6 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When[a] a man or a woman commits any sin that people commit,[b] thereby breaking faith[c] with the Lord, and that person is found guilty,[d]
Numbers 5:6sn This type of law is known as casuistic. The law is introduced with “when/if” and then the procedure to be adopted follows it. The type of law was common in the Law Code of Hammurabi.
Numbers 5:6tn The verse simply says “any sin of a man,” but the genitive could mean that it is any sin that a man would commit (subjective genitive), or one committed against a man (objective genitive). Because of the similarity with Lev 5:22 HT (6:3 ET), the subjective is better. The sin is essentially “missing the mark” which is the standard of the Law of the Lord. The sin is not in this case accidental or inadvertent. It means here simply failing to live up to the standard of the Lord. Since both men and women are mentioned in the preceding clause, the translation uses “people” here.
Numbers 5:6tn The verb is מַעַל (maʿal), which means to “defraud, violate, trespass against,” or “to deal treacherously, do an act of treachery.” In doing any sin that people do, the guilty have been unfaithful to the Lord, and therefore must bring him a sacrifice.
Numbers 5:6tn The word used here for this violation is אָשָׁם (ʾasham). It can be translated “guilt, to be guilty”; it can also be used for the reparation offering. The basic assumption here is that the individual is in a state of sin—is guilty. In that state he or she feels remorse for the sin and seeks forgiveness through repentance. See further P. P. Saydon, “Sin Offering and Trespass Offering,” CBQ 8 (1946): 393-98; H. C. Thompson, “The Significance of the Term ʾAsham in the Old Testament,” TGUOS 14 (1953): 20-26.
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