various rodents and lizards can be included in this category.
  9. 5:11 Ephah: see note on Is 5:10.
  10. 5:14–26 This last half of the chapter deals with a distinct sacrifice, the reparation offering (Heb. ’asham). The Hebrew root for this term has a basic meaning of “be guilty.” The noun can have a consequential sense of “that which is due from guilt,” i.e., “compensation, indemnification, reparation”; hence the translation “reparation offering,” rather than the alternatives “guilt offering” or “trespass offering.” This offering is brought most often in cases of sacrilege.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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