#4. Is the origin of the Sabbath to be found in God’s rest on the 7th day OR the manner in which Yahweh gave rest to the Hebrews when they were slaves in Egypt? (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11 vs Deut 5:12-15)

The origins of the Sabbath are obscure; there are no contemporary parallels in ancient Near Eastern practices. On the other hand, the Bible gives two contradictory accounts for its origin. Both Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 claim that its origin is because for six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. On account of this, Yahweh blessed theRead More

#27. Are Yahweh and El the same god OR different gods? (Gen 14:22, 17:1, 21:33; Ex 6:2-3; Ps 82:1 vs Deut 32:8-9; Ps 29:1, 89:6-8)

Recent archaeological, biblical, and extrabiblical research has led scholars working in the area of the origins of Israelite religion to assert rather boldly and confidently that the original god of Israel was in fact the Canaanite deity El.1 Just exactly how has this come about you ask? First, the name Israel is not a Yahwistic name. El is the name of the deity invoked in the name Israel, which translates: “May ElRead More

#29. Is the promise of the land of Canaan given unconditionally OR conditionally? (Gen 12:7, 13:15, 15:7, etc. vs Gen 17:1-14; Deut 4:1, 4:40, 5:29-30, etc.; Ezek 33:23-29)

In #28 we saw that the book of Genesis actually contains two once separate accounts of the Abrahamic covenant, and we noted their main differences and contradiction. In this post and the 2 that follow we will look at other contradictory expressions of the Abrahamic covenant between the writings of the Yahwist, Priestly source, the Deuteronomist, and lastly Paul. The promise of possessing the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants is aRead More

#30. Yahweh’s promise to give the land of Canaan as an eternal possession to Abraham and his seed is conditional to observing which covenant: the covenant of circumcision OR the Deuteronomic covenant stipulated in Deut 12-26? (Gen 17:1-14 vs Deut 4:1, 5:28-30, 6:1-2, 8:1, 28:15-63, 29:24-27, 30:17-18)

In contradictions #28 and #29 we learned that the version of the Abrahamic covenant now preserved in Genesis 17:1-14 was penned by the Priestly writer. In it Yahweh as El Shaddai promises to give Abraham and his seed “all the land of Canaan as an eternal possession,” and to become their god (17:8). In exchange for this Abraham and his seed must observe and keep the covenant: And you, you shallRead More

#63. Can a mortal see God face-to-face and live OR not? (Gen 16:13, 32:30; Ex 24:9-11, 33:11; Num 14:14; Deut 5:21, 34:10 vs Ex 33:20; John 1:18, 5:37; 1 Tim 6:16)

This is an oldie but a goodie as they say, and can be found on numerous other sites and throughout the literature. I will keep to my procedure of stressing that such contradictions are the result of an editorial process that brought together different textual traditions written over a period of 1,000 years, each expressing divergent and contradictory beliefs, worldviews, and theologies. In fact, contradictory traditions now preserved side-by-side in the Bible yieldRead More

#68. Do Esau and his descendants live with the Horites in Mount Seir OR did they dispossess them and destroy them? (Gen 36:6-8, 20-21 vs Deut 2:12)

The Bible employs 2 different land-settlement models when speaking about the conquest of the promised land and its environs: a co-habitation or displacement model and a butcher’em and burn’em up model, man, woman, children, and livestock! You’ll be happy to know that both are narrative constructs, each one composed by different authors. Both Genesis 36:1-30 and Deuteronomy 2:12 preserve 2 settlement stories about the land of Edom or Seir as it is often referred to. The PriestlyRead More

#76. Was it 66 OR 70 OR 75 males from Jacob’s loins who came to Egypt? (Gen 46:26 vs Gen 46:27, Ex 1:5, Deut 10:22 vs Acts 7:14)

The passage in question is Genesis 46:8-27 which breaks from the narrative to offer yet another genealogy: “And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt…” We have seen elsewhere that such interest in genealogies, dates, and ages were evidence of the Priestly writer’s hand. Yet this passage also evidences editorial reworking, possibly even done by a scribal hand during the recopying of the manuscript. InRead More

#86. Is the mount of revelation Horeb OR Sinai? (Ex 3:1, 17:6; Deut 1:6, 4:10, etc. vs Ex 19:11, 19:18, etc.; Lev 7:38, 26:46, etc.)

Variant textual traditions now preserved side-by-side in the Bible reference two different places or place-names where Yahweh revealed himself and his commandments to Moses—neither of which has been archeologically identified.1 Both the Elohist and the later Deuteronomist consistently refer to the place of revelation as Horeb or “the mountain of the god.” Contrary to the Elohist however, the Deuteronomist does not present the giving of the laws as happening at Horeb,Read More

#111. Is only a small goat/sheep permissible as the sacrificial animal for the Passover OR are older cattle included as well? (Ex 12:3, 12:21 vs Deut 16:2)

Both Exodus 12:21, from the Elohist version of the Passover, and Exodus 12:3, from the Priestly writer (#109-110), state that the sacrificial animal of the Passover must come from the flock. The Hebrew denotes a small goat or sheep. The Priestly writer’s Passover legislation exhibits other differences as well. As would be expected from a text written by priests, at a later date, and to bring the Elohist Passover tradition inlineRead More

#112. Is the paschal animal to be roasted OR boiled? (Ex 12:8-9 vs Deut 16:7)

The Priestly Passover legislation of Exodus 12:1-11 not only stipulates the preparation of the sacrificial animal prior to its slaughter (#111), but also how it is to be cooked and eaten. “Do not eat any of it raw or cooked in water, but fire-roasted” (12:9). Yet this is not at all what is relayed in the Passover legislation found in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. There we are told that the paschal lamb or cattleRead More

#115. When did Yahweh bring the Israelites out of Egypt: in the morning OR in the evening? (Ex 12:22; Num 33:3 vs Deut 16:1)

There seems to be some variation in the exodus tradition regarding when the Israelites left Egypt. As we saw in the previous entry (#114), in the Elohist tradition although the Israelites were commanded to stay in their houses “until morning” it does seem that they nevertheless leave Egypt during that very evening. But this is certainly not clear from the text (Ex 12:31-34). They could have left in the morning, therebyRead More

#117. Is the Passover celebrated at home OR is it a national pilgrimage festival celebrated only at Jerusalem? (Ex 12:3-8, Ex 12:43-46 vs Deut 16:1-7)

As previously noted (#109-110, #111, #112), the ritual prescriptions outlined in the Priestly writer’s account of the Passover in Exodus 12:1-20 and 12:40-50—all from P—are at odds with the ritual prescriptions of the Passover outlined in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. This is not because Yahweh changed his mind 40 years later, following the narrative chronology, but rather because these two texts were written by two different priestly guilds and each one sought toRead More

#118. Must one be circumcised to celebrate and eat the Passover OR not? (Ex 12:43-49 vs Deut 16:1-8; Gal 3-4)

Continuing with our discussion of the differences between the Priestly writer’s Passover account in Exodus 12 and that of Deuteronomy 16 (#117), we note that while nothing is said in Deuteronomy about circumcision, in the Priestly literature it is forbidden for an uncircumcised male to eat and partake of the Passover. And Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron: “This is the law of the Passover: Any foreigner shall not eat it.Read More

#136. Are the sins of the parents reckoned on their children to the third and fourth generation OR are sins reckoned to each offender only? (Ex 20:5, 34:7; Deut 5:9 vs Deut 24:16; Jr 31:29-30; Ez 18:2-4)

The notion of hereditary guilt runs throughout the Bible and was a common characteristic of most ancient societies. Exodus 20:5, for example, claims from the mouth of Yahweh himself that he is a jealous god, “reckoning fathers’ sins upon sons, on the third and on the fourth generation.” This theology of inherited sin is duplicated in the Deuteronomic version of the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:9), and is prominent throughout the DeuteronomicRead More

#139. Are Hebrews permitted to have Hebrew slaves OR not? (Ex 21:2; Deut 15:12-18 vs Lev 25:39-43)
#140. How long should a Hebrew work for another Hebrew: for 6 years OR until the Jubilee? (Ex 21:2 vs Lev 25:40)

I suppose an entry about slavery is inline since the Bible’s stance toward it is variously represented by 3 different sources: the Elohist (Ex 21:12-6), the Deuteronomic (Deut 15:12-18), and the Priestly (Lev 25:39-55). The typical manner in which the slavery contradiction is articulated is to ask if Hebrew slavery was permitted or not—the 2 contradictory texts being Exodus 21:2 and Deuteronomy 15:12-18, which clearly speak of Hebrew slaves (i.e., toRead More

#151. Does Yahweh dwell among the people, in the Temple OR not? (Ex 25:8, 29:45 vs Deut 12:11, 12:21; Acts 7:48)

“And they shall make me a holy place and I shall dwell among them.” (Ex 25:8; cf. Ex 29:45) One or the central and most important theological tenets of the Priestly theocracy was that Yahweh dwelt among the people, tented in the Tabernacle which was at the center of their camp. This theological conviction alone necessitated a strict ethical and ritual code that quickly expunged and expiated any impurities that cameRead More

#152. Does Yahweh choose only the Aaronids as priests OR all the Levites? (Ex 28:1, 28:41, 29:1-9, 40:12-16; Lev 1-8; Num 3:1-9, 25:10-12 vs Deut 18:1-8)

“Bring Aaron, your brother, forward to you, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel for him to function as a priest for me.” (Ex 28:1) The redacted text of the Pentateuch as it now stands bears witness to an internecine rivalry that existed within the tribe of Levi, that is within the priesthood itself. At least two priestly groups that we know of wrote texts aimed atRead More

#153. Who judges the people: the Aaronid priests OR the Levites OR the elders OR the prohets? (Ex 28:30; Lev 13; Num 5:16-28 vs Deut 17:8-13 vs Ex 18:13-26 vs 1 Sam 7:15, etc.)
#154. Who carries the Urim and the Thummim: the Aaronid high priest OR the Levites? (Ex 28:30 vs Deut 33:8-10)

As a composite text of competing ideologies and theologies, the Bible—the creation of a later generation of readers living centuries after these once individual texts were written (see What is the Bible?)—preserves multiple origin stories relating the establishment of its judiciary and who ministers judgment. Indeed, these competing texts do share one definable common feature: Yahweh is the ultimate Judge. It is he who judges. But what is variously represented inRead More

#172. “All fat is Yahweh’s” OR not? (Lev 3:16b-17, 7:23-27 vs Deut 12:15-16, 12:21-25)

The contradictions in the book of Leviticus are minimal. This is largely because unlike the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, the book of Leviticus was composed by one priestly guild, the Aaronids. So it displays a natural unity, cohesion, and theological thrust. Indeed, we’ll encounter contradictions and inconsistencies within the Priestly source itself, but most of them will be between the Priestly writer and the Deuteronomist. The contradictions that theRead More

#174. Sin can only be atoned through sacrifice OR not? (Lev 4-5; Num 15 vs Deut 4, 17, 23-24, 28; Gal 2-4; Rom 4-7)

There are significant differences, indeed contradictions, between the views and precepts of the Aaronid-led priestly guild who wrote the book of Leviticus and the Levite-led scribes who wrote the book of Deuteronomy. These are large sweeping theological differences that existed between ancient Israel’s rival priestly schools (see also #30, #151, #152, #153-154). The Priestly literature is centered around its most important cultic and theological institution: the Tabernacle. The sacrificial cult wasRead More

#176. An individual who lies must atone for his sin with a guilt-offering OR suffer the thing that he lied or schemed about? (Lev 5:20-26 vs Deut 19:16-19)

Concerning the punishment for lying or bringing a false testimony against your brethren, both the Priestly source and the Deuteronomic source offer two contradictory verdicts. In the Deuteronomic source (Deut 19:16-19) the individual that has lied or has bared false witness against his brethren is to suffer that which he lied about: “yo shall do to him as he schemed to do to his brother. So you shall burn away whatRead More

#177. Who can eat Yahweh’s sacrificial offerings: only the Aaronid priests OR the Levites too? (Lev 6:9-11, 6:19-22, 10:12-15 vs Deut 18:1-2)

Since the Priestly literature only allows for descendants of Aaron to be priests (see #152, #153-154, #160-161), while the Deuteronomic corpus identifies the whole tribe of Levi as priests, there are obviously going to be other contradictory commandments between these two sources, which represent competing priestly schools. For example, Leviticus explicitly has Yahweh command that only Aaron and his sons, that is the descendants of Aaron, can eat the remaining portionsRead More

#178. Only the pure are allowed to eat sacrificial meat OR both the pure and impure? (Lev 7:20-21 vs Deut 12:20-22)

The peace-offering is the sacrifice performed for the consumption of meat. But according to the Priestly writer’s strict ideology, any individual who has come into contact with an impurity (dead animal, corpse, bodily emission, illness, sexual taboos, or even has a tattoo, etc.) and is therefore impure himself, cannot eat of the sacrificial meat: “that person will be cut off from his people” (Lev 7:20). The Levitical scribes of Deuteronomy didRead More

#179. What is the portion due to the officiating priest: right thigh OR sholder, cheeks, and stomach? (Lev 7:32-34 vs Deut 18:3)

It’s been a while since I last posted, but this contradiction, like the previous ones, is best seen in the larger context of the differences between the Aaronid written text of Leviticus, where only descendants of Aaron are priests, and the Levite written text of Deuteronomy wherein all Levites are deemed priests. Here there seems to be a difference with respect to the meat portion allotted for the priests. In LeviticusRead More

#183. Are certain foods impure/unclean and forbidden to eat OR not? (Lev 11; Deut 14 vs Mk 7:18-19; Rom 14:14; Acts 10:10-15)

I apologize for my rather long absence. It’s been a difficult time. But let us see if we can get back on track and finish up with the contradictions in Leviticus, and move into Numbers and Deuteronomy. In earlier posts, I discussed the sacrificial cult of the Aaronid priesthood as detailed throughout the book of Leviticus (#137-138, #148-149, #151, #152, #155, #174, #175, #178). In sum, sacrifices were necessitated (divinely decreedRead More

#186. Is Yom Kipper (the Day of Atonement/Purification) an eternal law OR not? (Lev 16, 23:26-32 vs Deut 16:16; Rom 3; Gal 3; Heb 5-9)

The Priestly literature is the only corpus of texts in the Bible that prescribes as an eternal law, directly from Yahweh’s mouth, the festival of Yom Kipper—but see Ezekiel too, a text not incoincidentally also written by an Aaronid priest in exile. In fact, the priestly literature is the only corpus of texts in the Bible that commands certain sacrifices (#155), festivals (#109-110, #118), holy days (#171), covenants (#31), and otherRead More

#187. Is the non-sacrificial slaughter of a sacrificial animal for the consumption of its meat strictly prohibited OR is it allowed in certain cases? (Lev 17:3-9 vs Deut 12:21-25)

In its present redacted form, the Pentateuch has Yahweh both commanding the prohibition of all non-sacrificial slaughter as an eternal decree (Lev 17:3-9) and commanding non-sacrificial slaughter for certain cases (Deut 12:21-25)—and as we shall see, these are specific cases defined by the Deuteronomist’s unique historical circumstances. As we have seen elsewhere (#137, #139-140, #141, #143, #146, #155, #175, #178, #183, #184, #185, #186), rather than seeing Yahweh commanding contradictory laws,Read More

#188. Is it permissible to eat a carcass or torn animal OR not? (Lev 17:15-16 vs Deut 14:21; Ex 22:30)

News flash! —- Yahweh has apparently contradicted himself once again at Sinai, claiming at one point that eating a carcass or a torn animal is strictly prohibited and not even a week later—that’s right folks one week later!—claiming that it is permissible to eat. What madness! Or, we have yet another example of different and contradictory law codes penned by different authors, to address different historical communities, and which were bothRead More

#189. What is the punishment for having sex with an animal: Death OR being cut off OR being cursed? (Ex 22:18; Lev 20:15-16 vs Lev 18:22-23 vs Deut 27:21)

The ancient scrolls that centuries later came to be labeled the Bible by a later generation of readers contain variant punishments for having, or in one case intending to have, sex with an animal. It is clear that this act was intolerable and highly offensive to all biblical scribes. However, whether it was punishable by death or not may have been a point of contention. Our oldest text, E, clearly assignsRead More

#190. For what reason were the Canaanites expelled from the land: their sexual immorality OR idolatry? (Lev 18:24-28 vs Deut 7, 12)

This is another contradiction between the 7th century BCE text of Deuteronomy, most likely written by Levite scribes, and the 6th-5th century BCE text of Leviticus written by an elite scion of the Levite tribe, the Aaronids. Like other contradictions we have reviewed between these two guilds (eg. #152, #153-154, #172, #174, #176, etc.) this one also reflects the specific historical crisis that each of these writers sought to respond toRead More

#192. A wife who is guilty of aldutery must be put to death OR suffer the curse of bareness? (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 21:8 vs Num 5:11-31)

One of the Ten Commandments, preserved both in Exodus 20:14 (E) and Deuteronomy 5:17, is the prohibition against adultery: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But we actually have to wait until later textual traditions clarify what the punishment of this crime is. Here is what Deuteronomy and Leviticus have to say about the matter. If a man be found lying with a woman who is a husband’s wife, then the twoRead More

#193. Is it prohibited for a man to take his brother’s wife OR not? (Lev 20:21 vs Deut 25:5)

Leviticus 18:6-19 and 20:17-21 are duplicate lists of all prohibited heterosexual relationships, and all of them detail sexual prohibitions between a variety of different family members. These sexual prohibitions are furthermore encased by priestly exhortations to be holy. “You shall make yourselves holy and you shall be holy, because I am Yahweh your god’ (Lev 20:7). Thus, the list of sexual prohibitions is used to separate out those impure and unholyRead More

#194. Was the Festival of Unleavened Bread a pilgrimage festival OR not? (Ex 13:6, 23:14-15, 34:18-23; Lev 23:6-8; Num 28:18-19; Deut 16:16 vs Deut 16:7-8)
#195. Was Passover and Unleavened Bread one festival OR two? (Deut 16:1-7 vs Ex 12:21-27, 13:3-10; Lev 23:5; Num 28:16-23)
#196. On what day was the pilgrimage for the Festival of Unleavened Bread: the 1st day OR the 7th day OR all 7 days? (Deut 16:2, 16:7, 16:16 vs Ex 13:6 vs Lev 23:6-8; Num 28:17-24)
#197. How many days was the Festival of Unleavened Bread: 6 OR 7? (Deut 16:8 vs Ex 12:15-16, 12:18-19, 13:6; Lev 6-8; Num 28:17)

Changes and Transformations in the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread:From the Pentateuch’s Earliest Sources to Its Latest Working from what was previously posted about the Pentateuch’s 5 Festival calendars, we can see that the two oldest sources, the Elohist and the Yahwist, make no mention of the Passover, and indeed this is to be expected since what is listed in Exodus 23:14-17 & 34:18-26 are those festivals which requiredRead More

#198. When was the Festival of Firstfruits or Weeks celebrated: on the day the first grains were reaped OR the day following the next Sabbath after the first reaping OR 7 weeks later? (Ex 23:16 vs Lev 23:9-11 vs Ex 34:22; Deut 16:9-11; Num 28:26)
#199. Is the Festival of Weeks a pilgrimage festival OR not? (Ex 23:16, 34:22; Deut 16:10-11 vs Lev 23:17)
#200. On the Festival of Harvest/Weeks what is brought as an offering to Yahweh: the firstfruits of what is sown OR a contribution akin to a tithe? (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:10-11 vs Deut 16:10, 17)
#201. When was the counting of weeks to begin: from the day of the first reaping OR from the first Sabbath afterwards? (Deut 16:9 vs Lev:15-16)
#202. Are Israelites to offer up sacrifices and a first sheaf of their harvest to Yahweh on the first barely harvest OR not? (Lev 23:9-14 vs Num 28:26-30)
#203. What is offered up to Yahweh on the Festival of Weeks: 1 bull, 2 rams, and 7 lambs OR 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs? (Lev 23:18 vs Num 28:27)
#204. Is a peace-offering of an additional 2 lambs sacrificed on the Festival of Weeks OR not? (Lev 23:19-20 vs Num 28:27-31)

Like the Festival of Passover & Unleavened Bread (#194-197), the Harvest Festival or the Festival of Weeks also went through several modifications from the earliest period of Israel’s cultic practices to the Aaronid-led cult of the post-exilic period. Once again, it is the Pentateuch’s various sources which bear witness to these developments, or in our case, these contradictions. Our two earliest witnesses, E and J (see list of festivals by sourcesRead More

#205. Was the autumn harvest festival called the Festival of Ingathering OR Booths? (Ex 23:16, 34:22 vs Lev 23:34-43; Deut 16:13-15)
#206. Was the Festival of Ingathering/Booths a 1 day pilgrimage festival OR 7 days? (Ex 23:16, 34:22 vs Lev 23:36, 39; Num 29:12-34; Deut 16:13-15)
#207. Where was this pilgrimage festival: to a local altar OR to Jerusalem? (Ex 23:16, 34:22 vs Deut 16:15)
#208. What was offered to Yahweh on this festival: the crops from the field OR a tithe from the threshing floor and wine press? (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:39 vs Deut 16:13)

As with the previous 2 pilgrimage festivals—Unleavened Bread (#194-197) and Weeks (#198-204)—so too here: the Festival of Ingathering developed and modified into the Festival of Booths with some minor changes implemented by the Deuteronomist, some of which were kept by the Priestly writer, while others were not. Preceding chronologically—through the sources of the Torah (E, J, D, P) not the narrative as it now stands—the Elohist text of Exodus 23:16 isRead More

#209. What is remitted or ceased every 7th year: the sowing of the land OR debt and indentured Hebrew slaves? (Ex 23:10-11; Lev 25:1-7 vs Deut 15:1-15)

Leviticus 25 is devoted to Yahweh’s commandments concerning the 7th year land Sabbath, which is basically a reprint of the older Elohist law preserved in Exodus 23:10-11. “And in the 7th year the land shall have a Sabbath, a ceasing, a Sabbath for Yahweh: you shall not seed your field, and you shall not prune your vineyard; you shall not reap your harvest’s free growth, and you shall not cut offRead More

#211. Israelites are to consecrate the firstborn of animals to Yahweh OR not? (Ex 13:2; Deut 15:19 vs Lev 27:26)

All of the Pentateuch’s sources adhere to the law of the firstborns, a sacrificial theology which mandates that the firstfruits of reproduction—whether of plants, animals, or humans—be sacrificed to Yahweh. “Consecrate every firstborn for me [Yahweh]. The first birth of every womb of the children of Israel, of a human and of an animal, is mine!” (Ex 13:2) I have already addressed this firstborn sacrificial theology as it relates to allRead More

#214. Who were the beneficiaries of the tithes: the Aaronid priests alone OR the Levites OR the people? (Lev 27:30-33 vs Num 18:21-24 vs Deut 14:22-27)
#215. What was tithed: all the produce of the land and the animals OR only the produce of the land? (Lev 27:30-33 vs Deut 14:23)
#216. Is one-fifth of the value to be added to tithes redeemed by money OR not? (Lev 27:31 vs Deut 14:24-25)

There are 3 Pentateuchal laws concerning the annual mandatory tithe—Leviticus 27:30-33 (H), Numbers 18:21-30 (P), and Deuteronomy 14:22-27 (D)—all of which were written by different authors or priestly guilds, and evidence contradictory views on what is tithed and to whom the tithe belongs. The earliest of these tithe laws is probably the Deuteronomic law. It is also the most radical of the three. In general, the authors of Deuteronomy de-emphasized theRead More

#220. Are the Levites allowed to touch the holy objects of the Tabernacle OR not? (Deut 18:1-8; 1 Sam 6:13-19; 2 Sam 6:6-7, etc. vs Num 4:1-19)

Nowhere is the agenda, and polemic, of the Aaronid priestly guild and its text, the Priestly source, more apparent than in its treatment and depiction of its rivals, the Levites. In this text, mainly Exodus 35–Numbers 10, our Aaronid writer has Yahweh proclaim on numerous occasions that: no non-Aaronid Levite can be a priest, only an Aaronid can (#152) no non-Aaronid Levite can eat of Yahweh’s sacrifices, only Aaronids can (#177)Read More

#222. Must one be pure for Passover OR not? (Num 9:9-11 vs Deut 16:1-8)
#223. Is the observance of Passover an eternal law OR not? (Ex 12:14-17; Lev 23:4-5 vs Gal 3-4)

As we have repeatedly seen already (#175, #178, #183, #184, #185, etc.) that concern for ritual and ethical purity was top priority for the Aaronid priesthood that penned the book of Leviticus and 75% of what is now the book of Numbers. Throughout Leviticus, and especially in those chapters devoted to its laws and commandments (Lev 11-22), the role of the Aaronid priests is repeatedly defined through the phrase “to distinguishRead More

#233. Who suggests sending spies to scout out the land: Yahweh OR the people? (Num 13:1-2 [P] vs Deut 1:22-23 [D])

Numbers 13-14 recount the story—or rather stories—of the spying of the promised land, which as it now stands is a composite text, a patch-work of the earlier Yahwist and later Priestly versions. Deuteronomy 1:21-46 is also another version of the spy story and presents itself as a simple retelling, through the mouthpiece of Moses, of the events recorded in Numbers 13-14. Yet it departs in significant, and contradictory, ways from theRead More

#234. Are the spies to reconnoiter all the land of Canaan OR only the southern part, Judah? (Num 13:2, 13:21 [P] vs Num 13:22-24 [J]; Deut 1:24-25 [D])

Continuing from the previous post, #233, today’s contradiction reveals that in the earliest spy-story tradition, the Yahwist, only the land of the southern kingdom, namely Judah, is reconnoitered, and a later retelling of this tradition expanded the area to include all of Canaan. Numbers 13:22 makes it clear that the spies enter Canaan through the southern Negeb and arrive at Hebron, which is the capital of Judah until it is movedRead More

#238. In the face of there being giants in the land, who encourages the people to have faith in Yahweh: Caleb alone OR Caleb and Joshua? (Num 13:30 [J] vs Num 14:6-9 [P])
#239. In his anger, Yahweh swears to slaughter all the Israelites except Caleb OR except Caleb and Joshua (Num 14:24 [J] vs Num 14:30 [P]; Deut 1:36-38)
#240. Does Yahweh immediately wipe out the other scouts [P] OR not [J]? (Num 14:37-38 vs Num 14:22-24)

Another textual indication that Numbers 13-14 now contains what once was two independent versions of the spy story are the duplicate and contradictory accounts of who steps forward to encourage the Israelites to have faith in Yahweh, and conversely whose lives out of all 600,000 men, or as the case may be 647,550 (#116 & #218), Yahweh spares! Thus, in response to the people’s lack of faith in their ability andRead More

#244. Can any and all sins be atoned/expiated OR only those sins which were committed inadvertently? (Matt 6:14; Jn 3:16, 5:24; Acts 10:43; Rom 3:22, 4:25; Gal 3:13, etc. vs Deut 21:1-9, Lev 4-5; Num 15:30-31; cf. 1 Cor 5; Matt 6:15, 12:31, 18:35, etc.)

This entry expands upon an earlier entry, contradiction #174: Can sin only be atoned through sacrifice or not?—a post that needs much amending itself. Here I will try to limit my remarks [Interjection: I failed at this task, my apologies. The post goes on and on and on. Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone here.] to, first, the different stance taken between unintentional and intentional sins as viewed by theRead More

#254. Who can burn incense in front of Yahweh: only Aaronids OR not? (Ex 30:7; Num 17:5; 1 Chr 23:13; 2 Chr 26:16-19; Lk 1:8-11 vs Deut 33:10; 1 Sam 2:28; 1 Kgs 9:25)

The message endorsed through the tale of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16-17—that only the Aaronid priests can offer incense to Yahweh and only at Yahweh’s altar—is yet but another story in a long list meant to legitimate the Aaronid’s sole right to minister to Yahweh. We have now seen in this Aaronid written text, the Priestly source, “Yahweh” endorse: the sole selection of the Aaronids as his priests, while at theRead More

#256. Yahweh decrees that all sacrificial offerings and firstfruits are allotted for Aaron and his sons only OR for all Levites? (Num 18:8-14; Lev 6-7 vs Deut 18:1-4)

Numbers 18 lists the entitlements allotted to the Aaronid priesthood—that is what Yahweh, according to this Aaronid written text, allots as “eternal law” to Aaron and his sons only, no exceptions. These are: All portions from the sacrificial offerings (Num 18:8-11; cf. Lev 6:1-7:10). Remember, minus the burnt-offering which was a whole animal sacrifice burnt on the altar to Yahweh (Lev 1), all other sacrifices—peace-offering, sin-offering, guilt-offering (Lev 3-7)—were partially offeredRead More

#257. Were the Levites allowed to eat their tithes anywhere OR only in front of Yahweh? (Num 18:31 vs Deut 12:17-18, 14:23)

The history of the institution of tithing—allocating a tenth part of your produce and flocks—in ancient Israel is anything but clear from the scattered biblical references. It’s apparent that the institution went through a variety of changes. In some of the oldest traditions, for example, we hear of kings who taxed their subjects one-tenth of their grain crops, fruits, and even flocks (1 Sam 8:15-17). More commonly, however, the tithe isRead More

#258. For what reason were the Levites granted tithes: as compensation for their service relevant to the Tent of Meeting OR because they had no land-allotment? (Num 18:21, 31 vs Deut 14:29)

The Levites belong to Yahweh. This is a staple feature throughout all the Pentateuchal sources. “The Levites shall be mine. I am Yahweh!” But this is only because of the theology of redemption at play here: The Levites ransom the lives of Israel’s firstborns (see #145). This ransom theology is best stated in the Priestly source: And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: “And I, behold, I have taken the Levites fromRead More

#260. Where was Kadesh: in the Wilderness of Paran OR the Wilderness of Zin? (Num 13:26 vs Num 20:1, 27:14, 33:36; Deut 32:51)
#261. When did the Israelites arrive at Kadesh: at the beginning of the wilderness period OR in the 40th year? (Num 13:26, 32:8 vs Num 20:1, 33:36-38)

And the children of Israel, the entire congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. (Num 20:1) Numbers 20 picks up the narrative of the wilderness wanderings, our last episode having been the scouting of the land story in Num 13-14 (#233, #234, #235-236, #237, #238-240). Again, it is important to keep in mind that many of these wilderness stories were preservedRead More

#266. Why was Moses not allowed to enter the promised land: because he rebelled against Yahweh’s word OR because he bore the sins of the people who rebelled against Yahweh? (Num 20:12, 27:14; Deut 32:51 vs Deut 1:37, 3:26, 4:21)

The Deuteronomic (D) and Priestly source (P) differ on their reason for why Moses could not enter the land of Canaan. Since this issue is not presented in the older Yahwist nor Elohist traditions, we might assume that this story derived from a later “need” and was thus inserted into the tradition. At any event, D and P give competing answers. As we saw in the previous entry (#262-265), the PriestlyRead More