Numbers 15:24—Are there two kinds of sin offerings, or only one?

Problem: Leviticus states that for unintentional sins of the whole congregation, when the sin is made known, “the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin” (Lev. 4:14). However, here Numbers 15 speaks of offering two different sacrifices for the same sin“one young bull as a burnt offering ... and one kid of the goats as a sin offering” (v. 24).

Solution: Some Bible scholars think the difference here may be due to the fact that the Leviticus passage refers to sins of commission, and the Numbers text to sins of omission. Others believe that in Numbers the sacrifices for the rulers and the people are listed separately, but in Leviticus, for brevity, the sacrifices for the rulers and for the congregation are listed together. In any event, the fact that one passage specifies two and the other specifies one, does not mean that the second passage contradicts the first passage, but that one merely supplements the other.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.