On kuppuru, kippēr and etymological sins that cannot be wiped away

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The discovery of Mesopotamian ritual texts employing the term kuppuru ("rub, wipe") has been a major turning point in the semantic analysis of Hebrew kippēr. It is now commonplace to find the Hebrew term interpreted in light of the concrete sense of the Akkadian, yielding the notion of "wiping away" sin. The present article demonstrates why this prevailing view is untenable by means of 1) analysis of the lexical data, 2) identification of common misconstruals of this evidence, and 3) comparison of the kuppuru / kipp̄r relationship to the largely analogous case of Akkadian sala ("sprinkle") and Hebrew sāla ("forgive").

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-545
Number of pages11
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • atonement
  • cultic terminology
  • expiation
  • kuppuru

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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