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29 You must have one law for the person who sins unintentionally, both for the native-born among the Israelites and for the resident foreigner who lives among them.

Deliberate Sin

30 “‘But the person[a] who acts defiantly,[b] whether native-born or a resident foreigner, insults[c] the Lord.[d] That person[e] must be cut off[f] from among his people. 31 Because he has despised[g] the Lord’s message and has broken[h] his commandment, that person[i] must be completely cut off.[j] His iniquity will be on him.’”[k]

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  1. Numbers 15:30 tn Heb “soul.”
  2. Numbers 15:30 tn The sin is described literally as acting “with a high hand”—בְּיָד רָמָה (beyad ramah). The expression means that someone would do something with deliberate defiance, with an arrogance in spite of what the Lord said. It is as if the sinner was about to attack God, or at least lifting his hand against God. The implication of the expression is that it was done in full knowledge of the Law (especially since this contrasts throughout with the sins of ignorance). Blatant defiance of the word of the Lord is dealt with differently. For similar expressions, see Exod 14:8 and Num 33:3.
  3. Numbers 15:30 tn The verb occurs only in the Piel; it means “to blaspheme,” “to revile.”
  4. Numbers 15:30 tn The word order in the Hebrew text places “Yahweh” first for emphasis—it is the Lord such a person insults.
  5. Numbers 15:30 tn Heb “soul.”
  6. Numbers 15:30 tn The clause begins with “and” because the verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. As discussed with Num 9:13, to be cut off could mean excommunication from the community, death by the community, or death by divine intervention.
  7. Numbers 15:31 tn The verb בָּזָה (bazah, “to despise”) means to treat something as worthless, to treat it with contempt, to look down the nose at something as it were.
  8. Numbers 15:31 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar, “to break”) can mean to nullify, break, or violate a covenant.
  9. Numbers 15:31 tn Heb “soul.”
  10. Numbers 15:31 tn The construction uses the Niphal imperfect with the modifying Niphal infinitive absolute. The infinitive makes the sentence more emphatic. If the imperfect tense is taken as an instruction imperfect, then the infinitive makes the instruction more binding. If it is a simple future, then the future is certain. In either case, there is no exclusion from being cut off.
  11. Numbers 15:31 sn The point is that the person’s iniquity remains with him—he must pay for his sin. The judgment of God in such a case is both appropriate and unavoidable.

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