Adonai said to Moshe, “Speak to Aharon and his sons and to all the people of Israel. Tell them that this is what Adonai has ordered: ‘When someone from the community of Israel slaughters an ox, lamb or goat inside or outside the camp without bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to Adonai before the tabernacle of Adonai, he is to be charged with blood — he has shed blood, and that person is to be cut off from his people.-Leviticus 17:1-4
In the Bible, being “cut-off” means that one has rebelled against God.
And sooner or later, God’s heavy hand of judgement is going to fall on that person.
Being cut-off for rebelling against God doesn’t necessarily mean judgement is going to happen immediately.
But rest assured in God’s perfect timing it will happen.
It’s like walking around with a sentence on your head, sometimes for many years.
You know something bad is going to happen to you as a result of your rebellion against God, you just don’t know when or where or what the specific circumstances will be.
Being “cut-off” also doesn’t necessarily mean the death penalty.
To the ancient Hebrew mind, being “cut-off” meant that one would not live out his or her full life span.
People didn’t hold to the idea of dying and going to heaven in those days.
In the Psalms and in other parts of Scripture, it talks of going down to SHEOL (or the grave) as a natural end to man’s existence.
The average Israelite considered himself greatly blessed if he lived to a ripe old age with many children and grandchildren.
Being “cut-off” in the sense of having one’s life ended prematurely was something that happened to the wicked.
Other forms of being “cut-off” would be excommunication from the community of Israel.
This also carried the idea of being permanently separated from one’s ancestors at death.
In Hebrew, the word for “cut-off” is KARET.
And again, it has the sense of “losing one’s life at the hands of the Almighty”.
The main point about KARET is that regardless of the form being “cut-off” took, it was always seen as divine punishment.
And here’s the real kicker.
Sometimes the punishment did NOT end with the death of the perpetrator nor might it affect him directly.
In some cases, the punishment would eventually be carried over to the 3rd or 4th generation.
The father’s sins being carried over to the 3rd and maybe the 4th generation is an example of KARET in action.
To the Biblical Israelite, having one’s family line ended was sometimes considered worse than death because they believed that in a very real way their afterlife essence or spirit continued to live on through their descendants.
Hence, no descendants equalled no hope of an afterlife.