Sin offerings

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at
Tue Oct 6 04:34:38 EDT 1998

Peter_Kirk at wrote:

> Unfortunately I don't have these available either - the best BH
> library here in Baku is probably my personal one. Averbeck's article
> in VanGemeren on xa++f)t quotes Milgrom enough to get me interested;
> although (from his conservative Christian standpoint) he does not
> agree with Milgrom, he accepts that xa++f)t deals with physical (e.g.
> Lev 12:6,8) as well as moral defilement. (But is this distinction
> anachronistic?) So perhaps someone else can check out what Milgrom and
> others have to say on this.
> Do any recognised translations translate xa++f)t by anything other
> than "sin offering"?
> I thought only the first and eighth days of Sukkot which were supposed
> to be days of rest - Leviticus 23:35,36,39. But then I am sure your
> librarians have earned their break.

Dear Peter,Luckily, the College and the library are open half-day this year during
the intermediate days of Sukkot (all schools are closed and academic institutions in
any case don't start class until after Sukkot), so I found the following:

hatt'ath is interpreted as "purification offering by Gary Anderson, "Sacrifice and
Sacrificial Offerings", Anchor Bible Dictionary 5, pp. 870-886, esp. p. 879,
following Milgrom's 1983 study, Studies in Cultic Theology and Terminology, Leiden.

On the other hand, Koehler-Baumgartner's HAL, p. 306, def. 2, has "expiation,
sin-offering"; def. 1 is merely "sin". HAL translated het' as "offence"; and the
pi'el of hata' (p. 305, def. 20  as "cleanse from sin, purify".

I get the impression that "cleanse from sin" and "purify" are not far apart, and
this leads to the question of the Priestly theology of all kinds of het' - physical,
moral, spiritual, ritual, etc. as causing ritual impurity which must be expiated by
means of a special sacrifice.
Does this help, or merely confuse?

Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
44905 Beit Berl Post Office
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