5:15 “When a person commits a trespass43 and sins by straying unintentionally44 from the regulations about the Lord’s holy things,45 then he must bring his penalty for guilt46 to the Lord, a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel,47 for a guilt offering.48
tn Heb “trespasses a trespass” (verb and direct object from the same Hebrew root, מַעַל, ma’al); cf. NIV “commits a violation.” The word refers to some kind of overstepping of the boundary between that which is common (i.e., available for common use by common people) and that which is holy (i.e., to be used only for holy purposes because it has been consecrated to the Lord, see further below). See the note on Lev 10:10.
sn Heb “from the holy things of the Lord.” The Hebrew expression here has the same structure as Lev 4:2, “from any of the commandments of the Lord.” The latter introduces the sin offering regulations and the former the guilt offering regulations. The sin offering deals with violations of “any of the commandments,” whereas the guilt offering focuses specifically on violations of regulations regarding “holy things” (i.e., things that have been consecrated to the Lord; see the full discussion in J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:320–27).
tn Heb “in your valuation, silver of shekels, in the shekel of the sanctuary.” The translation offered here suggests that, instead of a ram, the guilt offering could be presented in the form of money (see, e.g., NRSV; J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:326–27). Others still maintain the view that it refers to the value of the ram that was offered (see, e.g., NIV “of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel”; also NAB, NLT; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 72–73, 81).
tn The word for “guilt offering” (sometimes translated “reparation offering”) is the same as “guilt” earlier in the verse (rendered there “[penalty for] guilt”). One can tell which is intended only by the context.
sn The primary purpose of the guilt offering was to “atone” (see the note on Lev 1:4 above) for “trespassing” on the Lord’s “holy things” (see later in this verse) or the property of others in the community (Lev 6:1–7 [5:20–26 HT]; 19:20–22; Num 5:5–10). It was closely associated with reconsecration of the Lord’s sacred things or his sacred people (see, e.g., Lev 14:12–18; Num 6:11b–12). Moreover, there was usually an associated reparation made for the trespass, including restitution of that which was violated plus one fifth of its value as a fine (Lev 5:16; 6:5 [5:24 HT]). See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 1:557–66.