4:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 1 4:2 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When a person sins by straying unintentionally 2 from any of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, and violates any 3 one of them 4 –
4:27 “‘If an ordinary individual 9 sins by straying unintentionally 10 when he violates one of the Lord’s commandments which must not be violated, 11 and he pleads guilty 4:28 or his sin that he committed 12 is made known to him, 13 he must bring a flawless female goat 14 as his offering for the sin 15 that he committed.
[4:2] 2 tn Heb “And a person, when he sins in straying.” The English translation of “by straying” (בִּשְׁגָגָה [bishgagah] literally, “in going astray; in making an error”) varies greatly, but almost all suggest that this term refers to sins that were committed by mistake or done not knowing that the particular act was sinful (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:228-29). See, e.g., LXX “involuntarily”; Tg. Onq. “by neglect”; KJV “through ignorance”; ASV, RSV, NJPS “unwittingly”; NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “unintentionally”; NAB, NEB “inadvertently”; NCV “by accident.” However, we know from Num 15:27-31 that committing a sin “by straying” is the opposite of committing a sin “defiantly” (i.e., בְּיַד רָמָה [bÿyad ramah] “with a raised hand,” v. 30). In the latter case the person, as it were, raises his fist in presumptuous defiance against the
[4:2] 4 tn The “when” clause (כִּי, ki) breaks off here before its resolution, thus creating an open-ended introduction to the following subsections, which are introduced by “if” (אִם [’im] vv. 3, 13, 27, 32). Also, the last part of the verse reads literally, “which must not be done and does from one from them.”
[4:3] 8 sn The word for “sin offering” (sometimes translated “purification offering”) is the same as the word for “sin” earlier in the verse. One can tell which rendering is intended only by the context. The primary purpose of the “sin offering” (חַטָּאת, khatta’t) was to “purge” (כִּפֶּר, kipper, “to make atonement,” see 4:20, 26, 31, 35, and the notes on Lev 1:4 and esp. Lev 16:20, 33) the sanctuary or its furniture in order to cleanse it from any impurities and/or (re)consecrate it for holy purposes (see, e.g., Lev 8:15; 16:19). By making this atonement the impurities of the person or community were cleansed and the people became clean. See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:93-103.