New English Translation
Prohibition against Eating Blood
10 “‘Any man[c] from the house of Israel or from the resident foreigners who live[d] in their[e] midst who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats the blood, and I will cut him off from the midst of his people,[f] 11 for the life of every living thing[g] is in the blood.[h] So I myself have assigned it to you[i] on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.[j]Read full chapter
- Leviticus 17:9 tn Heb “to make it,” meaning “to make the sacrifice.”
- Leviticus 17:9 tn For remarks on the “cut off” penalty see the note on v. 4 above.
- Leviticus 17:10 tn Heb “And man, man.” The repetition of the word “man” is distributive, meaning “any (or every) man” (GKC 395-96 §123.c; cf. Lev 15:2).
- Leviticus 17:10 tn The noun “foreigner” (גֵּר; ger) is based on the same verbal root as “lives” (גּוּר; gur), which means “to sojourn, to dwell as an alien.” On the Hebrew ger (גֵּר) “resident foreigner” see notes at Exod 12:19 and Deut 29:11.
- Leviticus 17:10 tc The LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate have “your” (plural) rather than “their.”
- Leviticus 17:10 tn Heb “I will give my faces against [literally “in”] the soul/person/life [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh, feminine] who eats the blood and I will cut it [i.e., that נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh] off from the midst of its people.” The uses of נֶפֶשׁ in this and the following verse are most significant for the use of animal blood in Israel’s sacrificial system. Unfortunately, it is a most difficult word to translate accurately and consistently, and this presents a major problem for the rendering of these verses (see, e.g., G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 244-45). No matter which translation of נֶפֶשׁ one uses here, it is important to see that both man and animal have נֶפֶשׁ and that this נֶפֶשׁ is identified with the blood. See the further remarks on v. 11 below. On the “cutting off” penalty see the note on v. 4 above. In this instance, God takes it on himself to “cut off” the person (i.e., extirpation).
- Leviticus 17:11 tn Heb “the life of the flesh.” Here “flesh” stands for “every living thing,” that is, all creatures (cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT “every creature”; CEV “every living creature.”
- Leviticus 17:11 tn Heb “for the soul/life (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) of the flesh, it is in the blood” (cf. the note of v. 10 above and v. 14 below). Although most modern English versions begin a new sentence in v. 11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (see, e.g., NJPS, NASB, NIV, NRSV), the כִּי (ki, “for, because”) at the beginning of the verse suggests continuation from v. 10, as the rendering here indicates (see, e.g., NEB, NLT; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 261; and G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 239).sn This verse is a well-known crux interpretum for blood atonement in the Bible. The close association between the blood and “the soul/life [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh] of the flesh [בָּשָׂר, basar]” (v. 11a) begins in Gen 9:2-5 (if not Gen 4:10-11), where the Lord grants man the eating of meat (i.e., the “flesh” of animals) but also issues a warning: “But flesh [בָּשָׂר] with its soul/life [נֶפֶשׁ], [which is] its blood, you shall not eat” (cf. G. J. Wenham, Genesis [WBC], 1:151 and 193). Unfortunately, the difficulty in translating נֶפֶשׁ consistently (see the note on v. 10 above) obscures the close connection between the (human) “person” in v. 10 and “the life” (of animals, 2 times) and “your (human) lives” in v. 11, all of which are renderings of נֶפֶשׁ. The basic logic of the passage is that (a) no נֶפֶשׁ should eat the blood when he eats the בָּשָׂר of an animal (v. 10) because (b) the נֶפֶשׁ of בָּשָׂר is identified with the blood that flows through and permeates it (v. 11a), and (c) the Lord himself has assigned (i.e., limited the use of) animal blood, that is, animal נֶפֶשׁ, to be the instrument or price of making atonement for the נֶפֶשׁ of people (v. 11b). See the detailed remarks and literature cited in R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:693-95, 697-98.
- Leviticus 17:11 tn Heb “And I myself have given it to you.”
- Leviticus 17:11 tn Heb “for the blood, it by (ב, bet preposition, “in”] the life makes atonement.” The interpretation of the preposition is pivotal here. Some scholars have argued that it is a bet of exchange; that is, “the blood makes atonement in exchange for the life [of the slaughtered animal]” (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:694-95, 697 for analysis and criticism of this view). It is more likely that, as in the previous clause (“your lives”), “life/soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) here refers to the person who makes the offering, not the animal offered. The blood of the animal makes atonement for the person who offers it either “by means of” (instrumental bet) the “life/soul” of the animal, which it symbolizes or embodies (the meaning of the translation given here); or perhaps the blood of the animal functions as “the price” (bet of price) for ransoming the “life/soul” of the person.