Correspondence.

1871 367 Dear Brother in Christ,

A few remarks with illustrations from scripture of the use of kipper may set the question* in a clear light.

(*1871 p. 336 I shall be much obliged by any of your readers who knows Hebrew better than myself, or has studied the point, to tell me the force of lekapher 'alaw in Leviticus 16:10. It will require attention to the force of  'al with kipper which I suspect is not always justly given in the English translation.)

The primary meaning of kaphar is to cover. Hence when used in Piel which gives intensity to the idea, it will mean to cover effectually, so to forgive, pardon, make atonement.

The verb is used without or with prepositions; without where the thing to be covered is the prominent thought, e.g., sin (Dan. ix. 24; Ps. lxv. 3 (4); Ps. lxxviii. 38), the land (Deut. xxxii. 43), the altar (Ezek. xliii. 20); but with prepositions where the place in which atonement was to be made, the manner of it, the officiator, or the guilty persons, are in view.

We meet with the verb followed by beh in Lev. vi. 30 (23); Lev. xvi. 17, which tell of the place in Lev. vii. 7; 1 Sam. iii. 14; 2 Sam. xxi. 3; Num. 5:8; which speak of the means. Where the person by whom it is made is prominent, we find it in connection with beh'ad, to tell us on whose behalf he is acting, e.g., Lev. ix. 7; Lev. xvi. 6, 11, 17, 24; Ex. xxxii. 30; Ezek. xlv. 17, and 2 Chron. xxx. 18, where Hezekiah looks to the Lord to effect it.

Where things inanimate, involved in man's guilt but guiltless themselves, are spoken of, the verb can be followed by et (Lev. xvi. 20, 33; Ezek. xliii. 26; Ezek. xlv. 20); and where persons are before the writer's mind, guiltless themselves of the actual transgression, we meet with the preposition le, e.g., Deut. xxi. 8; Isa. xxii. 14; Ezek. xvi. 63, for the consequence of the sin was not to extend to them.

But when the guilt itself is the prominent thought, we have 'al used, pointing out on whom, or on what, the sin rested which needed covering, whether (1) the individual, (2) the place of standing, (3) the victim to which the sin was transferred; e.g., (1) Lev. iv. 20, 26, 31, 35; Lev. xii. 7; Lev. xiv. 18-20; Lev. xix. 22; Num. xv. 25, 28, etc.; (2) Ex. xxx. 10; Lev. xvi. 16; (3) Lev. xvi. 10; the passage to which your correspondent refers. Keeping the primary thought of the verb in view, we can understand its use in the different places referred to, and the force of Hebrews x. 4 and Romans iii. 25, is felt. The sins of God's people in old days were covered by the blood (and so God passed over them), though not really put away, till the blood of the Lord Jesus had been shed, which alone could avail for this. In Leviticus xvi. 10 the thought seems to be that the sins of the people, transferred to the scapegoat were covered on it; that is, the goat bore them away from the people, never to be seen again as against them; but yet, as on the goat, they were not looked at in God's sight as put away.

At times we meet with the fuller form of expression (a) kipher 'al meen, and (b) kipher 'al beh; (a) Leviticus 5:6; Lev. xiv. 19; Lev. xv. 30; Lev. xvi. 16, 34; (b) Lev. 5:16; Numbers 5:8, the former marking from what, and the latter by what the sin was covered; but always, where the guilt is viewed as resting, we meet with 'al of the person or thing on whom it rests. See Leviticus xvi. 33 where we have kipher et of the sanctuary and vessels, and kapher 'al of the people. C. E. Stuart.

(Where the numeration of verses in Hebrew differs from the Authorized Version, the former is put in brackets.)