# Leviticus 4:20 in most English bible translations use “atonement” which is poor translation of Hebrew's kaphar (cover)

This is a follow-up question to the previous:

Similarity between atonement in Leviticus 4:20 & cover in Genesis 6:14 in terms of semantics, wording/phrasing, lettering/grammer, pronunciation?

Leviticus 4:20 (ESV) Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.

Leviticus 4:20 (NKJV) And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.

Leviticus 4:20 (KJV)

20 And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.

Leviticus 4:20 (NASB 1995)
20 He shall also do with the bull just as he did with the bull of the sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make


atonement for them, and they will be forgiven.

4:20 Hebrew OT: Westminster Leningrad Codex


וְעָשָׂ֣ה לַפָּ֔ר כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשָׂה֙ לְפַ֣ר הַֽחַטָּ֔את כֵּ֖ן יַעֲשֶׂה־לֹּ֑ו וְכִפֶּ֧ר עֲלֵהֶ֛ם הַכֹּהֵ֖ן וְנִסְלַ֥ח לָהֶֽם׃

ויקרא 4:20 Hebrew OT: WLC (Consonants Only)


ועשה לפר כאשר עשה לפר החטאת כן יעשה־לו וכפר עלהם הכהן ונסלח להם׃

Genesis 6:14 (NASB 1995) 14 Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.

6:14 Hebrew OT: Westminster Leningrad Codex


עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ תֵּבַ֣ת עֲצֵי־גֹ֔פֶר קִנִּ֖ים תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֶת־הַתֵּבָ֑ה וְכָֽפַרְתָּ֥ אֹתָ֛הּ מִבַּ֥יִת וּמִח֖וּץ בַּכֹּֽפֶר׃

בראשית 6:14 Hebrew OT: WLC (Consonants Only)


עשה לך תבת עצי־גפר קנים תעשה את־התבה וכפרת אתה מבית ומחוץ בכפר׃

Many Thanks to @schmerel for the following answer:

-----Excerpt from @schmerel answer https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/119089/22565 ----------- Although in Genesis כפרת אתה מבית ומחוץ בכפר׃ clearly means tar and not atonement like it means in Leviticus, at least one medieval rabbinic opinion suggests that they share a similarity in that both tar and atonement cover up for something that had once been present.

Similarly some of the other words with the root of כפר listed above and other places that the word is used in the Bible indicates a covering up or making something no longer present in front of us.

Also many thanks to @rosends for his comment

-Reference Provided by @rosends comment: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h3722 ----

----Reference: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/atone?s=t -------------------------------------

atone

[ uh-tohn ]

SEE SYNONYMS FOR atone ON THESAURUS.COM

verb (used without object), a·toned, a·ton·ing.

to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime, or for an offender (usually followed by for): to atone for one's sins.

to make up, as for errors or deficiencies (usually followed by for): to atone for one's failings. Obsolete. to become reconciled; agree.

verb (used with object), a·toned, a·ton·ing.

to make amends for; expiate: He atoned his sins.

Obsolete. to bring into unity, harmony, concord, etc.

Based on and @rosends and @schmerel response answer/comment from the previous question , it seems that the following Hebrew word:

כָּפַר

which is pronounced in English as

Transliteration kaphar

Pronunciation kä·far' (Key)

which suggests/hints/indicates "cover" is a poor synonym for the word "atone"(or even atonement) because "atone"(or even atonement) seems so much more thorough/meticulous than "cover"

Therefore, is the translation of Leviticus 4:20 in most English bible translations poorly translated because of the use of the word "atonement"? Could someone please provide feedback?

• If someone down votes then please give a reason in the comment section or as an answer response. – crazyTech Dec 24 '20 at 13:23

There is always difficulty in translating from one language to another. Often, a too-literal translation will be misleading. So at best you're always dealing with an approximation that loses some of the nuances of the original.

So atonement is the basic idea, which the translations convey. Since (to my knowledge) there is no word in English that captures the sense of atonement by covering, it is the best the translation could do.