Sacrificial System Covered Intentional Sins as Well
Intentional sin is specifically mentioned and is commanded to be atoned for by blood sacrifice. In Leviticus 6:2, the Torah says that fraud, lying, and even theft are to be atoned for by repentance, restitution, and blood sacrifice. Also, Leviticus 5:1, still speaking of the sin offering mentions a failure to rescue an innocent plaintiff with truthful testimony and 5:4 mentions the violation of rash oaths as forgivable under the rules of the sin offering. The sin of the “high hand” is not inclusive of all intentional sin, but of “despising” God’s commands in a defiant and blasphemous manner.
The penalty of the sin of the “high hand” is execution in the divine theocracy, but this does not eliminate the possibility of atonement. Achan, before he was stoned to death for taking loot from those whom God had placed under the ban (Joshua 7) was given a chance to confess and repent. Joshua asked Achan to confess and “bring glory to the LORD”. Atonement does not erase the temporal penalties and consequences of sin, but is a matter of peace with God. (Lightofmessiah)
The gospelcoalition states:
Readers of Leviticus, not least of the NIV, have by now become familiar with the distinction between unintentional sins (e.g., much of Lev. 4) and intentional sins. Some interpreters have argued that there are no sacrificial offerings to pay for intentional sins. Those who sin intentionally are to be excluded from the community.
Part of the problem is with our rendering of intentional and unintentional. Intentional commonly reflects a Hebrew expression meaning “with a high hand”; unintentional renders “not with a high hand.” That background is important as we think through Leviticus 6:1–7. The sins described here are all intentional in the modern sense: one cannot lie, cheat, or commit perjury without intending to do so. There are God-given steps to be followed: restitution where possible (following the principles laid out in Ex. 22), and prescribed confession and sacrifices.
After clarifying the meaning behind intentional and unintentional as the severity and intention of the sin, we can move on to read that the intentional sins were included in the sin or trespass offering, and sometimes guilt offering; where trespass is understood as misdemeanour, fault; and sin as mistake, wrongdoing.
In the footnotes of this site biblestudying-rabbinic, we read Michael Brown's quotes explaining that Lev 4-6 covers intentional sins. You should also focus on Lev 16 concerning the day of atonement sacrifice which covers all sins.
- As codified and explained by Maimonides (Laws of Repentance, 1:2):
Since the goat sent [to Azazeil] 229 atones for all of Israel, the High Priest confesses on it as the spokesman for all Israel, as [Lev. 16:21] states: “He shall confess on it all the sins of the Children of Israel.” The goat sent to Azazeil atones for all the transgressions in the Torah, the severe and the lighter [sins]; those violated intentionally and those transgressed inadvertently; those which [the transgressor] became conscious of and those which he was not conscious of. All are atoned for by the goat sent [to Azazeil]. This applies only if one repents. If one does not repent, the goat only atones for the light [sins]. Which are light sins and which are severe ones? Severe sins are those which are punishable by execution by the court or by premature death [karet]. [The violation of] the other prohibitions that are not punishable by premature death are considered light [sins]. 230 – Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, Theological Objections, p. 130
The rabbis (see b. Shevu’ot 2b; 6b-14a) comment specifically on the words rebellion (transgressions in Hebrew) and sins, explaining that “transgressions” refers to acts of rebellion – which are certainly intentional – while “sins” refers to inadvertent acts. 232 And it is the goat whose blood is sprinkled in the Most Holy Place that effects atonement for the people, just as the blood of the bull offered up by the High Priest effects atonement for him (m . Shevu’ot 1:7, following Lev. 16:11, “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering.”). – Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, Theological Objections, p. 131
- Dr. Rich Robinson, a research scholar for Jews for Jesus, has put together some important quotations on this subject. He observes that “according to the sages, repentance could turn an intentional sin offering into an unintentional sin and so be eligible for sacrifice,” offering the following ancient and modern sources in support:
R. Simeon b. Lakish said: Great is repentance, which converts intentional sins into unintentional sins (b. Yoma 86b; this is the rendering of Milgrom; as rendered in the Soncino edition, it reads: Great is repentance, for because of it premeditated sins are counted as errors). This literary image [of the “high hand”; Num. 15:30-31] is most apposite for the brazen sinner who commits his acts in open defiance of the Lord (cf. Job. 38:15). The essence of this sin is that it is committed flauntingly. However, sins performed in secret, even deliberately, can be commuted to the status of inadvertencies by means of repentance. 239
…I submit that the repentance of the sinner, through his remorse…and confession..., reduces his intentional sins to an inadvertence, thereby rendering it eligible for sacrificial expiation. 240
…The early rabbis…raise the question of how the high priest’s bull is capable of atoning for his deliberate sins, and they reply, “Because he has confessed his brazen and rebellious deeds it is as if they become as unintentional ones before him” (Sipra, Ahare par. 2:4,6; cf. t. Yoma 2:1). Thus it is clear that the Tannaites attribute to repentance – strikingly, in a sacrificial ritual – the power to transform a presumptuous sin against God, punishable by death, into an act of inadvertence, expiable by sacrifice. 241 – Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, Theological Objections, p. 135