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2. Village, or villages. When thus translated, it is generally in the plural, and probably sometimes may mean the suburbs of a place named. That the connexions where it is thus rendered sustain the common translation, appears from the following passages1 Sam. vi. 18; Josh. xviii. 24; 1 Chr. xxvii. 25; Neh. vi. 2; Cant. vii. 11.
3. Camphire, or cypress the cypress flower. Cant. i. 14, and iv. 13. In these, and in the preceding examples, it is extremely difficult, not to say impossible, for this word to bear the meaning which Dr. Bellamy says, 'is confirmed by every other part of Scripture where it occurs,' with the exception of Gen. vi. 14, and which he translates by the word atonement. 4. Ransom. It means, when used in this application, the price of redemption expiatory money. Thus in Exod. xxi. 30: If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life, whatsoever is laid upon him.' In this instance it is a commutation of punishment, the substitution of a sum of money for the life of the offender; and is an express provision of the law.
Isa. xliii. 3: I gave Egypt for thy ransom,' &c. This may refer to the calamities which fell upon Egypt, at the time when the Hebrews went out of that country; but more probably to some then recent transaction, in which Egypt had been delivered into the hands of the conqueror, who being satisfied with the plunder of the country, had, for the time, been diverted from his purposes against Israel. Ps. xlix. 7, 8: 'None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him,' &c. The utter insufficiency of wealth, to preserve life, is here asserted that, however desirable it might be to put off the period of death, by the payment of a sum of money, when the fatal moment arrived, the power of effecting such redemption ceased forever.
Exod. xxx. 12: When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord,' &c. This ransom was, in fact, the common capitation or poll-tax, which every Israelite of a certain age was required to pay for national and religious purposes. While the institutions sustained by this tax were preserved, the nation and the people prospered. But when these were neglected, the multiplied calamities denounced by Moses in Deut. xxviii. 15-68, came upon them.
therefore, the payment of a price for a given object; a meaning that plainly attaches itself to all the examples under this particular.
It will be observed, that in the various uses of this word as a noun, it is never translated atonement. Nor does it once occur under a meaning which approaches the sense of appeasing, reconciling, propitiating, or placating the Deity, or any other being in the universe.
II. As a verb, significations.
(capher) certainly has several distinct
1. To cover. In this sense it occurs in Gen. vi. 14, and is rendered to pitch; that is, Noah was instructed to cover the ark with pitch, or asphaltum.
2. To remove, expunge, obliterate-to blot out. In this sense, the same general idea attaches to the word, as to that of the Greek word rendered forgiveness in the New Testament. An example of this use is found in Isa. xxviii. 18, where it is translated dis annulled. 'Your covenant with death shall be disannulled,' &c. Here an allusion is made to the process of erasing anything written, by rubbing something over what it was desirable to expunge. It is therefore the abrogation, or blotting out, of a supposed compact between the Hebrews, and death and hades; and is properly expressed by the word disannulled.
Psalm lxv. 3: As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.' The same translation (purge) occurs in Psalm lxxix. 9, and with the same meaning; that is, to pardon, expunge, blot out. Ps. lxxviii. 38: 'But he, being full of compsasion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not,' &c. The same rendering (to forgive) is found in Deut. xxi. 8, and with a negative, 'forgive not,' in Jer. xviii. 23. In all these examples of forgive, the sense of dismission, sending away, blotting out, is constantly preserved; but not on account of any sacrifices offered to the Deity.
Lev. iv. 26: And the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.' See also, Lev. v. 16, where nearly the same language is used; and with precisely the same meaning. This is the first example of the translation of the original word, by that of atonement, to which we have had occasion to refer. And here it will be observed and it is of some consequence that the re
mark be remembered, that the phrase, shall make an atonement,' conveys a sense very different from the original. The translation makes the noun atonement; but in the Hebrew, it is the verb atone. Hence, instead of making an atonement for the man, he himself is atoned. And instead of such atonement being intended to placate and reconcile the Deity, it was the symbol of the reconciliation of the transgressor, and of his return to duty. This will be very apparent to any person, who will examine the verses in connexion. The consequence of returning to the practice of duty, signified by the offering with which the offerer is atoned, is expressed in the last clause of each verse of the last quotations—' and it shall be forgiven him.' That is, his sin shall be expunged, sent away, or blotted out. Numb. v. 8. Dan. ix. 24.
Exod. xxxii. 30: And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin; and now I will go up unto the Lord, peradventure I shall make an atonement (shall atone) for your sin.' It may perhaps be difficult to convince others, that this passage comes under the class of texts, in which to atone means to obliterate, or expunge. But it is believed, that even a moderate share of attention to the subject will remove all doubts respecting its insertion under this head. Moses plainly meant what he prayed God to do, and which is expressed in a subsequent verse, - if thou wilt forgive their sin.' It is indisputable, that the atonement which he expected to make, was not the offering of any sacrifice whatever; but by supplication to procure forgiveness for the transgressors. And it need not be repeated, that forgiveness means remission, or blotting out, for it will not be controverted. That this is the meaning in this place, is further evident from the fact, that they were not forgiven, but the people were plagued in consequence of their sin.
3. To avert, ward off, or expiate some impending evil. Exod. xxx. 15: To make an atonement for (to atone) your souls.' Reference is here made to the appropriation of the free-will offering of a half shekel, to the tabernacle service. In verse 12, this is called ransom, a price for a given object. Here, as a verb, it is an atoning of their souls, or lives, with a view to avert certain evils that there be no plague,' &c. ver. 12.
2 Samuel xxi. 3: 'Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the
atonement, (shall I atone) that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?' The object, in this instance, was to avert, or ward off, a three years' famine, brought upon Israel by Saul, who had violated the plighted faith of the nation, by the oppression and murder of some of the Gibeonites. It will be seen, that the Hebrews were atoned - that the sacrifice was made, not to God, but to the Gibeonites, for the purpose of doing, what man cannot effect - averting the evils and miseries of famine. The procedure of David may be regarded in this case as a simple act of justice to an injured people; but the effect to them was that of placation, or reconciliation — a meaning which will appear more fully under another particular.
Isa. xlvii. 11: And mischief shall fall upon thee: thou shalt not be able to put it off.' Here, instead of atoning an evil, we have the phrase to put off. The Chaldeans are informed that no atonement would be accepted the evil should not be averted.
4. To reconcile, propitiate, or placate. It is remarkable, that but a small number of texts fall under this class. The following are all that can be supposed to have an undoubted title to a place under this head.
Gen. xxxii. 20: For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me,' &c. From the circumstances in which Jacob, who uses this expression, was placed, it is quite plain that he meant to pacify his offended brother. But while this object is avowed, it is little less certain, that he considered the presents themselves as a compensation, or recompense for the injury he had done him.
Dan. ix. 24 To make reconciliation for iniquity,' &c. This passage is put down here, rather because the word reconciliation is used in the rendering, than from any conviction that it properly belongs to this class. For in the preceding part of the verse, we are twice told that sin should come to an end, or be finished. And every reader of the Scriptures knows that such repetitions of a given fact are intended for emphasis to give a stronger impression of the truth asserted. In this instance, the form of expression is merely changed -it is still the abolition or making an end of sin. And this sense is fully sustained by the subsequent clause, which promises the bringing in of an everlasting righteousness.'
There can be little doubt, that as the passage refers to the times of the Messiah, it was supposed that the prophet intend
ed to convey to his countrymen an idea of the nature of the mediatorial office. And if this were admitted, still it would not imply the placation, or reconciliation of God, but merely the bringing of unreconciled man to obedience and peace. But it should not be forgotten, that in the original there is no form of expression answering to that of making 'reconciliation for iniquity. This would imply that the means of reconciliation, whatever they might have been, were offered to some particular being. Instead of this, it is the iniquity itself that is reconciled, or atoned, that is, blotted out. Hence the reference to this passage in another place.
Num. xxv. 13: Because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for (atoned) the children of Israel.' As in the preceding instance, this text is placed here, not because it is believed this is its proper place; but because others may think so. The occasion was indeed a very extraordinary one; and is undoubtedly the only one which will be insisted on, as furnishing anything like clear evidence of the placation of the Deity by an atoning action.
By referring to the context, it will be seen that the hosts of Israel were then suffering the miseries of a plague, which had been brought upon them for a certain crime. An order was given to take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord, against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.' While, therefore, all Israel were weeping before the door of the tabernacle,' Phineas took a javelin and slew certain persons, and the 'plague was stayed.' By this act, he is said, in the text quoted, to have atoned the children of Israel.
In relation to this subject, it should be observed, that the plague, under which they were then suffering, was not merely the indication of the divine displeasure; but seems in a great degree to be identified with what is called the fierce anger of God. This fact may perhaps furnish a reason, why some afflictive providence is very uniformly connected with the use of this phraseology, or rather why the terms, anger, wrath, and vengeance are applied to God. In the next place, the sacrifice made was not such as had been expressly demanded: there is no evidence that it was made with a view to that requirement, nor that it was intended as a sacrifice to God. It was plainly designed as an act of retributive justice- the persons slain being liable to death, by the terms of the law.