Doug, hope this will
help. There was a Bethel
lecture on the subject. Some here might still have it on their files. The following is
based on Dan. 9:24. If I remember correctly, this first part comes from the
Keil-Delitzsch Commentary of above verse. The source of the rest of the quotes
To make atonement for error. The third statement is, כִּפֶּר is terminus techn., to pardon, to blot out
by means of a sin-offering, i.e., to forgive.
passages thus treat of the setting aside of sin and its blotting out; but they
neither form a climax nor a mere συναθροισμός, a multiplying of synonymous expressions for the
pardoning of sins. Against the idea of a climax it is justly objected, that in
that case the strongest designation of sin, הַפֶּשַׁע, which designates sin as a falling away
from God, a rebelling against Him, should stand last, whereas it occurs in the
first sentence. Against the idea of a συναθροισμός it is objected, that the words “to shut
up” and “to seal” are not synonymous with “to make reconciliation for,” i.e.,
“to forgive.” The three expressions, it is true, all treat alike of the setting
aside of sin, but in different ways. The first presents the general thought,
that the falling away shall be shut up, the progress and the spreading of the
sin shall be prevented. The other two expressions define more closely how the
source whence arises the apostasy shall be shut up, the going forth and the
continued operation of the sin prevented. This happens in one way with unbelievers
and in a different way with believers. The sins of unbelievers are sealed, are
guarded securely under a seal, so that they may no more spread about and
increase, nor any longer be active and operative; but the sins of believers are
forgiven through a reconciliation. The former idea is stated in the second
member, and the latter in the third, as Hofmann and Kliefoth have rightly remarked.
follows the second group of three statements, which treat of the positive
unfolding of salvation accompanying the taking away and the setting aside of
Making atonement. וּלְכַפֵּ֣ר from כפר, to cover, to
Etymology: The lexica of the nineteenth century associated Heb.
kipper with Arab. kafara, “cover,” describing the act of
atonement as the covering of guilt. Since Heinrich Zimmern’s reference to Bab. kuppuru, the two etymologies agree.
In the Koran, Arab. kaffara, “absolve” (with God as
subject), is a term borrowed from Judaism but given a new semantic structure:
atonement is an act of the merciful God, without the need of any sacrifice.
Arabic lexicographers derive the word from kaffara,
“cover,” so that kaffara may have
overtones of “atone (by covering).”
The use of kesāyā, “cover,” to translate kappōreṯ in 4Q156 presupposes a specific
concept of the sacral object called kappōreṯ;
it is not an etymological conjecture. The interpretation of kipper as “cover” on the basis of
Arabic, most recently supported by Stamm, is fraught with problems.
In the LXX, words
based on the root kpr are translated
consistently by derivatives of hiláskomai;
“propitiate, appease.” The regular equivalent of kipper is exiláskomai;
the Day of Atonement is translated hēméra
exilasmoú (Lev. 23:27f.);
the sacral object termed kappōreṯ is
translated hilastḗrion; kōṗer is translated exílasma (1 Sam.
12:3; Ps. 49:7
The construction of exiláskomai carefully imitates that of kipper.
The usage is described as a
semitism; it does not agree with common Greek idiom.
Contrary to a popularly accepted
theory, certain other translations of kipper
– in particular apaleíphō (Dnl. 9:24,
possibly a double translation in conjunction with exiláskomai), “wipe away” – cannot be cited in support of the basic
meaning of “cover” for kipper.
The variety of translations for kōṗer is noteworthy, especially lýtron (Prov. 6:35; 13:8; pl. in Ex. 21:30; 30:12; Num. 35:31f.), “ransom” or “to
free by ransom” (cf. Ex. 13:13).
In the CGS we notice a rare word ảntílutron, “corresponding ransom,” at 1 Tim. 2:6, a statement based on
Matt. 20:28 and Mark 10:45 (cf. Tit. 2:14). See TDOT, vol. VII,
pp. 289-292; TDNT, vol. IV, p. 349.
error. To err, to
deviate, to incur guilt. עָוֹ֔ן
from עָוָה. Influenced by the efforts of earlier
lexicographers to derive every Hebrew word from a basic material meaning,
GesTregLex viewed `wh as a union of
two Arab. verbs `wy “bend, turn” and ģwy “deviate, err from the path,” which
in turn corresponds to Eth. `awawa,
“err, stray, not know.”
R. Knierim thus deduces a basic meaning of “bend,
curve, turn aside, twist.” Even if this etymological meaning is correct, one
still cannot determine whether any biblical writer was familiar with the
original meaning. In any event, the use of the individual conjugation stems
already shows that the root expresses a “dynamistic holistic thought” that
tries to conceive in a single sweep “the various phases of a
misdeed-consequence process (deed-consequence completion).”
In older traditions, `āwōn occurs approximately 20 times as a “vernacular term…
qualified by a dynamistic understanding of reality.” In the majority of
instances it refers to the transgressions of human beings toward others, errors
inevitably prompting drastic consequences for the perpetrator. It is closely
related to “sin” (cf. 1 Sam. 20:1;
2 Sam. 24:10), its
opposite being ḥeseḏ (cf. 2 Sam. 3:8). The reference is
thus to fateful guilt caused by a person’s iniquitous transgressions; neither
“guilt” nor “sin” nor “punishment” provides an adequate translation in such
God is the only entity capable of turning away such
burden of guilt from a perpetrator, thereby bringing about a positive outcome. He
either takes away `āwōn from a sinner
(cf. 2 Sam. 24:10)
or can permit atonement. The people confess chāṭā’nû;
in later texts `āvînû is added for
the sake of completeness (Dnl. 9:5; cf. 2 Chron. 6:37). See TDOT, vol. X, pp. 547-549, 550-552.
It think this was how the Witnesses saw it.
Things might have changed. I am not up-to-date with current Witness theology.
To finish off sin as well as making atonement for
error. Jesus’ being cut off in death, his
resurrection, and his appearance in heaven resulted in ‘finishing off sin as
well as in making atonement for error’ (Dan. 9:24). The Law covenant had exposed the Jews as
sinners, condemned them as such, and brought upon them the curse as covenant
breakers. But where sin “abounded” as exposed or made evident by the Mosaic
Law, God’s mercy and favor abounded much more through his Messiah (Rom. 5:20). By Messiah’s
sacrifice, transgression and sin of the repentant sinners can be cancelled and
the penalty thereof be lifted. Interestingly, the life course of the Isaiah’s Suffering
Servant would result in him “being pierced for our transgression; he was being
crushed for our errors… because of his wounds there has been a healing for us…
despite the fact that he had done no violence and there was no deception in his
mouth” (Is. 53:5, 8).