“But if his means are insufficient even for two doves or two young pigeons, then he is to bring as his offering for the sin he committed two quarts of fine flour for a sin offering; he is not to put any olive oil or frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering.”-Leviticus 5:11
Does Leviticus 5:11 contradict the foundational Biblical principle that only blood can atone for sin?
The reason I bring this up is because in verse 11 we see that the absolute poorest person is allowed to sacrifice grain or plant life too pay for his transgression against the Lord.
While I can’t say for sure that the explanation I’m going to provide is 100% correct, I think it makes sense.
Recall how I mentioned earlier that technically speaking the state of being unclean is NOT really a sin.
Instead, uncleanness is a state of being that makes one ritually unfit to offer a sacrifice or enter the temple.
So basically that’s my answer.
What’s really being dealt with in the first 13 verses of Leviticus chapter 5 is impurity.
In other words, the “sin” comes from not realizing one’s accidental impurity.
Are you catching that subtle distinction?
It is the act of FAILING TO REALIZE that one has become accidentally impure that is the transgression.
It is NOT that one’s “sin” or “transgression” has made the individual in question impure.
Hence, the categorical title “Sins of Omission” for the trespasses listed in these first 13 verses of Leviticus 5.
Again, this teaching utterly destroys the typical Christian doctrine that God doesn’t grade sins on a curve.
This portion of Scripture also gives me the opportunity to introduce the proper way to understand the concept of taking the Bible “literally”.
When I say “literal” I am NOT necessarily referring to a direct word-for-word translation.
If we were to do that with many of the Hebrew idioms in the Bible, we’d end up with more than quite a few nonsensical phrases.
What we should attempt to do is seek out what the words or phrase actually meant at the time they were written IN THEIR ORIGINAL CULTURAL SENSE.
The words or phrases in question should NOT be allegorized or treated as metaphors unless the context indicates that they should be taken as an allegories or metaphors.
In verse 7 where our English Bibles say something like “if his means are insufficient” or “If can’t afford a lamb”, the actual Hebrew is the following phrase:
‘IM ‘EIN YADO MASSEGET
Now if we were to translate this word-for-word, the following is what we would come up with:
“If his hand fails to reach“
Now what in the heck does that mean?
The reason a direct word-for-word rendering doesn’t make much sense is because we are dealing with what is now a fossilized Hebrew idiom.
In our modern English it just means, “If a person can’t afford it”.
So renderings of “If he can’t afford a lamb” or “If he has insufficient means” are actually I think good literal translations.
However, realize that it is NOT a word-for-word translation which is what most people mistakenly think a literal translation is.
Only the most learned Bible scholar in ancient Hebrew would be able to understand word-for-word renderings of ancient phrases from the original Scripture texts.