The previous offerings were more defined by what the offering was like – burnt, grain – or as a general thanks/peace/well-being/seriously, what is the correct translation? kind of sacrifice, but these are defined entirely by why you do them. They’re “sin offerings,” and as the name implies, they’re done when you commit a sin unintentionally, finding out about it later. I take it the idea is that there’s enough in the law that’s easy to mix up, forget, or overlook, that there has to be a remedy to undoing it once you notice. My question would be, what happens if you never notice that you broke the law? Does the fact that it was unintentional still count in your favor?

There are four different categories for sin offerings based on who committed the sin: a priest, everyone, a ruler, or an ordinary person. The first two have to offer a bull, the third a male goat, and the last either a female goat or an ewe. People who are more powerful or a collective have to pay a different penalty than ordinary individuals. As with the burnt-offering, you have the multiple levels of sacrifice based on ability to offer… and also, in the case of priests and rulers, there’s probably a sense of “you need to be setting an example.” In fact, for the priest it even says that if he sins, he is “bringing guilt on the people” (v 3), that his sin is passed on to others. Hence why he has to give a full bull.

The sacrifice itself is very similar to the “well-being”/reconciliation offering, and it even says so, but there’s more blood-dousing. As someone who’s done comparative religious studies in the past, it’s interesting how absolutely vague some of this is. There’s no description of what they’re supposed to say, for example. What prayers do you say? What invocations? If this were the Vedas or the Brahmanas, we’d be getting a detailed description of everything. But I guess, again, that this is what the Oral Tradition is for. You need that extra commentary, or else this is all useless.

The Japanese: ihansuru “to violate, to transgress,” ayamatte ni “by mistake, unintentionally,” kitei “rule, regulation” (v 2), hitasu “to dip, to immerse” (v 6), shoukyaku “incineration” (v 12), zangai “ruins, wreckage” (v 21). That last word is in reference to the bull, which is an odd way of referring to a corpse.

Advertisements