Sin, Trespass, Iniquity, Perverseness, Trouble, Unjust, Transgress, Wicked, Revolt, Wickedness, Treachery, Shameful, and Fault

Question

A friend of mine has the Companion Bible and he had a list of definitions in it. Do you happen to have (in digital form) all the definitions of "sin" in the Old Testament?

Answer

There are many synonymous words to represent the outworking of man's total fallen nature. As these are not always translated by the same English word, it is necessary that we should distinguish them. The student, by referring to the following list, will be able to do so:

The Companion Bible is edited by E. W. Bullinger (Kregel Publications, 1999).

1. chat'a: to sin; to miss the mark (as in Judges 20:16). Also of the feet, to stumble and fall (Proverbs 19:2, hence, morally a coming short, blameworthiness - not necessarily willful. An act of thought, word, or deed, not a condition. Usually (but by no means always) rendered sin, and other words also so rendered.

2. 'asham: trespass, to sin through error or ignorance. Compare Leviticus 4:13; Leviticus 5:2,3; Numbers 5:6,7; Judges 21:22; 1 Chronicles 21:3; 2 Chronicles 19:10; 2 Chronicles 28:10,13. 'Asham is a breach of commandment, done in ignorance, but, when the guilt is proved, requiring atonement.

3. 'aven: iniquity, specially connected with idolatry; used because an idol is nothing and vanity (compare Hosea 4:15, 5:8, 10:5,8; Amos 5:5, marg.); hence, 'aven comes to mean vanity (compare Job 15:35; Psalm 10:7; Proverbs 22:8, etc.). The word has many renderings, which are pointed out in the passages when it occurs. 'Aven is rather a course of bad conduct flowing from the evil desires of fallen nature than breaches of the law as such.

4. 'avah: perverseness, from the root to be bent or crooked; English wrung, that is to say, wrung out of course; expresses it (compare 1 Samuel 20:30; 2 Samuel 19:19; 1 Kings 8:47; Job 33:37, etc.). 5. 'amal: trouble, labour, toil; sin viewed in the light of the trouble it causes, and of its burden and its grievousness (Isaiah 10:1; Habakkuk 1:3); often rendered perverseness (Numbers 23:21), also mischief (Job 15:35).

6. 'aval: unjust, unfairness, sin in its nature as deceitful, dishonesty, that which is not equal and right, unfairness in dealings. Rendered unjust (Psalm 43:1, 82:2; Proverbs 29:27; Isaiah 26:10), unrighteous (Leviticus 19:15,35).

7. 'abar: to pass beyond, transgress; hence, transgression (Psalm 17:3; Hosea 6:7, 8:1).

8. ra'a': wicked, injurious; from its root, which indicates its nature as breaking up all that is good or deisirable; injurious to all others; in Greek poneros - evil, or kakos - bad. Hence especially of moral depravity and corruption, and lewdness; English "good-for-nothing" (1 Samuel 17:28), naughty (2 Kings 2:19; Proverbs 20:14; Jeremiah 24:2).

9. pash'a: revolt, rebellion; sin against lawful authority; often rendered transgression (Psalm 51:13; Proverbs 28:21; Isaiah 43:27). In Proverbs 10:12 the action of love or mercy shown stands in strong contrast to this character of the sin.

10. rasha': wickedness, in the sense of the restless activity of fallen nature (Job 3:17; Isaiah 53:9, 57:20,21) where it refers to the activity of the impious and ungodly, or robbers.

11. ma'al: treachery, unfaithfulness, breach of trust; often rendered trespass and transgression. It is used of Achan (Joshua 7:1, 22:20). Compare e.g. Joshua 22:16; 2 Chronicles 26:18; 28:22, 33:19; Ezra 9:2,4; Nehemiah 13:27.

12. shagag: erring from imprudence, rashness, being deceived, not willfully; And shagah, erring willfully through passion or wine, hence, to go astray. As sin, it is to be distinguished from presumptuous or high-handed sin. Compare e.g. Leviticus 4:13; Numbers 15:22 with Numbers 15:30; Psalm 119:21.

13. zimmah: meditated wickedness, plotted, planned, and designed; wicked, or lewd purpose, especially of sins of unchastity.

14. chasad: shameful. A homonym (1) meaning here and Job 37:13 (where it is rendered "mercy" in authorized version and revised version). But "lightning" is not "mercy", rather chastisement; (2) the other meaning is mercy, lovingkindness, or grace. See note on Leviticus 20:14.

15. shal: fault, commited inadvertently through negligence.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).