Isidore Singer.

The Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 11) online

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" 'Al Hata'im " classifies sins as those " for which we
were obliged to bring a trespass offering, ... a
burnt offering, . . . a sin-offering; for the sins for
which we were obliged to suffer the peualtj' of re-
ceiving stripes, becoming childless, being extirpated
or killed by death from heaven, four modes of death
by bet din " (" Seder R. 'Amram," I.e.). The single
alpliabetical list of the "'Al Het" was formulated
later; it is mentioned by Mainionides, and is found
almost entire in the present "Minhag Sefarad." The
double alphabetical list of the " 'Al Het," as found
in the "Minhag Ashkenaz," dates probably from
the thirteenth century (comp. the Vitry Mahzor,
pp. 390-391, and the prayer-book and Mahzor for the
Day of Atonement).

Jewish theology does not admit that there is an
unpardonable sin. The Mishnah says that sins are
expiated (1) by sacrifice, (2) by repentance at death
or on Yom Kippur, (3) in the case of the lighter
transgressions of the positive or negative precepts,
by repentance at any time. If one persists in'
sinning, depending upon receiving pardon througli
subsequent repentance, e.$r., at Yom Kippur, his sins
are not forgiven. AtYom Kippur, onl}'
Every Sin sins between man and God, not sins be-
Par- tween man and his neighbor, are ex-

donable. plated (Yoma viii. 8, 9). The graver
sins, according to Rabbi, are apostasy,
heretical interpretation of the Torah, and non-cir-
cumcision (Yoma 8f)a). The atonement for sins be-
tween a man and his neighbor is an ample apology

(Yoma 85b; see Atonement). Repetition of the
same sin may be forgiven once, twice, or even
thrice, but not a fourth time: "For three transgres-
sions of Moab [I will forgive], and for four, I will
not turn away the i^unishmcnt thereof " (Amos ii.
1); "Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes
f Hebr. " twice and three times "] with man, to bring
back his soul from the pit" (Job xxxiii. 29, 30;
Yoma 86b).

There are also lighter sins that are not xjunish-
able, but nevertheless stain the character of the most
pious and righteous man ; for instance, the sin of not
pleading for mercy for a neighbor, if in position to
do so; as Samuel said, "God forbid that I should
sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you "
(I Sam. xii. 23 ; Ber. 12b). The Kazarite committed
a sin in avoiding the moderate use of wine; the
learned man sins by fasting instead of studying
(Ta'an. lib). Small sins are generally overlooked
in punishment: " I will search Jerusalem with can-
dles, and punish the men " (Zeph. i. 12): not by day-
light, nor with the torch, but with candles, so as not
to detect venial sins (Pes. 7b). R. Simeon b. Lakish,
however, cites "The iniquity of my heels shall com-
pass me about" (Ps. xlix. 5) to prove that even
■'small sins that man tramples with his heels will
surround him on the day of judgment" ('Ab. Zarah
18a). " Be heedful of a light precept as of a grave
one " (Ab. ii. 1). Ben 'Azzai said, "Run to do even
a slight precept, and flee from [even a slight] trans-
gression " (Ab. iv. 2). Sometimes one may be justi-
fied in committing in private a sin that would, if
committed in public, expose the name of God to
disgrace ("hillul ha-shem " ; Kid. 40a).

The responsibility for sins against Judaism rests

forever upon the Jew. Apostasy does not relieve

him from responsibility in this respect ; " Once a

Jew, always a Jew." "Israel hath sinned" (Josh.

vii. 11) is cited by R. Abba barZabdai to prove that

though he "sinned," j'et he remains an Israelite

(Sanh. 43b). The responsibility of the

Responsi- anointed high priest is the greatest;

bility next is that of the representatives of

for Sin. all Israel ; and finally that of the ruler
of a faction of Jews. These represent-
atives require each a special sacrifice in accordance
with their degree of responsibility (comp. Lev. iv.
3, 13, 22; Hor. iii. 1). The bullock sacrificed for
the anointed priest and that for the people are to be
burned outside of the camp as "a sin-offering of the
congregation " — as a symbol of the vanishing glory
of the congregation in consequence of its sins
(Yer. Ta'an. ii. 5). " Whosoever is in a position to
prevent sins being committed by the members of his
household, but refrains from doing so, becomes
liable for their sins. The same rule applies to the
governor of a town, or even of a whole countrj^"
(Shab. 54b). R. Sheshet said, "One is not justified
in committing even a slight sin in order to prevent
a graver sin by his neighbor" (Shab. 4a). One is
responsible, however, only for his action, not for
his evil thought, except in the case of idolatr}-:
"That I may take the house of Israel in their own
heart, because they arc all estranged from me
through their idols" (Ezek. xiv. 5; Kid. 39b).

As with Cain, sin leaves its mark upon the face of




the sinner: "The sliow of their counteuuuce doth
witness against them " (Isa. iii. 9). Tiie cabalist can
detect any sinner bj* observing liis foreliead (Zoliar,
Lev., Ahare Jlot, p. 7.jb). Sin dulls the heart and
blunts the understanding (Yonia 89a; Talk. 54o,
after Lev. xi. 43). R. J(jhanan said, "Were it not
for sin, there would be no need for the books of the
Prophets, as Israel would have been satisfied with
the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua " (Ned. 22b).
Before Israel had sinned, the Shekinah rested upon
it: "For the Lord thy God walked in the nndst
of thy camp." But sin caused the Shekinah to re-
tire to a distance, "That he see no unclean thing in
thee, and turn away from thee " (Deut. xxiii. 14;
Sotah 3b). Sin besets the path even of tlio right-
eous, which explains Jacob's fear of Esau (see
Gen. xxxii. 7); while David said, "I had fainted,
unless 1 had believed to see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living" (Ps. xxvii. 13; Ber. 4a).
The repetition of a sin makes it appear to the
sinner a license (Yoma 86b). For this reason the
punishment of one wlio steals an ox ov a sheep and
kills it or sells it is to restore it fourfold (see Ex.
xxi. 37 [A. V. xxii. ]]), the purpose being to uproot
the disposition to repeat an evil action (B. K. 67b).

As a safeguard against sin. Rabbi advised, " Know
what is above thee — an eye that sees, an ear that
listens, and a record of all thy deeds." Gamaliel
taught that the study of the Torah combined with
some worldly occupation makes one forget to sin,

but that the study of the Torah alone

How without some manual labor increases

to Prevent the tendency thereto (Ab. ii. 1, 2). R.

Sin. Hanina b. Dosa said, "Whose fear of

sin precedes his wisdom, his learning
will endure; but where learning precerles the fear
of sin, the learning will not endure" (Ab. iii. 11);
"One who controls his passion once and twice will
find it easy to control the third time " ; " A way is
left open for tlie sinner, and one who is willing to
lead a pure life is helped." R. Johanan said that
one who has passed most of his life without sin is
sure to end it so, for "He will keep the feet of the
saints" (I Sam. ii. 9; Yoma 38b). R. Eleazar held
that residence in the Holy Land tends to prevent
sin: "The people that dwell therein shall be for-
given their iniquity " (Isa. xxxiii. 24; Ket. Ilia).
He who leads others to do good will be saved from
doing evil himself. On the other hand, one who
leads others to do evil will not be given an oppor-
tunity to repent. Thus the righteous will meet in
Gau 'Eden tiiose whom he has led to do right, and
the sinner will meet in Gehinnom those whom he
has misled (Yoma 87a). Anger and excitement are
incentives to sin: "A furious man aboundeUi in
transgression" (Prov. xxix. 22; Ned. 22b). "Re-
frain from beconuug excited, and thou wilt not sin ;
refrain from becoming drunk, and thou wilt not sin "
{Ber. 29b). One must always consider his good
and evil deeds as evenly balanced ; he will then ap-
preciate the danger of committing even one sin,
which would lower the scale on the wrong .side.
Nay, perhaps the whole world is evenly balanced,
needing only one .sin to outweigh all the good there-
in: "One sinner destroyed much good" (Eccl. ix.
18; Kid. 40b).

Another safeguard against sin is Prayek: "O
lead us not into the power of sin, or of transgres-
sion, or (jf iniquity, or of temptation; ... let not
the evil inclination have sway over us," are the intro-
ductory words of the morning piayer.
Prayer The silent Yom Kippur "'Amidah"
Against ends, "() may it be Thy will, O Lord
Sin. my God, and God of my fathers, that

I may sin no more ; and as to the sins I
have committed, purge them away in Thine abound-
ing mercy." Other formulas are found in Berakot
(16b, 17a, 60b). See Ad.\m; Atonement; Com-


Bibliography: Johannes Hehn, S!i?i(?e wnci Erldsung nach
mhU.'-clifr lUKl BahyhmUcJier AnschniuuHi. Leipsic. 1903;
Justus Koherle, Slliide und Gnade im Re(i(/ Lehendca
Volkes Israel bus avf Christum, Munich, 1905.
J. J. D. E.

SIN (I'D): 1. Egyptian city mentioned in Ezek.
XXX. 15 ct seq. ; probably the ancient frontier for-
tress of Pelusium (so cited in Jerome); the modern
Farama or Tine.

2. Desert on the Sinaitic Peninsula, situated " be-
tween Elim and Sinai" (Ex. xvi. 1, xvii. 1; Num.
xxxiii. 12). It was a camping-place of the Israel-
ites in their wanderings. See also Zin.

E. G. II. L Be.

SIN. See Shin.

SIN-OFFERING.— Biblical Data : The sin-
offering proper is a sacrifice consisting of either a
beast or a fowl and offered on the altar to atone for
a sin committed unwittingly. The rules concerning
the sin-offering are as follows: If the anointed priest
or the whole congregation commits a sin through
ignorance, the sin-offering is a young bullock with-
out blemish. Should the ruler so sin, his offering is
a male kid without blemish. But when a private
individual sins, his offering must be either a female
kid or a female lamb without blemish, or, if he is
too poor to provide one of these, a turtle-dove.

Sin-offerings were brought on other occasions also.
On the Day of Atonement the high priest inaugu-
rated the festival with two sin-offerings — a bullock
as his own offering, and a male kid for the congre-
gation. The flesh of these was not eaten, but after
the fat had been removed the carcasses were burned
outside the camp (Lev. xvi. 3, o, 10-1 1, 25, 27).
A woman, after the days of her purilication had
been fviltiUed, was required to bring a dove for a
sin-offering, in addition to a burnt offering. A
leper, on the day of his cleansing, was required to
bring, besides other offerings, a female lamb or, if
he were too ]ioor, a dove for a sin-offering (Lev. xii.
6; xiv. 10, 19, 22).

Sin-offerings formed a part of inaugural and dedi-
catory ceremonies. Thus, when Aaron and his sons
were inaugurated into the priestiiood, one of the
sacrifices was a sin-offering consisting of a bullock,
the flesh of which was burned outside the camp
(Ex. xxix. 1. 10-14; Lev. viii. 14-17). Eight days
later Aaron brought a calf, and the Israelites brought
a small kid, as sin-offerings (Lev. ix. 2-10). At the
dedication of the altar each of the twelve princes
offered a male kid (Num. vii. 16 et passim). The
sacrifices of those who returned from captivity with
Ezra included twelve he-goats (Ezra viii. 35).

Sinai, Mount



Tlie ritual of the sin-offering was as follows: If the
victim were a quadruped, the olferer confessed his
sins over the head of the vietini and slew it himself
(comp. Lev. iv. 4, 1"), 24, 29). The place of slaughter
was on the north side of the altar (comp. ib. i. 11 and
ib. iv 19 [A. V. 25]). The priest took some of the
blood and sprinkled it befon; the veil {ib. iv. 5 [6]),
or, on the Day of Atonement, before the mercy-seat
{ib. xvi. lo); this he did seven times, and then
.smeared some on the bonis of the altar. The re-
mainder of the blood was poured out at the base
of the altar of burnt olfering. The internal fat
of the animal, with the caul, liver,
Ritual of and kidnc^ys, was burned upon the

the Sin- altar of burnt offering. In early

Oflfering-. times the flesh belonged to the priests
(comp. Hos. iv. 8 and Lev. vi. 22
[29]), though it was sacrosanct, making every-
thing which touched it holy, and might be eaten by
priests alone. The law of Lev. iv. prescribed that
the flesh, together with the hide, head, legs, viscera,
and dung, should be burned outside the Temple.
The blood was so holy that an earthen vessel which
touched it was to be broken, and a brazen vessel
scoured {ib. vi. 21 [28]).

When the victim was a bird the priest pinched off
its head with his thumb-nail {ib. v. 8; but see Jew.
Encyc. X. 619b, s. V. Sacrifice), and sprinkled its
blood without dividing the carcass. A second bird
was offered as a burnt sacrifice. When an offering of
fine flour was made, the priest burned a handful
of it on the altar and retained the rest for himself
{ib. v. 11-13).

.1. G. A. B.— M. Sel.

Critical View ; The sin-ott'ering (riNDri) was

an ancient sacrifice. In the later ritual it is asso-
ciated with the BuKNT Ofeeuing {T\hv) an'i the
Guilt-Offeking (DtJ'N)- An early reference to it
occurs in Hos. iv. 8. In Ezekiel's proposed recon-
struction of the cultus the sin-offering hud for its ob-
jects; (1) the consecration of the altar (Ezek. xliii.
19 et seq.): (2) the annual cleansing of the sanc-
tuary {ib. xlv. 18-20); (3) a part of the preparation
for the Passover {ib. xlv. 22); and (4) preparation
for the festivals of the New Jloon, etc. {ib. xlv. 15
eti^eq.). In the tirst three cases the offering con-
sisted of a bullock, and in the of lambs. Eze-
kiel provided also a table in the north porch of the
Temple where the sin-offering might be slain or
eaten {ib. xl. 39), and one on the south side where it
might be laid or eaten (Ezek. xlii. 13). Inaccordance
with the use of the sin-offering in the consecration
of the altar, a late supplementary priestly narrative
relates that when the altar of the Tabernacle was
dedicated a sin-offering was brought for each of the
twelve tribes. In this case the victims were he
goals (comp. Num. vii. 16, 22, et passim).

Somewhat akin to the use of the sin-offering in
these cases of consecration is its use in the Levitical

ritual in ceremonies of i)urificatiou.

In I.e., in the removal of a taboo. Sev-

Levitical eral of these taboos are connected with

Ritual. sex ual matters, or mysterious diseases.

Of these may be noted: (1) cases of
gonorrhea (Lev. xv. 14, 15), in which the offering was
a turtle-dove or a young pigeon; (2) cases of menor-

rhagia (ib. xv. 29, 30), when also the offering was a
t'jrtle-doveor ayoung pigeon; (3) iiuritication after
childbirth {ib. xii. 6), the offering being again a tur-
tle-dove or a young pigeon; (4) it formed a part of
the ritual of a leper who had recf)vered {iJ>. xiv. 19),
the victim in this case being a ewe lamb (comp. ib.
V. 10). With these may be classed (5) the use of the
sin-offering as part of the ritual by which a Naza-
rite's vow was discharged (Num. vi. 14), the victim
in this case being a ewe lamb a year old. Evi-
dently the sin-ottering in the tirst four of these cases
was offered as a recognition of the mysterious or
supernatural character of sexual secretions, child-
birth, and le])rosy. While the vow of the Nazarite
is not really in the same class, yet he also became
taboo by virtue of his consecration to the Deity,
symbolized by the great length of his hair.

The cases thus far considered have their origin in
very primitive thought. A more advanced concep-
tion ma}' be looked for in where
Primitive the sin-offering is associated with

Origin. atonement for the nation. In this con-
nection the Day OF Atonement comes
under consideration (Lev. xvi.), on which the high
priest offered a bullock as a sin-offering for himself
and for his house. This was done apparently that the
priest might not be slain while performing public
duty ; it had, therefore, a national .significance. Two
he-goats were then selected as a sin-offering for the
congregation. One of these was selected by lot for
Yhwh; the remaining one was for Azazel. The
priest then killed the bullock, took the blood to-
gether with incense, entered into the Holy Place, and
sprinkled the blood on the east .side of the mercy-
seat and " before the mercy " seven times, "that
he (lie not." The blood of the goat that was Yhwh's
was brought in and sprinkled in like manner, "to
make atonement for the holy place, because of the
uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because
of their transgressions, even all their sins." The
high priest then confessed the sins of the people
over the head of the live goat, and it was driven
away into the wilderness where Azazel might catch
it. Azazel appears to have been a wilderness
(lemon (comp. Ethiopian Book of Enoch, viii. 1 ; x.
4, 8<< seq.).

Akin to the sin-offering of the high priest on the
Day of Atonement was the offering prescribed in
one of tiie latest laws (Lev. iv. 3-12) and which an
anointed priest was obliged to offer if he had sinned
so as to bring guilt on the congregation. This of-
fering also consisted of a bullock. The same law
provided that, if the whole people sinned imwit-
tingly, they should bring, when the sin was known,
a young bullock for a .sin-offering {ib. iv. 13-21).
These sin-offerings, like those of the Day of Atone-
ment, were of a national character. That which the
same law {ib. iv. 22-26) prescribed for the rider may
have iiartaken of the same public nature, because of
the prominence of the ruler; but this is not stated,
and the offering may have been a purely personal
one. The victim was in this case a he-goat.

In Lev. iv. the laws descend Anally to the indi-
vidual. If one of the common people sinned unwit-
tingly (verses 27-32), he was to offer a female goat
or a ewe lamb as a sin-offering. The offenses which



Sinai, Mount

demanded a sin-offering are detailed in Lev. v. 1-G.

They are for the most part of a non-moral nature,

such as contact with a dead body, with

Offenses an unclean reptile, or with an unclean

Expiated, discharge from a human being; but

two of them have more of a moral

character. These latter are (I) cases where a man

permits injustice by withholding information (ih.

verse 1), and (2) cases of rasli though ignorant

swearing to that which turns out to be false {ih.

verse 4). A noticeable feature of Lev. iv. and v. is

that the expense of the sacrifice is graded according

to the dignity or wealth of the offender. Thus in

ch. iv. the offering may be a bullock, a he-goat, a

, she-goal, or a ewe lamb, while in ch. v. it may be a

[ she-goat, a ewe lamb, a turtle-dove, a young pigeon,

or the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour (comp. ib.

verses 6, 7, 11).

It is clear that the sin-offering was not primarily

an offering for real sins, but for the unconscious

violation of m.ere taboos. It was demanded in the

case of actual sins only sporadically, and then only

to a slight degree. There is an exception to this

in the ritual of the Day of Atonement ; but the words

in Lev. xvi. 16 which make the sin-offering cover

real sins are probably of late date.

Bibliography : W. R. Smith, Rel. of Sem. 2d ed., pp. 344-352,
London. 1904; Baentsch, Exodus-Leviticua-Niimeri, in No-
waclf's Hand-Koinmentar, pp. 373 et seq., Gottingen, 1903.

K. G. H. G. A. B.

SINAI. See Periodicals.

SINAI, MOUNT.— Biblical Data : Mountain
situated in the desert of Sinai, famous for its con-
nection with the promulgation of the Law by God
through Moses (Ex. xix. 1-xx. 18). The general
opinion of modern scholars is that the name " Sinai "
is derived from the name of the Babylonian moon-
god Sin. Mount Sinai is often referred to as "the
mountain " (that is, the mountain par excellence),
"the mountain of Elohim " (Hebr.), and "the moun
tain of Yiiwh" (Hebr.; Ex. iii. 1, iv. 27, xviii. 5,
xix. 2, et passim; Num. x. 38), and in many other
passages it is called "Horeb " (Ex. iii. 1 ; Deut. i. 2('i
passim). The Biblical text, indeed, seems to indicate
that this last was its proper name, while "Sinai"
was applied to the desert. According to one theory,
Sinai and Horeb are the names of two eminences
belonging to the same range; if this be so the range
became prominent in the history of the Hebrews
some time before the promulgation of the Law.
When Moses led the flocks of his father-in-law to
the desert and came "to the mountain of God, even
to Horeb," an angel appeared to him from a fla-
ming bush, and then God Himself spoke to Moses,
telling him that where he stood was

Mount holy ground, tiius foreshadowing tlie

Horeb. great event that was to occur there.
From that mountain God persuaded
Moses to go to Pharaoh and deliver the Israelites
from his yoke. After the Exodus, when the Israel-
ites who liad encamped at Kephidim were suffering
with thirst, Moses, by command of God, smote water
from a rock in Horeb (Ex. xvii. 6).

Having encamped before Mount Sinai, the Israel-
ites were told that from this mountain they would
receive the commandments of God, and that they

would hear His very voice. They were commanded
to give three days to preparation for that solemnity,
for on the third day God would come down on the
mountain in sight of all the people. Moses set a
boundary up to which they might go, and they
were prohibited under penalty of death from even
touching tiie mountain. On the third day the
mountain was enveloped in a cloud ; it quaked and
was filled with smoke as God descended upon it,
while lightning-flashes shot forth, and the roar of
thunder mingled with the peals of trumpets. Then
Moses appeared upon it and promulgated the Ten
Commandments, after which God instructed him in
many of the laws which form a part of the Penta-
teuch (Ex. xix. 1-xxiii. 33). Later, Moses, Aaron,
Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel went to-
gether up the mountain, where they saw the God of
Israel. Mount Sinai was then enveloped in a cloud
for six days, while on its summit, fire, the emblem of
God, was seen burning. On the seventh day Moses
was commanded by God to ascend the mountain to
receive the tables of the Law; he remained there
forty days and nights (Ex. xxiv. 9-10, 16-18). The
Song of Moses refers to the solemn promulgation of
the Law on Mount Sinai (Deut. xxxiii.2); so does the
Song of Deborah (Judges v.), which declares that the
"earth trembled," the "heavens dropped, the clouds
also dropped water," and the "mountains melted"
(comp. Ps. Ixviii. 9, 17).

Horeb reappears later as the place to which Elijah
escaped after Jezebel had massacred the prophets of
Ynwii (I Kings xix. 8 et seq.).

.T. M. Sel.

In Rabbinical Literature : The Rabbis con-
sider " Sinai " and " lloreb " to be two names of the
same mountain, which had besides three other names:
(1) "Har ha-Elohim" (= "the mountain of God"),
the Israelites having received there the knowledge
of the divinity of God; (2) "Har Bashan," the lat-
ter word being interpreted as though it were "be-
shen " (=r " with the teeth "), that is to say, mankind
through the virtue of this mountain obtains its
sustenance ; and (3) " Har Gabnunim " (= "a moun-
tain pure as cheese"). The names "Horeb" and
"Sinai" are interjireted to mean, respectivel}', "the
mountain of the .sword," because through this moun-
tain the Sanhedrin acquired the right to sentence a
man to capital punishment, and "hostilitj-," inas-
much as the mountain was hostile to the heathen
(Ex. R. ii. 6). Shab. 89a, b gives the following four
additional names of Sinai; "Zin," "Kadesh," "Ke-
domot," and "Paran," but declares that its original
name was "Horeb" (comp. Midr.
Different Abkir, quoted in Yalk., Ex. 169);
Names. according to Pirke R. El. xli., it ac-
quired the name "Sinai" only after
God had appeared to Moses in the bush ("seneh";
comp. Sinai, Biblical Data).

Jacob's dream is an allegorical allusion to Sinai
(Gen. xxviii. 12), "ladder" being interpreted as
meaning the mountain. It is also supposed by the
Rabbis that the well near which Jacob met Rachel
(ih. xxix. 2) symbolizes Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai
and Moses had been predestined from the days of
Creation to meet each other; and therefore the
foniier, when Moses led his father-in-law's flocks to-

Sinai, Mount



ward it (Ex. iii. 1), moved from its foundation and
Avent to meet liim. It stopped only when Moses

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